Revising the Story
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
4M ago
Relationships are tricky. And they can reflect so much about our childhood experiences and the stories we weaved about ourselves when we were young. The most painful narratives are those stories that tell us we can not be loved just as we are. Instead we tell ourselves the tale that we must be.. .(fill in the blank) enough to be lovable. As I watch my clients wrestle with this narrative, I am reminded of the beliefs I created earlier in my own life. And the struggle to release those beliefs and open myself up for new ones. Stories are powerful and rewriting them is a painful task. Helping my c ..read more
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Inside Job
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
7M ago
Many of my dear readers know that I facilitate a therapy group named Live Brave. Every other Wednesday evening, this band of brave souls gather together to explore what it means to live a brave and authentic life. This past week, we dug into what it means to belong versus what it means to fit it. In Brene Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart, she states, “Because we can feel belonging only if we have the courage to share our most authentic selves with people, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” That resonated with me. Really resonated with me. You see, m ..read more
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Joy in the Face of Darkness
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
8M ago
All of us have been hit hard by the events of recent weeks; the deaths of elementary students and teachers, the war in Ukraine, the many families going without basic necessities, and hate crimes that target people of color and the LGBTQ community. It fills our media. It drains our soul. So how do we, in the face of all this suffering, feel joy? It is a challenge I am facing these days. I am currently not doing Are You Hungry, where I hand out food and essentials to the hungry and homeless in my community. I am on hiatus because of concerns about the recent uptick in COVID cases and the need to ..read more
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Hope, Meet Acceptance
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
10M ago
My dear readers, I have written many times in many venues about the issue of hope. And my take on hope has been fairly consistent. I’m not a big fan, especially when it comes to cancer. I have so little control over what cancer does in my body, so I feel I do not have the data necessary to support hope. My super power is acceptance. And my faith tells me that no matter what is ahead for me on this journey with cancer, I do not walk it alone. And that makes it easier to keep acceptance firmly within my grasp. But last night, one of my Live Brave group members calmly expressed, “I think hope is ..read more
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The Story of Trying to be a Good Mom
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
11M ago
“A good mom”. This was a phrase I have heard many times in many different situations. The message I always heard was that you can fail at many roles in your life, but you should never, ever fail as a mom. That message is so deep in me, it has seeped into my bones. While my children were growing up, I failed at numerous things I attempted to do, but I shuddered at the idea that I would fail as a mom. But there is an irony to all of that… The tricky thing is that the criteria for a good mom rested on the behavior of my children. If they were appropriately behaved, got good grades, or maybe helpe ..read more
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Regrets
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
11M ago
I have been diving in to the book, Atlas of the Heart, by Brene Brown with my Live Brave therapy group. Last week, a line about regret jumped out at me. Brene wrote, “In our work, we find that what people regret most are our failures of courage, whether it’s the courage to be kinder, to show up, to say how we feel, to set boundaries, to be good to ourselves, to say yes to something scary.” That resonated with me. But sitting with it, I realize that what I regret most in my life has been my empathetic misses with the people I love. My mother was a few weeks from the end of her life when she sai ..read more
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Simply Love
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1y ago
It is Valentine’s Day, again. It is my all-time favorite holiday of the year. A day without the stress of massive preparations or the heavy expectations that come with other mainstream holidays. Yet a day dedicated to the expression of love. And, my dear readers, you know how I LOVE love. But unfortunately, our culture has hijacked Valentine’s Day for commercial gain. This has put the focus of the day on romantic love and being part of an intimate relationship. Commercials fill the air with ideas about what to get that special someone in your life. This leaves people without intimate partners ..read more
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It’s a Small, Small World
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1y ago
March 15, 2020 was the first day the COVID-19 virus had been detected in my community. My life dramatically changed directions that day. I saw my clients only through telehealth and eventually closed my brick and mortar office. I stopped worshipping in person with my faith community. I stopped feeding the hungry and homeless. Family and friend connections were by phone, FaceTime, or outdoor conversations only. Eating out or even getting take out food became a thing of the past. I ordered my groceries online and had them delivered to our home. Frequent travel had morphed into no travel. The wor ..read more
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Positively Positive
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1y ago
In a conversation last week with a friend, I shared my anxiety about an upcoming skin cancer check-up. Less than a year has passed since my last surgery and the thought of a repeat had me uneasy. “Stay positive”, she responded. Her words made me reflect on the whole positivity movement and the latest buzz word, “toxic positivity”. So I pondered: how does being positive fit with being a cancer patient? Being positive does not lead me to make exclamations that I have won over cancer. I have had four different cancer diagnoses in the past eleven years and six skin cancer diagnoses in the past sev ..read more
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Grieve
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1y ago
It started with a simple text on Friday night telling me that Mark had died unexpectedly earlier that day. I was stunned, as though I could not catch my breath for a bit. I was in disbelief. And then, I was stunned again. I had communicated with him less than 48 hours before this. The loss of someone I cared for deeply, slammed into my solar plexus. Just homegrown, deep down grief showing its face. Damn it. I often talk with my clients about grief as the price we pay for love. Love and loss go hand and hand I tell them. When I share that, it is genuine. But when the waves of grief are washing ..read more
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