Posted in coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, Empowerment

The Constants In Our Lives

Do you remember taking algebra and having the constant in the equation?  Constants are important because they create stability.  When we have constants in our lives we have a sense of safety and security.  They say, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”  I started thinking about what’s constant in my life because I work all over the country and it feels like things are constantly changing.  Knowing someone at home loves me even if I’m not there is critical to continuing my work away from home.  Experiencing support in the form of life updates keeps me in the loop even when I step out of the circle physically (but never emotionally or spiritually).

I was listening to an interview with Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron where she shared, “The sun is always there-sometime clouds are disguising it, but it never leaves.”  That’s the simplest way to describe object constancy, knowing something still exists even if we can’t see it.  How is that possible?  We experience the world through multiple senses and on top of that we have our innate sense of intuition.  When we pair all these sensory and experiential aspects we build a spiritual nest where in our hearts we know we’re protected.

I’m not sure why, but many equate constant with boredom.  You here things like same s**t different day.  If we’re coming up against the same challenges repeatedly and you think that’s a constant there’s a problem.  Incurring the same obstacles over and over is insanity.  It’s in that moment that changing your strategy is critical to moving forward.  The constant experiences in your life should be the things that support you, encourage you, provide you with a sense of security and allow you to take some risks to hopefully improve your pilgrimage to health and healing.

Remember, the sun really is there even if you can’t see it and so your humanity!  The world needs you!

Posted in after the diagnosis, overcoming adversity

We Need To Change How We Interact In This World

Valentine ’s Day is right around the corner and stores are displaying merchandise and cards for the occasion.  I started thinking about the messages sent by some of the big companies like Ma Bell and Hallmark and what’s been lost with the invention of Facebook and other social media.  Ma Bell wanted us to “Reach Out and Touch Someone”, and Hallmark told us buying cards, “When You Want to Send the Best”.  These two company taglines spoke more, to me, than just about commercialism, but how we interact in the world.

I’ve watched the number of birthday cards dwindle significantly over the past four years.  I used to have a mantle full of cards, and now it’s down to a select few.  Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of Happy Birthday messages on Facebook, but it’s different.  We no longer have to plan on how we interact.  We are now able to wake-up in the morning and see who we need to send a birthday wish, congratulate for an achievement, or commiserate about a dilemma.  What happened to sentiment?  Have we lost the ability to connect more than electronically?

I sent out a bunch of cards today because there are people who I haven’t spoken to in a while that I wanted to send a special message.  I want to appreciate certain people who have supported me, kept me in the loop of their lives while I’ve been traveling the country.  It gave me an opportunity to say I took the time to spend a few minutes devoted to connecting with you.  I know I may be a bit over the edge, but social media has left too many people connected to others with only a dotted line, and they’re still lonely.

When going through difficult times we need to make those phone calls, send those calls, and show that we’re making an effort and that this person matters to you more than just a count on your Facebook page.  Illness, divorce, death, financial struggle to name a few are life events that require deeper connections to emerge with a sense of peace and to have the ability to continue on life’s pilgrimage!

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity, Spirituality and Health

Lessons from the Road Part 3: People at Work

Ever cross the country on one of the Interstate highways created during the Eisenhower administration? I can’t imagine traveling cross-country and having to meander through small towns trying to find the most direct route to my destination. I’m grateful for these highways and byways and for the men and women who keep the roads in good shape.

There are signs on the roadside where work is being done that says, “Hit a worker and receive a $10,000 fine and 14 years in jail.” That’s quite a hefty price to pay, but we’ve been warned so driving recklessly through these work zones is sheer stupidity. It always makes me nervous driving through these zones because there are always anxious, tail riding drivers behind me; no matter, I stand my ground and drive the reduced speed limit. We need these roads to be in the best condition possible to make travel safe.

The same is true as we live our lives. Our personal infrastructure is critical to living a good life. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives are always in flux. There are definitive steps we can take to insure that we keep ourselves in the best possible state-of-being. We can pay attention to the needs of our body, mind, and spirit to provide a foundation for a life filled with health, joy, and peace.

What are the work zones in your life? Where are there areas where you need to slow down, pay attention, and take steps to shore up those aspects of your life? What are you reading? What are you creating? What are you exploring? What actions do you take when you have moments of insight? We know that if you don’t pay attention to your personal infrastructure, just like the roads we travel, your body, mind, and spirit will begin to deteriorate. This deterioration creates physical ailments such as migraines, back pain, and gastro-intestinal trouble as some examples. The huge increase in depression and anxiety across the lifespan is evidence that our emotional infrastructure, as a society, is in need of attention. The number of suicides, and the number of people on antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs is staggering.

Life doesn’t come without a price and I’m not talking about financial. I’m referring to the energy and attention that is required to propel us toward health and healing. We can’t live our lives on autopilot. We need to pay the price such as exercising, praying, meditating, therapy, or creative outlets of our emotional lives. Create your own work zone, it works for our country and it will work for you!

Facing adversity and looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

Want to explore your creative side to use as the roadwork for your body, mind, and spirit?  Visit

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Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Time to Become a Demolition Expert

We’re fascinated by destruction that is intentional? Wonder what I’m talking about? Every news station shows when old buildings, stadiums, and hotels are imploded using massive amounts of explosives. There is something powerful about watching something we believe to be so strong and permanent come down with the greatest of ease by simply placing explosives in all the right places.

This topic is probably not one you would expect when discussing health and healing, but I can’t think of a more appropriate topic. It’s important because it’s about ridding yourself of what’s getting in the way of progress, getting well or getting better. The idea that we have to rid ourselves of old scripts, old strategies, and old information is critical on the health and healing pilgrimage.

Demolition can be scary because it sounds like we’re talking about losing something, but does it make sense to keep something that is getting in the way? Does it make sense to keep something that is counterintuitive to healing? Does it make sense not to make room for strategies that aren’t yet part of your consciousness?

The big question is, “What does demolition look like when it comes to our coping strategies and our grip on negative thinking?” This is where it gets a bit tricky because we’re deeply invested in our established patterns. Demolition of these patterns that no longer serve us can feel like a loss and leave us feeling like we’re floating in the ocean with no shore in sight.

I worked in a drug and alcohol social model outpatient program for quite a while.   The agency ran abstinence meetings (their version of a 12-step program). I was facilitating a meeting one evening and we had a young man who had been clean and sober about thirty days. He started to share and what he kept talking about was his state of confusion. It didn’t take long for someone with a bit more sobriety to chime in on the topic of confusion. It’s been twenty years since that meeting and I still remember the participant’s response. He said, “Feel blessed for the state of confusion because it means you’re still teachable!”

Once you demolish what isn’t useful and may be feeling confused; it’s time to find and develop new coping strategies. Remember that this will apply to your physical, emotional, and spiritual lives. You may begin a yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or engage the services of a personal trainer. You may attend a support group, start counseling, or begin a journaling program. Your may seek a spiritual path, attending services or some type, or go on a retreat. At this point you may be overwhelmed, but these are suggestions, not imperatives. They aren’t dictates just opportunities for growth for you body, mind, and spirit.

Demolition isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re ready and willing to put up the new structure in its place. You are entering a space of possibility! You are giving yourself the gift of holistic healing! You are being proactive in your health and healing journey!

Facing adversity?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

When creating new coping strategies why not engage your creative energy, visit

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Put a Tiger in Your Tank

We live very busy lives. Our schedules have become overwhelming and infringes on time for relaxation. Technology, although vitally important, robs many of time and energy because work is accessible all the time. The cell phone has made us all available twenty-four hours a day. We haven’t quite learned to set limits and as a result feelings of depletion prevail.

Now take your schedule and add some stressor to the equation. It doesn’t matter what the stressor is, it can be physical, emotional, or spiritual the impact is often similar, you compound the negative impact. The body, mind, and spirit don’t respond arithmetically; they respond exponentially. Your run great risks to your personal health and it’s difficult to stop that downward spiral without some type of intervention.

It’s critical in our modern day life to continually charge your battery. Energy is finite. Our body, mind, and spirit don’t produce energy without fuel. It requires us to fill our tanks in order to continue our journey. How do you fill your tank?

Love is a great fuel source. Having those who provide you with warm and kind thoughts, a great hug, and unconditional love is phenomenal renewable energy source. The ability to receive love is a profound experience. Having the capacity to accept such powerful energy is a blessing.

Compassion is a great fuel source. Our fuel tank is filled when compassion flows both ways. Compassion provides us with a safe container to move through what challenges us. It doesn’t require us taking on the challenges of others, or them taking on our challenges, but a deep understanding of each other’s experience.

Fun is a great fuel source. It’s okay to be serious, but without fun we have no balance. Fun is fundamental to living a full live. It can relieve stress, eliminate negative energy and impact your physical being. When we have fun we laugh. Laughter has been shown to be a natural analgesic for our bodies. It also provides us with the ability to change our priorities releasing some of the ties that bind us to our challenges.

How do you fill your tank? What have your discovered to be a renewable energy source? Share it with others, share it with us!

Facing a challenge in your life?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

Want to explore how art impacts healing and can fill your tank?  Visit

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Feel The Burn

I just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic. My parents brought the family together to spend time together and celebrate us as a family. The trip was fantastic! It’s great when you can spend time with people you love, know, and have your back. Being with people who are a lifeline reinforces our connection beyond our bodies. It provides us with a context for our lives and allows us to practice the art of giving and receiving.

I’m a water baby. I’m a cancer so I love the water. I lived on the east coast the first twenty-five years of my life, and the west coast the next fourteen years. Access to the water is life affirming. Currently I live in the Rocky Mountains at six thousand feet so any time I can see the ocean I’m ecstatic.

Ecstasy has its price. Upon getting to the beach I submerged myself in the ocean. I was in the water for quite a while. My family joked that if they wanted to visit with me they’d have to go to my office in the water. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

I knew I was sunburned even though I had on sunscreen. I didn’t reapply often enough and wasn’t wearing a shirt so my shoulders and upper back became sunburned. Actually, they became more than sunburned because after leaving the water the blisters began to appear. My back and shoulders were covered with blisters waiting to burst. I did this to myself and that pissed me off, but I couldn’t turn back the clock.

I wore multiple shirts keeping the blisters clean and dry. The big surprise when it was time for bed. As I tried to sleep the pain was excruciating. I changed positions trying to relieve the pressure on the blisters but my body was in full revolt. I was no longer in control, my body was at the reins and it wasn’t pretty. I needed a plan, a solution, a resolution to the pain.

I realized that the only way to get out of the pain was to go into the pain. I had to immerse myself in the pain. I had to be one with the pain. I dove in! As I was sitting up in bed I befriended the pain. I was focusing on my breath and settled down living in the journey. Trust me it wasn’t easy, but it did quiet my mind and my body. My body understood that although I had accosted it; I was trying to make amends. I wasn’t ignoring my body (not that I could even if I tried), but I was in the trenches experiencing the pain from the pain’s point-of-view.

This journey lasted for three nights. Unlike many of you experiencing chronic pain, mine was time limited. I did learn valuable lessons. I learned that my body, mind, and spirit working together create amazing results. I gave myself the gift of diving deep and emerging with a new understanding of pain and it’s relation to my body. I have come to appreciate the unity of merging with the what’s going on in my body.

Fortunately the experience didn’t damper my trip at all. I got back in the water after a few days very protected and for a very short period of time, but I also know that salt water heals the skin. In my case it heals the body, the mind, and the spirit. I not only had a fabulous trip with my family, but I learned new things about my own capacity for renewal and resiliency. I learned new ways of coping when facing adversity. I have a new appreciation for what the body can handle!

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

See how Art impacts Healing, visit

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Crazy Weather Crazy Life

I live in Denver and the spring brings crazy weather. Like so many parts of the country, unpredictability seems to be norm instead of the exception. The Rocky Mountain region has been hit with tornadoes over the past month. It started with daily hailstorms and moved up to those whirling winds that touch down and wreak havoc.

I’m not trying to play meteorologist. I am bringing your attention to the moments in your life when everything is calm and then in a moment everything changes. The tornado touches down in your life and damage on the physical, emotional, or spiritual plain may result.

Tornadoes are unpredictable because there’s no way to predict the exact spot they will touchdown, so we all sit in our basements or an interior room of the house hoping it passes over us. So many people do the same in their lives; they have a medical test and hope the diagnosis will pass over them. People engage in risky behaviors and hope, even pray, that the negative impact won’t land in them or on them.

How many times have you had this experience? You, or maybe even a doctor, tells someone they need to stop smoking and gives them all the information about the negative impact of nicotine and tobacco. The individual in all their glory will tell you about their eight-five year old aunt, cousin, or friend who smoked three packs a day and never suffered any negative results. They may be telling the truth, but explain that to the tornado that is passing through a neighborhood. Where will it land? In your life, were will adversity hit?

I’m not saying that all of life is random. We have enough data and anecdotal evidence showing us that our actions have consequences. It’s not only on the negative end on the continuum! Eating right, getting enough sleep, and having fun gives your body, mind, and spirit the fuel it needs to promote healing.

So what will you do with this information? You have many choices; that is where you have control. How will give yourself every advantage to prevent a tornado from touching down in your wheelhouse? What can you do today that will improve your life? Who will you go to for support, guidance, and love?

Life is crazy! We’re all so busy and that often impacts our level of consciousness. We switch over to autopilot and keep on cruisin’. Be conscious! Be in your body! You never know when a tornado will hit or what it will drop, just ask Dorothy. You do have the power to build a shelter for your body, mind, and spirit so that if a tornado does strike, you’ll be in a place where you’ll survive. You may have to rebuild, but you’ll survive!

Facing adversity in your life?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

Interested in how Art Heals the body, mind, and spirit?  Visit

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, overcoming adversity

Are You Sleeping?

Sleep is crucial to living. If we didn’t sleep we wouldn’t dream and that would lead to psychological distress. Sleep is also pleasurable and a way to rejuvenate the body, one of the key ingredients to health and healing. However, physically sleeping is very different than emotional or spiritual sleeping. Like me, if you’re living life trying to stay in the question, then the question we need to ask is, “What will awaken you to the fact that you’re asleep?”

The self-help books and your therapist would probably equate emotional sleeping with denial or detachment (as a possibility). What if being emotionally asleep were deeper than the need to separate from our experience? What if being emotionally asleep was actually something along a continuum. Is it possible that the emotional sleep scale runs the gamut from coma to exhilaration/mania?

On the other hand, what about being spiritually asleep? So many in-industrialized western societies lead lives of quiet desperation, according to Henry David Thoreau. What keeps us asleep? Are we culturally driven to be spiritual narcoleptics? Similar to emotionally sleeping, does spiritual sleep live on a continuum from spiritual narcolepsy to spiritual insomnia? Again, what will get you to ask, “What will awaken me to the fact that I’m asleep?”

Unfortunately it often takes a negative experience, even to the extreme of a trauma for many of us to awaken from that sleep. There is a jolt to the body, mind, and spirit that begins an energized projectile to the awakened state. If you go to any bookstore look at the number of books that speak about the transformation experienced after being diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness, the numbers will astound you.

The awakened state can be a scary experience. Living in this state of heightened experience and awareness fills us with questions. These questions are the path to freedom.   The great thing about questions is that they get you to come up with different scenarios, answers, or possibilities. Questions keep us engaged in our own life experience. They are the carrot on the stick that draws us forward until we develop the ability to be self-propelled to mind-body-spirit transformation/healing.

What awakened or will awaken you? Share your awakening experience in the comments section below and let’s start a conversation.

For more information on living with chronic or life-threatening illness go to

Posted in Caregiving

Cost of Caregiving

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

Well the numbers are in and unfortunately it’s clear that caregiving is not only an emotional and spiritual issue, but a financial one as well.  A report on ABC World New Tonight with Diane Sawyer estimates that caregiving costs the average person $303,000.00.  This figure is in lost wages, expenses for caregiving, impact on pensions and social security.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money.

Let’s take it one step further than just numbers.  What about the emotional cost of caregiving.  How can you put a dollar amount on worry?  What’s the physical impact on you, the caregiver?  What has caregiving cost you spiritually as you strive for explanations about how this phase of your life materialized?  What does it cost you mentally to feel out-of-control and at times at the mercy of an illness that’s not even in your own body?

I don’t believe the Congressional Budget Office could factor this monetarily, only you can determine the cost to your body, mind, and spirit.  I guess the bigger question is aside from the obvious aspects of caregiving; how can you cut the expenditures?  I just received an e-mail about using writing in a soulful manner and the it shared a bumper sticker that said, “Life is Fragile, Handle with Prayer”.  I’m not saying that you need to pray to get through the day or to reduce the impact of caregiving on your soul, but finding ways to curb the expense to your spirit is important.  It will allow you to build up resources in your emotional bank so when necessary, you can make withdrawals without running a deficit (leave that to the government).

How will you cut your personal costs to caregiving?  Unfortunately in this day of extreme couponing, there’s no coupon that can give a reduced impact on your soul.  Find outlets to release the negative energy impacting your body, mind, and spirit.  Engage in pleasurable activities, have a lovely meal, engage in a creative activity, join a support group, make an appointment with a spiritual advisor, contact a coach, talk to a psychotherapist, journal your thoughts, whatever you choose I hope it reduces your personal cost of caregiving.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Expect the Worst…Hope for the Best

Years ago I was fretting about some college exams and my mother made sure I understood, “You expect the worst, hope for the best and most times it ends up somewhere in the middle.”  I was reflecting on that philosophy this week while going through some of my notes from reading I’ve done in the past couple of months. 

I read, “Dancing at the River’s Edge”.  The book is co-written between a woman with lupus and her doctor (the doctor’s portion much more interesting than the patient’s).  There was a line in the book where a doctor says to the woman, “I can make you better, but I can’t make you well.”

This line resonated with me because it followed the expect the worst…hope for the best mentality.  The idea that once you receive the diagnosis there is always a crack in the cosmic egg.  That one little Achilles heal that even if you recover leaves a spot of vulnerability.  It’s the reason why it’s so important to revel in the joy of health on any level.

The first question to ask yourself then is, “What is better mean?’  It would require you to take an inventory regarding your physical, emotional, and spiritual being and mark that as your baseline…the starting point.  If you were to “get better” what would that look like?  How would you know you’re experiencing “better”?

Understanding your personal health continuum allows you to become more intimate with your life on many levels.  It allows you to tune into your body, mind, and spirit so you’re better able to provide the resources they need to improve your current situation.  Having the ability and the willingness to move up the health continuum propels you on your pilgrimage to health.

Like the line in the book says, you may not be well, but better is an improvement and that leads to hope.  Hope is the foundation for moving along the health continuum.  It fortifies body, mind, and spirit. 

What does better look like to you?  How would you like to work on “getting better”?  Are there things you’d like to commit to so you move in that direction?  I’d love to hear the actions you’re taking to “get better”.