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The Survivor's Guide to Life
27 minutes | 5 days ago
Episode 99: CREATE A MEANINGFUL HOLIDAY IN A COMPLICATED YEAR
Creating a meaningful holiday gathering this year can benefit from early planning. Talk to those you love and listen to their desires and concerns. Balance safety with an opportunity to connect with family and friends by staying non-judgmental, allowing everyone to set boundaries consistent with their values and priorities. In this podcast, we include suggestions for new ways to celebrate during the COVID pandemic - using Zoom, simplifying meal preparation, supporting local restaurants, and sharing what you're grateful for in actions as well as words. Find a way to include joy in your celebration, being willing to forgive generously during this difficult time.
18 minutes | 25 days ago
Episode 98: KNOW PAIN, KNOW GAIN: LIFE IS A WORKOUT
Viewers of the Survivor's Guide to Life on YouTube won't be surprised to hear that Peter is a gym rat. Jenny doesn't miss a workout, either. Dedication to exercise and fitness is an essential part of our self-care. The familiar phrase, "No pain, no gain" carries a kernel of truth - to build physical strength and stamina, workouts that lead to some muscle soreness are necessary. The same truth applies emotional fitness, or resilience, hence our podcast theme, "Know Pain, Know Gain". Adversity, struggles and hard times bring pain into our lives on a personal, emotional level. Embracing painful challenges gives us the opportunity to grow as individuals. We can gain wisdom and strength of character, a deeper appreciation of life, and a more hopeful outlook
42 minutes | a month ago
Episode 97: THAMAHR ALEXIS-WOON ON SERVING AS HOSPICE NURSE: A DIFFICULT BUT FULFILLING PROFESSION
Join Peter and Jenny for a video conversation with Thamahr Alexis-Woon. Thamahr is an Army veteran who has practiced her 20-year nursing profession in pediatrics, corrections, and now hospice care with Vitas Healthcare in Tamarac, Florida. Among her many patients, Thamahr provides loving care to Pauline Bernstein, Peter's 95-year-old mother. Thamahr is married to Al Woon and is a devoted mother to daughters Natanya and Mikailah. During our conversation, Thamahr spoke genuinely and eloquently about the rewards and hardships of serving with hospice. She shares the very personal experience which convinced her of the value of hospice at end-of-life for both patients and their families - and how it led to her commitment to this calling on her life. Thamahr is a woman of faith and treasures her family, both of which play an important part in her self-care.
57 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 96: TIME TO LET GO OF BUSINESS AS USUAL
With the COVID crisis, jobs are disappearing and established businesses are going under. Could it possibly be the right move to start a new business during economic hard times? Peter and Jenny propose just that. Reinventing yourself as an entrepreneur and following a dream, while carrying risks, can also bring great rewards. It is possible to do well while doing good - establishing a fulfilling way to support yourself financially while serving the needs of your community. In the first segment of this podcast, Peter and Jenny refer to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal profiling new business startups. We highlight the key aspects of life as an entrepreneur, such as getting outside your comfort zone to grow and recover aspects of yourself and your abilities that you may have lost. In the second segment, we share from our own writings and experiences of entrepreneurship. We stress the importance of being a self-starter and seeking good mentors as necessary for success. Our discussion during the third segment includes how desperation can lead to valuable sparks of creativity and the importance of faith and trust to step out and face the unknown. Questions from our final segment: 1) Is it possible to become more entrepreneurial while working for someone else?, 2) In exploring new business ideas, how can you tell when doors of opportunity are open or closed?, and 3) What does Peter mean when he says that entrepreneurs "find parts of themselves they lost while working for others"?
57 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 95: A NEW YARDSTICK: HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS AND SELF-WORTH?
In hard times, you can be forced to examine your life focus and priorities. If you've tended to define success and self-worth by the amount of your wealth and material possessions, you can find that these resources aren't enough to personally sustain you through a crisis. Other resources are needed, as well as a better balance between the "tangibles" and "intangibles". From a blog post written during the Great Recession, Peter and Jenny draw a parallel to today's pandemic and economic crisis. Our culture can overemphasize money and wealth. What is the best way to measure success, progress, and self-worth? In the first segment of this podcast, Peter and Jenny introduce our topic and highlight key issues. In the second segment, we share another portion of our recent conversation with singer, songwriter, missionary and international aid worker Randy Mayfield. Which personal qualities and values has Randy seen refugees in the Middle East and Africa make a priority in hard times? How do they respond and cope while experiencing deprivation and atrocities? Our discussion during the third segment includes thoughts on the personal qualities necessary to sustain ourselves and succeed during hard times. We talk about feelings of "impoverishment" and what they can really mean. What will help us become truly resilient? Questions from our final segment: 1) How is it that money can come to represent so many things - like status, security, or love?, 2) Why does our American culture place such an emphasis on money and wealth?, and 3) What are the more meaningful ways to measure personal success and self-worth? Randy Mayfield: https://www.randymayfield.com/
56 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 94: ANOTHER EPIDEMIC: THE "FEAR" FLU
In early fall of 2009, the swine flu added another hardship for Americans struggling through the Great Recession. Recommendations by health authorities at that time were much the same as today - frequent handwashing and limited contact with anyone who might be carrying the virus. Peter and Jenny revisit a somewhat humorous but to-the-point blog post written during that time. Fear can be just as contagious as a virus - and sometimes just as destructive. In the first segment of this podcast, Peter and Jenny review the similarities between the challenges of 2009 and today, and the emotions that can complicate any time of difficulty. In the second segment, we share the original blog, "Another Epidemic: The 'Fear' Flu", and begin to explore the differences between "worry" and "concern". Defining the important differences between worry and concern forms the topic of our third segment, along with practical suggestions for making positive choices in hard times, acting from a place of concern. Questions from our final segment: 1)Briefly, to review, what are the key differences between worry and concern?, 2) How can emotions complicate our ability to stop worrying and act from a place of concern?, and 3) How can we best share our struggles, compassion and concern with others during hard times, without spreading fear and negativity?
57 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 93: THE VALUE OF MINI-VACATIONS; AND GUEST RANDY MAYFIELD
The "blessing of urgency" is a way of looking at our challenging situation as an opportunity for change, to be creative and try new things, to find new ways to overcome the difficulties we are facing. In the midst of a long-running crisis, an extended vacation may not be possible. Setting aside time for a "mini-vacation" - a break to enjoy something distracting and refreshing - can help us restore our energy and perspective. In the first segment of this podcast, Peter and Jenny give an update on the extraordinary reality we are living through now and re-introduce Randy Mayfield, a singer, songwriter, pastor and coordinator of relief missions in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In the second segment, we share part of a recent Zoom conversation with Randy in which he explains how the pandemic-necessitated cancellation of his work and travel plans resulted in new, more expansive opportunities to help people around the world - a definite "blessing from urgency". Mini-vacations are the topic of our third segment - we explain how to take a "mini-vacation" and why they are so important for self-care and resilience. Questions from our final segment: 1) How can a mini-vacation refresh us if, by the time we stop to take one, we are completely exhausted?, 2) Can a mini-vacation help us recognize when it's time to make changes in our lives?, and 3) Fifty years ago this month, a very urgent situation led Peter to make big changes in his life. Have these changes turned out to be a blessing?
57 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 92: CAN AN URGENT CRISIS BE A BLESSING?
Crises urgently call for responses based on strength, skill and clear thinking. Even in the worst of times, correctly handling ourselves and our emotions can bring about good changes. In the first segment of this podcast, Peter and Jenny describe the nature of crisis, what it can feel like, and the body's stress response mechanism. In the second segment, we explain the complications that previous, unresolved crisis or trauma experiences add to a current crisis. Our third segment sheds some light on the way the stress of a crisis can either bring out the worst, or the best in each of us - it's up to us to choose. Our questions segment covers practical ways to respond effectively in a crisis: 1) How can you focus on the beneficial abilities and strengths you do have?, 2) Why is it important to take one day, or one hour, or one minute at a time?, and 3) Why is it unhelpful to think about what you can't do and how can you shift your focus to what you can do?
58 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 91: CAN SUFFERING BE A GIFT?
Is it always best to try to avoid pain and trauma, or can the experience of suffering be of lasting value? Philosophers, sociologists, soldiers, holocaust victims, and ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances have debated this question. Two trains of thought exist: extreme suffering wounds the mind and soul beyond the possibility of real recovery; or pain and trauma, accepted and worked through, can provide wisdom, hardiness, a sense of purpose, and empathy for our fellow man. This question on the value of suffering directly affects the treatment approaches to PTS - is it a mental disorder to be managed, or an appropriate moral response to horrific experiences from which people can grow and heal? Peter and Jenny believe that suffering can lead to growth in character and resilience and share their convictions from experience. Questions & Answers: 1) Some believe it's too much to ask, and an insult to others who have suffered, to say that post-traumatic growth is possible. Is this "misguided compassion"?, 2) If so, what would real compassion for sufferers of pain and hardship look like?, and 3) Is rejecting the possibility of growth after pain a type of personal "collapse"? In what way would this be a loss and a handicap?
58 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 90: SHIFTING YOUR MINDSET FROM NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE IN CHALLENGING TIMES
It can be too easy to get stuck in a negative mindset during hard times. We are limited and human, unable to control all that we'd like to, and our negative emotions and reactions can be triggered and take over. It's important to start by developing an awareness of when anger, fear or despair build up in our minds and bodies. We can then make deliberate changes to shift our outlook to a more compassionate approach to ourselves and to those around us. Essential steps in this process include slowing down and tuning in to yourself, recognizing the way negativity wastes needed energy, and also recognizing the way negativity robs us of the things we most value in our lives. Peter and Jenny answer the questions: 1) Is making the shift from a negative mindset to a positive one a matter of willpower, of just trying harder?, 2) If difficult life situations leave us feeling unable to care for others, or even ourselves, shouldn't we feel shame?, and 3) What will we miss out on, and regret, by staying stuck in anger and resentment during hard times?
57 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 89; HOW TO USE INTUITION TO HANDLE CHALLENGING TIMES.
How can we keep a clear head in a crisis, so that we can respond effectively? "Trusting your intuition" doesn't always steer us in the right direction. Overwhelming emotions in the present and unresolved troubling emotions from the past can interfere with our ability to read current situations and take positive action. We all need to be able to tune in to ourselves and our emotional states, reading the cues in our minds and bodies. With these awarenesses, we can shift from anger, fear and sadness (directed towards others or ourselves), to compassion and empathy and a more peaceful outlook during hard times. Questions Peter and Jenny answer: 1) How can we shift from intense emotions of anger and fear to feelings of compassion and empathy?, 2) What are ways to diffuse and work through intense, negative emotions?, and 3) What can help people who deeply fear, when bad times come, that they won't be OK and won't recover from the losses they are experiencing?
57 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 88: FIRST STEPS TO TAKE IN A CRISIS
What do we need to do first when a crisis hits? Which attitudes and behaviors give us the best chance to successfully navigate the difficult times ahead? The best first step to take, Peter and Jenny explain, is to recognize and accept our humanity and limitations. What has worked for us in the past may not be enough for this new challenge. With hope, and a willingness to learn we can start transitioning into the unknown future. In this episode, Peter and Jenny answer three questions: 1) When a crisis hits, is it best to put off decisions or to act quickly?, 2) How can our intuition about which actions to take in a crisis get "contaminated"?, and 3) Is it possible to handle a crisis on your own?
55 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 87: LEARNING TO CONQUER LIFE'S CRISES; WITH A MESSAGE FROM PATRICK CYUZUZO
The pandemic is bringing changes into our lives over which we have little control. If we've expected life to move in a smooth, linear way from one stage to the next, we've set ourselves up for disappointment. We can't always choose our circumstances but we can choose how we respond. By accepting the need for change and responding with strength and courage, we can rewrite our life stories, casting ourselves in the role of hero. Patrick Cyuzuzo, a young man from Rwanda who was orphaned very young, rewrote his life story and shares a message of hope and gratitude in this episode. Patrick survived horrific experiences by making the choice to work hard and find a way to a better life. We answer three questions: 1) What does Patrick mean when he says he was able to "adopt the real me", and what could that mean for each of us?, 2) How did Patrick use "powerful decisions" to survive and change his life?, and 3) What is most important for all of us to take away from Patrick's message?
55 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 86: OUT OF A CRISIS, GOOD CHANGES CAN COME
Our first reactions to a crisis involve our emotions. How we deal with our fear, sadness, and anger can either complicate our difficulties or give us energy to get creative and find solutions. With experience, we can prevent our powerful emotions from leading to destructive actions or paralysis. Instead, we can use them to try new solutions, learn and make forward progress. If we expect our lives to follow an orderly, linear path of change, we will be disappointed and less able to respond with resilience. This podcast answers the questions: Which attitudes best help us deal with crisis and change, and which attitude gets in the way? Which stage of crisis and transition has been hardest for us and how did we deal with it? And, is it really possible to gain real, practical meaning and purpose from our experiences of adversity?
55 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 85: HOW TO SEE LIFE'S UPHEAVALS AND CHALLENGES AS OPPORTUNITIES
For everyone, life brings a series of challenges and disruptions to our careers, health, and relationships. Sometimes several challenges arrive at once, producing a crisis. If we expect life to follow a predictable line from one stage to another, we're going to be in for a shock. It is possible to survive and grow through hard times if we accept that our lives will change and don't become overwhelmed by our emotions. Life transitions involve letting go, or "saying goodbye", working through all the challenges and issues involved, or "the messy middle", and embracing a new way of life and a new self. In letting go of what no longer serves us, we are able to become creative and find new opportunities
57 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 84: THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF CHALLENGING TIMES AND THE WAY THEY AFFECT ALL OUR LIVES
It is possible not only to survive during difficult times but to grow and emerge with greater meaning and purpose in life. First, we must be willing to look closely at ourselves and face our shortcomings and limitations. We must accept our losses and recognize and decompress our intense emotions without becoming driven by them. Next, by examining our priorities and values - the "tangibles" versus the "intangibles" - we can redirect our lives in more authentic and compassionate ways. We also need to explore the spiritual side of our lives and identify new directions for our calling in life.
55 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 83: DIG DEEPER TO FIND HOPE AND STRENGTH TODAY
In the midst of a crisis we are forced to confront ourselves and our limitations. Will we let our negative emotions of fear and anger get the best of us? Will we place our priorities on material, tangible possessions - wealth, security, and status - or the precious intangible things in life - compassion for others, honesty, and finding a calling in life? To come through hard times, we need faith that we can find the answers and help we need to survive and grow. There are practical steps we can take to have hope, gain strength, and find resilience.
57 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 82: RESILIENCE SKILLS THAT EVERYONE CAN LEARN
Resilience isn't a talent the lucky few are born with. Everyone who goes through adversity can become more resilient if they hold on to hope and a willingness to learn new skills. Difficult times - when life feels out of our control - call on us to feel our pain and loss and face our limitations. If we don't let destructive emotions, such as anger, fear, and sadness take over we can make positive choices to address our difficult situation. We can learn to keep a positive, realistic attitude, stay true to our personal values, find purpose and meaning in something bigger than ourselves, and reach out to others. We can recognize and accept what we can't change and act to change those things we can. We can lean for support on others who play an important role in our lives.
57 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 81: REAL LIFE IS FULL OF ADVERSITY
We will all experience adversity in life - whether it comes from an inescapable event such as the virus pandemic, or whether it comes into our lives as a result of our individual choices and circumstances. How can we respond successfully in times of difficulty, change and uncertainty? Four approaches that don't work: trying "business as usual"; avoiding the problem; thinking there's only one solution; and believing you either have the talent to succeed or you don't. What does work: facing adversity and embracing our limitations; learning the lessons in our difficult situations; getting creative and drawing on past experience; developing the quality of "grit"; and responding to others who are suffering with empathy and compassion.
58 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 80: FINDING HAPPINESS IN HARD TIMES
It is possible to experience happiness - positive feelings and moments - during the darkest of times. Not to be confused with an artificial pretense of glee, this deeper, more meaningful happiness depends on making deliberate efforts to grow and become more resilient in hard times. Realistic, meaningful happiness is possible when we allow ourselves to feel our painful emotions, then remember what matters most to us and act on it. We can reach out to others, practice self-care activities that meet our unique needs, treasure fond memories, and find pleasure in everyday positive moments - including the powerful uplift of listening to music we love.
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