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

word rocks (320x241)

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!

A 4 Step Process for Healing Your History

Crying-Baby 500

We all have stories about our histories and many of them are about childhood experiences where our needs were not met.   Some of us continue to feel the pain and anger of those early times.  The beliefs we formed about ourselves and the world also continue to shape our lives.

Holding onto our childhood stories can keep us stuck in the past and blocked from living the life of our dreams.  We can make ourselves sick by keeping the emotions in our bodies.  We live as victims and are controlled by fear.  This is what feeds our deepest feelings of being unworthy and unlovable. Continue reading

How to Get Perspective When You are Feeling Pressured

under pressure

I’ve been to a lot of seminars over the years.  Some were great, some were okay, and some of them made me feel uncomfortable.  The ones I didn’t like usually involved pressure to buy, sell, or do something in order to be accepted.

It’s interesting to watch these charismatic seminar leaders in action. They make a lot of money doing this. They build momentum and get people fired up.  They create a sense of urgency, use peer pressure, and sometimes shaming language:

  • If you don’t buy this you don’t have what it takes.
  • You can’t succeed without us.  We know better than you.
  • It would be really stupid to let this opportunity slip away.
  • You won’t belong if you don’t do this.

The people in our lives may use similar methods to control us.  They can use our fears and feelings of unworthiness to their advantage.  And sometimes, we are so caught up in it that we don’t even realize what is happening. Continue reading

Are Your Life Strategies Working for You – 6 Easy Questions to Find Out

hand and smile

There are times in our lives when we all have continued doing things that no longer served us. Sometimes we just wonder about it.  Is what I am doing working for me?  Should I make a change?  Sometimes we feel stuck. Why does nothing happen when I try so hard?

The following  process is a quick and easy way to evaluate how effective your strategies are and decide how you want to move forward.  Simply ask yourself these 6 questions: Continue reading

Are You On Track to Living Your Most Meaningful Life?

We are happiest when our lives are in alignment with our core values.  Living in a way that reflects what is most meaningful to us, allows us to feel more peaceful, grounded, and fullfilled. Anything that conflicts with our values will create more stress and dissonance in our lives. Continue reading

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

How Do You Compare?

ugly duckling

Whether it be out of a sense of competition or trying to fit in, comparing keeps you in a game that you just can’t win.  There will always be someone you can perceive as higher or better or lower than you.   And, your data will be corrupt as you compare your raw, judged self to the images other people put forward of who they want you to believe they are. Continue reading

LifeQuakes and Earthquakes: Are You Prepared?

woman on shaky ground

I have to admit that even after living in California my entire life this last earthquake scared me.  It was 5.1 and the epicenter was near my home.  This is the first time I have had to clean up broken glass and things that fell off shelves and I am very grateful that it wasn’t worse.

But, it got me thinking.  We all experience quakes in our lives – being laid off, a shaken marriage, death or illness, and even those smaller aftershocks like an argument or project gone wrong. Continue reading

How to Create Closure and Honor Your Experiences

last piece of puzzle

The period of completion, rather than being just an act of finality, is also one of transition. When we seek closure, what we really want is an understanding of what has happened and an opportunity to integrate the lessons we have learned. Continue reading