Monthly Archives: November 2014

Storing Energy

Below is a quote from Elizabeth Lesser in her book, BROKEN OPEN. In this section she is talking about grief, and how we do ourselves and our loved ones a disservice by trying to move on too quickly after the death of a loved one. Our society encourages this “quick fix” mentality of grief just like it does for other problems – take a pill, take a week off to get your affairs in order, and throw yourself back into work. This is one of the main reasons we have so many people with anxiety disorders and depression. We don’t allow the time and space to experience our feelings all the way through to the other side. (Gospel According to Patti)

What Elizabeth is saying goes for ANY loss. We need to learn to allow all the feelings to come and to sit with them. No one likes this. And sometimes it feels as if we’ll never be able to get past it, but she explains very well how it can work:

“To have a store of energy accumulated is to have a store of power in back of one. We live with our psychic energy in modern times much as we do with our money – mortgaged to the next decade.

Most modern people are exhausted nearly all the time and never catch up to an equilibrium of energy, let alone have a store of energy behind them. With no energy in store, one cannot meet any new opportunity. Keeping the gap open after the death of a loved one (or any loss) is a way of storing valuable energy.”

Once we’ve allowed that energy to be stored, we can then move on.

She goes on to say something I’ve always told clients. I don’t like the concept of “closure”. It sounds so final, and to me, it means that the loss we just experienced is “done” and no longer has any meaning. When we grieve someone or something in our lives, we are honoring them/it. We’re never “over” loss. It’s difficult and it’s messy. But we can get through it and integrate the lessons it’s taught us into our lives and come out stronger – and with more energy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to wish each of you a peaceful and happy holiday.

I’ve learned much in my old age from many experiences.  One of those things is to not ascribe too much meaning to holidays. That doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate, or that there isn’t meaning for me there, but rather that it’s just another day – and if I need to honor or celebrate the meaning behind the label, I can do that regardless of the day, or in another way than is traditional.

My wish for you is that you find peace and joy in whatever you do this week – if nothing else, honor your “beingness”. You’re here for a reason, whether you know what that is yet or not.  The world would not be the same without you in it!


Coping with Holidays After a Loss

Holidays are clearly some of the roughest terrain we navigate after a loss. The ways we handle them are as individual as we are. What is most important is that we be present for the loss in whatever form we can. Holidays are part of the journey to be felt fully. They are usually very sad, but sometimes we may catch ourselves doing okay, and we may even have a brief moment of laughter. Whatever you experience, just remember that sadness is allowed because death doesn’t take a holiday. And feeling joy does not negate the impact your loved one had on your life.

Our friends and relatives often think they know how our holidays should look, what the family should and shouldn’t do. They may just be uncomfortable with our pain, and just want us to feel better. But grief is one of those things in life for which there is no detour. We HAVE to go through it in order to come out on the other side. However, we each go through it in our own way, so don’t let anyone else dictate how you manage your holiday. There are no “supposed to’s”. Now more than ever, be gentle with yourself, but do it your way.

One thing that usually helps is to find ways to honor and remember your loved one. Here are just a few suggestions. Be creative.

-If you miss shopping for your loved one, buy something he/she would have liked, then donate it to a shelter or some other organization that adopts families for the holiday.
-Light a candle
-Say a prayer
-Donate time or money in their name
-Do something you loved to do together on that day
-I’ve even heard of families who set a place at the table for their loved one, and share fond memories of him/her during the meal.

It isn’t as important how you remember. You honor them by the fact that you remember.
Just Remember.

Sending you peace for your holiday season.

Embrace ALL of Life

Years ago, when I was going through some issues with my family, I went to my mentor. He shared a story that has stuck with me since.

He began by telling me how much he loved tomatoes. This seemed strange to me & I wondered what that had to do with my family problems, but I trusted him, so I listened. He went on and on about how he fixed his tomatoes, what foods he ate them with, etc.

Then he told me that the tomatoes he bought in the grocery store were pretty good. He knew they were grown in a greenhouse. Because they were protected from the harsh sun and wind, and storms that were common in the town where we lived, they were nice and red and round – and they seldom had any other marks on them because they were also protected from insects and other varmints.

At that point, he began to brag about the tomatoes he grew in his own garden. They grew out in his back yard, had to weather the storms and the hot sun and wind that we often experienced during our Kansas summers. Those tomatoes were not always perfectly round, and they often had spots from the small animals eating on them. But their color was a much richer color of red and they were so much more juicy and flavorful.

What he was telling me is that sometimes life sucks. (That’s a clinical term). ;) We all have to face the elements of our particular environment.

We aren’t usually able to protect ourselves or our loved ones from going through the sucky part of life. We try sometimes – by helping too much when someone we care about is having a problem that they could (or need to) handle themselves. Or we keep ourselves so busy (or drink or get involved in some other compulsive behavior) so we don’t have to feel the pain of some loss in our own lives.

Even if we do manage to prevent ourselves or loved ones from going through the problem, it will come up again – and we (or they) will be less prepared than if we had begun to develop the skills we needed the first time.

But if we do allow life to unfold as it is, face it head on and realize we don’t have to orchestrate it, we’ll learn valuable lessons and develop our emotional muscles so that the next time, we’ll not only be more aware and ready to deal – it might not hurt as much as it did before.

And when we get through it, we’ll have a strength, a sense of accomplishment, and a confidence that will lead to a higher level of peace. (Going through that part of life might look a little chaotic at times, and not as “pretty” or controlled as it looks from the outside when we manage to avoid it. But the colors will be much more vivid and the taste, juicier and more full of flavor!!)

So embrace all of life – the good flavors – and the sucky stuff.

Nurture Yourself

I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed much of the time lately. I have SO many projects I want to accomplish, several of which I have started, but had to put aside because of time restraints.  One of my pet peeves is when people don’t finish something they’ve started, so it bothers me to let things sit undone.

At times like this, I feel as if I’m kind of a fraud, since I am constantly pushing others to let go of such cognitive maladies, so my habit when I feel this way is to allow myself to be open and honest about what I’m going through.

Hope it helps you in some small way too:

Most of you know I’m a huge proponent of the power of gratitude. But sometimes the pressures and disappointments of daily life keep us from appreciating the small things, let alone the big gifts in life. The big ones include our health, our minds, our spirits. They are a gift from God. Learning to self-nurture can help us get into the habit of gratitude. It’s an expression of gratitude – which is a form of love. When we take care of ourselves, we show that we respect and value ourselves.

Nurturing is an attitude toward ourselves of unconditional love – which is the only REAL love anyway. I’m talking about loving ourselves no matter what happens, how we look, what we do (did), or where we are.

Sometimes we worry that if we nurture ourselves the things we need to accomplish won’t get done – if we give in to our own needs, we’ll get lazy. When you feel that way, give it a shot anyway.

I grew up with a very rigid German grandmother, and lived the first 18 years of my life on a farm, with the mindset that you have to be a workaholic if you’re going to be successful. So I know of what I speak.

Yesterday, I didn’t want to do the things on my list. I wasn’t feeling well; I was tired and I didn’t have the energy to do them, but I have that critical voice in my head that says, “you’re not worthwhile if you don’t accomplish something.”

But yesterday, I decided to nurture myself anyway. I sat on the couch and read, I meditated, and I took my granddaughter to her first movie in a theatre. When we came home, I felt like doing some of the things on my list. I accomplished them and even did a little more. I began a chore my husband usually handles – one I really don’t enjoy doing.

Nurturing myself didn’t make me lazy or ineffective. It made me energized and more effective. And I felt worthwhile the entire time – both while I was accomplishing something – AND while I was taking care of myself – because I’m worth it!

So are you!