Category Archives: Adversity

Women Breaking Through Barriers

Lesly Federici suddenly lost her mother at the age of 40 while coping with the news that she had a genetic disorder that would result in blindness. Suzie Cheel was given three choices: life, death, or dialysis. Beverley Golden, only 89 pounds and suffering from a mysterious health problem, listened as a doctor told her there was little hope for recovery.

hurdlesThese are just three of 14 inspirational stories in the book, Women Breaking through Barriers, by Marquita A. Herald. The women describe how they conquered tremendous hurdles to move forward and live fulfilling and successful lives.

The book shares what helped them find the courage and inner strength to create a life they love with tips on how you can do so as well.

I was touched that the author of the book asked me to share my own story about how I pushed through my fears and self-limiting beliefs.

My own story is not as dramatic as some of the others in the book. I write about how I overcame my fears and doubts to pursue my dreams of becoming an author and writer. Oh, I put a lot of self-imposed barriers on myself. I was afraid that people would laugh at me because I didn’t have a college degree. That my submissions would sit in a huge pile and be ignored by literary agents and editors since I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business. That friends and family would roll their eyeballs if I dared to express my dreams of becoming a writer out loud. That I would become so discouraged by the countless rejections sure to come my way, I would give up and watch my precious dreams slowly fade away. Doesn’t everyone want to be a writer, but how many actually make it?

dreaming-of-being-a-writerInstead of taking action, I was comfortable just dreaming about becoming an author one day. It was fun envisioning my novel on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and my first book signing. It was so easy to tell myself that I needed to learn more about the craft of writing before submitting my work.

Until a woman at a writer’s conference asked me a simple but profound question. What are you waiting for?

Oh, I had a million excuses why I wasn’t pursing my passion. But she forced me to ask myself some important questions. Did I want to go to my grave with regrets that I never followed my dreams? That I never even tried? Would I wonder what I could have accomplished if only I had mustered up enough courage to break through my self-imposed barriers?

With the woman’s words echoing in my head, I took the first step and began submitting my short story to magazines. Of course, I received the standard rejection letter which stung, but I continued on my journey, taking writing classes and submitting my work. The road wasn’t easy. Many of my fears came true during that time. I gathered enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room. Plenty of people gave me cynical looks when I dared to share my dreams of becoming a published writer. Many times, I became discouraged and swore off writing. But I tenaciously pressed forward. Six long years passed before my first short story was published. Am I happy that I persevered and finally faced down all those nagging self-doubts and fears?

You bet!

Yup, that’s me, looking happy I broke through my barriers to live out my dreams of seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble along with a book signing!

I’ve been writing professionally for over 25 years now. Over the years, I’ve been published in national magazines, authored three books (one of which was published by big time publisher McGraw Hill), landed an agent, won three journalism awards, and even had a book signing at Barnes and Noble.

What helped me accomplish my goals? How did the other 13 courageous women overcome their fears, persevere, and find the power to become the driver of their own lives and personal journeys?  You’ll have to check out the book to find out! Each tale will give you hope and encourage you to reflect on who you are and what matters most to you in life.

For a limited time, I’m offering a free copy of the book, Women Breaking Barriers, to all new subscribers of my blog. As a subscriber, every Thursday you’ll be the first to receive my latest blog on how to find your bliss. Please use the subscribe button on the upper right corner of this page. Rest assured, your privacy is important to me. Your email address will not be given away or sold at any time. If you decide you no longer wish to subscribe, you need only scroll to the bottom of any blog sent to you and click on the “unsubscribe” link.

When you are finished, click on the link below to receive your free copy of the book. If you are already one of my 5,000 subscribers, feel free to click on the link below and receive a copy of this inspiring book compliments of Baby Boomer Bliss.

Women Breaking Barriers eBook

Enjoy the book and in the meantime, remember that there is nothing magical that happens to people who choose to take responsibility for their own life. They choose to commit to taking a risk, doing the necessary work, and taking action. And most importantly, they choose to be true to themselves.

As John Quincy Adams eloquently said, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

Images courtesy of Sira Anamwong and iconmac at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A Baby Boomer’s Year End Thoughts

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Oprah Winfrey.

new-year-2017I like that thought.

We’re never too old to learn. This time of year, who can resist looking back to see what we learned along the way?

I deemed 2016 my year of healing. As you can see from the blogs I wrote at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, I was still trying to process the loss of my mother, who died from Lewy Body dementia (a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), the death of my mother-in-law who lost her battle to ovarian cancer a few months later, and my son’s awful divorce and custody battle.

As I related before, transferring dates into my new date book was a bit traumatic last year. These trials inspired articles like How to Find Yourself Again , Focusing on Myself,  and Three Simple Things You Should Do Everyday. If you’ve had a rough year, feel free to check these articles out to find out what helped me move forward and rediscover myself.

In the end, I am grateful for the past 12 months that allowed me to heal, nourish myself spiritually, appreciate all my blessings, and move forward. I enjoyed precious time with my husband, children, grandchildren, family and friends, new experiences that included a romantic trip to Chicago and an exhilarating concert extravaganza Desert Trip with Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, along with some quiet, peaceful moments of introspection.

As I learned, adversity can be a catalyst for making changes. Setbacks and painful experiences can provide motivation to examine your life and ask yourself what will make you feel happy and fulfilled going forward. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn,” Helen Keller famously said.

So, I’ve made the turn and move into 2017 with a hopeful spirit, fresh goals, and curiosity as to what lies ahead.

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Me and hubby “sailing” into 2017.

A big thank you to the 20,000 people who have visited my blog and taken this journey with me. I am extremely grateful to all of you who have left comments, which always makes my day, and the 5,000 subscribers who follow me on a regular basis. THANK YOU.

As I did last year, I will be taking the next couple of weeks off to spend time with my family and will see you all in 2017. In the meantime, i wish you all the very, very best.

See you next year!

Image courtesy of krishna arts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

 

 

 

 

Three Ways Baby Boomers Can Take Care of Themselves

Like many baby boomers, my 50’s turned out to be challenging. Taking care of my mother who later died from Lewy Body Dementia, the death of my step mother, and helping grandchildren through a divorce left me exhausted and rattled. This is the year I’m hitting the pause button on what has been a stressful few years, taking a deep breath, and focusing on myself.

The future is looking brighter.

The future is looking brighter.

I’m done dwelling on what I can’t change or control. I refuse to let stress interfere with living life to the fullest.

That’s my pep talk to myself. And you know what? I’m making progress.

As I shared in a previous blog, I am taking time each and every day to do three things for myself during my year of healing. You can click on the link above to find out what those three things are.

Here are three more steps I’ve taken this week toward a happier me. I hope these tips will give all of you baby boomers some inspiration to take care of yourself as well.

Spend on Experiences

focusing me concertWe splurged on tickets to Desert Trip – a three-day music extravaganza in October held on the same polo grounds where Coachella Fest plays – nicknamed Oldchella.

Hahaha. Make fun of us, I don’t care. This is every baby boomer’s ultimate dream!

After all, we’re the generation that refuses to grow old or grow up. Okay, we are getting older. I got my first senior discounted breakfast at I-Hop last weekend. Of course, the restaurant knows better than to call it that – it is simply named “The 55+ Menu.” Hey, I saved four dollars even though it hurt my pride. But my point is, we’re young at heart.

And ready to relive the 60s. We are talking Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Bob Dylan performing. We’re in the lawn section and will need binoculars, but I’m still stoked. Can’t wait!

Do something that makes you excited. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Science proves you’ll be happier spending money on experiences instead of things. New things make us happy, but only temporarily until we get used to having them. Then, the joy wears off.

However, the memories of experiences such as traveling, going to an art exhibit, learning a new skill – or rocking out to the Rolling Stones – will last forever. So forget that new iPhone or new pair of designer shoes. Cross something off your bucket list and live!

Take Care of Your Health

focusing me doctorOkay, this one isn’t as exciting, but nevertheless, it’s an important step. After caregiving for a few years, I had neglected to care for my own health. Confession time: it had been four years since I had a check-up. At 55, that’s not good.

So, off to the doctor I dutifully went. Unfortunately, I have been stress eating and weighed in at 170. The doctor informed me that I’ve gained 10 pounds since I last visited four years ago. Thank you very much for sharing that bit of depressing news. “Weight can sneak up on you after menopause and start adding up fast,” he advised.

Really? I never would have guessed. Actually, I wrote a whole blog, My Menopausal Middle, on this very subject.

But, all right, all right. So, I’m concentrating on eating healthy and have lost four pounds so far. Trying to focus on eating lots of veggies from the garden, fruit, lean proteins, whole wheat. I feel better already.

Also did my blood work and got a mammogram today – where I learned that my once dense breasts are deflated now that I’m post menopausal. More cheerful news. My ego deflated a bit along with my boobs, but that does mean it makes the mammogram easier to read and more accurate.

Even with all the humiliating news, I feel better that I’m taking care of my health.

You already know that if you remain healthy and physically strong, you’ll be happier, right? So quit procrastinating and get started today to a healthier you!

Get a Pet

Focusing me puppyWe got a new puppy. Technically, my son and his three kids got a new puppy, but while they are away, I’m puppy sitting.

Her name is Rey Anne ( the first name is Star Wars related since my son picked her up on May the Fourth be with You; the second name is for the girls’ favorite movie). She is a German Shepherd, seven weeks old, and we’re all in love.

Yes, puppies are a ton of work, but she makes me laugh with her awkward puppy clumsiness that causes her to slide across my wood floor. This morning, when I couldn’t find her, she was in the kids’ room snuggled up into my oldest granddaughter’s pajama top. That warmed my heart and made me smile.

Studies show pet owners tend to be less depressed, lonely, and stressed. They exhibit greater self-esteem and are usually more physically fit. If you’re a baby boomer like me, you may want to skip the puppy part and adopt a grown dog – it is exhausting! However, let’s face it, these furry creatures make us happier.

So there you go. Those are my three steps towards happiness I took this last week.

What did you do this week to bring more joy into your life? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments below.

Images courtesy of graur razvan, ionut ponsuwan, and photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

My Personal Review of 2015

I am taking the next couple of weeks off, so this will be my last blog of the year. Hard to believe that only two weeks remain of 2015. So what are my final thoughts about this year?

My husband, Scott, and I on a recent trip to San Francisco.

My husband, Scott, and I on a recent trip to San Francisco.

There’s a certain irony that after starting a blog called Baby Boomer Bliss, I had the worst year so far in my life. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that every day was terrible.

That’s the thing, when things aren’t going according to plan, we encounter challenges, or even when we suffer from tragic events, we cannot afford to squander priceless moments of our lives. We simply don’t have the luxury to spend what little time we have on earth worried about the future or stuck in the past.

For example, this last weekend, my husband, two sons, and daughter-in-law enjoyed a quick but delightful getaway to Monterey and San Francisco. The beauty of these two places with all the breathtaking views, dramatic coastline, and pristine forests along with the terrific company made this a trip to remember.

Our family also enjoyed a fabulous vacation together camping in Sequoia and Yosemite this last summer with many treasured moments.

Our family in Yosemite this past summer.

Our family in Yosemite this past summer.

Along with these cherished memories, there are certainly important things I’ve learned this year that I wouldn’t have otherwise appreciated as fully.

I learned that with God’s help, I am stronger than I thought. Losing my mother and mother-in-law helped me understand that you cannot put off until tomorrow what you need and want to do today – tomorrow is not guaranteed. It’s given me perspective as to what’s important in my life and what is trivial.

As I’ve pulled closer to my family through the stressful events this year, my love has grown deeper for my loved ones. After 37 years of marriage, I was reminded that my husband and biggest supporter rocks! I am so fortunate that my children – including my youngest son’s wife — are also my best friends. My older son’s divorce and custody battle was awful beyond words but drew my son and I closer than ever and made me even more grateful for my grandchildren and the precious time I have with them. This year also made me thankful for all the love and kindness shown by friends and members of my congregation.

In memory of my Mom who died in June. Our family has enjoyed sailing for more than 30 years - Mom loved it too. People at the dock admired her for walking down the plank to get on the boat with her walker.

In memory of my Mom who died in June. Our family has enjoyed sailing for more than 30 years – Mom loved it too. People at the dock admired her for walking down the plank to get on the boat with her walker.

Caregiving for my mother who had Lewy Body dementia full-time before her death has given me a new-found appreciation and empathy for all of you out there who are in the same boat. Losing my mother drew me closer to my father and siblings. It also helped me learn the importance of consoling others who have lost loved ones through this most difficult time.

While I wouldn’t want to repeat this year, as hard as it was, I wouldn’t want to trade it away either. 

However, I am at heart an optimist, and am hopeful that 2016 will be a year for fresh beginnings and a time to refocus and recharge after a challenging year.

I hope the same for all of you. A big thank-you to the 13,000 people who have visited my blog and a big hug to those of you who took the time to leave wonderful comments that always make my day.

See you next year!

Aging is a Gift

Earlier this month I turned 55.

Five years ago, when I reached the half-century mark, I’m embarrassed to admit that I ranted and raved, pouted and protested, and seethed and sulked.  Fifty felt old and I didn’t want to get old.

Now, I look back on that and think, how stupid was I?

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

As readers of my blog know, my mother died on June 13, giving me a painful reminder just how precious and fleeting life can be. And now my step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, who is only 60 and one of the bravest women I know, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She died last night.

When the cancer was discovered, Cheryl was ready to tackle the challenge with gusto. “Just tell me what to do and we’ll do it,” she courageously stated as a matter-of-fact. And she did. However, after surgery, chemo, and then finally an experimental drug that just about killed her, the aggressive cancer kept spreading and nothing stopped it. Last week, Cheryl decided to stop all treatments and come home to die. Doctors supported that choice and Cheryl told her family that the decision to die gave her peace.

My father-in-law lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 37. It breaks my heart to see him go through this again. And I have to confess, at a time when I am beginning to heal from my own mother’s death, watching my husband’s family go through this excruciating process has brought all those agonizing memories flooding back.

So I write this blog with a gaping wound in my heart. I weep for my Mom, my mother-in-law who never saw her 40s, and for Cheryl who fought courageously to the end. I also write this blog as a reminder to myself and all of you.

Like the popular quote from an unknown source says: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”  Those words are seen everywhere and have become a cliche, but it’s true. Take those words into your heart and deep inside your soul.

Forget the wrinkles. Forget the aching muscles. Forget the fuzzy memory. Forget that you are getting older and you want to rebel against it.

Aging is a gift and a blessing.

If you are lucky enough to get old, the story of your life becomes more meaningful. Your life evolves into a one-of-a-kind, unique journey filled with wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose. You experience the gratitude that comes with every passing day that will enhance your life.

As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.” That why we all need to embrace and celebrate every day we are alive, giving God thanks for the privilege.

I’ll never complain about a birthday again.

 

 

 

Dealing with Dementia: Free Screenings

As regular readers of my blog know, my Mom suffered from Lewy Body dementia – a cruel combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I was her primary caregiver until her death in June and have written several blogs on the subject in the past.

Alzheimer'sThe Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is launching its first annual National Memory Screening week, scheduled for November 1-7. The screenings will be free and confidential, and if deemed necessary, refer people to appropriate follow-up services.

To raise awareness of this event, I am happy to feature a guest blog from Vicki Tapia who cared for her father who had Parkinson’s-related dementia and her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her courageous story as she faced challenges, turbulent emotions, and painful decisions is inspiring and heart-touching:

WHO ARE YOU? WHERE AM I?

It was the weekend of our family reunion and almost everyone was gathered together at my parent’s condo to celebrate a milestone. Our patriarch, my dad, was turning 90. When the front doorbell rang, Mom opened the door, took one look at her oldest granddaughter and asked in a perplexed tone of voice, “Who are you?” After a moment of silence, we all laughed a little uncomfortably, but brushed it off, rationalizing the comment as a manifestation of Mom’s stress in caring for Dad, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was not mentioned again.

Our family continued to somehow normalize or overlook the ever-increasing signs that something was not quite right with Mom’s behavior. Another two years passed before she finally agreed to be evaluated by her health care provider, around the same time Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s-related dementia.  Although by this time our family wasn’t completely surprised by Mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we were alarmed to hear she was already considered to be in the “moderate” stage of the disease. I later learned this scenario is typical.

Studies tell us that the delay in diagnosis can be attributed to the family’s own denial in not wanting to face the fact that something is wrong. In retrospect, this probably applied to our family. Sometimes a fear of diagnosis can result in reluctance on the part of the affected person to agree to an evaluation, particularly if it involves an adult child prodding an intractable parent. Healthcare costs may also be a factor in avoiding an assessment by a qualified health care provider (HCP). The oft-perceived stigma associated with a potential diagnosis of dementia/Alzheimer’s can be a barrier to evaluation for the entire family.

National Memory Screening Week

In an effort to promote the importance of early detection of memory problems, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has launched the first annual National Memory Screening week, scheduled for November 1-7.

The screenings will be free and confidential, and if deemed necessary, refer people on to appropriate follow-up services. One of the goals of the screening is to work toward eliminating the stigma and fears associated with dementia. The AFA also hopes to alleviate fears for the people who do participate in the memory screening, but do not show a concerning memory problem.

For more information about the screening (date, time) and a list of participating sites, visit: www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.

Who should consider having a memory screening?

  • Anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing any of the warning signs of dementia.

  • Anyone who feels they’re at risk because of a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

  • Anyone who wants a baseline evaluation of their memory for future comparisons, even though they don’t have a current concern.

If you or a loved one answer “yes” to any of the following questions provided by the AFA, it may be prudent to participate in the free memory screening.

  • Are you becoming more forgetful?

  • Do you have any trouble concentrating?

  • Do you have difficulty when performing familiar tasks?

  • Do you have trouble recalling names or words during conversation?

  • Do you sometimes forget where you’re going or where you are?

  • Have friends or family told you that you’re saying the same thing over and over or repeating questions?

  • Do you often misplace things?

  • Have you become lost when driving to a familiar place or walking in your neighborhood?

  • Have your family or friends told you they’ve noticed changes in your behavior, moods, personality, or desire to engage socially?

For more info:

http://nationalmemoryscreening.org/screening-sites-info.php

The scene described in the opening paragraph of this blog is based on an excerpt from my memoir, Somebody Stole My Iron, which details the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and the many painful decisions involved in caring for my parents. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe my book as “brave,” “honest,” “raw,” “unvarnished,” as well as a “must-read for every Alzheimer’s/dementia patient’s family.” I wrote this story to offer hope to others whose lives have been intimately affected by this dreadful disease, to reassure them that they’re not alone.    

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Four other engaging books about dementia/Alzheimer’s disease I’m pleased to recommend include:

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On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s by Greg O’Brien

Greg O’Brien’s story isn’t about losing someone else to Alzheimer’s, it is about losing himself. Acting on long-term memory and skill, coupled with well-developed journalistic grit, O’Brien decided to tackle the disease and his imminent decline by writing frankly about the journey. “On Pluto is a book about living with Alzheimer’s, not dying with it.” 

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Alzheimer’s Daughter by Jean Lee

Jean’s memoir details her journey caring for both parents who were diagnosed on the same day. It is written with wincing honesty about the cruel affects of the disease, but a WWII love story held together by faith and family is contained within the pages.

 

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Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco

Marianne describes herself as a writer who happens to be a nurse. She writes this work of fiction based upon her care for the elderly. It’s a tenderly told love story about Jack and Sara, owners of a New England bed and breakfast. Sara is stricken with Alzheimer’s and Jack becomes her caregiver.

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What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wiersbitzky

Shannon writes this work of fiction through the eyes of a young girl, not surprising perhaps, as her author bio notes that her own grandfather had Alzheimer’s. In the story, when thirteen-year-old Delia Burns realizes that her elderly neighbor is beginning to forget, she involves the entire town in saving his memories.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Three Og Mandino Quotes to Inspire You

Don’t look at the title of this article.

What do the following three motivational quotes have in common?

stars

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

“Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment. ”

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”

Did you guess? If not, time’s up. Or did you automatically cheat and look at the title of this blog? Oh, fine. I don’t blame you. Either way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, what these quotes have in common is their author: Augustine “Og” Mandino.

Let’s just say, this has been a tough year and these quotes speak to me. My Mom recently died, my mother-in-law’s ovarian cancer has spread to her liver, and we’re going through a terrible divorce with our son.

The point is – I may feel a bit down but I’m certainly not defeated. So I march forward, knowing there are lessons to be learned along this journey – in every heartbreak, failure, and loss. I know that people eventually reap what they sow, that I still can count many blessings, and that these trials are meant to be endured. I know I will see the “stars” again.

Og Mandino knew this from experience. If you’re not familiar with his life story, it’s a pretty fascinating one.

Og’s Story

As a senior in high school, Mandino was the editor of his school newspaper and planned to attend the University of Missouri’s journalism school. In 1940, his mother died suddenly from a massive heart attack while she was in the kitchen making his lunch.

The trauma of losing his mother and World War II changed his plans. Mandino worked in a paper factory for a couple of years and then joined the army where he flew thirty bombing missions. When he returned to civilian life, Mandino’s life took a downward spiral into poverty and despair.

hopeHe spent six months in a New York flat with aspirations to become a writer. However, when his first efforts to sell his work failed, Mandino gave up. Companies weren’t exactly clamoring to hire former bomber pilots and he was forced to become an insurance salesman. Mandino was miserable.

“The treadmill I soon found myself on was torture. Never was I more than a few paces ahead of several bill collectors,” he wrote in his autobiography.

While on the road, Mandino often visited bars at night and became a hopeless alcoholic. For the next two years, he wondered around the country aimlessly working odd jobs and never staying anywhere for long. His wife took their daughter and left him. At Mandino’s lowest point, he even considered buying a gun at a pawn shop and committing suicide.

But something made him keep on walking and Mandino ended up in a public library which became his refuge. He began reading self-help, success, and motivation books which helped turn his life around. Renewed and determined to succeed, Mandino applied for a job in insurance sales and within a year was promoted to sales manager and started breaking sales records. He re-married a woman who, he admits, had a lot more faith in him than he had in himself.

Inspired by the Bible, W. Clement Stone, Napoleon Hill, and Emmet Fox, Mandino eventually became a successful writer and the author of the bestselling book, The Greatest Salesman in the World. In fact, his books went on to sell over 50 million copies. Mandino died in 1996. At his death, he was among the most sought-after speakers in the world.

Open doorsSo it goes.

Opening New Doors

With the help from our God above, we all have the resilience and strength to endure. Instead of giving up, we can bravely find our way. We have the ability to choose to go down new and different paths we never considered before that may lead to happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.

Nothing stays the same. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes bad. Right now, I’m thinking that’s a good thing. After caregiving for my Mom these past few years, which was all-consuming, I’m a bit lost still. But it’s time to decide which direction I want my life to take. I’m an optimist at heart, so I’m going to take Mandino’s words to heart:

“Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all.”

Or perhaps even more to the point, “Cherish each hour of this day for it can NEVER return.”

So time to re-evaluate my life and look at things from a different viewpoint. Time for a few changes that may be big or small. I haven’t decided exactly what those changes will be but I do know that life is full of open doors.

Which one will you choose?

Images courtesy of nuttakit, Stuart Miles, and Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Moving Forward After Adversity

Have you ever faced the kind of gut-wrenching adversity that crushed your spirit and sank you into despair?

Facing adversity can feel overwhelming like a tug-of-war.

Facing adversity can feel overwhelming like a tug-of-war.

As I’ve written about before, I’ve been a full-time caretaker for my mother who suffered from Lewy Body dementia. On top of that, my son is going through a nasty divorce, my mother-in-law is fighting ovarian cancer, and we recently moved into our new house and had no gas for two weeks.

Even with all that – cold showers and no stove taboot – I was surviving. I tried to follow my own advice in my blogs about allowing adversity to teach me important life lessons and mold me into a better and stronger person. Then life served up another whopper a month ago when my Mom died. Now that stopped me in my tracks.

During her lifetime, my Mom was my best friend, advisor, and soul mate. She made me feel safe and secure and was the root and foundation of my being. True, because of the dementia I have been losing my mother slowly for years. Yet, I still felt a deep sorrow and loss when she passed away. As the reality sunk in, I couldn’t believe she was gone. I felt lost.

Maybe you’re facing some kind of loss or trying to overcome adversity. Maybe like me, you’ve recently lost a loved one. Or perhaps you’re facing a serious illness or going through a nasty divorce.

So, how do you move forward after a life-changing loss? How do you pick up the scattered pieces of your soul and begin living again? Here are five ways to find the strength to go on and make the most out of your life:

Take the Journey

As I’m discovering, there are no short cuts to the grieving process. Don’t fight the emotions. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced to go along for this painful and bumpy ride. I surrendered myself to all the feelings of loss, guilt, sadness, and depression. Accept all the ups and downs. Honor the journey.

Lean on Loved Ones

Although it’s tempting, now is not the time to isolate yourself. Ask and accept help from your loved ones. For example, losing my Mom has made me draw closer to my siblings who are traveling this painful journey by my side. This was my mother’s ultimate wish and she would be pleased that we have come to appreciate each other on a whole new level. If you’re a spiritual person, this is the time to strengthen your relationship with God so he can give you the power to carry on and find inner peace again.

Express Your Feelings

Don’t bottle up your feelings and try to appear strong for everyone. I am an introvert and a fairly private person, but I realize that now is the time to openly discuss my feelings with others. Pouring your heart out in a journal can also be beneficial. Sharing your thoughts with others can help you decide what to do next and figure out how to move forward with your life.

StuckLet It Go

Once you’ve gone through the first three steps, be careful not to get stuck in all the “I should have…” or “I wish…” that often comes with the territory but can interfere with your recovery. Grieving is inevitable, but don’t allow sorrow to become a way of life. The goal is not to wallow forever in negative feelings but to move on, be there for the people who need you, and enjoy life once again.

Take Positive Action

When something bad happens to you, it can actually be a potent and powerful influence in your life. It can clarify your priorities and define your path. Adversity can be a catalyst for making changes. As yourself what kind of action will make you feel happy and fulfilled. Then take one small step each day to move toward that goal. Focusing on the needs of others is also an effective and positive way to move forward.

Moving ForwardEveryone experiences hard knocks in life. No one is immune. But you do have a choice. You can give up. Or you can regain your footing, take a deep breath, and move forward.

You can make a conscious decision to make the most of your life no matter what obstacles or painful experiences come your way. If you make that second choice, you will develop strength and endurance. You will become wiser and teach others by example how they can overcome adversity. You will grow as a person in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

If I can leave you with one positive thought it is that you can survive anything. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it deep in my soul.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net