2 Solutions to perfectionism based procrastination

“What is perfectionism? Do you  hold to lofty standards, demand perfection from yourself, and make your worth contingent on meeting these standards?”  –
Dr. Bill Knaus

For three, almost for months, I have been stuck procrastinating on this very article. Afraid that I might not meet my own lofty standards for it, demanding perfection from myself and making my self-worth contingent on meeting my own standards.

This means I think that if my article is less then perfect, I suck as a whole.
Being a perfectionist and thus a procrastinator, I suffer from a form of dichotomous thinking where I find myself either smart or dumb, good or bad, winner or loser and nothing in between.

What I forget, according to Dr. Knaus, is that I am a complex human being. So if my article should not be up to par, it does not mean that I am bad or dumb. If I would feel that way (and I would), that’d be based on a false conviction.
I am a pluralistic, complex human being with “a broad array of talents, emotions, beliefs, and experiences.”
Therefore if my performance in one tiny area of my life can still be improved, it does not mean I do not perform well in others.

What happens if I fall into this thinking trap?
Here are the seven steps of the vicious cycle of the perfectionism-procrastination process Knaus mentions.

“(1) You hold to lofty standards.
(2) You have no guarantee you’ll do well enough.
(3) Less than the best is not an option.
(4) As you think of not doing well enough, you feel uncomfortable.
(5)  You fear the feelings of discomfort.
(6) You hide your imperfections from yourself and dodge discomfort by doing something “safer,” such as playing computer games. (or checking your Facebook)
(7) You repeat this exasperating process until you get off this contingent-worth merry-go-round by not demanding perfection from yourself.”

Step 7 can go both ways though
– either you learn to become more realistic in your expectations
– or you become lethargic and do nothing anymore, except for “comfort tasks” and start beating yourself up for that too, reinforcing your false conviction that you’re lazy or bad.

Let’s look at some ways to overcome this process:

1) Set the bar lower, not by becoming passive, but by reducing the mountain. A friend of mine told me she writes everyday, AT LEAST 1 sentence and MAXIMUM 15 minutes.

I’ve been trying this and I found that this helps me tremendously when I have to write something I don’t like. I feel a great sense of accomplishment, even if I’ve just written one sentence on a given day. That’s such progress and shift in thinking for me!

If I do feel like writing, but just feel stuck, I stick to the AT LEAST one sentence rule, but don’t set a maximum time, like for this post.
This helps me to set myself into motion. Very often I get into a flow and I find myself writing effortlessly.

2)Keep reminding yourself that you’re a complex person with many talents and emotions. You are a multi-faceted diamond, that’s why you can never be EITHER one OR the other. That doesn’t do justice to the beautifully intricate person you are!

Please take a minute to leave a comment below, I’d really appreciate it!
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love and peace,
Ester
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A Benedictine solution to procrastination: pt 1: Organize

image

“An ancient proverb states: ‘It is not the size of the tree but the depth of its roots that make it strong.’ Procrastination usually has very deep roots. The problem of procrastination is one that often goes beyond self-discipline and whipping oneself from stasis to stress.” T. Quek

Comparing this to the way of a Benedictine monk, I notice his fluent transition from one activity to the next, at the sound of a bell, without dragging his feet.

Quek mentions 4 possible causes for procrastination:

(1) Disorganization:

  • poor distinction between urgency and priority
  • distractibility
  • forgetfulness
  • ‘lumping’

(2) Fear

  • rational vs. irrational
  • discipline vs. comfort

(3) Perfectionism

(4) Procrastination as an indicator of underlying illnesses (like ADD or mental disorders)

This is the first article in a series of three, where I go into these causes and present a Benedictine inspired solution for them.

Disorganization: The luring illusion of ‘comfort’ tasks

This is characterized by a poor distinction between urgency and importance.

Quek’s theory is that the typical procrastinator tends to procrastinate doing a lot of so-called ‘comforttasks, which are easy to reach, convenient or interesting to perform.
This causes a pile-up of old and new tasks wich start crying out for attention, thus becoming urgent, regardless of their level of importance.
The ‘tyranny’ of all the open loops of important tasks start weighing down on the procrastinator and she will want to perform even more comfort tasks to relieve that stress: a vicious cycle is born.

Distractibility: “What does THIS button doooo?”

Distractions are a multitude of off-task behaviours

This is a HUGE issue for me. Midsentence I fall prey to the lure of Facebook, What’sApp, texting, email – not so much anymore these days because I get so repelled by all the unanswered emails sitting in my inbox – eating, drinking, sudden cleaning urges, old-fashioned daydreaming, or doing non-important, non-urgent comfort tasks, *sigh*…

Forgetfulness: “Yeah, I was just about to do it…”

I can be really short about this: Put your mind on paper (or electronics). Author and guru of GTD (Getting Things Done): David Allen states we can only consciously remember a list of 10 things, if we put in another, then we “erase” the first again.

“The mind is for having ideas not holding them” –

David Allen

It’s key though to keep reminders of things to do in a dedicated place! Not in ten!
In my next post I will elaborate on this, with regards to the GTD-method.

Here’s already a nice teaser for you: David’s terrific video talk for “Dolectures“, on this subject.

Lumping!

Lumping or chunking is the errant perception that most tasks come as an inseperable whole (a “lump”) and cannot be subdivided and dealt with systematically.

Whoa! I feel so relieved to see that my plight actually has a name. How many fears in my life stem from this misconception.
Lumping my writing, lumping my household, lumping my life!

Ok, now that I’ve acknowledged my utter state of disorganization, I feel relieved yet inspired to change this. But: babysteps, one step at a time, towards no more lumping.

How would a typical Benedictine monk go about his tasks? Can I borrow some of his wisdom to infuse into my disorganized life?

  • A Benedictine monk would divide his attention well, praying for discernment in setting priorities at the beginning of his day, after a period of empty mind: meditation.
  • He would neither make a distinction between Ora et Labora (Pray and Work), nor between eating, loving or praying, because he knows that everything is equally important. The mundane is just as key as the heavenly.
  • He would also set emotional boundaries for himself: saying “no” to himself in case of distraction. So when the bell tolls: change of scenes. No: ” I quickly finish this…” or “Hey, I am praying but I actually have to give my abbot a phone call right now”.
  • He would take notes on his little notepad, which he takes with him everywhere, hidden in his habit. (Don’t you like the pun that monks are creatures of habit? A monk’s “habit” is also his cape.) He would then place a reminder on his to-dolist, but there wouldn’t even be the need for an agenda, because his day is being shaped by the ever present bell.
  • And he would not need an intricate productivity system, because his life were already stripped to the bare essentials: eat, pray, love your neighbour, work and recreate.
  • The monk would keep it simple, and progress slowly but steadily. He would give each different activity his undivided* attention, mindfully and slowly going from one thing to the next.
  • The daily timetable or horarium** of the monk automatically prevents him from “lumping”, because his day is already neatly subdivided. The great thing for him though, is that his abbot makes that table already for him, following the Rule of Benedict. We in turn have to let our own wise mind (our own ‘abbot’) sternly but lovingly set boundaries for ourselves, using a timer and planning ahead at the start of each new day.

To be continued!

In the next post we are going to look at fear-based procrastination.

Let me know if you recognize anything in my article, I’d love to talk with you about it! Maybe we can inspire each other with ways to tackle the problem of procrastination.

You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter.

*to divide comes from dividere (Latin), which means: to force apart or to cleave.

** Continue reading

4 Benefits of Silence and Solitude

Sometimes I catch myself thinking silence is not important and actually a waste of my precious time. There are always chores to do, people to communicate with and ‘busi-ness’ to busy myself with.

If life is so short, why bother sitting still once or twice a day? Why be alone if I can relate to and have fun with others? Why be idle if I can be working?

The Benedictine monks as well as the author and priest Henri Nouwen (in his book Out of Solitude*) recognized the value of silence and solitude.

Let’s look at four benefits of silence and solitude according to monks and Henri Nouwen:

Silence as antidote to impulsiveness and lack of focus

Noise spreads my focus thin, silence enhances it. If my mind is like a laser beam, I am sharper, more focused and present in and after a period of silence.

Distraction is a post-modern public enemy and we need silence as a healthy antidote, to stop the addictive yearning for always more stimuli.

“Silence requires the discipline to recognize the urge to get up and go again as a temptation to look elsewhere for what is close at hand.” Henri Nouwen

Silence as a way to my emotions and my heart

Sitting still and listening revives my strength and restores my emotional balance. I tap into new energy at the source when I find “the freedom to stroll in my own inner yard, and to rake up the leaves there and clear the paths so I can easily find the way to my heart.” (H.N.)

Silence to find order and peace, make a ‘cozy home’

Silence is a gift to myself, reconnecting to a power greater than me, someone I call God, just as the Benedictines and Nouwen do. A way of really being present.
When I am not ‘home’ in my own heart, who can I receive there?

“Slowly and surely you will discover an order and familiarity which deepens your longing to stay home”
H.N.

Silence to learn to listen

Listening to something or someone greater than ourselves  requires turning inward instead of being in a constant reactive state.
We might receive an intuitive thought or helpful guidance when we ‘just’ sit still for a while.
Being attentive to another person is another fruit I can reap from spending time in silence and solitude.

“Hearken continually within thine heart, O son, giving attentive ear to the precepts of thy master.”
(Prologue Rule of Benedict)

I’ve noticed that my habit of being still morning and evening is developing, now that I’ve grown accustomed to a big change in my life.

I love living this life, seasoned with some Benedictine flavour!

How are you doing this week, developing some Benedictine habits?

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Spread the word, word of mouth rocks!

Ester

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PMS-Survival Plan

Dear ladies,

Know that you are not alone when suddenly you want to rip someone’s head of, kick in a door, scream at your hubbie or are in puddles when you see a dead bird on the street, when all you wanna do is lie in bed, feel sorry for yourself or binge on all things sugar….and feel like a bloated hippo afterward.

Every month, a week before the Flo hits us, we become bitchy, bawling beasts: doctors call it simply: PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), but with us and our significant others it is also known as:

Pretty Much Screwed
Potentially More Scary
Pouting, Moaning & Sleepy
Period Men Suffer
Poor Me Syndrom

On a more serious note, there’s also a more severe version of PMS called PMDD: Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder*, where PMS really starts to interfere with your work, home or health. Sort of: PMS on steroids.
Symptoms include:

  • markedly depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, or self-deprecating thoughts
  • marked anxiety, tension, feelings of being “keyed up” or “on edge”
  • marked affective lability (e.g., feeling suddenly sad or tearful or increased sensitivity to rejection)
  • persistent and marked anger or irritability or increased interpersonal conflicts
  • decreased interest in usual activities (e.g., blogging, household, friends, hobbies)
  • subjective sense of difficulty in concentrating
  • lethargy, easy fatigability, or marked lack of energy
  • marked change in appetite, overeating, or specific food cravings (sugar)
  • hypersomnia or insomnia
  • a subjective sense of being overwhelmed or out of control
  • other physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness or swelling, headaches, joint or muscle pain, a sensation of bloating,” weight gain*

Even though with ‘regular PMS’ you have somewhat milder symptoms than the ones above: This ‘ain’t no fun’!

But there is hope, my sister!

After having been completely harrassed by the PMS-monster for the umptieth time, I decided it was time for action! (do you also hear ‘Eye of the Tiger’ playing or is that just my imagination?)

I turned the internet upside down and read a lot of stories from women with the same experiences as me.
Here are my suggestions for you! Take what you like and leave the rest.

  • STOP – take a breath
  • Pray for help / meditate
  • Awareness Acceptance and Surrender!
  • Try and enjoy a moment for yourself
  • Track your pms-symptoms on a pms-tracker online and put a reminder on the estimated first day of your pms.
  • Take it easy on the sugar and flour, ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE
  • Dress nicely even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Only one cup of coffee a day, if you’re a regular coffee-gourmet like me
  • Take candle-lit baths, loads of them: with organic or natural products or with essential oils like lavender to soothe and calm, or citrussy stuff like orange, red mandarin, grapefruit or bergamot to lift your mood**
  • Stick to your daily routines even more now. You need structure to keep you sane. You can find wonderful, empowering and heartwarming tips from Flylady on the internet. ‘Fly’ stands for Finally Loving Yourself.
  • Talk to other women to vent your emotions and don’t throw it all on your significant other / hubbie or journal.
  • Place your expectations of yourself way lower for this period of time.
  • Get some fresh air AND MOVE (dog-walking is awesome).
  • Don’t handle difficult stuff: just postpone it if possible and put a reminder for your post period days to make an important decision or change.
  • Play! Be creative: draw self-encouraging images or texts on paper, do origami for beginners, sew something easy and fun, read calming, inspiring books or websites.
  • Stick to a healthy diet: lots of veggies, fruit, protein, complex carbs, and good fats (with healthy omegas*).
  • Cuddle dog or bunnies, any animal is fine als long as it is soft and cuddly. (I mean, don’t try this with your goldfish).
  • Listen to upbeat or calming music (no depressing stuff please.)
  • Watch funny movies. Here’s a list.

Let me know what works for you!

Leave a comment below, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Don’t forget:

And this is for the men:

Continue reading

breaking the P-cycle

lorianderson-quotes.blogspot.com

Lately I have been struggling greatly with Procrastination and Perfectionism. I seem to just flatline when I’m thinking I either have to be perfect or just sit in my chair, stare, do nothing and feel bad about myself. Good or bad, black or white.

Today I read something very fantastic in a daily email from www.flylady.com.
Let me first say that Flylady (FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself) is a sweethearted lady who helps you manage your home again in tiny babysteps, while loving yourself instead of beating yourself up.
It is a very fun website with incredibly helpful tools and I am currently doing the beginner babysteps of housecleaning & organizing, to keep me from getting into the Procrastination and Perfectionism cycle.

So today I read this awesome entry about there being two other P’s associated with Perfectionism and Procrastination, so all credit for the 4-P idea goes to Karen, a Flybaby from Tennessee and to Flylady for her advice and resources.(I’ve also added a fifth P)

Pride

The first P Karen says is for Pride, which wants you to set too high standards for myself (oh yeah baby!). I tend to do that a lot with household stuff, or my to-dolist for the day or week. I always cram in way too many things.

Perfectionism

The second P is Perfectionism, which is the result of setting the bar too high in the first place. With me this is closely related to never feeling good enough. It’s definitely gotten better the last years, but when I am hungry, angry, lonely or tired, or (God forbid) PMS-ing (you ladies know what I’m talkin’ ’bout…), then I tend to slide back to this horrible P to try to regain control my life (of course, in vain).

“You cannot open a flower with a sledgehammer” –

Bob Wilson

Pressure

The third P is the inevitable selfdestructive Pressure you’ll be on then, resulting in negative self-talk, spiraling down to feeling like crap and behaving that way as well.

Procrastination

Fourthly there’s mr. Procrastination. Now I think there’s good and bad Procrastination. Good Procrastination is letting your mind wander, daydream, do nothing and get creative.

Bad Procrastination is the result of negative self-talk, self-condemnation, being stuck in a irrealisticly high expectation of yourself, perfectionistically disabling yourself from doing ANYthing ANYmore.

In this state (where I was in yesterday afternoon) my muscles turn to jell-o, and I feel like a boneless chicken , not able to think, not able to move, I was even crying out of sheer self-imposed helplessness and inertia.

Punishment

At rock bottom of this process I’d add a final and utterly sad fifth P: Punishment of myself. That’s when you actively start thinking horrible thoughts about yourself and punishing yourself in your thoughts.

Like:
“I am good for nothing; I cannot do anything right; I am worthless; I am lazy ; I am a bad person, I am not worth being on this planet.”
Recognize those bugger-thoughts?Time to turn it round!

I know that these negative thoughts are so self-destructive, they prevent me from being the me I am supposed to be, they increase my stress levels, decrease my quality of life.
Who am I to say that I am not good? I am God’s beloved creation!

Awareness, Acceptance, Action

But I know that if I am to beat this nasty P-cycle, I first have to be aware they are there, drink a cup of acceptance-tea with them, gently usher them out of the door and start praying to my God and saying healing and healthy thoughts to myself (action).

Now be nice to yourselves today and go replace them nasty P-s with nice ones!

Patience, Pleasure, Potential, Pampering, Pleased, Peacefulness, Prayer, Passion, Perseverance, Peace, Possibility, Positivity, Praise, Pureness, Playfulness and you are PRECIOUS!

If you like what you read, please take a minute to leave a comment below, follow me on Twitter or visit my Facebook page. Thank you! Spread the positive word!

Zen dog

My dog Kiara is my mindfulness teacher. I’ll tell you why!
In her cute little doggie universum, all that counts is the here and the now.

  1. She doesn’t even think about the past, although I adopted her from Canary Islands and she didn’t have a past of roses and doggiebones.
  2. The thing that makes her most happy is being together with her two bosses Martin and Ester. When the pack is complete she goes bonkers with joy!
  3. When she is tired she naps.
  4. She loves routines and cosy dogbaskets or fluffy pillows.
  5. She doesn’t think about the future much, that I know of anyway…
  6. She certainly does not care about what other people may think of her!

Yesterday it all came together:
Martin, Kiara and I went upstairs to our guest/study/movie-room to watch the BBC documentary ‘Life’. As we lay on the guest bed, Kiara snuggled tightly between our legs and went into a deep doggie meditated relaxation. Snout down in the pillows and blankies.
It was so peaceful for us: the documentary, the cosy relaxed dog, romantic us. Really simple life, mindful en enjoying every minute!

Please leave a comment below or tweet me, I’d really appreciate that. What do you do to be mindful and have a simple life?

If you’re Dutch, check out my Dutch blog Groen en Lief.

Related post: about me and my rabbits: ” The spiritual power of next action thinking”.

The drawing is from awesome artist Edward Monkton. Do visit his site!

More ‘Zen’ in my productivity

Lately I have been slowly moving away from GTD towards something else, a more simplistic and ‘zen’-approach if you like.

The GTD Weekly Review was taking me more and more time to perform.
Why? Because I had just so much input for it. Especially my input for the Someday/Maybe-list got so overwhelming that I could not cope with the information stream anymore.
I was feeling like I was locked up in a tredmill going nowhere and I found out I had become an information-addict! Scared to miss out on the latest and the loudest, in fear of making the wrong choices of where to put my focus on.

What were my solutions to this feeling of impending doom?

Information Bankrupcy

I declared an information-bankrupcy by rigorously cutting back on my information sources:

  •  I am done capturing every nice shop or brand I want to check out on the web and putting them all in my Someday/Maybe-list for follow-up. I’m ashamed to say had become a slave to my ‘wants‘, a slave even to commercialism. I was reacting, not creating…
  •  I pruned my facebook and twitter contacts and declared total rss-reader bankrupcy.
  • I have been (re)reading Leo Babauta‘s books. ‘the Power of Less‘, ‘Focus‘ and I will also have a look into ‘Un-procrastinate‘. His views on living life mindfully, simply and fulfilling have greatly inspired me! Check his websites: Zenhabits and Power of less.

The Power of Less

I use Leo’s approach by working on 1-3 important things each day and simply list them each evening.
This keeps my head clear, my goals realistic and my focus strong. Leo Babauta is even moving to a goalless day at the moment. I know that life is so quicksilvery and fragile, I can make all the plans I want, but when I go with the flow and am flexible, yet not procrastinating, things get done in a far more easygoing, fluid way. Rigidity and complexity can frustrate things unnecessarily. ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’… (cliche but true).

Waiting For list

I keep using the ‘Waiting For’-list. It’s still an awesome GTD tool.
I write the date and the person or organization who owes me: money, a reply, goods, a call or whatever and I occasionally look at the list. Voila, easy does it.

Evernote

For Someday/Maybe stuff I use Evernote.
This is very convenient for me. My favorite things to clip off of internet are: quotes and nice pictures for moodboards or blog entries. Also I can easily clip info from different pages into evernote and compare for a quick but informed purchase decision. I don’t like to spend too much time on comparing stuff, but I also want to make a good (not perfect) choice. Just like the bike I bought recently.

Nothing beats pen and paper

For my daily lists I use good ol’ pen and paper (I have to admit that I even got rid of Nozbe, which I really liked at first and which I still think is a really good tool for GTD’ers, but too complex for my liking).
I am a stationary lover (not to say addict…) and I just love the tactile sensation of a Moleskine notepad with  my favorite pen: the Uniball Eye.

Simplifying things is making me feel reborn and renewed! More about simplicity, mindfulness and productivity in my coming blog-entries.

Tool #1 for simplifying my life:
I use a writing tool with the dodgy name of ‘Darkroom‘ (for Windows), which allows me to have a totally black screen with green writing without formatting for a focused and simple writing experience.
I highly recommend it.
For Mac-users there’s WriteRoom

If you like you can leave a comment below or find me on Twitter.

Declutter your input!

http://www.puur-puravida.nl

All year I have been carrying my ubiquitous capturing tool: my paper notepad everywhere, becoming a ‘Capture‘-ing blackbelt. But something kept nagging at me….

Eventually I noticed my Weekly Review consisted of a lot of Someday Maybe’s related to consumerist wants on the one hand and quotes for blogging on the other, which I was dutifully entering into Evernote and Nozbe. At some point I started losing sight of the bigger picture and didn’t have time to actually complete my Review.

My friends Tara Rodden Robinson and Augusto Pinaud suggested in my fun interview with them on @Context (episode 16) that I could buy an Iphone to make data entering easier. We even joked I would blame them if I eventually couldn’t resist buying one 🙂

…….Bigger – faster – harder – stronger!!!!!!!! was ringing in my ears….my head was spinning..it had to stop!…….

“She said run, but I’m not running no I’m not running.
Let ’em come, let ’em come but I’m not running, no, I ain’t running no more.
No more!” Children 18:3 (@Youtube)……..

It turned out I didn’t need a more sophisticated capturing tool but an other view on what was actually worth capturing at all.
These were Fr. Roderick’s epiphanic words from the Health and Holiness Bootcamp-podcast episode 33 for me:

What is decluttering your life? Getting rid of anything you have in abundance, living a life detached from stuff. Because that can be hampering to living a happier and holier life. I mean, getting to inbox zero is amazing but I wouldn’t trade it in for more important things like family, workout, prayer(…)
Decluttering is also letting go of the desire to be always up to date with everything that happens, constantly mastering the stream of communication, keeping tabs on all that I have.”

I listened to his words, sitting on the side of a canal in Amsterdam, dangling my feet and smelling the Summer air, my eyes unfocusing on the water.
Then and there I decided to slow down and change my ubiquitous capturing to not writing down every detail, every shop I want to visit, every restaurant to remember, every thing I want to have and buy buy buy, but instead go for the quotes and ideas that come up in my creative mind and not to obsess over collecting everything like a teenager keeping pictures of her favorite boyband.

So there it is! Now I am very relieved! But it’s only the first step. I want to set my mind on:

“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—anything excellent or praiseworthy” (Phillipians 4:8-10)

“Let ’em come, let ’em come but I’m not running, no, I ain’t running no more.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Please leave a comment below or tweet me @E5ter

Never quit – live strong

Once in a while I encounter a story that is so encouraging and motivating I want to share it with everybody.

This summer holiday I read 2001’s ‘It’s not about the bike’ by Lance Armstrong, 7-time Tour de France-winner and fulltime cancer fighter.

It’s a real pageturner and it made me re-evaluate the topics of hope, endurance and courage in my own life.

Most of the quotes below are from his book.

Don’t ever quit

Lance’s mother, a single mom, raising her only child Lance, was working as a secretary. Lance sensed that she was underestimated by her boss and asked her one day: ‘Why don’t you quit?‘. Her simple but powerful answer was

‘Son, you never quit.’

So ‘Never Quit’ became Lance’s life adage.

When he was 25, the doctors discovered an agressive testicular cancer that had already spread to his lungs and his brain. He had 12 tumors in total and was given little hope to survive.

Hope

‘When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell.’

He chose the latter. Lance went through a stunning 4 cycles of chemotherapy and brainsurgery, fighting like hell to LIVE.

‘Don’t let go, don’t give up hope
All is forgiven
You’re breathing in, you’re breathing in
We call it living’
(Switchfoot- Needle and Haystack life)

Believe

‘Anything is possible. You can be told you have a 90-percent or a 50-percent chance or a 1-percent chance, but you have to believe, and you have to fight’

His strength to survive was so great and he believed that he could beat cancer, and so he did.
Although surviving cancer depends on many things, like sheer luck, moment of diagnosis, and a lot of things we don’t yet understand, to believe that it is possible is crucial.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Lance’s wife at the time: Kristin (Kik) Richard was a christian and prayed.

Courage

‘ I think we are supposed to try to face it straightforwardly, armed with nothing but courage. The definition of courage is: the quality of spirit that enables one to encounter danger with firmness and without fear.’

In his book Lance says he even needed more courage to conquer the Tour de France title than to go through his cycles of chemo.

Joshua says to his mates in Joshua 10:25 “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

What are your enemies right now?

Endurance

‘Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me’

‘So when I  feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with? Facing up to that question, and finding a way to go on, is the real reward, better than any trophy.’

This is so profound and true, I hope, believe and pray that I will start living more like that, from this moment on.

With his enormous drive and endurance, Lance also won the Tour de France 7 times in a row in his newly gained life and started the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation to help cancer patients and survivors of the disease with information, encouragement and raising money for research.

Unrealized capacities

‘The one thing the illness has convinced me of beyond all doubt- more than any experience I’ve had as an athlete- is that we are much better than we know. We have unrealized capacities that sometimes only emerge in crisis.’

In 1998, I was going through my studies to become a speech-language therapist. We had a professor: Wouter, who was always fiercely debating with one of his students: Kym, in order to stimulate her to further realize her capacities as a student. He would always provoke her to stretch her limits.

A few months later, he died of bowelcancer, being under the wrong impression for too long he had picked up some parasite in Tanzania, where he worked voluntarily with deaf children.

A few months later still, it was October by then, Kym too was diagnosed with metastasized ovary cancer. I saw her for the last time in January of 1999. She came to school, with a peaceful smile on her lips, a translucent complexion and a wig.
When she told us she was going to die, she had to comfort us. She was strong and we were shattered. Later, we all got the chance to say goodbye to her.

I was going through a depression at the time and asked her for advice. She said the same as Lance: ‘ If it is one thing that I have learned, it is that we are far more capable than we know, to cope with bad things that happen. Just remember you are way more powerful than you think you are’. A month later she died. I’ll never forget her wisdom and her grace.

When our class graduated the next year, we tied her diploma to a white helium balloon and send it to heaven.

‘We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer* take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is LIVESTRONG.’

– the LIVESTRONG manifesto
* or anything else negative: addictions, the past, self-pity, procrastination, negative self-image etc

We have only one chance to live our lives in this life on earth, I encourage you as well as myself to wake up everyday thankful and eager to make the most out of every minute, don’t quit, live strong.

For me living strong is:

Be focused
Be courageous
Be strong
Be hopeful
Be thankful
Be alert
Be productive
Be creative
Be positive
Be full of life
Be-lieve

If you want to know more about the Lance Armstrong foundation you can visit: http://www.livestrong.org or follow Lance on Twitter.

I also highly recommend:
It’s not about the bike‘ his story of surviving cancer and winning his first Tour
and its sequel: ‘Every second counts‘.
Both available at Amazon.com

If you want to leave a comment to me or tell me your story please do so in the comments section below or on Twitter.
Thanks a lot!