| March 2014
"Happiness is not something you postpone for the future;
it is something you design for the present" ~ Jim Rohn (1930-2009)     
Dog Brains and Runaway Trains of Thought 
Cindy with her dogs, Tully and Landis
(Photo credit: Bob Croslin)
My honey colored wheaten terrier, Landis, wakes up in the morning, takes a nice long stretch, looks up at me and wags his short tail. In his eyes, I see no telltale signs of a night spent worrying about what the side effects of his new medication might be or whether or not he will live to see his grandchildren. Nope, he seems happy, carefree and completely living in the moment. I wish I could say the same for myself!

Although there are significant differences between Landis and me, the one that keeps him from worrying about the future is the disparity in the size of our frontal lobes. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls complex, abstract thinking and planning. It makes it possible to think about the future. Landis has a frontal lobe that is about 7% of his brain. I, on the other hand, have a frontal lobe that averages somewhere around 29% of my brain. This means I must excuse Landis for some of his behavior "quirks," like continuing to get into the trash time after time even though it makes him sick in every instance.

This also explains why Landis doesn't wake up with dark circles under his eyes in the morning like I do after a night spent worrying about what my future will look like living with lupus, the chronic disease I'm suffering from. The bad news for we humans is that anxiety and planning are intimately connected to thinking about the future. Planning requires that we peer into our futures, and anxiety is one of the reactions we might have to it.

I can certainly say that I have peered into the future of living with lupus and it scared the daylights out of me. Yet fear is a serious concern because stress and worry can be triggers for those of us living with a chronic illness. One of the things that has been extremely helpful to me in learning to live (sometimes fearlessly) in the present instead of wasting precious time worrying about the future is the practice of positive self- talk. By this, I do not mean the Pollyannaish fake self-talk of just pretending that things are fine when they aren't, but the anxiety cycle-stopping two words that quickly snap me back to the present and halt my anxiety loop. For me, those two words are not helpful.

When that 29% of my brain kicks in and starts worrying and fearing what is going to happen to me in the future, I repeat to myself over and over and over again the words not helpful. Somehow, repeating these words serves to calm me down and focus my attention back in the present. 

I have heard fear described as future events appearing real. When I am afraid of my future, I can confirm that those dreadful events that I'm ruminating about in my head certainly appear real. But I have to stop that runaway train before I literally worry myself sick. And so I repeat to myself not helpful. Then I hug the dog.
Join Cindy for a Free Live Webinar
Live Beyond Lupus: 5 Steps to HappYness
Thursday, May 1, 2014 ~ 4:00 p.m. Eastern
Lupus Awareness Month is an annual observance each May to call attention to lupus and its impact on the lives of millions of individuals and families. As my gift to all of those affected by lupus and other life changing illnesses and challenges, I will be hosting a live webinar, Live Beyond Lupus: 5 Steps to HappYness. (If you follow my blog, you already know I always leave the happY in happiness!). During the webinar I'll share with you specific steps you can take to increase your HappYness and fulfillment in life...after all, we all just want to be happy, illness or not! 
CLICK HERE to register for this free webinar.
What Cindy's Reading Now
Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot, Broadway Books
Release Date: 2011-03-08

Although published in 2010, this New York Times best-seller still remains one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. I'm a big fan of both detective stories and books that present ethical dilemmas, so this one captured my attention from the first page. This is the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farmland of Virginia who died of cancer at age 30. Postmortem and without her prior consent (a common practice at the time), Henrietta's cancerous tissue was harvested for subsequent sale and used by scientists in many medical breakthroughs. Yet, while millions of dollars were being made through the sale of the tissue samples, Henrietta's family remained in poverty. I won't go on, but encourage everyone to read this book.

The Language of Flowers: A Novel
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Ballantine Books
Release Date: 2012-04-03
Irene Capozzi, a reader with lupus currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina, sent me an e-mail recommending The Language of Flowers after reading the inaugural issue of the Live Beyond Limits™ newsletter. I wasted no time in diving into the title. Although the premise for the book is the Victorian language of flowers, the characters are rich and their stories deeply moving. The book opens on the day Victoria Jones turns eighteen and is being emancipated (their term, not mine) from the foster care system. From sleeping on a public park to discovering her talent with flowers, I sometimes wanted to shake her and tell her to accept the kindness of others, while the mother in me just wanted to put her arms around her and love her. The story is a remarkable example of resiliency and one that I'm delighted was recommended to me. Thank you Irene!
Note: Those of us with chronic illness often have lots of time to read, during infusions, in doctor's waiting rooms and also on days we don't feel well, so I really appreciate book recommendations and love sharing them with my readers.

Have you recently read a book that moved, inspired, encouraged or simply entertained you? I invite you to submit a book review (100 words maximum) for possible publication in a future issue of Live Beyond Limits™.

Click here to submit your own book review!
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The Power of Personal Resilience:Unleashing Your Unsinkable Spirit™
Wild Woman's Guide
The Wild Woman's Guide to Living with Illness
is a whimsically illustrated journal book designed to help those affected by illness focus on living the life they desire, despite the illness.

CLICK HERE for full product description and learn how to order.
"Although the world is full of suffering, 
it is also full of the overcoming of it." ~ Helen Keller (1880-1968) 
I hope you have enjoyed and found value in this month's issue of Live Beyond Limits™ and invite you to connect with me through Facebook or Twitter and visit my blog or website, so that I may continue to support you and those who love you in finding happiness despite our illness.

About Cindy Coney
Nationally recognized keynote speaker and resiliency educator Cindy Coney has assisted thousands in moving beyond "coping" with limitations to recapturing joy, balance and freedom through her speeches and pioneering educational training for patients and healthcare professionals. Diagnosed with lupus in 1980, Cindy has traveled the globe to share her story of thriving after a chronic diagnosis. Read more.

Copyright © 2014 Cindy Coney. All Rights Reserved.