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

The Year Comes to a Close

Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Can you believe it’s the last day of the year?  I’ve certainly experienced the phenomenon of every year going by faster and faster and it’s a bit alarming.  We’ve just past the holidays and now everyone is gearing up for that big celebration and the ball in Times Square dropping at midnight in hopes of starting fresh.  Can we really start anew simply by a Waterford crystal ball coming down a pole in the middle of New York?  Do you really want to start fresh on January 1st and if so what would that look like?

When you think of starting fresh I hope you look at various areas of your life.  Ask yourself in the new year, “If I can start fresh I would like to achieve xyz goal.”  If that doesn’t tickle your fancy then how about, “If I can start fresh on January 1, I’d like to feel (this way) in the new year.”  So it’s clear that it’s not simply about eating better or getting more rest.  What we have to remember is that starting new doesn’t erase what has happened until this moment.  It’s not like you can erase the day of diagnosis or any other health challenge you’ve had through the year. 

It does mean that instead of trying to achieve something you can make shifts so you life a bit differently.  It can be as simple as increasing the number and times you say please and thank you.  It can be as easy as writing a note to a friend.  I sent a friend a snail mail holiday card and she was so excited because everything is going electronic.  She said to me, “It meant you had to think of me more than 30 seconds ago.”  That’s a big statement and obviously had a big impact.  It means you are acknowledging your relationships and connections.

I’d like to believe that I’ll go to the gym more in the new year, but to make it a goal is only self-defeating, even though I know the benefits.  I can more consciously cook healthier using better oils, less animal fat, and more veggies (love those veggies).  I can find more heart healthy recipes and that’s an activity that I love and has tremendous health benefits.  I can share more meals with friends and that alone increases the activity in your immune system. 

Don’t make it difficult.  Don’t make it something that’s either successful or a failure.  Don’t start something that’s so not in your line of vision that it’s a stretch and not very enjoyable.  Don’t live by anyone’s expectations. 

Do put yourself on the list.  Do think of how each action impacts your journey to wellness.  Do increase the amount of time you spend with those who are special in your life.  Do be more creative and expressive.

I wish you a wonderful 2011.  I hope that in the new year you’re feeling better.  I hope that we can develop a closer relationship in the coming year! 



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

Bookend Holidays and the Traps that are Set

Hanukkah was at the beginning of the month.  We passed the winter solstice last week and Christmas was celebrated over the weekend.  Kwanza started yesterday and if there are any other special holiday celebrations I missed I’m regretfully sorry.  Now that these holidays have past or are underway what happens?  I’ll tell you what happens; we start seeing commercials for fitness clubs and diet plans because New Year’s Eve is this coming weekend and that comes equipped with lots of pressure to set a resolution.

I decided to discuss the resolution today to let you off the hook.  DON’T MAKE A RESOLUTION.  They’re a trap for self-loathing and self-disgust.  I know at some point in history they probably were a planning tool, but now they’re a gimmick to sell products.  This is when all the self-help books come out, and self-help is good, but not the most important thing.

Following the diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness, it’s not about resolutions.  It’s about understanding and compassion.  It’s about learning the intricacies of your body; so in other words it’s about intimacy.  It’s about being kind to yourself when you aren’t up to going somewhere, doing something, or visiting with someone because you don’t have the energy. 

This does become a time of reminiscence.  Many of the shows are looking back on the events of the year and that’s interesting because we can see the latest and greatest trends and fads, but with that always comes the “in memoriam” section honoring those who have died during the year.  Unfortunately, as I wrote about in one of my November posts, not everyone survives and illness.

I’m pleading with you to let yourself off the hook from the New Year’s resolution.  If you want to set goals for the coming year that’s great, especially if they entail ways to promote health and healing.  The trick is to understand that it’s a goal and not a resolution.  A goal is something to work toward, a resolution is filled with idea that the first time you aren’t in line with the resolution you’ve failed.

Goals take time to integrate.  They’re like putting on a new pair of shoes and trying to break them in and when you do they’re your favorites.  The health and healing goals can be made alone or they can be made with friends and family, your medical team, your therapist, or your spiritual advisor. 

Don’t give your power away by making a resolution and then be judged by the “powers that be” on whether you were a success.  The 12-step programs say, “Progress not perfection.”  I think that’s a good motto to live by.

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


Happy New Year and Welcome to 2010!

This time of year is filled with a couple of thresholds.  First there is the winter solstice, for me a really important day because I know from then on the daylight will be getting longer.  For many it’s a religious day, but certainly for all a threshold.  Then we just celebrated New Years.  The threshold there is obvious, but this New Year’s Day was special because it marks the beginning of the next decade.  All weekend I’ve been listening to different news and entertainment outlets talk about the first decade of the 21st century and now we’re starting the second.

You know about thresholds!  You crossed a major threshold the day your doctor gave you your diagnosis.  There are days we want to mark, remember, and celebrate, and those we’d much rather ignore and forget.  Obviously the choice is yours, but you can’t revert back to the land before time…it’s just not possible.

We get the opportunity to create thresholds all the time.  We create thresholds each and every time we take on a new experience, or explore a new belief.  We create these thresholds because prominently marking those times and experiences ceremoniously is what new beginnings are all about.  Each threshold can be a new beginning.  We can create new rituals, attitudes and beliefs.  We have developed the capacity to establish new boundaries for our patience, tolerance and levels of perseverance. 

It’s clear that thresholds can be scary, but well worth experiencing the fear for what lies beyond the threshold.  It’s not uncommon for those facing a health challenge allow the threshold to be a declaration of independence.  We’re not tied to negative thoughts.  We don’t have to be burdened with negative attitudes.  Shedding those layers or negativity is crossing a threshold.

This isn’t about a resolution.  Resolutions are for people who have good intentions but seldom if ever have the stamina to see the intention to its completion.  When we cross a threshold we create a way to walk in the world.  What thresholds have you crossed and what’s been the result?