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Janice, Peter, Daniel and Kate Marshall

Janice, Peter, Daniel and Kate Marshall

Janice kindly shared her courageous story as part of the Quest for Life Foundation Mothers Day Appeal. You can read the full letter here. Thank you Janice for sharing part of your journey with us.

I am the mother, and until recently, the main carer, for Daniel, my gorgeous 24 year old son who is autistic. Then 6 years ago, my husband (of 32 years) Pete, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. After the nearly 24 years of grief (for the son we had expected and never had) and the stress that  came from living with him and his bizarre throwing and destructive behaviours, the blow of Pete’s diagnosis hit us for six. We’ve always felt that the prolonged stress of Daniel contributed to Pete’s disease. It may well have also contributed to our daughter, Kate (23), suffering from anxiety over the years, including being seriously ill with anorexia at age 11.

I am however a ‘fixer’, and have spent many of the last years trying to ‘fix’ Daniel, Pete and Kate. The cumulative stress and anger over these years has taken a toll and I have burned out and felt totally useless. Although I am on the surface fit and well, the added grief of watching my wonderful, strong, fit and capable husband slowly decline has been almost more than I can bear.

But together, and despite the restrictions of conventional western medicine, we have never given up hope that Pete can be well again. He continues to ride his mountain bike and we have adjusted our already healthy diet and exercise program. Then we came to Quest for Life, which provided us with the missing link, a program which taught us how to harness the power of the mind and how to live a ‘weller’ life right now. It taught me to live in the ‘now’, which I found so difficult before, and to slow my overwrought nervous system to find peace. One of the toughest lessons for me was learning that I also deserve to look after me and ‘fluff me up’ and that ironically is what best helps Pete, Daniel and Kate! I am learning that I can’t control everything and that is OK and yet ironically, the more both    Peter and I meditate and slow down, the more in control we feel. We hope to incorporate what we have learned into Daniel’s confused world as well to help bring him to his own peace. For both of us, the program has been life-changing and we look forward to our future lives now with hope.

Janice Marshall

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It's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

It’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

This recently came into our inbox:

If you will take the time to read these. I promise you’ll come away with an enlightened perspective. The subjects covered affect us all on a daily basis. They’re written by Andy Rooney, a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words.

I’ve learned…. That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned…. That when you’re in love, it shows.

I’ve learned…. That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

I’ve learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I’ve learned…. That being kind is more important than being right.

I’ve learned…. That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.

I’ve learned…. That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I’ve learned…. That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I’ve learned…. That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I’ve learned…. That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I’ve learned…. That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

I’ve learned…. That money doesn’t buy class.

I’ve learned…. That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I’ve learned…. That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I’ve learned…. That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I’ve learned…. That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

I’ve learned…. That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I’ve learned…. That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I’ve learned…. That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I’ve learned…. That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I’ve learned… That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

I’ve learned…. That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I’ve learned…. That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I’ve learned…. That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I’ve learned…. That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I’ve learned….. That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I’ve learned….. That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you’re hooked for life.

I’ve learned…. That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

I’ve learned…. That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Do you have any lessons learned to add?

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That changed my life – feeling love unconditionally.

That changed my life – feeling love unconditionally.

When I started work at Quest for Life two years ago Petrea said “It would be good for you to sit in on the program”.   So I did. I remember thinking I will be good for me to ‘see what we do’.   I am a self confessed self-help junkie having listened to endless motivational tapes and cd’s, attending seminars and reading endless bookings for the last twenty years.   I really did not expect to get much out of the program other than to see ‘what we do’.

Boy was I wrong!!!   I started listening; the words were all resonating with me.  That’s when emotionally I erupted; it would seem that there were so many emotional issues I had forced down deep inside and not allowed myself to feel.  Sure I was motivated and obsessed with the success principles but my spirit was emotionally malnourished.   I had been on a two year rollercoaster after my dad passed away and I kept pushing the natural grief process away.  I never gave myself time to get over that, I just made myself busy.

That is all it took, the session on emotions and the permission to feel the way I felt, and the tears started to roll out, which even then I felt guilty and embarrassed for displaying. Somehow I continued to listen, hiding behind a tissue.

We had a tea break and a complete stranger walked up to me and said “I think you need a hug”.  That changed my life – feeling love unconditionally.

I came away from that day with some new values – all about me for a change.   I learnt how bad I was about looking after how I was; I seldom took time to do anything for myself.  I learnt about fluffing myself up and recognised people around me who did this were not selfish!   I learnt about my emotions, experiencing them and allowing them.   I learnt about communication, not only with myself but with others.   I turned a corner that day in relation to my dad’s death. I have new meaning for that now and can speak openly without feeling dark, but instead feel a love a connection with him.

So now when I sit at my desk answering calls from people in very challenging places, I honestly say to them, it is a very loving and nurturing place to move through any challenges.   The participants I have seen on the last day are filled with such a confidence and look of inner peace, it is like they have had an internal makeover. This still gives me Goosebumps when I think of the transformations. I still use all the practical tools I learnt and feel blessed for taking time to ‘see what we do’.

If you are interested in a program, I am on the other end of the phone to answer any questions you may have just phone 1300 941 488.

Suzanne x

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Braidy flies high!

Braidy flies high!

Braidy attended a Healing Your Life program at Quest for Life last year and just sent us this lovely email. With her permission, we wanted to share it with you so that you too can feel her joy and celebration:

I just wanted to take the time to write to you and all the amazing people at Quest to let you know how I’m getting along!

It’s been a year since I came in contact with you and I feel like I’m a new person!
What a hard journey it has been!

It’s felt like a roller coaster ride for me – BUT over the last month I have felt like I am finally able to enjoy life again!

My surgeons told me at Christmas time that they don’t want to operate because it’s too risky. So I have now put all my energy into visualisation and self-healing! Its been amazing so far, I feel like it’s already so much better!

I feel like I’m a different person to what I was pre operations, I’m so much stronger (physically and mentally) now. I am slowly gaining more confidence
and reconnecting with my body. I’ve been training 4 times a week down at the beach which is such an accomplishment for me!

To celebrate my happiness at the moment – I went trapezing yesterday, which was such a rush and I’m soo proud that I had the confidence in my body to
do that! (Ive attached a photo for you as proof ha ha).

I know my journey isn’t over yet – and it will be a looooonnnng road ahead, but Ive finally reached that place where I can truly say I am happy again!!!

I definitely could not have gotten this far without such amazing people in my life like you all! You all really came to my rescue when I hit rock bottom, and I mean rock rock bottom! and you were able to support, teach and guide me in the right direction. I can’t tell you how important it was to come to Quest and sit and talk and you would all listen without judgement. You always had a level of understanding that no one else had!

You’re all very special people and I know you touch a lot of other people’s lives, just like mine which is just incredible!
Sooo a HUGE thank you to you all! You are always in my heart and I live strongly not only for me but for all of you as well!

Lots of love to the Quest Family X
Braidy

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Freedom and Jeff

Freedom and Jeff

Petrea came across this story via email and we just had to share it!

This  is the kind of story that enlivens and nourishes our hearts.

Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer. She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings.  Her left wing doesn’t open all the way even after surgery as it was broken in four places. She’s my baby.

When Freedom came in she could not stand and both wings were broken. She was emaciated  and covered in lice. We made the  decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her  to the vet’s office.  From then on, I  was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off and it was  loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in.  I used to sit and talk to her,  urging her to live; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks and, by then she still couldn’t stand. The decision  was made to euthanase her if she couldn’t stand in a week.  You know you don’t want to cross that line between torture and rehab and it looked like death was winning. She was going to be put down that Friday and I was supposed to come in on the Thursday. I didn’t want to go
to the center that Thursday because I couldn’t bear the thought of her being euthanased; but I went anyway and when I walked in everyone was  grinning from ear to ear. I went immediately to her cage and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle.

She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then. That was a very good day.

We  knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for  schools in western Washington. We wound up in newspapers, on radio (believe it or not) and some TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

Freedom would also come to me in my dreams

Freedom would also come to me in my dreams

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s  lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere) so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair – the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I  felt  good enough, I would take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000 the day after Thanksgiving, I went in for my last checkup. I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests and I had to go back for the results. I went in the following Monday and I was told that all the cancer was gone.

So the first thing I did was get the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her
up and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn’t said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew.

She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I  was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched  my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes. We just stood there like that for I don’t know how long. That was a magic moment.  We have been soul mates ever since she came in.  This is a very special  bird.

On  a side note: I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us and I let him hold her. His  knees just about buckled and he swore he could feel her power course through his body.  I have so many stories like that.

I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom.

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My Rainbow Connection

My Rainbow Connection

This is my first contribution to the Quest blog as I’ve just started as part of the team this week and am very excited to be here!

Over the last few days I’ve had a very personal experience with the Rainbow Ribbon that I’d love to share with you.

I’d seen the rainbow ribbons on the website, however had only first seen them physically on Monday when I was given a few to look over. I took them home and read the card and thought how beautiful the message and philosophy was.

My mother in law has been ill for some time and had recently been placed in palliative care. We received news on Wednesday evening that she wasn’t expected to see the night through.  With that news my two little men (10 & 8 years old) were understandably overcome with emotion as their hearts and minds grappled with the reality that Granny wasn’t going to make it. Their little hearts were breaking and they sobbed and sobbed.

As I sat on my 8 year olds bed, I remembered that I had the rainbow ribbons in my bag.  I KNEW they would be the perfect balm to sooth these wounded souls and let them find some peace in the still of the night knowing the connection to their Granny was wrapped in their rainbow connections. I read them the words on the card, and together we sent love and blessings to Granny.

Granny passed peacefully last night.  At home we lit candles and sent her love and rainbows and the boys were so happy they had their rainbow ribbons to take to bed with them as they felt such a connection to their beloved Granny.

A connection and a ritual that will be repeated time and time again whereever and whenever we find ourselves.

Susie

 

 

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Hope

Hope

The coming suffering is to be avoided

I was teaching at a yoga teacher training course and we were having a discussion on Philosophy.

I recalled a sutra from the central texts of yoga (The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, if you are that way inclined). Originally in Sanskrit, (I shall refrain from waxing lyrical about how much I love this perfect language!) it says, literally – “The coming suffering is to be avoided”.

What does that mean? “The suffering that is to come can be avoided?”.

For me, it is saying that things can become better in the future, by the choices we make in the present. This is a real message of hope.

It is about choosing your highest values to guide your actions.

If I ask myself ‘from what basis do I decide my present actions?’ What guides it? I would like to say it is Compassion.

Compassion is equal parts of love and discrimination.

The Buddhists say it is only our actions that we can own. We tend to think it is what we say that matters; yet it is who we are and what we do with our lives.

This sutra means Being in the present and still planning. By practicing being present and planning for the future with skilful decisions born of our values, we are then able to meet the inevitable challenges of life.

I recently saw this very quote being discussed in a book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. Another example of ancient wisdom with current application!

So in these most challenging of times, perhaps we can consider what guides our actions, so that we can skilfully navigate our way to a future without the suffering which could have been avoided. (I thank all my teachers, past and present who have guided my life and shared so generously of their own experiences and insights).

Bernadette Arena

Bernadette Arena

Bernadette Arena

Bernadette has worked with the Quest for Life Foundation since early 2006 and is the Senior Facilitator on our residential programs.  Her work is treasured by our participants and our team. She has also been developing and refining a deep understanding of the use of appropriate yoga and meditation approaches for use in oncology and with serious illness.

Bernadette maintains close association with International Yoga Teachers Association and is a senior lecturer for their Teacher Training Course.  She has designed and delivered yoga teacher training courses for other organisations.  During 5 years in the UK she taught retreats, workshops and classes across the UK and in Europe and worked as a personal ‘lifestyle’ coach.  Bernadette brings a gentle and loving nature with insight and compassion borne out of her experience. She can assist a deeper connection with the body as a means to rejuvenate the spirit.

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