Having the courage to stand your ground


Stand solid, stand alone if necessary.

When you have cancer, it brings out opinions in people. “You should listen to your doctor”, “I heard this herb cures cancer, you should take it”, “How can vitamin D prevent cancer, that’s ridiculous”, etc…

When you have cancer, or any other chronic condition, you will get suggestions from all directions from friends and family. This can be simply overwhelming, to the point where you just don’t know what to believe, and who to listen to.  But, do you know what?  Through all that confusion, it simply means that these people care enough about you to try to help.

Sometimes it could be a doctor’s recommendation that you don’t agree with, or feel the need to investigate her recommendation before you make a decision. In our western society, we are raised to listen to authority, especially our doctors.

I’ve come to realize since my diagnosis in 2010, that I can be an empowered patient.  It took me awhile to not only educate myself on what options are out there in the world that are not just surgery and drugs, but to muster up the courage to question, research, form my own opinions and ultimately act on them.

This courage is not easy. Sitting face-to-face with a well-respected oncologist and not taking her advice is difficult, especially when she looks at me disapprovingly for even daring to question her recommendation. I’m not one to cause conflict, but I am one who knows what I want.  I take an integrative approach to my health – using both western and so-called ‘alternative’ or complementary methods.  I don’t dismiss either, and I think all methods should be considered and the best way chosen for a particular condition.

Do you ever question when your doctor grabs a prescription form rather than discusses what could be the root of your ailment?  If you don’t, you should, especially if you have a chronic situation.  Our bodies have the capacity to self-heal, and sometimes we should not readily accept that it’s normal to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic digestion problems, etc. Most western doctors don’t have the time, or interest, to talk to you about holistic health care. I don’t blame them, but you can take control of your own research and decisions.

If you are someone who has that little voice in your head when you have a health condition and really don’t like to take drugs or have surgery, then please listen to that little voice and take the time to explore, see different doctors, and talk to lots of people about alternatives.  If you find something that you believe is right for you, have the courage to stand your ground despite what others think.

Standing your ground applies to anything in your life, not just what you choose for your own healthcare.  Honour yourself. Honour what you believe is right for you. Listen to what others say but still do what is right for yourself.

Stand your ground, respectfully.


I recently wrote this post: ‘Can you let go of someone’s bad decision?’.  It’s about letting go of someone else’s decisions, but in the context of the above post, turn it around 180 degrees… can you help others let go of your decisions?  Help others realize they need to respect your decisions and not judge?


Can you let go of someone’s bad decision?

Let Go and Allow

What can you do when someone you care about is making bad choices?  Great examples of ‘bad’ choices in your opinion may be:

  • When your friend has cancer, and she is relying entirely on chemotherapy and radiation as the cure, and continues to eat junk and processed foods.
  • When your sister is dating a total loser!
  • When your child is going to travel for a year after high school, instead of continuing their education.
  • When you see your friend’s self-destructive behavior is going to get himself fired.

And if you listen to the voice inside your head, you may be hearing:  “What aren’t they listening to me? Don’t they know that’s a bad decision?  I can’t let them do that!”

You may have guessed that what I’m about to say pertains to how you can change your own actions, rather than trying to change the other person.

My philosophy is generally this:

Provide your perspective and knowledge in a respectful & caring way, but after that, allow the other person to have their own journey.

Everyone learns from every experience they have.  If we love the person, we want what is best for them, but we also need to remember that our opinion is certainly not necessarily the same opinion as others, or right, for that matter.

After all is said and done, if we allow the other person to have their own journey, this is their journey to have, not ours.

To release ourselves from this attachment not only respects the other person to have their journey, but it also provides ourselves relief from the frustration of our own desires.

This is a way to cultivate more peace in our own life.





Honouring a departed friend

3 types of friendsI just heard that someone I used to work with was found suddenly passed away inside his home. He lived alone. He was someone who chose to live his life in a way that others found odd – somewhat of a recluse, he appeared to others as a little quirky and not interested in typical societal interactions.

I hadn’t seen Anthony for a number of years, and it has been 14 years since I used to sit beside him every day, and had created a friendship because I understood his unique, quirky ways.  When I left the company we were working with, he gave me a gift that showed he cared, a stunning crystal dragon, and said “I’m truly going to miss you.”

His death sparks many memories, and brings back the feelings of friendship and caring.  We hardly kept in touch after I left the company, but this is one of those cases where someone had touched my life in a meaningful way. I celebrate his uniqueness. I celebrate his courage to be different.

My blog is about ‘cultivating joy in a western society lifestyle’ and creating a meaningful life.  It’s the people that we enjoy and learn from that make us who we are today.  I will remember my dear friend, Anthony, as he departs from this life with love, laughter and light.





How to survive your first divorced Christmas

Surviving a divorce

How to make your first Christmas apart easier.

Divorce is not easy to begin with, and when Christmas comes roaring at you with full force, it can be overwhelming.  If you experienced a break-up of a significant relationship or a marriage this year and are facing how to deal with your first Christmas as a new single, here are some tips:

  1. Make new traditions.  If you had Christmas traditions as a couple or family, let them go. Take the opportunity to create new traditions. If you have children, involve them in designing new things they can do with you.  It can be as simple as baking or visiting Christmas light displays.
  2. Always attempt to work cooperatively with your ex. I know that most divorced couples do argue, but even if you do, it is best to take a cooperative approach.  Try to put aside any judgments you have, especially if children are involved.
  3. Do not wonder what your ex is doing. Your monkey mind will go crazy if you allow yourself to be curious what your ex is doing over the holidays and who your ex might be spending time with.  So ease your mind by making a decision not to spend time thinking about this.  Instead, spend time creating your own desired experience.
  4. If you’re lonely, throw a party!   If you’re not getting invited enough gatherings, why not arrange your own gathering?  It doesn’t have to be grand, and it could be an opportunity to cultivate new friendships.
  5. Be good to yourself.  Don’t let Christmas stress you out.  Simply just ‘be’.  Maybe treat yourself to something special, like a massage or doing something meaningful that re-energizes you. Who says Christmas can’t be spent in a bubble bath or reading a book?
  6. Be mindful.  Mindfulness includes being aware of your thoughts and emotions, without judgment of yourself.  If you feel sad, lonely, angry, lost, happy, giddy or confused, it’s all OK.  Allow yourself to have these emotions – think of emotions as visitors – they come and go and are not permanent. Knowing their impermanence helps you cope.

Enjoy the holiday season.  Please make it your own. Create it!


Getting your parents to treat you differently


Finding a way that YOU can communicate differently can really change how the other person listens.

Do your parents drive you crazy? 

Do their interfere with your life? 

Do you wish they would just stop it and treat you differently?

Here is a tip that just might work for you.  It sure worked for me, and when I have passed this tip on to friends, it often works.

Let me paint a real life scenario for you as an example…

Scenario:  You have decided to divorce and you have broken the news to your parents.  They are shocked and embarrassed – after all, what about saving face with their friends and relatives?   They begin by trying to save your marriage, lecturing you and your spouse to convey their wisdom of why society has created selfish people and we just need to learn to accept each other more. Their worried tone overlays every interaction they have with you. They lay a guilt trip on you about how it will affect your kids for the rest of their lives.

Your reaction?  – Frustration!

For a moment, put yourself into their shoes:  They are likely thinking “oh, how can I fix the situation?  How do I stop my child from making this big mistake?   I want my child to be happy, so I have to do something!”

Now for the tip. Here’s what you can do:  Communicate differently and clearly to your parents, being very specific about how you want them to support you.  It is my true belief, especially now that I am a parent myself, that parents do indeed want the best for their children, and they do their best to help them in the best way they know how. What is often not well communicated, is how the child wants to be supported. So it is up to the child (you) to find a way to communicate differently and noticeably – have a conversation that will get noticed.

1)  Setting the scene:

Go somewhere different to have a conversation – maybe to the park, a coffee shop, etc, so the atmosphere feels different.  Taking someone outside of their day-to-day surroundings will make them pay more attention. 

2) Here’s how this conversation may look:  

Speak in a respectful, calm, non-judgmental tone.

You:  “Mom and Dad, I know you love me and want to help me.  My getting back together with my husband is not going happen.  If you really want to help me, here’s how you can help.”

  • “Support me in my decision. Supporting me means to stop trying to get us back together.”
  • “Support me by helping to babysit my kids once in awhile and helping me settle into a new place.”

The bottom line is, that your parents truly are doing their best to help, but if they are not told, they are going to assume their own version of what ‘helping you’ means.

This is about good relationship communication, regardless of what scenario we are talking about – your parents, your friends, your spouse, your sisters, your own kids, etc.  Is it so common that we get into ruts about how we interact and communicate with the people in our lives, and sometimes do not realize how something as basic as clearly expressing expectations and needs actually works. Good communication needs responsibility from both sides.

I hope this is helpful to you, if not now, then at some point in your life.