Month: October 2021

Dating & Chronic Illness: How to Navigate Questions


Dating can be a nerve-wracking, exciting, love-fuelled adventure in itself. Add in chronic health challenges, disability or past trauma and an adventure can become a pressure-cooker.

Today, we are going to address a common concern for many people dating while living with illness et al, sharing your story…

How often do you have conversations that start like this?

“Hi, I’m Jo and I have osteoarthritis.”

And I aaaalways want to reply:

“Hello Jo, how do you do? I’m Grace and I am not your rheumatologist.

Am I being a meanie? Maybe. I’m guilty too as I’ve totally done this myself.

But you don’t have to introduce your illness when you first meet someone new.

I know it’s important to you, but, speaking for myself, when we first meet, I’m not most interested about the finer details of your illnesses…What I am interested in is you.

Your illness is a big deal – but you are a bigger deal.

Sometimes we are so conscious of our impairments that we feel the need to explain them to anyone (and everyone) just to avoid their wondering stares and all those heinously embarrassing questions. I get it, it’s trying to make the other person more comfortable, but too often it elevates your health condition to a status it doesn’t deserve.

Your health challenges may be a part of you, but they aren’t the whole of you.

In a dating situation when do you share about your illnesses, if they are invisible disabilities? Or when do you invite questions or share information if they are visible? On a dating profile? By email/text before you meet? After the first date? When it becomes a pragmatic need to share re. meds/accessibility?

It is a tough call.

My belief? They are dating to get to know you, not your conditions. As long as they know enough to not invite you to tap dancing if you can’t move your legs – that will do for a first date.

If you are anything like me, your medical situation is too complex to be summed up in a single, easy to understand explanation. So telling all on a first meeting would actually take up most of the first meeting!

The third wheel

When you are chronically ill/disabled/dealing with grief or another life crisis then your pain can always feel like the third wheel at any dinner table.

Potential new friends (or partners) don’t know how to manage – do they ignore it? Talk around it? Ask bluntly? Try to comfort you?

I know it can seem obvious to us that pity should be off the agenda and pragmatism needs to be the order of the day but for those outside our struggle, it can feel like a minefield.

So what can people say? How do you help your potential partner to relax on your date?

  1. Encourage them to talk about whatever they would if you weren’t ill – we are having conversations with people, not impairments.
  2. Try to ask “how are things going?” instead of “how are you?”. Hopefully, they will return the question to you and then you get to answer a question directed at your life-and-times overall rather than one specifically related to health.
  3. Make your needs clear, be matter of fact and others will likely take their cues from you and downplay everything along with you. If you need to use the bathroom, change your catheter or take a pain pill, just say ‘excuse me’, explain as much as you like and do it. Chances are they will just be ok with the situation because you are.
  4. Be clear with your cues. If you don’t want to speak about a certain topic – change it. There are lots of recognised social cues we can use here…

“It’s a long story”

“There’s nothing more boring than talking illness, death or money at dinner! Let’s lighten the subject”

“That’s a conversation for another time”

“I don’t feel like going into that right now, but I would like to ask…”

“That’s something I’m working on”

“I don’t want to go into details tonight, but I’d love to hear more about..”

“Why do you ask?”

Shifting Focus

Some people however just don’t take the hint – a woman in my yoga class recently came up to me to ask,

“Are you in pain all the time?”

Yes, thanks for bringing that up, thinking about that improves my yoga experience no end.

Of course, I actually said, “Yes, but we focus on what I can do not what I can’t.” Unfortunately, this woman was not going to join me in focussing on my abilities and kept her conversation firmly on how ‘sad’ my situation is. She dripped so much sympathy over me I nearly drowned, and she wasn’t taking my back-off hints.

I simply excused myself to meditate in preparation for yoga. I removed myself from the situation.

In dating or friendship if this occurs – you could call them on it – explain what the problem is, and what you need. Or you could choose not to spend time with someone with a very limited view of illness. And that’s what it is, because you are not a bad person, nor broken, you are a trailblazer.

And that’s what it is, because you are not a bad person, nor broken, you are a trailblazer.

(Check out my Dear Grace Q & A: How Do I Explain That My Chronic Illness and Life Isn’t A Tragedy here.)

Protecting your story

When you are ill you can get used to giving all sorts of people all sorts of information. You may find yourself telling some man you just met about your bowel movements or pain during penetrative sex etc. Yes, he’s your doctor, but still, he is also some fellow you just met and it is weird.

Sometimes our admirable openness about living and thriving with illness and disability, our stigma bashing sass can mean that we are a bit too open, in ways which do not serve us.

Check in, what reaction or result are you hoping for? Cathartic release? Pride in our survivorship, for simple information or to (unconsciously) play on sympathies? Step back and consider.

It’s ok to be open and you needn’t be ashamed but that doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone.

You can be careful with your story and with whom you share it. Not everyone is in the positive space we would wish them to be in to receive it.

Some may stereotype you in the mean ‘little cripple’ box in their head forever after.

Some might see it as titillation, (horribly).

Some can see it as just as a good story or a real life wide screen, high-resolution tragedy story, in colour (and you can see the tears).

You deserve better than this

People will ask and you can choose to say no; you can choose to tell them later when you know them better.

The story of how you almost died is now part of your past and even though it informs and influences you, you do not want people to view you only in that context.

In the same vein, you do not choose to tell the story of your birth or the primary school teacher who encouraged you to draw or the roller coaster that gave you your fear of heights with every new friend/potential partner/hockey coach, you may at some point choose not to share your illness story either. And that is ok.

Telling is ok, keeping it private is ok, as long as it is a considered decision that you are choosing to make.

Remember you are empowered and loved, ok?

What’s your experience of dating with illness? What are your struggles/triumphs? Let me know in the comments.

P.S You may also want to check out chronic illness? 3 simple ways to strengthen your relationship part 1 and part 2 and date night idea for when energy is low.


Grace Quantock is an award-winning international wellness expert, coach, author, motivational speaker, certified Reiki master and spiritual response therapy practitioner. She is the founder of Healing Boxes CIC and The Phoenix Fire Academy. Currently living – and thriving – with often debilitating illness, she is the real deal and knows, firsthand, the emotional and physical roller coaster that accompanies diagnosis and life struggle. Currently, a resident of Wales, Grace loves reading, gardening and early mornings. She firmly believes that life is meant to be celebrated, and has made it her mission to help others do just that …joyfully and on their own terms. You can follow Grace on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Snapwire.

How to Deal With Stress: An Unexpected Approach


When we ask how to reduce stress, we might be asking the wrong question. Here’s the question we need to be asking instead.

We sat really close together on the bed so that he could see both of our faces in the Zoom window.

From the other side of the screen, our therapist described a fantasy scenario that he imagined would help me deal with my stress were it to come to pass.

He asked me how imagining that scenario made me feel.

My response surprised all three of us (the therapist, my husband, and me):

“It makes me feel worried that I would feel dead inside.”

In that moment it dawned on me that the very thing I’d been craving (infinite open space without pressure to do anything in particular) terrified me.

I’d become addicted to a consistent level of stress and needing to “perform” as a stimulant.

Imagining life without the stress/pressure stimulant felt like an energetic flatline.

In a culture so focused on collecting achievements and always working on making things bigger and better, I know I’m not the only one who’s found themselves caught in the double bind.

That’s why, when we ask ourselves how to deal with stress (and even how to reduce stress), we’re missing the mark if we don’t first explore our relationship with stress. I can practice stress-reduction techniques until the cows come home, but if there’s an unconscious part of me that’s unwilling to let go of the stress stimulant because it’s how I feel alive, the techniques won’t make much of a dent.

I’ll keep inventing pressure so that I don’t have to feel the things that are underneath the stress to begin with (like the aching loneliness of being a human amongst 7.9 billion other people, none of whom actually know for sure what we’re doing here on Earth).

What I’ve been doing instead of trying to reduce stress is fill my life with things that make me feel alive.

It’s an additive rather than subtractive technique. Makes me less anxious.

In the Do Less Planner there’s a place for a Bliss List, which is essentially things that make you feel good and make you feel alive in a positive way.

Here are some of the things on mine:

  • Putting my bare feet on the grass
  • Looking up at trees and allowing wonder to fill my whole body
  • Connecting with friends who love me for all of my bigness and my smallness
  • Being near the ocean
  • Kissing my 3-year-old’s chubby cheeks
  • Watching funny shows (Ted Lasso and Trying have been recent favorites)
  • Orgasms
  • Watching running water (remarkably transcendent once you really get into it)
  • Candlelight
  • Dark Chocolate
  • The way the pavement smells after it rains
  • Dancing

I’m finding that the more I fill my life with things that make me feel alive in beautiful ways, the less I need to depend on stress to make me feel alive.

My rate of manufacturing pressure where it didn’t need to be there in the first place has reduced.

Though the circumstances of my life haven’t changed dramatically, the stress feels way easier to deal with.

If you suspect you might also be addicted to stress, even a little, try writing out a Bliss List and adding one-two things each day that make you feel alive in a nourishing way.

You’ll likely find that the fires of your life don’t need to be stoked by stress as much anymore and that you start to find space and ease where before it was nowhere to be found.

Now, I want to hear from you:

Do you think you might also be using stress as a stimulant? What’s on your Bliss List? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and mother who supports ambitious, motivated and successful women to light up the world without burning themselves out in the process. Committed to empowering women entrepreneurs to create their most successful businesses while navigating motherhood, Kate is the founder and CEO of Origin Collective, a monthly membership site where women all over the world gather to achieve more while doing less. Her first book, Money: A Love Story, has been published in 5 languages. Kate’s work has been featured by The Today Show, Yahoo! Finance, Women’s Health, Glamour, and The Huffington Post, and she’s spoken to audiences of thousands with Hay House, Wanderlust, USANA Health Sciences, and more. Kate lives with her husband and business partner, Mike, and their daughter Penelope in Maine. Find out more and receive your free copy of the 5 Simple and effective ways to get the results you want in your business at katenorthrup.com.

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.

Compassion is Our Nature

Compassion is Our Nature

From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, compassion is natural. It derives from our interconnection, which Buddhism calls “interdependence.” This can be readily seen in the physical world. In the womb, every child is interdependent with its mother’s body. If either of them is sick, the other is affected. In the same way we are interdependent with the body of the earth. The minerals of the soil make up our wheat and our bones, the storm clouds become our drinks and our blood, the oxygen from the trees and forests is the air we breathe. The more consciously we realize this shared destiny, the more compassion arises for the earth itself.

The human community is equally interconnected. Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu puts it simply: “In Africa when you ask someone ‘How are you?’ the reply you get is in the plural even when you are speaking to one person. A man would say, ‘We are well’ or ‘We are not well.’ He himself may be quite well, but his grandmother is not well and so he is not well either. . . . The solitary, isolated human being is really a contradiction in terms.”

Fortunately, we are becoming more and more aware of our global interconnection. Every meal we eat is intertwined with the sweat of farm workers and long-haul truckers. It depends on the global climate and the earthworms in our soil, centuries of experiments in crop rotation, and scientific breakthroughs in seed selection. Its roots extend from the earliest agriculture in Mesopotamia and China.

In Buddhist psychology, compassion is not a struggle or a sacrifice. Within our body, compassion is natural and intuitive. We don’t think, “Oh, my poor toe or finger is hurt, maybe I should help it.” As soon as it is injured, we instantly respond because it is a part of us. Through meditation we gradually open the boundaries of consciousness to compassion for all beings, as if they were part of our family. We learn that even when our compassion is lost through fear and trauma, it can be reawakened. We all have moments when the openness and beauty of our Buddha nature shines. Caring floods through us like an inner angel of mercy, like green shoots forcing their way through cracks in the sidewalk.

This excerpt is taken from the book, “The Wise Heart

The post Compassion is Our Nature appeared first on Jack Kornfield.

The Healthy Relationship Hat Trick


Too often, relationship success is defined solely by longevity. It’s easy to think that couples who have stayed together are happier and healthier than the ones that break apart. We accept their social media version of their relationship — seen through the filter of loving selfies, vacation photos, and anniversary posts — and think we know the whole story. We never really do.

I am not a relationship expert, but I am a former therapist and have had enough unhealthy relationships to have learned a thing or two about what doesn’t work. I don’t recommend this particular learning strategy, but it has helped me identify the hat trick of healthy relationships. Each of the factors I’ll share are found in healthy relationships — and are noticeably absent in unhealthy ones.

On their own, each of these will enhance a partnership. Yet, none of them can singlehandedly make a relationship thrive. For optimal relationship health, we need all three factors to be present.

Effort

Effort isn’t the new sexy; it’s always been hot. It’s also absolutely essential to the health of a relationship. That may seem obvious, but too many relationships begin with low effort at the outset — a guaranteed red flag of trouble to come. If someone isn’t making an effort at the start, they’re unlikely to increase their effort as time goes on.

Effort needs to be equal for it to be healthy. Both partners need to invest their time and energy into the relationship. This creates the best possible scenario for the relationship to flourish as each person gets to know the other and genuinely stays present and engaged in their interactions.

A word of warning here: too much effort at the start could be a sign of love bombing. This manipulative behavior happens when someone goes all out to secure our affections only to withdraw, withhold, or leave once they’ve obtained them. This can appear in narcissistic relationships, but it also happens when a codependent partner goes overboard to gain assurance of the relationship, only to drop the effort later. Effort should be consistent to be healthy, and someone who abruptly stops making an effort could have been engaged in love bombing.

Effort is also evidence of our own individual health in relationships. Tolerating low effort can be a sign of low self-worth. Refusing to put effort into a relationship can be evidence of emotional unavailability. Equal effort in a relationship isn’t too much to ask. In fact, it should be the bare minimum.

Reciprocity

Healthy relationships naturally have reciprocity. Respect, admiration, affection, love, attraction — they all go both ways. They are simultaneously given and received. Unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, may have some shared feelings but lack respect, affection, or even love.

This also seems laughably simple. Like effort, reciprocity takes two. It allows us to share our feelings and know that they are returned. Without these feelings being returned, we are unlikely to find our relationships satisfying, healthy, or nurturing. Instead, we can feel excruciatingly lonely even though we aren’t alone.

Reciprocity shows up in how we communicate about one another and to one another, how we handle conflict, and the way we express affection. If mutual respect isn’t a given in each of these interactions, it’s likely that there will be a multitude of problems that could result in an end to the relationship. Relationships without reciprocity can never be healthy.

Vulnerability

Real, deep, and connected relationships require vulnerability. They require us to be able to show up as our truest selves — and know that we’re safe enough within the relationship to do it. Healthy relationships need vulnerability to survive the ups and downs of life and sharing that life with another person.

Vulnerability takes enormous courage. It’s incredibly difficult to open up about who we are and how we feel to other people. It’s even more challenging when we have to deal with conflict within a relationship and need to share how someone else’s actions impacted us. Owning up to our triggers, apologizing for our missteps, and taking responsibility for our actions all demand a certain level of vulnerability.

Relationships with effort, reciprocity, and vulnerability are often strong and healthy. This doesn’t mean they’ll last a lifetime. Sometimes, our feelings or needs change. Effort can be present without reciprocity, and no amount of effort from one person can save a relationship. Each of these qualities can make a relationship stronger and more connected, but without all three of them, it’s doubtful that the relationship will be healthy — even if it survives, collecting anniversaries along the way.

I’ve spent too much time in unhealthy relationships where these factors were missing. Before I did the hard work of processing past trauma in therapy, I accepted low effort. It was unsatisfying and painful, but I didn’t realize yet that I deserved better. It wasn’t until I dealt with my own pain that I started demanding effort as a bare minimum in relationships.

I’ve also had too many relationships that lacked reciprocity. In some instances, respect was missing. One former partner had no respect for my work and was condescending about my opinions and interests. Another had full respect for who I am as a person but didn’t return my love or affection. Reciprocity isn’t an optional part of relationships; it’s entirely necessary.

Vulnerability has been the biggest challenge for me personally. I’ve rarely felt safe enough to be completely vulnerable with partners. I always kept myself just a little protected. Even when I was finally able to open up completely, I felt seen, but I didn’t necessarily feel safe when the same person began cataloguing my flaws rather than accepting them. I knew I was being judged, and it made me just a little more self-protective than I would have been otherwise.

I’ll have to continue working on vulnerability, but I’ll be looking for it in romantic relationships, too. I’ve dated the emotionally unavailable partner. I’m not interested in putting myself through that again. My life has enough challenges without having to constantly scale the walls a partner has built to achieve any level of connection and intimacy. It’s exhausting, and they may not ever fully open up. We deserve a love that accepts our vulnerability and offers their own.

Relationships aren’t easy. There will always be differences we have to manage and conflict we need to resolve. Sharing our lives with another human being with their own background, challenges, and interests will always take communication, compromise, and commitment. Adding these base level requirements may seem like it would make dating harder, but the reality is that it just makes it healthier.

In truth, it may take longer to find a partner. We won’t be interested in the low effort or emotionally unavailable partners we used to attract and entertain. When we choose to partner someone and share our lives, we’ll know it’s because we’ve found the right connection, not just a convenient one.


Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elephant Journal, Elite Daily, and The Good Men Project. She’s also the author of Left on Main, the first book in the Heart of Madison series. When she’s not writing for Medium and working on her next book, you can find Crystal traveling, paddle boarding, running, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, doing yoga, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with her two wild and wonderful children.

Image courtesy of Mikhail Nilov.

Special Delivery

What does it take to deliver a message, precious cargo, or vaccines meant for exactly the right place in our bodies? This hour, TED speakers explore the often perilous journey of crucial deliveries. Guests include theater director Amir Nizar Zuabi, astrophysicist Erika Hamden, chemical engineer Kathryn Whitehead, and entrepreneur Keller Rinaudo.

It Is Better to Conquer Yourself than to Win a Thousand Battles

Better to Conquer Yourself

Pin

The title of this article is a quote from Buddha:
“It is better to conquer yourself, than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours.”

These words point to an important truth, conquering yourself is most important, more important than many other goals.

You can win many battles, which means that you can achieve many goals, but goals might lose their importance, or you might lose what you gained.

However, once you conquer yourself, the victory is yours. It concerns your innermost being.

How do you conquer yourself and why you need to do so?

What do you gain by winning over yourself? Let’s delve a little into this topic.

What Does Conquering Yourself Mean?

  • Conquering yourself means conquering your bad and negative habits and being in control of your thinking, desires and reactions.
  • It means rising above your ego and becoming more considerate, helpful and kind.
  • It means self-control and self-mastery.
  • Conquering yourself means becoming a more conscious being.
  • It means rising above one’s base instincts and rash reactions.
  • It means the will and discipline to make wise decisions and follow them through, despite, laziness and inner resistance.

The main keys that give you this ability are your willpower and your self-discipline.

Don’t stop reading at this point! Willpower and self-discipline are not as difficult to develop as you might be thinking, and the rewards are really great.

The rewards of conquering yourself are more inner calm and poise, using your reason and common sense before acting, being in control of yourself and your reactions, and acting more wisely.

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”
– Buddha

How to Conquer Yourself

You do not need to fight yourself, limit yourself, or act harshly toward yourself. These are not the right means to conquer yourself.

You need to foster more love toward yourself, and the desire to improve yourself, be a better person, become stronger and more efficient, and think before acting.

To do so, you need inner strength, and to get inner strength, you need a certain degree of willpower and self-discipline.

How to you go on increasing your inner strength?

You do so by practicing exercises geared at increasing your willpower and self-discipline.

This is a topic which I have covered in several of my articles on this topic, as well in my book titled, Build Up Willpower and Self Discipline, where you can find complete tutorial, guidance and exercises for strengthening your willpower, self-discipline, inner strength.

“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.”
– Buddha

Here are a few tips on how to get inner strength:

  1. Think before you act.
  2. When you wish to eat junk food, ask yourself whether it’s a wise thing to do, and whether your body needs it.
  3. Before retaliating when you feel hurt, wait for a few seconds and take a few deep breathes.
  4. When you have a task that needs to be done, but which you defer doing, tackle it immediately, no matter how inconvenient it is.
  5. When you get angry at someone, and whish to say some nasty words, curb yourself and don’t do that.
  6. Sometimes, decide to use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  7. When traveling buy bus, get one station before or after your destination and walk the rest of the way, despite your desire to get off at the closest station to your destination.
  8. Here is something which most people might find difficult to do. Once or twice a day, avoid looking at your text messages and social media accounts for at least 15 minutes. Can you do that?
  9. Do you feel lazy sometimes? At these times, persuade yourself to get up and exercise, take a walk, or do something useful.
  10. In simple words, do not accept laziness, procrastination and outing off things. Acting in this way would add considerably to your inner strength and help you become more disciplined.

Self-Mastery and Self-Control Are Important

I would like to repeat Buddha’s quote:
“It is better to conquer yourself, than to win a thousand battles. Then, the victory is yours.”

The quote says that having self-control and self-mastery are worth more that other achievements.

Self-mastery and self-control are the keys to success in any area of life, in business, studying and even relationships. They are alsp essential for self-improvement, meditation and mindfulness.

Without these skills, you would be a drifter, affected by every whim, by people, and by circumstances.

To conquer yourself means to be more conscious, more aware, and more alive. It means rising above the ego.

Mastering yourself would take you a long way toward mastering your life.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
– Buddha

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
– Buddha

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”
– Buddha

“The wise are disciplined in body, speech, and mind. They are well controlled indeed.”
– Buddha

More inspiring Buddha quotes.

Willpower and Self DisciplinePin

Build Up Your Willpower and Self Discipline

Discover how to increase your willpower, discipline, determination and tenacity.Get the eBook

4 Steps to Start Your Own Web Shop

Your Own Web Shop

Pin

Starting your own business could be the perfect hobby for you because it often combines work and some of your favorite activities.

If you are sitting with a million-dollar idea, or maybe just want to offer your skills or sell some of your handmade products, then an online webshop could be the perfect alternative.

Creating your own business is not that difficult, but making it successful and updated is. It requires a lot of work and you must be prepared to dedicate large parts of your life to this.

However, if you find this interesting, you have something you think will sell and want to have a go at being your own boss, you can follow these 4 steps to create your own webshop.

1. Make Your Product

First of all, you need to come up with an idea and create your product. This can be almost anything, but make sure you are filling a hole in the market and that you are creating value for the customer.

There are already billions of products and services out there, and the chances of you being the only one offering a said product is slim. However, there are always ways to be better, and differentiating yourself from your competitors is difficult.

2. Find and Register Your Name

After deciding on a product or service and making it, the time has come to choose a name. This name is very important because it is part of your brand identity.

A name should be easy to recognize and remember, not too long, and also not similar to anything else.

Make sure that the name you are choosing does not mean anything strange or insulting in other languages as well.

Finding the perfect name is difficult and not everyone has the creativity to do so. In that case, you can visit the website businessnamegenerator.com, and choose between a lot of great names. Remember to register your name and purchase the domain.

Web Studio

Pin

3. Create a Website

After the name is picked out, you can move over to creating your website. This can be done through several websites where you will find templates. Or you can contact professionals and have them do it for you.

Remember to always include the essentials when creating a webshop, and focus on user-friendliness to make your site the best it can be.

4. Market Your Brand

Now it is time to market your brand and drag customers into your shop. You can do this by purchasing ads or promoting through your own social media.

It has proven that social media can very much move your business forward and have a positive effect on your sales.

Remember to create consistent and varied content that engages your followers. Here you can look to other, successful business owners to see how they do it.

These are the 4 first steps to start your own business.

Remember also to check on laws and regulations in your country when it comes to sales, accounting, and taxes. Good luck!

Manifest and AchievePin

Make Your Dreams Come True with the Law of Attraction

Discover how to manifest whatever you want, no matter what your current reality is.Get the eBook