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!

A 4 Step Process for Healing Your History

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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

6 Ways to Bring More Happiness and Positive Energy into Your Life

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Years ago I went through a time period when I was feeling sad and I wasn’t sure where it was coming from.  It had happened gradually without my realizing what was going on.  My days felt hard and my heart was heavy.

And then, one evening I was sitting on my couch watching TV and began to cry.  I realized this was becoming a pattern and that is when it hit me.  I cried when I watched the animal rescue show every evening that featured starving, abused animals in desperate situations.

My choice of “entertainment” was impacting how I felt in a big way.

There are many ways that our small choices can influence our moods, feelings, and level of hope about the world.  In many cases the descent into negativity happens so gradually we are not even aware of it.

Taking the following steps will help you reset your life and start to feel positive again: 
Continue reading

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.

How to Get Perspective When You are Feeling Pressured

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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

How to Rehearse for the Future of Your Dreams

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An early mentor of mine, Kendrick Mercer, used to say that fantasizing was a good thing.  His perspective was that it was rehearsing for reality.

I used to love to hear him tell the story of how he created fantasies of being a brave knight and a Native American warrior in order to survive a childhood with no love and little care.  He lived these stories fully and began to take on the qualities of each persona.  Years later, it was clear that the knight and warrior spirits still lived within him.  Continue reading

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

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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

The Gifts of Simple Living

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Simple living gets a bad rap.  It can bring up images of living in a cabin in the woods with one plate, one fork, and having to raise your own food.  Or, a house that is cold, colorless, empty, and devoid of personality.  And, what about those old, worn, and frumpy thrift store clothes you will have to wear?

The truth is living a simple life is not about that at all.   Continue reading

A New Perspective on Stress

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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

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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

Having Trouble Forgiving? Try This…

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The concept of forgiveness is very noble and we are told it is the right thing to do, but sometimes it is not so easy.

Even when we know that forgivness is not saying the other person was right we may still crave completion, an apology, a way to prevent it from happening to someone else, retribution, or even just understanding what happened. Continue reading

This Idea about People Who Hurt You Could Change Everything!

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I may be a love and peace kind of girl, but I do believe in consequences for actions that are harmful to others.  It  used to bother me that I put a lot of energy into judging the people who  hurt me or committed crimes against others, and then, I had a thought …… Continue reading

Be the Change – Live the Change

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Whatever happened to love, honor and respect as ways of being in our world?  Have you noticed that most of our entertainment is based on murder and violence?  Books, movies, TV shows, and even the video games our children grow up with. And then, we act surprised when something bad happens.

It’s time to shift the tide. Continue reading

Living as a Peaceful Warrior

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I recently listened to an interview with Dan Millman who wrote the book, “A Peaceful Warrior”.  He describes a Peaceful Warrior as someone who has a peaceful heart with a warrior spirit.  I like the sound of that and started thinking about what my life would be like if I showed up as a Peaceful Warrior. Continue reading

Healing and Reconnecting with Who You Really Are

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I  recently came across this wonderful quote by Wayne Muller:

“Your challenge is not to keep trying to repair what was damaged, your practice instead is to re-awaken what is already wise, strong, and whole within you, to cultivate those qualities of heart and spirit that are available to you in this very moment.”  Continue reading

5 Bad Mood Busters that Will Help You Feel Better Fast

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I don’t think anyone gets out of this life without times when they feel low on energy, high on stress, or just not ready to face the world.   The good news is that you don’t have to let it control or disempower you.  At least, not before trying these: Continue reading

How Do You Compare?

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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