I can remember when I was 32 years old and recovering from my breast cancer. I had no skin on my chest as a result of the radiation. Years ago, they were not precise in how they radiated, so my whole chest was burned, it was bright red and raw. During that same time, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. And just when I thought I was pushed to my limit, I accidentally dropped boiling water on my foot. I took off my sock and my skin with it. I was in so much pain, on so many levels.

There are times when life seems unbearable, and we feel broken. I can remember crying out, “My God! Why have You forsaken me?” With that cry, was a lot of tears. I felt alone, abandoned and uncertain.

I had PTSD from a traumatic car accident, Hashimoto disease, breast cancer, Lyme disease, then fistulas, fissures, c-diff and sepsis that launched another version of PTSD along with anxiety and depression. Plus, about 14 surgeries along the way.

After the car accident I devoted years to helping those with traumatic brain injuries, and after my breast cancer, I started a 501c3 nonprofit organization, called Cuddle My Kids. Cuddle provides free support services to families with cancer. I found great service through my life experiences. But during my sepsis, I was very sick and had what I believe was a near-death experience. Now keep in mind, I spent years serving those with TBI’s and then those with cancer. So, I was shocked when I was told, “My daughter Cathleen, it is not your time, there is too much work to be done!” Talk about feeling bummed and forsaken!

Two good things happened as a result of being turned away from the light that day. The first was, I relinquished a lot of fears. I knew I would not die anytime soon because I still had “more work to be done.” And the second was, I realized, my life experiences had prepared me. I was never forsaken. All of those moments I spent in pain, or suffering, I was learning. I was being prepared, to help someone, who may have suffered the same or something different, but either way, I understood what my work would involve.

What I didn’t know the day I cried out to God, was that at that moment I was surrounded and being comforted by all of the angels and Saints I had prayed to for so many years. I had said daily novenas to Our Lady of Lords and Padre Pio and John Neuman. What I came to understand is that prayers are always heard. They may not be answered in the way we want or when we want them. But the answers to my prayers finally came and still come, in ways I never expect.

What I have learned through reflecting on my life experiences, my LFEH studies, my meditation, and connecting to my guides, is that my purpose came from my pain. My purpose is to help others, and my purpose is to relieve suffering and to heal the hurt and the broken-hearted. I have a lot of work to do.

What I have also learned from this LFEH program is that I have to stay grounded and connect, I must find joy, let go of negativity and experience love. I learned that our voices are influential and can change lives and I learned the importance of taking the time in nature and observing the beauty in the life around me, and finally, the importance of connecting daily to Spirit in meditation.

I speak with many people who are wondering if they have a purpose or they are not sure what their purpose is. To find it, you have to find yourself. Take the time, be with yourself daily, reflect, listen, and discern what it is that you are called to do. Ask yourself the question. Chances are, the answer will come, just when it’s least expected.

Here are my 7 Daily Habits that help ease my anxiety and bring me clarity

  1. Connection. Connect to something every day either a person, an animal or nature.
  2. Joy. Find joy in something, even if it is in drinking a cup of hot tea or coffee, or the silence of the morning, but feel and accept a moment of joy.
  3. Positivity. Say something positive about yourself. Acknowledging our self-worth is empowering.
  4. Love. Feel it and give it throughout the day. Imagine a circle of love, coming and going from your heart.
  5. Speak up. Speak up for yourself, for others, say what you mean and mean what you say. But remember to mind your words, they are powerful.
  6. Just see. Sometimes our thoughts interfere with that we see. Our ego, our insecurities can muddle a perfect scene. Take time to look at the nature around you.
  7. Open and quiet your mind. Open your mind to all the possibilities, and feel the connection to a source, greater than yourself through meditation and prayer.