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

Living in Fear? Time to Change Your Address!

We all have an address, whether it is a physical address that the snail mail gets delivered to or a heart address where you and others connect at the deepest levels. It’s a place to land and without a place to call home our lives can be teetering on the edge.

If you think about a home (whether you have one or not) you know a home is made up of rooms. Each room in a house has a purpose or special meaning (just ask all the realtors helping families where the man of the house wants a “mancave”.) Perhaps you want a library to spark your intellectual curiosity, a craft room to express yourself, or a meditation room to seek a sense of peace. The truth is that rooms have emotional energy as well and for some the place they live in is fear.

Fear is powerful and prevents many of us from accomplishing our life’s mission. It holds us back from completing our life assignment. It tricks us into a state of confusion. When our address is fear what scares us knows exactly where to find us. It’s like we’re a magnet and those things that scare us are drawn to that location like a moth to a flame.

The great poet Hafiz shared his belief on fear, “Fear is the cheapest room in the house; I’d like to see you in better living conditions.” Wouldn’t it be great if Hafiz were your emotional and spiritual realtor? Imagine having someone who knows, believes, and encourages you to change your life’s state-of-affairs. The great things about being an emotional and spiritual realtor is your license never expires and we’re all free to gain insight by his lessons.

How will you change the room you live in? First you have to want to abandon the fear that keeps you locked in a particular room. It requires you to redecorate your surroundings with positive thoughts, rational thoughts, and clear and present action. We give fear too much power; let’s strip it of its power. Let’s tell fear to find a new address with no forwarding address.

If you evict irrational fear (we all have rational fears like starting treatment for a health condition or overwhelming debt from the loss of a job) from your life you’ll be able to take strides to health and healing. You’ll give your body, mind, and spirit the resources it needs to face challenges with determination, endurance, and perseverance.

Want to evict fear?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Fear can be released through art.  To find out how visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

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

Timing is Everything

You hear people talking about being in the right place at the right time when something wonderful happens.  I don’t think too many of you thought your were in the wrong place at the wrong time when you got your diagnosis because that’s not how timing works.  So what is it about timing when contemplating your health and healing?

I arrived at school this afternoon for my last class.  After this class it’s time to write my dissertation.  The coursework has taken three years (for me) and I’m hoping to expedite the dissertation writing process.  One of the students in my class began this journey about 9 years ago and when asked about the gap since her last class she responded, “The timing wasn’t right”.

Timing is a funny thing because it provide you with opportunities.  Oprah often comments on people’s discussion of luck.  She states, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”.  Let’s go with that discussion, not about luck, but about the times on your health and healing journey when preparation meets opportunity.

What opportunities are we discussing?  How about finding about new clinical trials or treatment regimens?  How about hearing about a complementary therapy that has provided stress reduction, jump starting the immune system and integrating body, mind, and spirit?

So what type of preparation does it take?  It requires you to be open-minded.  It requires you to prepare your emotional state to one of acceptance.  You don’t have to accept the illness, necessarily, but you do have to accept the challenge you’re facing and the commitment to wellness.

Part of your preparation may require that you prime the pump for emotional and physical endurance.  It requires that you be open-minded to the “caring truth” and take the feedback people offer you as gifts instead of feeling like everyone is telling you what to do.  Remember, you have the final say in everything and anything you do, exert your personal influence over your life.

You can’t outrun the illness, but you can take steps to prepare you for the journey ahead and hopefully open up lots of opportunities for health and healing.

Posted in Emotional Health, Spirituality and Health

Strength Training

How strong are you?  If you go to the gym you can measure your strength by using some of the apparatus in the gym.  Aside from muscular strength in your arms and legs you hear trainers talk about core strength; the strength in the torso of the body, abdominal and back.  It’s easy to measure your strength on the physical level but what about measuring your emotional or spiritual strength?  Is it possible to develop a workout program for you mind and spirit?  What would it look like?  How would you know the workout is working?

Developing emotional strength takes practice just as if you were working out your bodies muscles.  You develop your emotional strength by experiencing your emotions and allowing them to unfold in their own time.  When you give yourself the freedom to express yourself fully you give your emotions room to expand and become stronger in how they manifest.  Full emotional expression is freeing, stress reducing, and an authentic way to life your life.  It comes down to willingness.  If you didn’t grow up in an environment where emotions were expressed then this may be a challenge, but it can be learned.  It requires that you place yourself in environments where emotional expression is not only modeled, but encouraged.  This is why support groups are a great model for authentic emotional expression when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness.  Being in an environment where emotions are present or right below the surface gives you a safe place to experiment.  It’s like having your own emotional strength building gym.

Have you ever tried to measure your spiritual stamina?  It’s not like you can start running and see when you get tired, although the concept is similar.  Spiritual stamina requires that you find inner guidance providing you with a sense of faith and hope.  Developing your spiritual stamina is not about dogma; it’s about knowledge of your beliefs, values, and intuition.  Having the capacity to find comfort and peace by going within is building spiritual stamina.  Some may need a personal trainer just like when training the physical body and they turn to spiritual directors to help fortify their spiritual stamina in the face of a health challenge.  Knowing that there are others willing to support your is empowering.  It punctuates the knowledge that you have your own internal and external resources for health and healing.

Remember that developing your emotional and spiritual strength is just as important as developing your physical health when facing a health challenge.  Finding outlets that will support this development is the key.  Learning to ask good questions of yourself and others serves as a catalyst for this type of development.  It’s about coordinating your strength building efforts between the mind, body, and spirit.  Don’t underdevelop one area and over develop others…you’ll live life lopsided.

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

Sitting in the Mud

As spring makes its way across the country the rains starts and mud becomes a familiar condition to face.  Ever try and drive through mud thinking you can make it through only to have the wheels begin spinning?  The harder you hit the gas the deeper you sink in the mud.  There are two things you can do; you can either sit there and wait for the mud around you to dry out (that could take days or weeks) or figure out how to develop traction under the wheel so you can get some grip and get out.

The diagnosis is the mud.  It’s easy to get mired in the mud physically, emotionally and spiritually after you hear the words from the doctor that will forever change your life.  I’ve witness way too many people who sit on the pity pot and wallow away in the mud.  Mud is slippery, dirty, and very heavy.  If you don’t have the tools to get out of the mud you can expend lots of energy but not get anywhere.  You become like a hamster on a wheel; going fast but getting nowhere.  What will it take for you to get some traction in facing the health challenge?

Good information will allow you to make good decisions, that gives you traction.  Having a support network not only to provide comfort but to serve as a sounding board for strategy building gives you traction.  Developing good relationships with your providers means you have better access at times when you need it the most, that gives you traction.  It’s not rocket science, but you have to make the choice to get out of the mud; no one is going to do it for you.  I guess you could call a tow truck to drag you out…who’s that person in your life.  The tow truck is the person who has continually saved you from yourself in a variety of situations.  Is that the message you want to send to your body that you need to be saved because you don’t have the desire or stamina?  I think you can do better!

The mud is a hindrance but you can learn how to gain traction if you get stuck.  The real goal is to learn to avoid the mud staying on dry land so you always have the traction you need to continue on our journey to health and healing!