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

Time to Crash The Party

Everyone loves a party because they’re fun! Parties give us a chance to spend time with friends, eat good food, and most of all laugh. Parties are often about celebrations. Celebrations are the markers for important moments in life, birthdays, graduations, and weddings. When you’re at a party you’re present. You’re living in the moment and that heightens the experience.

If life were a party what would it look like? Many of us sit around waiting for life to offer us an invitation to participate, but what if that invitation doesn’t come? First of all don’t sit at the proverbial mailbox waiting for the invitation to come; crash the party.

I think back to an episode of Friends that punctuates this point.   The character Monica (played by Courtney Cox) was wound very tight. She had some real OCD type qualities making her feel a bit boxed in with limited amounts of possibility and fun. Then she gets her credit card statement and she realizes that someone had stolen her credit card. The amazing thing is that the criminal was using the card to live life to its fullest. The criminal was taking dance classes, going on horseback rides, and a host of other life engaging activities. Monica says, “she’s living the life I want to live.”

What would it look like if you crashed the party we call life? Are there things you want to do but something is holding you back? It’s sad because many of us wait until we face a challenge such an illness to awaken our body, mind, and spirit to the possibilities life has to offer. Do you want to sit back and wait for something bad to happen to activate your inner party crasher? Isn’t it better to engage in a life that fills your soul? I’m not only talking about having fun, but working in a job that feeds you instead of robbing your body, mind, and spirit of precious nutrients.

This isn’t about turning your life upside down, but engaging in the precious life you’ve been given. Party crashing life means that you take an active role instead of simply floating along and allowing life to determine the path you’ll take. Party crashing life puts you in the driver’s seat, so party on!

Diagnosed with an illness and want to learn to be a party crasher?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to expand your party crashing by engaging in art to aid healing?  Visit http://www.timetolifecreatively.com

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

Always Moving Forward: To Infinity and Beyond

We all have projects to complete in our lives: raising our families, fixing the house, finishing school, or overcoming the impact of a chronic or life-threatening illness.  It doesn’t matter the project there are steps that are important to keep moving forward in your process.

Moving forward is probably one of the key pieces of the puzzle.  It reminds me of an episode of friends where Phoebe (played my Lisa Kudrow) is dating a police officer.  He talks about moving their relationship forward and she’s hesitant.  He says, “If you’re not moving forward, your moving backward.”  She responds with, “No, not necessarily, if you’re not moving forward you’re standing still” and she strikes a mannequin pose.  Moving forward doesn’t mean you’ve reached your personal summit.  It does mean that your intention is to progress physically, emotionally, or spiritually (or all 3).

Don’t be alarmed, we all get stuck, but it’s how you become unstuck that matters.  I mentioned yesterday that I submitted my dissertation for review.  Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting with my adviser and thanked her for her patience.  She said, “I knew you would do it.  You were passionate about the subject, and all you needed was for the timing to be right.”  Those were important things for me to hear because it was what I needed to hear.

Having someone who has faith in your ability to move forward on your project is vital to achieving any of your goals.  Knowing you’re not alone in your journey is worth its weight in gold.  Who do you believe or know is on your team?

It was also important for me to hear that it would happen when the time is right.  I know you’re wondering how does that apply to an illness, when you’re ready for progress the moment you get diagnosed.  It’s not about progress in whether you’re getting better or well, but progress in your commitment to your own wellness.  It’s a commitment to integrating the diagnosis in a way that it doesn’t submerge you in despair.  It’s about believing every day is an opportunity to try again.

We are our most important project.  How will you make yourself and moving forward a priority, not just a pipe dream?  I’d love to hear about your journey, email me at greg@survivingstrong.com

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

The Relationship Super Highway

Our lives are both complicated and enriched by our relationships.  They can boost us up as easily as tear us down.  I’m in Chicago for the week and on the radio on my way to the airport the DJ’s were talking about “frenemies”.  It’s hard to understand how someone can be both a friend and an enemy.  Isn’t life way too short to have to worry about constantly compromising ourselves for the sake of relationships that may not mean very much to us.  On the other hand what do you do when someone has a different understanding of your relationship and it confuses you, but doesn’t seem to confuse them?

Once upon a time I had a colleague that over time became friendly with; spending a lot of time together and eventually considering a business collaboration.  One evening I invited her to an event I was attending (we’d already been friends for six years) and following that event never heard from her again.  I did get a call from her during the election season asking me on her way to hear Obama speak if I wanted to join her.  After no relationship for a year I received an e-mail from her asking me to assist in a marketing evaluation she’s doing for her business.  So where is this leading?  After an intense friendship she abandoned the relationship and now thinks she’s banked enough good will to assist in her business…you can stop laughing now.

So where am I going with this?  When facing any type of health challenge your energy has to be reserved for those relationships that bring you joy and comfort.  The relationships you have should be the source of energy and vitality.  They should be relationships where you don’t question any part of the relationship because that just saps your energy.  Your relationships should be those things that are part of your personal infrastructure (as I discussed last week) and not a pork project.  Don’t feel that you have to be friends with someone because it looks good or you’re expected to based on your social circles. 

I’m telling this story as an example.  There was a time when I was disappointed and confused about what happened, so what’s different about now?  I am taking care of me and thinking about that relationship was a drain.  Relationships need to be two-way or they don’t work.  If a relationship is dragging you down ask why you’re still in the relationship.  I’d rather have a few very close friends than lots of acquaintances.  My relationships are my fountain of youth and healing.  They are with people who lift me up, encourage me and will tell me when I need to get back up on the horse.

If your relationships aren’t empowering you how is it helping your immune system?  If your relationships take more than energy than they produce your inner well will run dry and then you’re left dazed and confused?  How do you assess which relationships are good for you?  If some of your relationships are draining how will you detach from the negativity that comes with those interactions?  If you’re continuously let down by the relationship how is it reinforcing your plan for wellness which should include putting yourself first?