Supporters' Little Secrets

If you haven't already, read my prior two blogs by scrolling down.

 

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When I was going through treatment, I was a bit wrapped up in my own emotional overload.  There were times, however, when I looked at my parents and thought, "Oh my gosh, I wonder what this is like for them?"  Little did I know....

Let's give you a view from the caregiver/supporter side of helplessness and guilt.  Having to take over and care for you loved one rips you away from your life, just as it does for him or her.  All the focus and concern, however, is directed at the patient while you are on a private emotional roller coaster for which you may fear your patient, survivor, or others might detect. 

You try to stay strong, suffering in silence as you anguish for you loved one and the life changes that are occurring.  You may become angry or bitter that you’ve been put in this situation.  You feel your life is on hold while your loved one fights the good fight.  You're being tasked to do something you never could have predicted; halting your life for someone else's.

In the same moment, you can’t believe you feel this way, or even let yourself feel this way.  You feel helpless to control the day to day and eventual outcome of your loved one and want to make it easier, more comfortable for them.  Not only that, you are the interface between everyone wanting to know how things are going, what they can do, etc.  So, there is helplessness, difficult emotions, then “I can’t believe I’m angry, I feel so guilty for being angry.”

Sounds crazy, right?  You are not crazy, you are a completely rational and reasonable person having to cope with an unpredictable and extra-ordinary circumstance.  Yours is a perfectly rational and expected response. 

While the patient/survivor is allowed and even encouraged to express feelings (and given many opportunities through support groups and services), the supporter is not.  In a group I was leading for caregivers, they all complained that patients and survivors have a plethora of support while there is “nothing” for them.  I know, I get the irony.  I was leading a support group for caregivers, and they complained there’s no support for them.  They’re right, however.  This group meets on a monthly basis, and the participants deserve far more than that. 

Let’s face it, supporters are the unsung heroes, quietly doing everything they can while second guessing themselves along the way.  I hear you!  It’s not fair that your loved one is suffering, and it’s not fair that you have to put your life on hold to care for them.

So, let’s get to the helplessness/guilt roller coaster for y’all.  Now, I love a good roller coaster, but this one is ridiculous.  As a survivor and a supporter, the roller coasters are similar, but the supporter’s one doesn’t let you raise your hands in the air and scream.  Just go ahead and try to ride one without having emotions and with your hands laying comfortably in your lap.  Yeah, that’s what it’s like.

Helplessness comes in so many forms as a supporter. There are many reasons why you feel helpless; I’ll list just some here:

·         You can’t control what’s happening

·         You can’t protect your loved one

·         You are likely new to all of this and don’t know if you’re doing things “right”

·         You can’t walk away

·         You must deal with the situation at hand, but you’re not a doctor

·         You don’t know the “medical language,” it’s like a foreign one

·         You’re unsure what your role really is

·         You don’t know if what you’re doing is helping

·         You don’t know how to answer your loved one’s questions

·         You can’t predict a darn thing

·         You can’t stop

·         This is a new role you haven’t prepared for

·         You’re trying your best but you’re fearful it’s not enough

·         You’re wondering how to handle the rise and fall of your loved one’s emotions

·         You have no one to talk to about what’s going on with your emotions

·         You aren’t getting breaks you so desperately need to take care of yourself

I could go on, add your own as you experience them.  For every point above there is a boomerang effect.  Check out the fourth one down, “You can’t walk away.”  On occasion I would feel helpless and exhausted.  I wanted to stop, to go away, but I couldn’t.  And the boomerang?  As soon as I thought this I felt guilty, because my loved one couldn’t stop, couldn’t take a break from cancer.  How could I possibly think of taking a break when he was so sick and in need of my help.  It was heart wrenching, I couldn’t believe I even had the thought.  But know, please, this is completely natural AND an important, inner voice is telling you it’s time to take care of yourself, you are out of gas and need to fill ‘er up!

This is the life of the supporter.  And not only that, but the supporter is typically the voice of the patient/survivor when people call, email, text, or otherwise reach out to see how he or she is doing.  You are the gateway to your loved one as you protect him or her from expending energy fielding such communications.  

Here’s what I want to say to all you amazing supporters: You are not in control, no one is in control save for your faith in your Creator.  It’s completely normal to feel helpless and all the other feelings that may concurrently incite a guilty conscience.  It’s because you love your patient/survivor, it’s because you want to go beyond your very best to help them survive and heal, it’s because you’d take their place in a heartbeat if you could.   You are a superhero.  You put on your cape before you get up in the morning, you take care of as much as you can, and your take off your cape only after your loved one is sleeping soundly for the night. 

Make space during the day to take off that cape.  Just because your loved one can’t take a break, you NEED to take moments to feel, to recharge, to think and dream of something else besides reality. 

How?  Call on all those folks who are reaching out to you and your loved one.  They usually don’t know how they can help, let them know.  Ask them to bring a dinner, ask them to stay with your loved one for a few hours while you go get your hair cut, go to a movie, or for a walk on the beach or in the woods. 

Here’s the deal, they feel helpless, too!  Pick someone who’s a natural organizer of people, let him or her know what you need, and let that person arrange it.   You may want to designate someone to field and respond to all the concerned inquiries, so you aren’t constantly retelling the same story over and over.  By leaning on your supporters, you accomplish at least two things.  You make them feel helpful and you give yourself some needed time to recharge. 

By asking someone to be with your loved one gives him or her a break from you and provides a novelty experience that takes your loved one out of the usual daily pattern.  Refreshing.

So, get ready to receive help.  You deserve it, you need it, and you must accept it.  It’s a win-win all around.  Your friends feel helpless, give them a specific job and they’ll feel help-full! 

Take advantage of my deeply discounted coaching consultation where we can address any of your troubles or concerns so you will know what to do next.  Click here to schedule: Work With Krista

Change in mood can happen with a change in environment.  Move your furniture around, add color you love, or, one of my favorites, diffuse essential oils to reassure and support your mind and heart.  Click here to purchase oils I’ve personally selected for caregivers/supporters.  I use these oils regularly because I’ve experienced their benefits.

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You Must be a Survivor to Ride

I’m jumping right in where I left off yesterday on helplessness and guilt.  Today I’ll be posting from the patient/survivor perspective.  If you haven’t read the blog from yesterday (scroll down this page), please stop and read it, then come back to this one!

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So, treatment can be hell on your body and your energy. Unless you’ve had cancer or been close to someone with cancer, it’s really hard to understand or approximate what the experience is like.  I nearly let go my inner crazy woman when someone would say “I understand.”  Of course, I didn’t, I’m a good human, but sometimes I really wanted to!  

There are some things you’d like to continue doing but you just aren’t able to anymore.  Go out with friends, travel to visit family, continue working or studying, exercise, etc.  We’re talking about limits.  Limitations are extremely difficult to accept and asking for help or receiving help with something you’re used to doing yourself just amplifies that limitation, dang it!

Having limits is uncomfortable, it fosters anger and bitterness, sadness and grief, and fear.  Not the state most folks want to be experiencing.

On your own, you struggle to fight, trying to do as much as you can to overcome them.  Fighting is a good sign, it means your tenacious and you won’t give up lightly.  Eventually, however, your resistance fades and acceptance comes to the forefront.  Accepting is a good sign, too, you’ve given it your all and tried everything you could think of doing.   Most folks view acceptance as a sign of giving up.  Not so, acceptance is the highest form of moving forward in a constructive way.  Did that sink in?  Acceptance is the highest form of moving forward in a constructive way. 

What happens between fighting and accepting?  Guilt.  This is where guilt lives.  It’s a human response to a very difficult situation.

Let’s take an example.  Maybe you’re a parent and interpret your limitations, quite reasonably, as doubting your ability to provide for your family, protect them, see your children grow, see them marry, see your grandkids.  Between fighting and accepting are huge expectations, what if’s, regrets, and feeling like you’re giving up your fight (and your family) if you accept certain new realities.  

One of my clients didn’t want to let his family down.  He was 24, on his last leg, unconscious, fighting so hard to stay alive.  He was respiring the “death rattle,” a type of breathing called Cheynes-Stokes; he was literally hanging on to life.  It wasn’t until his mom said, “It’s okay, sweetheart, you’ve tried so hard,” that he stopped breathing altogether.  Here you see a final release of resistance; this young man was fighting and just needed the permission of his family to let go.  Witnessing this beautiful young man’s final experience in this life was surreal and awe-some. 

If you fight, resist, and accept, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it means you’re a conscientious person!  Good news, right?!  You consider how your actions and situation might affect other people.  Here’s the rub, being conscientious makes you feel.  You feel helpless but fight, fight, fight while feeling guilty in the present and into the future because you’re considering your family and friends—how they will need to step up, how accepting would be unfair to them, and how this will affect all of your lives together.  For a good, conscientious person this is a normal reaction, just like anyone else’s, although varying in degree and quality.   So, congratulations, you’re a conscientious citizen!   Bummer about all the feelings, sorry about that.

As you go through treatment and recovery, you receive a lot of help.  Receiving help stokes frustration, anger, and maybe even bitterness that you have limitations and you’re in this situation.  Do you see how guilt manifests between these stages?  Man, I sure didn’t, but in hindsight everything is crystal clear.   Back then I squiggled and squirmed, trying to figure out what was happening, being grateful for help but guilty for needing it.

While I was squiggling and squirming, I longed for my life before cancer.  You may have liked your life before cancer and slowly realized there was no way to return to it, exactly as it was.  You’re right, because cancer changes you. “Good answer, Bob!  Now for your prize, do you choose door number one, door number two, or door number three?”  Yes, a game show reference.   The point is this, don’t foreclose on the idea that your life will be terrible or worse.  You can choose door number one, two, or three.  The one you choose will determine if you discover, grow, and transform from your experience, or not.   Lucky for you, I’ve streamlined how to do this.  You’ll find the first steps in Your Joyful Life After Emotions Workbook, available soon at my website www.KristaThorne.com

Let’s recap. Helplessness, for survivors, is the way to acceptance.  Acceptance, in turn, is the way to heightened ways of being, which reveals your life purpose.  You can still be involved in doing what you loved before cancer, perhaps modified, but involved just the same and with new wisdom.  Modification is a way of evolving, participating in the same thing in a different way.   Or, you may find another purpose, one that’s been waiting all along, just under the surface.  Perhaps you’ve had an intuition, but not thought it realistic.  Acceptance will lead you to purpose, and purpose leads to happiness, fulfillment, and continued growth.

And that’s why I’m so happy doing what I do, helping you!

Want more?  Come back tomorrow for the story from the caregiver/supporter perspective.  In the meantime:

Visit www.KristaThorne.com to learn how to alter your environment to support your “rubber band” emotions here.

Join my Facebook group “Inspiring Cancer Champions,” where you will reveal your shine and sparkle as you share your story, find your light, and inspire others.  

One of my favorite books is by William Bridges, it’s called Transitions.  I recommend this book to all my clients and others who wish to go through change gracefully.  Check it out and purchase it here.

See live streams, posts, and keep updated at my Facebook page Krista Thorne Joyful Living.

Sign up early to learn about my program, Your Joyful Life After Cancer, that will be available in September for a limited number of participants.  Click here and type “I want Joy.”

Turning the Tables on Fear and Anxiety

If you don’t have time to read it all I’ll let you in on a few things happening now:

1.       Emotions – articulating, managing, learning, and utilizing them for personal growth and change—is the theme of a six-week series on emotion.  I began the series last week with the origins, purpose, and benefits of emotions.  This week we turn to fear and anxiety.  If you missed the live streams, visit bit.ly/KristaThorne to catch up.

2.       Environments have a significant impact on emotions.  Essential oils are one of the quickest ways to change your environment to support and improve your emotions.  You can use them on your skin, food, drink, or diffuse them.  I’ve chosen several oils that will help to uplift, calm, soothe, motivate, and console.  I highly recommend them.  I wouldn’t offer them if I didn’t believe in them.  They have been instrumental in my happiness and healing.  Purchasing them also helps me to continue what I’m doing, delivering you the content and attention you deserve.  Click here for more: bit.ly/OilsForEmotions

3.       Next week you’ll have access to a workbook that enables you to get even more out of the Emotion Series.  Watch the live stream next week where we tackle sadness, loneliness, and grief where I introduce the workbook!  Visit bit.ly/KristaThorne next Wednesday at 1:30 PT, 4:30 ET.

Let’s get to it.

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Though we touched on fear and anxiety in the live stream this week (and approached it the week before), the focus was weighted toward Mindful Awareness (bit.ly/KristaThorne).  Mindful Awareness is slanted toward process, not outcome.  As you go forward, be curious about the present. Here is a closer look at fear and anxiety:

We all have very basic needs that, if unmet, cause us to respond similarly to other mammals in nature.  Thankfully, as humans, we can reflect, consider, and perhaps get our needs met another way or change our actions to enable the meeting of our needs.   On the other hand, we can also ruminate, over-analyze, and talk ourselves into a corner.

Our basic needs are very simple: love, safety, and connection.

Fear and anxiety arise from a real or perceived threat to your love, safety, or connection.  In cancer, fear comes in the context of all three of these basic needs. 

In one instance safety is in play because you may fear for you life.  If you’ve chosen a medical approach, you entrusted your life in medical providers and a system with which you’re unfamiliar.  The surroundings, language, and hierarchy are completely different than you own.  You are taking a leap of faith, hoping you’ve chosen the right path for you, but perhaps doubtful.  This would make any reasonable person fearful and anxious.

Threat to love is amplified as you consider how your relationships might change, or even be cut short if you don’t survive.  You fear for the people you may leave behind.  You begin wondering what it would be like to not be alive. (As an aside, a strong relationship with your Creator may ease some fear and anxiety).

Connection is threatened for many of the same reasons.   Problems with your relationships are in the spotlight.  Behaviors you may have overlooked before may no longer matter or you choose to not put up with them anymore.  Fear and anxiety are common feelings when issues normally suppressed or kicked down the road suddenly come to the forefront and demand to be resolved.

In distress you turn to people you trust and considered reliable.  After a cancer diagnosis you are surprised at the people who don’t show up and the people that do.  Everyone deals with threat to connection differently.  Some folks have the fortitude to walk right up to it, while others can’t bring themselves to face someone they may lose.   Being let down by some and surprised from others also gives cause for anxiety, and bleeds into the feelings we’ll focus on next week, sadness, loneliness, and grief.

Personal growth is exponential when you know how to go about it!

Personal growth is exponential when you know how to go about it!

There are at least three common responses to threat.  They’re based on our general reaction to any stress, such as being chased by a bear in the forest.  You can fight, flee, or freeze.  People have patterns of responding (yet again another interesting topic but far too big for now).  If love is threatened, what do you do?  Do you ignore it (flee, detach), confront it (fight, engage the person), or pretend it’s not happening (freeze)?

You have a choice in how you respond.  Through Mindful Awareness (paying attention on purpose with curiosity, with the goal of gaining information) you can see your response as just one in a multitude of responses.  In doing so, high emotion is tapped down, enabling you to be calm and consider different responses.  You can choose the response which helps you the most and bolsters your sense of safety, love, and connection. 

When feeling fearful or anxious, diffusing Peace can reassure you, like an aromatic hug.  Similarly, Console works to bring an atmosphere of comfort, click here.

Thank you for visiting and reading this blog.  I hope it’s helpful and puts fear and anxiety into perspective.  Using fear and anxiety to make changes in your life is possible through Mindful Awareness.  To learn how it works, watch my live stream at bit.ly/KristaThorne

Changing environments can immediately improve your mood.  I utilize essential oils, among other things, to uplift, motivate, and soothe when my mood is off.  I think about what’s bothering me or holding me back and then choose an appropriate oil or combination of oils to diffuse.  Works like a charm!  Visit bit.ly/OilsForEmotions to explore and get going with aromatherapy.

Next week, tune in to my live stream focusing on sadness, loneliness, and grief.  I’ll be introducing a brand-new Emotions Workbook that you can use to go along with this Emotion Series.  You’ll find a way that works for you to marshal and examine your emotions so that you can act to direct to diffuse them and go forward in a positive way.

Click here to to receive a reduced (88% off!) coaching consultation with Krista.  The consultation focuses on where you are in the process, what you're struggling with, what's important to you, and what you want.  Together we will create a plan so you'll know how to start.

Subscribe and receive a free gift at bit.ly/KristaThorne_FREE_GIFT

Sign up for my Facebook group bit.ly/InspiringCancerChampions.   I'll approve you right away and you can interact with others who've survived (or supported someone) cancer.

Thank you for reading, please like and share below!

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Potential through Cancer? YES!!!!

Hey, you.  Yes, you glorious champion of life.  I want to talk to you about the silver linings brought about by the cancer cloud.  As you know, cancer is prolonged, persistent, and pervasive.  All three categories have enormous consequences for your life after cancer.  Good news, though, you have an ally-the healing power of your body, mind, and spirit-and the Wisdom of the Ages now available to you. 

Let me ask you, does your delight at a shiny new cell phone, a new sweater, or pair of shoes remain the same over time?  Opening that gift on your birthday most likely wouldn't be as exciting if you opened the same one, I mean exactly the same one, on your next birthday, right?

But why?  Well, one reason is that you've had the entire year, a prolonged period of time, to get used to it, wear it, or play with it.  It's not new the next year; it's the exact same one re-wrapped for you. 

What if you received that same gift for the rest of your life? Not so exciting anymore.  In fact, you may not look forward to it at all. That cell phone becomes outdated, you may not be able to even use it anymore.  The sweater?  Oh my, it has stains, looks worn, has lost its shape and there are several undone threads putting it on the precipice of unraveling altogether.  The shoes? Like the Flintstone mobile, no bottoms, barely held together by the laces.

This is what it's like living life after cancer.  You can't escape the reality of your diagnosis and treatment.  You can't escape the side effects that may emerge.  You have to live with it for the rest of your life, and most are reminded of the reality of it all every year-on their cancer anniversaries.  In fact, cancer is now considered a chronic disease.

There's no denying that you've been through a life-changing event.  You've had witnesses, friends and family who supported you.  There's no denying you will live with this experience for the rest of your life, it's part of you.  You continue to wear the experience for a prolonged period of time.  You communicate through the same experience.  You walk the experience for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, others may not see it that way.  Your supporters want to see you wearing a bright, new sweater.  They give you new gifts, in hopes you'll feel better and then they can too.  They can put that part of your relationship behind them.  They want it to be just like it used to be.  It won't be.  You are both changed. 

Wanting things to be the way they were is not an evil intention, though it might be a desperate one. 

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It's mostly an unconscious action to bury the memories and life-changing affects it is having on them and your relationship.  And, they want to see you feeling better and having the life you want, especially after everything you've been through. 

I mean really, NO ONE wants to fight for pole position to shake hands with the Unknown (save for the thrill seekers out there).  But cancer survivors have been forced to shake hands, get right up close, and look the great Unknown straight in the eye!  This experience changes people and this experience will be a part of them forever.

So the experience is shared with other survivors, but not all of them emerge the Hero they really are.  Why?  It's what you DO with the experience that makes the difference

This is where the courage to learn, integrate, make sense of it all, enables you to transform your unique experience to imagine and create the ultimate you--even more beautiful, wise, and compassionate than ever.  Who you were born to be!

It's a choice.  You will need guides, interpreters, and sages.  You will need to gather your strength to face new challenges.  But you are a Hero, and you have everything you need to transform into the Light you're meant to be.  You are an integral part of lighting the way for others, which means you are an integral part of changing the world.

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How will you transform how you communicate, wear, and walk your experience?  Just asking yourself this question enables you to imagine the possibilities. You must summon courage and transform your environment with positivity, love, and compassion.  You must rely on your bravery to be willing to learn, wherever that takes you.

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Don't be afraid, don't be intimidated.  You've already faced and shaken hands with the Unknown, that's the hard part.  It's how you emerge from that encounter that changes your life, that changes the world.

For more learning, connecting, and inspiring, join my FREE Facebook group "Inspiring Cancer Champions with Krista Thorne," visit my FB page Krista Thorne Joyful Living After Cancer, and now that you've found my website, take a look around.  You can find products for inspiration and soothing here, books and other products I endorse here, and ways to work with me here. I will be continually adding products and experiences meant to help you emerge from this experience like a champion!

 

Self-Care is NOT Self-ish. In fact, it's exactly the opposite!

So, you're telling me that self-care is self-ish? Hah!

How many times a day do you engage in self-care?

How many times a day do you WANT to care for yourself?

Does anyone in your life (including your that inner-critic in your head) make you feel like you're spending too much time caring for yourself, and not enough time caring for them?

I wonder why? 

By the end of this blog, you'll know, for sure, that self-care is not selfish, rather, not caring for yourself is one of the most selfish acts there is.

 During my recent live stream (to view, request to join my free FB group, Flourishing Survivors (bit.ly/flourishingsurvivors) I took the audience through the first steps of life post-treatment:

1. assessing where you are

2. identify vulnerabilities

3. assessing readiness for change/personal growth

This topic is especially close to my heart, as it took me a long time to get over my own "Inner critic"  (and to be truthful I still have to smack it down now and then).

When it was in total control, that inner critic (as well as other critics) making judgments on my desire and my inner instinct to do things to help me heal.  These things weren't so "outside of the box," well, maybe some of them, but I had trouble defending myself and the costs associated with self-care. 

Why is it a battle for finding time and resources for yourself?  I hesitated, every time, to sign up for reflexology, acupuncture, therapy, water therapy, herbs, etc.  Why?  After cancer, I didn't have a job.  Well, I did; my job was healing.  The self-care activities I was pursuing were not completely accepted at the time.  I was frustrated and upset. I didn't have the money to do the things I wanted.

Other self-care activities, like getting a manicure and pedicure, coloring and cutting my hair, exercise classes, going to lunch with friends - these were all sanctioned by general society as activities that were promoted as worthwhile for women.   I could paint my own nails, and I had someone who did my hair (what little I had of it), and I socialized with people.  But there was something missing.  Something I needed but didn't know how to 1. explain it and 2. get it.

Now, I'm not poo-pooing these activities, at all.  These are important for feeling connected and well-cared for, but, this wasn't doing the trick.  There was an emptiness that begged to be filled.  I was constantly searching for what would help.  I was demoralized, felt as if I were completely alone, and had to do this on my own because no one, literally, no one understood this part of me and my hunger to fill the emptiness inside.  

Self-care was focused on the outside, not on the inside.  AND, it takes guts to do right by yourself while others stand by and make observations.  They can't SEE a result, like nails or hair or weight, it's what's going on inside.  There's nothing external to show for your efforts and investment, but for a general increase in happiness and a glow to your face.

It took a very long time to figure it out, but I finally did!  Through trial and error, education, research, and sheer grit, I've developed stages, steps, and a path I can rely on to keep myself cared for.   It's still not easy, it still takes much maneuvering to create the time and motivation to care for my SELF.  All of the distractions and interruptions of cell-phones, texts, appointments, schedules, news, to-do lists, make it so entirely difficult to have a moment of clarity and serenity, a moment to regroup.   My typical practice of procrastination would lead me off onto tangents, away from self-awareness.

But now, I can return to a solid place where self-care is focused.  How do I do it?  I refer to the system I've developed over the years.

It begins with understanding holistic health, or the health of your entire life.  Yes, manicures and hair-dos make you feel instantly better and cared for, but what happens when you go home and the emptiness or sorrow creep back in?  That nagging voice reminding you that there must be something more to this life, more for you. So, what do you do?

You take charge. You must assess where you are, your vulnerabilities, and readiness for change.

For example, where are you?  Have you finished treatment recently?  Are you 5 years post-treatment?  Are you done taking your patient to chemotherapy or other appointments?  Are you so exhausted you can't even think? 

Before you answer, let's change gears for a moment.  I love using metaphors and analogies to talk about difficult themes.  My favorite is a boat and its voyage.

If you were a vessel, say a boat or ship, what would you do before leaving the dock?  Well, you need a name for your vessel, something inspiring and descriptive of you.  Post a few names in the comments section to get you started.

Squirrel! Back to the point.  You usually focus on the destination and how to get there and rarely take the time to discover why you want to go, the purpose.  But also, what does the voyage look like, where does it start?

So part of Step One is getting your bearings, understanding where you are right now.  Are you 1-year post-treatment? 6 months post-treatment? 10 years post-treatment?  This is where you are in relationship to cancer.   Where are you in relation to others parts of your life?  There are different stages and steps that naturally occur, though you don't know what they are.  (That's okay, I've done it for you.)

Another task is examining your vessel.  Is your tiller working, is the main sheet up to tether the forces of the wind to your liking? Do you have a map?  Provisions?  Looking at your vulnerabilities is key in preparing for your voyage. 

Do you have a handle on your prognosis, what you should or could be doing after treatment, do you have a survivor plan?  Take a look at where you are and what your possible vulnerabilities are before you even think about setting sail.  For example, "Do I have everything I need, medically, to take this voyage?  Do I have a crew I can count on?"

And the third part is this: are you ready for this voyage, this change, this personal development?  If you're 6-months post-treatment you may be just beginning to understand the impact of what happened.  You may want to stay in dock to work on your vessel, to smooth out the edges, to make any necessary repairs.  You may not be ready to embark on this voyage. 

Caring for your vessel means caring for yourself.  It means taking a look at your life as a whole, where you feel good and where you can fortify yourself.  Looking at the quality of relationships, personal health, purpose, play, activities of restoration (like sleep, personal time, prayer, etc.). 

If you're having trouble getting your head around all of this, here are two things you can try:

1.   Pretend your giving advice and support to a good friend regarding self-care.  What would you tell her/him, how would you encourage your friend to care for him- or herself, to move in a holistic direction?  Write a letter to your friend describing why they are important, what their best characteristics are, what their vulnerabilities are, and why they should invest time and effort in him- or herself.  Write it down!

2.  Now, put yourself in your friend's shoes.  Write a letter from your friend's perspective to you.  What would your friend encourage you to do?  What would he or she say about you, what are your strengths, what are your vulnerabilities, what motivates you? Your friend will also have ideas on how ready you are to move forward and what you might want to do to get started.  Write it down!!

You can see it's a process that bears thoughtful consideration.  The only person who can do it is YOU. 

Now, back to your inner critic and judgmental looks from others who think you're spending too much time on you, and not enough time on them.  Let me tell you something, it's everyone's responsibility to care for their own SELF!   In fact, it's essential for proper social and emotional development.

Are you spending a lot of time taking care of others' needs?  There is a happy balance.  But, by taking too much care of others you are robbing them of the opportunity to learn for themselves what they need and how to care for themselves.  You are taking that experience away from them, and in essence, you are hindering their development.

This is important.

By taking care of other too much, you are replacing what they need to discover about themselves with what YOU BELIEVE THEY NEED INSTEAD.

It's natural, most folks want the best for everyone.  And think about this, you've all had times when you wanted to give someone advice or do something for them because you've already been through it and have suggestions.  Advice is one thing, giving that advice and releasing any Ego associated with that advice are two different things.  Allowing a person to go through the decision-making process is crucial, because what he or she learns forms a foundation for who they are; it helps them learn how to navigate through life on their own.

Now, back to you.  Know this:

If you're not taking care of yourself you are also robbing yourself and people you care for by wearing yourself out, overcompensating, and not having the ability to truly show up, be present, for the ones you love.   As you know, cancer puts a different spin on your life.  One of its great lessons is "Live life fully; you don't know how long you'll be here."

I want you to be happy.  God wants you to be happy.  What do we have the feeling of "happiness" for, anyway, if not to strive for it?

Self-care is not Self-ish.  Self-care is true love for yourself and the ones you love.  Happiness is a result of caring for yourself. Care for your vessel, because baby, you've got a beautiful voyage in front of you!

 

Cancer is pervasive, persistent, and prolonged: Having "C-C-C-Courage" post-treatment.

*Look for the opportunity to register for my FREE webinar in the upcoming month!

Let's begin.  I have a couple of questions for you:

1.        What are you scared of, right now, what is it that you fear?

2.       On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being high) how fearful are you?

3.       During treatment, how many people called you “courageous” or said, “you have so much courage, you’re so brave?”

I had countless people say this to me during treatment.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  Just like you, I didn’t have much of a choice.  I thought, "Why am I suddenly brave because I have cancer?"  It didn’t quite fit. 

I figured it out, most people really don’t think they could, if they were in the same position, go through the diagnosis and treatment.  Yes, they could, and they would do everything possible to survive.

Newsflash – you don’t choose cancer, it chooses your body as a host.  You do what you must in order to get through it and survive – and even then, not everyone survives.

Grab your complimentary session with Krista Thorne by clicking here.

Yes, it does take something deep down inside you to deal with the diagnosis and decide on your course of treatment.  But, survivors, you know you had to do it—there was no question.  And for you caregivers, you gave everything you had.  You had to; there was no question.

At risk of sounding like an incessant drum beat, it’s what happens AFTER treatment ends that tests one's courage and will.  When treatment ends, the longest journey awaits--the rest of your life.  You choose, at this point, how you will face the rest of your life and which path you will take. 

There are at least 3 choices:

1.       Experience it all and make the best of it.  You experience, grow, discover, feel joy and pain, suffer, feel lonely, feel on top of the world.  The upside lies in what's now available to you. You have the ability (if you want to use it) to see the world in a broader color spectrum, to hear the world in a wider range of frequencies. You feel the nuances of an object, whereas before you didn't notice.  You taste new and different flavors in your food (when you get your taste buds back!)  You let it all in, past, present, and future, even if it's difficult.  This approach takes major guts, and it aligns (as do all of these approaches) with at least one theory of human development--Attachment Theory (Ainsworth, Behar, Watters, and Wall, 1978; Bowlby, 1969/1982). 

2.       Go through the motions, detach. Continue life as if cancer was a blip on your radar screen.  Get back to things, be distracted.  Carry the shadow of cancer behind you, as a shadow, something you went through but did not place in your awareness.  You are focused on the future.

3.       Ruminate.  Go over the events in your mind, over and over.  You have the most difficult time moving forward because there may be something you need to understand, review, figure out, determine--because none of this makes sense.  In this exhausting approach, you have episodes of feeling like giving up, sleeping, feeling self-pity – which you are due, believe me.  You focus on the past rather on the future.

People make all, two, or one of these choices.  Many survivors may cycle through all three approaches at different times.  Me?  At first, I chose (not consciously) number two.  I pretended to be my former self as if nothing had happened, but I felt detached, removed from life.  Some days I chose number three, I just slept, felt sorry for myself, felt abandoned and angry, or at least questioning God.

But at the end of the day, I finally came around to number one.  I began to thrive, I began to hear people say, “You’re so inspiring,” “You’re so strong,” “You’re a miracle!”

Okay, not what I was expecting, and it kind of made me feel separated from other people (see blog and Facebook live stream from last week).  And, technically, it is a miracle I’m alive.  Truly.  I could have just gone along being heralded because I had cancer.  But, that would kind of be coasting, and in the end, boring. 

What you don’t know, is that at some point, and it’s a very fuzzy point, you survive long enough that you’re no longer “inspiring” “strong” or a “miracle” because at some point you are no longer a patient, no longer a survivor, but just a normal person again with people asking you what you’re going to do with your life.  AND people express frustration because they're tired of you referencing your experience--in any way.

BUT, you remain with this huge experience that is still a big part of you.   It changed your life completely, it shook your foundation, and you've been redesigning, rebuilding, and redecorating. There are three elements in this process that, when clarified, provides a helpful view of life after cancer.  It also illuminates why it is, truly, difficult. 

Schedule your FREE session with Krista Thorne, click HERE.

Cancer (and its aftermath) is:

  1. Pervasive
  2. Persistent
  3. Prolonged

Pervasive.  Cancer touches every single part of your life.  Things changed, things are changing, all the time, but when you were diagnosed with cancer you took on a completely new life.  It reached into your relationships, your confidence, your zest for daily living.  It was and still is, pervasive, whether you’re 5 months or 5 years post-treatment. 

Persistent. You hold within you the fears of recurrence, fears of having to make new dreams with the limits you may now have, fears and reality of grief and loss, perhaps even financial fears.  With one smell, one trip to the hospital it may all come back at once, all the sleepless nights, long days with chemo (if your treatment prescribed it), forgotten dreams, remote friends, and the suffering.  The memories eventually fade, but they do come back down the road, and at unexpected moments.  They are a part of you, an absolutely essential, beautiful, awe-inspiring, tough, and brilliant part of you.

Prolonged.  Cancer is not "Wham-bam thank you, Ma’am, you're done with treatment and you can go home to recover and get back to a normal life now."  NO.  It is prolonged.  In most scientific circles cancer is considered to be a chronic illness, leading to health concerns from side effects and a taxed immune system.  Cancer is a part of the rest of your life, good or bad. 

So, moving forward takes "C-C-C-C-Courage!"  Funny thing, the Lion in the Wizard of Oz always had courage, he just needed to recognize it in himself. 

Courage IS within you.  Every day that you wake up and have a goal, you display courage.  Every day you wake up and deal with a side effect, or exhaustion, or anger, you have courage.  Every time you look in the mirror and say “I’m so tired of this,” you have courage.

You have courage because despite facing your fears and a life you didn’t ask for, you choose to feel, to act, to sing, to cry, to experience whatever life, and your feelings, have for you today. 

Courage doesn’t mean “rising above” all your heartache and obstacles, you define your courage when you are willing to look at what's happening, experience it all, integrating it, and learning. 

There are at least 3 choices after treatment end.  You will likely experience all three because that’s the natural process. It takes "C-C-C-C-Courage" to experience it all, honestly, authentically, without forcing your will and pressure to move past it.

The choice that shows courage is the one you wake up to, the one you face every day.  You will want to go to sleep, remove yourself from the world, rest, engage in self-pity.  You will want to make new plans, reach new goals, meet new people and fly like an eagle.  You will want things to be as they were, escape to your old life, renew some of those dreams.

The real choice is not whether you stick to one choice. Rather, will you experience it all in an effort to integrate what you know, what you don’t know, who you are, and who you’re becoming?

You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.  Remember that it is temporary, that genuinely experiencing joy, heartache, loneliness, power, bliss, is part of the path that will get you to where you’re going, experiencing it is crucial-really tough-but crucial. 

What to do in the meantime, when you’re having a crappy day?  Know that this too, will pass, and you will be wiser, happier, and feel more alive than ever after this vital, essential, crappy day is over.  You are gaining experience each and every day.  What you do with that experience will show the world how courageous, inspiring, alive, powerful, and generous you are. 

You are a gem, you are perfect, you’re just where you’re supposed to be, and you have the miracle of a beautiful life right in front of you.

It takes" C-C-C-Courage" from within, and with help from others, to walk that golden yellow-brick road into the rest of your life.  You've got this!  You’ve got me, and all of your cancer siblings to join arms and take that road with you.

Remember to sign up for my FREE Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors., to connect with other survivors, caregivers, and others affected by cancer.  Sign up for blog updates, event notifications, special offers and promotions, and newsletter by clicking here.

AND, grab your FREE session with Krista Thorne to start living Your Joyful Life After Cancer!

Krista Thorne is the creator of Your Joyful Life After Cancer; a program for survivors and others affected by cancer that utilizes the cancer experience to plan and live a life of purpose and joy.

References:

Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978).  Patterns of attachment: A      psychological study of the Strange Situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.    

Bowlby, J. (1969/1982). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York: Basic Books.

The transition from patient to survivor is like baking a cake...

Have you tried to do something new and had a hard time getting started or wondering even how to get started? Think about going into a place you've never been or where you would feel completely out of place.  To me, that would be an auto mechanic’s shop.  Oh my gosh, I would be completely confused.  What would it be for you?  The kitchen?  A barn? A 747 cockpit?

It's actually very similar to the transition from patient to survivor.  And, it’s hard to talk about it directly so I thought I’d use an analogy – Making a cake with no recipe, no tools, and little experience.  So, where would you start?

As you begin to think about it, there are many places you can start.  Figure out what kind of cake you want to make, check the cupboards to see what you have on hand, ask a friend or family member, take a class, look it up online, etc. 

But, with little experience, it’s hard to know just where to begin, and there may be a feeling of overwhelm.  There’s a lot to learn, tools to master, so many different kinds of cakes, and a variety of toppings.  So, where might YOU begin?

Let’s break it down. 

There are basically three components to this process:

  1. You've not done this before.
  2. You're in unfamiliar territory
  3. You're using unfamiliar ingredients

Let's tackle the first component: You’ve not done this before.  Even if you have, there's always something new.  You don’t have experience making a cake (hypothetical), but you have enough experience to know that making one from scratch and having it turn out well is about having the right ingredients and tools, and mixing the correct ratios of ingredients.  Then there's the bake time and frosting.  Yep, it’s true, it's complicated! 

AND, you betcha, this is what it’s like when cancer treatment ends. You wonder "Where do I begin?" How do you salvage your life as it was and add in your new experience in order to live a “normal” life again?

It brings up feelings of uncertainty and insecurity, as well as the following:

  • overwhelmed
  • disoriented
  • exhausted
  • out of place
  • disconnected

This is natural and necessary.  Look, when we’re born we have the task of organizing our world.  All the sights, sounds, physical touch, smells, tastes—you must sift through all the information to discover what’s most important to gain love, safety, and connection, to survive and hopefully thrive.  Your mind learns to push away stimuli that are not so important and amplifies the stimuli that matter to you most—the ones you depend on for love, safety, and connection.

You have a structure in our brain called the thalamus that sifts through all this information for you.  How could you possibly take in everything? We are aware of what’s important to us. Your mind has set up certain expectations and assumptions about the world that help you to feel as comfortable as possible in a big world.

You've had many years to refine and sift through the gargantuan world of stimuli.  Your mind has gotten used to your world.  Suddenly, you were ripped away from the world you knew into a world that was foreign, unfamiliar. 

Which leads us to the second component: You’re in unfamiliar territory.  When you were diagnosed, or close to someone who was diagnosed, you were thrust into a brand new world. There was a new hierarchical structure—doctors, nurses, tests, medicine became your world.  Even the language was foreign, terms such as platelets, white cells, chemotherapy, radiation, Rh factors, ports or catheters--these are new terms for most people.  And, not only were you thrust into a new culture (what I call The Cancer Culture), your life was at risk.  You can see the devastating circumstances, you hold your breath and catapult into your new life.

Envision this:

Regular world to diagnosis to treatment to now. 

Your life as you knew it changed completely--all the things you knew to be true shattered in front of you.  “Regular world” was put on pause while you went through diagnosis and treatment. 

Sounds dramatic, that’s because it was dramatic.  Your life is dramatic. Not by choice, but by circumstance.

Take a look back…does this make sense to you?  Where were you when you were diagnosed (or you heard your friend, family member’s diagnosis)?  What was your immediate reaction?  Shock. Denial.

Schedule your FREE session with Krista Thorne, creator of Your Joyful Living After Cancer.  For survivors and others affected by cancer, this program utilizes your experience to create and live a life of purpose and joy ,that is,  live Your Joyful Life After Cancer.

Your mind does amazing things to help you cope with situations like a diagnosis of cancer.  Shock and denial are normal, natural, and important protectors when life-threatening circumstances arise.  The mind enables you to move forward, even if you’re just going through the motions.

And, as you come forward in time to this moment, you turn to see the past and how things won’t be the same. 

You are, in effect, once again an infant.  You must reconstruct your world bit by bit to incorporate your cancer experience with your life experience to move forward.  This is WHY you feel disoriented, off balance, exhausted, and disconnected.  This is why you feel anxiety, as if you need to be careful, as if you don’t quite trust how things will go and how to take your first steps. 

The third component? Unfamiliar ingredients: You feel this because you have a new pantry full of strange ingredients that you need to mix with your old pantry of familiar ingredients.  You must create a “fusion” of the two in order to create your best cake.

So, how do you bring all these experiences, these “ingredients” to the kitchen to make a cake? 

Well, first you need to look at all your ingredients, then figure out what kind of cake you want to make, and then learn the different ratios of ingredients to create that cake…not necessarily in that order.  But in order to start you need tools, tools to help you figure what will contribute to your amazing cake. 

In essence, this is what you’ve been doing.  You’ve been trying to reconcile your past life with the experience of cancer, but, you don’t have an organized way to go forward.  You also need to decide WHO you're really making this cake for… Family? Friends? Or Yourself?

There is so much to incorporate, integrate, release…you may feel somewhat cautious and fearful about the road ahead.  All normal, all natural, and frustrating.  It’s not something you asked for, but it is a point in life where you can begin to create your amazing life (and cake) that’s waiting for you! So, make your cake and experience it, too!

Let’s recap:

The transition from patient to survivor is like making a cake.  But, you’re at a disadvantage because:

1.       You haven’t made a (metaphorical) cake, at least not like the one you’re about to make.

2.       You’re in unfamiliar territory, a new kitchen with all sorts of nooks and crannies, newfangled ovens and mixers.

3.       You are dealing with unfamiliar ingredients, ingredients you haven’t experienced before and don’t know what to do with them.

And lastly, on your own, you will have to make hundreds of cakes until you have the perfect one for you.  Learn from each one, refine your ingredients, and create an unabashedly, crazy, wonderful cake!

Have a beautiful day.

Toodles!

 

 

 

 

 

"Excuse me, who are you again?"

Here's a question.  As a survivor, are you finding it difficult, awkward, or impossible to relate to your friends after cancer treatment is over? 

Over the years I've heard many survivors say they can no longer relate to some of their friends.  So, that's the topic today.  Before I start, a little reminder to grab your FREE GIFT at bit.ly/KristaThorneFREE_GIFT.  I'll be referencing steps two and three of the Charting Your Course After Cancer map.  I also invite you to join my FREE Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors with Krista Thorne, where you can meet survivors and others affected by cancer.  Request to join and I'll approve you.

Back to the topic at hand. In life after cancer (AC) relationships change.  Some relationships become enriched while others remain or become awkward or just different for a variety of reasons.  But what to do about them? What does it mean?

Well, today I’m going to let you in on some wisdom gathered for over 27 years as a patient, survivor, caregiver, friend, family member, therapist, coach, researcher, speaker, and teacher…and it’s going to help you adjust to awkward relationships so that they are at their optimum levels of understanding and fulfillment, AND, give you an out if they’re not.

Over the years I've heard survivors talk about relationships that seemed fine before cancer (BC), but are strained after cancer (AC). I had this experience, too.  As a survivor things were strange, different, and I wasn't able to relay my experience in terms that anyone would be able to understand.  Most of my friends hadn’t seen me since “The Change.”  (For more info on “The Change," listen to last week's live stream, or read last week's blog.)  I looked sick and miserable, and I felt that way, too.  I was nervous about seeing people, and this is why.

I could see it reflected in their faces and body language.  Seriously, it took like a full 5 seconds for them to register “The Change” and another 3 seconds for them to realize I actually had cancer.  I typically waited for them in the living room, right off the entry.  I could see it as soon as I lifted my eyes as they turned the corner of the entry and saw me in the living room--wig or not, most times I just didn't care.

And there it was.  I saw it all, high expectations, hope, happiness and then shock, the “What does this mean?” expression, along with puzzlement, pity, guilt, despair, and helplessness…all with measured restraint.  The worst?  Their eyes slipped downward, trying to take all the new information in.

I saw the process. Hope turned to anguish and a loss of words.  Happiness turned to horror in a single, thudding, heartbeat after realizing the impact of what “their friend” had been through.

I felt humiliated and ashamed.  Ashamed for having this effect on them and not living up to their expectations, and humiliated because I truly believed my appearance was monstrous.   I know, totally irrational, but real just the same.  Remember that, these were REAL feelings.

What they didn’t know?  I felt like a stranger looking out of 2 eye sockets, it didn’t seem to connect that I was the one looking out, I felt detached and scared.

Do you know how hard it is to see all this, know all this, and at the same time feel obligated to make THEM feel more comfortable?! I know many of you do.

Uh, newsflash, CANCER ISN’T COMFORTABLE!

Every visit reinforced the dawning and terrifying realization of everything my body and spirit had been through. It broke through the denial and the walls I had created to protect myself.  But this is what pure honesty looked like, the raw expressions and body language, the downward turned eyes. They were blindsided, without social filters, without the ability to hide their true feelings.  This left me with three difficult realizations.

1.      Oh crap, it’s true

2.     On a pedestal

3.     Holding a hammer and waiting for an earthquake

Let me explain:

1.      Oh crap, this is actually true, this did happen, this isn’t a nightmare, it’s real.  Yep, as much as my mind tried to protect me from the totality of it all and did its best to normalize the experience, I was blindsided, too.  The jolting expressions and body language broke right through, a deafening reminder of my entire, horrible circumstance.

2.      On a pedestal, as a specimen or a precious doll.  I was separate from them and their lives, and in my own world of hospitals and blood draws.  They saw me but didn’t recognize me.  Instead, they placed me on a pedestal with a bright light shining down and a glass top to encase me. 

3.      Holding a hammer and waiting for an earthquake is what it felt like in that protected, glass enclosure.  To reconnect, I was either going to have to face all my fears and break the glass myself, or, wait for an earthquake to shatter my protective cage.  Neither were good places to be.  I was paralyzed, frozen with fear.  I closed my eyes, shivered, and waited for an earthquake.

Now I know that everyone has a different experience, but sooner or later you come to this truth: How can you possibly relate to your friends as you did before cancer? 

Trick question – it’s impossible because you've changed.

Just take that in for a moment.  One diagnosis changes everything.  If you’ve been reading my blog or watching my live streams, you’ll recall I’ve said this before--Cancer. Changes. You. 

Here’s another fact, cancer changes everyone around you, too.  (Here's the physics reference!) If one part of a system changes, every other part of the system adjusts and changes, too.  Simple physics, yet you can see it in real life.  You can see it in the illustration of an old friend coming around the corner.  Her life changed the moment she saw me AC, after "The Change."  Everything she had known was suddenly in question.  In reaction, I was changed, too. 

How else do you experience changes in relationships?  Here are the top four responses by cancer survivors (summarized):

1.      "I can see it in their reactions, they see me differently."

2.      "When they’re talking about little, petty stuff that makes no difference in the overall big picture of life. They're just manufactured dramas.  I don't have time for drama, I have enough real drama in my own life."

3.      "They complain, all the time, about their sore wrist, or how they didn’t get the sushi they wanted last night, or the unfairness of a work-mate and how he/she doesn’t participate enough, and what someone wore to a party. Do they even know how they sound?"

4.      "I just can’t connect with them on a meaningful level, it just seems like an empty conversation, like there’s nothing in common we can talk about anymore."

Are you nodding your head? Are you saying, “Yes, that’s me!” 

There is so much more I want to share about communication--types, levels, styles--because it makes a difference in how you view and feel about this “new you.”  But those are topics for another day.  So, let's go through steps two and three of the Charting Your Course After Cancer map.

STEP TWO

Clarify – Examine yourself and your values.  What are you willing to keep, what are you willing to release.

In this step, one of the tasks is to take a good look at your values, to determine what no longer serves you, what no longer defines you, and look forward to kind of things will serve you and define you now and in the future. 

In relation to friends and other relationships, does that relationship serve you right now?  People come into a relationship for many reasons, but people stay in a relationship because of several factors, including safety, love, connection, and what the person brings out in you, how they make you feel. 

What do you want to emerge now, what parts of you want to be fostered and nurtured?  In your mind, think of 5 people, the ones who come up right away.  See each one, one at a time, in your mind’s eye.  Choose one, look directly at her or him, what are her gifts, how do you feel around her.  Is this what you could use right now?  Is it possible to nurture this relationship at this time? 

Now, look at her or him again, in your mind’s eye.  Is there anything that makes you pause?  What is it? Do you feel judged?  Do you feel ‘not yourself’ with them?  Do you feel closed in, on a pedestal, as though you feel obligated to take care of them? 

Take some time after reading this blog entry to go through the other four people that came to mind. 

STEP THREE

Accept and purge.  Accept there are parts of your old life you will be leaving behind, and get excited and super curious about what will come into your life in the new space you’ve created. 

This is a time for serious editing, relationship wise.  Analogy--if you were to take a sailing vessel for a voyage into the Unknown, who would you want to be on your crew?

Who accepts you for you? Who loves you and makes you feel safe?

Who has his/her own direction, who has charted her/his own course?

Who lets you talk on and on about ideas, exploring where life might lead you?  (Add a bonus point if he or she looks really interested!)

Who likes adventure?

Who is good with change?

Who knows you, really knows you?  Who knows the dark and fearful parts of you, everything 'underneath' your persona and with your Ego defenses-- and loves you anyway?

It is time to let go of relationships that aren’t helpful at this critical moment in your life.  It doesn’t mean you have to let them go forever, but for right now you need to fill your life with people who know and understand you, and who WANT TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND YOU, especially the new, emerging you, the new you that you're becoming. 

So, how do you pause or terminate friendships that do not serve you now?  Be honest.  You don't have to make excuses. You don't have to take care of anyone.  You are focused on taking care of you, as you are now, not as anyone wants you to be.

Does this sound selfish? Maybe to someone who doesn't care, but NO! You are healing, you are growing.  Being honest doesn't mean you have to be hurtful.  If someone wants to come over or take you out, you can say, "I don't feel like doing that today."  Or, "I'm focusing on healing right now and want to be home without distractions."  That's fine, that's enough.  

Recap:

  • Cancer changes you and everyone around you.

  • There are valid and necessary reasons for the changes.

  • Begin examining the first five people that come to mind; determine who will add to, and who will subtract from, your developing and healing self.

  • Choose your crew, the crew who will help you on the next passage of your life. 

Many survivors don't get this far, and I believe the explanation lies in the anticipation of grief and loss.  Yes, letting go involves grief and loss.  At the same time, it lets in light and space for growth and HEALING

Bonus question, what is the name of your ship?  Please add to the comments below to share the name of your ship!  Or, request to join my FREE Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors with Krista Thorne and add your response there. 

I can’t wait to hear about how you are making conscious choices to gather a supportive, capable, and confident crew to help you in this phase of getting ready to sail!  Imagine, the main and jib are up, the sky is filled with light and the sail full with wind, heading in a new direction of growth and healing, learning and discovering, wonder and joy! 

PS.  What might you name your sailing vessel, given the choice?  Comment below!

AND, don’t forget to pick up your copy of the Charting Your Course After Cancer map here.  Also, make sure to share and let people know about this Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors, and the weekly live streams so they can start benefiting from our time together.

 

 

 

           

           

 

 

 

 

 

Coping with body changes and body image during and after cancer treatment.

Your body makes significant adjustments to handle the treatment prescribed to rid cancer.  Body changes naturally affect body image in difficult and challenging ways.

But before I go on, I want to make sure you pick up your free gift, the Charting Your Course After Cancer map.  This map will guide you through the stages of healing, integration, and re-entry into "normal" life.  You can pick it up here, and make sure to visit and request to join my FREE Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors with Krista Thorne.   You'll meet people just like you who are navigating life after treatment is over. 

Okay, on to the topic at hand.  Whatever your type of cancer, body changes are on the horizon.  Because cancer attacks the body, it feels as though you have no power, no effect on its course.  Because cancer attacks the body, you may begin a silent argument like, "Body, how could you do this?" wondering why your body betrayed you in this manner. 

This is normal.  In fact, here are some of the feelings from patients I've collected over the years, from diagnosis through survivorship.  See how many of these feelings you've experienced:

  • Betrayed                                       
  • Sad                                               
  • Angry
  • Hopeful
  • Thankful
  • Discouraged
  • Elated
  • Frustrated
  • Despondent
  • Relieved
  • Guilty
  • and many more

In fact, you can pretty much count on feeling just about anything, AND it's all normal, and all of your feelings are valid.  You FEEL what you FEEL.  Don't discount your feelings.  

I shared a personal story on my last live stream (Oct. 10) that you can view in my Facebook group.  Request to join here so you can view my story and hear an excerpt from my upcoming book.  I talk about my body image, how the changes began to occur at diagnosis and how I eventually no longer recognized myself. 

What I learned, however, is that there are five things that will help you get through the process.  You can hear how they affect the way you cope and manage emotions and body image as your body fights and heals by viewing my video here. (Request to join to see the video).

All five things have to do with knowledge, with being aware of what's really happening.  Here they are:

  1.  Know your body has gotten you this far.  It has adjusted, adapted, taken a hit, and continues to fight for your life and your health.  Your brain and body have allocated nearly all of its efforts to fighting the good fight, while also functioning as needed.
  2. Know that this STATE is temporary.  Your body, mind, and spirit have a new trail to blaze.  Your body will begin to heal and adapt to any resulting changes from treatment.  Your body, inherently, wants you to work at optimal levels.  It is often our mind and spirit that hold us back.
  3. Know that this FEELING is temporary.  As you body adjusted, so will your mind adapt to the changes in your body. 
  4. Know that your SPIRIT is developing.  Through treacherous times new strength, new goals, new dreams emerge.  Your spirit is in a phase of expansion.
  5. Know that this is a critical development stage.  Coping with body changes hit the hear of how you identify yourself, how you present yourself to the world, and how you believe the world identifies and sees you. 

The emotions that arise during and after cancer treatment are varied and at times contradictory.  This is normal, it's okay, and you can expect about any emotion to emerge.  Experiencing emotions is like reading road signs, they are directional markers of where you are at the moment, and where you want to go in the next moment.  Emotions are part and parcel of the developmental and growth process. 

To see an expanded explanation of the five knowledge points shared above, watch the video!  You can find it by clicking here and requesting to join my FREE Facebook group.  I will approve you as quickly as I can, and you can get going.  If you'd like to be notified of new blogs, upcoming events, and happenings, or hear the latest news, sign up here.

Thank you for reading!  My goal is to help as many people as possible through my work.  Please like and share, and forward to cancer patients and survivors, caregivers, and others who've been affected by cancer, such as friends and family.  Until next time, toodles!

When treatment is over and everyone thinks you're just fine, but you're not.

Before I jump into this important topic, I'd like to invite you to download a free gift, the Charting Your Course After Cancer Map.  It will help you understand the passage you navigate once treatment ends, and I think you'll find it helpful.  It's also helpful for caregivers and others who want to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead for the survivor.  You can download it here.

As well, you have instant access to my FREE Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors right here.

On to this week's topic, what to do when your cancer treatment is over and everyone thinks you're just fine--but you're not!

I'm talking about the period of time when treatment ends.  There are unspoken expectations for both the survivor and caregiver and loved ones. 

There is a question I’d like you to consider:  When cancer treatment ends, what do you think comes next?  Are survivors ready to move on?

Well, getting back to "life as it was before cancer" is everyone's priority.  But it's not as simple as that.           

Within about 2 months post-treatment, the psyche of the survivor is starting to catch up to what the body’s been through; realization sets in that things have changed, you have changed, and reintegrating back into life is no easy task.

For caregivers or loved ones, the perspective is very different.  They may feel as if their job is done, that they can finally breathe and get back to life as it was, and their loved one can also get back to life as it was.

Let me tell you, both perspectives are completely valid.  I can confidently say, “It’s not you, it’s the process.”  Why?  I’m a 27-year survivor of leukemia and bone marrow transplant, and there was no support back then for survivors, and there exists inadequate support for survivors and caregivers now.  In just a bit, I’ll briefly share with you what I felt like after treatment ended. 

Survivors may not know it just yet, but the end of treatment signifies the beginning of a difficult new path.  There are many stages and tasks to complete in order to integrate one's experience into a new life--a changed life that has the potential to be even better than the one before cancer.

So, how do you, as the survivor, cope with the realization that you’ve changed, your life has changed, but others seem to think you’re just fine and should be quickly moving on and getting back to your “old self?”

There are four steps.

The first step is understanding—unfair as it may feel—that loved ones have a different perspective is the first step in navigating this new territory.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Here are the top 5 things I hear from caregivers once treatment has ended:

1.      " I’ve put myself last, willingly, to care for my loved one."

2.      " Treatment is over, I want to get back to my routine, my normal life."

3.      " I’ve held back my feelings, my fear for their life, fear for changes in our relationship, fear of what’s on the horizon."

4.       "I can’t share my worries with him/her, for goodness sake, because he/she has enough going on just to deal with treatment."

5.       "I’m exhausted, but I shouldn’t feel that way because he/she is the one who should be exhausted going through treatment.  My exhaustion pales compared to that."

Caregivers believe these 5 things are taboo to discuss with the patient/survivor--but they are valid for the caregiver none-the-less.  So, as tough as it might be, understanding the multiple concerns they have is important.

The second step is acknowledging that this is, indeed, an entirely new beginning in your life.  Cancer changes you, you don’t quite know how just yet.  It’s scary.  I remember that I just wanted to get back to normal life again, be who I was before cancer--because I knew how to do that.  I wanted things back to normal.  But, it didn’t work.  I learned the hard way that change is unavoidable.  How you approach that change makes the difference between living with purpose and joy, or not. 

Step three: Acknowledge that you will have to take this part of your journey on your own.  No one else can do it for you.  You are the hero or heroine of your own story, you are drafting your next chapters.   There are new resources and support you will access along the way, but the path is yours to take.  Your caregivers and friends will be taking their own paths post-treatment, because cancer changes things for everyone. 

Step four is all about communication.  Communicating with your caregiver in a way you are comfortable is key.  This is the final step that will help you carve out a space for yourself to begin healing, and to let the other person know you will need time to make sense of what’s happened.  You will need time to experience whatever feelings surface.  You will need time to reorganize your life, let go of things that no longer serve or define you to make space for the new—whatever that may be.  Letting them know that yes, treatment is over, but there is an entirely new path in front of you where your task is to learn, draw upon new wisdom, and heal as best as you can--physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So, a quick review.

1.       Survivors have different perspectives than caregivers.  Both are completely valid and normal.

2.       Survivors and caregivers have different needs after treatment has ended.

3.       There are 4 steps you can take to ease the situation and help yourself prepare for the journey ahead.  They are:

1.       Open your heart to the plight of your caregivers.  Understand they have suffered silently while you have been through treatment.

2.       Acknowledge that you are changed, and that you don’t know how just yet, that you need to give yourself whatever time you need.

3.       Acknowledge that you will be taking this road post-treatment on your own.  You are the hero of your own story, you are crafting your next chapters.

4.       Communicate – that you are changing, that you need space to make sense of what’s happened, and you may not meet their expectations of "being just fine."

To get started, make sure to visit the link in this post to get my free “Charting Your Course After Cancer Map.”  Also, head on over to facebook.com/groups/FlourishingSurvivors to request to join my new FREE Facebook group, where you will find so many others navigating their lives after cancer just like you.  You can also see a recording of this week's live stream.

Catch my weekly live stream on Facebook on Tuesdays at 1 PM PT and 4 PM ET.  Next week the live stream topic is: "What to do when you're struggling with you body image after cancer."

Wishing you health and joy!

               

 

Love and Safety

Whole Life Health:  Love & Safety

Last week was crazy - we finally closed the last storage unit we’ve had for 8 years, which was located about 3 1/2 hours away.  My husband and I are still exhausted—it was 93 degrees and we were dealing with the last of the fallout from our previous life.  It's not quite gone...it's sitting in boxes in the garage.  Looking forward to letting it go completely!

The pilgrimage and the stuff represented the ending of an era where love, safety, and trust were violated and we were forced to relocate to California, where we found love, safety, and trust waiting for us!  Thank God for my parents and family.  My husband and I have a safety net of the basics—Love, Safety, Connection, and Freedom.  So, let’s look at love and safety.  

Love is a universal need—to give and to receive love is the source of life.  Touch, attention, understanding, compassion are all expressions of love.  I remember hearing a story as an undergraduate; an orphanage full of infants who did not receive touch but for feeding and diaper changes.  Many of these infants died, others failed to thrive.  We need love, and we need to give love, in order to thrive and feel alive.  This is why Love is an essential element for life to be fully lived.

Safety—the tangible and intangible—is required in order to explore.  There is a theory in psychology called Attachment Theory (starting with John Bowlby).  It focuses on the quality of attachment between parent and infant; in short, it is based on behaviors appearing when an infant perceives a threat to safety (emotional, physical, etc.). These behaviors typically persist throughout life—it’s a way to cope with threat.

I'm going somewhere with this, so please bear with me.

There are two basic categories: Secure and Insecure Attachment.  

Secure Attachment describes a strong, healthy bond between infant and parent.  Secure attachment enables the infant to explore her environment while checking with her parent to make sure she is still there, still attentive, still safe.  

Insecure Attachment typically inhibits exploration (the infant feels driven to stay close to the parent to reduce threat to safety) or unchecked exploration (where the infant explores without checking back—there are a variety of reasons this could happen).  

Secure Attachment is associated with increased general success in life.  Why?  One interpretation is that experiencing safety encourages exploration, exploration is the only way a person is able experiment and discover her aptitudes and her gifts.  In other words, exploring, taking risks, and engaging in the world with curiosity creates an atmosphere wherein people can discover and thrive.  

So, what am I getting at, what does this all mean in reference to Whole Life Health?  We all need love and a sense of safety in order to thrive, in order to live life fully.

What does this mean for you?  Consider the questions below.

Where are you getting love?  Is it enough?  Where are you giving love?  Do you need to let someone or something go in order to make room for giving or receiving love?  What would it look like to feel completely loved?  What would need to be true for you in order to feel completely loved?

Do you have a sense of safety (mental, spiritual, physical)?  Is it enough?  Where in your life do you feel safe or feel unsafe?  If you were to feel completely safe, what in your life would be different?

What about cancer patients/survivors?

For cancer patients/survivors, threat to safety (to life) magnifies the typical attachment-based behavioral responses.  Increased expressions of love (”I care for you, I’m here”), and safety (”Do you have questions or concerns about treatment?” or “Would you like to talk about your fears, I’m here to listen”) can help alleviate the experience of feeling alone, isolated, and fearful.  

Though a cancer patient ultimately goes through her journey by herself, having a strong base of love and as much safety as possible goes a long way to fortify her for the path ahead!  

If you are a cancer survivor, or family/friend of a survivor, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  If you have questions or want to chat, just email me at Krista@KristaThorne.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for reading and engaging with Krista Thorne!  Don't forget to request to join my FREE Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors at bit.ly/flourishingsurvivors

http://www.kristathorne.com/blog

Email Krista Thorne at Krista@KristaThorne.com

Like and comment below!

The Meaning of Life...Right Here

Whole Life Health: Overview of the Essentials

So, here we are. I want to give you a overview of Whole Life Health—what it means to me and how I communicate it to everyone else.  

My mind is a bit scattered, in a good way.  I tend to pull all sorts of ideas from different areas into a system.  It does, however, make it hard to figure out how to communicate what’s in my head to people who want to hear it while making it engaging and relevant. Love a challenge!

Where do I get these ideas?  Well, you can check out my history here if you like, but it comes from combining the spirit of my younger years with the experience, wisdom, education, and training from the, eh-hem, evolving years (does that work, or should I just say “older?”).  

Anyway, enough of that.  Here are the relevant, bare bones concepts that you will want to know that make up a life that is fulfilling, meaningful, and beautiful, otherwise known as a life fully lived.

  • Whole Life Health is an outcome of the decisions, behaviors, expressions, and reactions that you develop from birth throughout your life.  
  • Having Whole Life Health means you are generally happy; you are thoughtfully, mindfully engaged in a life of your own creation—one that you have seen in your mind’s eye and have carefully cultivated—based on your beliefs, values, and gifts, and held back only by imposed beliefs, imposed values, imposed gifts, and imposed thoughts or “chatter.”  
  • Whole Life Health is grounded in love, safety, connection, freedom, and your unique gifts.  You are based, or grounded, in these elements. This is the origin of your identity.
  • Your identity is reflected in the roles you play in life (son/daughter, sibling, friend, doctor, artist, athlete, musician, etc.), your interests, and most importantly, the expression of your gifts.
  • Your life style is reflected in your alignment of needs, identity, roles, health, and how you utilize/experience your gifts.
  • Whole Life Health (as defined by you) in all areas of your life is driven by your identity and the impulse to discover, develop, and practice your gifts—wherein you find fulfillment, meaning, and purpose.  Ah, the Meaning of Life! 

How do you know when you have Whole Life Health?  Well, only you will know.  That’s why seeing a crystal clear picture in your mind of your self in the future, knowing what your gifts are and how to use them, knowing what’s most important to you, and developing a path to that cultivated, “life fully lived” future is SO VERY IMPORTANT!

Challenge O'the Week:  Are you aligned?  Start with the basics: Love, Safety, Connection, Freedom, and Gifts.  Do you have what you need in all of these areas?  Are you developing in all these areas? If you do/are, fantastic!  If you don’t/aren't, fantastic—now you know! 

Please like, share, and comment below!  Don't forget to grab your FREE GIFT, my Charting Your Course After Cancer map, and request to join my FREE Facebook group, Flourishing Survivors.

http://www.kristathorne.com/blog

Email Krista Thorne at Krista@KristaThorne.com

 

Squirrels distracting you? Refocus to Mindful Awareness in just seconds!

In my newsletter I said I would be talking about Whole Life Health on this blog.  Before I do that, however, I want to introduce a term that you may be familiar with but may not practice it or really know what it is.  The term is “Mindful Awareness.”  Mindful Awareness is an essential tool in achieving a Whole, Healthy Life.

If every Squirrel distracts you, that's okay.  Just notice it and refocus!

If every Squirrel distracts you, that's okay.  Just notice it and refocus!

This is how I describe Mindful Awareness to people:

Mindful Awareness is:
    1.   Paying Attention on Purpose
    2.  From a place of Non-judgmental Curiosity
    3.  To gain valuable information
    4.  That will help you change your habits

You can see how important this is to gaining insight into the “Why?” of your behaviors, like:

“I’m not hungry so why do I have the refrigerator door open and what am I looking for?”  (Yeah, this one never happens to me...HAH!)

Or:

“I know I’m a better person when I get enough sleep so why am I watching marathon re-runs of Sex in the City at 1 AM?”

Or:

“I feel like I’m going crazy after my cancer treatment ended; why am I feeling this way?”

This last one is a bit more complicated and I have the answers (click here) that will help you find your way back into life after treatment.  But basically, Mindful Awareness is essential in helping you discover the “Why’s” of your behavior; and at the least, it gives you important clues. 

It uncovers what is NOT aligned in your life, and I help you figure out how to realign what’s out of whack so you can achieve your best life and best health possible.

Do you want to give it a try?  Okay, here we go.  If you would, focus your attention on your right earlobe.  No, I’m not kidding.  

Okay, now consider how hot it is around the edges. In a moment you will feel your heartbeat; if you’re having trouble focusing just close your eyes and give all your attention to your right earlobe.  If you’re having trouble feeling your heartbeat, don’t worry.  This takes practice and a big dose of “letting go of” or “tuning out” sounds, smells, etc., in your environment so you can direct your attention.

Does it feel hot, or warm?  Is your pulse fast or slow?  Just be curious; resist the impulse to judge it.  For example, you might say “It’s too fast!”  or “It’s too hot!”  If it's fast, slow, hot, cold, that’s fine.  Be curious, be aware that it is how it is.  Just sit with the new information.  Whatever it is, it’s fine.

Congratulations!  You’ve just completed a Mindful Awareness exercise!

Challenge: Throughout the week, continue focusing on your earlobe at random times.  See if it becomes easier to focus your attention, see if the temperature or heart rate changes.  Sit with the information, be curious.  Like or comment below with questions.

Thanks for playing with me today; we’ll dive into elements that make up your Whole, Healthy Life next!

 

What is health coaching?

I am often asked, What is health coaching?  Its a good question.  With the boom in coaching were seeing so many types of coacheslife coaches, fitness coaches, executive coaches.  The process, however, for each type of coach is similar.  As a health coach, I work with clients to:

1.     Create a vision of where you want to be and how you want to feel on a daily basis.

2.     Assess where you are now.

3.     Identify challenges that have kept you from getting what you want.

4.     Find solutions for the challenges and help you create a pathway to your vision.

The difference between coaching and other types of interventions, like counseling and psychotherapy, is that the coach (thats me) trusts that you know more about you than I ever could.  Don't get me wrong, therapists have their important place in helping folks with difficult issues and diagnoses.  I was a therapist for quite some time, but for me, it felt constricting, and then I found coaching.

I utilize several techniques but I dont come from a theoretical philosophy that drives how I conceive of your issues, develop a "case formulation," interpret your words and actions, and create an intervention. 

The only philosophy I have is that I trust you, completely, to know, deep down, whats right for you. I take you for you.  You are the knowledge expert on you and its my job to coax/facilitate that knowledge out of you and work on resolving conflicts between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

Whole Life Health coaching is similar, but instead of just physical health, we look at your entire ecology, your whole life, how everything fits together to bring you happiness, health, and meaning.  (More on what elements make up Whole Life Health on this blog throughout the month of April.)  

Pretty simple!  Ha-ha.  Here are some of the typical challenges I run into when helping clients:

1.     Clients dont have a clear picture of what they want.

2.     Clients feel discouraged at how far they have to go and how much they have to do in order to get what they want.

3.     Clients dont believe in themselves.  After trying many times and ending up right back where they started, clients have lost confidence in their ability to succeed.

4.     Strong emotions connected to beliefs and habits that clients have are hard to change.  However, its totally possible and easier than you might think!

5.     Anytime you ask someone where they want to be compared to where they are now, emotions usually surface.  People feel they should already be there because theyre smart, they know what to do, but they just havent gotten around to it yet.

6.     People will pay for vacations, medical procedures (e.g., plastic surgery), entertainment, dinners out, cars, gyms, cocktails, etc. before they ever think about investing in themselves via a health coach. 

Issues 1 5 are completely normal and common.  I can coach that right out of you, no problem.  If you look at #6 however, the list it reads as a catalog of, What can I do to blow off some steam, feel good, or get what I want?

Ouch, hope that wasnt too harsh.  The good thing about this list?  It demonstrates that people really are trying to take care of themselves.  It might not be the best way, but theyre trying.

The downside?  The items on the list provide short-term gain and/or instant satisfaction, they are expensive, and most of all, they are all over the map.  Its like throwing darts in the darkthere is no one destination or end-point that can signify whether or not youve succeeded in feeling better, reducing stress, or attained what you really want.  Its scattered.  Even worse, once its over you are stuck with the same stress or discomfort that you were trying to escape!

I get it.  Being scattered is a sign of the times.  So many gadgets, apps, appointments, things to do, birthday parties, going to the storeits endless, right?  So where do you fit into this scattered task list?  Do you react to the world (band-aids, gasping for air), or do you act on your own plan to get the Whole Life Health you envision for yourself?  No judgment, just askin.

And Deja vu, enter Whole Life Health. Whole Life Health coaching is similar to health coaching, but instead of just physical health, we look at your entire ecology, your whole life, how everything fits together to bring you happiness, health, and meaning. Everything works together.  What do I mean?

Weight loss doesnt happen by itself, neither does healing; they are connected to your stress level, sleep cycle, activity, connection with something greater than you, your relationships, play, financesyou name itits involved.  I use a unique, simple approach to Whole Life Health, and see clients experience AMAZING results.

So, let me ask you, if you and I could wave a magic wand--sparkles, fairy dust, magic, yes all of itand get what you want in the next 90 days, what would that look like?  How would you feel?

What I do as a Whole Life Health Coach is help get you there.  It IS attainable and closer than you think. 

Seize it!

-Krista

Having trouble figuring out what you want?  No worries, email me at Krista@KristaThorne.com

If you know what you want but youre having trouble getting there?  Lets chat, email me at Krista@KristaThorne.com   

 

Transition Happens...How Not To Drown In The Process

Last weekend I gained clarity.  I'm dedicating my coaching to cancer survivors and others impacted by cancer.  Why?  I'm going deeper, not wider.  This is transition. 

How are you gaining clarity?  Are you choosing your transitions or are you transitioning blindly, or a combination of the two? 

Survivors and their friends and family have little control over transition when a diagnosis of cancer is delivered.  They have different reactions to the diagnosis and its treatment. Both stages force transition.  What they may not know is that difficult emotions and reactions don't end when treatment ends--they amplify and conflict when treatment ends, requiring, yet again, transition.

Cancer changes you. I help you with those changes.  You can get a hold of your amplified and often contradictory emotions.  It is a transition and it usually changes your view of the world. Through it, you gain clarity.  When you gain clarity, you take control of the direction you're heading. 

Grab your complimentary session with Krista Thorne by clicking HERE.

I help in your transition by helping you find control and using your emotions and reactions to gain focus and use them purposefully and meaningfully.  I help you with the emotional burden and help you use it for good.

If you are a survivor, if you have been impacted by cancer in some way, let me help you sort out your tangle of experiences so you can harness and direct your transition.  There is something beautiful waiting for you--a refined you, a purposeful you, a wise and joyful you, an AMAZING! you.

You can book a complimentary first session by clicking here.  I look forward to helping you take control of your transition through difficult times.

Like, share, and comment! 

 

 

Starting Strong, Losing Steam, and Starting Again

For women who start small businesses or companies, we start from the inside out, something we're excited about, something meaningful that will make a difference. We may even think it has to do with our purpose and what we're here on earth to accomplish. We start with energy in our bellies, a sparkle in our eyes, and a sense of determined optimism.

All too often, however, the thing we are creating ends up taking on a life of its own. Before you know it we're caught up in the current and begin to lose sight of ourselves--what we truly believe in, what we really want--and we end up feeling exhausted and directionless. We lose our joy.

How do we find it again?  Well, it's not the original joy we will find, but a refined, more expanded joy that encompasses our experiences, identifying what we need to let go of, and choosing what it is we'll take forward with us into the next phase. 

It's a process and it happens everyday to everyone, be it a little transition from sleeping to awakening, or a large transition from the business humming along to having to deal with a new competitor or reliable staff leaving.  We all make it through, but wouldn't it be nice to have some kind of control over how you move through it?

This is where I come in--I'm an expert in the transition process and at helping people find the creative power that lies within transitions.  Two key points: identifying that you are in transition and mindful awareness.  More on this later.  But for now, see below.  I will also be offering web or Skype groups to reach those of you who don't live in beautiful Santa Cruz, CA.  In any case...

I will be facilitating a 6 month group, Work/Life/Joy/Health coaching package meant to help you feel the joy in yourself and to develop a concrete plan that enables you to know where you're going, to identify possible obstacles, and to arrive at where you want to be.  Click here for more information.  This is a very unique group coaching package (see details here), and it's on sale until March 30, 2016.  After that, prices go up!

This workshop will rock your world and everything in it! You will walk away with new excitement and energy, new vision, and a plan to enact it!  

Questions? email Krista@KristaThorne.com.

Much joy and light into your days!

Connecting to Your Truth

I've asked you to "Trust your Truth."  But how?  You have years and layers of holding back, biting your lip, censoring your opinion, suppressing yourself for the greater good.  What does it mean when you "grow up," become a "responsible adult?"  You've donned your SELF with society's cloak...the manners, niceties, and expectations of others.  

You are inundated with rules...but inside you are struggling to balance your needs, self-expression, self-honesty with everything outside of your SELF.   "Balance."  If that isn't a buzz word!  As if that were actually possible!  The world--including everyone in it--is necessarily dynamic, ever-changing.  "Finding balance," is elusive, it is a sideshow to keep you from your Truth. 

And all the distractions!  It's difficult to keep to one train of thought without--"Squirrel!"--being overwhelmed by items on your "To-do" list, being jarred by fleeting comments that bother you, being asked to serve on this committee or that one.  It's like having a shiny new ornament rolling into your line of sight every few minutes!  It's like the most recent adaptation of the movie "The Grinch."  Life is like Whoville in a frenzy getting ready for the one day...Christmas.  Your Truth is like Cindy Lou Who...the small voice who questions the true meaning of Christmas, who dares question the chaos by bringing attention to her SELF--to the Truth.

With all of the rules and distractions, how will you even connect with your Truth?  You wonder if it's even there anymore.

It's there, way back in there is your Truth, the essence of who you are, the beautifully unique version of you that makes you stand out from the crowd.  Your unique wants, needs, strengths, vulnerabilities, and characteristics that perpetuate the person you are meant to become. The person who, simply due to who you are, is intended to make a unique impact in the world.

Perhaps standing out is not what you want; fitting in is certainly easier.  You avoid diving deep into the depths of this existence we call life, but you are reminded of it, INCESSANTLY!  The distractions and "Squirrels!" actually speak to the heart of the dilemma--they remind you of your consciousness and how often you relinquish your power of attention.  They remind you of the desperation, the longing for peace and quiet, some time to connect with your SELF. 

True story; a first grandchild to a family of great wealth was given the Christmas of a lifetime...so everyone thought.  She was about four or five years old.  When Christmas morning arrived, there were at least 30 presents for her to open (not including a ginormous stocking).  At first, her eyes ballooned wide as she took in the sight of presents piled high.  The magic of Santa on steroids.  She began slowly tearing the paper off the presents, one-by-one.  Cheered on by her grandparents and parents, she continued.  As the mountain of paper grew on one side of the room and the opened presents grew on the other, one could hardly make out the tiny individual who was lost among the stuff.   The bigger the piles, the less connected she was to what mattered most--her family, the people who sat outside the piles looking in with great expectations at the little girl in the middle.

She sped up, as if it were a task of Cinderella proportions, and began frantically tearing the paper off boxes to reveal the contents within them.  On several occasions, she yelled, "I ALREADY HAVE THIS!" with grandparents replying, "This is for you to play with at Grandma and Grandpa's house."  She grew irritated and a sort of frenzy began...more stuff, more piles, she could hardly see the spectators in the arena behind the boxes, paper, and presents.  I'll never forget the look in her eyes, it was as if she were in her own personal purgatory, eyes screaming "Get me outta here!"  It was not an easy scene to witness.

And then, at last, she opened our 2 small gifts.  We were on a budget, and having 10 nieces and nephews of our own from my side of the family, I knew that for children this age presents were more about the wrapping, the boxes, and the expectations of parents than what was actually being opened.  So, everyone else was quite surprised (and irritated) that she calmed down and became fascinated with our simple gifts. 

One was a ribbon of many colors wound on a stick that she could swirl around--no technology, just a simple, colorful ribbon on a small wooden stick.  She stood up and immediately understood what to do.  She twirled it around, smiling, while she danced in her arena, engaged with the colors and her own power to make them move about the air around her.   All but my husband and I were completely irritated. 

Then, a small baby doll I had received as a "gift with purchase."  As she opened and carefully took it out of the package her eyes grew big and her agitation began to fade.  She stopped, looked into the baby doll's eyes, and sat down in the middle of all the stuff to care for her new baby.  She had made a connection, a connection her family had substituted with things.   The connection reflected what she wanted most out of that crazy Christmas morning--love, peace, connection, wonder--the meaning of Christmas.  There she was, Cindy Lou Who, sitting in the middle with everyone aghast.  Precious.

The agitation and frenzy were suddenly transferred to the gift-givers--they were incensed that she wasn't paying attention to their gifts, the bounty they had purchased to "create" an experience.  They kept trying to get her attention with the other gifts she received, but she was unreachable.  She sat, connected to her baby doll.  Such a simple example of what the parents' and grandparents' expectations of a grand Christmas should be, contrasted with the beauty of little girl whose essence was simple, clear, and all her own. 

So, what do people expect of you when you're in the arena?  What do YOU expect of you?  Are your expectations closer to what others expect of you, are they higher, or are your expectations closer to who you really are and what you really want?  Are you focused, like Cindy Lou Who, on the meaning of true meaning of things?  Or, are you in a frenzy, running around like a Whoville-er with two days left to shop?

We tend to pay attention to what we've been taught, we measure ourselves against the achievements and expectations of others.  The expectations, the roles that we've draped over ourselves have become layers of filters that censor our Truth.  Your Truth is still there.  It takes a brave person to stand up and say, "This is my Truth!"  If you take a chance, like Cindy Lou did, you might be surprised by what happens. 

At the end of the day, I really want you to know that someone's got your back.  I see YOU.  I hear YOU.  You are laying in wait, hiding so patiently--waiting for the right moment, a safe moment, to acknowledge your SELF--your beautiful, glorious, abundant SELF!  I can't wait until you reveal YOU to everyone else.

Connecting to your Truth?  It starts with being brave enough to turn a light on it...to sit in the arena and state, unapologetically, what it is you need, who it is you are, and how it is you're going to live your Truth.  It is being you in spite of others expectations, perpetually taking the risk of letting others down (and possibly teaching them something) in order to rise up and stop letting your SELF down.   It takes courage, and a bit of help and guidance to get you on your way.  When you're ready, I'm here.

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Trust Your Truth

Life is so confusing – as soon as I think I’ve figured something out I get smacked in the head with how wrong I am.  I work on something over here then something goes out of whack over there.  It is so frustrating.  I know you’re frustrated too.  How do we balance things out? 

I hear all of these people saying they’ve figured out how to balance everything.  They urge you to listen to their podcast or view their copious content and say, “If you just use this method you can get it done; trust me!  If I did it, anyone can do it!”  Ha! I don’t think it’s that easy.

Even if they say, “Stand on one toe, turn around in a circle, place you right hand on the red dot and your left elbow on the green one, drink a smoothie while upside down, and then hop twice on your left ear,” I still think it’s harder than that.  Don’t listen to them – listen to yourself.  You might need to hop twice on your right ear!

The Truth is we all have it inside of us.  The Truth is that only by looking inside yourself and trusting or relearning to trust your intuition, what you really KNOW, will you find your Truth and be able to unlock your inner wisdom and joyful self. 

Looking for guidelines is great.  Researching or following someone else’s process for a while can provide clues.  But your innermost, divine, and loudest Truth lies within you.  This is where you should be going – not where someone else or I might tell you to go, but where YOU, when you relax and look inwardly, tell me which direction YOU think or feel you should go. 

And, it’s not a straight line.  You’ve woven this life of yours in particular and unique patterns—however it happened, whatever influenced you, what you were dealing with at the time—you’ve woven them.  You know every stitch, but you’re many times unclear why you chose to take that stitch, with that thread, in that direction. 

Sometimes it’s helpful to unwind them a bit, ponder for a moment, to learn or discover whatever it is in order to understand the Truth behind it.  When you do, you embrace your Truth.  Only when you listen to yourself, to your Truth, can you begin to weave your life with joyful stitches, with meaningful and joyful intention.  And you, glorious you, deserve to be in joyful stitches, filled with laughter and grace!

I’m weaving my life joyfully now.  After unweaving, re-stitching, unweaving and re-stitching again the pattern began to emerge.  I didn’t see the whole picture; the stitches I chose didn’t have a visible pattern—neither do yours.  And not every single stitch is joyful in and of itself, but you find joy in them because they are weaving a bigger picture, they are weaving a monument to your Truth.

So what is this pattern that emerges?  The pattern is your Truth.   You cannot “see” it because you cannot remove yourself from it in order to objectively view it.  There are critical times when you pause, when you step back to view your work and focus on where you want to make your next stitch.  You are, however, viewing them from within your Truth, from your perspective, based on what you know now, from your experience. 

That is why it evolves; that is why it emerges.  Your life—your Truth—is a wondrous and beautiful testimony to you, and it makes clear your particular place and purpose in this world. 

So relax, take a deep breath, and stop trying to keep up with all these “challenges” and the mass “content” people are pushing.  Take it all with a grain of salt.   At everyone’s core is a singular, unique truth. 

Trust yourself, trust your Truth.

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