Tag Archives: thrive

Spirituality Helps You Thrive when Disabled

When Disability grips you and there seems no hope, many find that Spirituality rescues them. What is Spirituality, anyway?

The spiritual world does not seem real to us. As we grow and developed we experience solid objects. They become the reality of our lives. We get hungry and thirsty. We get cold and hot.

Yet in the midst of a disabilities grip we experience more. We feel alone. We feel despair. We seek more.

In seeking more than the physical we enter the Spiritual or mystical realm. Yet this seems so unreal. Unlike the physical reality of hunger and thirst, the spiritual seems transient.

For some the Reality of the Spiritual enters their lives unbidden. Those who have had “near Death experiences” tell us that more than the physical exists.

I recently met such a person, Thomas Gates. A near death experience changed his life. In his story he tells what it was like and how returning to his body became unreal. You can learn more about it at his website.

How else might we experience the spiritual?

None of us wants to die. Yet in the depths of the Abyss of Disability we seek more than the physical.

Our society is at odds with the spiritual. The influencers of our Western Society encourage us to achieve personal profit and power. They provide entertainment to distract us. Entertainment struggles to express many things. Among them is the spiritual.

Religion attempts to institutionalize the spiritual for society. When it can provide a spiritual experience that resonates with the masses, religion grows in popularity.

When Religion fails to meet our personal needs we look elsewhere. Local religious leaders often fail to understand and express a theology of Disability that resonates with those of us who experience it in a personal way.

Many go from one community of faith to another. When we feel accepted and no longer alone, we stay. We have experienced a social bonding. Yet deep spirituality transcends social bonds.

All people can share their experiences of the spiritual. Leaders can try to create opportunities for us to experience the spiritual. Those communities create spaces for people to open themselves to the spiritual. For many, spirituality is not about the place but the mental space.

We receive some of the benefits of a Spiritual connection from Regular Spiritual practices. You can learn such practices from your local religious leader. IF this fails you can seek out your own spiritual advisor or teacher. If you feel comfortable with a particular tradition then look to that tradition.

Recently many have sought out other ways of accessing the Spiritual. One site where you can explore different types of meditation is The School of Light and Life.

Yet for many of us the Spiritual moments come unbidden and often unrecognized. This is when a spiritual advisor can help you. They can suggest alternatives and resources.

How did you discover the World of Spirituality?

How do you enter it?

As All Ways, Seek Joy

Does Disability give you a Zest for Life?

The thought that a Disability could give you a zest for life seems odd. For most of us the onset of Disability caused the zest we had for life to vanish. Yet, this is the opportunity to put real Zest back in our lives.

When Disability struck it took over our lives. What we thought we were able to do ceased. Weather Disability came in a physical or mental form it consumed us and became our identity.

Those around us no longer see us as more than our abilities. Rather they see us now as only the Disability, the Disability in a personal form.

Most people have no personal experience of human disability. They only have mental images of a disability and those images scare them.

When surveys ask what people worry about the most disabilities usually rank higher than traffic accidents. Yet traffic accidents are more common. The fear of disability is part of the fear of the unknown. Once it takes on a physical form, we become the living image of the disability.

Thus, we become our Disability in the eyes of others.

When others begin to see us as the Disability, they no longer see us for ourselves. Whatever we meant to them before we now become what they fear the most. No wonder so many friendships and marriages suffer with the onset of Disability.

This adds to the Disability spiral. First, others see us only as our Disability. Then we see the presence of Disability taking hold in our own lives and we begin to act disabled. The spiral continues as others see more of the disability than they see of us in our wholeness. It is possible, however, to use the interruption Disability creates in our lives to find the Zest for life!

Naturally we still want to do those things that used to put Zest in our lives. This desire provides us with the impetus to learn the new ways of doing things dictated by the presence of a Disability.

If a disability put you in a wheelchair you are aware that you can’t stand on the river bank any longer and fish. The good news is that there are wheelchair accessible peers where you can find modified boats. You can learn to transfer to a boat and fish with others. These are all processes that life with a Disability requires. These are skills most of us did not intentionally develop or develop as fully as crafting a life with a Disability now demands.

These are new skills we can use beyond coping with a disability.

When a person who is blind shows up to talk about plans for a park, he advocates that all will be able to participate. He forces planners to think of anyone who might come to the park. What would they want to do? How can they do it?

For those of us with a disability we now see that we are contributing beyond ourselves. We see that we are now able to contribute more than we did before.

Now our experience of disability has put Zest in our lives. Disability forced us to learn new things. We used those new skills to live beyond just being “Disabled.” We have reversed the Disability Spiral.

Our disabilities make us pause and look at life. Not only can we use the desire to renew our former activities to put Zest back into our lives, but it gives us the opportunity to try new things.

As we contemplate what to do next, we ask other questions. We ask the big questions of life. Now they have new relevance, as we have a new perspective.

In our adolescence we asked the big questions of life and found answers in terms of doing things. For many of us facing a Disability we found the answers in terms of acceptance.

Adolescents face life’s struggles as heroes. They dream of success and accomplishment. They are the center of their story. That led them to worry about how they will achieve those feats. They often found their lives consumed with stress. In order to achieve they had to do. They had to do more than they were able to do easily. They became overwhelmed by the “To Do’s.”

When Disability took our chance for success and achievement away, it also took our worry away. We can blame Disability for not succeeding an. release the stress. We now will achieve what we can achieve. This will have to be enough. The story will no longer be just about me, but my working with others.

We must accept limitation. Disability limits us. We realize that we had limits before Disability. In fact to be human is to be limited.

In accepting limitation we also accept the future as it will be, not as we want to make it. We can enjoy life. We can accept it as good.

We can find success in doing the little things. An artist friend of mine is learning to paint by holding a brush in her teeth. She is now quadriplegic. Getting the paint on the canvas to look the way she wants is success. That always is success for an artist.

IN What ways does Disability give you a Zest for Life?

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Disability Empowers Creative Contributions

The thought that a Disability might empower your creative contributions might seem like a paradox. Yet for most of us the things that we struggled with lead to our biggest contributions.

Disability can be Your Muse

Muses lead us to create. Disability leads many of us to ask questions others have yet to ponder. Because we ask them much earlier and often feel alone in our questioning, we are more inclined to share our answers.

When we look ahead to our elders we see their abilities waning for us. When a disability hits we find ourselves with lessened abilities and are inspired to act like our elders.

We are guided by them to try to adapt and compensate. These efforts lead us to develop new skills. Skills which we can share with others.

If you pause for a second you can name someone in the middle of any creative endeavor that struggled with a disability. When we read or hear someone’s story we often find that their disability served as their Muse. The passion of Vincent Van Goh emerged from his depression. He felt it so intensely that it came out in his art.

Many musicians struggle in some way and that leads to their passion. Think of Stevie Wonder and his music.

In fact, playing a musical instrument helps to overcome dyslexia. Part of the problem that leads to dyslexia is the unbalanced communication between the right and left sides of the brain. The discipline of coordinating the right and left sides of the body forces better communication between the right and Left sides of the brain.

The obvious struggle of reading and writing also helps. Many writers struggle with dyslexia. The effort to master the written word made them better able to express themselves. Steven King explores a deep and terrifying world. Agatha Christi wrote about the twists and turns of human passions that lead to murder.

Why is disability a Muse?

Disability makes us stop and look at ourselves more deeply. Sport coaches are rarely the top performers. Rather the coaches are the ones who have to figure out how to perform better, just to stay in the game. They also can support athletes and other coaches who are tempted to quit. The coach learned to turn a failure into a “Learning Experience.” The star athletes rarely taste failure or have to change their natural ways.

Failure and despair come to all of us. Those of us who face our disabilities experience more of this than most. To survive we must create new ways to cope and express our creativity.

Louis Braille took his need to communicate without sight and created a way for Napoleon‘s soldiers to communicate at night. The soldiers no longer needed to give away their location by shining a light to read their messages. Thus he contributed from his experience of disability to support others.

Disability also forces us to look at life differently. As we age our abilities change. A disability changes our abilities sooner and often more dramatically than our peers. This can lead us to refuse to accept our limitations.

With the need for wider doors, wheelchair users have opened spaces for all of us.

As disabled persons seek to remain part of the community they force other changes. Using Wheelchairs forced bus designers to find better ways to get on and off the busses. Now many busses are lower and need no steps. Parents can get strollers on and off. Kids no longer have to step so high. And shoppers can roll their carts on and off the bus with ease.

We write about our pain. There are many works including a book of the Bible called Lamentations and many Psalms that express the language of disability.

For many questions arise. Why did this happen to me? What is the meaning of suffering? And these questions were the source of the Old Testament book of Job.

At first our questions cause us to turn to others including our elders and then to reflect on the spiritual. Like Job, we argue with our peers and then with God. Some of us will reject God and others of us will find solace in God’s answers.

Many of us have found a loving God. The view of an angry and vengeful God made us feel guilty. We looked anew at the texts and found other ways to understand our relationship with God. The message of a Loving God now dominates mainstream Protestantism.

Unlike our elders, we expect to live many more years. We often use Disability as a springboard to thrive. Many motivational speakers point to an illness or other disabling event that lead them to their insights. The insights they now share with others.

Previously, I mentioned Brendon Burchard. He tells of an auto crash at age 19. He realized that he could have died without really living. In that moment he found the three truths that he now shares, to have fully loved, to have lived fully, and to have found meaning in life.

How has disability forced you to create and contribute?

As All Ways, Seek Joy

If you don’t like challenges, you’ll never thrive.

Life is full of challenges, but when a disability strikes there are even more. Then it can be challenging to like challenges.

If you don’t like challenges what are you to do?

You can crawl in your cave and hide, but cave dwelling went out of style a long time ago. I wonder why? Could it have been that caves are sort of cold, dark and damp?

Then maybe you could crawl out of the cave and enjoy the sun. There are so Many things you can enjoy when you take on the challenge of getting out of your cave.

This is how you start enjoying a challenge. Pick a simple challenge to start with, one that might even bring you some joy. Remember though, you need to realize that you took on a challenge and prevailed. Then remember how many days you couldn’t even do it?

Next you can set a bigger challenge like gathering some firewood while you’re out. That way you can warm your cave. Doing this will also light your cave and cook your food.

Next time you go out you might even see if you can get some food to cook on the fire.

After having the first hot meal in a while you can sit back and enjoy how it feels. You set some goals and now you are enjoying the benefits of taking them on.

Taking on too big a challenge can lead to failure and frustration. So set a simple challenge to begin. One that will reward you when it is done. It also needs to be measurable. So be sure to measure things like how long you are out of your cave, the amount of firewood harvested and the amount of food collected. I doubt that you will get fat and sluggish anytime soon.

While you are out of your cave you might also see other people and invite them to join you. That could be fun and might get you invited back to their caves.

But don’t focus on the fact that some days it might be cold and rainy when you leave your cave. As you collect firewood you will have to go farther and farther from the mouth of your cave. That means you will have accomplished more just to make the same fire each day. Celebrate that you are growing stronger and more capable by venturing out of your cave.

While you are out look around and see what else you might do. Can you set a goal for next week or month?

If you can do this you will learn to like challenges.

You will have:

  • taken on a real and achievable challenge
  • measured the challenge
  • enjoyed the feeling of success
  • gradually increased the difficulty of the challenge
  • shared the success of the challenges with others
  • set harder and harder challenges
  • Then you’ll learn to like challenges.

So why are you still in your cave?

What challenge did you meet today?

What challenge will you set for tomorrow?

As all Ways, Seek Joy,

Can the Disabled “You” Thrive?

It may seem like an oxymoron to say a Disabled person thrives, but is it? Disabled may mean not “able”, but it does not mean dead. “Thrive” refers to how we are living. Can’t we live a full and abundant life with fewer abilities than most?

Can a person with a disability have the same traits as other Thrivers?

Let’s go thru the 8 traits of Thrivers and see.

  1. Thrivers are aware of their situation. Often we get so caught up in our inabilities we forget what is happening around us. Is this good for us? Pause for a moment and think about what is going on with you. Close your eyes and tell yourself what is happening to you. Then notice how the people around you feel? What do they need. If you can answer these questions you can be aware of what is happening around you.

How did you feel as you created this image? If you are like me your aches and pains subsided if not ceased. So, not only can you do this, it is more pleasant to adopt this trait of thriving.

  1. Being optimistic or just oriented to the future: when we struggle to get thru the day it is hard to contemplate the future. Yet, as you pause to look back, can you see that things have been worse? I certainly can. The things I struggled to do a year ago are now easy. I have made progress. In the last day I have found a resource to do something I struggled to do several times over the last month. What difficulty have you resolved in the last month? Is it safe to expect that you will overcome some of the things you now struggle with? You, too, can see a better future. You can be optimistic.
  2. Enjoy a challenge: That thing you struggled with and overcame in the last month might not have given you joy while you were struggling with it. Can you find joy in the fact that you overcame it? I certainly can. Let’s learn to see obstacles as chances to thrive.
  3. Friendly: what does it take to be a friend? Is it not about taking a moment to focus upon those around you and see what they are doing and what they need and then trying to meet those needs. A simple smile can go a long way toward being friendly. You don’t need to have deep heart to heart conversations with everyone. If you tried it might wear you out very quickly.
  4. Willingness to try new things: this can be hard when you struggle to do just the simple things. Could we change this to, “being willing” to try doing things differently?”

Doing things differently is a must when we can’t do things the way we were used to doing them. Willing or not we must do things differently. Sometimes simply not doing things at all is different from trying and failing.

  1. Willingness to share our creativity: Creativity is the trait we use to survive. There is no one around us telling us how to do it. Yes there are resources but we must seek them out and find a way to use them. Are you like me; willing to share your ways to be creative with others?
  2. Can find a purpose in life; this is challenging when we often wish to escape the pain we find ourselves in each moment. For example, the way Brandt Morgan found the purpose in his life was by reaching out to others. By doing this he found that he was overcoming the pain of the moment. See hiss podcast episode in disability Freedom.
  3. Are connected to more than just the physical reality: this means we are spiritual. When the physical reality in which we live fails us, where else are we to turn. When I turned to the non-physical I found such warmth that I longed for more. Since then I have glimpsed it in several moments. I have learned to just pause and let God connect with me. How have you experienced the spiritual dimension of life?

In what ways do you know to Thrive?

When do you feel you are Thriving?

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

PS, this is the first in a new blog series, learning to Thrive with disability

Want to Thrive with a Disability?

Thriving is what we all would like to do, but when you face a disability you worry about how you can just survive. But you should; not settle for survival! You are now freed from the binds that kept you from thriving before!

We can divide the ways people see their lives into three categories; trapped, tamed or thriving.

Have you been trapped in a life that did not serve you?

If you were trapped you probably knew it. Here are some ways you might have described your life, stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. All these similar feelings come from a mindset that does not let you be free. There were beliefs that held you back. They made you a prisoner in your own life. Now the musts, should and ought’s that governed your life can be put in their place. When one of these gilt-producing ideas comes into your mind, you can say, “the disability won’t let me…”

If you were lucky, you led a Tamed life.

A Tamed life is one where you find it easy to get along. You do what you must to get what you need. The shoulds, musts and ought’s get met without effort. You had a job, friends and family. If so, you are lucky friends and family are still there for you now that a disability dominates your life. True the disability has put its own set of demands upon you. They too are met with little effort.

When my eye sight got too bad for me to drive, friends and family stepped up and I could still get around. In fact a neighbor I barely knew offered me a ride to a community group we were both in. I still lived a tamed life.

But is a tamed life what we really want? Is it the life that will be best for all those around us? Tamed people are plane people. They don’t make waves or get tossed by them. Are they fun to be around? Do they make you a better person?

The Thriving life is one where we not only get our “needs” met but also our wants. Few of us really want for our basic needs of food, clothing shelter and friends. True, the food we could get in a soup kitchen is not what we are used to or want to resort to for support. It is there if we are willing to set aside the self-image and pride we have and get it. The same is true of shelter, clothes, family and friends. No matter whom I have met they have always had these available. Those who lived on the streets still had some sort of friends. I might not want them. Call me a snob, but then there are many people I would rather not have as friends.

When a disability strikes your old life gets destroyed. We will miss it, but once we realize that we can’t go back, what is there to do?

We must make a new life for ourselves. Few of us consciously created the life we lived. It resulted in many decisions that others made for us. We did not choose our parents. They chose the communities we lived in and the schools we attended. They shaped our attitudes and beliefs about how we should live and how the world would be. Now, much of that does not work! The disability prevents us from believing such things as, “if we are good only good things will happen to us.”

I lost my eyesight due to no fault of my own. I was diagnosed with the disease early on. I went to one of the world’s experts in that disease. I followed his orders. Yet my eyes got worse. I could see less and less until there were major things I could not see and do.

With the help of a coach I now know I have choices. These choices can change my life. I can take charge of my life and Thrive. So can you!

What dreams do you have? If you could be any animal, what would you be? Let’s talk about those dreams and our animal personas.

As all Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

You shouldn’t survive

Don’t survive, thrive!

Thriving is what we all want to do, so why don’t we focus our efforts on that instead of just surviving?

If you were thriving what would that feel like? How would thriving look?

When I think of thriving I find myself smiling. My mood is happy and full of energy. Things come to me easily and I can write this blog with ease. Even after the long winter and current hay fever season. I find it easy to do things. Several projects are in the works. I reach out to others readily and with excitement.

I no longer depend upon my wife to shop for me. I for weeks needed to

Shop for many things but found it so easy to put them off or forget them all together. Now feel free and go with ease and confidence. When I need help I ask for it. I usually get it with a smile and am grateful for all the help I get.

What can you do to Thrive, instead of Just Survive?

First thing I did was to realize that I had been struggling. February is usually my Low Month. It certainly was this year. I had let the cold weather that started in December get to me. I stayed in a lot and felt sad. Now I am forcing myself to get out and be with others.

Second thing I did was act. Once I was aware of my low mood, I took action. I made it a point to be in contact with others.  Two people with whom I Skype and I have started planning for a project. I have also gotten out to some meetings.

Thirdly, I let myself be accountable. By working together with other people I made myself accountable to them. I agreed to find the technology so we could do this online project. After several attempts, I now am able to do, record and edit interviews. They will   be podcasted shortly

Fourth, I believed that things would get better. Summer comes even to the frozen Midwest, and we could do this project.

Fifth, I found ways to laugh. I am often quick to see a pun. On a recent Sunday, Our Choir director put out some cards with some jokes on them. I could not help coming up with others.

Question: What is the difference between a Musician and Lock Smith?

Answer: their keys.

Question: where do musicians sit?

Answer: in musical chairs.

6. I allowed myself to dream m. I now aspire to do things. Recently I found a course to teach me how to blog on other sites. I am doing interviews for podcasts. They will appear in two forums, one for the blind community, and the other as stories of how disability changed people for the better. I will say more about that in the future.

This, my friends is the ABLE Coaching model (aspire, Believe, Laugh and love life, enjoy the journey). I will write more about ABLE Coaching in future blogs.

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

Author of the forthcoming book, “Recipes for Lemonade (Thriving thru Disability): Dr. Dave’s personal recipe”

PS, as all ways feel free to share this blog. Comments are welcomed on the website or Facebook.