Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thoughts on New Year's Eve

Time is one the most precious of commodities we have.

It should never be wasted and always treasured for its possibilities. 
On this New Year's Eve of 2013, I hold my fresh new calendar to hung in the kitchen tomorrow and flip through the untouched months and days and wonder what this years holds for me, my family and my friends.
Of course I hope for only good and fantastic things to happen to those I care about and that includes you my dear and wonderful readers!  Thank you so much for all of your support!!

As I always say, I hope I help you as much as you help me.
Alice G Patterson Photography
Courtesy House of Turquoise
I know some people love to make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, but I prefer to try and focus on each day as it comes to me and work within those twenty four hours on being positive, loving, healthy and helpful to others.  I don't always hit the mark but I try really hard!
Let's put those negative events behind us as we start a brand new year and let go of any feelings that may get in our way of doing something we want to passionately pursue.
Whether you are cozy at home, playing board games and watching the crowd at Times Square, or getting glammed up right now to go to a rockin' party tonight, I raise my glass to you and wish you a happy and safe New Year's Eve!

A Broken Christmas Ritual

I can't tell you why but for the first time in many years, I didn't place a Christmas wreath on my husband's marker at the cemetery.
I thought about it.  I was going to do it.  But then I never did get around to it.
I'm hoping that this doesn't make me a bad person.

I'm really hoping it just makes me a conflicted human being dealing with life the best way I know.

Every Christmas since he died 10 years ago, I have made a personal ceremony out of placing a large Christmas wreath with a big red bow on his grave.  It was a healing ritual that made me feel good and I thought it also was a ritual that would let him know that I had not forgotten about him at Christmas.

But this year it all felt very different.  I couldn't bring myself to buy the wreath and take it to his grave.  I didn't want to drive my car anywhere near the cemetery. 

I don't understand it but I think it has something to do with the trickery of grief.; how you think you are on solid footing and then you're not.  I used to emotionally bounce all over the place in my new grief of the first few years and since then, I have been working hard to go forward with my life, stay positive and embrace happiness.  Yet my feelings shifted this Christmas.  Out of nowhere, a powerful surge of conflicting emotions washed over me.  I have to say that having this happen is truly a bummer because I don't like being sucked back into those feelings again.

Honestly, I think one reason I couldn't go near the cemetery is I just get tired of grieving and missing him and reminiscing and being the widow.  I find it hard now to think of my husband actually occupying the physical space that makes up his grave and to me it's more likely that he, as a spiritual being, hangs out wherever he wants with whom ever he wants anytime that he wants.
Still, my inner voice says to me that it was almost as if I was annoyed that he wasn't here this Christmas!!  You would think I would have felt this way the first Christmas after he died instead of the tenth Christmas!

But grief isn't linear and it certainly isn't logical right?

Monday, December 30, 2013

SNL -- Wrapping With Justin Timberlake & Jimmy Fallon

A good laugh is worth a million bucks.
Justin Timberlake & Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live
There are a few of my friends and family members who can make me laugh so hard that I can't get my breath and I love that they have this special talent.  They are usually imitating someone or just have the ability to see life in a quirky way and I always can use a dose of their sense of humor.
Fortunately, there are also a few shows on television that also make me laugh.  One of them is "Saturday Night Live."  When I came home from a Christmas party this past Saturday night, I turned on the television and "Saturday Night Live" had just started airing and I immediately started laughing at the Wrappingville skit (link & video below) featuring the multi-talented Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon.
When we laugh, we forget about our sadness or anxiety, at least for a little while, and life seems less threatening.  In other words, laughter gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.

Check out this ridiculous yet clever Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon skit about rappin' or should I say wrapping paper and gift bags:


Friday, December 27, 2013

Family Dynamics

I'm sure I'm stating the obvious when I say that every family has its own dynamic and its own way of relating to each other and I think that this special form of communication developed within the family over the years is revealed in its barest form on a holiday.
Let me tell you about mine.  Okay at least a little bit.
Take 15 adults, 8 grandchildren in their teens and twenties, 6 children under the age of six and one newborn baby and put them all together in close quarters for a number of hours and what do you get?
One large hungry and uninhibited family all talking at the same time about important earth shattering subjects such as food, sports, fashion and children.  People's responses are made to one another on the run while moving from one room to another or just loud enough for someone in one room to hear the other person.  What can you do? 

Christmas Day was full of welcoming kisses and hugs and flying wrapping paper and little ones mesmerized by electronic games.  It also was full of lots of spinach and artichoke dip and chips and cookies and peppermint bark.
Oh Behold Our Family Christmas Tree!!!!
I find as my siblings and I get older that so much can be said with a facial expression or a quick gesture of the hand.  Especially when your parents aren't looking.  
It may not have been entirely calm, quiet or an organized Christmas Day but it was ours and it worked for us.  It was a lot of work but at the end of the day, we were happy and blessed this year to be able to hang out with each other and I thank the Lord who allowed us to be together.  
Whether your family celebrated Christmas or not, I hope you were able to gather and feel some family love and make some holiday memories.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Santa knows which one, and as the song says, he's making a list and checking it twice!

On this Christmas Eve that seemed to arrive so quickly this year, I hope Santa is good to you and brings you exactly what you wished for.  Santa is one busy dude you know so don't forget to put out the milk and cookies for him!  Sometimes we leave him a nice cold beer because we know that with all of his dashing around that he has worked up quite a thirst!

Photo Courtesy of Beall + Thomas Photography
Also on this Christmas Eve, I would like to say to my fabulous readers that I hold you in a very special place in my heart and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!!  You are my Christmas gift this year for you have blessed me with your continued support and I thank you for always taking the time to stop and read Cry, Laugh, Heal.
I hope I have been able to help you as much as you have helped me!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's A Wonderful Life

This time of year I am always on the lookout for when "It's Wonderful Life," is airing on television.

I could buy the DVD of this holiday classic but that would take the spontaneity out of it for me.  I like the surprise of turning on the television and finding it already on, or in the case of this past Friday evening, I caught it right at the very beginning.

I know that it's not a diverse film, I know that many things that happen in this film are dated and wouldn't be said or wouldn't happen today but I think "It's A Wonderful Life" is popular for other reasons.  The story's core message rings true today for all of us whether or not a particular group of people is featured in the movie or not.

It doesn't matter what gender or race you are or where you live or what you do, whether you are a parent or married or single because here's the message of the movie:  each person's life has a purpose.
We are George Bailey.
We may not know the effect that our life has on another person's but rest assured it does.  Each one of us is here on Earth for a reason and our life does make a difference and touches so many other lives.  The big things and the small things that we do and do not do not only affects our life, but also the lives of many others.  Please remember this idea when you are having a bad day and nothing seems to be going right.  You are probably doing something good and you just don't realize it.
Jimmy Stewart & Donna Reed star in "It's A Wonderful Life"
In the movie, "It's A Wonderful Life", we see that the town of Bedford Falls would have been known as Pottersville if it were not for George Bailey and the Bailey Savings & Loan offering help to the community.  Also when George is a boy he saves his brother, Harry, who then grows up to be a War Hero, from drowning in an icy pond, and George also prevents the pharmacist, Mr. Gower, from giving poisonous pills to a customer.

But George doesn't think twice about the good works he has done.  This is just the way he is wired.  Then one Christmas Eve a large amount of bank money is misplaced and he is desperate to find it. When he can't, all he can see is criminal charges and jail time in his future.  He decides he will be worth more dead than alive and then George starts thinking about suicide.  He drives to a bridge but before he can do anything, a man jumps into the river and George jumps in to save him.  After they both get out of the river, the man reveals himself to be Clarence, George Bailey's guardian angel. 
I love Clarence!  He is a great character with his large sleeping shirt and talk of earning his wings in Heaven for when he first arrives on Earth he is only an AS2, Angel Second Class.
This gem of a movie opened two weeks before Christmas in 1946 but it didn't do very well.  It wasn't until 1974 when it began airing on network television that it gained a huge following.  Ever since then the movie is shown during the holidays and is a wonderful reminder that life is all about love and taking care of each other.

As Clarence writes in his thank you note to George: "No man is a failure who has friends.  Thanks for the wings.  Love, Clarence."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Confessions of A Mediocre Widow By Catherine Tidd

The title of Catherine Tidd's new book suggests she is a mediocre widow.
Don't believe it for one second.

Catherine Tidd is quite the opposite.  Catherine Tidd is in fact a courageous, smart and very funny woman in search of herself and an entirely different life while raising three young children after the death of her beloved husband, Brad, in a tragic motorcycle accident in 2007.

Her book is refreshing and down-to-earth and is full of painful and funny personal insights about what happened to her after the death of her spouse: the hospital, the funeral, her in-laws, the whole crazy upside down aspect of picking yourself up and putting yourself back together.  As a widow myself, I truly understand the tightrope walk of processing grief, raising a child, working a full-time job all the while trying to figure out what the hell is going to happen next in this so-called uncharted territory called a new life. 

Putting those intensely private and sometimes heartbreaking experiences down on paper for others to consider and understand is a difficult task but not for Catherine Tidd.  She has written an amazing book that I couldn't put down and I would recommend to anyone whether they have lost a spouse or not because she is straightforward yet humorous (my husband is dead and Keith Richards is alive?) about how her new life unfolded in the months and years following her husband's death. 
Many times while reading, "Confessions of A Mediocre Widow Or, How I Lost My Husband And My Sanity," I found myself putting the book down and saying out loud, "Yes! That's exactly right Catherine.  Yes! You nailed what it feels like at that particular stage of grief."
I have to reveal that I was familiar with Catherine's sense of humor before I read her book.  Her uplifting blog, "Widow Chick," (www.widowchick.blogspot.com) was the first blog about grief that I discovered online.  Right away I loved the name of her blog and read every post, sometimes laughing at the things she vented about and sometimes shaking my head in agreement with her about the emotional push and pull of navigating single parenting, anniversaries, birthdays, and the dating scene.
But her new book is chock full of more Catherine and it has given her the time and space to expand on how loss affects you and those who care about you and to really dig deep into a discussion of life on your own as a widow with children, a subject that tends to make most people feel very uncomfortable.
Catherine Tidd

Here is how Catherine explains what she wanted to have happen to her in the midst of dealing with her overwhelming grief: "I wanted to  walk into a padded room and throw the grocery list, the bills, the back-to-school forms, the insurance paperwork, just chuck 'em at a wall over and over until the paper was crumpled and soft.  I wanted to scream until my throat was raw.  I wanted to kick at those padded walls until my legs were sore.  I wanted to pull an Office Space and take a baseball bat to every appliance in my house that had the nerve not to work properly.  And sometimes I wanted to take my emotions out on an innocent teddy bear."

Catherine also writes about using retail therapy as a way of coping with the loneliness and isolation following her husband's sudden death.  She would buy tons of stuff, decide to keep one thing and then return the rest the next day.  This didn't make her very popular with the salespeople and her therapy went on for months until she got fixated on a new purchase: a Mazda RX8.  As in a car that doesn't have a back seat, is low to the ground and not child friendly at all.  I loved that she did this even though it was extravagant.

Here in Catherine's words are why the Mazda RX8 was such a necessary, yet temporary, purchase: "For a while, that car was the best therapy I could have had.  It was where I could go and just pretend for a minute that my life was not actually happening.  I could drive around and forget for seconds at a time that I had three kids at home who were in the throes of toddlerhood.  I felt empowered that I had bought that car completely on my own.  I would listen to music I liked, turning it up so loud that it would almost drown out the thoughts in my head.  And the tinted windows would show nothing at a stoplight if I just needed to sit there and cry for a minute."

Even though Catherine spent her 11th wedding anniversary planning her husband's funeral, she found the inner strength to move her life forward and "Confessions of A Mediocre Widow" is a candid book about the reality of becoming a widow and where the exhausting, emotional adjustments took her and her family.

The bottom line, Catherine writes, is the ability to become self-aware and realize that it doesn't matter whether other people understand your journey or not.  You will find the way that is best for you.  It may be a slow process but inner peace can come if you accept what your life is today.  She states a core truth about being a widow when she writes that there comes a point in every widow's journey when she has to make peace with the death of her loved one "and finally accept that, yes, this has happened to her.  Most of the widows who seem to all of a sudden turn a corner have one thing in common: they stopped fighting widowhood and started to work with it."

Thank you Catherine Tidd for sharing your heartfelt story in this beauty of a book, "Confessions of A Mediocre Widow."  You made me feel as though we were friends in this widow journey and I know your new book will help many others (widows or not)  understand that you have to put yourself out there and live life with as much love as you can find.
"Confessions of A Mediocre Widow" will be available in retail stores on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.  Copies can be ordered on Amazon.com at this link:
or at Barnes & Noble at this link:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Summertime Music In December

Baby, it's cold outside isn't it?
Weather predictions of flurries, dropping temperatures and possible black ice bring with it winter's outer armor of boots, scarves, gloves and woolen hats.  Meanwhile, kids around the nation are praying for snowstorms to arrive for Santa Claus and Christmas and extra days off from school.
And in the midst of all this Winterness, a friend tweeted this rockin' new video (see below) titled "Keep This In" by Phillip Noss that transports me to one of my favorite places: THE BEACH!!!!
Santa Delivers To The Beach Doesn't He?
 I love the warm, breezy feel to this song and I think it's the perfect antidote to the current all play all day Christmas carols that seem to be piped in to every stereo system that I come into contact with.
Don't get me wrong, I am not being a Scrooge this year at all.  It's just that sometimes I get burnt out about the commercial aspects of Christmas very quickly, especially since it seems to start earlier and earlier each year.
Please notice that no one in this video has a coat on or anything resembling winter gear.  From the first seconds of Phillip Noss' good ole rock and roll song, I am immediately transported to a Coney Island boardwalk wonderland of arcade games and even bumper cars and I can practically smell the caramel popcorn and taste the greasy fries that are part of the beach's mandatory menu.  Just so you know, pizza is also on this mandatory beach menu!
It's Summertime in December by watching the below link to Phillip Noss' new song and video, Keep This In, the first single off his upcoming album, Lover On The Run:

Monday, December 16, 2013

You Can't Sit Back & Wait

Did you ever complain about something you thought was going to be great but then it turned out to be a disappointing experience?

If you happened to complain to my mother about such a thing, then she probably would tell you that you have no one to blame but yourself because you get out of something what you put into it.

Which is the another way of saying that you can't sit on your butt and wait for stuff to come to you; you need to make the effort and go out there and take a chance and make some stuff happen.

Maybe it won't work the first time or the second time.  But you have to keep trying!

Check out the rainbow!

Happiness is not something that's ready made.
It comes from your own actions
                     ~ Dalai Lama

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Newtown One Year Anniversary

Today we pause and pray for the community of Newtown, Connecticut and in particular for the families of the 26 victims shot in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  At a press conference earlier this week, the families asked that people remember the 6 adults and 20 children on this tragic one year anniversary by performing an act of kindness or volunteering with a community group. 
You can visit their new website at www.mysandyhookfamily.org


Friday, December 13, 2013

Bridget's Affirmation

When one of my nieces was three years old, she started going to nursery school for part of the day a few times a week.  Her mother (my sister) knew that while she was at school she would start to miss Mommy at some point so she taught her daughter to say to herself, "There is no need to cry.  Everything will be all right.  Mommy will be right back."

My sister was ahead of her time because she was teaching my niece to say an affirmation to herself even though she didn't know what an affirmation was or what they can do.

And you know what?  Repeating those sentences to herself helped to reassure my niece that everything would be all right until Mommy came back.  It worked!!

We didn't know it at the time but when my sister put those words together she hit on a magic formula of sorts because there is a calming power in repeating something positive to yourself over and over again no matter how old you are.

Even today there are times when something stressful will happen in our large family of two parents, six children, four spouses, and 13 grandchildren and we jokingly will repeat the above affirmation to each other as a way of coping with what's going on and telling ourselves that we can handle it.

Affirmations, as I recently have learned, help you focus and can bring clarity to your heart and mind.
Affirmations are healing.

You can say them any time during the day and they can be anything that you want them to be.  But they must be positive or uplifting.

We can experience so many emotions after a loved one dies or when we are dealing with a stressful experience in our life.  It's hard to process all of those conflicting feelings all at the same time.  Affirmations have a way of helping you pump the brakes on your self a bit and stop to see exactly what is happening to you.
Repeating a positive or uplifting phrase to yourself is similar to being your own cheerleader and giving yourself the encouragement to get through something such as a personal loss or  a life changing event of another sort.  Although I didn't realize it the time, I used affirmations after my husband's death to help me through times when I felt vulnerable or exhausted or just plain overwhelmed.  It wasn't always just the pain of my loss that got to me but sometimes it was just making all decisions by myself whether it was about raising my young son, our house or our finances.
I would say to myself, "You can do this" or "You can survive this" or "Tomorrow you will feel stronger" and pretty soon I was on the other side of whatever it was I was trying to handle.  Sometimes I totally screwed something up but the affirmations gave me the boost I needed to get back on track.
Maybe you already have a phrase that you say to yourself that really works well for you.  Or maybe you are looking for something new that will affirm your mood or your day or something you trying for the first time.  If you really have no idea of what you could say to yourself as an affirmation, here are a few suggestions:
          -- Today is going to be a good day.
          -- Today I choose to think positive thoughts.
          -- I am going to be all right.
          -- There is no other moment; only this moment.
          -- I am blessed with (pick the one that works for you): a wonderful family, fantastic friends, a beautiful home or a great job.
So just go out there and try it and see what happens!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Congratulations Pope Francis!

Yesterday's news that Time magazine selected Pope Francis as their Person Of The Year surprised me just as much as when the College of Cardinals elected him to become Pope.
I didn't think it would really happen but I am ecstatic that it did!
I knew Pope Francis was a finalist for the annual honor but I really thought that Time magazine was going to go with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who this year released hundreds of thousands of classified government documents revealing the depth of the U.S. government's surveillance on phone and internet communications.
But spiritual won out.  Congratulations Pope Francis!
You are the real deal!!  You not only talk about the need to help the poor but you roll up your sleeves and get your own papal hands dirty trying to make the lives of the poor better yourself.
People love you and are excited about your humble leadership because you are inclusive.  You are a healer.  You have come along at a time when the world at large and the Catholic community desperately needs you and your gentle guidance.
Recently you invited nearly 200 homeless people to join you for dinner at the Vatican and there also were news stories about you sneaking out at night dressed as a regular priest to meet with homeless men and women to give comfort and listen to their concerns.
You are quickly shifting the priorities of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church from abortion, contraception, gay marriage and the nuns to more Christian issues such as poverty, materialism and the inequity of the world's economy.
Equally as important, you are opening the doors on the Vatican bank and calling for transparency.  I say it's about time someone threw some light on the decades of secretive Vatican Bank transactions and I must add there are times when I pray for you because I worry about you.
But then I remember that you are a Jesuit and Jesuits are always in a class by themselves!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Quiet Gift

"Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other
is our attention [...]
a loving silence often has far more power
to heal and to connect
than most well-intentioned words."
            ~ Rachel Naomi Remen

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Davina's Holiday Help

Hershey's chocolate kisses.  Creamy party dips.  Fried finger foods.
Temptation seems to be everywhere during the holidays, especially food that is unhealthy yet oh-so- delicious.  And precisely because it's the holidays, I always start out with good intentions but then end up giving myself permission to eat those sweet, creamy and fatty foods, don't you?

Basically, I need all the help I can get to keep my willpower strong while hanging out during the holidays.  Trust me when I tell you that I will find my way to bowl of nuts at any social gathering and eat all of the cashews!  It's true!  I need someone to tell me how to get back on track after sampling all those tasty foods that go right to my hips.  How else am I going to say "No!" to dessert buffets that are also calling out to me?
How indeed Davina?
Davina Sandground (www.nutritiongroove.com) is a health and nutrition counselor trained at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition where her teachers included Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Dr. Deepak Chopra, leader in the field of mind-body medicine; Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center; Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University; and Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating.
I just received Davina's December newsletter focusing on eating sensibly and staying healthy during this time of the year when the last thing on your mind may be eating well.  Nutrition may also be the last thing on your mind when you are trying to recover from a loss and experiencing great stress in your life.  But your body needs even more extra care during this time and eating healthy may help you manage your emotions better and feel more in control of this painful time.

No matter what your holiday plans, whether you are determined to burn the candle at both ends or just chilling at a friend's house watching movies, here are Davina's smart and easy tips for navigating the nutritional minefield of the next few weeks:

Davina Sandground

As we head into the holiday season, I wanted to share a few reminders with you about how to not over indulge and end up feeling bloated. ~ Davina Sandground


Pre-planning means that you always eat before you go to a holiday party. Make sure you have a healthy snack before you head out to the party. An apple with some almonds or hummus with vegetables will both do the trick. If you know you cannot eat certain foods at this party, make sure you have a mini meal before attending. You may want to have a small salad with protein or even a small bowl of cooked vegetables with tahini drizzled on top to keep your blood sugar balanced. (I always eat a healthy snack before I go to a party so I’m not ravenous when I get there).
It is okay to make the choice to indulge once in a while, knowing the next day you may feel the after-effects but you need to know exactly how to get back on track.

So what to do the day after?


Make sure that eating over the next few weeks is clean eating. Making it through the holidays is about moderation. If you have a lot of celebration dinners and office parties it’s OK to indulge a little but be sure to “get back on the clean eating train”  at the very next meal.
Come back to the basic principles of clean eating. Eat fresh vegetables with lean protein. Avoid processed foods and drink plenty of water. Start your day off with a high protein breakfast like a two egg vegetable omelet so that you begin the day with balanced blood sugar. This will make it less likely that you’ll crave sugar and simple carbs.


Take 2 cups of room temperature water, and add the juice from 1⁄2 a lemon, a pinch of cayenne (optional), and 1 teaspoon of raw honey or a couple drops of stevia (use stevia if you are on a yeast cleansing diet).


Add 2 tablespoons of cranberry concentrate (I like Knudsen’s brand) into 6 ounces of room temperature water or seltzer if desired.


Add 1 tablespoon of chlorophyll to 12 ounces of water with the juice of one lemon.  Note: you can buy chlorophyll at any natural food store or Whole Foods or Amazon.

When you consume more sugar and alcohol than normal your immune system can become compromised, so it’s extremely important to give it a boost. When you get exercise your lymphatic system is stimulated (in effect, you are its pump). The more you move, the more effective the lymphatic system works in keeping you healthy and warding off infections. Plan your exercise. We’re all busy but make it a priority. You’ll always feel great afterwards!


95% of your serotonin (the happy hormone) is manufactured in your digestive system.

80% of your immune system is manufactured in your digestive system.

Focusing on your digestive system is the gateway to being healthy AND happy!

Try not to abuse your digestive system. Treat it with kindness and it will serve you well.

I hope these few tips inspire and help you over the coming weeks. Remember, life can get crazy so you have to take care of yourself or soon you’ll be running on empty. Don’t let that happen to you.
I wish you a joyful holiday, peaceful end of year and a healthy 2014!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Developing A Grief Pill

The pharmaceutical industry is researching the development an anti-depressant pill for people who are grieving.


My gut feeling when I first read this story about the availability of a so-called grief pill in The Washington Post was that it seemed rather predatory of the pharmaceutical industry to be focusing its scientific expertise and vast financial resources on people when they are at the most vulnerable and sometimes lowest points in their lives.

I vividly remember the competing emotions I felt after my husband died.  Raw pain and numbness.  Exhaustion and adrenaline.  On top of all that, I was taking care of my young son, working a full-time job and all I wanted was someone to tell me was how long all of this was going to last. Unfortunately, no one could tell me  the length of time it would take for me to process my grief.  I now understand that figuring out how to live without a loved one is really and truly different for each person.
Yup, I enthusiastically support the marketplace being open to offering the largest array of medical options possible, including pills,  to alleviate the physical and mental pain of whatever disease or condition people are experiencing.
However, on the other hand, it is as though the pharmaceutical industry is saying that something is definitely wrong with you when you are grieving; that grief is similar to having high levels of cholesterol; that grief is a condition or a disease that needs to be treated with chemicals when that is usually not be the case at all.
Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the loss of someone you loved and cared about and unfortunately, it's extremely painful.  Pills are not the first solution that comes to mind because whenever you read or talk to a doctor about how bad you feel when you are grieving, they usually advise you to be very careful where drugs and alcohol are concerned because either substance by themselves or taken together can easily become part of an unhealthy coping system. 

When you take all of those factors into consideration, I have to conclude that the government's approval of industry efforts to research, manufacture and distribute such a grief pill is a difficult call. 

I did not take any pills while grieving for my husband but I honestly can say that I did think about how it would have been fantastic to be able to take a pill that would block all of the pain I was constantly feeling.  My desire was very strong to make the pain stop.  And the idea that there might be a pill that would take the edge off of my pain would have made life a helluv a lot easier to live.

But I also know that at that point in my life I could very easily have become dependent on any pill that would have made me feel so good.  Somewhere inside me I knew that the last thing that I needed was to be doped up when I had so much responsibility.  I never went to my doctor and asked for a pain or anxiety prescription because I knew that eventually I was going to have to feel the raw sadness of my loss and find a way to get on the other side of it.

There are cases when people do need medical help with their grieving process and I know that this needs to be taken into consideration but I think medicine already exists to take care of it.
How do you feel about this issue?
Make up your own mind by reading this link to The Washington Post story:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Rest In Peace Nelson Mandela
For you used your precious life and your healing nature to change the world
and make it a much better place for generations to come. 

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.
                            ~ Nelson Mandela

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh Those Tacky Christmas Lights!

Christmas lights take me back to the innocence of my childhood, to a time when my parents would gather me and my five siblings and put us in the station wagon with winter coats over our pajamas and we would ride around the neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights displayed on other people's houses.

Did you do that too?

One of the houses on the Richmond Tacky Lights Christmas tour
Photo courtesy of Richmond.com

Those were the days when Christmas lights were larger than they are today -- no LEDs back then -- and they only came in blue, green, red, yellow and cream.  Pink and turquoise were nowhere to be found and I don't remember anyone ever having only white lights on their Christmas tree or on their house as is popular today.
It's a warm and cozy memory for me, made more dramatic because we would view the lights in the darkness of night and everything seemed magical from the safety of a car with your parents in the front seat.  Those were also the days when there were no seat belts so the babies would be lying in a carry-all and we would giggle and wiggle and slide around on the seats and press our faces to the cold glass of the car window and pick our favorite lights.
Today, my 23-year-old son absolutely adores Christmas lights!  There can never be enough Christmas lights for him and he especially loves a section of houses in Maryland that we pass on the way to his grandparents house where the neighbors are in competition with each other to see who can put up the most lights on the houses and in their yards.  I can't imagine what their electrical bill looks like.

Another house on the Richmond Tacky Lights Christmas tour
Photo Courtesy of Richmond.com

My son now lives in Richmond, VA and yesterday he tweeted about the Tacky Lights Christmas tour in Richmond, VA which of course is right up his alley.  I'm sure he will check out a few of the over-the-top displays which are part of a tradition started in Richmond in 1985 when local DJ Mad Dog Gottlieb booked a Winn bus and took a select group of Richmonders on a "tacky lights" tour of 10 to 12 houses.

Who knew that Richmond took such pride in its' creative abundance of Christmas lights?

Initially, houses needed a minimum of 10,000 lights.  Then it was decided that houses needed up to 20,000 and 30,000  Now, houses must have a minimum of 40,000 lights to be considered as part of the tour.  Can you imagine how long it takes for people to string this stuff up?

But what is tacky to one person is exciting and beautiful to another.

I can't help but think that there are lots of families out there this year creating their own memories by gathering their young children into their cars at night, riding around to ooh and ahh at the blinking, twinkling, multi-colored unbelievable houses full of Christmas Cheer!

Another house on the Richmond Tacky Lights Christmas tour
Photo Courtesy of Richmond.com

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I'm In Today

A friend from a support group sent me a wonderful short poem (which I am sharing below) reminding me about the priority of today.

On one level, I suppose you could say it's about managing your time but on another level, I think it's about figuring out what's important to you and staying focused on the things you want to pursue or accomplish and the people in your life that you really want to hang out with.

That can be a tall order when you have lots of responsibilities from daily life vying for your attention but I find that most people will make, find or block out the time to do whatever it is that really fires them up even if they have to lose sleep to get it done.
The person who sent the below poem to me could not find the author and I couldn't either.  Whoever the author is they gave us the gift of a solid message calling into focus the beauty of being in the moment and letting everything extraneous fly away. 

Please check it out and see for yourself. . .

Be Spontaneous!


There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is Yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains.  Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday.  We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said.  Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow with its possible adversities; its burdens, its large promise and poor performance.  Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.

Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise.  Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day -- Today.  Anyone can fight the battles of  just one day.  It is only when you and I add the burdens of those awful eternities -- Yesterday and Tomorrow -- that we break down.

It is not the experience of Today that drives us mad -- it is remorse or bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what will happen Tomorrow.
Let us therefore live but one day at a time.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Have Some Fun

Some people are hard wired to grab life for all its worth and wring everything out of it that is humanly possible.

At this time of year, I know how easy it is to feel frustrated.  Those dark thoughts start trying to find a place to live in your head and your heart but you have to find a way to kick them out because they will only drag you down. 

According to Dr. Rita Freedman, Ph.D., a former professor of psychology and author of "Overcoming Loss," efforts to heal your soul  won't work "if you keep on punishing yourself or the world for things that are beyond anyone's control.  Guilt is self-punishment; forgiveness is self-pardon." 

Instead, seek out the positive.  People such as Clark Lambros (please read the New York Times story below) and others like him inspire me as they go at life full force and develop their talents for the greater good, constantly looking for opportunities where they can improve the quality of life for themselves and others and, most of all, enjoy themselves and the people they love with their whole being.
They work hard and they play hard.

They live, live, live their precious lives to the max!

And so should we all with every chance that life presents to us!! 

Photo Courtesy of The New York Times
The New York Times

January 27, 2013
Living, and Dying, on His Own Terms

Clark Lambros knew how to live, and he knew how to die.
To the end, he was in charge.
He never cared much about what others thought.
When he was 39, a divorced man, he met Michele Butler. She was a senior in high school at the time.
Looking back at it now, as a 58-year-old woman, she knows how unlikely it was that anything would come of it.
But life surprises, as does love, and the two ended up together for 40 years, settling in Marquette, a city of 21,000 by Lake Superior, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
He owned Vango’s, a restaurant he named after his father, which still features pizza and food from his homeland of Greece. He also managed a golf course.
She started waitressing there while going to college, eventually earning a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in speech. In 1981, he asked if she wanted to become a partner in the restaurant, and for $40,000, she did. It was the first in a long series of joint business ventures that included a strip mall, a supper club, 10 rental houses, a 35,000-square-foot office building and 22 acres on Lake Superior.
Whatever Mr. Lambros took on, he wanted it to be the best. Vango’s was one of the last restaurants in town to have a Friday night fish fry and now it is the biggest fish fry in greater Marquette.
The couple never married — never had children together — and even Ms. Butler has difficulty explaining it, except to say, “We were more married in our hearts than most.”
On his deathbed, he would brag to the hospital chaplain that she was a workhorse, high praise from a successful businessman who did his own plumbing, electrical work and carpentry and who would fix a broken restaurant booth himself rather than pay someone to do it.
He led a building committee for the new Y.M.C.A. in town, donated money to reopen a popular ice cream stand in a local park and gave generously to Marquette’s little Greek Orthodox church. He also hosted spaghetti dinners to raise funds to help the high school’s sports teams and cheerleaders and to buy two new drug-sniffing dogs for the Police Department.
She was a Rotary Club board member and an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce.
There was one dark spot in all this: the death of Mr. Lambros’s son from his marriage, Clark Jr., at age 24, in an automobile accident.
In 2003, when Mr. Lambros and Ms. Butler decided that they wanted a condo on Florida’s Gulf Coast, it took him six hours to buy one. He excelled in tennis, and in the last round of golf he ever played, a year ago, when he was 79, he shot a 78.
Last month he was supposed to have a hip replacement at the Mayo Clinic, but had two heart attacks there in two days.
The doctors put a tube down his throat to help him breathe, making it impossible for him to talk. So he wrote messages on a white board. At one point, seeing how glum Ms. Butler and other family members looked, he wrote, “Smile, don’t cry.”
Later on, he wrote, “Have some fun.”
At 1 that Thursday afternoon, he asked a doctor to pull out the tube so he could talk. That’s when he and Ms. Butler made final plans to donate their 22 acres on Lake Superior to the city.
In memory of Mr. Lambros and his son, they decided, it was to be called Clark Park.
At 8 that night, his doctors gave him sleeping pills and the four heart medications he was taking intravenously. Around midnight, during the second heart attack, paddles were needed to resuscitate him. By then, his kidneys were failing.
A priest arrived and they spoke together in Greek.
Several times through the day, he woke and asked, “Where is everyone?” For years he had been telling Ms. Butler that when he could not live a normal life anymore, he did not want to live.
About 5 p.m. he woke one last time. “He said, ‘I love you, I’m tired. It’s time to turn it off,’ ” recalled Ms. Butler.
He looked at her and winked.
Then the doctors turned off the oxygen and pulled out the intravenous tube.
On Friday, Dec. 14, at 5:05 p.m. Mr. Lambros died.
Even the nurses wept.
Booming: Living Through the Middle Ages offers news and commentary about baby boomers, anchored by Michael Winerip. You can connect with Michael Winerip on Facebook here. You can follow Booming via RSS here or visit nytimes.com/booming and reach us by e-mail at booming@nytimes.com.