Handling life’s biggest challenges

September 14, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog

In this blog I try to cover what I consider one of the main skills of leading others and yourself — the ability to manage your emotions no matter what comes your way.

It shows up in many ways. One of the simplest is the phrase I use a lot:

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

… as I wrote about in my posts “A model to handle pain” and the risky “How do you respond to others’ suffering?“.

Another way I often write about it is the three books of people who lived rich, fulfilling lives following material devastation — imprisonment at Auschwitz or paralysis — such as Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Zupan’s Gimp. There are many books like them. If you don’t have yours that work for you, I recommend these three. They inspire me that as long as my material situation is better than theirs, which isn’t hard when Nazis aren’t torturing and starving you, I have what I need to find meaning, value, importance, and purpose in life.

Sometimes something hits you from left field — like a friend surprises you by handling things you never expected to hear about with happiness and reward.

My longtime friend Rachel wrote that she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. She was uninsured and needed support to help with costs (she still does — the letter from her you’re about to read is from her crowdfunding support page if she inspires you and you feel like helping her).

How do you write when you write about cancer in your own body? How about the following, and before you think to yourself, “yeah, well, that’s after she beat it,” I’ll copy another of her messages from before treatment. Maybe she cried and felt despair outside the messages. I don’t know. But I know what I read below.

Seriously, how do your problems compare with cancer? Are you happier than her?

UPDATE TIME!!!! Yahoooo!!!! What a whirlwind…



What a whirlwind of love and emotions, this was more than anything I imagined. I had my last check up after my radiation and I am all done with my treatment! I am so lucky/grateful that I have had the love and support the way that I did.

Firstly I have to thank you allllllll for your awesomeness!!!! I felt so loved, supported and cared for from around the globe. The hugs, the laughs, the visits from so many people, the “How are you’s”, Very cool… All of it. Very very cool. Right now, I feel fantastic! I am ready for my next stage in life, which is to recover fully, get back to teaching yoga and share my experience.

So where am I now and what’s next?

I am done with cancer. I have finished treatment and I will continue with my check-ups. There were many silver linings to this journey and one of my silver linings is to be open and surrender to new things. By new things I mean:

  • I am now in California and things are beautiful here. I have love in my heart and so many new doorways opening.
  • I am now part of the Spanish Advisory Council at City of Hope. We help guide Latino/Hispanics caregivers and patients alike to the many services City of Hope offers. This is right up my alley since I have worked with cancer clients for the last 9 + years.
  • I am working on a new location to resume Yoga workshops and classes sooner than later.
  • Another amazing silver lining on this journey was moving in with my momma. I would have never imagined that I would like living with my mom, especially after living on my own for so many years, but this has been wonderful. She is also the person who introduced me to my new love. Yaaayy 😀
  • I am in a much better place emotionally, physically and spiritually. The Universe has an amazing way of placing people and challenging journeys in front of you. I think it’s to see how well you can flow through the rivers of life. Will you be stagnant, off on one side full of mosquito larvae? Or… Will you be swirling and splashing in-between a rock and a hard place.

Speaking of journeys: My first journey is a very personal one for me. A dear friend of mine, who I met in Panama, was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She came to California to get treatment and is just 5 minutes from me. I was able to help guide her on her journey here with the City of Hope. My mom and I are helping by being with her during her chemo and other doctor appointments. When the 3 of us are together, it is as if there is a ball of light from every angle.

And lastly..

I am grateful for the help I received from everyone. The financial burden is pretty enormous and catching up will take quite a bit longer than I imagined.
One thing I was completely off about was the time frame. This has taken me long than I expected. I thought this whole thing would be done and finished in 2 months and I could get back to my regular routine. Ha!

I have less than half way to go to finish what I started. Reaching 55% of my goal is amazing… I am ready to finish with the last 45% once and for all!

Soooo… Please help me spread the word to donate, to give good love, to have happy health and to keep your hearts warm and melty.

Thank you again for the love the hugs and the never-ending smile on my face!

Stay awesome!


There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

As promised, here is another note from the day before her surgery.

Hello Everyone AWESOME!!! Here we are…

Hello Everyone AWESOME!!!

Here we are the day before my surgery and I am feeling so blessed. Thank you to those of you who have donated. As of now I am at.. ready.. 51.97%

Whoo hoo! I had no idea where this was going to take me but I tell you, what I got was a total blessing.

I have met amazing women who have been thru this on all levels and have helped guide me and the main lesson.. day by day. I got donations from around the world and from people I don’t know.

My mystery donors ☺ I love you!

I am so happy on a daily basis from the love and the support, I could not have done this alone..

I am heading into surgery in a couple hours with love in my heart and a smile on my face.

Thank you again. More soon…


The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. ~Oscar Wilde

Is this woman not someone you can learn from? Is her experience not something you can think of next time something unwanted happens and you could use a model for how to handle things?

I’m not writing this post to help her raise funds, but if she’s inspired you and you want to return the favor, here’s the link again to her crowdfunding page. Actually, I recommend going there anyway to see a few more of her messages.

Sometimes I think it’s easy for me to say pain is inevitable but suffering is optional when I haven’t had to suffer so much. And maybe the books I chose are so remarkable not for the authors’ being human but somehow superhuman. But when someone close to you stares death in the eye and laughs, it prepares you to handle it too.

And we all have to face it someday.

Why face it with misery? Why not like Rachel did?


P.S. I’ll share a quote Rachel included in one of her messages that I think raises interesting thoughts:

Something that has always puzzled me all my life is why, when I am in special need of help, the good deed is usually done by somebody on whom I have no claim.

William Feather

I’ll let you ponder it yourself.

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1 response to “Handling life’s biggest challenges

  1. Pingback: A seminar attendee inspires me back with his TEDx talk | Joshua Spodek

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