It is Finished
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1w ago
“It is finished.” The final words of Jesus are being spoken today all over the world in Christian gatherings on this Good Friday. They have always seemed to be such powerful words to me. For many faithful Christians, it is an important turning point in Jesus’ mission on earth. He had this hard path to walk and he did it. With great love. With deep commitment. With inspired purpose. He walked the path. It does not surprise me that as I pushed the button on my keyboard to end my final session as a therapist, the words, “It is finished” whispered through my mind. No, I do not see myself as a mess ..read more
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The Love of a Patient
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
3w ago
Last week I wrote a post about the love of a therapist, reflecting on how my love for my patients shows up. I wrote about the grief I am experiencing as retirement is looming on the horizon because I feel my love of a therapist has not been fully tapped into. I feel the love that is longing to be shared with the clients I have loved so dearly. As I reflected on this love, I began to consider the love my clients may have for me. It is not something I think about often. And yet, my retirement elicits the memory of my therapist retiring fifteen months ago. I remember struggling to express my love ..read more
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The Love of a Therapist
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1M ago
It started simply enough. I received a text message from a client I have seen for many years telling me she had just become a grandmother for the second time. I was so happy for her. So why were rivers of tears running down my cheeks? Because the grief was literally hitting me in the face. Soon, I would no longer get these text messages from my clients. Soon, their life events would be something of which I would have no knowledge. I would not know about the births, deaths, graduations, and weddings. I would not learn about the new jobs or the new homes. The big wins. The big losses. Instead, I ..read more
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Walking Into the Unknown
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
3M ago
Looking at my calendar this morning, I realized that my therapy career will come to a close exactly three months from today. And on that day, I will step away from a core component of my life for the past thirty-nine years. It all seems so surreal to me. First, I never thought I would live long enough to retire. Retirement has always been one of those normal developmental milestones that I saw in other people’s stories. But I never saw it in my own narrative. I remember being newly diagnosed with cancer and unable to work because of multiple surgeries within a short span of time. During my tim ..read more
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Finding Peace in Emotional Wrestling
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
6M ago
I have been thinking about personal growth a lot lately. Personal growth is such a double-edged sword. On the one hand there is this budding awareness about life, love, relationships, and soul that is exhilarating. I cherish all the ways this new awareness can transform my life. But on the other hand, there is this overwhelming sense of grief for all the ways not knowing has created pain in my past. I witnessed this juxtaposition in my group last night. We were discussing codependency and how it shows up in relationships. I watched the light of recognition come into the group members’ eyes abo ..read more
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Self-compassion in the face of self-abandonment
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
10M ago
It’s ironic to me that therapists work so diligently with their clients to honor and embrace themselves. And yet, like the rest of the planet we experience self-abandonment. I observe it in my clients who are therapists. I observe it in the therapists with whom I clinically consult. I observe it in me. How do I abandon myself? When I keep my voice small so as not to offend others or make a conversation uncomfortable. When I say yes to doing something I do not want to do. When I ignore my body’s pleas for rest, dare I let someone else down. When I push myself to prove to others and myself that ..read more
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Being Present in the Oh-Oh Moments
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1y ago
Self-compassion. It’s something that is on my mind often lately. I’m currently working on self-compassion with my Live Brave group and I define the concept as being kind to oneself, being aware of this moment, and being aware of our belonging to all of humanity. That is a tall order, isn’t it? I try often to speak to myself as I would a friend or a client, with gentleness and respect. But the most challenging part of self-compassion for me is being fully present in this moment. A few weeks ago, I had an oh-oh moment with cancer. A recent scan showed something suspicious in my remaining breast ..read more
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Revising the Story
i'd rather love life than hate cancer
by Julie Barthels
1y 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
1y 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
2y 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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