What do you need to do to Feel Alive?
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” Howard Thurman
A few weeks ago, I was relaxing on a Friday night, flipping through the channels to unwind & get ready for a big Saturday of clients. Unexpectedly, I turned to one of those Friday night news magazine shows and saw a story about 8 women who had been injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. These 8 women were still in the hospital and each had at least one leg, if not more limbs, that had to be amputated as a result of their injuries from the bombing. For an hour I sat in wonder as each woman shared her story- her struggles and pain, her feelings of loss and the new daily reality each is living with.
But what struck me the most was not the tears and the hardship, but the sheer will, courage, and positive outlook that each had about her situation.
They were truly the most inspiring women I have ever witnessed, and reminded me of my grandfather, who is now passed, who I honored this past Sunday on Father’s Day. James Blackstock, known as JP, my dad’s father, had a very rare amputation from an injury in World War 2 and taught me more about healing than any teacher, healer or shaman ever has.
My pops had been one of the original invaders on D Day and had survived the first wave. After several injuries over the next month, he was finally hit by a mortar shell in the face, and his entire mandible (lower jaw) had been blown off. After being declared dead and placed in a body bag in France, his poker buddy from the night before grabbed his ankle to say good-bye and felt a faint pulse. If it wasn’t for that grab of the ankle, I wouldn’t be here. What happened next was 7 years of extremely experimental (at the time) surgeries that completely reconstructed his face by taking parts of his hip bones to recreate his jaw. Modern day plastic surgery is based on the techniques used with him and a hand full of other men at the hospital in DC in the 1940’s. Throughout this time, his wife- my grandmother- stuck by him even though she only saw him twice in 7 years, and raised 3 children as he healed and created a new life around- or rather, despite- his injuries.
He may have been disfigured and looked ‘weird’ to the other kids, but to me, he was the most ALIVE person I ever met. He had a true joy for living, and quite frankly, he didn’t give a sh*t what other people thought of him and his actions- he spoke his mind, he did what he felt like doing, and he lived his life every day according to how he wanted to with a fierce devotion to his family and loved ones. He even figured out how to eat steak & other difficult to chew foods with just 2 upper teeth and drink a beer every night even if it dribbled out of his mouth (and maybe slip some to us), because he enjoyed it and it made him happy. If he ever let it stop him from doing what he wanted, he never let us know. (Sidenote: whenever I felt hopeless of my TMJ 6 years ago when it was really painful, I just had to remind myself that at least I had a jaw, unlike my pops, to even experience TMJ- and the pain would subside).
JP was a living legend in the Philadelphia area for all of his community work with veterans and kids. He reached thousands of lives and continues to do so through the Veteran’s Picnic he founded when I was a child and which now brings in thousands at the annual event from all branches of the service and all walks of life. JP certainly never let his injuries stop him from living life, that’s one thing I’ll never forget!
Knowing how he lived his life and seeing the interview with these women- their sheer will to keep living a life that inspires them despite their injuries- got me seriously thinking about will, attitude, and the personal responsibility required in the healing of any illness, injury, dis-ease or dis-comfort.
I see clients coming from all walks of life- rich, poor, severely ill, feeling stuck or just wanting a change in life- and the common ingredient I find in those who ‘succeed’ in healing are those who take an active participation- they do the deep work, the inquiry, the allowing of faith, trust, hope and divine guidance to play a role. Instead of letting their ailment hinder them, they allow it to be the catalyst to learn how to live a life even more ALIVE than ever, even if that means it’s going to be shorter or different than they thought their life would be.
Those who are just looking to be ‘fixed’ never feel ‘better’. The times are changing from a ‘just fix/ heal me’ mentality to one of active, deep participation. It’s not always easy, but it works. If you want something to change in your life- anything- how D E E P are you willing to go with your own responsibility in the process?
In working over the years with so many of you, I’ve determined that when it comes not only to healing, but to life in general, our primary responsibility as human beings is this:
Every day, in every moment, decision and action, ask yourself- What Do I Need to do to Feel ALIVE? What do I need to do to live the most BOLD life I possibly can?
By asking this question, listening to what answers come up over time, and then- and here is the key- taking the responsibility to actually DO it (no matter how hard, ‘crazy’ or unexpected it may be) then we have the chance to live a truly healed life.
Here’s the reality. Sometimes, we can’t ‘heal’ in a medical sense. The cancer may not be curable, the chronic fatigue may never go away, the limb will not magically grow back, the nerve damage might not be reversible, or a myriad of other situations. You can chose to fight that reality and live a life of struggle that you don’t love, or you can chose to ask yourself what you need to do to feel the most alive in the body you have right NOW, and listen to what it is you need. I believe it all comes down to attitude, responsibility and faith that you are exactly where you are meant to be to learn the lessons you are meant to learn in this life.
And if you are able to live an amazing life that makes you happy despite your medical state, then that is truly healing. And truly living. And who doesn’t want more of that?
So how can you put this into practice? Start the process of inquiry by getting STILL in whatever practice you prefer and ask yourself some of the following questions:
- What do I need to do to Feel ALIVE?
- What changes in my lifestyle do I need to make to support this?
- Do I need to move, change jobs, add daily physical therapy, meditation, seek out treatment and/or therapy?
- What shift in perspective do I need to feel happy and free despite my ailment? To feel at peace with what my body is going through?
- What message is my body sending me? And how might I respond?
- What in my Soul may be in need of healing in order for my body to feel better?
- What practices do I need to put into place to take care of my body and take care of my emotional self to support this? What do I need to feel truly fulfilled?
- Create a bucket list- even if what you are healing is not life-threatening- and start to do the things on the list.
And most importantly- DO the answers that you come up with. When people are asked on their death bed what they wish they had done differently, studies have shown that the most common response is they wished they had followed their heart more and lived a life that made them feel truly alive. You have the power to do that- no matter what your circumstances are. You just have to take responsibility to do it.
You see, when you do this, when you take responsibility and sprinkle in faith and a will to live no matter what, THAT is when the miracles happen. The miracle doesn’t come from a certain healer or doctor or priest- it comes from within you, when you make the decision to live fully ALIVE for however long you have left on this earth- whether that be a few more minutes or a few more decades. The length of time is actually inconsequential when compared with making the choice.
If there is anything at all that I hope my work and teaching will convey, it is this ingredient in healing. This has been the key in my own healing of Lymes disease, Bells Palsey, ulcers, severe back pain, a slipped disk & compression in my spine, TMJ, adrenal fatigue and a few other ailments. My body has taken a huge toll over my almost 33 years, but any time I feel one of these things creep in, my first step is to enter into deep inquiry of these questions, and having the courage to face and act upon the answers.
Now I’d love to hear from you- what illness, injury or dis-ease have you overcome by a shift in attitude and perspective? Have you made changes in your life based on what makes you feel ALIVE? And what happened? What else can you share about your experience in healing something the doctors said you ‘couldn’t’?
By sharing, you could help someone else in their own healing!