Posted in Uncategorized

If Dolly Parton Sang It…It Must Be True

I’m watching Good Morning America and Dolly Parton is the guest.  She’s closing the show with a song, how appropriate.  The song captures the thought I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past few weeks.  The song is titled “Celebrate the Dreamer in You”.  What is it about a dream that keeps us going when facing a life disruption?

I just finished the first draft of my doctoral dissertation.  It was a study where I interviewed artists facing chronic and life-threatening illness and they all shared one important characteristic.  They all had a dream for their life and their art.  There was a unanimous devotion to creating work that would continuously inspire and bring beauty to the world while telling their stories.

What interrupts our dreaming process?  I’m not talking about the dreams we experience during sleep, but the dreams that create a path to the future?  Facing a chronic or life-threatening illness may certainly edit that dream, but isn’t it important to keep dreaming?  What is it that moves you forward on your journey to health and healing?

I believe what Dolly Parton was singing about was the importance of holding on to those idea and ideals that bring joy to your life.  She gave a commencement speech to a university and was hesitant thinking she wasn’t smart enough, but she’s intelligent, successful, and wise beyond her years.  The dream is what educates her because when we dream we look for ways to live those dreams. 

What do you need to learn about overcoming a health challenge?  Do your dreams include learning about your own body, mind, and spirit connection?  How will you incorporate those nuggets of wisdom into your life?

I hope you find ways to celebrate the dreamer in you!

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

Fix Me

I listen to a lot of music and when I find something that speaks to me I listen to it over and over again.  One of the things I look for is to find music that has a message.  I like to be able to reinforce my thoughts and beliefs with music because the words and melody continue to play in my head.

Over the summer I rented the movie “Joyful Noise”.  The movie stars two music greats, Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.  It focuses on a small town’s church choir and their desire to win a singing competition.  One of the subplots is between Queen Latifah’s character and her daughter.  A scene shows Queen Latifah’s character in the church playing the piano and singing a song titled, “Fix Me”.  She’s praying through song.  She’s hoping to appeal to her God to mend fences and show her a path that is healing.

It got me thinking about how many times do we ask/pray to be fixed.  Following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness sparks internal conflict and potentially even conflict within their spiritual/religious life.  It’s not a surprise that we want to be “fixed” because they went of course.  We never know what causes illness, because some who have identical lifestyles never see a day of sickness.  So why do we really feel we need to be “fixed”.

One possibility is that we feel that our lives have been lacking some essential ingredient.  If that’s the case then instead of “fix me”, maybe we can shift to “fulfill me”.  The idea of finding what’s missing and making changes improves our health in body, mind, and spirit.

Another possible explanation would be that we haven’t met our potential.  If that’s the case then maybe it’s not “fix me”, but “extend me”.  Allow me to stretch and reach new heights, allowing me to reach my highest good.

“Fix me” makes me think I’m broken and I don’t believe that about anyone.  Facing a health challenge isn’t about being broken; it’s about being challenged.  It’s about being sent on a journey, not of your own choosing, pushing you to go within to new and deeper levels.  It’s not necessarily joyful until you get to your destination, but the journey to health and healing can have some amazing outcomes.

How would you like to shift the notion of “fix me”?

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

Need A Spiritual Connection? Create a Portable Chapel

When I was working in El Paso I had a 15-mile commute to work (not bad).  I like to use my time in the car to process the morning thus far and to ground myself so that I can start the workday on the right foot.  I found that even though I engaged in spiritual practice early in the morning, I needed something else to propel me forward for the day.

I know this may seem like a winding road, but stick with me and we’ll get there.

I had gone to the store one evening and decided I wanted some new music.  I find that music frees my mind and spirit and puts me in a good mood.  I saw the soundtrack for the movie “Joyful Noise” and even though I hadn’t seen the movie, I’d heard snippets of the music.  I love Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah so I though it would be a good purchase.

It was quite a surprise when I listened to the entire soundtrack and found it very uplifting.  They had created a soundtrack that could be used in spiritual venues across the world.  I especially loved four tracks in a row that provided me with the feeling of “giving thanks and praise”.

Listening to these four tracks on the CD, in my car, on the way to work, provided me with my own portable chapel.  I could sing as loud as I wanted, could repeat a song that I needed to hear again, and revel in the good feelings spreading through my body.  I felt as if I had expressed myself musically, and simultaneously created a sacred space and a container for my spirit.  I felt rejuvenated when I got to work and the start of the day was blessed.

It’s amazing how something so simple as the confines of a car and some music can create a space that is special, uplifting, and sacred.  It’s amazing how simple it can be to find that place in your heart and soul to express yourself and to release what might be holding you back in the moment.

When facing adversity in your life whether it be illness, injury, or any other life transition such as loss of job, ending a relationship, etc. it’s crucial to find those places to give thanks for what we have and to muster the strength, courage, and tenacity to move forward.  Having a portable chapel, like the one I created in my car, gives me the freedom to give my body, mind, and spirit a place to connect and fortify myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Have you ever created a portable chapel?  Where do you find those places to fortify your body, mind, and spirit?  I’d love to hear your experiences…Email me at greg@survivingstrong.com