There are times when I feel like I have lost all hope. There are times when I just can’t find my way. Then I am reminded that hope is always there. I just have to tune into it.
I think it’s fair to say that we are living in challenging times. Yesterday was the dawn of major change in the country that I live in, and I am called to share my story of hope with you all.
Many of you know that I have been living with chronic illness for some time now. As much as I have wanted to be the face of radiant health and share all the secrets to being the the healthiest person you can be, I am emerging as a voice for those that struggle with illness. Because it’s real, and many people are dealing with health issues on all sorts of levels. Cancer. Autoimmune disorders. Depression. Pain. Emotional wounds. And Lyme Disease. I feel called to be a reminder to us all that there is hope. And it is available to us all every day.
This past summer I hit what I consider rock bottom on my journey to health. After suffering a reaction to one of my treatments for Lyme Disease, I became very sick. I could barely get up out of bed. It was a struggle to stand up just to walk to the bathroom. I found myself leaning on the counter in my kitchen while trying to cook food for my family when it hit me: I could not longer live my life the way that I wanted to. I could no longer take care of my family. I was falling into the deep rabbit hole of chronic illness.
During the week and half of being bedridden, something shifted inside of me. A tiny spark ignited a fire that helped me to rise up and make a commitment to myself to get up and get well. I clearly remember the moment when I realized that I had lost hope. Lying in bed feeling completely helpless, I realized that when we lose hope, we lose the will to fight. And because I was feeling fearful, I was living in a negative mindset. And a tiny little voice called out inside me. “I am not going to go down like this. This is not the way things are going to go. Get up and figure it out.”
That day changed my life. It reminded me of what I already knew but had forgotten. The support and help that I need is always there. I just have to open up to it. So I did the only thing I knew how to do when I’m feeling lost. I started to pray. I prayed hard. I relied heavily on my connection to Source to help me find my way. God, Universe, Spirit. It’s all the same thing. I knew that I could not do this alone.
Many things came to me through my prayers. Magical little things started to shift in my life. Several options began to manifest. But it’s not always easy to know what to do. Feeling confused, I asked an elder in my community whom I respect dearly what he does when he has a decision to make. He said emphatically that he doesn’t debate. He just asks the Universe to make it absolutely clear what the next step should be. And that’s just what I did. Universe, please make it perfectly clear what the next best step for me is.
And you know what? It totally worked. As soon as I tapped into my trust in being held and supported by the Universe, my path was laid out in front of me. The help and support that I needed showed up. My path chose me. I am writing to you now from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where I am receiving 6 weeks if intensive and aggressive treatment for my Lyme Disease. Every step that I had to take to get here was easy because I was in the flow of hope and trust in the Universe. I am deeply humbled and grateful for my life, my journey, and for all of the challenges that have brought me here today. I am full of love and hope.
And I know that I am not the only one who struggles with hope these day. These are scary times we are living in. And realigning ourselves with love and hope is the way out of despair. I’d like to share some of the things that have helped me find my way back to hope. I hope that you find it helpful.
6 Ways to Find Hope In Challenging Times
Gratitude is the number one way to move yourself out of negative thinking. I have found it impossible to be unhappy while feeling grateful. And there really is so much to be grateful for today. Having a daily gratitude practice is a a simple way to tap into positivity and hope every day.
2. Surround yourself around people who inspire you.
You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and help you to be the best version of yourself. Think about the people who make you feel the best, make you feel happy and hopeful. Seek them out. The flip side of this is recognizing people and relationships that bring you down and create toxicity instead of love and hope. It’s time to let go of that because it no longer serves you on your journey.
Prayer is a solemn request for help and is the simplest way to ask for guidance. The minute you pray for guidance, you tap into the support from the Universe that is always available to you. Prayer is not about any one type religion or God. It’s about your connection to something bigger than yourself. I like to look at it as connecting to the universal consciousness that we are all part of, every one of us. Accepting and acknowledging that you cannot do this alone is a powerful surrender to the flow of the Universe. And you can feel hopeful knowing that you are supported by the Universe and are not alone. So just do it: Ask for help!
Mediation can be such a loaded word. It basically just means training your mind. And you don’t have to spend hours a day doing to reap the benefits. Sitting quietly for just one minute a day can create radical change in your life. When you sit in stillness and tune in, you can begin to live in a more authentic way. Just like with prayer, meditation allows you to tap into that inner wisdom that is available to you if you are open to it. Mediation has some pretty awesome side effects: less stress, better sleep, improved concentration, inspires a healthy lifestyle, increased self-awareness, and increased happiness. I encourage you to give it a try. Start with just one minute of stillness. Focus on the breath. Work your way up to more. You will be amazed at what happens.
5. Change your perception
You may have heard the term: “Your perception is your reality.” The way you see things, the story that you tell yourself shapes your life. The way you perceive your life to be determines how you respond to it. If you see and focus on the fears, on what is lacking and on the negatives, you will feel fearful, lacking, and negative. What is the story you are playing in your mind about your life? Can you make a shift to focusing on gratitude, love, and abundance? Can you let go of the negative story and chose a different story? This could be a simple as deciding to look at a health crisis as an opportunity to make positive changes in your life instead of letting it get you down. Or simply deciding that you are not the story that you created about your body years ago. You are not too big. Too tall. Too anything. You are beautiful and worthy. Or by deciding that the political situation in our country is not the end of the world right now but a chance for us to make radical shifts in our government and to move more towards love. Change Your Story, Change Your Perception, Change Your Life
6. Take Action
When you lose hope, when you live in fear, or when you find yourself living in a negative mindset, you can become paralyzed. It becomes challenging to take action to lift yourself up and out of the hopelessness and dispair. Many of the suggestions above can help you realign yourself with positivity and love, which will do wonders for your inner well being. Now I ask you to take that one step further: Take action not only to support yourself but to support the common good of all. Spread the love. That may look different for different people. Living in service to others feels good and can immediately drop you back into the feelings of love and hope. Like I said, we are living in challenging times. There is no room for us to slumber any longer. It is time to wake up and take action. To walk your talk. Our future depends on it.
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photo credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek