Happy Memorial Weekend! How To Cope And Survive When Illness Knocks You Down…

We live in predictable patterns involving every aspect of life. Every morning we expect our day to be as we’ve planned it. And we don’t want any unexpected situations forcing us down a different path. Usually, our plans are easily fulfilled, and our days are as they should be. No problem. Everything’s under control, and all is well.

But we don’t live in a fairy tale. Our world is real, and unforeseen things do happen, like a check bounces at the bank, the car has a flat tire, or you forgot an important appointment, etc. Bothersome interruptions, but solvable. And that’s okay. You’ve been there before, and you understand that life sometimes gets bumpy, and you have to roll with it. 

“I can and will make it through the storm…simply because I’m a survivor. It’s what I do.”  ~ Unknown

But what happens when a sudden unexpected illness temporarily invades your predictable life, like the flu, various viral infections, a chest cold that turns into pneumonia, etc, etc. Such health challenges are not life threatening, but they put your life on hold, and they require more than a band-aid. And what about the more serious chronic illnesses like COPD, diabetes, a heart condition, etc…illnesses that require a lifetime of attention. Whatever the illness, they all take their toll. And your life is changed. But you can survive.

“You’re allowed to scream, you’re allowed to cry, but do not give up.”  ~Unknown

Recently I spent 6 days in a hospital, then a slow recovery at home. Hospitals are there to promote healing, but the experience can add stress to what you’re already going through. In the hospital, every time there was a change of shifts, the new shift contradicted what the last shift required. And I felt like a ball bounced back and forth by the different shifts. One said get out of bed and move around, and the next one jumped all over me for getting out of bed and moving around. I ended up yelling at the walls and crying to go home. The whole thing was like a page out of the movie, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” I had to come home to begin healing.

We experience illness on 3 levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally. In our response we may physically see or feel it; mentally we think about it, “Can I afford the medical bills? How can I function with it?” etc; and emotionally we feel angry, scared, frustrated, helpless, etc.

Each illness will manifest in different ways. One may involve physical pain with fear and frustration. Another may involve guilt, worry, or resentment. Another added expense, loss of mobility and independence, leaving you feeling helpless. And each person responds in different ways. Some perceive even a minor illness as devastating, while others take it in stride. The way you perceive it depends upon your personality, your life situation, and the way you view your life.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”  ~Arthur Ashe

How do you respond when illness knocks you down? Have you ever thought about the way in which you deal with it? Knowing and understanding yourself at those times supplies a sense of control and is the first step in the healing process as you implement other resources. But once you’ve made that first assessment, it’s important to quiet your mind and allow your body to heal.

Too often, some in the medical field have a ‘one size fits all’ agenda. But this is the last attitude a person in pain needs or wants. One size doesn’t fit all. You are unique, and you need individual care. So when you need medical care, look for a care giver who cares.

“People start to heal the moment they feel heard.”  ~ Cheryl Richardson

Have you ever felt alone in a health challenge? Have you ever longed for someone to hear you and put their arm around you and tell you you’ll be okay? Well, that someone is a major part of your healing. So find that person, and allow their caring energy to help you heal. And whether you’re facing a temporary or permanent situation, look within for guidance, strength, and confidence, knowing you will always be the same beautiful soul that you are. And no illness can ever change that.

I wish you healthy days and loving arms around you.

Marilyn Fowler
Author, and writer for “Keys To Recovery,”  “Silent Echoes”  and  “Me and Granmama in the Hill Country”

How Do You Respond When Unexpected Life Challenges Knock You To Your Knees?

Life itself is a series of problem-solving. That’s what we do. We move through each day on various levels of energy, sometimes easy going and sometimes difficult. Everything affects everything else. So with experience, we learn what to expect and how to handle what we encounter. And we do pretty well in that environment. But what about those unexpected situations that suddenly arise without warning. Sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere and may be the result of our own actions. Most of the time they’re fixable situations, but some can put your life in turmoil.

“It’s the unexpected that changes our lives.”   Unknown

Some unexpected situations may seem fairly minor but can skyrocket your stress level….like when you’re ready for work and discover your car has a flat time or you forget to register your kid for summer camp; etc. Those situations can force you in a direction you didn’t know was coming.

On a more serious side, you suddenly lose your job; or a major health issue invades your life and robs you of your independence. A few years ago after a hurricane had passed, a gigantic tree limb crashed to the ground in my back yard. I was grateful it spared my house, but the thundering sound was deafening, and I was frozen to the shaking floor. Removing that tree limb became a major challenge.

Another time through no fault of mine, I was suddenly in a serious car wreck. I spent 2 months in residential treatment, and went from a wheelchair to a walker and then a cane. Recovery was long and hard, and I didn’t drive for a year. Serious yet, if you suddenly lose a loved one, this kind of unexpected trauma requires some inner healing and time with others close to you for understanding and comfort. And the loss may always be there.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”   ~Virginia Satir

We all respond in different ways to the unexpected. Sometimes the first response is to get hung up on ‘What ifs’. What if I’m late for work; what if my kid thinks I forgot because I don’t care; What if I can’t find another job; what if I never get well; what if there’s another limb ready to fall; what if I’ll never walk again; what if I can’t recover. Or you might dive right in with an immediate action. If there’s danger like a fire, you’d probably swallow your panic and get help right away.

“What gets measured, gets managed.”   ~Peter Drucker

Unless you’re facing an emergency, your first concern should be what you’re feeling inside. Panic, even the initial stress, can cloud your mind, and you could miss your best options for a solution. Just a few moments within can make a big difference in your outcome. If you can, let the problem be, and identify what’s going on inside. What are you feeling….panic, fear, trauma, anger, regret, sadness, grief? What is it, and how severe? Notice your breathing. Any racing thoughts? Now take some deep breaths, and allow your body and mind to let go as much as possible. And give up the ‘what ifs’ and ‘ain’t it awful’….

When you’re a little calmer, just step back and gauge the size of the mountain. Ask, “How big is it really? What can I do about it? What happens if I can’t fix it? Where can I find help if I need it? etc.” Meet each day knowing you have what it takes to handle whatever comes up. And those puddles may not be as deep as they seem.

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”   ~Unknown 

If an unexpected situation is a result of your own mistake, never condemn yourself. Adding a problem to the one you already have does nothing beneficial. So don’t do it. Instead, say some affirmations. “I am strong enough to lick this tiger and smart enough to find a clear road ahead.”  Sometimes an unexpected difficulty now is the very thing that may lead you to that clear road ahead. Look for it with clear vision.

I wish you Peace in your Heart along the way.

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer

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How To Discover Who You Truly Are And Live In Harmony With Yourself. Part 1 Ego vs Real Self . . .



“Two people have been living in you all your life. One is the ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice is wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to–you have uncovered in yourself your own wise guide.”   ~Sogyal Rinpoche

On our journey through life, we take much for granted, with little note of who and what we are as people. But we are complex creatures, and for centuries Scholars and Theologians have sought to explain us physically and metaphysically…physical, ego, spiritual, soul, divine, conscious, subconscious, superconscious, and so on…with varied opinions as to who and what we are. I disagree with some, and you may disagree with me. So we each accept what feels right to us.

It’s not necessary to know all of our complexities in order to live in harmony with our ego and true self. But it is important to understand these two parts of ourselves, how they relate to each other, and how they can work together for our common good. We are innately a spiritual being, or true self, expressing in a human body. But as children, we accept negative feedback from our environment and deny our true self with false beliefs about who we are. And we create an ego identity that becomes an active part of our personality.

“The ego is the false self-born out of fear and defensiveness.” ~John O’Donohue

With this ego identity, we think, feel, and act in ways that interfere with our ability to be happy. We may experience the illusion of separation and limitation, or be driven into destructive habits for a false sense of worth, or feel vulnerable, and we use control to protect ourselves. We may even assume a false grandiose self-image to cover feelings of insecurity, regret, guilt, etc. And our every thought automatically goes into our subconscious and finds expression in our life, positive and negative. We’re not aware of all that’s in there, but we live our life based on its content.

“Be guided by spirit and not driven by ego.”   ~ Allison

When you think about who and what you are, you may include the negative in your self-image…beliefs like ugly, stupid, clumsy, not as good as, lacking wisdom, etc. But you are none of that nonsense. That’s just what ego is saying you are. And ego is mistaken. In truth, you are that spiritual being with divine qualities. And your true self is completely aware of your true nature with unwavering knowledge that you’re not anything that limits the expression of your spiritual self. It involves the love and peace you long for, and always promotes union instead of separation.



If we live wholly in the consciousness that personality has built up, we’re ruled by the carnal mind, the ego self. But wisdom comes from our self-wants to flow through our ego self and be expressed in our life. We’re meant to learn, grow, and evolve spiritually on our journey. And it’s been said the ego should be the servant, not the master. So our mind, thus our ego, must be trained to work with our true self to accomplish our true mission.

“Your true Self never doubts. Your false self does so you can see and identify who you are and who you are not.”   ~Roxana Jones

The ego wants control and resists change. But it can be tamed, and its qualities can be made to work for our benefit. It is strong, clever, and resourceful, and being a tempter, it presents opportunities for us to make valuable choices that can redirect us in positive ways along our path. If we’re to find the love and peace we long for, our ego must learn to stop and listen to the voice of truth inside. And this must involve teaching your ego self who you truly are–a spiritual being with divine qualities. 

Understanding and awareness are the first steps to releasing ego and becoming more of your true self. Next week I’ll talk about ways to identify and correct your ego’s misguided tools for living.

So Be Happy!

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer

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Free To Love . . .

“Hello again. I apologize for missing last week. My computer was down, and I’m behind in everything. I’m glad to finally be back.”

When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”  ~Donald Miller

As we go through life we sometimes take our relationships with those close to us for granted. Nature designed us to connect, to belong, and one of the greatest blessings in life is those people we share our life with. But sometimes we label each one who and what we design them to be, and we encounter conflict or disappointment. How much are we willing to let them be who they really are and still love them? Love flourishes when it’s free to blossom according to its own nature and not be constrained by our own human perceptions and requirements.

Until a few years ago I thought I knew the people in my life, and I took my perceptions of them for granted. Then one day I was struggling with a stressful situation, and I went to a friend looking for understanding, compassion and support to help me cope. I was very surprised when my friend half listened to my feelings and began telling me how to fix my problem. I already knew what to do. I needed the strength to do it. But she didn’t hear me. I was devastated, and felt even more alone.

I went to my minister, where I should have gone in the first place, and she explained something about people and relationships that I have always remembered and learned to use in my life. She said every person is given certain gifts, talents, and we’re all different. Some people are good at repairing broken items, some are good listeners, some help clarify, some make us smile, and some tell is how to fix a problem. I hadn’t noticed that my friend was a fixer. I thought I knew her. My minister advised me to take a second look at the people in my life, figure out what each one is able to give, and love them anyway. And figure out my own gift, and give that to others. Then I understood my friend’s response to me. She gave what she knew to give, and she loved me in her own way. After that I began understanding the people in my life better, and my love for them became more unconditional.

I think the following poem says it well.
Let us know how not to ask too much of each other,
share who we are without giving up our freedom,
love without trying to absorb,
be kind yet not smother with kindness,
walk together but neither retard the other’s pace.
I would not lead one who did not choose to follow
or follow one who demanded that I be led.
The spark of selfhood, that high and precious thing;
each his own master and the two of us
richer, dearer because of it,
but neither sunk passively in the other.
That alone is true loving .  .  .  .



“We are here for a reason. We all have a gift or gifts to share. You want to look inside your heart and your soul, and you want to tap into the one thing you love to do. Develop it. Share it. Nurture it. You were meant to have that gift.”  ~Debbie Fields

Take a closer look at the people in your life, and identify what gift each one is able to offer. Then when you need something, go only to the person who has the gift to help with your particular need. And look within yourself, and identify your own gift. Are you a good listener, or a fixer? Can you make people laugh? Do you have the ability to focus well and clarify a problem? Discover a strong quality within yourself of which you may not be aware, and offer that to others.

Allow each person in your life to be who they are in their own special way, and allow yourself to love freely, unconditionally, from your heart. We are blessings to each other, and that in itself is a gift.

I wish you freedom to love.

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer

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We’re Living In The Fast Lane. Are You Going Where You Want To Go?


The trouble with life in the fast lane is that you get to the other end in an awful hurry.”  ~ John Jensen

Everything is energy, so everything affects everything else–including people. Dynamic changes are taking place in the universe and in the earth, and these changes are disrupting our human energy fields. According to scientific studies, our universe is rapidly expanding, the earth’s magnetic poles are shifting, and the earth’s pulse is speeding up. And that’s enough to sweep us along in a sea of fast moving energy. But it seems most people aren’t even noticing. They’re just running the race to nowhere.

“In an age of movement, nothing is more critical than stillness.”  ~Pico Iyer

Sometimes I wonder how much we’re missing in our fast paced lives. We get anxious, depressed, fed up. Then we pop a few pills and keep running. When was the last time you listened to the birds singing outside? Or read a book to a child? Or told someone you love them or looked into a mirror and said, “I love you?” When was the last time you simply heard the sound of quiet...just quiet?

Have you ever noticed how your own energy affects your world? Do your thoughts and words have a positive influence on your own well being and on the lives of those around you? Human energy is powerful, and we have the ability to produce harmony or chaos. Every thought we think and every word we utter produces an action or response within ourselves, in our environment, and beyond.

I worked on a psychiatric unit in a large hospital in Las Vegas. And each day at 3 pm during shift change, the staff walked quietly through the halls and projected thoughts and words of love and peace into each room. Then whenever staff from another unit came on our unit, they always remarked about how peaceful it felt there, especially for a mental health area. And we smiled.

“Energy never lies. If you work at your right rhythm, you will be more productive.”   ~Judith Orloff

Energy levels differ in different individuals, and I like to think of levels in terms of quarts, pints, and half pints. Quart people feel driven and have to force themselves to slow down. Pint people have all they need for however they want to use it. And half pint people are too tired to keep up with where their mind wants to go. Energy levels depend upon a number of factors–heredity, physical and mental health, life situations, etc, and can change over time. But most people seem to have a mindset that says, “Keep running. Don’t stop.”

“Moving fast is not the same as going somewhere.”  ~ Robert Anthony


What is your energy level, and how are you using it? Are you a dynamo who keeps going until you drop? Or a pint person who gets everything done, but feels guilty when not busy? Or a half pint person who feels like a puny wimp who can’t keep up the pace? After all, isn’t everybody supposed to run through life? I don’t know what would happen if you walked instead of running, but it might be fun to put some balance in your life and find out.

You have the power to rethink your life and choose the way you will live it. And balance is key. But if you don’t do it, it won’t happen. To work on balance, put everything aside for one day and become familiar with (1) your own unique energy level and (2) how you spend it on a day-to-day basis. This knowledge will help you move forward.

Given your energy level, create a plan for balance with work, rest, play, relationships, activities, whatever is important to you, eliminating some things and adding others. Some can be combined like play and work–music while you do laundry.

Who and what you are is not measured by your energy level, so find no fault with yourself. Just stop living in hurry energy, and keep working on this until you’re being who you are in your own way, living a balanced life with inner joy and peace.

I wish you time to enjoy being you.

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer . . . “Silent Echoes ” & “Me and Granmama in the Hill Country”

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How To Survive Your Storms And Grow Stronger.

“Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because it’s storming now doesn’t mean that you aren’t headed for sunshine.” ~ Unknown

The storm has passed. It’s quiet now. An eerie quiet. As if waiting for the next devastating gust of wind to come and carry away whatever is in its path. Waiting for more tree branches and debris thrown to the ground, for more flooding with homes and lives destroyed. I wait. But the storm is gone. And now everything bravely comes alive again. I know as I watch critters work with nature to recover and rebuild their lives.

I know from the sound of birds calling to each other from their secret places where they found refuge. I hear their happy whistles and chirping, now free to do what birds do–gloriously spread their wings to join others in search of new horizons and rebuild their nests for new families to replace those lost in the storm.

I know from squirrels running up and down and hopping over wet branches planning their next adventure. Calling to each other, chattering and flipping their tails in happy pursuit of food perhaps thrown to the rain soaked earth by heavy winds. Happy sounds of creatures.

I know from lizards scurrying about, or peeking out from under drain pipes to find a dry spot to survey the territory. Their mouths snapping open and shut, and their heads bobbing back and forth frantically pursuing their next move. Lost in this new dry world, with maybe no memory of where they were or what they were doing when the storm ran them for shelter.

And I know from the way my own heart jumps as I feel the sun’s warmth on my bare arms; and breathe in the smell of crisp air washed clean by heavy rains; and watch bright sparkling sunbeams dancing on grateful plants reaching up with outstretched arms. The clouds are gone, and the sky is as clear as DeLeon Springs where I swam growing up. I smile at nature coming alive, venturing out. Each to its own identity, being what they are when the storm has passed, and a new day arrives to begin again. What a world to behold.


When I experience one of those storms, I think of the human storms that arise within each of us when our calm lives are turned upside down. Our feelings are much like the qualities found in the storms of nature. In one of your own life storms you may experience a rain of tears over a painful loss; or feel you’ve been caught up in a cruel tornado tossing your life in a hundred directions; or you’re out of breath treading water, and going deeper all the time; or a belief you’ve held your whole life suddenly toppling to the ground.

“Be encouraged…Not every storm is a disaster. Some are simply cleansing moments.”  ~Gregory Prince

When you’re hit by a life storm, you can do whatever you can to change its course, or you can ride it out. And one way or another, your storm will pass. But until it does, a positive attitude is necessary. Storms may stall, as nature’s storms do, so watch for signs that it’s still moving out. There’s less turmoil, your stress level is dropping, each day becomes a little easier. And it has given you a lesson and made you stronger.

“Remember to play after every storm.”   ~Mattie Stepanek

After the storm passes, don’t be satisfied with just knowing the storm is gone. Walk in the sunshine and smile at the critters. And take time to nurture and care for yourself. Then focus on rebuilding, and use what you’ve learned to make your life better than before. Is there debris from the past you can release now? Did your storm reveal strengths you didn’t know you had? Explore and set your sights on a new tomorrow.

As each day passes, look for positive changes, and make new discoveries about yourself. You may be surprised at what you’ll find as a result of experiencing the storm.

I wish you a peaceful heart and new tomorrows.

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer

Relationships. You Can’t Find Bread In A Hardware Store . . .

“We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are.”  ~ Fred Rogers

If I asked you how well you know each person among your family and friends, you’d probably say you know them very well. After all, you’ve known them for years, and you can usually…usually…predict how they will think, feel, or act in various circumstances. But sometimes a situation arises between people that brings about a new perspective in how well they really know each other.

A few years ago, I felt very depressed over a situation for which there was no immediate resolution. I knew how to resolve the problem, but the depression was robbing me of stamina I needed to move forward with it. So I went to see two friends for emotional support to help me through it. I told them about my depression, but their reply told me they’d not really heard me. The wife began telling me how to fix the problem, which I already knew, and the husband came back with a totally unrelated problem of his.

“Confusion is the first step toward clarity.”  ~Syd Field

I went home feeling unimportant, invalidated and confused, worse than when I reached out for help. I knew my friends cared about me. Why had our meeting not brought the help I needed? I had to gain some understanding and clarity for this situation. So I asked my Minister for feedback, and I learned an important lesson.

“Different people have different duties assigned to them by Nature; Nature has given one the power or the desire to do this, the other that. Each bird must sing with his own throat.”  ~Henrik Ibsen

She explained that we’ve all been given certain gifts, or talents, we use to help others, and not all people are good listeners. But each is important. There are fixers, caretakers, and doers, and some offer humor, knowledge, patience, understanding and compassion, while others give good directions, etc. So when we need help, we must go to whoever has the talent we need rather than someone who can’t help us. And be ready to share our own talents with others in need.

In the past, I had not noticed anyone with their particular talents in mind. They were just my dear family and friends. Now each relationship has expanded with new dimensions and new ways to relate to them. We’ve actually been sharing more than I had realized, and our relationships are more meaningful.

Maybe you’ve experienced times when you kept going back to the same place for help, but kept coming away confused and empty. The door was closed, and you didn’t understand. It wasn’t that someone didn’t love you. They just didn’t have the talent you needed, and couldn’t help you. How much easier it would have been for both of you, had you known where to find the open door.

“I can do thins you cannot; you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”  ~Mother Teresa

We take so much for granted in relationships that we can actually miss parts of the other person’s personality, and can misjudge some of their actions. How often do you look at a family member or friend with your own mind so preoccupied, you can’t really see them at that moment? And that moment might be very meaningful.

When you’re with someone, take time to really look at them with different eyes. Notice what you haven’t seen before. Feel their presence. Acknowledge who and what they are to you. What’s different and special about them? What makes them unique? And if you see something you don’t like, that’s okay. Accept the whole person, and let it be. Don’t judge.

This may seem like a tall order, and one you don’t need to do or have time for. But it will break down the doors of communication, and you’ll know how to be there for someone else, and who has the bread when you need help. And the better you know and understand the people in your life, the more fulfilling and meaningful each relationship will be.

I wish you clear vision and a happy journey.

Marilyn Fowler,  Author/Writer

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