Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quality of Life

Photo by Eileen Milner

Since it's all about being positive, I thought the following sentiments would be a good way to start the day!  A friend saw it on one of her friend's Facebook page and it's definitely worth sharing:

Someone once said, "There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and
 people who create it.

You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't.

Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living."

Being alive is a gift, being happy is by choice

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lennon and McCartney

Paul McCartney (left) & John Lennon (right)
Ouch!  It's Monday morning and you had a great weekend, a busy weekend full of fun, and now, all of a sudden, you're back at work.

Work?  How did that happen?  Don't worry.  You're not alone.  Michele Woodward knows how you feel and she's here to give you a jump start and get you going again.

A work colleague told me about Michele and I went and checked out her website ( and the blog she writes for Psychology Today called Getting Unstuck.  Her straightforward writing style style and her down-to-earth message about abandoning the idea of perfection is timely and refreshing.  Not that I am seeking perfection, but there is this idea out there in the American psyche that we can do it all and have it all when in reality we can't.  Something in our lives always has to be compromised in order to do something else.  It's just a fact.

There's no theory here.  Michele know this because she's a divorced Mom.   She's a real person, facing real challenges, like a real adult with responsibilities.

The following link will take you to a column of hers about John Lennon and Paul McCartney that jumped out for me right away and I hope you like it too:

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Wedding Shower

Two gleaming, freshly polished silver tea sets sit in my house right now in anticipation of my niece's bridal shower this Sunday.  Originally, the sets belonged to my grandmothers and each set is as different as the woman who owned them.  They now belong to my Mom and she generously agreed to let me borrow them for this special family event. 

I loved both of my grandmothers, Nana and Gammy, and it's a tender feeling to see the tea sets resting in their new and temporary locations.  I knew my Mom's mother very well and have lots of wonderful, warm memories of her but I didn't get a chance to know my Dad's mother the same way since she died when I was very young.  I do have some special memories of her and her home but mostly I know her through family stories.  I often think about the way they lead their lives and know that they both were unusual women.

Besides the tea sets, I'm also using a crystal punch bowl that also belonged to my Dad's mother.  My sister brought it to my house and our Dad joked about handling such a treasured family heirloom by saying, "If you break it (the crystal bowl), you're out of the will!"  We both laughed because we knew that would never happen!

I can picture each of my grandmothers using their tea sets and I know they would love that the sets are part of the upcoming bridal shower.  For sure, they will be with us and we'll tell lots of stories about them during the party.  As my niece begins a new chapter in her life, another generation will come to know their family history while also adding to it.

It's been a lot of work but now it's time to have fun and celebrate!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Online Chatting

Courtesy of Good Magazine

You're online and you decide to chat.  It's a normal, casual thing that lots of people regularly do.  It saves time and money and you don't think too much about what you're saying to the other person except that you keep it brief.

Blah, blah, blah.....blah, blah, blah.

Yet is online chatting really as casual as you think?  It's popular now for people to save their chat records just as they save copies of their email correspondence or a voice message left on an answering machine. This is a new concept for me because I have no idea how you would save an online chat.

When I think of chat records or transcripts I think of police sitting around and reading out loud the chats of people involved in criminal behavior.  Or people using chat records as evidence in a trial.  Other than those instances, a chat record is a unique animal to me.  Once I'm done typing and chatting, the chat is over.  I'm done and it's out of my head.  

But now you can add chat records to the list of momentos people hold near and dear.

In the Fall 2011 issue of Good magazine, author Rebecca Armendariz discusses and publishes portions of the online chats she had with her boyfriend, Clark, as he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, his surgeries, his chemotherapy and his weeks of hospice care.  Their insightful chats reflect two people moving through the different stages of physically and emotionally fighting cancer and their determination to keep their daily lives as normal as possible.

Even today, she says, many years after his death, she will type his email address into her computer's search box just to see what will appear.

"The ease of our everyday interactions is what kills me," Armendariz writes.  "The way we spoke to each other about what I'd bring home for dinner or whether it was a PBR or a Grolsch kind of night."

I would imagine that going back and reading a chat transcript that you had with a loved one could have the same effect as a song, transporting you to that moment in time when the chat took place and reminding you how you felt about the person on that day; a snapshot of the words and phrases you would use with each other.

Here is the link to Rebecca Armendariz's story in the Fall 2011 issue of Good Magazine:

Monday, September 19, 2011

And the Winner Is...A Monday Laugh

Tina Fey (left) and Amy Poehler (right)
Amy Poehler broke new ground at the Emmy ceremony last night and I hope you saw it.  I loved watching as the nominees for lead actress in a comedy series were read.  Amy's name was first and she immediately jumped out of her chair, ran to the stage and then stayed there.  Nobody knew what she was doing but they knew it was going to be funny.

Then as the rest of the category's nominee's names were read -- Tina Fey, Martha Plimpton, Melissa McCarthy, Edie Falco and Laura Linney -- each one also ran up on the stage and joined Poehler.  Holding hands and looking at each other nervously as they waited for the winner's name to be announced, people were laughing and clapping before they knew who had won.  Melissa McCarthy won and it was a riot.

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are always the best!!! My son reminded me about the hysterical Saturday Night Live sketch they did on Hillary Clinton.  Maybe it will make your Monday a little more tolerable by making you laugh...or at least smile as you face a new week.  Here's the clip:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's a Dot Com!

YEAH!! I finally figured it out!

Cry, Laugh, Heal is now a dot com!

I am so happy to announce that my Baby Blog has matured and become an Adult Dot Com!

To my wonderful, fantastic readers who give me great feedback and support, I thank you so much!!!!!!!!

Now you can type in and you will arrive at the same blog that you have been enthusiastically supporting for the last 10 months.

Please continue to pass around the link and tell friends and family to "like" the Cry, Laugh, Heal Facebook page.


Friday, September 16, 2011


Courtesy of Ben & Jerry's

A million things are jumbling around in my brain today and I am trying to follow my own advice about being what a good friend of mine calls "a little stressy":


Eat Well


Get Sleep


Take it step-by-step

Break the work into 10 minute increments


Righttttttttttt.....What I really want to do is eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream or a whole bag of Ruffles potato chips.  Now that would really do the trick!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Michelle Williams Now

Actress Michelle Williams is healing.

By setting her own pace and allowing herself to feel the pain and imbalance of grieving, Williams has found new strength, new energy and hope as she takes on the complex role of Marilyn Monroe. 

In a new interview with Vogue magazine, Williams talks about the 2008 death of actor and ex-boyfriend Heath Ledger as a deep loss that continues to affect her outlook on life, changing her as a parent, a friend and as an actress. 

But with the passage of time, she is rebuilding her life, adapting to her new reality and gaining more control over her emotions.  To her surprise, three years later, "My life has kind of repaired itself," she told Vogue.

Previously,  the few times that she spoke in public about Ledger's death, she talked about the need for privacy in raising their daughter, Matilda, and how difficult it was to fit the pieces of her life back together.

Interviewed by ABC's Nightline last year, she said this about the first year of grieving: "In a strange way I miss that year, because all those possibilities that existed then are gone.  It didn't seem unlikely to me that he could walk through a door or could appear from behind a bush.  It was a year of very magical thinking and in some ways I'm sad to be moving further and further from that."

Here is the New York Daily News story about Williams containing a link to a Vogue picture gallery:

 Michelle Williams talks to Vogue on life after Heath Ledger: 'My life has kind of repaired itself'

Tuesday, September 13th 2011, 11:01 AM
Michelle Williams spoke to Vogue about playing Marilyn Monroe and life after Heath Ledger.
Annie Leibovitz/Vogue
Michelle Williams spoke to Vogue about playing Marilyn Monroe and life after Heath Ledger.

Michelle Williams is moving on the best way she knows how.

The actress, 31, graces the cover of the October issue of Vogue and opened up to the magazine about playing Marilyn Monroe, raising her daughter Matilda, 6, and life after Heath Ledger.

"Three years ago, it felt like we didn't have anything, and now my life -- our life -- has kind of repaired itself," said Williams, whose "My Week With Marilyn" opened at the New York Film Festival Tuesday morning.
Ledger died from an accidental drug overdose at age 29 in Jan. 2008, leaving his ex and their daughter behind. The loss, Williams said, has influenced part of her life ever since.

"It's changed how I see the world and how I interact on a daily basis. It's changed the parent I am. It's changed the friend I am. It's changed the kind of work that I really want to do."

With "Marilyn," Williams seems to have found a role that fits her new criteria. She's long admired Monroe and the part gave her an opportunity to sink her teeth into a character she cared for and play a glamorous bombshell at the very same time.

"I've started to believe that you get the piece of material that you were ready for," she said.

"As soon as I finished the script, I knew that I wanted to do it, and then I spent six months trying to talk myself out of it," she said. "But I always knew that I never really had a choice."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ted Olson On Loss & Love

There is no single path on the road to healing and resilience.  Different people take different steps, drawing on their own strengths and what works best for them.  Here is one person's chosen path.... 

Ted Olson on loss and love

 in the decade since 9/11

Ted Olson in his office at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher last year. (Jahi Chikwendiu/ The Washington Post)

Ted Olson spent his 71st birthday Sunday at his family’s lakeside property in Northern Wisconsin. He was invited to ceremonies marking the anniversary of 9/11 but, after careful consideration, decided not to attend.
“I had to balance between my feeling that I should be at the Pentagon and participate in these public events of memory and remembrance,” he told us Friday. “On the other hand, I also felt it’s so powerfully overwhelming that the best thing I could do is to celebrate my birthday, remember Barbara’s death and celebrate the remainder of our lives with family members away from Washington, D.C.”

Ten years ago, Olson became the most famous person in D.C. to lose a loved one in the terrorist attacks: His wife, conservative commentator Barbara Olson, was on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. She had delayed a trip to California so she could be in town for his birthday dinner the night before.

Barbara Olson during an appearance on “Larry King Live.” (Ho/Reuters)

Olson had recently been confirmed as the Bush administration’s top lawyer — solicitor general of the United States — and was nationally known as the man who successfully argued the controversial Bush v. Gore election case in front of the Supreme Court.

Before she died, Barbara placed two calls to her husband from the hijacked plane. The terrible news spread within minutes, and Olson immediately became Washington’s face of loss.

“When I appeared in public, I had to stress that I’m not unique . . . unfortunate, tragic things happen to all of us,” he said. “It’s very important to put that in perspective: You’re not the only one that has experienced a terrible tragedy, as thousands of other people did that day.”

Olson said he was determined not to be consumed by his sorrow. His mother, then 81 years old, told him: “Ted, you’ve got to get back on your feet and get out there. You’re a young man.” He went back to work the following Monday and argued his first case as solicitor general three weeks later.

Six months later, he was introduced to Lady Booth, a tax attorney from Chicago. The two began dating and quickly became serious. “I felt that some people would feel that I was moving too fast. Everyone has their own idea about how someone should cope and how much you engage in mourning. I believe Barbara — because she was so passionate about life — would have wanted me to live my life.”

Ted and Lady Olson in 2006. (Philip Bermingham)

The past decade has been filled with personal and professional highs: Since 2006, Olson has been happily married to Booth, his fourth wife. “It’s not easy all the time when people want to talk about Barbara, but [Booth has] been absolutely spectacular and inspirational.” He remained with the administration until 2004, then went into private practice and is considered one of America’s most influential lawyers. He teamed up with former rival David Boies to challenge a California ban on same-sex marriage and, earlier this year, was recognized with the American Bar Association’s highest honor.

On Friday, Olson delivered a speech about 9/11 at the Justice Department, then flew to Wisconsin to spend his birthday with his wife, mother, brother, sister and daughter. “It’s nice to be able to get away from this extraordinary, heavy, nonstop emotional binge taking place this weekend,” he said.
Wisconsin is also where Barbara is buried. It took three months to identify her remains, and he decided the family retreat would be her final resting place. Olson said he would spend Sunday surrounded by the people he loves best.

“Horrible things can happen to you, and horrible things happened to us on September 11,” he concluded. “But if we look for love and happiness and fulfillment, we will find it.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 -- Ten Years Later

Photo by Newsday

Sadness...Awe...Gratitude...Grief.  All woven together, this is 9/11, ten years later.

Sadness and grief for the lives lost that awful day but gratitude and awe for the extraordinary memorial now in place at Ground Zero and the heroic efforts of fellow Americans who made it possible for survivors to talk about how they miraculously escaped the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Human strengths and human frailties live side by side today at Ground Zero in New York City, the Washington, DC Pentagon building and the field where Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, PA.  Across the United States, Americans are commemorating the thousands of lives lost and mentally reliving the tragic terrorist events that took place ten years ago.  The sounds, the sights, the smells, the thoughts of that horrific day come rushing back as we recall loved ones lost and loved ones who survived the destruction but still deal with the physical and psychological effects of the those terrorist attacks.

The anniversary of losing a loved one is always a painful  time  of "remember whens" and "what ifs," but there can also come a point in your personal grief journey when you decide that the anniversary is more than the loss of that person; that the anniversary can be spent as a day to celebrate the beauty of that person's life and the positive impact they had on you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Grand Central Station, New York City

I haven't heard this new song yet, but the story that inspired Mary Chapin Carpenter to write "Grand Central Station" truly reflects one of the hundreds of quiet heros who worked to clean-up Ground Zero after 9/11.  Please listen to it........

Thanks Ryan!!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pause & Remember

Before the mantra was jobs, jobs, jobs, it was security, security, security.

The security of our nation, the security of our borders, the security of our everyday lives was at the top of the agenda.  No one could do enough to make America safe and secure.  And we were willing to do whatever it took to make it happen: reduced civil liberties, metal detectors and wands, pat downs, no shoes.

A decade later, 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden is finally dead as are some of his top operatives.  But how safe are we?

When the 10th anniversary of 9/11 arrives on Sunday, Americans will pause and remember where they were when they first saw or heard the shocking news of the attacks on New York City's Twin Towers, Washington, DC's Pentagon building and the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA.   

It was a horrific and terrifying day; a day when the unthinkable became reality.

It's a reality playing over and over again this week on television, newspapers, the web and magazine.  I have watched a few television specials this week featuring the live 9/11 footage of the planes crashing, the towers falling and people in NY and DC running to get out of the way of the attacks and find safety.  I think I've seen enough and will probably not watch any more 9/11 television because my memory of those events is clear.  I can flash back to those raw and gritty images all on my own.  The repetition of seeing the events is not a healthy or healing process for me.

Instead, I am looking for stories about people who courageously pushed through their pain and chose to rebuild their lives, turning their losses into the pursuit of a positive cause honoring the memory of the loved one they lost on 9/11.  One touching story that particularly stood out for me is the story of Jack and Lauren Grandcolas.  Lauren, 38, was pregnant when she died on United Flight 93, which was hijacked by the terrorists and crashed in a field near Shankesville, PA.  After battling grief and depression, Jack started a foundation in his wife's name that financially supports a state-of-the-art birthing room at Marin General Hospital in California. 

Here is a link to a short video and story about Jack and Lauren Grandcolas:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Be Careful Out There

A good friend of mine recently introduced me to Gospel Star Marvin Sapp and his daily spiritual insights called "Marvin's Motivational Moment." 

Family, jobs, personal interests and personal predicaments.  We live in a rushed and complex world that can easily be stressful and overwhelming.  All the more reason to stake out time to evaluate and regroup; to take stock of what's happening to you, REALLY happening to you, instead of making your schedule of commitments and appointments your top priority.

Who's in charge of this life? 

I love the immediacy of texting and also being able to communicate with friends any time of the day or night through emails and Facebook but after awhile it feels hollow and if I throw a couple of weeks of busybusybusy in there then I really start to feel out of touch.  If I can, I need to actually see the person or at least hear their voice to feel as though I'm reconnecting with them and that we're back in the same galaxy.  

Electronic interactions are great for the quick message, the fast update but not if you are in the mood for or in need of a heart-to-heart conversation.  That's why the following Motivational Moment from Marvin made me stop and really think about people in an entirely different way:

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.
So handle them with care."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sandy Gingras

This quote from author/artist Sandy Gingras
         makes me happy ...........

"At the beach, life is different.  A day moves not from hour to hour but leaps from mood to moment.  We go with the currents, plan around the tides, follow the sun."

I hope it makes you happy too because it's sooooo true!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Falling Into Fall

Photo By Eileen Milner

Early this morning I opened the front door to get the newspaper and felt a chill in the air that can mean only one thing:  the seasons are starting to change and I don't like it.

Summer is my very, very favorite season of the year.  It is totally the best!  I know, I know, I hear lots of you out there saying something garbled about the heat and humidity in DC, but I don't care.  Summer is light clothing, fresh fruits and vegetables and long days.  Summer is bare feet, freshly cut grass and beach time.  My thinking about summer is: Bring It.  The hotter the better.  Temperatures below 75 degrees are cold and unwelcome.

But besides the change in temperature, I also don't like the emotional shift that I feel happens when we pass from the month of August to the month of September.  Maybe it's a holdover childhood days of leaving summer and going back to school in September, but I feel it's something more.  What is it about the change of seasons that thows my thoughts in a tumble?  It's almost similiar to saying good-bye and I guess in a way that's what I'm doing.

I'm saying good-bye to a time of the year that makes me really happy.  I'm saying good-bye to a sense of freedom and relaxation even though I'm really not ready to say hello to a time of year that brings shorter days, cooler climates, and the holidays.  Today, I saw pumpkins in the grocery store and I wanted to cover them up.  Mother Nature is forging ahead, working her magic while she moves us into another time of the year and in that process, I am thinking about how I'll have to start wearing a coat, how I need to clean up the yard and what my husband is doing.  Every year I think I'm going to stop feeling that way and I don't.  I know that for me autumn is harder than spring but I think that has to do with the fact that he died in November.

It could be that in the transition from one season to the next I am thinking about how I don't want it to get cold outside, how I don't want it to snow and as I am thinking, I tend to let my mind wander which leads me to thinking about him.  He is still in and out of my thoughts depending on what is happening in the world, what is happening to me at work, what is happening to our son at college or what is happening to his four other children as they make their way through life.

It's so funny how my son and I try to figure out when events happened by whether his Dad was alive or not when they occurred.  What year did that happen?  I don't know...Was Daddy alive then?  He was?  Okay, then it must have been 2002.

I wonder about how he is and if he would like the person I have become now that he is gone.  Maybe I just don't like winter because he liked it.