Lessons I’ve Learned from My Friend in Hospice

Sybil's Valentine Tree 2013

My friend, Sybil, has a disease called CBGD and has been living in a guest home for a few years.  Her disease has frozen her body and taken away her ability to communicate and care for herself.  And yet, she is still my friend.

Witnessing this part of her life has been an interesting experience for me.  For the most part, I have been surprised how much I enjoy visiting her and there have also been times when I feel like my heart is breaking.  She has modeled pure grace and I love that the last word she can speak clearly and often is the word, “yes”.  It speaks to who she really is and how she has lived her life.

Sybil’s journey is also a learning experience for me and I would like to share some of the lessons and reminders that have come my way because of it.

Live each day fully – we never know how much time we have or when things might suddenly change. This may be the best year of your life or the last time you get to do something you really enjoy.  Approach your days with awareness and appreciation because each one is truly a gift.

 Trying to understand “why” is a waste of time – sometimes things just don’t make sense.  Why is my friend who loved to travel and have compelling conversations sitting in a wheelchair unable to move or speak day after day after day?  What could God possibly have in mind?  I have learned to accept that it is not for me to know the answer to this question.

My life is truly blessed – it is so easy to get upset about little things like bad hair days, computers that don’t work, and other challenges that come along, but visiting Sybil puts my life in perspective very quickly and reminds me just how blessed I am.  I can move, take care of myself, talk, drive, read, and even swallow easily.  She reminds me to be grateful for all of these, and more.

Sometimes being loving is all you can do – most of the time, now that we can’t have conversations, I read to my friend.  But, it’s really about just showing up and being there.  I believe in the power of love and when that is all I can offer, I know that it will be enough.

(Thank you Sybil for saying yes to my sharing this story.)

Tokens and T-Shirts – How to Stay Grounded, Inspired, and Focused

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Remember those old Nike t-shirts that said, “Just Do It!”  I used to have one and I am pretty sure it had magical powers that helped me run up hills.  Just knowing I had it on boosted my focus and motivation.  I was inspired!

When we assign meaning to the things around us, we can use them to help us feel more grounded, motivated, or connected to our intentions. 

I have clients and friends who carry pocket tokens with words on them, heart shaped stones, or prayer beads.  I once carried an acorn from my friend’s farm in Tennessee so I could stay connected to the peaceful feeling I felt there.   Other ways to tap into the power of symbols include wearing t-shirts with sayings, heart shaped jewelry, or anything that triggers the feeling you want.

This morning I talked to a young client facing her first college midterms.  When she takes her test tomorrow she will be wearing a favorite necklace to serve as a reminder of how calm, focused, and confident she can be.  She is going to do great.

What would you like to stay connected to?  What can you carry with you as its symbol?  Go ahead.  Try it.  You might be surprised at how well it works.

Today, my reminder is to wear a t-shirt that says, “Life is Good!”  And, so it is!

The Love Balloon

For some reason, this week I feel called to repost this story from October 2011.  My sweet cat Smoky has since passed on, but I will never forget our experience with the love balloon.

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For my recent graduation from the Spiritual Psychology program at the University of Santa Monica, my dear friends Patricia and Kaleo gave me two balloons.  One of them said, “congratulations”, and the other had hearts on it.  I took the balloons home, where they floated up to the ceiling.

The balloons stayed by the living room window for several days and then I noticed the one with hearts was missing.  While the congratulations balloon has never moved, the heart balloon began to explore my two story home.

One morning, I woke up feeling compelled to write a loving email letter to someone in my family who was facing a challenge.  After finishing it, I sat in my desk chair enjoying the feeling of love I had for that person.  When I looked over my shoulder, I discovered the heart balloon had come up behind me, as if to inspire or share in the love.

I renamed it the Love Balloon and over the next few days watched it travel from room to room as if spreading love throughout my home.  One afternoon it centered itself in my bedroom window and seemed to be beaming love out to the world.

The Love Balloon is coming to the end of its life now and has made a new connection.  It chose to spend its last hours above my cat, Smoky’s  food bowl and they seem to have formed quite a bond.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Love Balloon.  Think what you want.  Believe what you want.   But, for me, it’s been a beautiful reminder of the importance of sharing love with the world.

A New Perspective on Stress

hamster with hair sticking out

Recently, I presented a program about strategies for dealing with stress to employees at a local insurance office.  One of the things that became clear is that most people think of stress as something big, powerful, and overwhelming, that controls them.

Not true. Continue reading

10 Great Ways to Kickstart Your Day

good morning

Every day is a gift.  A blank slate to write on. The choices you make in the first moments after awakening can impact your energy, effectiveness, and mood for the entire day.  I am a big fan of morning practices and encourage you to create one of your own.  Here are some fun ideas: Continue reading