Posted in Caregiving, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, overcoming adversity

The Unified Person

One of the things I had to break myself from doing when I spoke was splitting parts of myself. I can look back and see how I had confused indecision with no commitment. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about let me give you an example. I would be discussing an issue and would find myself saying, “A part of me….” How is that possible? Did I really think that only the cells in my right pinky believed a particular thing and the rest of body was in revolt? I’ve spoke with many people over the years that try and exile a part of the body that is causing them trouble but that never seemed to work. Unifying the body, mind, and spirit is the only path to health and healing.

If we divide ourselves in physical, emotional, and spiritual beings it’s like having three people fighting for limited resources. When we unify our forces we create an incubator for healing. It’s that incubator that provides a safe place to nurture a strategy for growth, renewal, and peace. It takes some work, but it reaps huge rewards.

Dr. Jeff Miller shared, “Body and soul cannot be separated for purposes of treatment. For they are one, and indivisible. Sick minds must be healed as well as sick bodies.” Having had the privilege of spending thousands of hours with individuals facing chronic and life-threatening illness I understand the importance of a unified front. You can’t play the game we did as kids, if mom says no ask dad, because we diminish the odds for health and healing.

We have to remember that when we’re facing emotionally draining situations our bodies defenses are compromised. The ideal situation is that when one of the three components that makes us whole is feeling compromised the other two can step in and bolster the compromised part of our being. If you’re emotionally drained your faith may take over, sending in reinforcements helping until you’re emotionally restored. (I’m not talking about mental illness, that often requires the help of a mental health or medical professional)

We all have to remember that all three parts of our being won’t be firing on all engines all the time. There is a dance that happens between the three and understanding that our being is always in a fluid state will make the ebb and flow more natural and not so scary!

Experiencing the ebb and flow of the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of your life?  Visit

Want to explore how to create a natural state of balance with body, mind, and spirit?  Visit

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity, Spirituality and Health

Lessons from the Road Part 3: People at Work

Ever cross the country on one of the Interstate highways created during the Eisenhower administration? I can’t imagine traveling cross-country and having to meander through small towns trying to find the most direct route to my destination. I’m grateful for these highways and byways and for the men and women who keep the roads in good shape.

There are signs on the roadside where work is being done that says, “Hit a worker and receive a $10,000 fine and 14 years in jail.” That’s quite a hefty price to pay, but we’ve been warned so driving recklessly through these work zones is sheer stupidity. It always makes me nervous driving through these zones because there are always anxious, tail riding drivers behind me; no matter, I stand my ground and drive the reduced speed limit. We need these roads to be in the best condition possible to make travel safe.

The same is true as we live our lives. Our personal infrastructure is critical to living a good life. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives are always in flux. There are definitive steps we can take to insure that we keep ourselves in the best possible state-of-being. We can pay attention to the needs of our body, mind, and spirit to provide a foundation for a life filled with health, joy, and peace.

What are the work zones in your life? Where are there areas where you need to slow down, pay attention, and take steps to shore up those aspects of your life? What are you reading? What are you creating? What are you exploring? What actions do you take when you have moments of insight? We know that if you don’t pay attention to your personal infrastructure, just like the roads we travel, your body, mind, and spirit will begin to deteriorate. This deterioration creates physical ailments such as migraines, back pain, and gastro-intestinal trouble as some examples. The huge increase in depression and anxiety across the lifespan is evidence that our emotional infrastructure, as a society, is in need of attention. The number of suicides, and the number of people on antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs is staggering.

Life doesn’t come without a price and I’m not talking about financial. I’m referring to the energy and attention that is required to propel us toward health and healing. We can’t live our lives on autopilot. We need to pay the price such as exercising, praying, meditating, therapy, or creative outlets of our emotional lives. Create your own work zone, it works for our country and it will work for you!

Facing adversity and looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

Want to explore your creative side to use as the roadwork for your body, mind, and spirit?  Visit

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

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

Time to Become a Demolition Expert

We’re fascinated by destruction that is intentional? Wonder what I’m talking about? Every news station shows when old buildings, stadiums, and hotels are imploded using massive amounts of explosives. There is something powerful about watching something we believe to be so strong and permanent come down with the greatest of ease by simply placing explosives in all the right places.

This topic is probably not one you would expect when discussing health and healing, but I can’t think of a more appropriate topic. It’s important because it’s about ridding yourself of what’s getting in the way of progress, getting well or getting better. The idea that we have to rid ourselves of old scripts, old strategies, and old information is critical on the health and healing pilgrimage.

Demolition can be scary because it sounds like we’re talking about losing something, but does it make sense to keep something that is getting in the way? Does it make sense to keep something that is counterintuitive to healing? Does it make sense not to make room for strategies that aren’t yet part of your consciousness?

The big question is, “What does demolition look like when it comes to our coping strategies and our grip on negative thinking?” This is where it gets a bit tricky because we’re deeply invested in our established patterns. Demolition of these patterns that no longer serve us can feel like a loss and leave us feeling like we’re floating in the ocean with no shore in sight.

I worked in a drug and alcohol social model outpatient program for quite a while.   The agency ran abstinence meetings (their version of a 12-step program). I was facilitating a meeting one evening and we had a young man who had been clean and sober about thirty days. He started to share and what he kept talking about was his state of confusion. It didn’t take long for someone with a bit more sobriety to chime in on the topic of confusion. It’s been twenty years since that meeting and I still remember the participant’s response. He said, “Feel blessed for the state of confusion because it means you’re still teachable!”

Once you demolish what isn’t useful and may be feeling confused; it’s time to find and develop new coping strategies. Remember that this will apply to your physical, emotional, and spiritual lives. You may begin a yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or engage the services of a personal trainer. You may attend a support group, start counseling, or begin a journaling program. Your may seek a spiritual path, attending services or some type, or go on a retreat. At this point you may be overwhelmed, but these are suggestions, not imperatives. They aren’t dictates just opportunities for growth for you body, mind, and spirit.

Demolition isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re ready and willing to put up the new structure in its place. You are entering a space of possibility! You are giving yourself the gift of holistic healing! You are being proactive in your health and healing journey!

Facing adversity?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

When creating new coping strategies why not engage your creative energy, visit

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

Put a Tiger in Your Tank

We live very busy lives. Our schedules have become overwhelming and infringes on time for relaxation. Technology, although vitally important, robs many of time and energy because work is accessible all the time. The cell phone has made us all available twenty-four hours a day. We haven’t quite learned to set limits and as a result feelings of depletion prevail.

Now take your schedule and add some stressor to the equation. It doesn’t matter what the stressor is, it can be physical, emotional, or spiritual the impact is often similar, you compound the negative impact. The body, mind, and spirit don’t respond arithmetically; they respond exponentially. Your run great risks to your personal health and it’s difficult to stop that downward spiral without some type of intervention.

It’s critical in our modern day life to continually charge your battery. Energy is finite. Our body, mind, and spirit don’t produce energy without fuel. It requires us to fill our tanks in order to continue our journey. How do you fill your tank?

Love is a great fuel source. Having those who provide you with warm and kind thoughts, a great hug, and unconditional love is phenomenal renewable energy source. The ability to receive love is a profound experience. Having the capacity to accept such powerful energy is a blessing.

Compassion is a great fuel source. Our fuel tank is filled when compassion flows both ways. Compassion provides us with a safe container to move through what challenges us. It doesn’t require us taking on the challenges of others, or them taking on our challenges, but a deep understanding of each other’s experience.

Fun is a great fuel source. It’s okay to be serious, but without fun we have no balance. Fun is fundamental to living a full live. It can relieve stress, eliminate negative energy and impact your physical being. When we have fun we laugh. Laughter has been shown to be a natural analgesic for our bodies. It also provides us with the ability to change our priorities releasing some of the ties that bind us to our challenges.

How do you fill your tank? What have your discovered to be a renewable energy source? Share it with others, share it with us!

Facing a challenge in your life?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

Want to explore how art impacts healing and can fill your tank?  Visit

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

Crazy Weather Crazy Life

I live in Denver and the spring brings crazy weather. Like so many parts of the country, unpredictability seems to be norm instead of the exception. The Rocky Mountain region has been hit with tornadoes over the past month. It started with daily hailstorms and moved up to those whirling winds that touch down and wreak havoc.

I’m not trying to play meteorologist. I am bringing your attention to the moments in your life when everything is calm and then in a moment everything changes. The tornado touches down in your life and damage on the physical, emotional, or spiritual plain may result.

Tornadoes are unpredictable because there’s no way to predict the exact spot they will touchdown, so we all sit in our basements or an interior room of the house hoping it passes over us. So many people do the same in their lives; they have a medical test and hope the diagnosis will pass over them. People engage in risky behaviors and hope, even pray, that the negative impact won’t land in them or on them.

How many times have you had this experience? You, or maybe even a doctor, tells someone they need to stop smoking and gives them all the information about the negative impact of nicotine and tobacco. The individual in all their glory will tell you about their eight-five year old aunt, cousin, or friend who smoked three packs a day and never suffered any negative results. They may be telling the truth, but explain that to the tornado that is passing through a neighborhood. Where will it land? In your life, were will adversity hit?

I’m not saying that all of life is random. We have enough data and anecdotal evidence showing us that our actions have consequences. It’s not only on the negative end on the continuum! Eating right, getting enough sleep, and having fun gives your body, mind, and spirit the fuel it needs to promote healing.

So what will you do with this information? You have many choices; that is where you have control. How will give yourself every advantage to prevent a tornado from touching down in your wheelhouse? What can you do today that will improve your life? Who will you go to for support, guidance, and love?

Life is crazy! We’re all so busy and that often impacts our level of consciousness. We switch over to autopilot and keep on cruisin’. Be conscious! Be in your body! You never know when a tornado will hit or what it will drop, just ask Dorothy. You do have the power to build a shelter for your body, mind, and spirit so that if a tornado does strike, you’ll be in a place where you’ll survive. You may have to rebuild, but you’ll survive!

Facing adversity in your life?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit

Interested in how Art Heals the body, mind, and spirit?  Visit

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

Who’s the Master and Who’s the Student

**A note of gratitude…This marks  the 600th post on Pilgrim Pathway/Surviving Strong.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me!!**

Everyone wants to think they’re an expert, especially in the field of medicine.  We know that medicine, diseases, and treatments change frequently.  What our bodies are exposed to changes.  What technology provides for treatment changes.  How we gather information propelling forward on our journey to wellness changes.  I say this because there may be times when you have an emergency, or your provider is away and you meet up with a doctor who isn’t as disease savvy as your own…what do you do?

I know that many doctor’s/medical providers may feel threatened because the words “I don’t know” are not usually part of a medical provider’s vocabulary.  I think they choke on the words instead of showing humility.  It can be difficult for many patients to assert themselves in these instances because we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that doctor’s know all, and will guide us in the direction of wellness.

Let’s talk about assertiveness for a moment.  When I was in high school I was part of a team who was asked to serve as hall monitors for night school at the beginning of the school year.  We’d provide the adults with the layout of the school and show them to their classrooms.  I’d be standing in the hallway when a meek mannered individual would approach and ask in an almost whisper, “Can you tell me where the assertiveness training is held?”  Aside from the smirk in my head, I’d show them to the class and report back to my post.  I was amazed and thrilled that so many of these individuals were doing something about the non-assertive nature.

Back to our matter at hand…it’s important to have the capacity to be assertive, not aggressive.  It’s about setting boundaries if the medical provider’s information seems a bit off-base.  It’s fine to ask if there’s a specialist on-call who can serve as a second set of eyes and ears.  It’s legitimate to request from the provider why they are choosing this treatment or medication at this time.  There are some providers who may believe this is questioning their ability; that’s when it’s imperative that you offer the medical provider your expertise.  You’ve been living with this health challenge, and you know your body, so why aren’t you the master and they the student?

The likelihood that you’ll encounter this situation is most likely to happen if you visit an emergency room where the  doctor on-call is from a specialty other than the one that treats your specific health challenge.  In many cases, specialists who deal with chronic and life-altering diseases practice in groups to help us, the patient’s, avoid this type of situation.  One other place this shift in master and student might occur is if you’re traveling and you’re out of reach of your usual provider.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to contact your own physician (be assertive)…trust me they’ll understand and in many cases they’ll be thankful.

You are the master when it comes to dealings about your own body.  If you pay attention to your physical, emotional, and spiritual barometers you’ll be able to navigate your way assertively to health and healing.

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

Expect the Worst…Hope for the Best

Years ago I was fretting about some college exams and my mother made sure I understood, “You expect the worst, hope for the best and most times it ends up somewhere in the middle.”  I was reflecting on that philosophy this week while going through some of my notes from reading I’ve done in the past couple of months. 

I read, “Dancing at the River’s Edge”.  The book is co-written between a woman with lupus and her doctor (the doctor’s portion much more interesting than the patient’s).  There was a line in the book where a doctor says to the woman, “I can make you better, but I can’t make you well.”

This line resonated with me because it followed the expect the worst…hope for the best mentality.  The idea that once you receive the diagnosis there is always a crack in the cosmic egg.  That one little Achilles heal that even if you recover leaves a spot of vulnerability.  It’s the reason why it’s so important to revel in the joy of health on any level.

The first question to ask yourself then is, “What is better mean?’  It would require you to take an inventory regarding your physical, emotional, and spiritual being and mark that as your baseline…the starting point.  If you were to “get better” what would that look like?  How would you know you’re experiencing “better”?

Understanding your personal health continuum allows you to become more intimate with your life on many levels.  It allows you to tune into your body, mind, and spirit so you’re better able to provide the resources they need to improve your current situation.  Having the ability and the willingness to move up the health continuum propels you on your pilgrimage to health.

Like the line in the book says, you may not be well, but better is an improvement and that leads to hope.  Hope is the foundation for moving along the health continuum.  It fortifies body, mind, and spirit. 

What does better look like to you?  How would you like to work on “getting better”?  Are there things you’d like to commit to so you move in that direction?  I’d love to hear the actions you’re taking to “get better”.