A NOT-To-Do List for the chronically ill

Heart Sisters

Today’s guest post comes from the wisdom of Toni Bernhard, a former law professor who, one fine day many years ago, went to Paris for a holiday with her husband, got sick, and didn’t get better. As such, Toni’s had to learn a lot about being a patient, as she described in her wonderful award-winning book, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers

In this guest post, Toni lists items that belong on a NOT-To-Do list for all those living with chronic pain or illness.

I love To-Do lists. I depended on them when I was working outside the home. I’ve depended on them since my bed became my office. The one difference is that, pre-illness, I had fancy notepads and appointment books in which to keep my lists. Now I scribble them on any random piece of paper I…

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Open letter from my husband 

If you know my wife you know that she is very caring. The kind of friend a friend would want to have. She does everything she can for the people she loves even when she is struggling and thats one of the many reasons I married her. 

Im a simple man and usually have few words on social media but in the last 24 hours Ive watched my wounderful wife be truly broken up and I need to say something. 

My wife got pregnant before she was married. According to the Bible that’s a sin. Even though she did everything in her power to make her 1st marriage to a abusive alcoholic work she got divorced. Again the Bible says this is a sin. She married me -TECHNICALLY adultery in the Bible, another sin. A broken commandment. Right up there with murder and taking the Lords name in vain. 

Even so we were allowed to get married, I adopted the kids, we get to be a family, we get tax breaks for all of this, I can provide insurance for my family, I am able to hold her hand in the hospital and we can legaly make decisions for each other and our kids if we need to. We attend church. These are our rights despite our sin. She said all this to me today. Then she asked if we were undeserving of our rights. She asked if she was less deserving, if I was less deserving, if our kids were less deserving of these rights. Then she asked if we were deserving of Gods grace and love. 

My wife has taught me more about Gods grace and love then I ever learned from church. She acts in love even when its uncomfortble Because of her faith and I think thats exactly what a christian should be. 

Maybe our other actions make us sinners according to the Bible but I dont believe that they make us or our kids less deserving of freedoms, rights, privleges, love or grace from the government, society or the church. 

So when I see her reading things from “the church” and “christians” discussing how sad it is or against Gods word it is when rights are extended to gays because of sin and how christians SHOULD feel and think about it with tears in her eyes, when I see how it effects her hope and crushes her faith, I wounder if its really the message of Gods will.

If youre saying that gays should not have these same rights because homosexuality is against Gods word, then you’re saying the me and my own family do not deserve our rights. I have to ask if this is the message you really want to convey because if it is I think everybody is gonna need to take a minute to look in the mirror and at friends family and congregatons to realize how many of us have or are acting against Gods will and commandments. 

What do we all deserve? 

Let those without sin throw the first stone.

In case you don’t understand what marriage equality is all about …

My husband John died 20 months ago, so we’re unable to celebrate together the Supreme Court’s decision on the case that bears my name, Obergefell v. Hodges.
Today, for the first time, any couple — straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender — may obtain a marriage license and make their commitments public and legal in all 50 states. America has taken one more step toward the promise of equality enshrined in our Constitution, and I’m humbled to be part of that.
John and I started our fight for a simple reason: We wanted the State of Ohio to recognize our lawful Maryland marriage on John’s impending death certificate. We wanted respect and dignity for our 20-year relationship, and as he lay dying of ALS, John had the right to know his last official record as a person would be accurate. We wanted to live up to the promises we made to love, honor, and protect each other as a committed and lawfully married couple.

Couples across America may now wed and have their marriage recognized and respected no matter what state they call home. No other person will learn at the most painful moment of married life, the death of a spouse, that their lawful marriage will be disregarded by the state. No married couple who moves will suddenly become two single persons because their new state ignores their lawful marriage.

Ethan and Andrew can marry in Cincinnati instead of being forced to travel to another state.

A girl named Ruby can have an accurate birth certificate listing her parents Kelly and Kelly.

Pam and Nicole never again have to fear for Grayden and Orion’s lives in a medical emergency because, in their panic, they forgot legal documents that prove both mothers have the right to approve care.

Cooper can grow into a man knowing Joe and Rob are his parents in all ways emotional and legal.

I can finally relax knowing that Ohio can never erase our marriage from John’s death certificate, and my husband can now truly rest in peace.

Marriage is about promises and commitments made legal and binding under the law, and those laws must apply equally to each and every American.

Today is a momentous day in our history. It’s a day when the Supreme Court of the United States lived up to the words inscribed above the front entrance of the courthouse:

Equal Justice Under Law.

Thank you,


being raw & vulnerable with the wolf at the door.

via: Rebelle Society 
You’re dangling precariously.
You’re frozen and trembling. You’re gripped with uncertainty and the ominous unknown. The wolf is at the door.
The bills are piling up, but no money is coming in. Or maybe your baby left you, walked right out. Perhaps you’ve made an epic mistake, with disastrous and irrevocable consequences. You can barely breathe, suffocated by the unwieldy weight of your own broken heart.
You frantically scan the landscape, looking for clues or any kind of lifeline. But the vista is barren. You’re shredded into a million bewildering pieces. You’re hanging on for sweet life. Or maybe you don’t know what you’re hanging on to anymore, or if you even can.
This is survival mode. And it will be okay.
Raw vulnerability is the midwife to grace. Stripped of your old safety nets and certainties, you have nothing but openness and new eyes. There is a pouring in of all the things you never noticed before. Even a dew-soaked leaf takes on a fresh poignancy and buys you a nanosecond of peace and beauty.
The very light of day changes. It softens and clarifies. Your pain is not here to batter you. It’s just making passage for perspective, transcendence and rebirth.
No matter the mayhem of the present moment, your heart is still steadily pounding. Your lungs are still expanding and contracting. Oxygen is still coursing through your body. And as you flail around in your anguish, your inner warrior is hard at work behind the scenes: rendering first-aid, holding your broken soul and keeping you alive.
He or she is fighting for you, more ferociously and diligently than you can imagine.
Your mind is your best weapon and your biggest obstacle. It can spin you into infinite madness or ground you in brave resolve. Panic can make it chatter relentlessly, but you can bring it back to earth again.
Step outside. Turn your precious face upward. Breathe. The air and the sky and the sun will calm the clamor. You don’t have to figure it all out right now.
Grief is the natural and real response to loss and hardship.
Despair, however, is grief on steroids. Grief holds its own gentle resolution. Despair is resignation, a long-term forecast for gloom. Fear has an ugly snarl but limited power. Still, it rages like a lunatic, leaving you disoriented.
Courage moves through the chaos, one steady step at a time. Your heartache is like a free fall. You can scramble to fill the void, grabbing for whatever fix you can to numb the jagged edges. You can also persevere with quiet dignity. In every moment there are choices, even in survival mode.
The hardest part of survival mode is the ambiguity.
It will not budge. There is no clear pathway to relief, or even a guarantee that you’ll find it. You are at the mercy of time and forces beyond your control. Such is the nature of ambiguity. Your present circumstances merely accentuate the point.
But even within the ambiguity there is possibility.
Although you’re shaking on the edge, there is a larger view available. This current difficulty, with all its sorrow, dread and anger, is just a blip on a much greater narrative. There is spaciousness, wonder and the divine gift of impermanence.
All are there for you. There is elegant liberation in releasing your weary clutch. You have already traveled for eons. Grace is the tender seraph pulling you home, wherever that may be.
And you will be okay.

A note from my best friend 

I was going to celebrate my birthday all week. You know…7 days of me! But it wasn’t sitting well with me. I’ve been so focused on myself for these past years…I want to celebrate my loved ones! So here are 7 truths I wanted you to know:
1. I know I haven’t always been a very good friend to you. But I’ve been a better friend to you than to anyone else. Hope that counts for something!  You’ve put up with me for so long!
2. I have no words to express how thankful I am for what you did for me and mine when we lost Jesse. And what you do for me every year…just by being there.   
3. It breaks my heart that you are going through so much. I don’t know what to do for you.  
4. You are an amazing mother. You are head and shoulders above most. You are involved and an advocate for you children. I wish I had a smidge of your  nurturing spirit.
5. You have been such a wonderful confidante for me. I can tell you anything…and I know you’ll still love me. I can act a fool (up in here) and you won’t even bat an eye!   
6. I still feel guilty sometimes for my disappearance act when I was remarried. I shouldn’t have let him do that to me…I should have been stronger.  Thank you for forgiving me that. 
7. I have been envious of you sometimes. You are so driven, once you set your mind on something. And you are so sensitive to others and you know yourself. And if you ever question yourself… you dig until you resolve it. So admirable.