Leap of Faith

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“I Loved It All”

Photographer, Angelo Merendino created this touching series of photographs to document his wife Jennifer’s battle with cancer. You can read their story here:
http://mywifesfightwithbreastcancer.com/our-story/#.U-onmChG4WY
The details of Jennifer’s amazing positivity and strength during her battle is sure to pull at a few heart strings, but most importantly encourages learning and inspiration.

 

Coping Strategies 102: Practice Gratitude

I am lucky.

Sometimes this is easy to forget, but it’s true.

Making a list of things we are grateful for can help to put things into perspective and appreciate how fortunate we are. Today, I challenge you to name six things you are grateful for and post them on your blog, wall, twitter feed, write them in your journal, speak them out loud, or simply acknowledge them in your thoughts. This exercise will encourage positive feelings and make you more motivated to practice gratitude on a daily basis.

The six things I am most grateful for are:

  1. My Mom – for teaching me to be strong when things are most difficult and for loving me unconditionally
  2. My Family – for putting up with me  and supporting me
  3. My Friends – for sharing laughs and tears without judgement
  4. My Home – for having a place to feel safe and to grow
  5. My Education – for teaching me to be less ignorant and that there is always room for improvement
  6. My Travels – For inspiring my love of different cultures and letting me see the world in a new way

Think about why you are grateful for the things on your own list and let that be a driving force in your life.

Coping Strategy 101: The ‘Fake It Till You Make It’ Attitude

Sometimes when you are feeling down it can be easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of negative thoughts. Insecurities surface and feelings of hopelessness slip into our dreams threatening to overwhelm our logical self. It feels as though a giant wave is crashing over top of you, sucking all the air out of your body. You struggle to the surface as fresh air fills your lungs and the smaller waves push you towards the shore. There on the sand, you lay with your heart pounding so loud it echoes in your ears, until finally, after what seems like a lifetime, the warm sunrays break through the clouds, and you force yourself to your feet once again. The storm passes and the waves seem manageable again, at least, for now.

It can be difficult not to get caught up in that ‘downward spiral.’ The more you are sad, the more sad you feel, and the vicious cycle begins. Of course it’s natural to feel down, especially during times of loss. Sadness is a normal and often healthy part of grieving and beginning to heal, but that sadness can quickly become overwhelming if you let it. The deeper you fall into depression, the harder it is to pull yourself out of it. You have to rebel against it. This is where the ‘fake it till you make it’ ideology comes in. It works just the same as the ‘downward spiral’ but has the opposite effect. ‘Fake it till you make it’ encompasses forcing yourself to get out and do things you enjoy, to smile, to distract yourself from the sadness with exercise or a TV show, to respond with, “I’m good!” when someone asks you how you are doing. It subconsciously sets the tone for your interaction/ day/ week/ year/ life, until you realize, you aren’t faking it anymore, you are legitimately happy because you have made it through, by emphasizing the positive aspects of your life. I don’t mean you should completely ignore the bad feelings, I am only suggesting that you don’t indulge in them. Allow yourself to be sad but also, allow yourself to be happy.

A Pets Intuition

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Jazz sitting on the floor, Scraggle on the chair, and Cruz laying in front of them.

This past week a rescue cat saved her family home from a fire by alerting her owner to the smoke before it was able to spread. The silent, odorless fire started on the roof, and as owner Matt attempted to leave for work, Tilly, the cat, refused to let him leave, staring at the ceiling. Matt was prompted by Tilly to touch a down light, and smoke came billowing out. Without Tillys intuition and persistence, the family home would have quickly engulfed in flames. Read more here: http://mashable.com/2014/07/31/rescue-cat-saves-familys-home-from-massive-fire/ There have been numerous reports of cats and dogs sensing danger and coming to the aid of their human counter parts to save the day!

Still more surprising, there have been reports of cats who will kneed or jump on woman’s breasts repeatedly. Often, the women will go to the doctor only to find out that there is a small lump, signifying the presence of breast cancer. Dogs too have this sixth sense and can pick up on illnesses and ailments by a change in smell. In a 2011 study published in the journal Gut, Japanese researchers trained a dog to detect colorectal cancer with an accuracy rate of 98%. More information can be found here: http://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2011/01/17/gut.2010.218305.full

I have one dog and two cats. My older cat, Jazz, is very anti-social and she rarely came around my mom while she was sick. My dog, Cruz, seemed curious, but being a large breed, would only occasionally sniff or lie close to my mom, not paying too much extra attention. My younger cat, Scraggle, however, became very interested in my Mom and her condition. She would follow her everywhere and sleep on her stomach all the time. Rarely could you find my Mom at home without the cat. It was a pretty adorable sight.

Scraggle sleeping on Mum

Scraggle sleeping on Mum

 

An interesting thing, however, happened during the last few days of my Moms life. The cat would not be in the room and the dog refused to leave. About half and hour before my Mom passed, my dog went and stood beside her, he cocked his head to the side as though listening to her breathing. He stood there for several moments before returning to his spot on the ground. When my Mom passed, he came and sniffed her gently before laying his head in my lap. After some time, my Step Dad went to find our little cat. He placed her on my Moms body and she immediately jumped off and ran from the room. She no longer wanted anything to do with the body, seeming to know that the spirit had passed on. The interesting thing about this experience is that while the cat seemed more in tune than the dog, the dog exhibited more compassion. It seemed the cat knew days before my Mom passed, while the dog’s attention was drawn closer to the actual event. Both animals in their own unique way knew what would happen before we did.

Moral of the story; Trust your pets, they can sense things we can’t, they care for us in ways that we can’t even imagine, they are brave, and sometimes, they can save our lives. So give your furry friends a hug because they are pretty awesome!

Proof of Heaven

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“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.”
—ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879–1955)

The book “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” recites a chillingly clear recollection of a near death experience from the first person perspective of medical doctor, Eben Alexander. The author utilizes his medical knowledge and practical experience to communicate to readers his life after death experience. The novel is a short and enticing read for those who have had a brush with death, lost a loved one, or have simply wondered about the beyond. It has provided my mom, step-Dad, and other family members with a comfort that there is something beyond this life. It can be picked up at any Chapters, Coles, or Indigo book store, or ordered online here:  http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Proof-Of-Heaven/9781451695199-item.html?s_campaign=goo-BooksByTopSales&gclid=COWM8fistL8CFQQPaQodfCoAUw