When The World Spins, A Small Gift

I believe in the power of words. The written word and the spoken word. This why I write and speak and coach others to write for a living. Right now, amid all the uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19, the written word has the ability to offer a sense of relief and control. Ample research shows how writing helps us to make sense of our feelings and experiences. For those who don’t know me, I’ve authored a few books and speak to businesses and groups nationwide about resilience and overcoming adversity. I have an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and am a certified instructor in Guided Autobiography, which is a method of life story writing created by esteemed psychologist James E. Birren. 

With everyone’s anxiety at uncomfortable decibel levels, I’d like to offer you a small gift. Put pen to paper or fingers to your keyboard and answer these prompts. See if you can write a full page without editing yourself. Just let your thoughts flow. When you're done,...

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Not Black. Not White. Just Gray.

It’s a peculiar time. The pandemic, while still real, no longer poses a crisis situation for most of us. By no means is this true for everyone; cancer patients, their families, and caregivers continue to be at serious risk. It’s just that the hysteria surrounding COVID-19 in earlier months has waned as the world now tries to live with a virus that isn’t going away anytime soon. It isn’t new. It isn’t old. It’s just our new reality.

Let’s call this in-between place the gray zone. I wrote about my own experience learning to accept gray earlier this year in The Reality of Grief. One of my all-time favorite writers, Abigail Thomas, who taught writing workshops for cancer patients after her daughter’s diagnosis, puts it this way in her book What Comes Next and How to Like It: “Part of what I’ve learned is that if it isn’t life and death, it isn’t life and death. I know now that cancer is not an isolated...

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Choose the Sun, Not the Surrounding Storm

The sun shines nearly every day in Denver. It’s what drew me here 13 years ago after losing my first husband, Brett, to brain cancer when our twins, Rebecca and Casey, weren’t even 3 years old. I needed the sunshine to heal then—and I need it now. The sun is more powerful than cancer, and I have to believe that it’s more powerful than COVID-19, which has thrown the entire world into crisis.

For cancer patients, in particular, the pandemic has created another level of disruption. Weakened immunity puts patients at greater risk, and hospitals are so bogged down by COVID-19 that sometimes treatment must be delayed in order to minimize risk of infection. That’s not all. Because COVID-19 is highly contagious, most caregivers can no longer accompany loved ones to the hospital. The changing landscape is full of unknowns, making everyone feel upside down.

This is the first in a series of new columns about resilience, an area I’m passionate about and grew...

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Know Your Strength

've taken up boxing. This is me practicing my jab.

Let me be clear about something. In no way do I have any intention of fighting for real. I took up boxing for three reasons:

 

 

 

 

 

1) because it's a heck of a workout and I tend to shy away from intense cardio activity
2) because it challenges and balances my brain, and
3) because it pushes me to be my strongest, most capable, resilient self.

 

You might actually see me laughing during these workouts -- at myself and my own clumsiness and poor coordination. Even so, I take these workouts seriously and appreciate the lessons borne from trying something new that pushes me way beyond my comfort zone physically and mentally.

 

There is no straight line to a strong self. There is only the persistent work of showing up and being resilient. 

 

Take time to summon your strength every day and especially during periods of stress.

 

What you do doesn't matter so much as what you think....

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