Crossroads & Winding Paths

crossroads

One of the reasons I journal is to help me make decisions. This is useful when I have a few choices to make and they all are possible and positive options. I feel like I was meant to do so many things in my life, and I often wonder what my life would be like if I stuck to one plan, one choice, one path. Maybe I would have done more in that area, like writing many more books or being a teacher, but I am often called in many directions.

When I look at the photo above, it reminds me that I have many paths that lead to my purpose as long as they don’t take me too far out of the way. And it’s hard to know which was is the correct or best one for me right now. The path toward the sun looks lovely, toward the mountain appears challenging, and the road to the left is certainly unknown. Then I have all these signs pointing in all directions, but not really giving me guidance.

JanineBike-0005When riding a motorcycle, it’s important to not only look directly ahead of where I’m riding, but also as far as I can see. In order to anticipate my actions, I must have all the information, and I need to give myself time to absorb any challenges or obstacles in the way. Even though the road looks like it’s heading straight, I don’t know what will be over the next hill.

JanineBike-0002
Photo by Elizabeth Fox Photography
But as long as I keep my eyes open, I can see what is coming toward me and be prepared.

This is like the crossroads and winding paths that my life is always on. I’m currently at a crossroads in my life, and no matter which path I choose, other people may not be happy with it. But if there is one lesson I have learned in life, I have to listen to my gut, my intuition that keeps my on my path. In addition, I have to know my path.

I have worked long and hard in my life through a great deal of self-inquiry and journaling to know what my purpose is on this earth.

I’d like to help you do the same.

Make a list of what you are passionate about, what you love to do. Don’t worry about whether you can get paid for it. This is something that when you do it, nothing else matters, and you feel a deep sense of joy in your mind, body, and spirit. These are activities that you feel lost without.

Now write down what you value, is important to you, and matters the most in your life. With at least five or more words describe what you love about yourself. What are your positive characteristics?

Let this sit and stop back to continue the roadmap to your purpose.

If you’d like a hands-on workshop for this, check out my website for local events.

 

Loving Yourself

img_6648

I placed this sticker in my journal, because I agreed with the concept, but am not always sure that I follow it. I also thought of the quote, “Love yourself as much as you love others.”

It’s hard to give self-care, but as soon as a good friend or family member is in trouble or needs support I drop everything and am right there. If they are down, I’ll be their biggest cheerleader, and show them how special and unique they are.

When it comes to myself, I have gotten much better, but I will still see all that I haven’t done when I have really accomplished so much. When that happens, looking back to my journal can give me perspective on what I have actually done and the good I have created around me. It also is a clear cut guide on what I have done for myself in terms of self-care.

This is what happened in my life last week:

Pig Roast fundraiser prep and clean up

Lost a wonderful young man to cancer and attended the wake

Prepared for Nick’s Run and Nick’s Ride to be Healed

Set up for writing classes, finalized middle grade novel

Taught journal workshop

Took my mom to appointments and went to a calligraphy class with my niece

Celebrated end of treatment for Bella!

Held a motorcycle fundraiser

The entire week was non-stop action in terms of all I had to get done and support I gave to others. It was a rollercoaster of happy and sad.

Here are some types of self-care that I practice:

Yoga

Weight training/Karate

Meditation

Journaling

Massage

Reading

Walk my dogs

Time with friends and family

Protect my space

Since the weekend before this last, I practiced yoga 4 times, and did other exercise twice, so not bad. I didn’t meditate once! I journaled every day and sometimes twice a day, and that is a huge calming practice for me. No massage. I have listened to an audiobook, but haven’t sat and read in quite a while.

I missed walking the dogs a couple days, because of rain and a lot of fundraising events and prep.

This past Saturday, my husband and I had an impromptu get together with two sets of our good friends. I could have kept doing work, since I’m so behind, but I needed the break. I think it made a huge difference the next day when we had a motorcycle fundraiser. The day was wonderful, and my frame of mind was positive. I also have made sure to spent moments with my son as he will be leaving for school soon.

Protecting my space is huge for me with self-care. I work hard to surround myself with positive people. When working with kids battling cancer, there are very sad situations, and I feel strongly about reaching out. When I do, I’m drained, I miss my son, and the sadness can overtake me. That is when I take the time to recharge by doing whatever self-care works for me in that moment. I have to take care of myself and love myself enough to show empathy and love to those who are suffering.

When I take care of myself and feel good about myself, then I attract positive people who will show me the same kind of love. What you think you deserve is usually what you get. We all deserve to be loved, but we have to believe it and act like it.

Self-care and surrounding myself with positive people and energy has made a huge difference, but it is a constant practice.

How do you show self love? What do you do for self-care, how often? If you don’t, what small step could you take? Track it in your journal and take note of what changes in your life.

 

Nick Heald

nickhealdname

Nick Heald

It was November 2010 and I was at a book signing at the Chronicle Book Fair in Queensbury. Part of my book sales are donated to the foundation so I always have brochures on hand. A woman from a used book store came over and asked if I was having a fundraiser for Nick Heald. I asked who he was and she explained that he was a senior from South Glens Falls who had cancer. I explained that Nick was my son and his Caring Bridge site was NickHealed. The connection sparked. She told me about the South Glens Falls Marathon Dance run by local kids at that high school. They raise money and donate the funds to local charities or people who really needed it. My interest was piqued.

The idea of this book wasn’t quite formulated at that point. When I was sure I wanted to write it, I asked Natalie Mahler, the Child Life Specialist at The Melodies Center for recommendations of teens fighting cancer who also were involved in giving back. I received an email from Nick’s mom, Amy Gurdo, that Nick had just finished his final round of chemo. Amy had picked up the foundation’s brochure and saw the Fight to be Healed slogan and my Nick’s name. Plus Nick’s dad Chad had heard about Nick’s Fight to be Healed on the radio and wondered what Nick’s mom was up to now. The connection flourished.

These are the first two paragraphs of Nick Heald’s chapter in my book, What Makes Them Amazing: Inspiring Stories of Young Adults Fighting Cancer. There were so many connections between the two Nicks and this strongly knit family who would go to great lengths to heal their Nick.

For seven years Nick Heald fought against an enemy that threatened to keep him from the life he wanted to live. I say threatened, because if there is one thing I learned about Nick was that he is the most resilient and determined person I have ever met.

resilient

Every time Nick relapsed my heart sank. I worried. I fretted. When was this young man going to get a break? I’m sure Nick worried too, but he didn’t let it stop him. He went to college. He graduated. He got a great job, and he lived his life with passion, understanding that tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed. He married the love of his life.

Maybe that was the key. Nick knew he had to live in the moment, and he wasn’t going to waste any time being bothered by what he couldn’t control. He threw himself into what he loved and was passionate about.

From what I have seen, he was most passionate about his wife, Courtney. Although it never is enough, they lived a lifetime together. Theirs is the ultimate love story, connecting in high school and living through what some older married couples wouldn’t have been able to handle. They lived in the moment, and my heart grew every time I saw them together, loving unconditionally, being who they are right at that moment.

In my book, Nick’s Mom said, “Be in the moment. If you’re not, you are going to miss something good.”

Nick and his family and friends did that. They lived each moment like it was the the most precious moment they would ever have. That is how we should all live. Right now.

Nick, you have changed the world for the better. You have left a legacy of resiliency, true love, and the power of family. Thank you for sharing your joy and passion for life. You helped me when I was missing my boy. You will be missed terribly. I will be there for your mom and your family as you were there for me.

janinenickheald
June, 2011 interviewing Nick Heald