“You Can Do Hard” by Les Brown

Hiliary Hoffner: then and now ~

You Can Do Hard by Les Brown

“It’s hard…it’s hard changing your life. It’s hard picking up the pieces and starting all over again. It’s hard getting your mind together after you’ve gone through a life shaking experience (being a primary caregiver for someone; hearing a diagnosis you didn’t want; starting over again from a loss of any kind; being alone in a new place; wanting a friend.) But you can do hard. You can weather the storm. You will come through this.

Affirm to yourself every day ~ several times a day. No matter how hard it gets…I’m going to make it!! Stand up inside yourself and look yourself in the eyes and say “I can do hard!!” Exercise, pray, seek solitude, allow for periods of sadness…but know that you will get through this. Keep the faith; continue to work; and expect to make it through. You may not be able to change your circumstances or situation…but, you can change yourself! Hold on! You can do hard! You have GREATNESS within you!”
— Les Brown

The young woman, Hiliary Hoffner, pictured above, has the same rare life threatening condition that I have. We almost lost her a year ago. She was hospitalized for 4 1/2 months. She fought hard. She’s a warrior. Today she’s doing quite well, engaged to the man of her dreams planning a wonderful future together!

When you’re going through hard times, remember, this too shall pass!

For Coping Strategies, go here.

Photo Credit: Hiliary Hoffner

20 Strategies for Coping with Serious/Chronic Illness and Depression

Strategies for Coping with Serious/Chronic Illness and Depression
Strategies for Coping with Serious/Chronic Illness and Depression

I recently posted about clinical/major depression. Now I want to talk about coping with depression caused by serious and chronic illness, as I have a serious chronic illness and many of my friends do, too.

Living with a serious and/or chronic illness can cause depression. 40% of cancer patients are reported to experience depression after diagnosis. Those who suffer from diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are six times more likely to experience depression than people without serious illness.

This type of depression is called ‘situational depression.’ It’s caused by the situation of our serious health issues.

But there are some great and effective coping strategies. There is hope!

1. Accepting Your New Normal

Accepting your ‘new normal’ is key to coping. But also know that better days are ahead and you must strive for them. We have to accept some limitations and fight to overcome other limitations, while also adding joy to our lives, often by implementing new activities that we are able to do. I can no longer hike or ski or dance, so I’ve replaced those activities with others that bring me joy such as writing, photography, fur babies, and spending time in nature/on the water. I may delve more into this topic in a future blog post.

2. Throw Yourself a Pity Party

We all need to do this on occasion, so do it without guilt! Don’t bottle it up or bury it! But throw that party for no more than fifteen minutes then move on. Have a good cry. Scream at the gods. Curse the cosmos. Do what you need to do that won’t hurt you or anyone else. It’s good for the soul. But staying there for more than fifteen minutes can have the opposite effect.

3. Distractions 

We need time to escape and get our minds off our health issues. This can be very difficult when your symptoms are severe and debilitating but if you can manage a hobby, do it. If you have children or grandchildren, you are blessed. What a wonderful distraction!

4. Pets/Fur Babes

Another wonderful distraction! If you don’t have a pet, adopt/rescue one! They really raise your spirits and provide years of joy! They improve your health on many levels. Click here for more on the health benefits of pets.

5. Make a Point to Increase Your Joy  

Do something that brings you joy today and everyday. Even if it’s just a cup of tea or enjoying your fur babies, a bubble bath, reading a good book, or watching a great movie, in the comfort of your own home. Some days that’s all we can manage – but it’s joyful and that’s what counts. Book and movie choices should be uplifting. No sad endings! The purpose is to raise our spirits.

6. Count Your Blessings

Not cliché! This is scientifically proven. Counting 50 things you’re thankful for everyday really and truly cheers you up! It can pull you out of the dumps! You don’t have to sit down and list them, you don’t have to jot them down. Just do it in your head, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing and if it takes all day, that’s ok. If you repeat items from previous lists, that’s ok, too! So first thing when you wake up, get started! Think about what you’re thankful for, count as many things as you can and when you can’t think of more that’s ok, revisit and add to your list throughout the day. You will notice that you’re feeling more positive and cheerful and less depressed and stressed as the day goes on! And do it all over again tomorrow and everyday! Great coping strategy.

7. Exercise

To the best of your ability, exercise. There’s a show on PBS called ‘Sit and Be Fit,’ there was a time, that’s all I could do. Walk, if you can, around your house and yard – and around your block or a nature walk. Some malls open early for walkers, providing climate control and safety. If you can walk, do it. Sometimes I do laps in my house. Exercise improves not only your physical health, but it improves your mental wellbeing, as well. If you can exercise more intensely, do it, but always be careful not to overdo it when you have health issues. I love physical therapy as it’s a trained physical therapist implementing your regimen. Ask your doc for a PT referral. Click here for info on how to decrease inflammation with exercise.

8. Get Your Nature Fix

Getting out in nature is extremely beneficial to the human psyche. If you live in the city, try to go for a drive to the country, a lake, the beach, or mountains. Even if it’s just a day trip. If you can’t drive, ask someone to drive. Get out and walk if you can. Bring chairs and just sit in nature if that’s all you can do. If you can’t get in and out of the car easily, just stay in the car but roll the windows down and breathe in the fresh hair. Bring your camera! Snap some pictures! Enjoy the sunset! For me, a day at the lake is very therapeutic. A few hours on the water makes a huge difference. Try to get close to the water or a waterfall or into a forest, for a negative-ion-rich-environment, for more about this, go here: Nature Deficit Disorder.’ It really raises the spirits.

All terrain wheels on a wheelchair can open up a lot of wonderful possibilities for nature excursions.

Last fall, I invited my brother on an amateur fall-foliage-photo-shoot, just the two of us and we had the best time and have plans to do more photo shoots together! This was an activity I had been doing alone and had no idea he would he would be interested. Wonderful discovery! So then I invited friends on a fall-foliage-photo-shoot and lunch and we had a wonderful day together! All those fall-foliage-photo-shoots brought great joy!

9. Which Brings Us to Friends and Family 

Try to connect with good friends and family. Not just through social media, but in person. Even if it’s just for a cup of tea or glass of lemonade. For more on this topic go here. 

10. Support groups 

Join support groups specific to your health issues. If you have diabetes, join their specific support groups, if you have vasculitis, join those specific support groups. Etcetera. Reach out to the members, they understand what you’re going through better than anyone. Online support groups are great! I’m in several Facebook groups. Since they are international, there’s usually someone available 24/7, especially beneficial since insomnia often plays a role in serious and chronic illness.

11. Meditation and Prayer 

Meditation and prayer helps alleviate anxiety, stress and depression. You can YouTube some guided meditations.

12. Supplements and Essential Oils

These can really help a great deal as well. I’ve experienced it!

Omega 3 Fish Oil is beneficial in fighting depression as well as providing many other health benefits for inflammatory illnesses, as it’s anti-inflammatory.

Other depression fighting/mood enhancing supplements include 5-HTP and St John’s Wort.

As with all medications and supplements, you should always check possible interactions. This is an online source that I use:


“The top four essential oils for depression are bergamot, lavender, chamomile and ylang ylang. You can use essential oils for depression topically or aromatically, usually as a cream or in a diffuser.” – Dr. Josh Axe

13. Acupuncture 

I’m a huge fan of acupuncture and other alternative health modalities.

“A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that electroacupuncture – in which a mild electric current is transmitted through the needles – was just as effective as  Prozac.” – Scientific American  

Acupuncture also helps reduce and alleviate the side effects of prescription anti-depressants.

When seeking acupuncture, be sure to see a ‘licensed’ as opposed to ‘certified’ practitioner.

14. Is Physical Pain a Factor?

If pain is making it hard to cope: acupuncture, lidocaine patches, ginger, and turmeric, help a lot. I’ve had great success reducing and eliminating pain with these treatments.

15. Plan Something

For me, planning something really raises my spirits and gets my mind off my health issues! It adds joy and excitement to my life! Whether it’s a trip/vacation or a family get-together or lunch with a friend or a movie night or date night. Having something to look forward to and plan is really important for me. I have planned trips when I’m too sick to travel, for a date in the future when I’m hopefully well enough to travel, keeping in the back of my mind that I may have to cancel, but most of the time I don’t have to cancel! I think having something to look forward to helps to improve your health so that by the time the travel date arrives, you’re good to go! And travel itself definitely improves your health – a blog topic for the near future! When my sons were at home, I was always planning homeschool dances, science fairs, field trips and other events for our homeschool community. Now that I’m retired from homeschooling and my sons have all mostly moved away, I’m always planning our next family get-together which often includes travel as we all live in different parts of the state now. You can plan a lot when you’re sick! When the date arrives, you’re usually up for it, even if you have to rest a lot. I ran many a homeschool dance from a chair! I’ve done a lot of travel from the passenger seat with lots of naps.

16. Apps – 24/7 Access

There are even several apps for depression! Type “depression help” into your App Store search bar! Some provide 24/7 therapist access! Someone you can reach out to anytime, even in the middle of the night!

17. Counseling/Therapy 

Counseling with a therapist that specializes in chronic illness has really helped many I know with serious health issues. It’s important that the counselor specializes in serious/chronic illness. Therapists who don’t often fall short in the area of serious and chronic illness.

18. Eat Well

The foods we eat greatly affect how we feel both physically and mentally. Eat clean. Eliminate fast food and junk food. Get your nutrient-dense-super-foods smoothie/juice on! For more on this, join my tribe, follow my blog!

19. Know that it’s Normal and Okay to have Sad Days

But use the strategies listed here to pull yourself out of them so that the sad days don’t turn into sad weeks and sad months.

20. And always remember: Be kind to yourself ♥️

For more inspiration, go here: You Can Do Hard

Go here to read about invisible illnesses.

Photo Credit: Me, taken from my front porch


Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Scientific American, Dr. Josh Axe, drugs.com, Neuro-linguistic Programming

Nature Deficit Disorder is a Thing

  • What is Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)?
  • What are positive and negative ions and why should we care?
  • Why do we need to get our nature fix on?
  • Do we spend enough time in nature?
  • Do our children spend enough time exploring the natural environment?
  • Does it really matter?
  • FREE National Parks Passes for the chronically ill and disabled
Nature Deficit Disorder is a Thing
Nature Deficit Disorder is a Thing

Positive and Negative Ions and NDD

Negative ions have a positive effect.
Negative ions are invisible, odorless, tasteless, molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments: mountains, waterfalls, bodies of water, and beaches. Once they reach the bloodstream, negative ions produce biochemical reactions that increase serotonin, alleviating depression and stress. They stabilize blood pressure, balance alkalinity, strengthen bones, accelerate physical recovery. They boost mood and energy and overall wellbeing. They clean and purify the air.

Positive ions have a negative effect.                                                                                        Positive ions have an adverse affect on physical and mental health. They are linked to an increase in allergies, infections, lethargy, depression, anxiety, suicide, and more. Positive ions are concentrated indoors. Electromagnetic fields, fluorescent lights, and air pollution all increase the number of positive ions in an environment. Your first defense is to open the doors and windows to fresh air!

It is in our best interest to increase our exposure to negative ions. Negative ions are abundant in nature with the highest concentrations near moving water and old growth forests. Notice how you feel when you’re near a waterfall, at the beach, in a forest or a lush garden. Breathe in that fresh-clean-negative-ion-air and you feel alive, vibrant, energized yet refreshingly calm.

Nature Deficit Disorder 
A recent study shows that children now spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day, or about 53 hours a week using media, such as cell phones, video games, TV, and computers. All of which produce harmful positive ions. Studies have shown that this nature disconnect contributes to reduced academic achievement, lack of self-confidence, and many other social, emotional, intellectual and physical problems, which author and co-chair of The National Forum on Children and Nature, Richard Louv, coined as, “Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)”

Today many people of all ages suffer from NDD, which produces a reduced awareness and a diminished ability to find meaning in life.

Children no longer have the great opportunities to play freely in nature, exploring the natural environment and soaking up the beneficial negative ions. Their time is structured, their lives more protected due to stranger danger and other factors. And schools are increasingly cutting back on recess and field trips.

I grew up in cities with parents who took me to Yosemite several times a year, in every season, as well as other wilderness adventures. We camped in the snow! My first camping trip was at six weeks old in Yosemite in November! Boating, fishing and time on the water were also a big part of my childhood. We also had a creek behind our house that all the neighborhood kids spent hours upon hours exploring throughout our childhoods. I can catch a crawdad with my bare hands like a boss! Alaska was even a part of my childhood!

Time on the water is therapeutic for me. It’s my “natural habitat!” A day on the lake, river, or ocean, for me, is as rejuvenating as a week-long vacation. I have a chronic illness and time on the water and the effects of the negative ions always improves my health.

Anytime spent in nature is cathartic.

My children were born in the outskirts of California’s Bay Area and we did a lot of camping and boating and spent as much time in nature as possible, including road trips to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and of course trips to Yosemite! We spent a lot of time on the California Delta! And yes, we also went to Disneyland and Six Flags!

When we started having issues with our neighbors and their adverse effects from over population, positive ion overload, and Nature Deficit Disorder: hostility, gang violence, depression, bad manners, rudeness, lack of respect, a general disconnect – we decided to pack up our boys and move them to as close to a modern day “Mayberry RFD” as possible. We wanted to live where we could have free-range children. About two hundred miles north we found it! They grew up in an oak grove with a creek and pond in the neighborhood and wild animals that live all around us! Incredibly starry nights and fresh air. Lots of adventure! Nature all around us.

One of our sons couldn’t wait to blow this pop stand and head to the big city and so he did! And now he craves time in nature. He comes home often to spend time in nature to unwind, renew, and replenish. His goal is to live in nature again.

Another lives on the beach, another lives in Yosemite – both getting their quota of nature and negative ions on a daily basis. One has returned to his country hometown after college and a stint in San Francisco. While living in the city, he often came home to the country to get his dose of nature. And the oldest calls Tahoe home where she lives in nature!

Friends from the Bay Area came up and went camping with us just up the road and they were stressed-out-basket-cases when they arrived, due to NDD. After some time in nature, they relaxed and found joy and it was a huge confirmation for me that our decision to leave city life for country life was a good decision.

But not everyone can do that due to their careers or desires or other factors. If you can’t or don’t want to leave the city life, make an effort to be in nature often. Your soul needs it. The human psyche needs it. (Encourage your neighbors to as well.) 

Studies show that there are important positive correlations between human health, intelligence and nature. Research reveals that children are healthier, happier, perhaps even more intelligent and creative when they have a connection to nature.

Nature has positive effects on children with asthma, obesity, and attention deficit disorder – NDD plays a role in ADD/ADHD.

When nature is incorporated into the workplace design, the result is increased productivity, job morale, creativity – and improved health – among employees at every level.

Hospital patients with a view of nature from their window heal faster and experience reduced durations in the hospital! The benefits are increased when the window can be opened or the patient is allowed to go outside.

I’ve been hospitalized in many hospitals and the view makes a difference but Cleveland Clinic encourages their patients to go outside and provides gardens and fountains for their patients to enjoy! It’s wonderful! Makes a huge difference in healing time!

E.O. Wilson, the renowned biologist, believes that we are hard-wired with an innate affinity for nature, a hypothesis he calls biophilia. And research shows that if children do not have the opportunity to explore nature and develop that biophilia during their early years, then tragically, biophobia, an aversion to nature, is a risk factor. Biophobia can range from a fear of being in nature, to an intolerance and disrespect for what is not man-made and managed, to an attitude that nature is nothing more than a disposable resource.

In order to protect the environment and biodiversity, as well as the human psyche, creating opportunities to reconnect with nature is essential for people of all ages.

We need to spend more time unplugged and find ways to let nature balance our lives.

We need to increase our exposure to negative ions.

Pursuing even small opportunities for nature everyday, whether in the country, city, home, in the work place, schools, and neighborhoods – is vital.

Plant native species in your yard and leave part of it wild. Take kids fishing, hiking, camping, wading, nature walks – in all kinds of weather. Build or buy a bird feeder, go bird watching, walk in the park, ride a bike, set up a community garden, have picnics, exercise outdoors!

I would encourage every high school graduate to spend the summer between high school and college working and living in a Nat’l Park! Or any summer during college. Or anyone who’s trying to find themselves or anyone who just needs a summer job. Or longer than summer! My son went for the summer and decided to stay! You can decide from one season to the next! Apply now! Seriously. Just do it.

“By tapping into the restorative powers of nature, we can promote mental and physical health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds.” – Richard Louv

In the US, our National Parks offer several free park entry dates every year, dates for the remainder of 2017 are as follows:

  • April 22-23: Second Weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

Or buy a NPS Pass and go a lot! For pass info, go here.

AND the U.S. National Parks provide FREE Lifetime Passes to the chronically ill and disabled community! Your whole family gets in for free when they are with you! Other discounts as well! Go here for details.

Explore our Nat’l Parks and other wild places ♥️

Photo Credits: Erica Sheppard, Justin Olsen, Dillon Olsen, Brady Olsen, Kylee McAuliffe, C.C. Olsen

Columbia University, Sonoma State University, Allene Edwards, managing editor of Organic Lifestyle Magazine. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle, and Vitamin N (for nature), and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network. WebMD, E.O. Wilson

Two Types of Depression ~ There’s Hope and Help


World Health Day
Every year on April 7th, the World Health Organization (WHO) spotlights and brings global awareness to an important health issue and this year it’s depression. So I’m joining them today in their efforts in an attempt to reach out and help sufferers of depression.

According to the WHO depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability, globally. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, worldwide, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.

Depression can affect anyone and all ages.

Situational Depression
Situational depression is what we all experience from time-to-time due to loss, grief, and life’s curve balls, this type of depression runs its course and you are able to cope and get by with a little help from your friends and family and fur-babies – and time spent in nature. Essential oils can also be beneficial. You get passed it. Joy and happiness are yours once again.

Major Depression
But then there’s clinical or major depression that isn’t caused by an event or situation, it’s just there day in and day out, robbing you of happiness and joy, adversely affecting your relationships, job, school – all aspects of life. It’s ongoing and debilitating and it’s extremely difficult to cope no matter how supportive your friends and family and fur babies are. Life’s curveballs and grief can trigger or exacerbate major depression. There are several subtypes of major depression.

But there is hope! Sometimes major depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, such as low serotonin, that can be tested and remedied! Low serotonin can effectively be treated naturally!

Common Symptoms of Major Depression:

  • Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, mood swings, sadness, irritability, agitation
  • Sleep: early waking, excess sleepiness, insomnia or restless sleep
  • Whole body: excessive hunger or loss of appetite, fatigue, restlessness, slowness of activity
  • Behavioral: social isolation, substance abuse, loss of interest in activities, excessive crying
  • Cognitive: brain fog, thoughts of suicide
  • Weight: weight gain or weight loss
  • Also common: repeatedly going over thoughts/obsessing

There’s hope! There’s help!
If you are experiencing ongoing debilitating depression, please seek help. See your doctor, therapist, alternative medicine doc (i.e. naturopath, osteopath, acupuncturist, integrative practitioner, etc).

I’m a huge fan of acupuncture and other alternative health modalities.

“A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that electroacupuncture – in which a mild electric current is transmitted through the needles – was just as effective as Prozac.” ~ Scientific American

Acupuncture also helps reduce and alleviate the side effects of prescription anti-depressants.

When seeking acupuncture, be sure to see a ‘licensed’ as opposed to ‘certified’ practitioner.

Support Groups – local and online
I also love support groups, they are a valuable resource, either locally or online. Google online support groups or search Facebook groups.

Apps – 24/7 Access
There are even several apps for depression! Type “depression help” into your App Store search bar! Some provide 24/7 therapist access! Someone you can reach out to anytime, even in the middle of the night!

Depression Hotline: 877-743-4672
Suicide Hotline 800-273-8255

If you know someone who’s depressed, please reach out to them, encourage them to seek help. Let them know you care.

♥️ There’s always hope ~

For more coping strategies, go here.

Image Source: Unknown