What is Discovering Hope?

Discovering Hope is a journey of personal advocacy, a quest to reclaim our life by making the most of every moment.

What is Personal Advocacy?

Personal advocacy is hard, often it’s heart breaking, and it can feel like a nightmare. When outsiders look in all they see is the disease, they miss the horror on the peripheral. These visitors know we are in pain, but the totality of our circumstance is beyond them. They might not grasp the financial woes, the loss of identity, the struggle with fear and sadness. Maybe they don’t know what it’s like to fight for the right doctor, battle insurance companies or cope with the after effects of treatment. It doesn’t mean they can’t understand. If these visitors are your friends help them help you. Give them an idea what its like to live life for a day in your shoes. Share your feelings and thoughts, face those inner demons and reconnect with the people you love and love you.

Unfortunately, the troubles do not end where our friendships begin. The greatest adversaries I’ve faced in this journey has been close friends. Ino abused and took advantage of me during chemotherapy and Pea Weasel robbed my house, vandalized my home and threatened to kill me. Both were people who used my situation to their advantage for their personal gain. We must keep at least one tired, sleepy eye open. There are enemies everywhere, even within, but there are even more monsters outside.

If you are sick you will attract the desperate. You are a meal ticket just waiting to be cashed in. MLM, life coaches, gurus and alternative medicine advocates are naturally attracted to us. Some of them do believe their pre-scientific methods can help, while others see the venom in the snake oil they are selling. Ignorance is a disease and these people facilitate its spread. The best way to stop its infection is to vaccinate people with knowledge.

This website is geared toward personal advocacy, hope and critical thinking. I believe these tools help us live a higher quality of life whether we’re hurt, healthy or sick.

Wisdom

Wisdom – Tree of Life

Wisdom is one of the seven positive roots of the Tree of Life. It’s the ability to see the world without illusion or delusion. To realistically interpret and understand who you are and your surroundings.  A comprehension that starts from the inside parts of our mind and stretches to the outside zones of our body. It can be described with the sentence: “My body is this, I believe this, I am this person, I decide who I am.”

Wisdom finds us when we embrace who we are. Accept the realities of our existence and transcend them. It tells us that we can become whoever we want to be and we are not defined by the opinions of others.

When we accept the root of wisdom we decide to no longer feed the negative root of false perception. It is the moment when your identity is decided by you and no one else.

Links

False Perception – Reflections

 

Acceptance

Acceptance – Tree of Life

Acceptance is one of the seven positive roots of the Tree of Life. It’s what closed my gate to hell and reopened my heart. Resurrecting my passions and dreams pointing me in the direction of the incredible. The root has the ability to awaken our eyes to see the world for what it is. To let go and allow others in. To take off the boards on our windows and unlock our doors. It is a root that may be summed up with: “I am this, I have that, I don’t need you to love me, I love myself.”

Acceptance is a fascinating root, one that develops slowly. As we accept our circumstance we will shift out and back into denial. Back and forth we will go into anger, sadness and other uncomfortable emotions. This is the process of coming to terms with something and ultimately accept it.

A part of me wants to say I found the roots of acceptance when I saw the damage denial was causing. That I knew there was a fire but wasn’t able to see the source. I want to say that it took the loss of a lover and an attempted suicide to discover a laser that was destroying my life.

That’s not reality, there were times when I believed it to be true. Exploring my thoughts and writing out my feelings let me to see what was and what wasn’t. The relationship was important, but it wasn’t the catalyst, nor was the attempted suicide, it was a whole shit ton of crap smashed together into one really gross wad of bad stuff.

Life happens on a series of moments, we experience change from second to second, not all of it feels good or is good. We can do our best to make the best of it.  In the moments I thought I was spiraling, I wasn’t, there was no slide toward hell, instead I was climbing a staircase to enlightenment and peace.

Ultimately the greatest damage to my life came from denial.

When my lung was removed I convinced myself I was no longer bipolar. This idea dismantled my internal support systems and critical awareness.  I no longer looked for those inward parts of myself, because I wasn’t looking, I couldn’t see them.

Once I accepted my illness, I was able to find ways to deflect the laser. The light beam was going to do its thing, but if I could redirect it, my life wouldn’t be set on fire, I wouldn’t have to be destroyed.

With acceptance you can redirect the laser of your life, you can choose what it burns and when.

Links

Denial – Reflections

 

Guilt

Guilt – Tree of Life

Guilt is an emotion where we feel responsible for some action or inaction we believe had negative results. It and shame are split from the end of accountability. Our root of guilt can be good, but it has the tendency to be bad.  It may be experienced within a healthy range. In certain instances, it can prompt virtuous behavior, leading us to exercise restraint, make amends, help others and even aid in self-preservation.

It gets bad when we start embracing its negative aspects. It can be a gluttonous root, stealing all the life energy of our tree.  In the coalition of personal destruction, the negative root of guilt eats our emotional nutrients and starves us. If it isn’t trimmed it will sabotage our lives and destroy our palace.

How do end the negative cycle of embracing bad guilt? We achieve it by having a relationship with forgiveness. Forgiveness reminds us it isn’t meant to torture us, it’s designed to help us be healthy and accountable.

 

 

 

regret

Regret – Tree of Life

Regret is one of the seven negative roots of the Tree of Life. If I were sum up the experience with one word I’d describe it as terrible.  Nothing compares to the anguish of Regret, nothing. Regret can be summed up with the sentence: “I wish I could go back in time and do it differently.”

We can’t go back, nothing can be changed. I want to tell you to stop thinking about it, but that doesn’t work. We could use mind over matter as a method but that doesn’t work either. In my experience there are only two methods: a proactive prevention of regret, and by succumbing to it.

The philosophy I call a Proactive Prevention of Regret is to make decisions so you don’t experience it. This works until it doesn’t, as is the rule with anything.

The other method is to succumb to the experience. Things happen and it may be terrible, I’m not saying get over it, instead explore what happened and learn from it. Maybe discover how to prevent it from happening again.

In my journey I don’t regret anything.

There were moments when I did. A time when the stress and pain stole me away and I began regretting chemotherapy. I convinced myself that it transformed me into another person.

In some ways I was right, but it wasn’t the chemotherapy that was doing it.  It was a cocktail of all sorts of negative roots that were feeding into my Tree of Life. I was overwhelmed and there was nothing I thought I could do.

I crumbed under the weight of my own stress…

…and because of who I’d become my levy could no longer stand against the rising waters, and the flood destroyed my village.  All of this was my fault, I made this happen.

Once the village was destroyed I tried to commit suicide, but I want you to know that the suicide wasn’t a result of the levy falling. It was going to happen no matter, I caused that to happen, I know that now.  I am sorry that my actions hurt the people I love. Its hurts my heart zone to know that some may never forgive me for that. I hope that one day those love spots will heal.

My feelings aren’t of regret, rather love. I have transformed my roots of regret into the roots of harmony. My insides may hurt knowing that I hurt those I love, but I’d rather help them overcome those pains, than to wish them away.

Links

Harmony – Tree of Life

 

False Perceptions

False Perception – Tree of Life

False Perception is one of the seven negative roots of the Tree of Life.  It’s the act of devaluing our significance, role or value.  Though it may be tied to self deprecation it includes exaggerated perceptions of self. Believing we are worthless is equally destructive as personal deification. False Perception may be easily summed up in the statement: “I am ugly, I am a bad parent, I am the best, I am the wisest.”

I believe myself to be a pretty positive and confident man.  I avoid jokes that belittle my significance or reduce my value.  One of my fundamental philosophies is that positivity begets positivity and negativity begets negativity. This philosophy permeates nearly all of my communication, anyone who knows me can vouch for the fun words I tend to use.  This is not False Perception, it is instead it is the act of positive reinforcement.

Life is not perfect, nor are the people who live within it.

There have been moments when I’ve fallen prey to the negative, wrapped myself with a blanket of destruction and rolled in its misery.  Sure, these moments may reflect the depression of some, but it is not how I typically experience it. Nor is it how my False Perception Manifests.

My False Perception takes hold during my manic phases, it makes me feel invulnerable and unstoppable.  Often my wisdom is robbed from me and I lose the ability to critically analyze and interact with my peers respectfully. There are instances where I feel the need to be right, refuse to back down and I push or pull when I need to let go and relax.

Though it can be troublesome it has opened the door to many magnificent journeys.  In reflection my inflated sense of self increased my deafness during a time when my inner scream was already incredibly quite loud.  It was a destructive time, a period when the nightmare of my existence dripped from my pores, ruining nearly everything that I touched.

After considerable reflection I have overcome this False Perception, putting it back into its dark hole.  For now, until the mania returns I can walk through life fed with the roots of wisdom, instead of the roots of False Perception.

Links

Wisdom – Tree of Life

 

Malfunction

Malfunction – Tree of Life

The curtain twisted to a gentle breeze, dancing to the ceiling fan’s melody. I sat on my bed with my back to the wall feeling my heart begin to fall. Shadows stretched and moved in malicious manners as I tried with all my might to find a purpose to the pain. My heart was broken, my body shattered, I was a mess of fractured bits and bones. I felt alone, in pain and devastated. My journey walked me through so many terrible times, tonight it tossed me into a ditch of despair. Tears streamed down my face as my sanity melted away at a steady pace.

My mind was melting under the stress of my duress. There was so much agony and so little sensation. My body burned with the hell of neuropathy. It felt like a flower of pain blooming across my back, like a creature had crawled into my soul and was gnawing at my spirit, it felt like I was at the end of what I could take. It was too much.

With the rhythm of my heart’s pulse, streaks of fire shot through my mind. Each fiery bolt burned flesh from my fingers till my grip started to slip.

Wrapping my hands around a rusty orange pill bottle I twisted it open. Sliding my finger in I pulled out one of those pain-killing gems. I held it in my hand in quiet contemplation till the fire hammered again. With a flip of my finger I felt it on my tongue and like a sad old song I swallowed it down. With each thundering pulse my world would spin until I no longer knew how to make it end.

Pill after pill the darkness closed in and my eyes grew heavy, till it felt like there was nothing left of me.

Malfunction is Irrationality

Malfunction is one of the seven negative roots of the Tree of Life. Its the verb of irrationality, the moment when our dark spots push our buttons and insanity fills the void. This root destroys everything we hold dear and the relationships closest to us.  Its says: “I want to hurt; I want to cheat, I want to lie, I want to die.”

What does Malfunction do?

My malfunction manifests in self-destructive tendencies. When this mean monster pulls against its leash it drags me toward annihilation. Fenris is my malfunction and when he gets hungry he tries to kill me. Sometimes the only way to stop him is by feeding him my arm.

Look inward to find what your malfunctions are and how they hurt you.

Be the master of your Malfunction

Having a relationship with the root of malfunction allows us to see where it sits. We can feed it what it needs so it doesn’t eat us. We can ensure we are the ones leading it by the leash and no one else.

The first goal of reigning in malfunction is to protect ourselves from our own dark tendencies, this is achieved by knowing where it is, and feeding it with healthy food. The second goal is to protect ourselves from the dark tendencies of others, we achieve this by holding and hiding the leash from the prying eyes of monsters.

It can feel great to confess our pains and tears with someone we trust. Sometimes the ones we trust are monsters sneaking into our lives from the shadows to latch onto us like leeches. The monsters in this instance are abusers, people who want to take and never give. We exist only to serve them, and they do the minimum to get the maximum from us.

How do we protect ourselves from these people?

Be careful who you entrust your inside heart zones with. When you do share never let them hold the leash to your malfunction. Once an abusive person sees how we malfunction they will use it to make us malfunction. The more irrational we are the more pliable we become. The only person who has the right to mold your identity is you.

Abusers have all sorts of tool boxes to seize control.

Not all abusers harness the power of our malfunction, some latch onto our other negative roots to seize control. Malfunction is the purview of the Pea Weasels of our life. They are people who question our mental stability, influence our judgement at critical times and attempt to shape our identity. This often requires commitment and dedication. It is a process requiring a considerable amount of conditioning, time and trust.

 

Rationality – Tree of Life

 

Artifacts

Artifacts

Artifacts are created by infusing negative or positive energy into something. The energy we give it returns to us each time we interact with it. In application, it’s like a beer bottle in the presence of an alcoholic, your significant other in a toxic relationship, a blade to a cutter. On the other side of the spectrum it could be the bracelet your mother gave to you, a wedding ring or the grave stone of a lost love.

We decide Individually the significance of each artifact. This decision doesn’t always happen consciously, but it’s always a result of our interaction or reaction, this response determines how it’s emotionally charged.

Some artifacts are unconsciously created, others are built as a symbol. We infuse it with purpose to remind us of a lesson, moment or idea. I do this through the medical bracelet that I wear around my arm. It reminds me of several things, its energy is there to remind me of what I have done, doing and will do. For example, it serves as a ward against shame. I have freaked out a number of times, afraid that I’ve shown too much of myself. As soon as I look at the bracelet I’m reminded that I’m doing the right thing.

Select your artifacts wisely, know them, love them and be at peace with them.

Links

Defining Negative and Positive

 

False Validation

False Validation – Tree of Life

False Validation is one of the seven negative roots of the Tree of Life. It is when  our thoughts, opinions and perceptions are traded for someone else’s.   Typically the person transforming us isn’t aware of the influence their words have. They simply answer our question we ask them to the best of their ability at that moment. It isn’t their answer that affects us, instead its our lack of confidence that allows us to be affected. We are the poorly anchored boat being blown by the wind. The wind is doing as nature has requested, it we who failed to keep ourselves true.

If we anchor ourselves, take claim and responsibility over our lives we can pull the negative aspect from this root and transform it into the root of empowerment.

Links

Empowerment – Tree of Life

 

When we Malfunction

When We Malfunction – Tree of Life

When our emotions are running around all wild and such they tend to do some pretty terrible things. They create something I call malfunctions. They are what happen when we let our emotions influence how our thoughts process information. When this occurs we take action that conflicts with what a rational person would do or understand.

  • When we idle we spin.
  • When we spin we repeat ourselves
  • When we repeat ourselves we malfunction
  • When we malfunction we hurt

In the moments we are spinning our world doesn’t make any sense. As it spins we try to solve the problem, we think and feel our way through it. Then as we try to fix, we malfunction. When this happens, we try to do something to alleviate ourselves of the pain. But it never works and we hurt. We really hurt.

Then it starts again, until we can break the pattern.

The manifestation of a malfunction could appear like this:

I’m tired of her pestering me about the bananas. If she wanted to have them that much she should have ordered them herself. If she wants those damn bananas, I’m going to really let her have those bananas. See how she feels. Let her feel how I feel.

This person does something to the bananas. For a moment, it gives them pleasure. They feel power over the lady. We hope they can catch themselves before they give the bananas to her. If they do then they will prevent the cycle from beginning again. Most of us don’t catch ourselves and we begin to spiral.

Links

Malfunction – Tree of Life

Shame

Shame – Tree of Life

Shame is one of the seven negative roots of the Tree of Life. It is often confused with guilt because the two intertwine. This root is ferocious and nasty, it is more than long strips of wooden fiber, it is a tentacle covered with gnawing mouths filled with diseased teeth. This tentacle slithers through the soil to the base of our tree, chewing and chomping at our body of life. Slowly it nibbles and tears us apart, leaving infected wounds that rot us from the inside out.

When we feed this negative root, it grinds us into mean strings of ground meat. Shame tells us to avoid asking for help, it kidnaps our quality of life and destroys our dreams.  Shame says: “Men don’t cry.  Suck it up.”

Everyone feels shame. We are more than cartoons, characters and stereotypes. Live your life by your terms, not by the will of others. The only acceptance and approval you need is from yourself.

There is the argument shame has a value in society, claiming it is used to maintain law and order. However, the negative promotes the negative, if we want the world to be a better place we must promote accountability in others. Reward the good and rehabilitate those who do bad.

Denial

Denial – Tree of Life

Denial is one of the seven Negative roots of the Tree of Life.  It is what opened the hellish portal leading to the end of my romantic relationship.  This root stitches blinders to our eyes, placing us in eternal darkness, hiding us from the world. In summary Denial may easily be summed up with the statement: “I am not this, I don’t have that.”

My denial manifested after my lung was removed in July.  I desperately wanted to believe I was no longer bipolar.  This desperation influenced my research and lead me down the path of pseudo science.  I wasn’t completely aware of it at the time, but I stretched science to convince myself my manic depression was cut out with the enormous tumor in my chest. There were subtle tactics I used to convince myself it was gone, repeating that reality over and over until I believed the falsehood.

I’m not entirely sure I completely believed the idea. The signs told me that I hadn’t cycled for so long it was impossible that it was still with me. Though I saw this pattern and the science felt like it didn’t match up there was a lingering itch within me.  I believe that I secretly knew it wasn’t gone, but wasn’t willing to accept it.

Truth be told having cancer was a large enough disease.  

The idea of having two chronic illnesses simply was too much.

It took a long time, but I am no longer in denial.  I am so far away from denial I have embraced the reality of the disease.  Now I have accepted it, I have removed the root of Denial and replaced it with the positive root of Acceptance.

Links

Acceptance – Tree of Life

 

The Body of Life – Tree of Life

The body of life reflects our coping skills. It is a symbol of who we are, what we’ve experienced and how we interpret reality. The rings of our tree are the hardships we’ve faced and how we handled them. When we build our palace our tree’s rings determine the quality of the lumber. The more we learn from each hardship the stronger our foundation becomes.

We don’t have control over what happens or how we feel, but we can try to make the best of the bad. Every hardship is a gift granting us an opportunity to help people with our hurt. Sometimes its impossible to improve our perception in the moment, but in reflection we can encourage it.

The bad finds us no matter where we hide. Discovering I had cancer was a long and torturous battle. Eventually I learned others had a similar story as mine and I vowed to help end this terrible cycle. Now I work to guide the newly diagnosed find a different way, one with less horror and confusion.

My experience in the hospital after my thoracotomy was horrible. There were times when I had no painkillers and the agony was excruciating. In moments like those there is no way to see anything but the bad. Later I learned there is good in every moment, especially our worst. It gave me insight on pain, the medicine used to mask it and how fear can make it worse.

Existence is a collection of incredible experiences. It is equally good as it is bad. If we stare long enough at the terrible we might miss how terrific life can be.

I believe it is especially important we look back at all the good. Our past sweetens the present. Often, I return to how my mother celebrated her children, she did a wonderful job making holidays feel magical. If I could see her today I would thank her for giving me all those treasured moments.

These experiences are just a few rings of my Tree of Life, what are some of yours? Look inward and find the seasons you’ve endured and the lessons learned.

Reprieve – Body of Life

For nearly two years before my diagnosis I felt sick. It was an uncertain kind of sickness, an icky acid like irritation in my veins. There was a slow lethargic tug in my muscles and a teary pain behind my eyes. I was given a reprieve after my surgery. That break ended once I started the insightful experience of chemotherapy.

Now as I sit here I can feel that acid yuck crawl back into my body. My soul parts are clean and my mind is right, but I can feel the old pains return. I’ve earned a clear, healthy mind and with it I realize the constant state of pain that is my existence.

In reflection, I realize it’s this pain that’s incapacitating me. I’ve spent countless hours analyzing my malfunctioning parts and now I understand where it’s coming from. The problem is my body is in a great deal of pain. I’m trying to offset it, but no matter what I do, I can’t.

The sensation is akin to little fires burning on a cellular level all throughout my body. It’s a subtle pain, slowly over drafting my bank account of agony. The sensation seems to access a different kind of Tolerance Barrel.

Lately I’ve attributed the sensation to dehydration. After observing my liquidity levels I realize this isn’t the case. There have been several moments where these sensations have pushed me to nearly passing out. I move about bracing myself against objects in case I lose consciousness.

Like right now as I write this, it feels like there’s a chemical fire just under my flesh. If I hadn’t traveled through the lands of pain that I have, the agony would make me want to throw up.

Now that I know where the problem is born from, I can meditate, succumb and become one with it.

The Body of Life

When the universe gives me a reprieve, I use it to reflect on my existence.  This reflection grants me an understanding about the source of my malfunction. The origin is permeating pain.  It doesn’t matter what the actual source of the pain is, simply that it hurts.

 

The Body of Life – Tree of Life

Malfunction – Tree of Life

When We Malfunction – Tree of Life

The rings of christmas

The Rings of Christmas – Body of Life

Silver and gold garland wreathed around the needle-sharp Christmas tree. An array of glass and plastic ornaments fell from hooks like stems of fruit on the pine branches. Spiraling luminescence gracefully undulated from a string of rainbow lights.  A sparkle caped angel rested atop the lush tree, but it was the brilliantly wrapped gifts tied with bows that were the culmination of excitement.

Hundreds of cookies rested in old popcorn tins. Homemade fudge, pies, cakes and all sorts of scrumptious treats were in abundance. The house was a Christmas treasure land, my mother made sure of that. Each year she made everyone’s favorite, mine were fork mashed peanut butter, snicker doodle and chocolate chip cookies. The experience was one of love, a memory I am still able to treasure to this day.

These lessons, memories, moments are the foundation of how Me-of-the-Past and Me-Now romance life. I desire for my relationships to show love in the same way my mother showed how to make holidays special.  Find the beauty in the world around you, and you will be filled with it.

When saturated with beauty, we accept and nurture hope. We can take this small gift and place it into the palm of those we love. By passing this a spark we can ignite a great fire and inspire a conflagration of joy, peace and harmony.

All actions may have great return, so invest in the positive ones. The love shown to me, expressed by my mother, has, continues and will always enrich my life.

 

Healthy Relationships – Body of Life

Healthy Relationships

So much has changed since I began this journey. Many of the thoughts I wrote are no longer what I believe now. A good number were force fed to me by Ino. Spoonful’s of his hurt jammed down my throat into my heart. I have a peace-love relationship with my time with him. My heart has found peace, I no longer suffer with animosity or anger toward Ino. I love him as I would any person. The hurt he fed me has been spat out and the sour taste washed away. This peace has opened the pantry door for me savor the experience of healthy relationships.

From Ino and the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing I’ve discovered a quality I look for in others. True Empathy, the kind where hurt spoken is investigated before being dismissed. I want a friend in my corner who will listen to me, before they cast out my feels on this or that. The same is what I want to give, and that is exactly what will be given.

I’ve always believed that your lover should be your friend, your best friend. They should be your partner in crime, your battle buddy, your advocate. In my last relationship, I didn’t have this. It was a clear parameter set by them, a line I wasn’t allowed to cross. Healthy Shawn White would have ended the relationship then and there. Me-of-the-Past and Me-Now are a lot stronger than Chemo-Me, or Post-Chemo-Me. I was in too deep, too much in love during a troubling time to let go. It was the right thing for me, it was the affection and attention I needed. There is nothing I regret about that relationship. It was, as it was, and everything it was meant to be. I’m at peace with it and have moved on.

Every Relationship is Different

I believe that every relationship is different, each with its own social contract. Though different, all are similar in that they’re defined by the personal boundaries of at least two people. I dig love, life, adventures and dreams, but without personal boundaries none are possible.

 

 

 

horse

Horse Emotions – Emotional Creatures

Emotions do things, make noises and move around. Like a little creature or a horse, we go to them and embrace the moment. Often, we mount a saddle and start riding. These creatures do all sorts of stuff, especially if we don’t know how to reign them in. We let the horse go this way and that as it tramples shit and runs amuck. After a little bit, we figure it out and look back at what we’ve done. We say crap, what have I done and we try to make things right. We beg and plead, we demand and yell. We pester and poke. Eventually we get off the horse and walk away. We have to just hope others know what it’s like to be stuck on a horse as it moves through our life.

Links

Never-ending Journey – Relfections

Emotional Creatures

 Like mist on wind, streaming violet light floated alongside swirling smoky circles. This spiraling purple luminescence twisted like ivy into twirling portals of light. Opening into doorways these portals brought a gathering of faeries, emotional creatures dancing and singing. One fey creature moved toward me, alone, with divine grace. Walking, dancing, prancing across the floor, her little feet created magical waves in her wake. There was a certain sadness to her, though her walk feigned a joyous heart, tears hid behind her sad eyes. Though her curly blonde hair bounced as she neared me, there was stillness to her spirit, a sorrow to her soul. Her friends remained at the entrance, through the fog of their peaceful presentation radiated discord.

With a half broken smile her lips mustered the strength to speak.

“Daddy?” The little Fey looked toward my eyes. “I’m lonely. Will you be my friend?”

Tend to your emotions

The Tree of Life is home to all things that are, and are not. It is our home, the person we are now and who we desire to be. Without it we don’t exist and to deny it is a fate worse than death. Our temple is our tree, we must honor, love and respect it. It is an Artifact of our lives and we must decide whether it is a positive or negative influence.

Living on and around our tree are all sorts of creatures. Our emotions are creatures of all sorts, from little pets to wild animals, from brownies to totems, from Seelie to Unseelie. We have a responsibility to them, they are our children. To be a proper parent we must tend to their needs. Sometimes they come to us crying, begging to be loved. Other times they demand attention kicking and screaming. It is up to us to discover the needs of each of our creatures and to give them what they need.

Horse Emotions – Emotional Creatures

 

Negative and Positive

Defining Negative and Positive

Positivity isn’t candy smiles or sunshine happiness nor are frowns and sadness a representation of Negativity. These fundamental concepts are beyond the scope of these momentary experiences, fleeting emotions and passing seconds. To be positive is to be harmonious, accepting and being at peace with oneself. To be negative is a state disconnection, disorder and intolerance. Indulging negativity is a freefall into the pit of suffering. Suffering is pain without purpose.

To be positive is to accept the harmony of life and death, pain and pleasure, that there is purpose to everything. All action has significance, when we embrace negativity, we embrace discord. Discord blinds us. It strikes away our ability to see the significance of our experiences.

Links

Equal and Peaceful – Poem

Big Pile of Disappointment

Was it really a big Pile of Disappointment?

Last time I spoke a lot about how my trip to see the NET specialist was a big pile of disappointment.  I hoped that with that doctor it would be a moment I could ask him questions only a specialist could answer.  Unfortunately, I discovered he hadn’t reviewed my records and so my appointment with him was just a few notches above worthless.

With that said this was supposed to be the visit, and in certain ways it was.  The value of this visit was that I learned more about personal advocacy.  In the conclusion, I said: “Seeing a specialist isn’t enough.  You must take it to the next level, you must be the squeaky wheel, you must make noise! If you want to receive what you need, you have to talk loudly and walk with heavy steps.”

There were many valuable lessons to be discovered here.  The following is a step by step summary of what I learned from this experience.

Setting up an appointment with a new doctor

  1. Confirm: When you send your tests, scans, slides and medical history to a new doctor call and speak to them frequently until they have confirmed the arrival of your information.  How can your doctor read it if its not there?
  2. Confirm: Once they have your records call and speak with them frequently until they have confirmed that the doctor has reviewed your files and the pathologist has reviewed your slides.  How can your doctor help you if they know nothing about you?
  3. Confirm: Have them confirm in writing that your insurance is in network if they say that it is. How do you know you can afford this?
  4. Schedule: Once these conditions have been met, now you have the green light to move forward to schedule an appointment.

What happened to me?

  1. Yes! I’m in great hands!I sent my tests, scans, slides and medical history to the doctor’s office.  They confirmed it arrived.
  2. What?: When I arrived, my doctor said he never reviewed any of my medical records.  He said that the pathologists were still looking at my slides. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of seeing this doctor if they know nothing about you?
  3. How am I supposed to pay for this?: The hospital, front desk, and doctor’s office all told me that my visit was in network.  After the visit, they are now telling me that it was out of network and they expect me to pay a ridiculous amount of money for the services they claim to have provided.
  4. What happened?: I scheduled my appointment with the doctor before these requirements were met and I left with no valuable information.

Scans, Tests and Labs?

If the prospective doctor is ordering scans, tests and labs why are they wanting you to do them in their city?  If you must travel why don’t they have you do them locally where they might be cheaper and easier to access?

All in all, I learned valuable stuff, but at a very hefty cost.  The information I gained almost nothing directly to with my cancer.  There might have been some, lets dig into the big pile of the stuff that was discussed.

Links

Personal Advocacy

Discovering

Discovering Personal Advocacy

Discovering

Discovering Personal Advocacy 

Before discovering personal advocacy, our life drifts within a void.  Slowly and without purpose we amble toward the ever-consuming maw of oblivion.  In these moments, we teeter at the edge of destruction.  Sitting on a wall like old humpty dumpty waiting to fall.  If we remain here we will break and we will leave our treatment to hands of all the king’s men.

Discovering personal advocacy doesn’t change the disease, it doesn’t change the nightmare of your circumstance.  Instead it transforms your treatment and the amount you are willing to endure.  Old humpty dumpty will still fall, he will crack and break and in the eyes of some will be rendered useless.  However, through personal advocacy we get to discover that old humpty dumpty is not an egg.  He isn’t a he, rather an it.  It was a cannon.  Instead of just letting any old joe try and fix it, shouldn’t we find a specialist for the job?

Discovering

Once on the road for personal advocacy we find its one of twists and turns and dead ends.  It’s a path of heart break, loneliness and frustration.  As we move forward, taking a step then another, we begin to fill that void.  We become powerful and we stuff that hungry maw with our fist like Tyr did with Fenrir.  I want you to do it better than Tyr, let’s keep the hand while defeating the beast.  As we take a stand we step back away from the cliff, no longer will we teeter at the edge of destruction.  Instead we look out over the horizon and bask in the glory of the world.

Many Steps

This achievement of personal advocacy isn’t born from a singular moment of pain.  It is a tool that has been hammered into existence through a lifetime of abuse and neglect.  It is an artifact of Hephaestus, the crippled creator.  Like he, we will use the tools forged in the fire of our own hell to grant us the greatest life we can live.

Discovery

If you gaze into the past you will see you’ve already taken steps towards personal advocacy.  There have been numerous moments leading to this point.

In my journey, there have been many steps and moments that helped unlock the door to my personal advocacy.  These ranged from suicide attempts to the enduring the horrors of Ino my caretaker.

Look back at your steps, see the moments and use them to take control of your life.  Be powerful, take charge and become your own personal advocate.

Links

Discovering Hope

 

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

 

Boundaries

Introduction to Boundaries

Would you like to have healthier relationships, a more peaceful existence and a higher quality of life? Well look no further, all the answers you need are right here!

We’ve come accustomed to hearing this claim from life coaches, MLMs and late-night TV. Every one of them want to sell us the secret to a better life, unfortunately they too have no clue.

Instead of spending money on tips and tricks, invest in yourself. Search inwardly to see how you hurt to prevent others from hurting you. Use this knowledge to establish and enforce your personal boundaries and achieve the life you’ve always wanted.

Walls are important to us because they,

Discover your Boundaries

How do we discover our personal boundaries? There is not a universal system that is appropriate for everyone. We all walk different roads, wearing different shoes and walk at a different pace.

It gets frustrating sometimes because we can feel so lost. We run this way and that trying to find our way through this terrible maze. Eventually we stop and fall to the ground in tears because we’ve lost the will to keep going.

I have been there, it can be so horrific, but in every second there is a snap of infinite beauty. In this moment that beauty is an opportunity. When our life feels like it’s about to fly off the road we learn to steer our momentum by carefully pressing on the brakes. In this moment you can see everything for what it is because everything is unlocked, and we can walk through any door.

The Tree of Life series explores our boundaries by showing the best way to have them is by getting to know ourselves. If you would like some direction, feel free to look, maybe it will inspire you to find your inside parts and the walls you need to protect them.

 

Relationships – Boundaries – Personal Advocacy

Experiencing a long-lasting friendship can be incredible. It feels great having someone in our corner, especially when we’re confident they’ll be there forever. The longer we are friends with someone the more we lower our guard to build new boundaries for them. It can be a beautiful experience to fall in love and explore a relationship.

Sometimes it is not so wonderful. Some people don’t want to be a part of the construction crew and build something new. They are content with jumping the wall and doing as they please.

I’ve had many people in my life take that course of action, Ino and Pea Weasel are prime examples. Being abused, violated and betrayed are all insightful experiences that test our resolve and push us harder to protect ourselves. We learn over time the best defense is effective personal boundaries. They serve as our eternal champion protecting us from harm. As our guardians they are the supporting structures of our relationship bridges.

These bridges are our relationships and they are the roads that connect people. They require upkeep and understanding and must be built from a foundation of empathy and respect. Everyone in the world is an island and these bridges connects us. The stronger we build and upkeep them the less likely they are to crumble or burn.

If we are living safely we have a strong wall around our island. This is our outer boundary, it protects us from the harm others may try to commit against us. Beyond this wall is another surrounding our palace, this wall is our inner boundary. It protects us from everything unhealthy we may try to do to ourselves.

Maintenance

In relationships we must maintain a vigilant eye on many moving parts. Our first concern is our palace, are we enjoying our stay? The most important relationship we can have is within ourselves. Are we doing everything we can to live the highest quality of life? Are we chasing our dreams? How are we feeling? Are we happy with our relationships and are they happy with us?

The second most important is a tie between our inner and outer boundaries. Are we doing everything we can to reinforce them? When was the last time one was breached and why was that allowed? What can we do to prevent that from happening in the future?

Next, we have our bridge. Are we spending enough time and resources to maintain it? Do we even like it being there, and if not, what must we do to remove it?

Finally, our last concern is the outer boundary of those around us. Are we respecting their walls? How dangerous are their boundaries, could they compromise ours? Are we empathizing and doing our best to treat others better than we have been treated?

Our Boundaries are not the same for everyone

When I was going through chemotherapy I was prohibited from hugging people. My immune system was so weak it was simply too risky to touch anyone. I had to be extremely careful about who and what I interacted with. The chemotherapy made me feel like death, so there was no way I was going to risk my life for a hug or a handshake.

I was coupled at the time and though I was told not to touch, there was no way I would deny myself any touch. Her hugs and kisses and the occasional massage were the only exceptions.

One day I was standing in line waiting to buy a delicious liquid refreshment at Picassos my favorite coffee house. I was chatting it up with a young man named Tello when a close friend of mine walked through the door. Immediately my friend wanted to give me a hug, but I had to quickly refuse and inform them I can no longer hug people.

Tello took this as a challenge. He said, “I’m going to give you a hug.”

I turned to him and with a stern voice I commanded him not to touch me.

Strangely Tello ignored my demand and continued forward to embrace me. I was filled with a cocktail of anger and fear, my survival mechanism kicked in and I yelled at him. “If you try to hug me I am going to knock you to the floor!” I meant it. Though I hurt all over there was no way I was going to let him touch me without consequence.

His eyes locked with mine and his urgency slowed to a halt.

If you ever try to touch me without permission, I will hurt you.” I warned Tello.

Enforcing Boundaries

In a loving relationship our boundaries can be a gentle hand, encouraging words, even a stern look. We can secure our walls without weaponizing them. In most situations we don’t have to aggressively enforce our boundaries like I did with Tello.

The core principles of personal advocacy: Hope, Wisdom and Forgiveness are easily applied here. Empathize, take a moment to imagine what their intent was when they crossed your boundary. Were they trying to hurt and take advantage of you or was this a misunderstanding? Whatever the answer is we must make it clear to them they crossed the line. Then we must embrace Hope and have faith we will both learn and grow from this experience.  

Links

If you would like to continue your adventure through personal advocacy consider clicking on one of these fancy links.

We Must All Become Advocates, All of Us

Introduction to Boundaries

Empathy

Empathy – Boundaries – Personal Advocacy

Empathy is essential when establishing and enforcing our boundaries. When we use the word empathy we are referring to intellectual empathy. What does that mean?

“Understanding the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others to genuinely understand them… It correlates with the ability to accurately reconstruct the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own. This trait also requires that we remember occasions when we were wrong, despite an intense conviction that we were right, and consider that we might be similarly deceived in a case at hand.” [1]

A challenging but useful exercise is to imagine yourself as someone else. Let your eyes find someone nearby, now look at their shoes. Imagine what it would feel to be wearing those right now. How do you think they would feel? Now think about someone you know, perhaps someone who’s hurt your feelings recently. Ignore your feelings and imagine being them. What do you think they were feeling at the time when they were hurting you? Why do believe they were feeling this? What if you’re wrong? What else could they have been feeling at this moment?

We are going to do an exercise, first I want you to write down the premise they were acting from when the event occurred. Next, what assumptions might they have been operating from and finally what do you think their thoughts, opinions or plans were?

Intellectual empathy is an effective critical thinking tool. When implemented correctly it serves as a valuable resource to establish and enforce personal boundaries. It also helps us identify the walls of others. With this information we improve our ability to treat others fairly while encouraging them to do the same.

[1] Paul, Richard, and A. J. A. Binker. Critical Thinking: What Every Person Needs to Survive in a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2012.