Monthly Archives: March 2015

Are you a person or a patient?

If you’ve been spending time with doctors or health professionals – or even just reading a lot – you may start identifying yourself as a patient. Don’t do it. While it’s a convenient word for the health care profession to use (and I’m trusting it’s generally used with good intentions), it also brings some potentially subconscious dehumanizing baggage with it.

By it’s nature, a patient is of a lower “class” if you will than a doctor. And, there is a long history of a power differential in this relationship, and power hasn’t historically been with the “patient”. Doctors give orders. Patients follow them…

Damnit Jim!
Dammit Jim!

Also, identifying internally as a patient speaks to a concept of being broken – perhaps even helpless. And it may even carry the message of that’s all you are – sick. Again, I’m not saying anyone necessarily means this, I’m just saying this message (or something similar) may be tagging along for the ride in your head. Words have histories and associations. I can’t think of many positive associations with the label “patient”, can you?

So, be a patient while you’re visiting a doctor or in the hospital. But be more than that too. Be a person first, and be all of you. Be a person in search of help and who deserves honest answers. Be a person who is in charge of your own life and your own body. And remember your life is about WAY more than your illness(es) and treatment(s). Trying to get healthy and well is a means to an end – the end being living your life in concert with your priorities and values, and creating a future worth loving and living, yes?   ~Z

For the etiology of the word and it’s usage, check out


What if transition is all there is?

It’s obvious but worth remembering; We are always in a state of transition, moving from what has been to what will be – from what was to what is…

caught in the act of becoming…


This is more obvious when learning to deal with the radically different set of circumstances brought on by ongoing illness or medical condition(s). There can be several stages to pass through and as such, you’re almost always in some kind of transition (or in transition between transitions…).

An idea that’s useful to me around being “in between” is that by definition it contains parts of the old and the new. That can feel downright uncomfortable. Most of us are wanting to get to some place of stability and order and predictability. And that might indeed happen for you.

But even if it does, it won’t last forever – because at the very least you’ll continue to age and things around you will change. That’s just the nature of things. And then there’s another transition, and another after that. As someone said, “there ain’t no there there”. Except there is. The THERE is HERE. What if “in between” is the status quo?

So the opportunity may be to become familiar and even friendly with this mix of old and new. To begin to experience THAT as a type of predictability. To notice at any given time the “older” parts of your life that are still present (or you’re trying to hang on to), as you experience the “newer” things (or the things you may be resisting). There can be friction between the old and the new, but hey don’t have to be at odds with each other. Peaceful coexistence is possible. Frankly it’s necessary – unless you like suffering unnecessarily :-0.  ~Z

Balanced life… Really?

How life can feel sometimes...
How life can feel sometimes…

We hear a lot about the importance of leading a balanced life. That sounds good and it’s easy to say. I think it’s bunch of hooey. Okay, not completely… I just wanted to say “bunch of hooey” ;-).

My point is that the simple idea of balance is potentially flawed and has a perfectionist ring to it – and failure is perfection’s evil twin (usually followed closely by it’s shadow, shame…).

Imagine someone walking a tightrope. Heck, just try balancing on one foot right now! Notice the concentration necessary to stay in balance. Notice that while there are brief moments of calm and balance, most of the time is spent being off balance in one direction or the other and making adjustments.

So at any given time at any given moment, you are living your life out of balance. The opportunity to manage your self and your life more in line with your values and priorities is to notice how far out of “balance” you are right now. Ask yourself how long you’re going to stay out of balance in this particular direction (say you’re behind on sleep or exercise or connecting with important people). Ask yourself specifically what you’re going to do and when. Can you give yourself a break for being out of balance at any given moment, and look over a longer stretch of time and see where things lie?

Now, picture that tightrope lying on the ground and that in living your life, you’re crossing over from one side to the other and back again, being perfectly “balanced” for just a moment as you cross. Give yourself permission to be off balance, and set the intention to practice making adjustments so you don’t get too far away from your ideal. Consider that that’s the only way to grapple healthily with the idea of a balanced life. Aspire to make lots of little adjustments instead of great big ones. And try not to get stuck on one side for too long, or you might tip over…       ~Z

Be afraid, be very afraid…

ready and waiting...
ready and waiting…

Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway”    John Wayne

Funny quote from a man who often played characters who were unable to show or acknowledge their fear – but I like it anyway!

Fear is not a good or a bad emotion, it just is. The problem is that it’s a mostly primitive emotion that doesn’t discern well between actual threats to our survival, and minor hassles. Fear just doesn’t give a shit whether a threat is big or not. Even better, it doesn’t even care if there is any threat at all – it just kicks in and fires up all those biological and hormonal reactions. As long as your mind seems to think there is a threat (or many) in the imagined future, fear is ready to oblige – and it doesn’t usualy oblige by patting you on the back or filling you with confidence.

So if you’re afraid of the implications of your chronic health condition, be afraid. I was going to list the common fears, but you don’t need my help. You know what you’re afraid of – or you should anyway. Not knowing is even scarier!

Ignore these (and other) fears at your own peril. If they live in you, examine them. Have a chat with them maybe, and see if they have anything to say. But get as familiar with them as you can. The more you see and look at them, the more you can see the cracks in their logic. The more you suppress them, the more power you give them and the impact they have on your moods and decisions (and those impacts are not usually the healthiest, as you know).

I don’t believe in “conquering” fears in the sense of becoming fearless. I believe in fact, that we can only be courageous if we have  fear. There’s no courage without fear is there?

Be afraid. Be very afraid. And then do something important and hard for yourself anyway. Saddle up pardner!     ~Z

pick one...
pick one…

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.       Dale Carnegie