This quote really spoke to me because somehow when anything really hard enters my life, this is how I always handled it. In my mind I have this room and it has shelves with boxes of all sizes. When I am overwhelmed with pain or any other negative emotion I don’t know how to handle, I go into this room and pull down a box and put the story I am telling myself inside of the box. Then I let the story go.
When some time has passed to where I feel I can handle some of that pain, I will pull down the box, work through what I can and then put the remainder inside a smaller box. I do this over and over until one day it is just an empty box. The pain is gone, the story has “the end” typed onto it.
Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swinm” – Vicki Harrison
Those boxes are my way of swimming.
When deaths nightmare enters your life, people will ask you – “How are you?” And when they ask you, you will quickly filter through a million answers. And the one you will land on most of the time is “I’m fine.”
I’m fine, are two words when strung together actually say the opposite. They say I am lying to you, because it is too hard and too much to tell you how I am really doing. And really you don’t want to know, because then you will be at a loss of how to respond. So, instead I am going to say, “I’m fine” and you will be relieved of any burden to fix it or make me feel better.
When someone has lost a loved one, instead of asking how they are feeling, ask can I give you a hug? Will you give me the honor and privilege of letting me support you even if it is only for a minute? Can I tell you from my heart that I know your heart is breaking and just let me hold you for a minute or two so that you can borrow some of my strength and love to carry you just a little further down this dark hallway?
“Grief is a solitary journey. No one but you can know how great the hurt is. No one but you can know the gaping hole left in your life when someone you know has died. And no one but you can mourn the silence that was once filled with laughter and song. It is the nature of love and death to touch every person in a totally unique way. Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey, and solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again” – Helen Steiner Rice
No one can grieve for you. But they can grieve with you. No one will ever fill the hole that has been shot through your heart, but they can help heal the edges of it. No one can fill up all of the silence when you mind reaches for the sound of the voice that is missing, but they can help you to hear the voices that are still there. This journey of loss is yours alone, as each of us grieve in different ways for those we lose. Each loss is a totally different kind of grief.
But the comfort comes from listening to those who have a similar story, a similar loss. When my mother died, I found so much comfort from words I remembered from an NPR interview. They were talking about grief, and they said, “grief is a hole you walk around during the day and fall into at night.” During the day, you can be busy and keep the grief locked up behind a fence. But at night that grief slips through the fence, slides under the door, and creeps up to engulf you so tightly that you can’t breathe.
A few weeks ago, one of my nieces lost her son to suicide. For our family, this is a new grief. A devasting kind of loss, because it naturally makes you ask why? Why didn’t I know he would do this? Why didn’t I question how he was really feeling? Why couldn’t I tell what was going to happen? Why didn’t anyone see it coming?
There is the infamous hindsight, where every action, every sentence he said is questioned – was that a clue? So much self-blame to go around. And none of that self-blame is true.
“There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has changed” – Morgan Devine
They say that there are things in life that will change you. Some things like music and art open the world up to you in ways that can never be taken away. They fill your soul and help you to lead a life of passion and joy. Art and music can open you up to every single emotion. It can bring you up into the heavens. It can take you into the darkness and threaten to drown your soul.
There are other things in life, like love that change you forever, as well as being subject to loss. And loss is in a category of itself in being a life changer.
When you experience loss, it is important to remember that you are a brave soul. That this is a battle that feels never ending, but that is losses lie. It is losses untruth that keeps you drowning in grief, when in fact if you just took a moment and tried, you would find you can stand up and bring your head up above the water. You could take a deep breath and just breathe. Water isn’t what drowns you. What drowns you is forgetting to stand.
“I don’t believe that time heals everything. It helps, it does. After a while you won’t cry about it all the time. It won’t consume your every thought anymore. You do get better. You’ll laugh, and smile. You’ll even have a lot of great days. But it’s still there. You just learn to live with it. This is how things are now. So, you get used to it. But that doesn’t mean it ever goes away. It’s still deep in your soul. Still makes you cry when you think about it too much. Still stops you in your tracks when something reminds you of it. You’ll have those moments when your heart hurts really bad. I don’t think time heals everything. Sure, it gets better, but it’s a scar that never goes away. A broken bone that still aches on rainy days” – Melinda Caroline
The thing to remember is that life changes. Every moment it changes. Years ago, after my nephew was murdered, and our family was struggling to understand what had happened I came across a story from a grief counselor. She was talking to a woman whose baby had died. It had been close to a year, and she just wasn’t getting any better in dealing with her grief. She finally sought help because she thought, “I’m doing grief wrong.”
The counselor told her, “The amount of grief you feel, is comparable to the amount of love you had for your child.” There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. There is only your way.
“You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” – J Rowling, Harry Potter
What is important is that you don’t get stuck. It doesn’t matter how many stages of grief that you go through. There isn’t any kind of order that you have to follow. What is important is that it flows. Like water it flows toward a destination. It might become hard like ice. It might be hot and angry like steam. It might be like a flood or a simple drip. What’s important is that it flows. Because what it does is remake your life. You become forever changed by it. Just don’t forget the second part. When it remakes your life, it begins a new chapter.
“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no whenever you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing” – Eve Ensler
It was really interesting in locating a photo for this quote. I looked up woman in solitude, and 90% of the photos showed women who were depressed, some even suicidal with a hangman’s noose besides one woman and suicide by pills in several others. I couldn’t believe that solitude was paired up with depression and suicide.
Solitude is critical to being able to love oneself. This is not being an isolationist, which could become unbalanced when taken to extremes. But rather as a sign of being balanced, because you are happy with your own company. Being alone doesn’t make you lonely. It took much longer than I thought to find a photo that actually displayed that kind of joyous feeling within it.
As a woman you give so much of yourself away. You constantly see to the needs of others. Solitude is how you can balance this out, so that you are not giving too much of yourself away. Solitude is strength.
At various times of the year, it is vital to have some solitude to review the past few months and do some deep thinking for how you want the rest of the year to be for you.
“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul” – Marcus Aurelius
In reading anything that talks about the “crowd mentality”, it talks about how if you feel you must always be with people, it can be a sign of weakness. This is because you may become prone to follow whatever everyone else is doing, just to belong.
I think most everyone would say they are afraid to stand out, not be “normal”, or speak out against a crowd. The real dividing line is do you let that fear stop you?
There is nothing more freeing and empowering to like your own company and be your own person no matter where you are. It is more fun to be considered weird. Be the orange fish in a sea of blue fish. Go your own direction. Be weird.
I love the first quote because it shows great courage to do things like take trains to somewhere you have never been by yourself. To go so far away that you lose the fear of finding your way home. That you will do something that you know in the depths of your soul is yours alone to do, even when everyone you know disagrees.
“Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves” – Katrina Kenison
I believe that you have that kind of courage, but sometimes you are still letting life hold you back. I believe this is true of all of us.
There are moments of indecision. Of not being sure of your way. In the end, the only way out, really is, to go through. To step past the place of safety on the sand. You need to actually cross over the line into adventure, stepping into the sea.
“True happiness is impossible without solitude…, I need solitude in my life as I need food and drink and the laughter of little children. Extravagant though it may sound, solitude is the filter of my soul. It nourishes me, and rejuvenates me. Left alone, I discovered that I keep myself good company” – Sophia Loren
Only by being alone with yourself can you come to true honesty with who you are, and how you are being reflected in the world. It is in this place of honesty, you are able to authentically release the parts of you that are not you, and own in the real world the parts of you that are crying to be released into life.
Only to the extent that you expose yourself to the changing tides of the sea, can you transform into who you are becoming. I think that we all want to find out what we are doing here, and we can’t do that staying safely on the dry land. You have to step over the line to experience adventure. Here is to smooth sailing!
For an idea of something that you can do with relative ease, try Forest bathing. It is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way. It has a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health. It comes to us from Japan and is known as Shinrin-yoku. ‘Shinrin’ means forest and ‘Yoku’ stands for bathing.
Forest bathing in nature allows the stressed portions of your brain to relax. Positive hormones are released in the body. You feel less sad, angry and anxious. It helps to avoid stress and burnout, and aids in fighting depression and anxiety. Immersing yourself in the solitude of you and the forest is very healing to the body, mind, and soul.
A forest bath is known to boost immunity and leads to lesser days of illness as well as faster recovery from injury or surgery. Nature has a positive effect on our mind as well as body. It improves heart and lung health, and is known to increases focus, concentration and memory. Certain trees like conifers also emit oils and compounds to safeguard themselves from microbes and pathogens. These molecules known as Phytoncides are good for our immunity too. Breathing in the forest air boosts the level of natural killer (NK) cells in our blood. NK cells are used in our body to fight infections, cancers and tumors. So spending time with these tree is a special form of tree bathing.
“It is not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not” – Denis Waitley
I was recently talking to my coach about my book that is being published this summer. It is a collection of 90 of my posts and it will be called, ‘Timeless Treasures for Today’s Living’. We were talking about how to promote the book and she was telling me of something that she had read about another author. They had created a program, where if you bought 50 books, you became an ambassador of the book and author. In return she included a bunch of bonus items wrapped around some personal coaching calls, her monthly subscription program etc…
The first thought in my mind was I am not worth someone spending that much money on me. No one would think that what I have is that valuable.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt
This quote includes not letting your own negative mind talk make you feel inferior. Immediately check those thoughts of being unworthy. What was so interesting is that I had been looking for new graphics for a post, and I saw this picture with her hand on the mirror and looking away. I felt immediately called to write about self-love. My intuition was telling me that another layer of not accepting who I am was about to be revealed.
You wouldn’t let anyone tell you that you’re not worthy or capable of doing whatever is in your heart to do. So why would you allow your inner negative critic to do so?
It used to take me awhile to recognize that “Cami” was running my mind and was in control of my thoughts. I named my negative mind talker Cami, because she is so good at camouflaging herself. She sneaks into random thoughts, inserts herself into conversations and just all around makes a pest of herself. Cami and I journal together sometimes. I will write down a question for her, and then just detach from the answer and wait for her to tell me what to write down. She comes from a place of fear. She puts the worst interpretations on everything.
Have you ever been at work, just minding your own business and you get a call to go into your boss’s office? What is the first thought that comes into your head? Is it, “Oh no! What is wrong? What did I mess up? Am I going to get fired?” And then you go into your boss’s office, and they just have some random question for you? That is your own internal Cami at work.
“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts” – Marcus Aurelius
Your Cami is just trying to protect you. She is afraid of everything. She criticizes you to keep you within her designed comfort zone. Within that zone she controls the world and keeps you safe.
The problem is that you’re busy expanding that zone. You’re busy learning new things. You have dreams that you want to grow. So, when you are looking for ways to expand your own comfort zones, you will need to confront, reason, and work with your own version of Cami.
“Embrace the glorious mess that you are” – Elizabeth Gilbert
The quickest way to bring your own Cami around to your way of thinking is to take what you want to do in steps. Kind of like when you take a small child to learn to swim. First you hold them and get their feet wet. Then they would stand, and you would walk out deeper and deeper into the water. Each step is a new victory.
The only way to be confident of your own talents, gifts and abilities is to do what you are afraid to do. So, make your Cami a deal. You will walk so far and then you will talk and negotiate a new distance to explore. Eventually you will have her swimming in the deep end of the pool with a new comfort zone.
If you try to bulldoze her, she will trick you. Like being lost in the forest, you will walk in circles. You will think that you are making progress, but little things will keep drawing you further and further away from your chosen destination.
Have you ever had a day, where you planned out this list of things that you were going to get done – yet you find yourself 12 hours later, exhausted and you only were able to cross off 1 thing?
That is your Cami at work again. Bright shiny objects grab your attention. A sudden desire to clean out a closet. You went to the grocery store just to buy milk and you came home with a months’ worth of groceries 3 hours later. Cami struck again.
“I am strong because I know my weaknesses. I am beautiful because I am aware of my flaws. I am fearless, because I learnt to recognize illusion from real. I am wise because I learn from my mistakes, I am a lover because I have felt hate. And I can laugh because I have known sadness” – Unknown
By trial and error, you too can find a way to deal with your Cami. Maybe like me you will learn to journal and negotiate with her. Maybe you will be successful with willpower and bulldoze your Cami into submission.
There are over 80 different kinds of hammers. Most of us are familiar with one kind.
Now you can use that hammer for a multitude of projects, and sometimes it will sort of work out. You might have a few dents, scratches, dings, but you will have a finished product. Or you could use the right kind of hammer, and end up with a beautiful work of art.
Take the time to learn who your Cami is. What she is afraid of. How she wants to communicate with you. Learn how to reassure her. Appreciate that she is doing what she thinks is the right thing, based on your own past experiences.
If you want some assistance to name your Cami, to discover who he/she is – contact us. We are here for you. Keep trying to find the right hammer for your progress.
Mother Nature freely expresses herself every day, and she doesn’t apologize for it. Most of us learn at an early age what we are taught as “good manners”. Good girls are seen, but not heard. Don’t express a different opinion. Never contradict an authority figure, even if they are wrong. And so on, and so on.
“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be” – Unknown
Have you ever been in a building like a lighthouse when a really strong storm comes into shore? The whole cliff shudders and shakes. The waves are so strong it feels like it can actually tear apart the bedrock foundation of the lighthouse. Sometimes you have so bought into being the story of pretending to be someone else, that you have totally forgotten who you really are. It takes a severe storm to shake up the foundations and uproot your life. It is time to bring you back to who you are, and what your purpose in life is.
Be impeccable with your word– I love how it includes not speaking against yourself. How many times have you called yourself dumb or stupid or something equally demeaning?
Don’t take anything personally– What people say and do is a projection of their own reality, not yours.
Don’t make assumptions– This is for me the most important thing, as you assume you know what someone else is thinking and they think they know what you are thinking and the truth is that most of the time we are having two totally different conversations.
Always do your best– The only way to avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret is to do your best. I love that saying, when you know better, you do better.
Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Don’t let fear convince you that you are less than you really are. What people think about you is really none of your business.
What you think about yourself should be your primary concern. Be the best you can be, and when you make a mistake (like we all do) then own it. Clean up anything that needs to be cleaned up and move on. Don’t pack it in your suitcase and carry the weight of it around for the rest of your life. That kind of baggage creates limitations and keeps you in a cage, afraid to be who you are.
When you have reached the place, where you no longer require validation from others as to who you are, what your gifts are – that is when you become the most feared person on the planet.
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and not your friends) Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist? Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self confident. The real one is scared to death” – Steven Pressfield
Reveal your authentic essence, the part of you that isn’t watered down. This is what makes you a “one of a kind” authentic original human being. The world, especially the social networking world. will judge you for who you are. So why not just be what makes you happy? Be proud of who you’ve become. Hug yourself with both arms and be passionate about how you live your life.
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place” – Unknown
Remember that LemonadeMakers is here to walk alongside you. We love the deep conversations 🙂
Notions is a word that reminds me of creative arts. Sewing, paper arts, crocheting/knitting and so on. Tools that you use to make something beautiful and wonderful.
The dictionary says notion is also: “a conception of or belief about something,” and/or “an impulse or desire, especially one of a whimsical kind.”
In the case of this quote a notion is a belief about what grief is all about. It isn’t something that is just outside of you – or inside of you. It’s both about how you are inside of yourself and how you impact the world outside of yourself.
It’s about vision, both internal and external. And like looking through a kaleidoscope, what you see outside of you changes each time you turn the mechanism inside. For you, each of those moving pieces inside the kaleidoscope are made up of your personal stories.
In a recent article in the Washington Post, they were discussing political views around Russia in a recent poll.
“It goes to show you that in terms of public opinion, people remain in their silos” Vera Zaken, an expert on the intersection between information and foreign policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. “They’re going to believe whatever truth or disinformation fits their views.”
I thought this was so interesting in how we all live our lives. We live them filtering out anything that doesn’t support our beliefs. It’s as though we don’t hear or see anything that contradicts our worldview. Like we have this force field bubble around ourselves that bounces out any contrary beliefs, thoughts and only lets in what will confirm our beliefs.
This is what change, loss, and grief is about. It’s an opportunity to examine your beliefs. To peek out of the filters that keep you confined in your comfort zone. To see the possibilities of something else. To see the potential that is waiting right across that line of the comfort zone. To admit in new truths and let go of whatever no longer serves you.
Like shedding an old skin, the process of grieving requires you to transform your life. To alter in some way, from who you used to be into a new person, a new self-definition.
These beliefs you protect are really all about who you have been told all of your life that you are.
Watch any good detective mystery show. The main character is always a flawed hero in some way. Yes, they catch the bad guy, but their motivation to do so comes from a brokenness. Going back to the main quote, whatever happened to you, became an altered part of you.
One of my favorite stories, is about how you throw a rock out into the water. It creates ripples that expand out to every part of the shore, until slowly the ripples fade back into the still calm water of the lake. It looks like nothing happened. The lake has the same water line, as the rock wasn’t large enough to create an impact to the water levels. Yet the lake has forever been changed, as at the bottom lies a rock that wasn’t there before.
The stories you tell yourself about your life are like that rock. Each story is created by the impact of that rock as it breached the surface of you, the lake. As time passes, the ripples of grief you experienced die down and everyone around you thinks you are fine. You even think that you are fine. But you are changed forever by the rock that impacted you.
You experience a form a grief for every rock. Some rocks are very small – someone hurt your feelings. Others are larger, like losing a job, or not getting the promotion you worked so hard to get. Then you have a huge boulders of grief from the death of a loved one or a divorce.
Some rocks are just part of life, like the kids going off to college or moving out to get married. Retirement. Things that are part of “normal” life experiences, that aren’t viewed as life altering but really are. Because what they do, is alter or change how you view yourself.
The empty nester wonders who am I, if I no longer have kids to mother on a daily moment by moment basis? The retired person wonders who am I if I am not “this job title”? They both wonder what do I do with the rest of my life? What is my purpose if I am no longer …, (what I have identified myself as)?
These rocks are not problems to be solved. There is no mystery to them. They are just the reality of your life. These rocks are experiences that shape who you are. It is what you do with the rocks that matter.
So, enter into the world of unfiltered “what if’s” – take out a piece of paper and write down 4 things that have happened to you recently. And start writing out possibilities of what you can paint on your rock.
The easiest way to do this is through imagination and curiosity. Take any experience that happened to you from conception through the age of 18 that you believe has impacted your life in some way.
If you are really honest with yourself, you will be able to find some silver lining to any experience. I read years ago something that has profoundly changed how I view all such experiences and it was around forgiveness. It took me a long while to incorporate this into my belief systems, because for many years it was just too big of a leap.
It is around the concept of how you come to earth to experience things. And you travel in this soul group, there are members that volunteer to be the catalyst for some of your life experiences. How that person loved you so much, they volunteered to provide either the negative or positive experience required as part of living your purpose here on earth. The author stated that if you can find yourself in this space, then you can honestly say “thank you” for what happened. It incorporates the saying, “life happens for you, not to you.”
What this belief allowed me to see was a different way of looking at what I have experienced in my life. From there I could see how each thing in my life has built upon what was already there. If some of those “steps” had been missing, then I wouldn’t have made it through some of the harder things. It was like I was being trained for an Iron Man – each thing strengthened some part of me. I didn’t see the patterns of strength training being connected, but when I look backwards, I can see how everything is connected.
When you see how everything is connected, what you realize is that removing any piece would cause the whole construct to fall apart. Each piece however painful at the time, was necessary.
When you first start training for an Iron Man, you probably experience sore muscles. You probably received blisters. You experienced the moment when you thought you couldn’t take one more step, and then broke through a barrier and found you could go another mile.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trail and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved – Helen Keller
What if…, every time I experienced a breakdown, I smiled and started celebrating the breakthrough?
Transformation isn’t a one and done kind of thing. The butterfly is used as a pretty common analogy for transformation. The caterpillar building the chrysalis and emerging is the common use.
But did you know that the transformation for the caterpillar begins much sooner? Monarch Butterfly caterpillars’ lives are divided into 5 instars – this is the time it takes to outgrown one skin and burst into a new one.
This is where choice comes in – do you simply shed a skin, and move seamlessly into your new stage of growth, or do you fight the moment of growth. Do you try to stay in your comfort zone so long that you burst through your current comfort zone? Bursting sounds a little messy and very painful.
One way or the other you will change.
For example, you may have outgrown your current position at work. Or you may hate your job, but you have those golden handcuffs on, in that you make too much money to leave. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate your job, the time has come to move on and expand into your full potential.
Shedding your skin means that you are proactive and look for the next position, either within your current company or outside of it. Bursting your skin means that you leave in the worst possible way, either getting fired or quitting in a temper.
When you shed your skin by bursting it, it leaves you to clean up a mess. I had one job in which it took weeks before I had worked through the bad emotions and was capable of updating my resume and getting into looking for a job. It took much longer to work through the lessons learned from bursting my skin.
Each time you expand your comfort zone you develop new skills and grow your own internal gifts. I took a job once that I thought was going to finally help me break through being a senior loan processor and become an underwriter. That was how the job was sold to me.
I started work and in addition to processing loans they had me review, edit and complete a manual that they used for mortgage brokers that sent their loans to this company to be sold to them.
I worked hard on the manual and upon completion the company that I worked for decided they needed to downsize and laid me off. I was devasted and angry that I had worked so hard on that manual. I felt like I have been used up and thrown away.
I wasn’t able to find another position in the San Diego area because interest rates had increased, and everyone was laying off people. I ended up having to relocate to find work.
What I realize when I looked back at this time is that I was being pushed into a new comfort zone. When I relocated, I was hired as an underwriter.
The savings and loan I worked for needed a servicing manual, so I wrote one for them. They needed training done for their loan officers in their many branches, so I wrote out a program of training and trained them. I ended up teaching classes at South Seattle Community College for the bank for loan processors and loan officers.
All of these skills I had acquired at that job in San Diego. Without that job, I wouldn’t have had the skills or the confidence to step up to those opportunities. When you shed a skin or burst a skin you have the opportunity to grow of stagnate. To take on a new color, or stripe, or to shrivel up and remain where you are.
When you shed a skin or burst one, it can take time to grow into who you are becoming at this stage. You may need recovery time. It could be that where you are living now is not where the next opportunity is for you to grow into who you are becoming. You need to allow the space and time for things to unfold.
When the butterfly at last crawls out of the chrysalis it needs to take the time to pump its wet crumpled wings. It can take up to 12 hours or more before it is ready to take its first flight.
When you consider that the adult butterfly’s life is between 15-50 days, that 12 hours takes on a whole new meaning. It is not a short period of time for the butterfly. It is like months of time.
Learning and adaptation are how you embrace and absorb new skills. And as you learn and adapt you need to let go of the old way of doing things.
A baby first learns to roll over. Then to crawl. Then to stand up. And at last, to take that first step.
Trial and error are involved. Failure is a given. But with hard work, resilience, and determination progress is made to go from that initial learning to roll over to running.
To shed a skin requires a mind shift and an identity shift.
We all have the habit of identifying ourselves with our job, our position. We give ourselves a label that describes who we are.
This means that in each of these periods of growth, you are required to let go of “who you think you are” and reinvent yourself. You need a new label.
What happens is that as you try to stretch and challenge yourself, you’ll have a really hard time finding anyone to talk about it. Someone who can understand your new level. Every time you get into a creative space, something transformative will happen. As Alice said, “I knew who I was this morning, but I have changed a few times since then”.
“Explore the things that shake you up as well as the things that bring you joy,” says writer Alexandra Elle, the author of the guided journal In Courage. “When you stay curious, you can become your own greatest teacher.”
Richard Powers shared that at its root the word “bewilderment” actually means “to head out into the wild”.
So, this week I’m inviting you to be bewildered. To let go of your certainty and your self-protectiveness and to come alive to the world’s magic. I wish you grace. I wish you peace, and a great week everybody—bewildered.
The biggest gap in your life is between what you know and what you do – Bob Proctor
It is up to you to be a prisoner of your past, by remaining in it; or to be a champion of your future by building it. If your life path was to travel from one of these formations in the above photo, to the next one and so on to the end, how would you do it?
You could anchor yourself and rappel down the mountain, then walk to the next peak and scale up that peak. Then cross the peak, rappel down the mountain and repeat over and over again.
We are human. We are not perfect. We are alive. We try things. We make mistakes. We stumble. We fall. We get hurt. We rise again. We try again. We keep learning. We keep growing. And we are thankful for this priceless opportunity called life – Unknown
Or, you could become a bridge builder. You could build a temporary bridge out of ropes or wood, or a bridge designed with stone or steel that would last for many years.
Neither way is wrong or right. Just different choices. You could for sake of argument take opposing viewpoints on the better, faster way to walk this path. You could discuss how those that follow you would make better speed with some type of bridge that you are building. Or how scaling up each peak would define you and make you stronger. For me, rock climbing would be facing the fear of falling to my death. It would test my faith in ropes, cords, carabineers, slings, anchors, and harnesses.
At the end of the day, the analogy is that each of us has our own path of divine destiny to walk. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to walk the path. The lessons will come to you regardless of what you choose.
The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things – Rainer Maria Rilke
Some time ago I self-identified a pattern that I have. I call it one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas. It began with a childhood experience when I was four years old. I was very motivated to the best in school and when I was an adult to climb the corporate ladder. I was also very introverted and didn’t like to be seen and noticed. This pattern of drawing attention to myself by being a master at my job, and then shrinking back when I got the attention used to drive me crazy.
I finally through years of self-improvement identified this pattern and started working to shift and transform it. Every time I feel like I am walking in slow motion, or pushing a boulder up hill, I know that this pattern has reentered my life. It is an energetic signal that I am being blocked in some way.
Have you ever had a project you wanted to complete and every time you sat down to work on it, you would remember something else you had to do? It might be an email that simply must be written and sent now. It might be laundry or dishes that have to be done. You notice a spider web on the ceiling that must be removed. You have to run to the store. Your mind is looking for something to distract you away from the project. Suddenly the whole day is gone, and you didn’t work on it at all.
Put gaps in your life: moments to reflect, prepare, meditate and breathe – Jody Adams
For whatever reason your life pattern is trying to shift you away from the project. There is something about this project that it wants to avoid. In some manner, this project is pushing up against the boundaries you have set in your subconscious. It sees a danger, and so it works hard to gently distract you away from it. The completion of the project will in some way change and shift your life – it could be that you are aware of it, or it could be some unforeseen possibility that your subconscious wants to avoid.
In my case, I started shifting the pattern first by writing these blogs. It felt safe because I am unseen and unknown to you. Then I started speaking on stages about my transformational work. This was also not too hard, because with the lights on a stage, it is hard to see the audience.
They aren’t up close and personal. The hardest thing to shift was being able to walk into a room and not be terrified of meeting and having conversations with strangers. Of not being judged as “not enough”. Of feeling like I was an imposter. Negative thoughts of self-judgment. Places I was afraid of. “Who was I” to think I had something to say you would want or need to hear?
Negative thoughts are like rotten or missing boards on a bridge. It is scary to think of stepping out on this bridge. What if I fall?
This pattern of “having a foot on the gas and brake at the same time”, is really great at camouflaging itself. It has chameleon qualities. When I started with this Facebook page, I knew that I needed a website for the blog posts. Instead of 30 – 45 days it took me nine months and the hold ups were all from me.
t took me months to actually sit down and start writing my first book. Every time I start something new, “Cami” my own personal chameleon puts the brakes on. The good news is that it is taking less time for me to recognize what she is doing and shift her efforts at slowing me down.
I may not have gone where I intended to go. But I think I have ended up where I needed to be – Douglas Adams
Many teach that we came into this life to have a certain experience. Mine seems to be dealing with this pattern of foot on the brakes, when I am pushing hard on the gas to accomplish a goal. Now that I recognize it has chameleon like qualities, whenever I am not progressing towards my goals, I know to go looking for that sneaky lizard.
The best thing in life is to go ahead with all your plans and your dreams, to embrace life and to live everyday with passion, to lose and still keep the faith and to win while being grateful. All of this because the world belongs to those who dare to go after what they want. And because life is really too short to be insignificant – Charlie Chaplin
This life pattern is my GAP – Gods Area of Preparation. This is where you learn about new ways that your life pattern has shifted, and you learn new ways to build bridges to close that gap.
The winds of life will try and pull you off course. The space between your values and behavior is called the Integrity gap. It is the places where what you say you are doing and what actions are actually taking place, have a gap. It isn’t that you are purposefully not living in integrity. It is that sneaky chameleon who has disguised itself to put up roadblocks to the actions that you intend to do.
Go back to places where you feel like you might have had the brake and gas on at the same time. Once you recognize the patterns, it becomes easier and easier to release the brakes and have your actions spring back into gear.
Can you see GAPs in your life pattern? Do you see where you need to learn to build bridges to close off the gap to get to your destination?
Don’t be afraid to explore and discover what the broken pieces of you are trying to say. Mosaics at made from broken pieces, and they are a beautiful work of art. All of life experiences come together to create who you are. To expose the divine gifts you have, you rearrange the pieces to uncover the hidden treasures you have buried deep within yourself. To show you just how every shattered dream, served to provide just what was needed to move forward in strength.
Albert Einstein traced the root of his accomplishments to curiosity. What triggered Sir Isaac Newton to discover gravity from a falling apple, as apples had been falling from trees hundreds of years. Had no one ever got curious as to why the apples fell in a downward motion? How much of the world around you, do you observe with wonder?
Awe is a part of wonder and curiosity. Psychology Today has described awe as “an overwhelming, self-transcendent sense of wonder and reverence in which you feel a part of something that is vast, larger than you and that transcends your understanding of the world.”
Taking a walk in nature can result in being awestruck. I love that word. If I am going to be struck with something, please let it be awe. To suddenly see something with new eyes will send you off with a sense of adventure. To me it is like the photo of these two boys. They will question everything they see. They haven’t yet entered into the age where they think they already know everything. They will ask a lot of “why” questions seeking to understand. They will see things in a different way, because they don’t yet know the “rules” of how something is supposed to work. And that is where the sense of discovery, wonder, and curiosity begins. It is the beginning of an adventure.
“Noticing the world as constantly changing can help us dance with the flow of life.” – Sarah Jane Shangraw
In reading an issue of Mindfulness Magazine, they stated the following steps in taking a walk in nature what will bring “awe” into your life.
Curiosity and exploration floods your brains with dopamine, which makes you feel happier. It gives you higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, and greater satisfaction with your life. It’s a skill that can be developed. It is a habit of applying wonder, and feeding your desire to learn more.
Curious people want to try new things – so next time you go to a restaurant, try a food you have never eaten before. Curiosity begins with asking questions. In searching for different answers. In making a new or different connection. In taking what you discover and using it to make sense of your newly expanded world.
“Becoming happier is one of the most vital and momentous things that you can do for yourself and those around you.” – Sonja Lyumbomirsky
Some adults think that asking questions somehow implies they lack knowledge. But what I have found through the years, especially with the meanings and emotions triggered by words, is that there are a lot of words that I think are communicating one thing, but were received as another. Words can have more than one meaning. So I try to communicate what I have to say, using a lot of examples and analogy’s. Then I watch how it lands. If it seems to have landed wrong, I then use another analogy. I keep doing this until I know that what I meant, is what is understood. I ask a lot of questions, seeking understanding and connection.
Asking yourself the right questions can make a huge difference in how happy you are. We can train our brain to look for answers by asking it to focus on a certain task. If you ask yourself these three key questions everyday, your brain will step outside of the negative self judging that your mind tracks down. These questions will help rewire your brain to focus on the positive.
Curiosity is a strength within the virtue category of wisdom, one of the six virtues as described in Positive Psychology. The other strengths in the wisdom category are creativity, judgment, love of learning and perspective. According to Wharton University, curiosity has a genetic component, which can be grown or limited according to ones environment.
NASA’s rover on Mars is named Curiosity. She’s been on Mars since 2012 and since her battery is thought to be able to last for only 14 years, she’s nearing the end of her lifespan. NASA is looking for answers by collecting data on Mars.
It will certainly be interesting to see what they discover in that adventure – answers they were looking for – did Mars ever have the proper conditions for life to survive. So far they’ve discovered that Mars had sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon – all key ingredients for life. What things will be discovered that no one knew to ask?
From Britannica Curiosity Compass, “10 Ways to Improve Your Curiosity”
Curiosity makes your brain more receptive for learning. It is like a muscle and the more you use it the stronger your mind becomes. When you are curious, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to what you are curious about.
One of my favorite things about Jim Rohn was when he would get this look on his face, with his hand on his chin and say, “I wonder what happens next?” It was his way of not going into negative emotions when something you might judge as a bad experience happened. He used the analogy, when someone cuts you off driving down the road – instead of getting angry, say “I wonder what happens next?” I started saying, “Thank you for getting in front of me, because you are in a hurry and I don’t want to be the person you rear end when you follow to close.” This is because I have been rear-ended several times and gotten hurt twice. So I am truly grateful when this kind of driver passes me, even if he is cutting me off.
So using curiosity, and “I wonder what happens next?” thinking – what things happen in your life, could you turn around from a negative experience? How instead, could you turn it around, staying calm and centered in wonder?
Life is full of change. Seasons change. You change. Use the fall season to complete and release what no longer serves you. Use the winter season to rest, digest and restore yourself. Use the spring season to get curious about what new things can you seed into your life to grow you as a person. Use the summer season as a time to harvest the new beginnings that you started in the spring.
So go on some new adventures. Ask open ended questions. Listen intently and ask others why this is so important to them? Give others experiences instead of things. Learn a new hobby. Go on long walks, listening, looking, smelling, – using all of the senses to discover what you have missed. Live a full, happy life!
Are you a half empty glass or a half full glass kind of person? I think that neither one of those statements are true. I don’t believe in either or statements.
I think that the truth is always contained in an “all of the above” kind of answer. I think that every answer depends on the situation and the day it happens. Sometimes you will view your life through your limitations and sometimes you view it through your strengths. It’s all up to you and the choices you make. Your emotions will always be the colors of how you see your life.
Sometimes you will allow your limitations to rule your emotions. What if it is your limitations that make your story have real value in helping someone else in their own life journey? When you think about the “feel good” books, movies, stories that we love to watch and listen to – isn’t that what makes the heroes journey so amazing? The fact that they were able to rise above the limitation? It’s what separates your story from simply being an “ordinary boy meets girl, falls in love and marries to live happy ever after” kind of story.
There is no growth of character in that story. It is the overcoming of the obstacles to true love that gives the story a reward. If Snow White had no wicked stepmother that was jealous and wanted her dead; if Sleeping Beauty wasn’t cursed by the evil fairy; if the Little Mermaid didn’t foolishly trade her voice for legs with the Sea Hag; all of those wonderful stories we grew up with wouldn’t have survived through the centuries. It is the drama of overcoming the limitations that feeds our souls, not just the “happy ever after” ending.
It is from the damage you have had in your life, that the gold within you is purified. It is the refining of your soul through life’s fires that makes it into pure gold and shines out brightly for others to see.
“The light you’re seeking out there is already within you. You hold the light of millions of stars inside your own beating heart. Stardust runs through your veins and comets shine through your eyes…, My beautiful friend, no one can dull your spark because it comes from within you, it’s yours. Your spark comes from being wildly yourself; it comes from accepting yourself – strengths and flaws and all. It comes from being the person that you’ve always wanted to be. And the more you align with your heart, the more you allow your true light to shine.” – Nikki Banas
It isn’t that some people are heroes and others are not. It is in the overcoming of the obstacles, the living through the adversity to the other side, that you are revealed as a hero. It is in the doing of the thing that you thought you couldn’t that your inner strength is revealed.
J.K. Rowling said, that if she had succeeded in anything else, her true calling would never have been called forth. The one place that she belonged, would never have been uncovered. So when you think that you’re just a failure, think again. It simply means you are still revealing who you really are and what you were born to do. Failure is simply a matter of opening the wrong door. Keep walking down the hallway and trying more doors.
Adversity is a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. Boiling water soften potatoes and hardens eggs. It’s not about the water boiling, it’s about who you are and what you are made of. You have the strength to be a shining star in the dark night. Just keep taking one more step. Don’t look at how far you still have to go. Just keep taking one more step and give it all you have. You can do this!
“People are like stained-glass windows…, when darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Just remember each time you made it to the goal line. Each time you climbed another mountain. Each time you were defeated and got back up again. It is in the conquering the challenge, that you begin to understand just how strong you are. Every time a doubt enters your mind, think of all of the times you conquered a similar doubt. Every time a fear tries to stop you in your tracks, think of all of the other fears that you have walked through.
A really good friend of mine has a different kind of bucket list. His list isn’t of the places he wants to see, or the things he wants to do. It’s a list of the things that he’s afraid to do. And every year he crosses out one or more things on that list. He loves the feeling of conquering a fear. It gives his life a special meaning. It lights him up. He sails high on the adrenaline rush for months afterwards.
“Do the things that light you up from the inside out. Write that book that you want to see written. Make the pottery that you want sitting on your shelf. Cook the delicious meals that you want to enjoy. Fill your walls with art that you adore. You are meant to live your life beautifully and entirely yours. You are meant to fill it with all of the colors and art and wonderful things that fill you with delight…, You are meant to live in a way that lights you up from the inside out.” – Nikki Banas
Are you living through a challenge right now? Get excited about it. Get passionate about fighting for your dreams. About living your passion. About tearing down the barriers. About crossing the line and living the life that scares you. Discover what you are made of. Broaden your horizons. Learn something new. Experience something that scares you and makes you heart beat faster just thinking about it. Create a bucket list that challenges you and changes you.
“Be a warrior. Fight for what you believe in and never, ever hold back. Fiercely go towards your dreams with boldness and lust. Hold your ground in the face of conflict. Knock barriers down with courage and grace. Do not give up when you find yourself face to face to an obstacle, instead continue forward with abandon. Keep the fire in your heart burning strong and do not ever let your flame fade away. Remind yourself that what you are fighting for is worth it. And remember that you will overcome everything that comes your way – because my beautiful friend, you are a warrior.” – Nikki Banas
I love that we are all the same at certain points in our lives. No one is perfect. No one lives a life without getting scars, both the kind you can see and the kind that no one is allowed to see. There are days when you feel all alone. But in truth you never are alone. Not in what you are going through. Not in how you feel.
When the storm is raging through your life, there is that moment of calm, right before it all blows away. The sun comes out and the winds blow away all of the clouds. In a short time you can’t even tell that there was a storm. It seems like life has gone back to “normal”. But you know what changed. You know that sometimes nothing can be the same again.
So when life’s storms batter you, and leaves you feeling lifeless on the ground – you must remember that you are loved. And while it might not be in this moment, or even this week, the day will come again, where you will be having the best day of your life.
“Don’t forget while you’re busy doubting yourself, someone else is admiring your strength.” – Kristen Butler
Until then, remember you are loved. There are people like us everywhere, who are just waiting to know you and love you.
You are like a wildflower, so let yourself be scattered by those winds when they come.
Put your face to the sun. Let it warm your soul. You may have blemishes. You may have scars. You may feel tarnished and dirty and like something the cat dragged in. But beneath the dirt and dust your soul is shining like a jewel.
“I am changing…, but not in a way you’d expect. I am changing how I view myself. I am changing how I talk to myself. I am changing what I allow and who I allow in my life. But most of all.., I am no longer changing myself for others, the pressure to fit it and be anything other than myself. I am creating a revolution in my own self care.” – @ MOULE_T
When you look at the word struggle, it seems too much. It has a weight to it that makes you feel like it can’t be lifted. But if you just adjust the meaning, a tiny little bit – you see it hides the sparkle that is laying beneath it. Struggle is like see the sign on the highway, rest area ahead. Your journey has been long. You might need a bathroom break. You might need to just stretch your legs. You might need to grab a snack or something to drink. Struggle means:
If you change your definition of something that seems scary, like struggle and change – you widen your worldview to see how all of those words are something to celebrate, not fear.
I learned something a long time ago about decisions. It came from antique shopping, of all things. I had started collecting those green milk glass dishes because my grandmother had them and they reminded me of her. There were times where I found a unique piece, but it was a stretch financially to purchase and I would vacillate on whether I should spend the money or not.
Sometimes I didn’t, then I would go back a few weeks later to buy it, and (heavy sigh) it would be gone. So I started asking myself this question – “If I come back tomorrow and this is gone, how upset am I going to be?” Sometimes the answer was “oh well”. And sometimes the answer was “very upset”. I always walked away from the “oh wells” and bought the “very upsets”.
“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming.” – Unknown
I started making decisions in life the same way. Opening up my heart and asking “what if…?” this works or doesn’t work. How will it affect me? How will it affect my life? How will it affect those I love? When you get quiet in your soul and ask the right questions, the right answers are found there, just waiting for you. You have to step out of the wants, needs and desires of others. You have to feel into that space of inner calm and see what surfaces.
It really is simple. Living life as your true self is what will make you happy.
But those are the lies that are told to keep you in that place of being the good girl and doing what you are told. That place that leaves you unhappy inside. That says you are not enough and just need to try harder. That is the place that you need to grow from. The place that needs to be expanded, so that you can grow into your full potential. To be the sweet wonderful person you are at a soul level.
“The only difference between where you are and where you want to be is the steps you haven’t taken yet.” – Rigel J Davidson
“The day you find yourself will be the most beautiful day, because after that – you will never accept less than what you deserve. – Ruby Dhal
It’s not about “finding yourself” in the terms of you being lost. It’s about remembering yourself – finding that person you were before life started shaping and molding you into who others wanted you to be. There are so many stories of people who go through the proverbial hero’s journey to re-discover and fully accept who they are.
“Don’t spend all of your time trying to FIND yourself. Spend your time CREATING yourself into a person that you’ll be proud of.” – Unknown
From earliest childhood we all knew that one of my sisters was gay. But she never acknowledged it. When she got married we were all shocked. My mom tried to talk to her about it, but my sister just pushed it away. She had a daughter Kelly, and when Kelly was around 4-5 years old my sister was in a car accident. She had fallen asleep at the wheel and went off a ravine. She spent over 6 months in a hospital for back injuries learning how to crawl. She was diagnosed as a parapalegic and told she would never walk again. All those months in the hospital and almost dying scared her enough that she finally came to terms with her sexuality.
You hear similar stories, like the man who was in college to be a lawyer. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 6 months to live. He quit school and started playing the violin. He loved music and it gave him great happiness and joy. 6 months passed, then a year. His cancer had went into remission. He continued his musical career and left behind the legal field that his parents wanted for him.
“There will be very painful moments in your life that will change your entire world in a matter of minutes. These moments will change you. Let them make you stronger, smarter, and kinder. But don’t you go and become someone that you’re not. Cry. Scream if you have to. Then you straighten out that crown and keep moving.” – Unknown
Both these examples highlight, that it wasn’t a matter of the person not knowing themselves. It was a matter of accepting who they were, and pursuing what made them happy. As children you learn to please others. To put others desires above our own. You have to unlearn the thought that pursuing what makes you happy is somehow selfish and wrong.
“Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self – the one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.” – Kristin Hannah
When people are in hospice or extended care through the transition of life, the most common thing that they regret are the things they didn’t do for themselves. The things that others wouldn’t have approved of. They realize how much they missed of the life they really wanted to live. That belief that they weren’t good enough or deserving of the happiness that they saw in others lives. They let their fears of judgement and insecurities hold them back.
“To work on yourself is the best thing you can do. Accept that you are not perfect, but you are enough. And then start working on everything that destroys you. Your insecurities, your ego, your dark thoughts. You will see, in the end you’re going to make peace with yourself. And that’s the greatest thing in the world.” – DogTrainingObedienceschool. com
It’s extremely important to accept and acknowledge who you are. To live your own life, your own way – without regret. Let go of the compulsion to conform. Instead be drawn, pulled in the directions of what you love. Creativity, curiousity, exploring playfully whatever grabs your attention.
When my kids were small, I put off writing until they were all in school. Then with working fulltime and having 4 kids, I put off writing until they were all grown up. By that time, the habit was to put off writing for the magical someday, when I had the time. Then my nephew was murdered and the only way I could process the grief was writing. I started posting what I was writing and before you know it LemonadeMakers was born.
“Finding yourself is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. Finding yourself is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering of who you were before the world got its hands on you.” – Emily Mcdowell
I know how hard it can be to let yourself be drawn by what you love. You tell yourself you don’t have any talent for it. Or you can’t make money doing it. It isn’t the career for you. Nobody will want to read what you write. Everything you want to say, has already been said by lots of other people. And so you constantly put it off to someday. Please don’t deprive the world of your talents and gifts any longer. You will be shocked at how much they will be valued and how much they are needed.
“You don’t have to be what other people want you to be. You don’t have to be interesting or agreeable or entertaining. You don’t have to tone yourself down, quiet your voice, or hide your feelings. You don’t have to be outgoing or spontaneous or sociable. You don’t have to be thin or beautiful or anyone’s definition of attractive. You don’t have to be anyone other than who you authentically are, and you sure as hell don’t have to spend your time and energy trying to convince people that you’re worth keeping around. The right people are going to recognize your worth. They are going to respect you, appreciate you, and accept you, without forcing you to compromise who you are.” Daniell Koepke
Just like a fingerprint, you are absolutely unique when you live authentically who you are. The things you find interesting, the things you find humorous. Your sarcasm, your wit, how you approach everything in your life has its own individuality that belongs to you.
It’s self judgement that keeps you from being who you are. When you relinquish judgement, you let go of the feeling that you have to be different than who you are. That is when the beauty of who you are shines out. It is your difference that is the beauty of who you are.
“Finding yourself is a time of harmony because you develop that philosophy or belief system that will carry you throughout the rest of your life. When you love yourself and who you are, you will savor and enjoy both life’s pain and pleasures.” – James Spector
What would your life be about, if you fell so deeply in love with who you are, that you spent the rest of your life doing whatever it was that would make you happy? No guilt, no labels of selfishness. No more living a life to meet others expectations, but rather creating a life of meeting your own expectations for you.
What if you picked up the keys of self discovery and took yourself for a drive? Seeing each new sunrise and sunset with new eyes, breathing in the fresh air of change and transformation. Listen for the symphony of living life to your own music. Hearing the beauty of your own soul.
So lean in. Hear the calling of your own soul. Be brave enough to cross that river, taking only the essential parts of you and letting go of everything else. Be courageous, be authentic, and trust the magic of new beginnings.
This blog is a little heart rendering, so I am warning you ahead of time. It might be the one you need, and it might be the one you want to avoid.
I thought I knew what grief is all about. My mom died from cancer when I was in my 30’s. I was one of the primary caregivers the last three months of her life. It was a wonderful gift to be able to care for her as she made her transition. I thought I was ready, but I don’t think that anyone can ever be ready to lose a parent.
About a year after her death a lot of secrets came out of her closet. It was probably the hardest year of my life, even harder than losing her. It ripped that window of grief wide open. I thought that I had made it through the grief process. I was wrong. I had to then process the anger of what she had hidden. The anger of not being able to talk it through with her , so she could explain it all.
Eighteen years later I lost my 19 year old nephew when he was murdered. Starting this blog was how I started processing the loss not only of him, but what we all lost in relationship to our sister.
Nine years later I lost my birth father and had to process the grief of not just losing him, but losing the opportunity to have the kind of relationship I always wanted, but he wasn’t able to provide.
The following year I lost what I call my bonus dad. He had a long journey of heart disease that slowly took away his health. His was probably the easist death to process, because in the 15 yrs he lived with us, he had cleaned up what needed to be cleaned up with me.
I thought that with all of these losses, I knew what the grief process was all about. I had experienced it many times. I understood the grief stages. More importantly I knew I would survive. I thought, “I know how to do this”. Then a few months ago, my three year old grandson was killed in an accident. I now know grief in a totally unique way.
This journey I now understand is not only individual to the person, it is individual to what has been lost. The loss of someone so young rips apart your heart. Then experiencing the loss through your own child, as you witness his struggle to find his way through the grief process, turns your heart to ashes.
“You will lose someone you can’t live without and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with a limp.” – Anne Lamott
The truth is that grief for every person is a solitary journey. I can’t know how great my son’s pain is. I can’t understand the anger and depression that he is currently working through. I have no real idea of how to help. I struggle for the right words to say, and even if I feel I have found them, I struggle to know the timing of when to say them.
I also know from my own history of grief that just showing up and giving a hug can get someone through one more day of loss. What tends to happen with loss, is that at first everyone is there to support you. But time moves on for all of those dear friends and family members. They have processed the loss. They have moved on with living life, because that is what life does, it goes on.
When you have a loss that happens too soon, that feels too much to bear, your time line moves much slower. So it becomes a solitary journey. No one but you knows how great the hurt is. No one but you can know the gaping hole left in your life, especially when that someone is your little boy. And no one but you can mourn the silence, that was once filled with laughter as he ran around your house chasing the dog. It is the nature of love and of death to touch every person in a totally unique way.
“You’re under no obligation to be the person you were before life flattened you. You’re just not. Trust yourself to navigate this part of the journey.” Stephenie Zamora
Grief is not a journey in which you just push yourself through the stages and arrive at the end. There is no pushing through. What there is at the end is acceptance. You absorb it deep inside and it lives forever in your broken heart. Like a deep cut, it eventually scabs over. It is a healing process, where you pick at the scab and it bleeds and produces a new scab, over and over. Until one day you are picking at the scab and it just falls off. It leaves a scar that fades with time, but never completely goes away.
Grief never ends, but it changes. It is a passage, not a place to stay. Not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith, but the price of love. If you find yourself stuck in stage for a long time, it is time to seek a qualified therapist that can help you unblock the dam that has been created. If you find your friends and family are worried about you; if you find yourself putting on the fake smile and working hard to create the impression you have moved on (when you haven’t), it’s time to seek counseling.
“Grieving is a process. There’s a process of the shock, the anger, and then coping with the situation. You have to experience all of those levels to move forward, and sometimes you need help in that” Angela A Bridges
5 Facts about the stages of grief
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hallow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” favin.com
3 things to know about the denial stage of grief
“A thousand moments I had just taken for granted…, mostly because I assumed there would be a thousand more.” Morgan Matson
Anger – You may feel as though the whole world seems to be conspiring against you. You are mad at everyone, especially God. You feel as though you are walking a road to your own death, burning in the fires of your devasting anger. I think this quote describes perfectly why there is so much anger. You’ve lost all of those future moments.
“In grief, depression is a way for nature to keep us protected by shutting down the nervious system so that we can adapt to something we feel we cannot handle…, as difficult as it is to endure, depression has elements that can be helpful in grief. It slows us down and allows us to take real stock of the loss…, Allow the sadness and emptiness to cleanse you and help you to explore your loss in its entirety. when you allow yourself to experience depression, it will leave as soon as it has served its purpose in your loss.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Depression – I think it has to do with the hole in your heart. It is consumed with emptiness. You can’t fill it up or sew it back together. So you mask it. You deny to others that you are continuing to grieve. You’ve run out of tears, out of anger, out of the ability to cope. So the quiet emptiness just grows until it consumes you. You’ve shut off the support system and isolated yourself behind the mask. You are alone and feel like you will be alone until you die. You feel that your family and the world would be better off without you. You think that you are all alone in your grief, that everyone else has moved on. It’s depression that is controlling the mindtalk and thinking. When the grief turns into this kind of depression it’s time to take off the mask and seek help. Even though you think you can’t escape the sadness, therapy will help you see past the depression.
At the end of the grief process, it is not so much a moving on, as a moving forward – as you bring your loved one along in your heart and your very breath. They are a part of you now and always. You move forward with them. You continue to engage in life because you’ve become inspired by this love. That is my wish for all of us. To reach that space where we are able to continue our journey with a peaceful heart. With the good memories that make us laugh and smile. With that inner knowing that your loved one is still in your heart. The connection is still there, it is still real, it has just changed form.