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

The Healing Olympics

We’ve all been watching the London Olympics for the past two weeks.  It’s amazing to watch these athletes compete in these often grueling events only to turn around and compete in yet another event.  Just thinking about their schedules, training routines, and level of concentration is exhausting.  Every so often there are new sports added to the Olympics like women’s boxing in the current Olympic games.  What if Health and Healing were an Olympic sport…would you be a gold medal winner?

I guess what I’m asking is, in your life, since your diagnosis, what roles have you taken on?  What commitments have you made to yourself propel yourself on your journey to wellness?  How do you “train” to increase your chances at getting better or getting well?

It’s a daunting task and if we put as much time into health and healing that Olympic athletes put into training for their chance at the gold medal would your life be different.  I know that following your diagnosis you may not have the physical stamina to “train” for your journey to wellness, but what about your emotional and spiritual training…what are you doing, how often are you doing it, and what results are you seeing?

Athletic training is grueling, intense, and for me, overwhelming.  However, when it comes to my state of mind, my preparedness for the challenges that are placed before me with my health, and the things I want and need to accomplish, taking on improving upon, turning up the volume on my body, mind, spirit connection becomes the focus of my attention.

Physical training requires that you engage in physical activity regularly.  When you don’t train for a while you don’t pick up where you left off because the body took time off and needs to rebuild to the previous level.  The same is true with your emotional and spiritual self.  If you have taken a leave from your spiritual practice, or creating a safe place for expressing your emotional self, it requires taking a step back and then moving forward.  Continuity is your ally, and it requires that you do your part in the health and healing process.

What are you willing to commit to in your quest for the “Health and Healing” gold medal?  What have you wanted to do that will bring you peace of mind, physical, emotional and spiritual unity or a simply a sense of hope?  What will it take for you to train like an Olympic athlete to increase the possibility of getting better or getting well?  What will it feel like when you stand on the medal podium and your personal anthem is sung singing your praises for a job well done?


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

What’s Your Trajectory?

There are lots of things that can send us spinning into orbit, but the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness takes this concept one step further.  An illness diagnosis makes you feel like you’ve been shot out of a canon.  You are propelled into orbit without any idea as to where you are going to land.  You are flying at a high rate of speed with no protection and you’re probably praying that you land safely.  The idea of being shot out of a canon is funny if you’re at the circus, but when it’s your own life, not so funny.

So what would happen if you transformed yourself from just something shot out of a canon, flying aimlessly and reframed the experience?  What if you transformed yourself into a missile and your target is health and healing, would that change our experience?  Would it make transform being shot out of a canon from a terrifying experience to an experience with purpose and focus?

The other reason to reframe the experience is that it transforms your experience from being a victim to having a sense of control and purpose over your own life.  When you transform being shot out of a canon as scary and something happening to you, to something that provides direction and a mission you can alleviate much of the anxiety and fear that often accompany a newly diagnosed illness challenge.

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

Something Caught My Eye

I’m very fortunate that over the past few years since I returned to school I have met some incredible people.  These individuals are not only smart (a given), but they are kind, growth oriented, and grounded in their place in the world.  I’m friends with many of them on Facebook and fortunate that they pass along their sage advice or things that caught their eye on the news, at conferences, or just in their daily interactions with others.

One of these wise folks posted on Facebook something a doctor had said about increasing your health and wellness.  The doctor recommended that one of the ways to increase peace in your life is to finish what you start.  It seems like such a simple thing, but too many of us are like cats; we follow and chase shiny things.  What does that mean in our everyday lives?  How does that impact us if we’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-altering illness?

If you’re feeling desperate or feeling limited in your options you may jump from one thing to another to try to get results.  Often, we don’t give things a chance because we’re caught up in a society that rewards and encourages immediate gratification.  How long does it take to get results?  That’s what many who go one diets ask themselves.  What about finding inner peace or calm, how long does that take?

I don’t know about you, but to some degree I believe I’ll always be in search of deepened enlightenment or self-actualization (Abraham Maslow doesn’t belive many if any of us will make it, but I have hope).  What does that mean?  It means that I have to continue a spiritual practice that gives my body, mind, and spirit the space to expand.  It means I have to provide myself with a space for compassion and connection.  I don’t jump from one thing to another; I stick with one thing that I believe in my heart brings me peace and the space for an open heart.  In my case it’s a creative endeavor.  I find that I can achieve these inner places by knitting or creating art.

I’ve been in Nashville now for a few months and I have completed to knitted shawls and I’m working on number three.  I get up a little early in the morning to knit before work and I knit when I come home from work.  It grounds me and gives me inner clarity.  If I were home I’d be in my studio working on a piece of art because that place of creativity allows my body, mind, and spirit to be creative in its own right…it allows the body, mind, and spirit to regenerate itself and come up with new opportunities for health and healing.

The 12-step  programs speak about “progress not perfection”.  This is one of the reasons that I don’t hop from one self-help mode to another.  I may not get it perfect, but I’m always making progress.   Working on completing projects is a good feeling.  It’s about endings and that allows for new beginnings.  I learn something every time I begin something new.

What do you need to complete?  How do you think making a point of completing things would increase your health and healing?

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

Was Karen Carpenter Correct?

I woke up this morning to the sound of a tremendous rainstorm down here in Nashville.  I love the sound of the rain when it hits the roof; although driving in it is a pain.  I’m one of these people who free associates and when I heard the rain, the thought of it made me think of the line from a song from The Carpenters, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”  I know it’s a song, but I started to think why that may be the case.  The Monday thing I get since that’s when most of those who work outside the home go back to work, but the rainy day thing made me ask some questions.

So what is it about a rainy day that might get someone down?  I guess the gray day would be one contributing factor, and of course the inconvenience, especially if you have to leave the house.  However, a rainy day would definitely be better than no day…hopefully that’s a given.  But a rainy day gives you plenty of time for reflection.  It’s one of those times when the melodic sound of the rain can bring me into a meditative state, slowing me down and allowing me to be quiet for a time.  When I go out in the rain and I get wet it’s the tactile sensation that shocks me into an awake state allowing me to connect with nature.

Where does that leave us?  Well if this is the day we’re given, what are you going to do with it?  Are you going to allow it to get you down, or will you revel in it?  Are you willing to take a rainy day and a Monday and live it to the fullest?  How will you celebrate your rainy day whether it’s literal or figurative.  We all have rainy days on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels, especially following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-altering illness.  Are you going to let it get you down, or can you transform it into a sunny day in your heart?  I guess that’s what we all need whether or not we’re facing a health challenge…sunny days in our heart!

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

Find Your Magic

If you’re on a personal pilgrimage toward health and healing, you’re always on the lookout for things that will improve how you feel and aid the body in rebuilding itself.  It’s interesting because although in this blog we focus on you, the individual with a health challenge, there are some things that are good for anyone whether or not they have a diagnosis.  Find your magic is one of those cross-over issues.

Finding your magic is not about getting a black top hat and a wand, saying an incantation, and waiting for the miracle to happen.  Finding your magic is about creation.  It’s about those small or big things that have an impact on how you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  The body is a complex machine and one of the concerns is the hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is released during times of stress.  Prolonged or continuous releasing of this hormone certainly impacts your health, that’s not just for those with an illness.  Finding your magic is about creating experiences that will eliminate those negative influences on your body, mind, and soul.

This isn’t simply about visualization, which I believe to be extremely effective for reducing stress and guiding the body toward a place of peace.  This is about creating experiences that become part of your everyday life.  Those experiences don’t have to cost money.  Last weekend I made a batch of blueberry muffins.  I made a couple of pots of coffee, brought out the muffins and all my neighbors came over for an impromptu gathering just sitting in the driveway.  It was a great way to start the weekend, not to mention having a few good laughs (good for the immune system…just ask Norman Cousins).

Perhaps your magic comes in the form of a venue.  I find I’m most at peace when I’m near water.  I love the sound, the smell, and the experience of the ocean.  It’s expansive nature and its enormity helps me put things in perspective.  Creating art in my studio produces a magical experience for me.  It gives me the alone time I need to re-energize my soul (I’m an introvert and I recharge my battery alone, not in groups).  I love the process of creating and I get the added bonus of a finished piece of art when I’m done.

Magic isn’t only something you see in a Harry Potter movie.  It’s those moments in your life when you take a breath and acknowledge the wonder of it all.  Yes, having a chronic or life-threatening illness ups the ante on the need for magic, but no matter where you are on your journey to wellness, magic is within your reach.  How do you create magic in your life?  Tell us by leaving a comment or email me at

I’d appreciate you forwarding this post to friends and family who are in need of a little magic in their lives!


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

What Are You Creating?

Prior to your diagnosis your life had a routine; it had a pattern.  When you received your diagnosis it’s as if the pieces of your life were catapulted into the air only to reconfigure themselves when they landed.  For some it may have been an easier conversion to a new life than others; what’s the difference and how can you make the reconfiguration fit your life?

Those of you who found the shift troubling but manageable have certain things in common.  You are inquisitive, have a good support system, and trust your medical team.  These three components go far to propel you on your journey to health and healing.  Do you need all three?  Maybe not, but I do believe that it’s this triumvirate that creates an energy allowing you to strive to get better or well.  I think it’s possible that you can make the transition to a “new normal” without one of the components, but I’d ask you, “Which one don’t you think/or didn’t you think you need?”

Now that you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-altering illness what are you going to create?  What wasn’t working in your life prior to the diagnosis that you’d like to edit out of your life?  Perhaps it’s a job, a relationship, or some other ingredient of your life that needs a substitution.  This is the time to begin thinking about creating the life you want instead of the life you feel you’ve been given.  This is about shifting from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control.  It’s easy to be jealous or angry when you look at the lives of others, but if this is a time of creation, this is your moment to add people and experiences that will help you on your journey to wellness.

What will it take to get you to begin creating this life?  What type of support will/do you need to make these changes?  I’d be honored to partner with you on this journey.  You can either leave a comment below or email at

Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

Why Do They Dance?

Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday!!

I was working out-of-town  the past four months and didn’t have a television in my temporary digs.  Believe it or not I didn’t miss it, but now I’m back home and of course the television is readily available.  One of the things I do love about the media, in all its forms, is the opportunity to pick up little nuggets that are great to ponder.

If you’ve read the blog you’ll know that I’m a big fan of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTUCD).   I think it’s an amazing competition, even for a non-dancer such as myself, and gives these passionate dancers a platform to move their careers forward.  What struck me this week was the commercial for the new season.  The commercial shows dancers doing what they do best…dance, and then the big question, “Why do they dance?”, followed by the bigger question, “Why do you breathe?”

When I saw the question I was stopped in my tracks.  These dancers (not the crazy ones you see during the auditions) have devoted much of their lives to their art.  They have sacrificed time, injury (at times), money, and devotion to becoming better dancers.  It’s not just something they do; it’s something they are.

If you ask artists I believe you’ll find this to be true, that creating something is vital to their health and well-being, not to mention their sanity.  I know when I get out-of-sorts I’m sent to my studio, guess it’s better than psychotropic meds.

You may not be an artist dedicated to creating works of art, choreographing the next ballet to be performed at Lincoln Center, or the next great screenwriter/director/actor; but you do have creativity.  We seek beauty in our lives.  We’re caught by a beautiful flower, a lovely plate of food, an amazing piece of clothing, not to mention paintings, sculpture and the rest of the art mediums.  We doodle on our notepads at work, buy colorful pens to write with because their fun, and decorate our homes to reflect our style and taste.

Our creative tendencies are part of our story.  Art may not be your lifeline to the world, but finding an outlet to continue telling your story is imperative to health and healing.  The shelves at bookstores are lined with books about famous people who tell their illness story.  They feel the need to share their experience and have us serve as a witness to their journey.

When I hang a piece of art I hope others will share my story, create their own story, and then see how our worlds interact.  We may not all be artists, but we have or do something that is our lifeline to our health and well-being…what’s yours?  Are you actively engaged in the activity that brings joy and meaning to your world?  How does it impact your efforts to get better or well?

I’d love to hear how you tell your story….simply hit the comment button and let us know or you can e-mail it to me at

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

Why Are the Casseroles Always Tuna?

Many years ago when I first started doing this work a friend of mine gave me a  book titled, “Why Are the Casseroles Always Tuna?”  The book was a light-hearted reference guide for dealing with death and grieving.  It was a comical look at how we as a society interact with those who are facing a health challenge or know someone whose loved one has died.  Let’s face it, many people don’t handle other people’s illness well, so what are we to do? 

Random acts of kindness go a long way.  I love to cook and I cook while I’m on the road.  I make large quantities so I can freeze some for another day, but still have enough for the leftovers.  My friend at work who is going through cancer treatment doesn’t really have a support network in place and it’s apparent that he needs one.  He has some friends who text him and call, but phoning isn’t like being there with the person.  I’ve adopted him.

When I cook I bring him food so he gets a home cooked meal a couple of times a week.  When I make soup I always give him a container that last him a few days.  He comes to life with joy and appreciation.  He jokes with me that he has washed out the container and I should feel free to refill it (not an expectation, just a hope).  It really is the small things even with my co-workers.  If I go out to the bank during the day and stop for coffee, I bring one back for my co-worker in the office.  It’s the small things that let people know they have made an impact on your life.  It doesn’t take any time, sometimes a little money ( and I know in these times even a few dollars that can be difficult), but it’s not an everyday happening.

We all need to know that someone is concerned about us.  That need rises after being diagnosed with a chronic or other life-altering illness because of the amount of uncertainty that is now part of your day-to-day life.  It’s kind of like the grown-up version of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, but the person you connect to has some other difficulty in their life at the present time.  I’m making reference to someone who has a health challenge, but it really pertains to anyone who needs a little extra attention or care during any of life’s many challenges.

Who have you adopted?  How do you think it has impacted their life and yours?

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

What’s In Your Wallet?

Capital One credit card asks the question, “What’s in your wallet?” hoping you’re carrying their credit card.  If you take the brand name out of the equation it asks “what type of reserve do you have when you want to make a purchase?”  We hear about the Federal Reserve, oil reserves, grain reserves, etc. and yet most of us don’t consider more personal types of reserves that would serve the body, mind, and spirit.

Tuesday I wrote about the man with the 9 pillows.  Unfortunately for him, the saga continued on Tuesday (my day off).  He called, angry and confrontational about his sofa and loveseat having 9 pillows.  He didn’t speak to people who had any knowledge about how the sofa comes from the factory so his fire was fueled by misinformation.  However, let’s take a step back and realize that this man’s life must suck; either that or he has more reserves in his personal emotional bank than all of us combined; I seriously doubt that in fact I believe his account is grossly overdrawn.

This man just lost 48 hours of his life over pillows.  My first question is, “Why is he so willing to throw away his time and energy on something that hasn’t even occurred yet?”  In addition, his anger and frustration was moot because the sofa  hadn’t been delivered yet, so was his imaginary sofa short pillows?  We all chuckle about this but this individual is literally and figuratively eating himself from the inside out. 

Let’s take it to the next step.  What do you think has been going on in his body for those two days?  How much cortisol has been released into his system as he fights an imaginary fight?  How much stomach acid was released as his body and mind churned over this ordeal?  The body can’t run on empty and unfortunately this man is probably riding on fumes.

There are a lot of things to get upset over, and if you are going to get upset over pillows at least wait till the sofa arrives before you start the battle.  We all have challenges, especially following the diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness; but put your resources and reserves to those things that will make a difference in your life.  His health isn’t getting better because his sofa has 9 pillows.

What challenge would you like to release today giving your body, mind, and spirit the energy and reserves it needs for health and healing?  We all have those little things that get in the way of feeling better, what’s your?