You Can't Fix Everything

I’m much more at peace since I stopped trying to fix everyone’s life, including my own. It’s making it easier to take those unfixable moments in stride and to appreciate happiness and joy when they happen to come my way.

How to Cope with Side-Effects of Medications

Many of us who suffer from chronic pain and illness are on medications with side-effects that, in some cases, can be as difficult to cope with as our initial health problems.

Four Years Out: My Favorite “Turning Straw Into Gold" Pieces

My personal favorites cover a broad range of subjects and are spread evenly across the four years. I invite you to browse through the list and read (or re-read) those that spark your interest.

Adoption Diary Pt. 3: My Daughter in Her Own Words

Before I became a mother, I had thought of my life as having begun when I was adopted. But now my heart swelled with sadness. For the first time in my life I began to wonder who my biological mother was and how she could have ever let me go.

8 Pet Peeves about Doctors

I’ve had some excellent medical care, so I want don’t want to paint with too broad a brush. But the following have happened to me and others multiple times, so I think it’s fair to call them Pet Peeves.

How to Talk to Yourself

When the going gets rough, I often speak to myself silently or softly in a soothing and compassionate voice. If I feel let down by a friend, I might repeat silently, “I feel hurt by her behavior but I mustn’t blame myself.” When I don’t deny that I feel bad, and even acknowledge it in a self-compassionate way, I’m better able to cope with disappointment and sorrow.

Caught Off-Guard by Breast Cancer: First Impressions

Except for what I’ve been told by people who’ve written to me about their experiences with cancer, this was a new medical arena for me. I’ve learned that it’s a world onto its own in many ways. Nothing was familiar to me. It’s been a disorienting experience.

Mental Contrasting: A Smart Alternative to Positive Thinking

Positive thinking fools our minds into perceiving that we’ve already attained our goal, slackening our readiness to pursue it.

A Before and After Snapshot of Chronic Illness, Part 2

In 2013, I wrote a “before” and “after” snapshot of life with chronic pain and illness. Since posting that piece, I’ve added sufficiently to the list that I thought I’d add Part 2 to “life before” and “life after”...

Christmas Traditions You May (or May Not) Wish to Celebrate

If you’re feeling ho hum about the same old Christmas traditions—Santa looking bored at the Mall, most of the lights from last year not working when you set up the tree—check out these Christmas celebrations. You may find yourself appreciating Old Saint Nick and that half-decorated tree more than ever…

Surviving the Holidays when You’re Chronically Ill

For the chronically ill—which includes those who suffer from chronic pain—the holidays can feel like a no-win situation. If we participate at all, there's likely to be payback later. On the other hand, if we don’t participate, we'll feel isolated and risk other people not understanding why we haven't joined in the festivities.

What to Do When Gratitude Is in Short Supply

if you’re in a thankless mood and gratitude is hard for you to find at the moment, look around and see if you can find just a thing or two that might help you feel good about the life you have. In other words, think small.

I’m Sick But What Is Wrong with Me?

I’m halfway though my fourteenth year of being sick. Recently I’ve found myself saying: “Enough is enough. What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel as if I have the flu all the time?”

Let Autumn Lift Your Spirits

I’m worn out by the end of summer. The oppressive heat of California’s Central Valley takes its toll on plant and animal alike, including humans. That first crisp fall morning when I need to put on a sweater before going outside is one of my favorite moments of the year. It feels like a new beginning.

How Distorted Thinking Increases Stress and Anxiety

"Personalization" is a major trigger for self-blame. It occurs when you erroneously see yourself as the cause of some external negative event, even though you weren’t responsible for it. An example is when you feel responsible for whether people have a good time when you’re with them.

Anything Can Happen at Any Time

“Anything can happen at any time” is a comment made by one of my favorite Buddhist teachers—Joseph Goldstein. A few weeks ago, Joseph’s words were driven home to me. It was early on a Sunday morning and my new puppy Scout had just turned five months old...

20 Quotations on Generosity—a Profound Act of Kindness

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” —Simone Weil

Puppy Pitfalls: Are Pets and Chronic Illness a Good Match?

In early June, my husband and I brought 12 week-old puppy into our house to join us and our 9 1/2 year-old hound dog, Rusty. I’ll be honest. Given the effect it’s had on my health, I’ve questioned at times whether we made a wise decision.

When Chronic Illness Makes You World Weary: A Guest Post

In August of 2009, Theresa Johnson was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Sjögren's Syndrome, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. After reading one of her recent blog posts, I asked her if she’d turn it into a guest piece for us. I’m grateful that she agreed to it. I hope you find this as validating of your experience and as inspiring as I do.

Top 10 Song Titles that Capture Chronic Pain and Illness

Thank you David Letterman for coming up with the Top Ten List. To bad "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

What It’s Like to Take a Vacation While Chronically Ill

Am I sorry I went? No. I freely agreed to go. I’m writing this piece to share what it can be like for a sick person to travel. Thankfully, it’s not this difficult for everyone who is chronically ill (which includes those who are in chronic pain). Nevertheless, I thought my experience might be helpful to others, both to those who are chronically ill and to their loved ones.

Surprisingly Modern Wisdom From Ancient Greeks and Romans

These ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and statesmen used few words to express pearls of wisdom that stand up today as guidelines for living wisely and compassionately. There’s much food for thought here. Enjoy.

13 Tips From 13 Years Sick

When I began to write for Psychology Today over three years ago, one of the first articles I posted was called “10 Tips from 10 Years Sick.” It’s three years later and…I’m still sick. And so, 10 + 3 = 13, meaning it’s time for “13 Tips from 13 Years Sick.” Some have made an appearance in the earlier pieces, but that’s because some tips have a very long shelf life.

7 Myths About Mindfulness

I’ve been studying and practicing mindfulness from a Buddhist perspective for over 20 years. Its entry into mainstream culture is a positive development; studies even attest to its health benefits. But I also think there are several misconceptions floating around about it. This piece covers seven myths about mindfulness.

How to Help Your Caregiver

This piece covers several ways in which you can ease your caregiver’s burden. It focuses on caregivers who are partners but, unless the care-for-one is a child, these suggestions can be used to help other caregivers, such as your children, parents, or siblings.

3 Things the Chronically Ill Wish Their Loved Ones Knew

We appreciate so much all that our loved ones have done to educate themselves about our medical condition, to take care of us, and to support us. These are just three additional things that that we want them to know about us.

My Other Mother: Being Raised by “The Maid”

There’s a wall in our living room with pictures of my family. Once a day, I stop and silently address each of the them with love in my heart, using whatever words feel right at the moment. Then I close my eyes and bring Iola’s face to mind (I have no picture of her). I tell her how much I love her and thank her for being my mother.

Resolving Conflicts When a Partner Is Chronically Ill

It’s hard enough to sustain a good relationship when neither partner is facing a health challenge. Illness ranks high on the list of life’s stressful events, so it’s no surprise that it can have a negative impact on a close relationship.

Three Years In: The Top 12 “Turning Straw Into Gold” Pieces

I was pleased to discover that the top 12 pieces cover a broad range of subjects and are spread evenly across the three years. I invite you to browse through the list and read (or re-read) those that spark your interest.

How Chronic Pain and Illness Fan the Flames of Uncertainty

No one is immune from life’s uncertainty. But for the chronically ill—which includes those who suffer from chronic pain—it can feel as if the number of life factors subject to uncertainty has multiplied geometrically. Indeed, perhaps the hardest thing about being chronically ill is the uncertainty it brings to almost every aspect of life.

Pages