Storing Energy to Manage Loss

As I stated in my blog a couple of weeks ago, holidays are difficult when we’ve recently experienced a loss.  We sometimes dread them because we believe they’re supposed to be a happy time, and we just don’t have the energy to pull that off.

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 believed. 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 grief changes over time – not just by letting time pass (we have to DO something with the time). And sometimes it takes years to get there, but for most of us, it eventually turns into a feeling of love and connection with the loved one, rather than the original loss and pain.

In the mean time, if you’ve recently lost a loved one, experienced a relationship breakup, or some other major loss in your life, please remember to just take a day (or an hour) at a time. You may not believe you’ll ever feel like yourself again, but you will eventually find some level of equilibrium. You have been changed in some ways, because who we are is, in part, because of our connection with others. When their energy changes, ours will too. But you will find yourself again. Your job right now is to allow yourself to feel it when those waves hit; and to put it away for a few minutes or hours when that’s possible, and to connect with others who are there for you when you can manage that. The waves will gradually become a little less overwhelming; and will come a little less often.

And you can get through it and integrate it’s lessons into your life and come out stronger – and with more energy.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart.”    -Helen Keller

 

The Courage to Embrace Fear

We can almost get whiplash from watching the news these days! We each have issues that concern us more than others.  But most of us DO have those concerns.  Things are changing so fast that the only thing that feels certain, is that most everything feels uncertain.  I personally have really been emotionally down as I listen to so many of the accusations of sexual assault, harassment and even possible pedophilia by men of power.  At one level it’s a very positive twist to the norm we’ve been used to; at least things are more open and women and men who have been victims are hopefully a little less fearful to speak out.  But there are other issues that bring me down as well; things that appear to take more power away from those who don’t have much to start with. Even those of us who don’t mind changing things up a little occasionally don’t like too much change at once; and change that is as big as examining our cultural values, huge tax changes that have not been fully explained, and people we are supposed to trust to help run our country being arrested – ALL  bring a lot of emotional turmoil. Not knowing what it will all bring is kind of scary.

I think it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world, but we must be careful not to let our minds overtake our hearts.  When I allow myself to focus on it, I am overwhelmed with sadness and compassion for those who have  been affected by all the violence, ignorance, selfishness and unwillingness to explore and learn more about things and people that are foreign to us.  By the hands of active shooters, sexual abusers, politicians who espouse hate and those who applaud them, or even those who sit by quietly and do nothing – others have lost loved ones, homes, their security, their way of life and their own lives. I also feel anger that so many people purposely set out to hurt others, that terrorists are capable of committing atrocities without being traced until it’s too late and that some men have been allowed to exert their power over others in a way that damages their victims’ lives forever.  And fear.  We all feel the fear of the what if’s.  What will happen next?  Will we end up in war? And will we be able to stop them (whoever “they” are)?

What I’m about to propose may not be popular. I come from the belief that all humans originate from the same source – a source of Love and Light.  We may call it by different names and worship or understand it in very different ways, depending on our individual needs, but God (or whatever you call it)  is not religious. We are each an extension of that Light. So we have no choice, but to be like what we came from. Even the terrorists and other people who have perpetrated harm on others.  (That’s not to say we should stand by & allow them to continue to victimize others.  All behavior has consequences, and we need not accept unacceptable behavior).  But we need to realize that buried deep down inside, they’re just like you & me; and given similar circumstances, any one of us could have ended up in their place.

So since we come from the same place, whether we are Christian, Muslim, White, Black, Republican, Democrat, gay, straight or transgender, it’s the ego, the human side, as opposed to the spiritual “Light” side that brings us down to these lower levels of energy.  And terrorists are not that different from some politicians, or many of the men who have been accused of sexual harassment in our daily news. They are addicted to power.  People who need to feel power to feel OK about themselves will do whatever it takes. It’s a narcissistic, fear-based, isolationist mindset, and they need more and more power to continue to feel OK.

Fear is at the base of all prejudice, covered by hate and anger that expresses itself in extreme radicalism, homophobia and racism. Although they would have us see it differently, the anger and aggression (or the emotional disconnect) we see in the terrorists, and hear from some in the political field is NOT the same as courage. Anger and emotional numbness are both like a bullet-proof vest we all occasionally put on to protect ourselves in order to feel a little more powerful.  They are covering what we’re really feeling deep down – our vulnerability.

Courage & fear are  also intricately interconnected.  Sometimes our fear is very rational (as in the case of severe illness or real harm being perpetrated upon us); but often, it comes from an irrational belief about our situation.  While there may be an aspect of interpreting doctrine or situations differently; I believe the primary issue is that the perpetrators and the politicians (and those who follow and applaud them) are terrified of feeling vulnerable. They don’t understand that’s the very element that connects them to the rest of humanity! And that connection is what would eventually give them the strength they so desperately want.

The people with real courage are those who have experienced the fear –  and then moved forward,  because they knew the odds of staying in their comfort zone are far outweighed by the risks involved in changing their lives and the world.  People who have risked everything (and sometimes lost it all) to be able to live their lives in a way they choose – refugees; victims who have spoken up; those in the military, police and first responders; people with fatal illnesses, who choose to enjoy their lives and live in the moment, rather than shrivel up and die; minorities, who have to fight for equal rights because racism and prejudice has not been eradicated; people like my LGBTQ friends and clients, who have risked not only ridicule, jobs and abandonment by their family and friends, but often their lives to come out and publicly be who they really are instead of shriveling up as they hide.  We can name any number of people in many threatening situations who take risks and allow themselves to be vulnerable in order to find their courage.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers to combat all the fear and pain that saturates our world.  But I do know that, if handled appropriately, fear is the door to growth.  It’s going to take each of us to individually conquer our own fears and feelings of inadequacy in order to move society forward. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel the fear.  Sit with it for a few minutes at a time, feeling it in your body & shutting out the intellectual violence in your head.  Use it as a motivator to change. After the few minutes, put the fear away, take the focus off the negatives and visualize the life you want! Look for a more positive way to look at any given situation.  Your perspective is what feeds your attitude.
  2. Educate yourself about the situation or people involved.  When you see someone who looks different than you, start a conversation.  Get to know the PERSON.  Learn more about their values.  I’ve listened to interviews with Muslims who are very faith and abundance-oriented.  I’m currently listening to an audio book about the Muslim faith that challenges and explains both of the sides we hear about in the news.
  3. Look for ways to give. Volunteer where there has been a disaster – sponsor a family or child in need for the holidays, or to help provide food or clothing for the homeless or families who don’t have enough. Get involved in the issues that matter to you by calling or writing your representatives and voting.  (Nobody has all the answers, but listen for those who actually have specific plans and are not just spouting off everything that’s wrong with the world).  Action can give us a sense of accomplishment, personal power – and HOPE.
  4. Go inside and find your center.  Meditation, prayer, or just sitting in silence on a consistent basis will reconnect you to your higher self – that part of you that is the extension of the Light I mentioned earlier.
  5. Send Love to others – those with whom you agree, and those you do not understand.  I sometimes silently repeat the word “Love” or “I am Love” to myself throughout the day.  It helps me feel love towards myself and others.  The Course in Miracles says the only two emotions are Love and Fear, and whatever is not love is fear.  So the best way to combat fear is to love.

Namaste (The Light in me recognizes and honors the Light in you.)

Courage is only courage when we’re afraid. 

Coping with Holidays After a Loss

Holidays are clearly some of the roughest terrain we navigate after a loss. The way you handle them are as unique as you are. What is most important is that you accept is that things are not going to be the same as when your loved one was with you.  For many, it helps to speak about the person they’ve lost and make them a part of the holiday in some way. Avoiding thoughts of the loved one might help temporarily, but in the long run, it makes the loss more difficult.

There is no timetable for grief.  Grieving someone honors them and the relationship you had with them.  Holidays are part of the journey to be felt fully. They are usually very sad, but sometimes you may catch yourself doing okay, and you may even have a brief moment of laughter. You might feel guilty if this happens, but the reality is that your loved one woudn’t want you to be miserable. 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.

Your friends and relatives might think they know how your holidays should look, what the family should and shouldn’t do. They may just be uncomfortable with your pain, and want you 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.

When preparing for the holiday, think ahead about what you can comfortably handle and bring others in to help with the parts you can’t – hanging lights, putting up a tree, cooking a meal or ordering food, etc.  Speak up when you feel friends and family are leaving you alone a little too much, or if they’re trying to keep you too busy.  You may not think you know what you need at any given moment, but you have to go with what you’re feeling in the moment – and ask for it.

And feel free to change your mind, even if it means cancelling plans at the last minute if you just can’t find the energy to cook the meal or put up the tree, or something else you’d planned.

Let traditions slide if you just don’t feel up to them this year – or change things up to give new meaning to this time.  If there are children involved, be sure to acknowledge that the holiday will be different this year.  Have them help with various planning and preparations if possible, so they feel more a part of it, especially activities that honor the loved one.  Remember that your loved one did LIVE, he/she didn’t just die.  Honor the life.

Here are just a few suggestions on how to honor your loved one. But, be creative and do what feels right to you:

-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 known families who set a place at the table for their loved one, and share fond memories of him/her during the meal, or set aside a specific time to do this.

Keep things simple, and be aware that the anticipation can be more difficult than the actual holiday. 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.

Thankfulness

While I try to practice gratitude for everything that is in my life on a regular basis, this time of year I’m always reminded that one of those “things” is the people in my life – my family, friends and clients.

Since I meditate on a regular basis, it gives me occasion to reflect on all that I have been blessed to experience. Much of that comes from you.

I believe who we are is directly related to those with whom we choose to connect on a consistent basis. The fact that each of you have, on occasion, taken me into your confidence and trusted me with your deepest feelings and concerns humbles me. And as I have gone through my own personal issues, many of you have sent positive energy and prayers my direction, and some of you have even listened as I shared. I’m honored to be in your lives and appreciative of what you’ve each taught me.

As we go into this holiday season, I wish each of you peace, love and abundance.

Namaste

Nurture Yourself

Just like anyone else, I get overwhelmed often. I always 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.

Because I am constantly encouraging others to let go of such cognitive maladies, my habit when I feel this way is to allow myself to be open and honest about what I’m going through – both to myself and to others.  Acknowledging our reality is the first step to dealing with it. (There’s a difference between complaining and explaining. When we complain, we usually also blame [ourselves or others], seldom take responsibility to do anything different; then we end up in the very same place soon.  When we explain, we can express our feelings about something without blame; we take responsibility for our part, and make whatever changes we can to improve or avoid the same situation in the future).

Besides, I’ve always believed part of my role is to model how a healthy(er) person manages daily life. None of us are perfect. We all have challenges.  It’s how we face those that determines whether those challenges become problems or new notches in our tool belt.

For me, when I’m experiencing these times, it almost feels as if I’m no longer living my life, but allowing it to live me – and not very well at times.

But our reality is limited only by where we put our focus. My belief is that we are each spiritual beings who have come to this life to experience it fully – good, bad and everything between. I believe we signed up for those hard times that we pray will never happen. We are human beings, but we were spiritual beings first.  When we get caught up in the minutia of the day, we are forgetting that; and our focus is placed on our daily To Do lists and on attempting to control everything and everyone around us.  If we live that way, we’ll always be in search of more.

I won’t promise that we’ll always be happy, even if we can keep our focus on this higher purpose of experiencing it all.  I don’t believe we’re supposed to be happy all the time.  I think life is really supposed to be like a wild ride on a roller coaster – sitting in the front with our hands in the air – not even holding on. Only when we have faced and conquered the obstacles in front of us (and turned them into opportunities) can we truly appreciate how wonderful and exciting life can be.

But we don’t have to work hard all the time to get to that point. There are some powerful methods we can use that really don’t take a lot of energy – just the memory that we need to employ them on a consistent basis.  One of those is the use of gratitude. 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 family and friends, our health, our minds and our spirits. Learning to self-nurture is an expression of gratitude – which is a form of love. Nurturing is an attitude of unconditional love. Self-nurturing is about loving ourselves no matter what happens, how we look, what we do (did), or where we are. That’s about as unconditional as we can get.

So self-nurturing can help us get into the habit of gratitude. When we take care of ourselves, it shows that we respect and value ourselves. We’re grateful for our lives and the experiences they provide.

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 and selfish. 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 basically have to be a workaholic if you’re going to be successful. So I know of what I speak. I’ve spent years being proud of the workaholic I had become.

But I have realized the need for balance in my life. 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 all those things on that list.”

Because I have worked on this for a while, I had a revelation a few years ago. I realized that when I go on to the next level of existence, no one is going to meet me with a clipboard in their hand with a list of all my earthly To Do’s, and say “On November 10th, 2017, you didn’t get all those insurance companies called, or finish the dishes, etc.” I honestly believe at that point, no one will care about all those irrelevant parts of my existence; most of all me.

So yesterday, I decided to nurture myself anyway. I sat on the couch and read, I meditated, I watched some TV, I worked out, and I had a manicure. When I finished, I felt like doing some of the things on my list. I accomplished them and even did a little more. I even began a chore my husband usually handles – one I really don’t enjoy doing.

Nurturing myself didn’t make me lazy or ineffective. It energized me, and helped me feel 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!