Hold onto the light

The Glory of Hope

Sometimes we hear or see something that rattles us so deeply we experience physical pain. This week I experienced this kind of heart wrenching insight.

To be inspired like this is rare and beautiful. Opening your heart, allowing the feels of another to settle on your spirit.  I felt the vines of my inside zones grow and twist around my spine, reaching to my brain, planting itself deeply into my mind.  Listening and feeling the journey of others, I lost myself in their eyes. For a moment I could taste their world, feel their wind against my flesh and breath their air.

There are definitive moments when our life changes. When the leafy roots of another intertwine ours, wrapping their life force around and infiltrating our soil.

These thoughts are not romantic ramblings, they are a reflection on life. An expose on the wonder and awe of existence, how each of our lives intertwine.

A week of experiences culminated to the most beautiful moment. I held my Acre, my soft, loving cat in my arms as he slowly fell asleep. As I petted him I thought about how I had never held him in a such a way. How much I will miss him when he passes. How much I love him.

The world is a hard place, so dark and dreary. It is horrific in many ways, sometimes it feels like there is no end to the evil, terror and pain. So much cruelty enacted upon others, so much flesh torn and ripped, it is easy to fall prey to the idea, that our world is a nightmare.

There is more than darkness, more than unyielding agony, more than all-consuming fear. Look about the room and you will see a simple golden light. With this light we can have faith there is good in the world, beauty in life and a purpose to the pain. Hold it tightly and don’t let go. Hold on to the light for it will give you Hope that you will feel love, life and the glory of goodness.

 

MEMEs

Memes aren’t Facts

MEMEs are not Facts.  They can be informative, perhaps even insightful, but they are not good sources of information. Today I am going to show two MEMEs, address their message then apply critical thought to each.

 

MEMEs aren't Facts

The other day I wrote an article about hair care treatment. Why did I write this article? For two reasons: 1. I love to research and 2. I want to promote personal advocacy. To have personal advocacy we must develop our critical thinking skills. Images like the Nioxin vs. Monat vs. Rogaine are underhandedly manipulative, their marketing strategies attempt to trick and intimidate us into buying their products. They do their best to break down our ability to use critical thought. The image encourages us to make a knee jerk reaction and cast away science in favor for pseudoscience.

How does it do this specifically?

  1. It compares apples to oranges – Showcasing ingredients in one column, stating no harmful ingredients or side effects in another, then showing side effects in the final column.
  2. It manipulates our perception – by placing their product in the center of the image, surrounded by negative space it compels us to feel safer with it over the complicated and scary jargon of the other products. It tells us their product has no harmful ingredients and no side effects while presenting the others in an inferior and negative light. Finally, it scares us with bold red words and exclamation points!
  3. It unfairly represents the three products – By providing inaccurate or incomplete data on each product they stack the deck in favor of Monat.

"big pharma" stereotype

Personal advocacy requires Hope. I love Hope, she guides me every day in my struggle against the crushing weight of the world. Hope is the ATP in the muscles of Atlas as he holds the earth above his head. We need more than Hope to protect us from the harmful manipulations of others. Hope must be accompanied by critical thought, this Wisdom grants us the sight to see through lies and manipulations, to search for truth and protect ourselves from falsehoods.

The next topic I would like to discuss is the abuse of stereotypes and the danger of unchecked bias.

I had conversation on Facebook the other week about bias and stereotypes. Everyone has bias, which is fine, however when we allow our bias to interfere with treating others fairly that is when we have failed to effectively critically think.

The above MEME was discussed, the original poster asked if this quote was true: “a patient cured is a customer lost”

My reply was chemotherapy might not be right for everyone, but it has saved many lives. That we should be wary of sources that apply negative generalizations about large groups of people.

I have encountered many who are against chemotherapy and the pharmaceutical companies. When they tell me “there is no money in a cure” I ask them two questions, 1. How many kinds of cancer are there and 2.  name 5 big pharmaceutical companies and the chemotherapy drugs they manufacture.

The information given and the sources they cite is an important indication to the amount of time they have researched and how effective they utilize critical thought. For example, someone using Wikipedia or a MEME as source for information may lack critical researching skills. Perhaps they know how to research but they are not concerned with using evidence-based data, maybe they embrace pseudoscience or simply make judgements based on feelings.

Critical thought teaches us to acknowledge our bias, to set it aside, to be fair and treat others for their qualities, rather than the actions of people unrelated to them. It is unfair to apply blanket opinions on other groups of people. When these blanket opinions are applied they create a stereotype which creates an atmosphere of unfairness.

Each pharmaceutical company is an organization comprised of dozens, hundreds even thousands of employees. There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies, how fair is it to say these people are concerned only with making money? Not all people are the same, not all companies are the same.

Instead of making blanket statements about groups of people you don’t know, research each company and judge them individually. Just like people, the ideology of one pharmaceutical company will change, one to the next.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the next time we read a MEME and feel strongly about its message, we should consider spending some time to research its validity.

Good News… is Great News!

Good News… is Great News!

The world is a beautiful place, with so much awe and wonder it is simply magical. Life is a blessing, an experience to be treasured and adored, from our moments of pure joy to absolute terror. It is more than just smiles and sunshine, more than frowns and tears. It is all of these and everything in-between.

As we move through life we face one challenge after the next. Sometimes these challenges become incredible hardships, after awhile we forget about the beauty, awe and wonder… and the magic ceases. We begin to feel like our life is a curse. When this negativity saturates our existence, the mention of Hope instills within us: fear, anxiety and guilt.

We need Hope, we need this cute little mouse to remind us that good is great! We can make something good out of something bad, no matter how awful our challenges may be. Hope is our ally, our friend. Let her inspire us to embrace the gooey, golden light of life. 

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Discovering Hope

 

Discovering Personal Advocacy

Discovering Personal Advocacy

Hope is the corner stone of personal advocacy. To find her we must fantasize about the world, embrace the thought of adventure and share our dreams with others. From this spark we will explore our creativity through artistic expression, connecting our soul parts with our body and mind. Creativity gives way to imagination, the ability to see something that does not exist and manifest it within reality. Once we can imagine ourselves as the person we want to be, all we have to do is make it a reality. Hope is the faith we can achieve this reality.

Critical thought entails the usage of empathy, insight and research. We will learn to explore the perceptions and realities of others, avoid pseudoscience and become effective researchers. This is an important component in personal advocacy because it gives us the knowledge to have power over our lives.

Force of will is the quality of pushing forward despite our obstacles and hardships. It is our willpower, forward momentum and determination. It is living with significance, purpose and drive. Force of will sprouts from Hope, it grows with critical thought and blossoms when we give purpose to the pain.

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Discovering Hope

 

Shawn White

shawn white

Who is Shawn White?

Hello, my name is Shawn White. I have cancer. I have been shaped by a series of beautifully horrific experiences. I traded my right lung for wisdom and endured chemotherapy for insight.

When I was in my twenties I watched my mother die of pancreatic cancer. She refused surgery and chemotherapy, living her final days by her terms. Her last wish was for the whole family to go on a cruise, and so we went. It was a hauntingly loving experience, one I will reflect on forever. My mother is my role model for personal advocacy. She had the force of will to face anything, even a terrible inevitable death. Her road was bleak and yet she never lost Hope, she continued to dream and love and embrace the light of light.

I have been given many gifts, cancer has been the greatest. It gave me purpose and direction. It set me on a journey where I fell into many holes and tripped over many rocks. Through my journey, I have learned to navigate the path and now I illuminate the road for others, to help them see their obstacles before they face them.

I have discovered personal advocacy.

Now I am helping others discover it as well.

 

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Discovering Hope

Discovering Hope

Every second is a snapshot of infinite beauty.

Discovering Hope

Hope, the cute, yet terrifying mouse. She has guided us, continues to guide us and will always guide us. Hope is our faith, love and belief we can make the best of any situation. Through Hope we can find our way through any hole, overcome any obstacle and put a smile on anyone’s face.

Would you like to live life to its fullest? To avoid the terrible decisions of others? To enjoy the things you love? And to live by your terms?

Of course you do. We all do.

How do we do this? How do we make this a reality?

We achieve this by becoming our own personal advocate.

If I, Shawn White, knew how to advocate for myself at the start of my journey, I would not have done chemotherapy. Even now, I would rather live with the quality of life I have and die sooner, than endure chemo and live longer. This is my land in the sand, I know the quality of life I want to live and I will fight for it. I want to help you find your line in the sand and assist you in developing the tools to fight for it.

My treatment was not worth the cost I paid in pain, but maybe yours will be. We are different people with different needs. You, I and everyone else are uniquely beautiful creatures and all our approaches will be just as varied. To discover personal advocacy, we need to embrace Hope, learn critical thought and develop our force of will. These are the three main components of personal advocacy, but none are more important than Hope.

 

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Hope the Mouse

Hope the Mouse

Hope the Mouse

So much our time is focused on cancer that we often become it.  Every time I have a test or a scan my heart shutters and my nerves shake.  I’ve grown so accustomed to bad news that good news has become the bad.  Hope the Mouse is a representation of my fear, anxiety and guilt when it comes to the idea of overcoming cancer.

I dread the day when all of this is over (if it ever is).  The reason is because it’s like dying, when its over I will have to begin a new life, change is hard enough for most, starting over is another matter entirely.  When I was first diagnosed with cancer I experienced the death of my old life, once again when I discovered I still had cancer and again once cancer became my life.  These moments are rough and destructive to the soul, they hurt and often never stop hurting.

Without cancer I’m afraid I won’t have the same drive and purpose.  I really want to be a part of a cause that makes the world a better place. The thought of losing traction of my dream is a nightmare.  Having a singular purpose can be overwhelming, but it is so much more rewarding than the underwhelming life I once had.

I’m afraid of being cured, I’m afraid of not having cancer, I’m afraid of surviving.

These are the thoughts that plague me when I think about hope.  They’re the feelings that haunt me.  I want to live a long happy life, but the thought of Hope the Mouse is terrifying, and when I see her it makes me want to scream in terror.

Hope is not your enemy

I know that Hope isn’t my enemy.  She is a valuable tool that pushes me forward every day.  I may be afraid of her at times, but without her I can’t experience the experience of life.  Without this little mouse I wouldn’t know how to ask why, I wouldn’t have the force of will to continue to walk and I wouldn’t have the heart to help others.

Hope is the true engine of my existence.  My force of will determines who I am. With these two powerful elements I can overcome anything. When, not ifWhen I overcome this cancer I will continue to help others.  Ultimately it is what is on the inside that determines who we are and what we have to offer.  On the inside, I have Hope, the cute, yet terrifying mouse.  She has guided me, continues to guide me and will always guide me.

Links

If you would like to continue your reading journey consider some of these fine links.  I’m sure you will find something that will fill your fancy.

Cancer – Personal Advocacy

Caretakers – Personal Advocacy

Abuse – Personal Advocacy