Friday, September 28, 2012

Your Inner Artist

Free Your Inner Artist

Without any notice, life can change direction.  Finding that you have to suddenly walk down a new path can be scary.

One of the ways that I have found to deal with life's anxieties is to do something creative.  Being creative can take you out of yourself.  Working with your hands -- whether gardening, painting, writing, playing a musical instrument, crafting, sewing or cooking -- allows your mind to take a rest from what is happening in your life.
Doing something artistic also allows you to express your emotions and possibly bring about healing.

Sometimes, things are created spontaneously and you're not sure where it came from; it just happens.  As writer Kurt Vonnegut says in the quote below, "art is a way to make your soul grow."
One's art can say things that one cannot or will not verbalize.
Whether expressing joy or pain, letting your inner emotions loose can drive you to create all manner of art and in the process begin to heal your broken heart, the core of your inner being. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy, Feliz, Joyeux,

Photo By Carla Culbertson Cranston


If only we could live our lives just as these two beautiful children are!

Spontaneously and happily!

But here's the thing: WE CAN!!!

Surpringly, we have more control over our happiness than you would think.

Current research shows that part of our happiness is determined by our temperament or personality.  Many people believe our personalities are locked in from birth because it comes from our DNA.  That's great if you have a bright, sunny personality.  But if you have a sour, negative personality, and you want to be happier, there is are some things that you can do to change.
This research also shows that another part of our happiness is determined by our active point of view of the world, our neighborhood, our jobs and the people within all those places.  How we think about all those different places; in other words, our outlook, is either on the positive side or the negative side.  But we do have control over how we see things and what we think about all that.

Focusing on the positive can determine our chances for feeling happy about life on Planet Earth.
I'm not trying to say that everything should be viewed as full of goodness and sweetness and light.  That's not realistic.   
For sure negative things will happen to us and when they do we can absorb the crisis and look at it directly and honestly.  I have dealt with the death of my husband and raising a child by myself. It's not easy but I dealt with it by taking baby steps and believing that things would eventually get better.

No one can control what happens to us but we can control the way we react.  If there is a life crisis, you can be mad, you can vent, you can cry, but in the end you have to find a healing place within yourself where you can feel some peace and happiness.

I was skeptical when I first read this following story about cultivating happiness that was posted on a website called Purpose Fairy (  But after reading it and really thinking about it, I think it's empowering.  Take from it what you need and use the different steps that you need to help you jump start a fresh point of view:

12 Scientifically Proven Steps To Happiness

Here are the 12 scientifically proven steps to happiness discussed by Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book – “The How of Happiness”.  Sonja is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and her work which at one point also focused on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness, has received a great deal on attention from TV stations, radio stations, magazines and newspapers all over the world.
The life you are now living, express your gratitude for it, the mistakes you made in the past and all the lessons you’ve learned, express your gratitude for them. Look for the good in your life and appreciate it.

The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get. ~ Oprah
Expect the best from life and you will receive the very best. Life doesn’t care whether you are a pessimist or an optimist, whether you focus on the good or the bad, whether you expect the worse or the best from life. Life will treat you exactly the way you expect to be treated and if that’s the case then you should definitely start cultivating your optimism.

The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose. – Kahlil Gibran
Our lives and where we are right now are the result of all the thoughts we had since birth up until now. If you don’t like something, see if you can change it but if you can’t change it, don’t stress about it and just let it go. Change your attitude towards life and life will change its attitude towards you. Look for ways to be better than you used to be and not better than anyone else. Spend your time and energy improving yourself and your life and you will no longer feel the need to compete and compare yourself with others.

Stop thinking, and end your problems. What difference between yes and no? What difference between success and failure? Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous! ~Lao Tzu
Be kind to others and to yourself and you will be happy.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama
Go out and meet new people, socialize, get interested in what others are doing and they will automatically get interested in what you are also doing.
Work on developing strategies for coping by observing your thoughts and playing with your mind. Be the lab scientist and not the rat.

There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born out of adversity… when things seem so bad that you’ve got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it. ~Anon
Learn to forgive yourself and those people who might have hurt you in the past. The moment you forgive, you free yourself from pain and you allow happiness to enter your life once again.
Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” Wayne Dyer
Work with your unique gifts and talents, work with your passions, manage your weaknesses but cultivate your strengths and by doing so you will increase the flow experiences and become more happy.

Everyone has unique gifts and talents. What you love is what you’re gifted at. To be completely happy, to live a completely fulfilled life, you have to do what you love. ~Barbara Sher
Look at the Sun, look at the trees, look at the beauty of nature, beauty of life and savor it all.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~Robert Brault
If you want to be happy, you have to have goals. Know what is it that you want from life, ask for it and trust that in the end you will receive it. Make sure you set all kinds of goals, personal goals, career goals, adventure goals, contribution goals and by doing so you will have a sense of direction, security and trust into your life.

If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things. ~Albert Einstein
Religion/spirituality makes people feel safe and secure, it gives them strength when in danger and faith when in doubt. There is an invisible force that created us all and this force is watching over us. By knowing this you become a lot happier and at peace due to the fact that you feel you are not alone.

The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. ~Einstein
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. ~Jim Rohn

Your body is your temple and the way you feel internally will reflect externally. Exercise whenever possible, make sure you drink plenty of water- water is life, and eat as healthy as possible.

Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other. ~Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Widow's New Chapter

Photo By Flickr

Dating -- whether single, widowed or divorced -- is a definite roll of the dice.  But if you hit and find your match, it's a gambler's dream come true! 
That is why I think the author of the following story was brave to write about getting back into the high-stakes mating game and answering the questions we would want to ask her if we knew her.  She is honest and direct in the telling of her story and that's why you want to keep reading.
The questions posed here by the author are the ones that people (myself included) definitely do wonder about.  It's a very interesting read because you might think you know the answers to these questions but I think you'll be surprised by some of her thoughts.

A Widow Answers The Questions You’re Too Polite To Ask
Posted By Hello Grief on August 21, 2012

By Emily Clark, Guest Blogger

I wipe my slick palms against the thigh of my jeans, gnawing nervously on my thumb's shredded hang nail.  I slide my laptop over and pace.  Force myself to stop.  Then pace more.  I check the time on the wall clock.  I check the time on my watch.  I check the time on my phone.  I sit back down, slide my laptop over, hit refresh.

I am waiting for the proverbial poop to hit the fan.


I’ve just done something I never thought I’d do. Again.

I changed my relationship status on Facebook to “Engaged”.

In a world of social media and worldwide gossip, neighbours no longer need to walk three miles to gossip about the love life of the local widow. They can simply spy through the blinds across the street or stalk her house at all hours of the night pretending they were “just stopping by to say hi”. Or better yet, they sit in the comfort of their own home, surf the web, and hunt you through your status updates and Facebook photos you get tagged in.

In an effort to save everyone the trouble (not to mention the awkward moments when I bust you peering through my kitchen window at the back of my house), I’ve decided to put it all out there for everyone to see.

Yes, I am dating again.

Yes, he sleeps over.

Yes, that was us in the Dominican, frolicking on the beach.

Yes, he asked me to marry him.

While I’d like to believe the best in everyone, that they are merely looking out for me, I am not so naive. I do know, however, that the gossips will gossip and that while I am a grown woman who answers only to me, it is sometimes less work to be blunt.

So for all of you aching to know and just too socially conscious, respectful, kind, scared to ask, I will now attempt to answer all those taboo questions with as much honesty as I can muster.

What’s it like to date again after you are widowed?
Awkward. Super awkward. Like many widows out there, I was out of the dating game for a long, long time. And, to be frank, I had zero interest in ever being in it again. I met my late husband, Craig, when I was just 15. We’d been together our entire lives. I bypassed the entire “dating” phase of life and essentially went straight from high school to married so learning to cope with members of the opposite sex in a dating situation was beyond my comprehension at first. I fumbled, made some mistakes, and, yes, had some fun too. In the end, it took some time and some sexy new bras to get me enjoying it instead of dreading it.

Don’t you think it’s kind of soon to start dating?
This is probably the question every widow will hear some variation of at some point or another. Either that or “don’t you think it’s about time you started to date?” The point here is that everyone out there, especially those who don’t know what they are talking about, has an opinion on this. Ultimately, every widow is different and the only person whose opinion matters is her own. Some widows are comfortable dating as early as a month or two out, others wait years, and some never date again at all. This is a personal choice that each widow must make for herself. I did sweat a little over starting to date after only a couple months. Not because I didn’t feel ready, but because I was sick with worry over what others might think. In the end it was the right choice for me. A very wise widow once told me, “I fulfilled every marriage vow right until death do us part – can others say the same?” Whenever I got flack from outsiders, I would silently chant this to myself. Mostly to keep from yelling it at them.

Did your in-laws freak out about you dating?
Surprisingly, no, they did not. In fact, they were pretty cool about it. I was very up front with them and told them how I felt and what was going on. Of course I waited several months to make sure it was more of a serious relationship before I opened up to them. I also brought up the general topic of potentially dating and shared with them how I felt several times leading up to the big announcement. When I did tell them, I opted for a well thought out email rather than telling them in person so they could digest it without having to worry about me seeing how they reacted. They even made the time to meet the new boyfriend and have dinner with us. Every situation is different and I would emphasize that not all in-laws are the same. Having kids can add a whole other dimension to this one and since Craig and I didn’t have any, I can’t speak to that situation directly.

What did you do with all of your husband’s stuff?
At first, nothing. I left the pictures up all over the house, I kept his wedding ring in my jewellery box, I carried his love letters in my purse. To me, this was a part of my life and part of who I was (and still am). Why should I have to change that for someone else? For some reason, my boyfriend wasn’t too bothered and months later as things began to get more serious I began to phase some of my late husband’s things out of obvious display, more out of respect for my new boyfriend than anything else. My new boyfriend is now my new husband and I don’t keep pictures of Craig up in our new home except for one in my office, tucked beside my computer monitor where I do my writing. I still kept some of Craig’s clothes (now integrated into my own wardrobe) and several boxes of his awards, comic books, and other memorabilia. These live in my office closet where I can take them out and look at them whenever I feel the need.

Did you take your wedding rings off before you started dating?
No. Not quite. I took off my wedding rings many times over. Somehow they always ended up finding their way back onto my left hand. I loved them so much it was beyond painful to lock them away in a jewellery box where I’d never see them, never get to enjoy them for what they were – a beautiful gift from my loving husband. It took me months and months to remove them permanently and in the end I opted to have them remade into a custom ring I could wear on my right hand so I’d always have that little piece of who I was before to carry with me as who I am now.

Have you ever called him by your late husband’s name?
Only once, entirely by accident. And not for anything special – just asking him to bring the laundry upstairs. Hey, it happens. Fortunately he had a good sense of humour about it (and a short memory). This was always a big fear of mine, something I sweated about for weeks leading up to our wedding. I envisioned all sorts of horrible scenarios in front of a church full of people, melting into a gooey puddle of shame after blurting out the wrong name (instead I called myself by my new husband’s name… which was funny and only slightly less embarrassing). Sadly, the name switch up is just part of being widowed. You can’t love someone all your life, whispering their name out loud and in your thoughts a thousand times a day without inevitably letting it slip out. It happens. It did, however, make me more forgiving of my poor mother who was constantly trying to keep her five kids’ names straight.

Do you ever think about your husband when you are with him?
Not during very private moments, if that is what you are getting at. Before I started dating that was something I did worry about though. Sometimes my new husband says the odd thing that will remind me of Craig or I’ll hear a song on the radio while we are driving in the car that will make me tear up. Fact is, my new husband is my should to cry on and the one I’ve vented to, talked to, and poured my heart out to through this whole ordeal so the subject of widowhood and my late husband is one we are both comfortable with. If he wasn’t ok with it, I doubt we’d have lasted long at all.

Do you now feel like everything happens for a reason?
No, and this is probably my least favorite question. It actually makes my skin crawl whenever somebody asks this one. It’s as though they are saying, maybe your husband died so that you could meet this new man and live happily ever after.
Here’s the thing. And let me say this as carefully as possible. I was living happily ever after before. I loved Craig. We were going to spend the rest of our lives together, have babies, and eventually sit on our rockers on the front porch, muttering about the kids these days. Then he died. In a horrible, tragic, unlucky collision. Wrong place at just the wrong moment. I don’t believe it was for a reason or his time to go or any of those things. Then, in a terrible and miserable time of my life, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful man who made me laugh and listened patiently to all my crazy ranting. From this I have surmised that sometimes bad things just happen. For no reason. And there is nothing you can do about it. Just because something good eventually follows does not mean that one leads to the other. The line of thought that my first husband’s death was simply for the sake of my new relationship is a very dangerous line of thought – one that diminishes my first husband’s life and our relationship. Something I’d never be down with.

Did you pick someone who is like your husband?
Not really, although they both have a lot of facial hair. Is that a type? Perhaps that’s my type. They are both very different and that’s one of the things I like about each of them. They are each unique and special to me in different ways and I cherish both relationships and everything they have brought to my life.

How do you pick who gets which side of the bed?
Like all normal couples do – we fight like cats and dogs, battling it out by stealing blankets, racing to bed, and throwing pillows across the room until someone gets their way. Usually me. Okay, always me. It’s not so much that I prefer the left side or the right side. More like the side furthest from the door. In case of robbers and home invaders or aliens. Everyone knows the person on the furthest side is safe.

Oh and, yes, in case you were wondering, my darling husband reads everything I write, corrects my typos, laughs with me, lets me cry on his shoulder, and is the second chapter I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have. After a very scary and heartbreaking time in my life, one I thought would never end, I have finally managed to set myself back on my own two feet to walk hand-in-hand with a wonderful (and very attractive) new friend.

You can read more of Emily’s journey through young widowhood on her blog. [1]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Photo By Patti Raab
Have you ever been sitting in your car at a traffic light waiting for the light to turn and you look out the window and see something that's probably been there for months but it's as if you are seeing it for the first time?

Why haven't I noticed that building before?  Are those new plants?  How long has that bench been there?
When you slow down or stop the usual routine of what you are doing, it can give you an opportunity to really see the world around you and notice the beauty of your environment.  In other words, a fresh perspective.
A few days ago, I had been sitting at my desk working on my computer for way too long and I decided to take a break.  Instead of walking around the office, I went outside and walked a number of blocks in direction I don't usually go.  I stood on the sidewalk and looked up at the sky and took a deep breath then I slowly walked, taking notice of the buildings, the plants, people, just life itself and how it was all happening.
The warmth of the sun felt great and just getting out and moving around gave me a positive perspective on the rest of the day.  It was just enough of break to shake off some stress and feel renewed.
You have control over your perspective about life.  Some days it is not always easy to find the wonder of being, but it is there for us to discover.  I think there is a lot of truth in the following quote which I found on the always resourceful website, The Silver Pen (

Monday, September 24, 2012

What Would Nana Do?

When life hands me a difficult situation, I think about my Nana and wonder how she would have handled it.

My Nana gives me strength and inspiration because she lived a good and simple life. She and my Pop-Pop raised five children (including my mother) during the Depression on as much as $58 a week and for awhile on nothing because my grandfather lost his job.  During the time that there was no paycheck, they lived on canned goods that a relative got for free and and managed to keep their house and continue to feed and clothe their children. There was no extra money for luxuries such as eating out and there was no whining or complaining about the lack of extra things in their life.

You were lucky to have what you had and you were thankful for it.  That attitude put life into perspective.  The Depression brought about a lot of humility and respect and everyone helped each other.
Nana would always say to her 40 grandchildren that it was important to remember that it doesn't matter how much you have or what you have but you should take care of it and it should be clean.

She was really big on things being clean.  I'm not sure what she would think about the containers of wipes that people buy these days in the grocery store and use for babies and for cleaning.  She probably would think it was a waste of money and would rather use a cloth rag and soap.
When we went to visit Nana, she would greet us at the front door with a wet wash cloth and wipe each of our hands before we came into her house. She would hold our hands, smile at us and giggle a bit while saying, "Sticky fingers. Sticky fingers." I never thought twice about her doing this funny routine. It was just her.
She was an unusual woman and we all respected her so much!  I recently received these modern beatitudes from a friend and thought that some of them were close to something Nana would say:

Happy are those who know how to laugh at themselves, they will never run out of amusement.

Happy are those who know how to distinguish between a mountain and a mole hill, they will be spared much trouble.

Happy are those who can be silent and who can listen, they shall learn many new things.

Happy are those who know how to take little things and serious things peacefully, they will go far in life.

Happy are those who can admire a smile and ignore a frown, they will travel in sunshine.

Happy are those who think before acting and who pray before thinking, they will avoid much foolishness.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Down

Washington Redskins

I recently called a woman I know whose husband died a number of months ago.  It hasn't quite been one year yet and I wanted to check in with her and see how she was doing.
She said Sundays were particularly hard especially when the weather is classically crisp and autumnal.  Her husband was a huge sports fan and the television would be on all day.  Pre-game shows, the games, switching between the games during commercials and post-game shows.  It was all about football.
Depending on who was playing, her husband would yell and scream good things and bad things at the players, the coaches, the referees and sometimes even the team owner.  Besides the screaming, there was sometimes banging on the coffeetable and pillows thrown around the room.  It made for a lively day and of course she loved every minute of it.
I could identify with everything she was talking about because this is the way my Sundays also used to play out when my husband was alive.
Now she turns on the television -- even if she's not watching the game -- because it doesn't seem right for it to be Sunday and not have the noise of a football game playing in the house.  She finds it comforting and at the same time surreal because there is no yelling and the whole experience is rather flat compared to what it used to be.
But she is taking the first steps of getting used to life without her husband and those can be the hardest.
She says it's a struggle but she is trying to stay in the moment and take each day as it comes to her. 
And that's all anyone can do to find out what real healing is. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Someone To Watch Over Us

Angels are here to protect and guide us.  I truly believe in their power. 

Guardian angels never leave your side and are with us from birth to death.  Angels are so beloved that they have been the subject of paintings, sculpture, poems and photographs.

Today I call on the angels to look over a family member who is going into the hospital this morning for a biopsy.  At times like these you feel so helpless.  You watch the clock and wait and hope.  You try to control your thoughts and not let them get ahead of you.  Holding hands and praying are really the only contributions you can make.

But angels know what to do and they are also here for you.  All you have to do is talk to them. 

This morning, all of my thoughts and prayers are at the hospital:

Angel of God
My Guardian Dear
to whom God's love
Commits me here.
Ever this day
be at my side
to light and guard
and rule and guide.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kind Gestures

Life's Little Presents

Sometimes it's the little things in life that can make a difference.

Someone holds the door for you as you enter a building.

A stranger (nicely and innocently) smiles at you for no reason.

A friend calls you.

Someone treats you to lunch.

A happy card arrives in the mail.

You find a dress, purse or shoes on sale at an incredible price. ( I always love this!)

Someone actually listens to you.

These small wonderful surprises give you a lift and put something extra into your step.  Most of these are surprises that you can give to someone else too.  After all, life is a two way street. 

It goes without saying that I truly love the big unexpected surprises that come with the proverbial red bow around them but these days, at this point in my life, the wait is longer for those Santa Claus/Big Daddy life presents and instead I take pleasure in the small things that happen to me and I what I can do for others.

Try it and see.  I think you will be oh-so surprised!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Working Through Emotional Pain

Sunrise off the coast of Ireland
At one time, I thought that if you ignored something unpleasant it would go away or solve itself on it's own.
And sometimes that actually does happen: people move away, they change jobs or people decide to transfer their children to another school.
But for the big emotional stuff -- grieving, divorce, abuse, illness -- I find you have to face it and slowly work through the painful issues to get to the other side of it and eventually heal your inner self.  I have found that if you ignore the emotional pain from these traumas, the pain only becomes worse and unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to heal.
Sometimes we cannot heal on our own as hard as we may try and when that happens you may find that you need to talk to a professional or find a support group which may help you work through your painful experiences.  I say thank goodness these resources exist so that we can take advantage of them!
In the October 2012 issue of Oprah magazine, I found some words of wisdom from Iyanla Vanzant that may help you take the first steps to dealing what has happened to you.  Iyanla Vanzant is the host of OWN's Iyanla's Fix My Life.  Here is her take on how to get past emotional pain:
"Everything we experience -- no matter how unpleasant -- comes into our lives to teach us something.  To move on from something difficult, look for the lesson.
Start by asking yourself: If this is the way things are supposed to be, what can I learn from it?
Think about how you may have contributed to the painful experience, or if there was anything you could have done to prevent it.  Often we don't realize the lesson because we'd rather avoid reliving the pain.  But once you allow yourself to reflect on the sadness, anger, guilt, or shame you've been hiding, those feelings will begin to subside.
Yes, someone hurt you.  Once you've forgiven them and let go, you can move forward and begin creating the life you desire."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm Sorry

Apologizing strengthens friendships
I recently received a card in the mail and I recognized the handwriting right away so I knew before I opened the envelope who the card was from.
What I didn't know was why the card was being sent to me since it wasn't my birthday and I hadn't won the lottery so I knew it wasn't mailed to congratulate me on anything that had happened in my life.
I opened the card and read the handwritten words and was surprised and touched!  The card was an apology for something that had happened between us many years ago.

I think people underestimate the power of saying "I'm sorry."  They may only be two little words but they truly pack a punch when delivered with sincerity.  I never ever expected that I would receive an apology about our disagreement and so I eventually made peace with what happened and worked very hard to put it behind me.
Life is too short to hold on to negative feelings.  I'm not saying I was okay with it and everything was smoothed over within a week's time, but eventually I was able to move forward.  There was no point in holding on to bad feelings towards this person because I see this person a lot and I also knew that she didn't maliciously set out to hurt me.
We all make mistakes and mess up.  I know because I do it a lot.  We live in stressful times and we are all human and sometimes we don't use the best judgement.
Life is about happiness and hurts and friendship and love and also respecting each other's feelings.  That is why receiving this card was so wonderful! With this one card and it's beautiful sentiments, everything else fell away and a new chapter in our friendship started.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Not On A Pedestal

I wrote a post in June about my "paper chase" through boxes of memos, computer printouts, handwritten notes and personal writings that belonged to my husband who died eight years ago.  As I previously mentioned, after all these years, there are still lots of boxes sitting around waiting for my attention and this past weekend I found the time to go through another box.
You can choose to go through all of a loved one's papers yourself or you can do what a friend of mind did when his wife died: he paid someone to come to his house, box up his wife's belongings and take them out of the house to donate to others in need.  It was just too painful for my friend and he chose to make a clean break of it by having someone else move everything out.
I could follow my friend's example but I am too afraid I will miss something valuable.  Not necessarily something that's worth a lot of money, but something that's worth a lot to my heart.
I'm not sure what value I would put on this particular box.  At first it seemed worthless, full of things I could easily throw away, and then I came upon a very old interoffice work email that my husband had printed out.  My husband was a very busy man who wrote about serious issues and serious stories of the day. He had a great sense of humor, yet after reading a large amount of his work emails, it amazes me the ridiculous stuff he and some of his male colleagues would email each other about.  
With a subject line of "The 5 Toughest Questions Women Ask," this particular work email talked about an article in something called Sassy magazine; which I'm not even sure ever existed.  The email said that the five toughest questions women ask men are the following:

--Do you love me?
--What are you thinking?
--Do I look fat?
--Do you think she is prettier than me?
--What would you do if I died?

Basically, the email was silly and had an old boy piggy tone to it.  The questions and their accompanying answers continued with the theme that some women should be seen and not heard.  I'm sure in his own way my husband thought this was funny or maybe he thought the person who sent it to him was funny but the humor of it escaped me.  If he were alive, my husband probably would have handed to me and asked me what I thought of it.  I'm sure I would have rolled my eyes and said, "Not much."
This little exercise reminded me not to make my husband out to be a saint.  Not that I had made him out to be a saint, but sometimes with the passage of  time you forget the nuances and some of the things a person used to do.  This exercise also is making me see my stuff in a new light.

Just as we all do, my husband said and did things that were sometimes annoying and sometimes politically incorrect but I loved him anyway.  I think this is one of the reasons why only people who were emotionally close to the deceased person should go through their belongings.  They knew the whole person and really and truly understand the context of what the loved one left behind.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Courage To Be Yourself

Lizzie Velasquez

A woman I work with came into my office yesterday afternoon and said,  "You have to go on Yahoo and read this amazing story about a woman who weighs only 60 pounds."

What???? Of course, I logged on to Yahoo and right away I saw the story about a 23-year-old woman who weighs only 60 lbs, has no body fat or muscle and must eat every 15 to 20 minutes to sustain herself.  Tragically, Lizzie Velasquez of San Antonio, TX is one of only three people in the world born with this rare medical condition.
My heart goes out to Lizzie Velaquez and her family.
But the reason I write about her today is I am fascinated by her resilience, her fighting spirit and most of all, her ability to find positives in her life when she has been handed so many hardships.
People have called her the "world's ugliest woman," "monster" and "it",  yet she refuses to buy into the name calling.  Instead, she set the following goals for herself: publish a book (she's published two books), become a motivational speaker (she's been one for seven years), graduate college (she's a senior at Texas State University in San Marcos) and to build a family and a career for herself (ongoing).
My work colleague and I continued to talk about Lizzie's story for a good 20 minutes.  We kept trying to figure out what it is that makes one person forge on in the face of incredible challenges and another person fall apart when something small happens to them.  We talked about people we knew who had overcome traumatic events in their lives but we still couldn't pinpoint the roots of their resilience.
My office colleague's theory is that it's all about passion.  You can be born with passion or you can develop it as you grow up.  "Some people love life so much they don't want to give up.  They don't know how to give up," she said.  "But some people hit rock bottom and just don't know how to get themselves together and go forward."  
The question of resilience is a fascinating study of the human condition.  What makes a person rally when stressful circumstances are presented to them?  Why is it that someone who seems to be emotionally strong enough to deal with a crisis doesn't get themselves together at all?
Obviously, Lizzie Velasquez has amazing amounts of inner strength.  Despair is not in her vocabulary. 
"Some days life doesn't make sense," she writes in her second recently published book, Be Beautiful, Be You.  "You just have to change what you can, ask for help and pray about the rest."
Sounds like solid advice to me!  If Lizzie can meet her life goals then I definitely have no excuses.
Go Lizzie!!

Here is the link below to the Yahoo! story about Lizzie:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Autumn Ivy

A Calming Thought For The Day. . .

Autumn Ivy by Ogata Kenzan

Even as it envelops me
it is not mine, this autumn:
that wind blowing through
the pines,
I regret how it makes them fall -
the leaves, the scarlet leaves
of ivy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pip's New Song: Who Cares

Exciting News:  Pip, who was a finalist during the second season of  NBC's The Voice, yesterday released his long-awaited debut single, Who Cares.
I know you remember him because Pip has a beautiful voice, he was on Adam Levine's team and he is the one who wore the bow ties.
You have to give a listen to Who Cares (available on iTunes) because it will get you jazzed and make you want to move and groove!!  Also, music is just plain fun and a proven stress buster.  Almost everyone I know (including me) can use a break from stress and tension.

My first reaction to Who Cares: Loved It!  So relax, listen and ENJOY!!!!!! As my cousin Gina says, "This (video) is sooooo cool":

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering Sept. 11th

One of the reflecting pools at the
 World Trade Center memorial site in New York City

Eleven years ago today, on the crisp and clear autumn morning of September 11, 2001 in New York City and Washington, DC, people went about the business of getting ready to lead their lives.
In both cities, people were unaware of the destruction ahead.  People said good-bye to their loved ones and left for work.  They started another day in the one place where they wanted to do their jobs and raise their families.
But it was not to be.  Almost 3,000 people died from the terrorist attacks and through the powerful recollections of those who did survive, we come together today as a nation and remember and recollect the unique paths of those who gave their lives on this tragic day.  We honor their memories and pray for their souls.  Today has become a national day of service and community service activities planned for today include writing thank you notes to veterans and military families, collecting coats for the homeless and building houses.

We thank God that we got to know them even if it was a short period of time.
In particular, September 11th showed me in the most graphic way possible that life really and truly can change instantly and in ways you never imagined.  While you want to believe and need to believe that you will see someone again, you can't count on that happening.  If there is something you want to tell someone you must say it when you feel it.  If you admire someone, if you like someone, if you are thankful to someone or you love someone, make sure they know it.
Go out of your way today and please make sure that the people you care about know that they improve your life, bring joy to your life, and that they are special to you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Break Away

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and
to have my senses put in tune once more.

                                                                ~ John Burroughs, American Naturalist

Instead of spending my Saturday morning doing the usual routine of reading the paper and attacking chores, I got in my car and drove out of the city.  I needed to break away from the congestion and concrete and refresh my spirit.

A little over an hour later, I found myself driving through a shady tree-lined highway and then on to a flatter area of land surrounded by rolling hills of greenery and fields of dried corn stalks.  I purposely didn't turn on the radio because I wanted the quiet to envelope me.
At one point, I actually could hear crickets chirping the fields (even thought I can't stand crickets) and saw a couple of box turtles on the road, which of course I swerved around.
My only goal was to let my eyes take in the new views and let my mind chill out.

Almost spontaneously, I found myself taking deep breaths of fresh air and loosening my grip on the steering wheel.  The clear blue sky was full of white wildly shaped clouds lazily moving along the horizon.

It's amazing what a change of scenery can do for you!

Spending time in nature has a rejuvanating and healing effect on me and I bet it does on you too!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Still I Rise By Maya Angelou

Oh, Maya Angelou, you are one talented and wise woman!

Her poem, Still I Rise, tells us about what it means to face life's difficulties with courage and patience.  Staying committed to walk your journey and refusing to give up is not easy, but as long as we can take that first step and reach out for help, it can be done.

Take Maya Angelou's hand, read her inspiring thoughts and feel her strength in the following verses:

Still I Rise

By Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Riding The Rollercoaster

Dear Readers:

Just as you may find yourself on an emotional roller coaster, so do I.

I have days, just as you do, when things don't go well and I feel as if I am treading water or even going backwards a bit.  Writing and sharing with you the ups and downs of daily life helps me and I hope it helps you.  When you read Cry, Laugh Heal, I hope you discover that you are not alone in your feelings of bereavement and your quest to rebuild a new life.

I certainly do not have it all together all the time and who knows when I will?  Some days I reach my goals and some days I don't.  Some days I feel I have it together and then some days I screw up.  I'm just like you.

I do believe it's important to try and move forward by starting a dialogue about what happens when you lose someone you love because it is not a mainstream subject.  It is the rare and special person who listens to you really talk about what is going on. 

Sometimes it's hard to explain exactly what I am feeling because it's such a mixture of emotions, like a ride on Cyclone pictured above.  I'm happy for someone else's joy but then that makes me think about what I used to have or I'm glad when something good happens to me but then I don't have anyone who will be as happy for me as my husband would be.  I usually call my son or other family members or my close friends but it's not the same because they have their own lives.

Which is perfectly normal but it still takes getting used to.

The roller coaster part of it is that I'm not aimlessly floating along. I work hard so I can get used to my new reality and I start to think that I am getting used to it but then something unexpected happens and suddenly I'm not used to it at all and then I feel that I'm starting over.

Is this making any sense?  I certainly hope so!

This is just my roundabout way of saying that the lines of communication need to stay open and we need to keep talking to each other about what happens when you lose a loved one because somewhere in the talking and the exchanging we can find a sense that it's going to be okay, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time.

Let's ride the rollercoaster together!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Owen Danoff & Mike Squillante -- Train Cover "50 Ways To Say Goodbye"

My Labor Day weekend was productive and I hope yours was too!

I only wish it had been longer. . .

I had lunch with a great friend, visited with one of my sisters and then later went home and decided that I needed to declutter.  I started with the book shelves and was ruthless.  I found about 40 books that I didn't need in my life and packed them up to donate to a good cause.  I also went through another box of papers belonging to my husband and I will write all about that in a future post.
Today, it's all about shifting into another gear and now I need some music big time to kick me into gear to begin the work week.  The following new Train cover song, "50 Ways to Say Goodbye," is performed by the supremely talented duo of Owen Danoff and Mike Squillante.  Their energy and talent is infectious and listening to this is definitely going to get me out the door.  Maybe it will do the same for you:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Mellow Summer Breeze

Oil Painting By
William Merritt Chase
Happy Saturday My Wonderful and Faithful Readers!!

It's Labor Day Weekend and that means that some of us are recalibrating and getting ready for the beginning of a new season.  Chrysanthemums, pumpkins and school supplies are already pushing their way into the stores.

What's the hurry?

It may be the first day of September but it's still warm and sunny and mentally I am all about the breezes of summer and how it makes me fine. . .

Do your remember the Seals and Crofts classic song, Summer Breeze?  I can hear the screened door slamming and smell the Coppertone and French Fries already:

Summer Breeze
Written by James Seals (lyrics & music) & Derrell G. "Dash" Crofts (music)
See the curtains hangin' in the window
In the evening on a Friday night
A little light-a-shinin' through the window
Lets me know everything's all right

Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' though the jasmine in my mind

See the paper layin' on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walk on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor

Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' through the jasmine in my mind

Sweet days of summer -- the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day's work
And you're waitin' there
Not a care in the world

See the smile awaitin' in the kitchen
Through cookin' and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me
In the evening when the day is through

Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind