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

What’s Your Story?

We read books, watch movies, and engage in dreamtime where we explore the unconscious.  What’s your story?  Following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness has your story changed?  Do you want to change your story? If so, here’s your chance.

Some people take on the story of the adventurer and their health challenge is a journey like in The Odyssey.  Some of you cast your illness as the enemy where you can live out the story from the Die Hard movies.  There’s a whole other group who take their illness to be a more romantic nature like the person in distress who needs to be saved, pick any Mandy Moore movie where she gets ill.  We relate to the characters because we relate to the genre.

The amazing thing about your story is that you change it any time you want.  I can’t tell you how many times I met someone newly diagnosed with an illness who could have withered away and after some time working together became a modern-day Rocky (I can still hear the theme from Rocky playing in my head).  The roles we play and how we hold our illness in context determines who we will react to treatment, respond or interact with our medical team, and utilize all available resources for health and healing.

How has your story served you in the past and is it still serving you?  Often the stories you told yourself before the diagnosis don’t work following the diagnosis.  It’s not uncommon for individuals to have been living a persona and following the diagnosis take on a more authentic role and actually do better in all areas of their lives.

There’s definitely no one best genre of story for you adapt to your life.  Everyone’s life is different, just like everyone’s diagnosis is different.  It’s not about the diagnosis, but about the story you tell about the diagnosis and then what follows.  Tell me your story and let’s see how or if it’s working for you and how we can rewrite the story…think of it as a living document.

Posted in Caregiving

We’re All On an Odyssey

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

Over the past few months I’ve been spending time reading and studying about Odysseus, the story of “The Odyssey”.  If you haven’t explored it, it’s a wonderful story and so applicable to life today which to many would be a surprise.  The lessons are explored by many authors who take their turns exploring the meaning behind the story and how it applies to their particular discipline.

Tonight I finished Norman Fischer’s book, Sailing Home, a Buddhist perspective of The Odyssey.  I found the book to beautifully written and the meditations were good ways to understand the work on a deeper level.  At the end of the book Fischer talks about the point in our lives when we “come home”.  For many facing a health challenge you may be thinking this is the point of death, but he takes it much deeper because his perspective is that there is no such thing as death, only life in the moment.

The part that caught my attention and that I want to share with you is a story he tells about a friend who is a hospice social worker.  The hospice worker asked Fischer, “How do you prepare for death?”  He finally answered the following, “So hospice work is about living, appreciating living, at life’s most crucial and poignant moments.”  Can you think of anything more eloquent? 

Caregiving is about sharing those tough moments at “life’s most crucial and poignant moments”.  It’s the ability to share a moment with someone when you are both at your most vulnerable.  There’s an intimacy that develops even deeper than any physical intimacy you could imagine.  As a caregiver, to develop the capacity to be completely naked emotionally and spiritually is an amazing journey.  It’s a gift that provides you and the person you’re caring for hope in love, togetherness, and compassion.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hero or Heroic?

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

I’ve had quite a week at school with the magnificent and legendary Jean Houston.  In focusing on the story of Odysseus as a metaphor for life I began thinking about the life of the caregiver.  Trying to do your best in  what is an honor gesture of love and support you are sucked into a story that was beyond your control.  You are thrust into a story that is mythic in proportion whether you realize it or not.  The important thing to consider is, are you trying to be a hero or are you living heroically.

You may be wondering what the difference is but I assure you there is a huge difference.  As a hero you are always there to save the day.  Your sacrifices are done with mixed intentions.  As a hero you own a lot of control of the situation.  We see this in a lot of corporations, nonprofit organization and families.  Living heroically means embarking on a journey that is larger than life.  You are meeting the dragons and sirens along the way who are trying to detract you from your mission.  What’s the mission?  To live your best life and sharing that best life with those you’re caring for in the process.

I assure you that you will be tempted off your course and the first few times that will be disconcerting.  Trust me, it will be a learning experience.  You will learn more about yourself in the process and that’s worth its weight in gold.  Can you imagine anything better or more fulfilling than stepping into your true essence and offering your help and support as a caregiver/wellness partner from that world, emotional, and spiritual view.

It’s an amazing process to go on the odyssey because it substitutes the gloom and doom that may accompany caregiving and gives it a new sense of hope and adventure.  It provides you with an opportunity to explore the depths of your soul and you’ll need that for the long  journey because when the journey ends you’ll have that wisdom to rely on.  Live heroically and let me know what you learn along the way!

Posted in Uncategorized

Are you living a mythic life?

Stories have been a part of our lives since our childhood.  I’m sure you have a favorite story that was either told to you verbally or was a favorite bedtime story read to you over and over again.  How big was the story?  Not the number of pages, but the characters in the book, were they larger than life?

Myths are great parts of every culture because they embody who we are as humans.  They take into account universal themes and that makes them accepted throughout the culture.  It’s the universality that allows buy-in from the masses and once the story is adopted people begin to use it as part of their personal history.

Following your diagnosis did you begin to have thoughts or dreams of Atlas or Hercules?  Are there other mythic stories that represent your journey to wellness?  Your diagnosis was your initiation to the underworld.  Following the diagnosis your energy is focused on ascending the ladder to health.  Knights slew dragons, Harry Potter fights evil energy, and you are taking on your illness.

Once the shock of the diagnosis wears off you come to a place of understanding and determination to overcome the challenge.  You begin to call in all your knowledge and support to conquer your dragon.  Obviously it’s not an easy task.  If you ask those who have reached a place of acceptance, whether or not they were cured, you will hear them speak of their personal transformation.  This transformation is the culmination of winning the battles along the way.

What story does your life tell?  Is it of mythic proportion?  Would you like it to be?  If so how will you make it so?  Myths are rooted in our soul connecting us all to one big story.  I hope you’ll tell your story because we don’t want any gaps in the bigger story.