Positive thinking is something I had to re-learn as family tragedies befell one after the other. With 5 deaths in my immediate family (including my son), it might seem I am immune to pain. It never gets easier. Along the way, I learned to improve my life, change and reinvent myself. Allow me to share (rehash) some of my recovery principles which may or may not be useful to you but worked for me.


1. Say Thank You everyday. Practice Gratitude. Everyday , I face interruptions, delays, changes and challenges. I have learned an important concept to get me through this stressful time and that is gratitude. I learn to say thank you, for all these problems and feelings. I don’t like this experience but Thank You anyway. I had to force gratitude until it became second nature to me. Gratitude helped me stop trying to control outcomes. Gratitude makes things right. It is the key that unlocked positive energy in my life.

2. Live life one day at a time which requires so much faith in us. Look ahead to make future plans. Don’t look back at the past unless healing from the past is part of today’s work. We focus on this day’s activity, living it to the best of our ability.

3. Love and Nurture Yourself. Nurturing is about how we show love for ourselves. I needed a loving relationship with myself that works so I can have a loving relationship with others that work.

4. Avoid Gossip. Direct , clean conversation clears the air and paves the way for good feelings about ourselves and our relationship with others. Gossiping about another for motives of diminishing him or her in order to build up themselves or to judge the person hurts friendships in the end. I resolved that I will resist and place boundaries when I am faced with another gossip.

5. Happiness is in your Hands. Healing comes when we are aware of how we attempt to use others to stop our pain and create our happiness. We will heal from our past. We will see that, all along, our happiness and our well-being have been in our hands.

6. Practice healthy and loving tolerance. When I learned healthy and loving tolerance, I learned tolerance for others. I also learned that the humanness I tolerated is what makes myself and others beautiful. There are some things I do not tolerate. I do not tolerate abusive behaviors or destructive behaviors towards others or myself.

7. There is a time to feel anger and a time to let it go.. Anger is a part of life. We need not dwell in it or seek it out but we can’t afford to ignore it. In recovery, I have learned that I can shamelessly feel all my feelings including anger, and still take responsibility for what I do when I feel angry. I don’t have to let anger control me but it surely will if I prevent myself from feeling it.

8. Laughter is the best medicine. Even just the expectation of a mirthful laughter involved in watching your favorite funny movie has some very surprising and significant neuroendocrine/hormone effects. Earlier experiments showed that viewing a favorite funny video can offset symptoms of chronic stress, which can suppress various components of the immune responses, particularly those related to anti-viral and anti-tumor defenses.

9. Turn pain into something positive. Help others. Start an advocacy , a cause, a charity. Helping others can both help you and the person who is in pain.

10. Set boundaries. I can love my family or friends but refuse their efforts to manipulate, control or produce guilt in me. I can learn to be assertive with family members without being aggressive. I can set the boundaries I need with them without being disloyal to the family or the friend. I can learn to love my friends and family without forfeiting love and respect for myself.

11 Take Financial Responsibility for ourselves. Each of us today, has a financial future. There are few future aspects of my life I can control, but one part I can play to assist our family’s future is setting goals. I don’t have to obsess about my goals. I don’t have to constantly watch and mark our progress toward them.Taking responsibility for my finances enable me to take focus off money. It frees me to do my work and live the life I want. I deserve to have the self-esteem and peace that accompanies financial responsibility.


12. Love God as you understand God. I learned that recovery is an intensely spiritual process that prods us to grow in our understanding of God . My understanding of God is based on my Catholic upbringing that God is real. Loving. God is Good. The more I turned my mind and heart to a positive understanding of God, the more God validates me. Whether one is a Christian, non-Christian or Atheists, I will respect their own understanding of God as well as my own. I will not allow others’ judgement of my beliefs to cause me anxiety or distress.

13. . Practice as IF. To practice the positive, I act as if. It’s a positive form of pretending. It’s a useful tool to use to get ourselves unstuck. Now, when a problem haunts me, acting as if can helps me get unstuck. I act as if the problem will be or already is solved so I can go on with my daily routine.

Do you have other ways that helped improve your life?

The Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me. –“Stigmata”

Like all Catholic schools, Religion was taught as early as First grade. I can still remember my book with images of clouds, and a man in long beard and a dove or was it a bird I forgot how God was taught by the Belgian nuns. I recall God to be someone powerful who watches over me, yet there was some sort of fear of being a bad little girl. In my little girl’s mind, I looked around for God. Where is he?

As the second sibling in the family, I looked up to my eldest sister, Lorna for her words of wisdom. I took her every word, well because she was a year older and knew more than me. Naturally.

I tugged her sleeve. “Do you know where God is? ”

Lorna nodded and dragged me to the kitchen. She pointed to the leftover mango seed on the kitchen table.

In a solemn voice, she said, “When you crack open the mango seed, you will find God in there.”

My eyes widened, “really?”

Her revelation elated me. God is real.

One day, I thought of talking to God. I got a mango seed ad sat by the window sill that overlooked the garden and slowly pried opened the mango shell. As I opened the shell, I felt awed. I found God! My body felt like a balloon as if I was floating around the garden. It was a joyful moment.

My little girl’s heart cried out in gratitude, ““Okay God. I hope you protect me. I promise to be a good girl.”

I know this “Where is God?” anecdote is really funny. Lorna laughed as I recounted the story to her. She forgot that she taught me this.

I grew up praying to God every day and attending mass at the Catholic Church every Sundays. It seemed too routine until a friend introduced me to the bible and told me to read the book of John. I just knew that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and everything in the bible was true and good and I wanted it in my life.

Pretty soon I had kids of my own but I made sure that God was something that my children felt in their hearts. It had to start with something more tangible at first.

I see the moon and the moon sees me,
God bless the moon, and God bless me.

As a nursery rhyme, I felt the toddlers understood God to be good. Two of my three children suffered from asthma and letting them understand that “Jesus lives in their hearts” so they would calm down and feel more relaxed in prayer. I also felt that it will heal them faster if they are in a relaxed state of mind.

I guess the real test of my faith in God came when my beautiful son died 11 years ago. Questions soon came:

Where were you God?

Why God?

Why me God?

Every parent who lost a child or a loved one ask these questions. I know now that the feelings of “Why me, God?” are real. My pain is real. The questions form part of the grief process. Well-meaning friends often like to point out not to question God’s wisdom. So easy to say especially if that person has not lost a child.

While God may have seemed distant during those bleak moments of my life, it was God who also showed me the light in the quiet still of the room. As I sat on the Luijoe’s favorite couch, feeling despondent over our family situation, I felt a warm tingly feeling that emanated from within me and then feelings of peace and joy. That difficult journey left me literally with a broken heart but not too broken because why did God give me a second wind in life to make a difference in this mortal world? That light…starting and living a new life without my precious son but still living a good life.

It is these good and bad moments that affirmed that God is good, all the time.

While I continue to believe in His words and His teachings, I may not necessarily find God in Churches , disillusioned and disenchanted as I am with the Catholic Church on its stance with the Reproductive Health Bill… but that is another story.

Today, my new dialogue with God is … “God, this is going to be an interesting journey. I’m excited to see how you are going to bring good out of this one. I trust you will!”

Photo credit: and here and here