Cancer Survivor’s Enhanced Awareness

Cancer does stink, but we control the fragrance of our journey. Too often, and rightfully so, our perspective of cancer weighs on the negative. When we decide to choose our journey from a perspective of optimism and positivity good things happen to our psyche and well-being. Inspiration emerges as a strong motivator with various positive side effects.

Fortunately, I am able to share the side effect of enhanced awareness from personal experiences. Being diagnosed with cancer and subsequent treatment alters the way we see, hear, listen and recognize opportunities to do good to help people hurting from life’s challenges. Following are some personal stories to possibly help you recognize this gift of awareness.

I was at Home Depot buying hardware and as is their courtesy the cashier was standing at his checkout lane and offered to cash me out. When he spoke I knew he was hearing impaired, this  from having a sister who is hearing impaired and teaches the hearing impaired. He asked how I was doing, so I mentioned that last night I had participated at a tent for cancer’s Relay for Life Walk. Immediately he said he has been thinking about volunteering to help others. I gave him my daughter-in-laws name and phone as she is the Activities Directory at a local organization providing numerous benefits and activities for the young and adolescent and they can always use volunteers. He said he would call her.

The next day while meeting with a woman in her 80′s about a home improvement project, we spent more time sharing thoughts about life. She mentioned she had inherited her dog upon the death of her daughter last Fall. She said she is so happy to have the dog as a companion and as a living tribute to her daughter. Upon the passing of her husband in February the dog became even more important to her. She is also 11 months into rehabilitating from hip replacement surgery. She draws from her religious teachings and church friends to keep her positive outlook and strength. I mentioned my new book, Life’s Notes – Down to Earth Insights for Well-Being. She asked where she can buy the book. I said that was not necessary as I will bring her a copy. She was so gracious and grateful. She left an impression on me that will endure.

Yet the next day, I fulfilled my volunteer commitment to mow the lawn for a friend having a difficult time with cancer. When finished mowing I was invited in for a bottled water. He was sitting in a recliner, was physically weak and emotionally weakened. We talked about cancer, the good around us and within. Before I left, I shook his hand and gave him a hug. He was touched and said thank you. I may have been touched more by his inner strength and graciousness.

It is not uncommon for things like this to happen around us. What is less common is how we react to these occurrences. Being a cancer survivor brought forth this enhanced awareness to recognize times like this where from volunteering, be aware and truly listening to others we have opportunities to do good and touch other’s lives.

When I experience occurrences like these I continue to wonder that it is not coincidence that more opportunities like these continue to happen each week to me. I am convinced that there is a greater power bringing goodness my way. Without fail, I always say to people that I am grateful our paths have crossed. I always thank them for their time and sharing their story with me. In a strange way, cancer can be a blessing.

 

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New Book

Let me apologize for not having posted a blog for awhile. I have been busy writing another book. The title is Life’s Notes – Down to Earth Insights for Well-Being. The book is a comprehensive collection of 72 concise easy to read topics to help improve well-being. The book is at the publisher with an estimated release date of early July.

Note: The picture states thoughts which has changed to instincts.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Steve Ward

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Social Media Trap

Social media with its unprecedented growth and popularity has strained the dynamics of family.  During the last ten to twenty years or less we have been bombarded with computers, cell phones, HD televisions, DVDs on demand, e-mail, gmail, texting, facebook, myspace, twitter, instagram, GPS, e-bay, gaming and others too numerous to mention. Their combined intoxicating allure with real time information, instant gratification and entertainment has captured us in it’s ever expanding net.

An iconic example of the grasp social media has on our life is being with family or friends and we receive a text message or a call on our cell phone and without hesitation respond or take the call while those we are with wonder and wait. Rudeness like this has no kindness or consideration for the ones who have chosen to be physically with us. Instead we accept and in some twisted way think that allowing a non-present third party to control our time and the time of those in our presence is OK. Our etiquette and priorities have been turned upside down by the phenomenon of social media.

Social media for business has without question had a profound impact on increased productivity and efficiency. The use of social media in business has come with costs to family interaction, communication and weakened the strength of the family bond. As in business where we are headed to become a number, the same could be said with family members following a similar course with their time now consumed with social media leaving little time for family. Both parents and business share the responsibility for this social media phenomena.

Social media expanded the business day outside the brick and mortar of the office. The computer and the cell phone have permeated family time. Arriving home from a busy work day you most likely continue to check your home computer for messages and reply followed by the same on your cell phone. Our cell phone has taken ownership over us. Take ownership of your cell phone to set on silent mode or better yet turn it off and respond only to emergencies. Cell phones have evolved into a sixth finger or even a third hand always in your possession or close at hand. Think of the feeling of despair you have when you cannot find your cell phone. Business has come to expect and demand us to use social media 24/7 to do more for work. No more, quality time with family comes first.

Parents have set the example of social media busyness for their family. Your family might have one to four computers, three to six cell phones, two to three TV remotes, cable TV controller, controllers for netflix and xbox, a library of DVDs and games and some even a home theater room. All of these require no communication or interaction with family. Your typical night or weekend at home paints a picture of sons or daughters either in their room or curled up in a chair on their cell phone or on a computer with you either doing the same or watching television. Their is none or at best minimal shallow communication amongst family. We might hear what is said, but listening is non-existent. If you are skeptical, next time count how many times you hear responses of huh, what, fine, OK or sure, or you need to repeat something. We are more concerned with hanging clothes up, putting shoes away, clean floor, and neat room than we are with the epidemic use of social media and the costs to family. Take steps today to correct this erosion of family time, nurturing and bonding.

The steps for restoring family time are quite simple. Set aside time each week for no use or possession of social media gadgets. Start with a few hours one day a week or for those with greater vision a full day on the weekend and one or two nights a week. With time now set aside for family, have an activity planned such as; playing games both inside or outside, conversation, common hobby or project, hiking, biking, enjoying time together around a fire pit and ideas limited by only your imagination. Ask each family member to volunteer to organize the family activity for the next scheduled family time. This way all feel included, important and loved. Some members might experience withdrawal from full time social media with temporary side effects of fear, loss, anger, anxiety, stress and maybe a loss of status. Children may argue that they will lose their three hundred friends on facebook or twitter. Explain that from among the three hundred acquaintances one or two may be a friend.  Teach children that friends come and go while family remains steadfastly at their side. Patience will assist during the initial days of family time to stay the course toward individual and family growth.

The rewards can be many and limited only by giving up, not including all family members, lack of creativity, imagination and impatience. Think with your heart and give it your all to stay the course for months and years to reclaim family time taken away by social media. Reverse the selfish effects of social media to embrace family to become your focused activity away from school and work.

Your family is at home.

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Today You Can Be the Sunshine That Brightens Someone’s Day

Imagine what we could achieve both individually and collectively, if we embraced the concept that as an individual you can be the sunshine each day to brighten another persons day, even if for only a moment. Share your gifts and share your warmth. Take the first step to see what happens for both the other person and you. The sun will warm and brighten both your day.

How do we brighten someone’s day? Initiate engagement with a smile, enthusiasm and a warm greeting. Consider rekindling the art of kindness. Rather than being asked, offer an act of assistance. The important step is for you to be the spark, the energy to brighten their day.

Rather than wait for the other person to acknowledge or engage with a greeting or conversation, try initiating the welcome with eye contact, a smile, enthusiasm and genuine interest. Once you’ve done so, wait to listen. If you continue to talk about yourself, you can lose their interest and appear as not being genuine but self-centered. Engagement is complimenting, asking questions, listening and closing with appreciation or a question such as, after you do what you shared with me, please call me to tell me about it or better yet ask if you can call them later to hear all about it. You’re probably thinking nobody does this as we are all too busy. The question is why not take a moment to reach out to brighten their day and yours. That’s what true friends do. It is not necessary to be a friend to do this. However, if you do this, you may make a new friend. Do you have too many friends now? Who can’t use more friends?

Kindness seems to have faded some in our daily lives. Make a conscious effort to do small things such as a compliment, noticing something about the other person with a positive comment, give them a small gift to say thank you, tell them how much you appreciate them and many other ways. Use your imagination.

Usually we wait for others to ask for assistance, such as; can you help me move this, can you babysit for me, do you know someone who can fix this, can you be a volunteer, etc. Instead of waiting for the question, anticipate the question to be asked and ask to offer to act as the babysitter, the repair person or the volunteer, etc. The gift of offering is more powerful and remembered than feeling obligated to answer a question or saying no I can’t help (I’m not interested). This doesn’t mean to say you always need to feel obligated to offer every time. Just offer more often.

Use your imagination to think of your own unique ways to shine your gift to brighten and warm the days of others. Initiating friendly sincere greetings can warm their heart and yours with kindness nourishing meaning and purpose.

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Caregiving

When we are young we rarely give any thought to caregiving because of our sense of  youth and invincibility. Our common response to someone hurting is to say; suck it up, you’ll be fine, and it just takes time. We have the tendency to pass judgment before considering compassion. Various situations occur during life when becoming a caregiver is suddenly expected or simply the right thing to do.

Certainly parenting, trauma to a loved one, ageing, disease and the death of a loved one are obvious times when becoming a caregiver is a responsibility.

Parenting is the basic, yet the most complicated and one of the most rewarding times to nurture and expand your skills as a caregiver. Parenting teaches that caregiving is from love not obligation, compassion not judgment, patience not intolerance and commitment not a hobby. Relatives share the same responsibility as the parents with the luxury of shorter hours and restful nights.

Trauma and or disease to a loved one are unexpected situations when without warning or preparation caregiving is a skill to be learned on the job. There is no waiting period, no procrastination caring begins now. Love, compassion, patience and commitment are attributes to best serve the one needing care and the one providing care. Trauma and disease have many faces from occurring at birth to disease, accidents, addiction, abuse and many others. Each form is accompanied with its own unique challenges. Do your best to be adaptive and flexible and patient with yourself. Your best guide is to think with your heart.

Ageing unfortunately can present a myriad of challenges as well as opportunities potentially requiring care. Remember when your parents cared for you from birth through your teenage years and beyond. Now it’s your time to return the favor and the responsibility to care for them in their need. Someday you too will be their age facing challenges when assistance would be appreciated. Caring for the elderly presents the opportunity to awaken and deepen relationships to a greater consciousness of meaning and purpose. Appreciate and cherish the time together.

The death of a loved one being gradual or sudden brings with it the unique challenge of coping with finality. Sudden death and the death of a child shocks people so deep with a carousel of difficult spinning emotions. Trying to make sense of it all is difficult at best. Caregiving is as important with death as with any other situation. Only now the caregiving is for a group of people mourning and coping with their loss.  Caregiving is a team effort supporting each other to begin healing.

Providing care has times of trials and tribulations as well as times of reward and celebration. Caring is by no means a smooth and happy road. The road will have bumps, potholes, veering off the road and maybe an emotional bender needing mending. It is natural to feel uncomfortable and uneasy when providing care. Do not feel stressed or inadequate as you will do just fine.

Cargiving depending on the situation presents varying degrees of ways to care. Care can range from basic cleanliness to rehabilitation, to a wink, a touch, a hug or kindness. Do not let nervousness, doubt or hesitation become the norm for deciding what to do or say. Be yourself, believe and rest assured you will be valuable to the one receiving your care. You will do more for them than what you will ever know or realize.

Over time a deeper bond can be formed throughout the relationship of caregiving. Together you will share emotional highs and lows as well as setbacks and victories accompanied by sadness and joy and most of all love. You will discover that you are truly a gift to one another. Sometimes it takes becoming a caregiver to open our heart to share our gift. If so, be grateful for this opportunity to discover and share your gift. The person being cared for will be forever appreciative and grateful you were there for them and stood by their side. Both of you have been changed forever and cherish the shared time and memories. The experience of caregiving will serve you well when called upon in the future to face life’s challenges and caring for others.

Notes for Caregivers                                                                                                Patience                                                                                                                Listening                                                                                                            Compassion, empathy                                                                                                     Be gentle                                                                                                                    Know that what you do has few “rights or wrongs – don’t be hard on yourself             Customize to their personality and strengths                                                                  Be honest with their feelings and yours                                                                      Make for quality time                                                                                                    Care as an equal                                                                                                         Have genuine interest                                                                                                 Their frustration is expressing themself – do not take personally                               Meals can be an important time of day                                                                        Help them to tell their story                                                                                      Nurture your own well-being                                                                                            Manage tasks and time – do your best                                                                            Be organized                                                                                                                 Maintain supplies                                                                                                       Share the responsibilities with others                                                                             Keep a record of notes – a calendar or journal seems to work best                              Find time for yourself – treat yourself

 

 

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Our Body Has No Sharp Edges – Soften Your Thoughts and Words

Our body has no sharp edges. We are covered with soft to medium soft pliable, protective and healing skin. Under the skin is God’s version of memory foam to help keep our form. The exterior of our body is extremely resilient.

Looking to the interior of our body we continue to find no sharp edges. Even our heart and mind are free from any sharp edges. We are a geometric miracle with lines free
of sharp corners. So if we are so smooth, why is it we sometimes revert to thinking and speaking with sharp edges?

Sarcasm, criticism, poking fun, bullying, name calling, abusive language and more are
filled with points and sharp cutting edges hurting others with pain more than we will ever realize. Does the pain lessen if we do this consciously or subconsciously? The person on the receiving end will tell you no. Their emotional stability and well-being has been shattered.

So why do we do this behavior? Do we do this for a sense of power, supremacy or
control or from self-doubt, poor self-esteem, anger, hatred or other conflicting emotions? No matter the cause it is hurtful, damaging and sometimes irreparable to the person on the other end.

Even if we are not the one speaking with sharp edges, but when hearing the words we
laugh and encourage the continuation of this behavior we are as responsible as the one speaking the hurtful abusive words. Avoid the trap of condoning such behavior and it’s burning negativity. Peer pressure is for the meek and weak. The stronger person is the one who says no.

Instead think of the other person before speaking and the impact of your words. Think
not only with your mind but partner with your heart for words free of searing edges. Encouraging and supporting others is far more rewarding and endurting than a brief moment of empty false satisfaction.

No one deserves to be the victim of abusive thoughts and words. Life is a gift unlike any other. Live yours responsibly to grow within for sharing your warm gift to nurture the
spirit and lives of others, while at the same time nurturing your own well-being.

 

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It’s OK to Cry

Plenty of conditions and situations exist to induce crying. Unfortunately some crying is caused by physical, verbal or emotional abuse inflicting strong hurtful pain. Of course crying will occur as the pain is deep and hurtful in so many ways. In this case we use crying as a survival mechanism. If this is you trying to survive, please look for a change as no one deserves or should suffer through such pain.

Yes it is OK to cry as there are many things that influence or touch you in such a way that crying happens unexpectedly or catches us off guard at times when we don’t want others seeing us crying.  It may be a picture, a movie, a book, a pet, the beauty of a child or grandchild, a sound, a touch, a smell, spoken words and many more that have you crying.

Crying can be an indication of a warm, giving, loving and sentimental heart. Be grateful your heart is touched so deeply that your eyes become watery to where the first tear lazily flows down your cheek. Sometimes we try to prevent that first tear from falling by wiping our eyes as we are embarrassed by others to seeing us cry and what they might see as a weakness. If your heart is touched so deeply that you cry, how can that be a weakness. Let the tear fall to give thanks and be grateful for being you.

Maybe you see no value or only weakness in crying and that’s OK. However, you could be missing opportunities for a higher appreciation and gratitude for all the good surrounding you and within. Crying, even if only once and privately, could be the point where change occurs for an improved you. This is not to say you are a bad person. It is to say that we might all improve from a cry.

Various types of crying happen throughout life. We cry from happiness, from sadness, from grief, from emotional pain, from stress, from beauty and other reasons. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons we cry.

Happiness – this is usually referred to as a good cry. We are so moved with joy that we cry.

Sadness – we become overwhelmed with emotion as our lips quiver, our heart beats slightly faster, we become warm and so unhappy that we cry.

Grief – grief can initiate a jarring cry and tiring cry out of love, compassion and lose. The emotional pain is real and engraved from an emotional bond. Yes this is a good cry in a manner of love, respect, admiration and gratitude from sharing life.

Emotional pain – some reasons can be the end of a friendship or marriage, being ignored, being unappreciated, being the subject of ridicule, the target of hurtful words, bullying and too many to mention. A very hurtful type of pain inducing crying.

Stress – stress is usually a result of pent up influences, demands or pressure overwhelming to a point of feeling there may be no way out. In this situation crying can be a stress reliever. The relief may last only so long. But yes this can be a good cry.

Beauty – this can be from the beauty of a child, a spouse, a parent, a relationship, a friend, a pet, an animal, mother nature, the sky, a memory, a holiday and many more as the hope is this is your longest list of reasons you cry.

It’s OK to Cry.

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Controlling Stress

Each day brings new obstacles, miscommunication, decisions and opportunities for stress. Being caught up in this potential stress and consumed by these situations each day can evolve to a habit of daily stress. Once stress becomes a habit and acceptable as a way of living, complaining and negativity become the new normal for each day. Do all you can to avoid this trap.

What works for me is drawing upon my library of positives in my life to avoid the destructive downward spiral of stress leading to negativity. When using my positives my days are brighter and more fulfilling. I feel a heightened energy accompanied with a consciousness to be more aware of others and their challenges and what I can do to brighten their day. We find that how we treat our-self is how we treat others. It is this principle that defines who we are deep inside and to show compassion in place of judging others. Following this principle gives me awareness and appreciation for the gift others have to offer as well as myself. This path of appreciation and positivity reduces stress to a minor nuisance instead of a consuming barricade preventing a state of calm and well-being

I also find when using my positives I think more with my heart than with my brain. When doing so I make better decisions keeping in mind my well-being, meaning and purpose. Your heart will let you know what touches you and nourishes your soul. When you are touched you will learn when and how to reach out and touch others. When I reach out to share my gift to listen and touch others to lift their spirits, I too am touched. We both win and have a brighter day.

Once you use your positives, you are reminded of what makes you tick and truly touches your heart and soul. Now you have a plan to follow to control stress to preserve and protect your well-being for a brighter day as well as to brighten the day of others.

Do we have the responsibility to inspire others for a brighter day? Of course not. It’s simply the right thing to do. When I inspire others a feeling of calm surrounds me reducing stress to a nuisance.  If you seem overwhelmed by the idea of inspiring others, be reminded that the dictionary defines inspiration as encouragement. Certainly we have encouraged others before. We can do it again and again. I find when I inspire others I inspire myself. Follow these principles for stress free days.

Use Your Positives and Inspire Today for a Stress Free Tomorrow ….. Steve ward

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Personal Weather

Civilizations have always had a fascination with weather and forecasting the weather for good reason. Today’s forecast and alerts save many lives. One of television’s most popular channels is the weather channel. Most of the time we can either look outside or walk outside to determine the weather. We do not look internally to forecast and identify our personal internal weather for alerts to restore bright days and save our well-being.

Our personal weather is similar to nature’s weather as both have; days of storms, thunder, lightning, shivering wind chills, blinding freezing snow, cold sleet, damping rain, ominous clouds, partly sunny, sunshine, blue skies, warm and more.

When struggling to cope with one of life’s challenges our personal weather plays a major influence with our ability to cope each day. Imagine if your extended personal forecast for seven days is of rain accompanied by thunder and lightning, how that affects your emotions and thought process to effectively cope for those seven days to attempt to make progress to move forward and manage to overcome your challenge.

How can we begin to improve our weather to manage to ease the day and our struggle with coping? The first step begins with you. Look deep inside and ask, why have my days been so emotionally dreary. Usually you have succumbed to a climate of accepting dreary weather as being normal and accustomed with the struggle of coping restricting growth and healing. Pity takes over, why me, I cannot change, change is too much work, I’m tired, etc.. In the word pity there is a pit and you’ve fallen in.

You can emerge from the dreary pit of pity by taking the step on to the first rung to find your positives. This will begin a path of positivity going beyond positive thinking to brighter personal forecasts to enjoy and grow with days of sunshine and blue skies.

Personal weather of continued blustery emotions is a sky that can be changed to warm calm emotions of hope, satisfaction, inspiration and happiness. With your personal weather the sky is yours to paint. Choose the warm hues of warm yellows, soft blues and a pinch of white for healthier coping to overcome your challenge.

Once you understand the impact of being responsible and not others for your personal weather each day, you have won by now walking the journey of positivity for you to escape the grasp of coping and lousy personal weather. Best wishes!

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Labyrinth of Coping – Do Not Give Up

Coping is a puzzle much like a labyrinth with walls in our way obstructing our view. The good news is the labyrinth of coping has doors to closure. They may be few and frustrating to find. Do not be discouraged they are there and may be difficult to find. You will find them. Do not give up.

Be thankful that a labyrinth has walls and a floor, but no ceiling. The walls might feel confining and suffocating. When you feel this way look up to take a breath of fresh air and be warmed by the sun. As with a labyrinth, coping also requires patience, persistence and perseverance to find and walk through the door of closure.

Along the way the ceiling could be dark with ominous stormy clouds. Take pause to relax as the weather will change. Be aware that you are the one forecasting the weather hovering over the labyrinth of coping. How you live each day determines the forecast for tomorrow. If your days continue to be cloudy and stormy, focus to review how you have lived each day prior to these dark days. Alter how you live each day to surround yourself with more positivity leading to a forecast of sunshine and warmth

Dark days can lead to a continued path of loneliness and hopelessness. Review each day to escape this dreary negative path. Be completely honest with yourself so as not to cheat yourself from making progress toward a door of closure. You can choose your journey of coping through the labyrinth as an ending or a new beginning. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Coping is a puzzle of many pieces with sharp edges. Work by connecting only two pieces at any given time. This prevents you from sprinting to find a door getting lost and missing key pieces along the way. A puzzle is not complete until the last piece is in place. The number of pieces will vary from person to person and challenge to challenge. Any time you connect another piece is a victory to be celebrated. Celebrate as each connection offers inspiration to be persistent, to continue move forward and not give up.

You will find a door of closure to be free from the struggle of coping with your challenge. Finding your positives and using them along the way will help you to achieve your goal of overcoming your challenge. Walk one step at a time to freedom.

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