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Face Forward: Meeting Challenges Head on in Times of Trouble

April 4, 2012
For Michele Howe Clarke, life was going just fine until an extraordinary event at age 33 changed her life forever — disfiguring head and neck cancer. Clarke shares her story of not only surviving an ordeal with cancer but how she has learned to thrive by adapting to the changes she has experienced.
By Michele Howe Clarke
Though life hurts sometimes, struggle is not a disadvantage. It is an advantage because it develops qualities in you that may have lain dormant without strife to awaken them. You can begin to flip the script on negative patterns and perceive from a positive point of view. You can move through life with minimum resistance and friction. It is said that the only constant in life is change. You can be trucking along just fine, thinking everything is peachy keen and then BAM, life socks you a good one. The rug you have been standing on gets pulled out from under you. And like Humpty Dumpty, the image you have been projecting about your life gets shattered by an extraordinary event. For me, my shattering event was disfiguring head and neck cancer. It caught me mid stride in a neat and tidy materialistic life. My story is of a life abruptly changed; for me there is no going back. I wear the scar of this battle on my face. I am forever marked so as to never forget; my every interaction with others is impacted. When I turned 33, I was 40 days into living with cancer and the right side of my face was paralyzed. I was on a real rollercoaster of operations--my head repeatedly sliced open, from my crown to the middle of my throat. I had to sacrifice my right facial nerves for just a chance to live. With a paralyzed face, my imperfection was brought to the forefront, a fact that few missed. It has been incredibly difficult to be stared at, sometimes open mouthed, and whispered about behind cupped hands. I did the only thing I could—I began really living my life, enjoying the challenge, letting my self feel the pain. I learned to live through pain, live in the present, and give myself the time and space I needed. I weathered the storms and stayed in process.My new face took away my ability to be egotistical. I was gifted with an abrupt ending so that I could begin again from scratch. I shed layers of wasted self like the skin of an onion falling away. If I wanted a future, I had to control my thoughts, today and everyday. I turned inward to discover that I was the source of all things. With my purpose rediscovered, I began to Face Forward.
Share in my book Face Forward. You will learn to easily adapt to life’s changes and• Improve your perspective – How to shift your limiting beliefs and live on purpose• Take back your control – How to stop feeling overwhelmed by events you have no control over• Claim you best life ever – generate energy when you need it• Celebrate every day – How to stop suffering and choose excitement
Your No. 1 goal is see your glass as half full. You want to change how you view and respond to life. Try to deliberately choose positively and express your feelings. Be okay with the fact that there will be bad shadow days.
Feel free to let bad feelings out: beat a pillow, scream, belt out a heartfelt song, take a run, punch a bag, or kick something.
Michele Howe Clarke, MBA, is a bestselling author and cancer thriver. Accept your free gift, 3 secrets to your best life