Monday, December 31, 2012

Buddy The Elf

A baby boy crawls into Santa's satchel of presents and travels back with him to the North Pole.....
So begins the wonderful story of "Elf," a classic Christmas movie which captures the spirit of innocence and hope.  If you've never see "Elf," I highly recommend it.
With a new year right around the corner, there is no reason for us to abandon the uplifting feeling of the holidays just because Christmas and Hanukkah are over.
Comedian Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf
I have watched "Elf" many times when it it isn't even close to the holiday season just because it makes me laugh and reminds me that my outlook on life is my choice.  Sometimes I do get caught up in the negative aspects of every day life and forget that it's essential to keep it simple and believe that tomorrow will be better.
I won't go as far as Buddy and believe "that there is always room for everyone on the nice list" but I can choose to keep a "holiday spirit" with me if I want and carry it around to feel any day of the week, any time of the year. 
Comedian Will Ferrell, a veteran of "Saturday Night Live," plays Buddy the Elf perfectly!  Every time I watch the movie, I never doubt that Buddy truly is one of Santa's elves.  One of Buddy's charms is his love of singing and his belief that singing -- even if you make up the song as you go along -- will make you and everyone else around feel better and more hopeful.
Buddy's sweet philosophy is essentially this: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."  And he practices it as much as he can.
Now, really think about it.  When was the last time you sang out loud?  When was the last time you sang in the shower?  When was the last time you sang along to a song while in the car?  That you sang a song while you were just walking around?
Don't get me wrong.  I am not ignoring the realities of life.  I see the problems and stresses that I need to deal with and as I get older those problems have become more complicated.  But I also know that finding the humor in life or singing a song to myself or just being silly about a situation can help me momentarily rise above the tensions and perhaps help me find a solution, even if it's only short-term.
"Elf" is also about developing a childlike sense of humor. Not in an annoying, repetitive, selfish way but developing the ability to see the silly side of things in life. Humor helps me get through ordinary hassles and feel less stressed.
If 2012 has taught me nothing else, it has shown me and proved to me over and over is that I can only change myself and the way that I react to life and its unpredictable situations. 
I can be negative or I can be positive and being positive gives me the resolve and extra boost I often need to face the day!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Silly Video About Scotch

This post is kindof random but there are times when I just want to be silly and this is one of those times.

I saw this video on Daily Candy and it made me laugh.  I wanted to share it with you because it might make you laugh too. . . or at least smile!

Please meet Ricky Crawford (he's cute & has a great accent) in this short video.  Crawford is a former Glenlivet brand ambassador and in this video he gives a charming lesson on how to order and enjoy single malt Scotch.

And yes. . . he is wearing a kilt:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Getting A Life

"Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast? Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a cheerio with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pick up the phone. Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad. Get a life in which you are generous."
                                             ~ Excerpt from Anna Quindlen's Villanova Commencement Speech, 2000
Baby Practices Picking Up Cheerios
I worked a few hours in the office yesterday and then was able to leave early.  I didn't feel guilty at all about cutting the work day short.  I was looking forward to meeting my son at the movies.  We saw "Les Miserables" and I enjoyed it but I prefer the stage version of the iconic story about the French Revolution.
While waiting in the lobby, I let my mind wander and watched the cold, rainy weather outside.  I could feel my shoulders relax as I looked up at the clear slanted ceiling and my eyes followed the sliding raindrops down the glass.  After a few minutes, my mind seemed to empty of office concerns and I starting thinking about the importance of mentally and physically breaking from my work schedule.
I could work all the time if I wanted to.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with work and I am happy to have my job.  I have a strong work ethic and get a lot of satisfaction from doing my job and doing it well.  But there comes a point when you need to recharge and you can't do that if you are always working and always pushing yourself to do more work.

I find that working constantly starts to make me inefficient.  I start to get tired, I get headaches easily and I start to answer people in a short manner.   When I start experiencing those symptoms, I know it's time to take a break and do some of the things that Anna Quindlen suggests in her quote above: pick up the phone, call a friend or a family member, write an email, connect with another person.

I need to work to support myself financially but I also need to remember -- especially during the holidays -- to take a break and enjoy the treasures of my life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mele Kalikimaka -- A Hawaiian Christmas Song

Aloha!! This is a Christmas song that you may not have heard before but it is a song that I know from my childhood.
My Dad is a big Bing Crosby fan and he would always play this song every Christmas.
My sister (the one who is my Irish twin) and I thought it was a very funny song because it has a funny title and is about Christmas in Hawaii and "the land where palm trees sway."  While dressed in our pajamas, my sister and I would get up and perform for the rest of the family and sing and dance the hula.  I'm not sure why our other siblings didn't join us but they always would watch as we got up and emoted all over the place.
These kinds of memories hold a special place in my heart and I find them comforting as well as healing.  They help me remember that there is still that little girl still inside me who knows how to be silly and enjoy the moment!
I hope you have similiar holiday memories that you also cherish and perhaps you even made a few yesterday as you celebrated Christmas with your family and friends. 
As they say in Hawaii -- Mele Kalikimaka!
That's the island greeting that I send to you and yours during this holiday season.

Here is the YouTube version of Bing Crosby singing Mele Kalikimaka and a slideshow of Hawaiian scenes:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Merry Christmas Message

Merry Christmas

Dear Readers,

May you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas!

The holiday season may remind you of a special person who is no longer with you just as I am reminded of my husband who died nine years ago.  Our lives have been forever changed and so have we. 

But there is always hope for a renewed future; a future that we can purposely rebuild so that we may move forward.  You are not alone.
We bring our loved ones with us as we slowly figure out our new lives and as we do, we find ourselves remembering them with the healing powers of smiles and tears.
Thank you for reading Cry, Laugh, Heal and may you find peace and happiness in your journey.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Scenes

Christmas Car
Courtesy of

It's Christmas Eve!  Can you believe it?

In some ways, I think Christmas Eve is more magical than Christmas Day.

Maybe it's the anticipation. . .

Here are a few pictures showing the wonder of Christmas that I find comforting.  I hope they bring comfort and joy to you too!  Merry Christmas!!:

Christmas Candles
Courtesy of
Christmas Gates
Courtesy of
Christmas Village
Courtesy of
Christmas Sled
Courtesy of
Christmas Walk
Courtesy of

Christmas Bucket
Courtesy of

Christmas Bow
Courtesy of

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Do Not Look Away

Courtesy of
Holding a hand.  Giving a hug.  Opening your heart.
We must not be afraid to offer comfort and empathy.
I know it's hard to step outself of yourself and reach out to others in pain. To empathize requires introspection which is not a very popular exercise these days.  Introspection requires you to stop thinking about yourself and imagine what another person is feeling in a situation you would not want to happen to you or anyone else.
I know it is only a few days until Christmas, a time when Christians traditionally celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and people would prefer to surround themselves in the comfort of a commercial Christmas, a Christmas of unending presents and idyllic settings full of twinkling lights, freshly baked cookies and smiles and holiday joy.
But there is also another Christmas, equally as powerful: a Christmas belonging to those newly bereaved, a Christmas belonging to those whose child has died. 

Please pause this Christmas and think of these people who are desperate in their sorrow.  No matter what the reason, a shooting, a disease, an accident or a medical condition, these parents should not be ignored because they may make us feel uncomfortable.
To truly be filled with the spirit of Christmas, we must give of ourselves.  Though it truly is every parent's nightmare, please do not look away from those who are grieving the loss of a child.  Besides the deep pain they are experiencing, there is also an outrage that they are feeling; an outrage that they will never know what the child might have become.
They need our help.  They need to know they are not alone.
Please read the following Washington Post story written by a mother who writes of her raw feelings following the death of her child.  May it inspire all of us to be courageous in the face of grief:

Courtesy of CBS News
The death of a child: A parent’s worst nightmare

By Ann Hood, Published: The Washington Post, December 21

Ann Hood is a novelist and short-story writer living in Providence, R.I.

We are stunned. We are outraged. As a nation, we are questioning laws on gun control, questioning how such a thing can happen. These are all appropriate responses to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
But there is a repercussion to all this that will continue long after laws are changed and life, unbelievably, gets back to normal: the grief of the parents of the 20 children killed. How many times have I heard that this is a parent’s worst nightmare? As someone who has lived the nightmare of losing a child, I know that the enormous hole left behind remains forever.

My daughter, Grace, was not killed by a gun. She died suddenly at age 5 from a virulent form of strep. As I stood stunned in a church at her memorial, one of the hardest things I heard someone say was, “I’m going to go home and hug my child a little tighter.” Well, good for you, I thought. I’m going to go home and scream.

What can be said in light of such grief? What can you do? The problem is that no one can give the parents what they want most: their child. Long after the memorials fade and the casseroles stop coming, that child is still dead, and those parents are still grieving.

I offer here what I have learned about grief in the 10 years since my Gracie died:

I learned that platitudes don’t work. Time doesn’t heal. She is not in a better place. God does give us more than we can bear sometimes. I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words. I have learned that even in the face of loss, clothes still get dirty and bills still need to get paid. Friends who laundered our socks and answered our e-mails, who mowed our lawn and put gas in our cars, helped us — a lot. The friend who came one afternoon and went through Grace’s backpack, carefully storing her kindergarten workbook and papers, hanging her art on the refrigerator and her raincoat on its hook in the mudroom, had more courage than the ones who told me to call anytime.

Some friends sat with me day after day, week after week and, yes, month after month, and let me talk while they listened. I told the story of Grace’s last day over and over, as if by telling it I could make sense of what had happened to her, to us. But there is no sense to be made of such tragedy, and when I realized that, they let me wail and bang my fists and curse.

As time passes, people return to their ordinary lives, while grieving parents no longer have ordinary lives. They are redefining themselves, and they are at a loss at how to move forward. There is a woman who still sends me a card on Grace’s birthday and every Mother’s Day, who sent cards weekly for more than a year, a lifeline to a grieving mother. The people who even now, a decade later, still say Grace’s name, still comment on her quirky style and artistic talents and love of the Beatles, continue to help me through my days, simply by remembering her.

How easy it is to look away from grief, as if it might be contagious, or too frightening to face. But the Newtown parents have a difficult, lifelong journey through grief ahead of them. Somehow, the seasons will change, the anniversaries will stack up one after the other. They will, unbelievably, smile again. They will make dinner and change jobs and buy clothes and celebrate and travel. They will go on. But there will always, always, be this grief, softened and dulled but present every minute of every day.

Do not forget that. Look them in the eye. Take them in your arms, and do not let them go.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's A Girl!

The daughter of a very good friend of mine gave birth early yesterday morning to a baby girl!

I am very excited for the parents of this beautiful new baby and my friend and her husband who now are grandparents. 
It's so magical to me that on Wednesday morning she was a mother and a wife (and lots of other great things too!) but by Thursday morning she had become a grandmother and met her first grandchild.
You really never know what life has in store for you! 

Becoming a parent is the adventure of a lifetime.  I mean this in the best of all ways.  I have loved every minute of it.  There is a lot of repetition and hard work involved in raising a child, either as a single parent or as part of a couple, but the rewards are priceless.
When we are with babies and young children we see the world in a fresh and new way for their reactions to the world are spontaneous and unfiltered.  I also discovered that being with my own son when he was a child, or other people's young children, could be healing in the sense that everything else that has happened to you that day falls away and the time spent with a child highlights what is really important in life.
Taking their hands, comforting them, teaching them right from wrong and helping them to learn how to take care of themselves is repeated over and over, the stuff of everyday life.  But it's also the stuff of a super love that you feel for your child and that super love never decreases even as they need you less and less.
I think the parents of this new baby girl are going to be great and I look forward to watching them take their journey together as a family.
P.S. Don't forget to have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let Your Light Shine

Today is twenty four hours of new time.  Time you didn't have yesterday and time you won't have tomorrow.

Today is a day for you to shine.  In the words of South African President Nelson Mandela (please read below), "We are powerful beyond measure."
Today is a day to discover something new about yourself.  A day to show what you are about.

It's your day. . . Find your power!
Find Your Power
Our Deepest Fear
From Nelson Mandela's 1994 inaugural speech

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who I am to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you NOT to be?
You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the World.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that
other people won't feel unsure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God
that is within us.
It is not just in some of us;
it is in everyone.
As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously 
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"

Cast of NBC's "The Voice"
singing a tribute to victims in Newtown, CT

A good friend who tragically lost a loved one in the Newtown, CT mass shooting yesterday posted on her Facebook page this beautiful and haunting video of the coaches and artists from NBC's hit show, The Voice, singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in a tribute to the 20 children and six adults who died in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I think it is the simplicity of the song's message that makes it so powerful.  Let the healing powers of the music fill your soul and wash over you and may it offer you a few moments of relief from any pain you may be feeling today.

I am so sorry for your loss Annie.  Thank you for sharing in your time of sorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown: A Priest's Tears

Monsignor Robert Weiss

I always think of priests as people who have heard and seen it all.

After years of listening to thousands of people confess their sins (large and small), and executing innumerable weddings, funerals and baptisms, I can't imagine that priests are surprised by anything anybody does.  I'm sure their deep faith gives them hope and optimism about human behavior but there probably isn't anything new under the sun for them.

Until I read about Monsignor Robert Weiss.

Weiss is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish in Newtown, CT and he horribly lost more than 10 parishioners in the tragic and shocking shooting of December 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Weiss personally knew many of the children who died at the school for he had baptized them and he compassionately stayed at the scene to continue to counsel and absorb the anxiety, regrets and raw grief of the schoolchildren's parents.

Weiss was interviewed on television about the shooting.  I watched him try to describe what the people of the town were feeling and during the interview he started to cry.

I silently thanked him for crying on television, for showing his vulnerability and his strength.  It is not a sign of weakness to cry.  It is letting your grief run free and in that freedom is where you can sometimes find the strength to go forward and to also find a sense of healing.

After my husband died, I cried a lot.   My son had a hard time watching this happen and always asked me to please stop.  But I really couldn't.  Sometimes it was in public and sometimes it was privately.  But my tears were my way of  releasing my grief and I always felt better afterwards.

Grief that is held inside only keeps hurting.

People are afraid to talk to others who are grieving because they think that by mentioning the deceased person's name they will upset them and they will cry.  So what if they cry?  Take their hand and hold it.  Put your arms around them and hug them.  Quietly tell them they are not alone.

Monsignor Robert Weiss has shown us how to handle unspeakable acts of horror and deep grief.  Here is The Washington Post story about his beautiful acts of human kindness: 
Monsignor Robert Weiss
St. Rose priest mourns with his flock after witnessing his parishioners’ grief

By , Published The Washington Post: December 16

NEWTOWN, CONN. — As if it were any normal day, Monsignor Robert Weiss had his usual breakfast at the Sandy Hook Diner — a short stack of French toast and two strips of bacon. Waitresses call it the “Monsignor Special.”

Within hours of that hometown breakfast Friday, Weiss found himself in a room at a firehouse, with parents on folding chairs, in what would become one of the worst days in American history.

The 66-year-old priest is known as Father Bob to the 3,500 families who belong to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. On Sunday, what Father Bob craved — after long hours of counseling and grieving and not enough sleep — was a good Scotch and a place to let go. Half of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary were members of Weiss’s congregation, and he had baptized many of them.
After the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, in a rectory full of law enforcement officers and priests, Weiss wept.

Nothing at seminary had trained him for this week. Nothing about his 13 years at St. Rose. Nothing about his understanding of the world.

“I thought about Paul,” said Weiss, his black clergy shirt unbuttoned and his white collar in his shirt pocket like a pen. “Paul said, ‘In my weakness I find my greatest strength.’ ”

On Friday morning, Weiss was working in his office when he received a call from authorities to lock down the school at St. Rose. There had been a school shooting. Weiss left the rectory and walked 100 yards to the church, where students were gathered for regular Friday morning Mass. Weiss interrupted the priest who was officiating and told him to stop and keep the students inside the church.

When Weiss heard that the shooting had occurred at Sandy Hook, less than a mile away, he grabbed two other priests from St. Rose, and they rode in Weiss’s BMW to the school. Three priests in clergy collars were a welcome sight.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” said the police officer who flagged them through the secured perimeter.
When Weiss pulled up, he saw teachers organizing students into lines in the parking lot. The ­second-grade teacher held up a sign that said two, and the third-grade teacher held up a sign that said three. And the students — who had been told to close their eyes while they evacuated the building to avoid seeing the carnage as they rushed past — obediently began forming lines.

Not every child was there. Some had run into the woods when they heard the shots. A few had run home. And some were inside the school.

Frantic parents were arriving. Children burst from their lines upon seeing their mother or father, while parents ran toward the lines.

Reunion after reunion whittled the lines down, leaving only parents, empty-handed and desperate. They were taken to the nearby firehouse where the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company operated.

Weiss walked over, too. He knew half the parents from St. Rose. He had officiated at their weddings and the baptisms of their children, some of whom were now unaccounted for.

Inside the firehouse, parents texted relatives, called babysitters to stay late and called around to likely places where their missing children might have gone.

That room, too, was whittled down.

“If your child’s name was not called, please go into this room,” an official said, directing the remaining parents into an adjoining room.

Investigators asked each parent for a photo of his or her child. Wallets and purses came out. No shortage of photos. Next came the questions. What color is your son’s hair? What did she wear to school that morning?

They all had a child in the first grade. They were hoping and praying that a classroom had not yet been evacuated, or that their child had been taken to the hospital. Couples debated which one should leave to check the hospitals.

In the room of folding chairs, time passed. Weiss felt the tension rising in equal measure to the sense of dread. Parents started coming to him with regrets.

A mother said she shouldn’t have taken her daughter’s DVD player away. “She wasn’t a bad child,” the mother told Weiss. Another mother who came to Weiss said it was her fault she sent her daughter to school that morning. She blamed herself, telling the priest she wasn’t fit to raise her other children.
About 3 p.m., Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy came into the room. The gruesome announcement was his to make: 27 people inside the school had been killed, and 20 were children. All would be taken to the medical examiner’s office.

With the news came the most raw display of human grief that Weiss had ever seen or imagined — wailing, weeping, screaming, people sinking to the floor.

Some parents wanted to go inside the school and see their children. They insisted or begged. They wanted to go inside the school. The answer was no. The school was a crime scene and couldn’t be disrupted. The parents did not yet know an assault rifle had been used to kill the children.

The room began to clear out. At 3:20, a mother’s cellphone rang with the reminder to take her son to Cub Scouts.

That night, Weiss was called to the police station and was assigned to call at the homes of two victims, along with a state trooper and a grief counselor.

He knocked on one door at midnight — that of a husband whose wife had been killed in the shooting — and the next door at 1:30 a.m.

Weiss knew both families well. They belonged to his church.

In all those hours of counseling and comforting, no one asked the priest, “Why?” The question came later, starting on Sunday, and Weiss did not have an answer.

© The Washington Post Company

Monday, December 17, 2012

Seaching for Serenity

As we continue to deal with the tragic stories coming out in the news about the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, let us try to find a break from the pain.

We begin a new work week and also find that Christmas is just a week away. The juxtaposition of the Newtown stories, the dialogue online and on television and in the newspapers this weekend about gun control, the state of mental health and parenting issues in the United States and Christmas decorations and music is jarring.

I found myself turning off the television and only reading parts of stories because it all became too much to digest.

I am not ignoring what has happened but at a certain point, my mind needs a rest.  My mental break consists of finding a place where I can close my eyes, take a deep breath and mentally think of a calming image in nature such as an isolated beach, rolling green hills or a field of flowers.

Breath.  Listen to your heartbeat.  Breath.  Think of the ocean and the calming sound of the waves as they meet the sandy shore.  Take another deep breath.

What is serenity in a time of turmoil?  It can be a place of inner peace and a way of finding hope and healing even while experiencing pain.

I found this short explanation about serenity on and thought I would share it with you.  I hope you find it helpful:

 Serenity means maintaining a sense of inner peace even in difficult situations.
We gain serenity by accepting the things we cannot change and focusing our energy where we can make a difference.
Fear, anger or desire can create a sense of urgency that triggers us to react impulsively. When this happens, we risk undermining our goals, damaging relationships--even violating our deepest values. By contrast, when we cultivate serenity, we don’t fear our emotions, but we do keep them in balance. We govern ourselves rather than being ruled by external circumstances and our feelings about them.
Meditative practices, contemplation, physical exercise and self-regulation skills all can help us to maintain a serene, peaceful state of mind. This mental state in turn frees us to live thoughtfully and intentionally.
When we hold onto our own sense of serenity, we help others to keep theirs.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

Murdering a child is an unspeakable act.
Yesterday's horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT., which involved the shooting of 27 people, including 20 young children, leaves us asking questions about our culture and praying for the parents and the community at large.
As a parent myself, I try to place myself in their situation, but I cannot begin to fathom the depth of pain and shock those parents are experiencing.  My heart goes out them and I wish we could take it all away.

We must talk openly about this incident, as hard as it is, for in the talking perhaps we can prevent this kind of tragedy from ever, ever happening again.

In an effort to promote a sense of comfort and healing, I am sharing an excerpt from an article by Barbara J. Paul, PH.D.,  on this very sad subject:

Special Issues for Parents Losing A Son or A Daughter
By Barbara J. Paul, Ph.D.

Whether your child was two or thirty-two, the death of a child is perhaps the most difficult of losses.  The grief following the loss of a son or a daughter is intense and prolonged.  Why is it different from other losses?

It differs from other deaths for several reasons.

1.  It is not in the natural order of things.  Parents do not expect to outlive their children.  We tend to believe that children (of any age) don't die.
2.  The child is biologically and emotionally a part of the parent.  When a death occurs, the parents feel that part of themselves has died.
3.  Parents feel that the future is gone with the loss of a son or a daughte.
4.  The loss is shared by both parents but their reactions and resolution may differ.  Couples often depend on each other for support but overwhelmed by their own loss, it can feel impossible to support their partner.

Parents lose not only a part of themselves, but their role as a parent and nurturer.  They lose the future grandchildren or may lose contact with existing grandchildren.  These losses add to the grief.  Equally devastating may be the parents' loss of faith or belief system.

Reaction to the loss of a son or a daughter

The reaction are similiar to those of other losses, affecting parents physically, emotionally, behaviorally, and often spiritually.  For many parents, the assumptions they had about the world and how it functioned do not fit with the reality of the death of their child.
While each person handles grief uniquely, parental bereavement may last many years.  Particularly in the early months, parents describe rheir emotional state as either feeling totally numb or  experiencing all emotions at the same time.  Trying to make sense of what happened and finding meaning in living become major tasks.  Guilt and anger are strong and normal emotions.
Grief is a process, often cyclical in nature, not unlike a roller coaster ride.  One is on the ride with no control over the course.  The peaks and valleys do lessen in intensity and frequency and eventually parents find ways to adapt to living without their son or daughter in their life.  When parents are able to create an internal representaion of the child that they can caryy with them, they are able to live more fully.

Is age a factor in parental bereavement?

Yes.  The younger the son or daughter is, the more parents are involved in the cring for that child.  Daily living and routine is affected and simple tasks can become overwhelmingly painful.  Parents feel the enormous emptiness of the home and every aspect of their life.
With an adolescent or young adult living at home, parents are still involved with many aspects of their child's life and family routine.  These parents feel strongly about the death occuring just as the young person was beginning to live life.  Their children have begun to develop lives separate from home, and parents often look for contact and connection with the son or daughter's friends.
With an adult son or daughter, the daily routine of theparents may not change, but they face other challenges.  Following the death of an unmarried child, parents have to deal with settling the child's estate, their belongings, and residence.  This can be very complicated, depending on their knowledge of the child's social and financial circumstances.
For the parents of a married son or daughter, it is often a schock for them to realize that they are not legally the next of kin.  All decision-making power is technically in the hands of the spouse.  When a good relationship exists between the in-laws, most issues can be worked out.  When the relationship is poor, it may be helpful to have a third party as a mediator.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fab Friday

What can I say except that I am oh so very glad that today is Friday!!

It's the end of a work week that has no word to describe it.

Could it be that as the year is coming to an end, people are looking at the calendar and suddenly deciding they want to wrap up their business concerns or invoices?  Could it be the whole "fiscal cliff " fiasco?  I don't know but whatever it is, this week has been incredibly freakin' busy.

I arrive in the office thinking it's going to be one kind of day and then it ends up being another kind of day.  What do you call that kind of dynamic?  You know, the kind of day when every activity starts to blend into the next one and you just try to ride the mojo.

People In Motion
By Yael Mann

I'm happy to have my job but this week stands out for the increased pace.
This is also the time of year when I think to myself, "Why didn't you start some of your Christmas shopping in November?"  I truly admire those people who are able to start Christmas projects months ahead of time and then store them away for the holidays.  Or the people who start baking weeks ahead of time and then take comfort in all the goodies that have in the freezer ready just in time for holiday parties.
Organization is at the top of my list of things to do this weekend and maybe some exercise to burn off the extra calories I have been indulging in during December.
What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sentimental Christmas Stockings

Stockings Belonging to Daddy, Mommy & R
" . . . And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care;
 In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. . ."

From "Twas The Night Before Christmas"
By Clement Clarke Moore
These  are our sentimental Christmas stockings, hung on our fireplace every year, in hopes that Santa Claus will think we have been good and fill them with lots of treats.
I know they are a bit on the tacky side but they represent a lot of good feelings and great memories.
They don't match each other or the living room where they hang and certainly don't look like those hip and elegant stockings you see in the Pottery Barn catalogue or stockings you may see in the display windows of Sak's or Macy's but they are our Christmas stockings and we love them.
My son picked them out all by himself when he was five years old.  The Santa Claus stocking was for his father, the gingerbread one is for me, his mom, and the Christmas tree is for him.  I remember watching him in the store looking at all the different choices of Christmas stockings and at first I think he was a little overwhelmed.
He walked around and around and kept looking and picking up all the different stockings and then decided on these three.  He had such a big smile on his face when he handed them to me and was so excited that we were actually going to buy the ones he chose.
Every year he looks forward to hanging them up on the fireplace, even the Christmas after his father died.
I wasn't going to put decorations up that year because, well because, it was enough for me to get out of bed and form a complete sentence never mind dealing with Christmas decorations.  But my son insisted we get a tree and put up the rest of decorations. 
All that I did was buy the tree and bring the boxes down from the attic.  My son and a wonderful friend of his did the rest.  I was in and out of the room while they were working and placing the decorations anywhere they wanted.  I really didn't care what it looked like.
I do remember coming into the room when my son opened up the box containing the Christmas stockings and I sortof held my breath to see if he would hang two stockings or three.  At that time, my son had a lot of anger about his father which was perfectly normal.  He was angry that his father had died, that his father had left him, that his father hadn't made better health decisions and he was angry that it was Christmas and his father wasn't there. 
I felt a lot of these things too but there's a big difference between an adult dealing with those thoughts and feelings and a thirteen-year-old boy.
I watched as he held the stockings and walked towards the fireplace.  I truly expected to see him hang only two, but then he surprised me and put up all three.  He didn't say anything and neither did I.
It's been quite a journey since that very first Christmas after his father's death.  I admire how my son has handled this difficult situation and the adult that he has become.  He is amazing!
My son still loves Christmas and EVERYTHING associated with it.
And every year, he still always hangs three stockings.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Being All In

This holiday season, I am appreciating the endless decorations of bows, bells and evergreens, listening to the traditional Christmas music that seems to be playing everywhere and trying to find wonderful presents for those that I love.
I've been to a few Christmas parties and also donated to schools and other groups who are dependent upon help from others so that they may continue their community work that is so crucial to helping men, women and children who are homeless and without a place to go for regular shelter and meals.
I am trying to give of myself and think positive thoughts because I know if I put myself in that mindset then I will act positively and carry on in a meaningful way.
I know there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays, there is just what we are comfortable with and what we feel is right for ourselves.
But I still don't feel that I'm "all in" to the Christmas spirit.
Maybe I'm overthinking it and I should just allow it to happen rather than wondering why I don't particularly feel it.  I'm not sure.
Maybe it's that I feel emotionally spent by personal situations where I am constantly trying to be supportive but it doesn't seem to be making a difference.  That is a hard one.  I think we all have come up against that kind of situation.  I am trying my best, and so are others, but at a certain point, you can only do so much.
I guess at the end of the day, it's really all about love.
How are you feeling this holiday season?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dancing Dreams

Pauline Clark has got it goin' on.

Today's post is about holding on to a dream that you know is good for your soul.  Pauline Clark is my inspiration today and she is featured in the story below that I read in the New York Daily News about how Pauline's lifetime dream of dancing with the Rockettes finally came true.
I think Pauline Clark, who is 87, has definitely heard about the idea of "use it or loose it" and has taken it to heart as a lifetime philosophy.
The idea behind "use it or loose it" is essentially this:  if you don't use the strength and mobility of your body on a regular basis as you grow older, then you might loose those functions.   I try to practice it as much as possible.  If I don't walk or move around every day, I just don't feel right and neither does my body.
Pauline Clark must feel the same way because she has been dancing since she was a young child and has always wanted to dance with the infamous Rockettes, New York City's iconic female dancers known around the world for their kick line.

Her age is definitely not holding her back from enjoying life to the max and it just goes to prove that it is never too late to make a dream come true:
Florida woman, 87, lives dream of dancing with the Rockettes

Pauline Clark, 87, from Clearwater, Fla., realized her lifelong dream of dancing with the world-famous steppers Saturday after the Wish of a Lifetime foundation teamed up with her senior center to bring her to the Big Apple.

Pauline Clark in New York City
Photo Credit: Enid Alvarez: NY Daily News


The Rockettes had better watch their step, because this great-granny is hot on their heels.

Pauline Clark, 87, from Clearwater, Fla., realized her lifelong dream of dancing with the world-famous steppers Saturday after the Wish of a Lifetime foundation teamed up with her senior center to bring her to the Big Apple.

“I feel like a celebrity,” she gushed, giving a gleeful kick while gripping her walker under Radio City Music Hall’s iconic marquee. “I have marveled at the Rockettes ever since I first saw them on TV.”

Clark, who has been dancing since her brother insisted she get lessons at age 7, enjoyed a matinee performance of the 85th annual “Christmas Spectacular” (which is two years younger than she is) before taking a backstage tour.

She had never seen the Rockettes live before.

Pauline Clark dances with the Rockettes
Photo Credit: Geoffrey Hauschild/Camera 1

“I loved it from the beginning to the finish,” she said. “It’s much better in person.”

Of course, the highlight was becoming the oldest person to dance with the long-legged lovelies during the Rockette Experience, when about 50 guests took a dance workshop and posed for photos with three Rockettes.

“They’re just gorgeous girls, and very nice,” said Clark. “It was a lot of fun!”

A choreographer walked them through the troupe’s signature kick line.

“They were telling us to kick with the left foot and then to kick with the right, and so forth. I made out OK!” she said humbly. “I can always kick. I’m always dancing and using my legs.”

The silver-haired siren has eight decades of dancing under her feet, including her years teaching at the Arthur Murray School of dance in Tallahassee, Fla.

Clark still tears up the dance floor at the Brookdale Senior Living center’s senior happy hours on Saturdays.

“We do the jitterbug; we do the old waltz,” she said. “I’m just one that loves dancing.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas in NYC

My son and I took a quick trip to New York City this past weekend, continuing a family tradition started in his childhood.  New York City is magical to us and especially so at Christmas time.
Yes, there are a lots of people in the city, especially around Rockefeller Center where the huge Christmas tree in all its glory is displayed, but to us it is worth the effort of manevering in and out of the crowds and then suddenly being able to break through and look up and see the thousands of dazzling lights covering the infamous Christmas tree of New York City.
It was rather warm for December this past weekend and also rainy and drizzly but we loved it just the same as any other year when it has sometimes been so cold that I lost the feeling in my fingertips and couldn't work the camera.

My son and I
My husband and I started taking our son to see the Christmas tree when he was about five years old.  We would sometimes stay with friends and see as many sights as we could with a toddler and it was always a fun holiday ritual take we included in our family plans for many years.  Then when my husband died, we weren't sure we wanted to go.  We talked about it many times and then other family members decided to join us and lovingly support us that year and we all met in the city.

Looking back on that painful time, I am really glad we did not break the New York Christmas tree tradition.  It has been bittersweet for me for so many years but the tradition is also something that my son just absolutely loves and looks forward to.

It took me a long time to figure this out but essentially when my life changed so much from the loss of a loved one, I needed to find a way to deal with the pain and try to also find some way to heal and move forward so I wasn't stuck in an endless loop of grieving.  I thought that by moving forward I would be leaving the memories of my husband/my son's father behind me as I took steps to rebuild my life.

But I'm not leaving or saying good-bye to those memories and that special time.  I think what I really am doing is healing from bringing those memories with me and then creating new memories as my son and I experience the same family traditions.

How could I ever really forget those memories?  I can't.  Now I let them be with me but also try to make sure those memories don't stop me or hold me back from what I want to do today. 

My picture above may not be the best so here is a short YouTube video featuring this year's lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center so you can experience the magic of the tree for yourself: