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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The Value Of Hope And Faith In Meeting Life’s Challenges…

See beyond what you see. That is where Hope is.”   ~Unknown

Life is a mixture of things turning out just the way we want, and times when nothing turns out right. Either way, there are no guarantees. We explore, investigate, gather facts, plan and make decisions. It’s part of life. But there are times when no matter what we do, a situation is iffy, and we can’t be sure of what tomorrow will bring. But then we never can be sure of tomorrow. Life has a way of surprising us, good or bad.

We all know how to enjoy the good times. But those tough times can put us to the test…Row your boat or go down with it. And we respond the best we can. Most of the time when those tough situations arise, we can see a way out. And we resolve them. But some are overwhelming, and we can feel helpless and trapped. Each of us has the inner tools we need to get up when we’re knocked down. But in painful situations, we may forget how strong and powerful we are.

One of our greatest gifts is our will to life. Not only to be alive and exist, but to have a life, to grow, thrive, and be all we’re meant to be. But that truth is hard to find when you’re on the bottom, treading water, afraid you’ll drown. And you want to just give up. Pretty desperate. But there are many people who know this place well. Maybe you’ve been there. Or maybe you’re there now.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”  ~Desmond Tutu

It’s my belief that all living things have this will to life instilled in them, and will fight for life as long as they can. Last month I sat on my front porch looking at my beloved azalea bush with its dead branches and wilted leaves. After 30 years of gorgeous crimson blossoms, I was told it was dying, and I watched it giving up. It’s dear to my heart, and I cried for its loss as I would for a human. But then…then…just recently I saw a few little blossoms burst forth…and more blossoms…and more. Most of the branches are gone, but its heart is fighting to survive with whatever strength is left. It reminded me of our human struggles. And my own heart jumped with HOPE. Now I’ll take pictures of it to a garden shop and see if I can save it. And if I can’t save it, I’ll honor its gallant memory and the message it gave to me.

“Hope is the ability to hear the melody of the future. Faith is the courage to dance to it today.”  ~ Unknown

What do you do when faced with a dilemma? At first, you may be tempted to look outside of yourself for answers, but your first response should be to go within and examine your feelings. If you’re already falling apart inside, your mind will not think clearly. If you find any worry, fears, uncertainty, etc, step back, take a deep breath, and claim your innate resources of strength and power with a strong capacity for Faith and Hope so you can move forward.

Even an easy challenge requires understanding and a wise approach to keep a position of confidence and positive direction in recovery. So now look outside of yourself. Clarify your problem and define the outcome you want to achieve. What resources will you need, and what’s already available to you? Is there enough money, contacts to help you, useful tools? Are there people or groups in your life that can give you the understanding, compassion, and support you need? And what will you need to create?

Your Faith will give you the strength you need, and Hope will guide you as you move along with your plan to scale another hurdle. This is part of life, and you have a life to live. Make it a happy one.

I wish you Hope and Faith on your journey.

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 .  .  .  .

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“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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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.

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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

Acceptance – Courage – Wisdom. Do These Words Have Meaning In Your Life?

Welcome To My Self-Help Blog Friends,


Thoughts behind the Serenity Prayer have been around for centuries but, according to Wikipedia, the actual prayer as we know it was authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) for sermons at Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts, and was first published in 1951 in a magazine column. The prayer spread through Niebuhr’s sermons and church groups in the 1930s and 1940s, and was later adopted by Alcoholics anonymous and other twelve-step programs.

The prayer has appeared in many versions, and the best-known form with 3 lines is today found in many homes, including mine. Its meaning is profound when examined with the mind and heart. But its words are simple, and it’s so familiar, we take it for granted. I doubt that many could explain its meaning in depth unless they knew it first hand as a source of hope and guidance in addiction recovery work. And unless someone is involved in this type of life-changing experience, the value of this meaningful prayer oftentimes is not being used.

How many times
have you read the words in the Serenity Prayer and not related them to your own life? Are they just words, or could they have an important influence on the quality of your life? What does acceptance mean, and how is that done? What is courage, and where do we find it? What is wisdom, and how do we get it?

“The real peace of mind is accepting reality as it is.” ~ Swami Premodaye

 Acceptance: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The first line of the prayer implies that serenity is needed to accept what you can’t change. Acceptance doesn’t mean it’s okay if you lose your job, you experience illness, you lose a loved one, your car breaks down, a storm blows the roof off your house, whatever the situation. That is the pain of human life, and it’s not okay that it happened or is happening. But you must accept that it exists, and you can’t change it. It doesn’t mean you won’t suffer, but rather than stew, fret, stress over it … Let it be. Be willing to assume a more calm, peaceful mind and heart to accept the reality of it and respond with the strength you need to survive, and not let it destroy you.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~Andre Gide

Courage: Courage to change the things I can.
You were born with all the courage you need. Your courage just gets lost sometimes behind a fear of the unknown or in the false belief that you lack the ability to create change. But as you focus less on what you can’t change and increase focus on what you can, your confidencecourage … will increase. So when there’s something that you can and want to change, then assume a calm, serene mind and heart attitude toward whatever’s holding you back, and respond with your courage in spite of it. John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death … but saddling up anyway.”

Sometimes the status quo may feel safer, but how would it feel to spend the rest of your life watching ships pass you by and leave you standing on the shore in your own prison of fear? Think on that and heed the prayer for courage to change the things you can. Because you can.

Wisdom: And wisdom to know the difference.

Your life belongs to you. You have the power to accept what you cannot change and the power to change what you can. And wisdom is the ability to know and
understand what you’re dealing with and to act accordingly.

It’s been said that experience is the best teacher, and I think that’s pretty true. So pay attention, and don’t take your good times lightly or curse your suffering. Great lessons are learned from some of our best and worst times. And this teaches us to know the difference between what we cannot change and what we can. Read the Serenity Prayer thoughtfully in relation to your own life. Read it everyday. There’s much wisdom here with opportunity to expand your life in wondrous ways.

Much of what I’ve written in this article is from my own observations with the Serenity Prayer. I hope you find some of them useful, and that your life is enriched with some of your own.

I wish you happiness as you create what you want in your life.

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer of
“Silent Echoes  & Me and Granmama In The Hill Country”

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Enhance Your Life With Your Theta State Of Awareness

 


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“There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”  ~ Kurt Hahn

Have you ever watched children at play? Oftentimes they’re someplace in their own little world of imagined adventures. They drift in and out as freely as a leaf in the wind or ocean waves leaping in the sea. Their minds are open, and their experiences are endless in a theta state of awareness. It’s a state of consciousness we all experience when we give up some of our busy doings and relax enough to hear.

Our brain functions in several states of awareness composed of brain waves. Electrical activity in the brain generates four basic categories of brain waves with specific states of consciousness–beta, alpha, theta, and delta–from very alert to deep sleep. In general terms, beta is when you’re awake and alert; alpha is a frequency range between beta and theta and promotes relaxation and drowsiness; theta is a state of actual sleep and dreaming, but also light sleep and daydreaming; and delta is deep, dreamless sleep promoting healing and regeneration. What a wonder our mind is.

Theta, in a barely conscious semi-hypnotic state, can access our subconscious and experience free flowing ideas that increase insight, intuition, and creative thinking, and discharge old or new unresolved emotions. Alpha and theta can occur during meditation, but can occur any time. It’s what happens when tasks are automatic, like driving a familiar route, then drift into daydreaming, and miss your familiar turn off, or on the other hand, remember your third grade teacher’s name. This is a valuable tool when used wisely.

Every now and then I get spontaneous messages when I first wake in the morning. At first I thought I could remember the messages, but when totally awake I forgot them. So now I quickly write them down. Some pertain to my spiritual growth, some to my writing, and some are random. I’d like to share a few with you as they came to me.

“Hold the vision. Trust the process.”  ~ Author Unknown

Messages pertaining to my spiritual growth are on a bulletin board next to my computer. They’re usually very short, but powerful, like the ones that say, “God restores…with mercy,” or “Look to the light. The light is your way to freedom.” One time I spent several days trying to solve a problem. Then, while standing on a porch just watching clouds move across the sky, I heard, “Leave the orchestration to God. He knows the music.” What a great reminder.

When I’m writing and get stuck, I go outside to my swing on the patio. There I whistle with the birds and relax, and suddenly the very idea, phrase, or whatever I was reaching for comes to me clearly. And my writing flows again. One morning when barely awake, I heard a woman’s voice in southern dialect telling about her life in the hills with her Granmama. I was absolutely astounded with this unfamiliar scenario out of nowhere. But I had fun creating a life for this family in my book, “Me And Granmama In The Hill Country.”


“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”  ~Ram Dass

I believe most of us, if not all, have had theta experiences. But how much richer our world would be if we created time to explore this part of who we are. When you first wake in the morning, do you jump right up and get going? Do you keep your mind active with all of those important issues you can’t live without? Do you interpret intuition and daydreaming as wasteful time? Instead of pushing your brain to move, slow down and allow it to flow with messages to enhance your life.

When you tap into your own magnificence, align with the Divine, and get in perpetual flow with the Universe, miracles happen.”  ~Debbie Takara Shelor

Spend quiet time each day and allow your body to relax and your mind to clear. Meditation is a great help. And lay quietly just after waking and before sleep. Don’t think…don’t anticipate…don’t encourage anything to happen. Simply let go and be! Messages I’ve received were never of my bidding. They just happened. And I welcomed them. I think the secret is in learning to assume a receptive vibration, and when you need something your mind will respond. Take the time and welcome your miracles.

I wish you many new adventures.

Marilyn Fowler, Author of  “Silent Echoes” & “Me And Granmama In The Hill Country.” 

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