Friday, January 31, 2014


Something To Think About. . . . .

"Vulnerability is not about winning, and it's not about losing.
It's about having the courage to show up and be seen."
                                           ~ Brene Brown

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Get Lucky

I know the Grammys were Sunday night but the music is still rockin' and rollin' for me.
I'm Up All Night To Get Lucky. . .
The Grammys are a blast to watch because everyone is so out there in their creativity and hopefully your favorite singer, song or group wins something.  I think people like to watch it because they imagine themselves standing there before the cameras singing some of the songs or in my case I imagine myself up there on the stage dancing the night away.
You don't think about being in a band and singing any of the popular songs? Come on.  Next, you will tell me that you have never picked up a hairbrush or any other kitchen utensil and pretended it was a microphone and that you don't ever sing when you are in the car or in the shower.
It's okay 'cause we all do it!!  I even have male friends who pick up brooms and play them as though they were guitars.  Music takes us to a spontaneous healing place and makes us feel some kind of wonderful.  I think it's almost impossible to  think about anything stressful when you're singing or dancing. 
One of the songs that got a lot of attention (who were those two robots?) and more importantly, awarded Record of the Year was Daft Punk's dance song, "Get Lucky."  And just for the fun of it, here's hoping you get lucky today:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pulling Together

I began writing Cry Laugh Heal in December 2010 to start an online discussion about grief and resilience, in particular to talk about the many ways we process it and how we can arrive at the realization that we can find strength and a different kind of future through our pain.
My husband died in 2003 and I found that grief was not a topic most people wanted to talk about.  What a surprise right?  Of course, it was a subject I could go on and on about but in general it really makes people feel very uncomfortable and they would much rather talk about anything else. 
I decided that by going online I could help myself and hopefully others as we tried to figure out what loss feels like and how we can somehow go on with other lives without that loved one being with us.
It is a difficult path but when you reach out to others it can make a difference in your outlook on what to do next.  Psychologists often cite isolation as one of the many dangers of grieving.  I am not totally self-reliant and, as far as I know, no one else is either.  It's a wondrous thing that we need each other.  Truly it is.  Loneliness is not a sign of weakness.  We as humans are hard wired to connect with each other and loneliness is a signal that we need to bring people into our lives.
Being vulnerable can be scary but I have found through an honest discussion of my grief feelings that it has given me a sense of renewal; a feeling that I can go forward as I continue to process and extend my hand to others because we are all in this blessed life together.
Yesterday, a wonderful friend sent me a link to a post from another widow who through her writing was extending her hand to others and letting them know that she can still can be taken back to those feelings and memories many, many years after her husband's death.
I am sharing below the touching post today from Carol Joynt ( and thank her for opening up and sharing her vulnerability:


This Is A Rough Week

I write this for lots of reasons but in particular for a woman I met last night who just lost her father.
We sat next to each other at dinner. We talked about death and grief for  quite a while. And that's what this is about. Death and grief and healing and moving on.  She's worried about her mother, now left without her soul mate after 34 years of marriage. 
That's why it's  a rough week for me. At this time 17 years ago, my husband of 20 years was spiraling toward his death, which came on the morning of  February 1. I held his hand as he died.
Yes, 17 is a lot of time. But, then again, it isn't. No matter how many years pass, these few weeks of winter, with their tell-tale signs, bring back the three weeks he was on life support at the Washington Hospital Center. I shuttled back and forth between home and the waiting room, usually in a daze, when I wasn't sleeping on the waiting room floor, or crying, or begging God and doctors. Outside was ice and cold and an overall bleak landscape. As now. So it comes back in memories stirred by January.
The loss of a loved one is awful in duplicate, triplicate and  a compound of that. I wouldn't wish my loss on anyone. But you do move on. The pain does become less sharp. I mean, what's the option? 
She asked me what I miss. I miss being loved, having the best friend, the reliable other, the person who had my back,  who believed in me when I didn't, who made me laugh when I couldn't, who was a handyman and a bon vivant and was happy just staying home, the three of us. I thrived on his view of the world and his sense of humor. The fact he loved me as much as he did was the cliché: wind beneath my wings. These aren't small values. 
Every day since is uphill. But you do it. Me and every other woman and man who has  lost their soul mate.
So, if I'm not all smiley this week, or if I seem inappropriately morose, it's not you. It's me. A brief pause in the past. And then, forward.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A New York Lesson

To have an uninterrupted block of time in which to read is to me a pure, unadulterated luxury.
Don't you just love that word luxury?  It just rolls off your tongue and sounds a bit sinful.
Reading for pleasure is healing and similar to putting your foot on the brake of life, stopping your normal crunched up, sometimes scattered daily routine, and allowing your mind to travel elsewhere.  When I find a book that has a compelling story line I am mentally gone and immersed in the characters and their lives and lose all track of the passage of time.  This past weekend, I found myself with two mornings in a row of relatively quiet hours in which to read and I used every second of it to enjoy a collection of short stories called "Good Bye To All That."
Essentially, the book is the work of 28 authors writers pouring their hearts out about why it was absolutely necessary and essential for them to live in New York City to become writers of importance, writers extraordinaire, and of course we all know that this kind of thing can only happen in New York City right?

My Favorite Building:
The Chrysler Building in New York City

Unfortunately, we also know that the best laid plans sometimes don't work out and then painful adjustments have to be made.  Usually this means leaving New York City, for at some point, even the most ardent of Big Apple lovers can get worn down by New York City and its frenzied pace.
But in between the arrival and the departure a vast amount of wisdom is learned by these authors about the hugs and punches of  life and each one lays bare their vulnerability in chasing their dreams and they write about how their New York lessons have stayed with them no matter where they ended up living after leaving.

One that particularly struck me, is a short story titled "Homecoming" by Mira Ptacin.  The author explains how she and her husband now live in a quiet and rural place called Peaks Island, Maine,  population 800,  years and years after living in New York City where they unfortunately practiced the selfish habit of constantly putting their careers first, always to the exclusion of their marriage.  While still in New York, Ptacin and her husband saw many red flags along the way signaling to them that they needed to spend more time together but none matched the impact of the sudden death of a childhood friend's father.

The loss forced them stop and wonder and think about what was actually important to them and eventually they ended up asking themselves a series of questions about what would happen to them if they got sick, who would take care of them, who would even care if they got sick or worse.  It made them re-evaluate their lives and they decided it was time to save their marriage or else pretty soon there would be no more marriage.

Loss can starkly show you what's truly important and what is a waste of your precious time.  Here is Ptacin's insight about the simplicity of life that she says she learned after her tragic loss:

"Brent's funeral was held three days after he died.  After the burial and as the sun was setting, we gathered at Brent and Rosemary's home.  We walked there from Andrew's childhood home, too, and we stayed until nearly 2 am, drinking on their wraparound porch, exchanging stories, eating Doritos, passing photo albums, and handing out tissues.  This went on for three nights, and kept going even after Andrew and I left town.

Here are some of the things I learned at Rosemary's that first week after leaving New York: I learned that when a widow is crying and smoking a cigarette, you let her cry and if you speak, it's to ask if you can get her another Diet Coke.  I learned that no one cares that much what you do for a living, but they will be grateful if you stay up with a six-year-old and watch Dennis the Menace because his grandfather is dead and he cannot sleep.  Rather than get into a political debate about the war, you thank an Iraqi veteran for his service.  You do not check your BlackBerry in the middle of a toast, and when someone hands you a crying baby, you hold it.  I learned that ice cream cake make grandpas feel really special, and when a neighbor invites you to swing by the food pantry during her volunteer shift so that she can take a look at that nasty poison oak on your shin, you go, and wait patiently until she can get free to see you.  I learned that you don't judge someone's worth based on what they can do for you and that you aren't expected to ask, "How can I help?"  Instead, you just jump right in."

That's exactly right.   

You just jump right in and embrace love and the whole range of magnificent feelings that life sends your way.

For when you put love first, you are home. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Weekend Antics

Beautiful Deserted Rehoboth Beach

Hey everyone!  Hope your weekend was full of unlimited amounts good times or at least full of what one of my guy friends calls antics! Mine certainly was!! 
Three of my best friends treated me to a weekend at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and it was a blast; and I don't mean a blast of wintery cold but a blast of the healing powers of true friendship!!  Snow and ice and chilly winds surrounded us in our 23 degree climate -- because after all it is January on the East Coast -- but we didn't care because it was a weekend of great conversation, delicious food (Thank God Grotto was open!), unique shopping destinations and no schedules.
When in Rehoboth, Dewey or Bethany Beach,
You Have To Go To Grotto For The Pizza
No schedules.  Which in real life means we didn't have anyone telling us we had to be anywhere at any particular time.  We could go where we wanted, when we wanted, for how ever long we wanted to be there and that is my idea of freedom.
I have known and treasured these three best friends for decades and they are the salt of the earth.  I am lucky to know them and have them in my life and being with them can cure anything that life hands out!  We all love The Beach no matter what time of year it is and love to eat all kinds of seafood and just hang out, shoot the s$&t and enjoy each other's company.
As the saying goes, friendship isn't a big thing -- it's actually more like a million little things that are said and done and shared while living our lives and it all comes together in some kind of spontaneous combustion and makes time with those special people what life is all about.  The weekend was all about the chi or the flow of friendships and good times and it was a simple and as easy as that.
As I drove over the Bay Bridge to Rehoboth and tried to catch quick glimpses of the icy Chesapeake Bay, I said out loud to myself in the car:  "That's it stress.  I am leaving you far, far behind.  I am moving in to a stress free zone this weekend and you are not invited."
Life can change you, your personality, your expectations, your beliefs and your desires but hopefully you are not changing so drastically that you lose yourself and your friends don't recognize you.  They may be changing too in the face of life's experiences and increased responsibilities but at the end of the day you are all in it together and the reservoirs of strength that comes from good solid friendships and knowing that your friends have your back is what moves us forward and comforts our souls. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Freezing Friday

Wow!! What a week!

Between the snow, the ice and the polar vortex of winds hitting the Washington, DC area, it's seems as though it's been a battle of the elements every day.  Fashion has definitely gone by the wayside and staying warm is the priority.  Sometimes the sun is out but I'm not feeling too much difference in the temperature.
I am not really a winter person at all but this chilly cold season does teach me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.  I can't change it so I've got to go with it and get on the other side of it.
I try to look at it as another lesson in a different kind of resilience.  As in: I can't control what Mother Nature decides to bring to my area of Planet Earth but I can control my response to her events. 

Snow People Visiting The U.S. Capitol

I can stare and curse at the frozen snowy icy car or I can go out and start it, warm it up and start clearing it off.  It's all about taking a deep breath and just doing it.  And that's when I put one pair of gloves inside another pair of gloves and the same with socks.  It's the only way to make sure my fingers and toes stay warm and toasty.  I don't know about you but if my hands and feet get cold, I'm a goner.  I just can't take it.

So for those of you in warm and tropical climates, I wish I were there with you.  But seeing as I am not, I will be dealing with my Freezing Friday, staying bundled up and taking it a step at a time.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grandma Drummer

I know it's a little early in the morning to listen to the rhythm of a set of drums, but I couldn't resist posting this short video of Mary Hvizda of La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Check her out for she is having such a blast!  She is a great reminder to me of the necessity to jump into every day and follow my passions.

Better known as "Grandma Drummer" to the folks at the Coalition Drum Shop in La Crosse, Mary has reportedly played in a lot of band since was 16 and still can't get enough of picking up those sticks and beating out a crazy drumroll on those skins.
They say she comes in to the music store every couple of months, plays the drums for awhile and then she's on her merry way.  Don't you love it!!
Our passions are healing and make us authentically us.  In other words, they keep the creative juices flowing! Studies show that finding meaning in one's life, whether playing music, volunteering at a hospital or school, working at a fulfilling job, or any other activity that makes you feel positive, is an essential part of having a lifetime of good mental and physical health.
It doesn't matter what your passion in life is, the important thing is to find it, pursue it and embrace it; just like the amazing Mary Hvizda:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Personal Growth

Take some time for quiet thought today.
Your inner person deserves it!

When you get free from certain fixed
concepts of the way the world is, you find
it is far more subtle, and far more miraculous
than you thought it was.
                           ~ Alan Watts

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Billy Crystal -- Did You Hear The One About The Dentist?

The dentist.  Oy Vay!

I went to the dentist yesterday morning for a teeth cleaning and I'm soooo glad it's over.  My dentist is a really nice guy and tries to make it as painless as possible but I really hate going.  I try to do all the things you're supposed to do to take care of your teeth but in the end, it's just so boring.  A dentist visit may be healing but there was definitely no laughing or crying going on during my appointment.

Just relief!

I think it's a bit of a carryover from having many teeth extracted and then wearing braces as a child.  Don't get me wrong, I know dentists are important, for they can detect signs and symptoms of lots of different conditions such diabetes and heart disease. 

Still, compared to doctors, dentists don't get much respect.  And the always funny, brilliant comedian Billy Crystal, in this comical ode to dentists below, tells us how he handles a dental appointment . . .

Drilling for Laughs: Billy Crystal Goes to the Dentist
Published in November 2013 Reader's Digest
Billy CrystalRobert Sebree
I shouldn’t complain so much. Life at 65 is good. I have had one house, one wife, my real nose, my real name, and most of my teeth. And the last part is a major reason why life is pretty good. Because when you hit your mid-60s, you have to take care of your teeth. It’s a generational thing—I learned it from my 86-year-old grandmother.
Susie Gabler had perfect teeth. White beauties with no cavities. She took great care of them—always kept them by her bedside in a glass of water. The first time I saw them come out of her mouth, she was in bed, and I was sitting next to her. In the middle of saying how proud she was of me, she suddenly reached into her mouth and pulled out her entire set of uppers and lowers. Splash, into the glass of water they went, and suddenly my beloved grandma looked like an 86-year-old hockey player.
“Take care of your teeth, Billy. Take care of your teeth.” I think that’s what she said, because with her lips flapping in the breeze, she could have said, “Pass me the marble cake.” I was shocked—and slightly nauseous. It was a terrible thing for a grandson to see, even though I was 32 years old.
She lost her teeth because she never went to the dentist. Mainly because the Cossacks had killed him. None of my grandparents had good teeth. Sometimes when my grandfather was eating the Thanksgiving brisket, his dentures would be hurting so much he’d remove them at the table, keep them in his hand, and manually chew the rubbery meat until it was ground down enough to swallow. While we all watched in horror, he’d take the “chewed” meat, dip it in horseradish, put it in his mouth, and swallow it with a great sigh of satisfaction. He’d then say something inaudible, and Grandma would reply, “Don’t talk with your hand full.”
Take care of your teeth! It’s why we baby boomers should floss, it’s why we should brush, and it’s why we should go to the dentist, because we know dentists are important people, even though they weren’t smart enough to get into medical school. It’s sad; dentists don’t get the respect they deserve. You never hear, “Is there a dentist in the house?”
You would think that taking care of our teeth in 2013 would be easier than it was in 1963, but it’s not, and that’s because the whole dental experience has changed. Back then, a dentist was a one-man show. He would clean your teeth, show you how to brush, do bridges, take X-rays, pull teeth, fill cavities, drill root canals, make appointments, validate parking, and rub your leg when he thought you were under anesthesia. The only specialist in 1963 was the orthodontist, who thought his job was to ruin your puberty. Now it’s all about the specialists.
When I turned 65, I decided to celebrate by making an appointment for my cleaning. I showed up on time and read the Sports Illustrated from 2010 until the maître d’ (it’s L.A., don’t ask) escorted me to my examining room.
I’m lucky. I go to a very prominent dentist. My dentist is the fifth guy. You know when they say, “Four out of five dentists prefer” whatever it is they prefer? Mine’s the one who doesn’t. When people find out he’s the fifth guy, they go crazy. “He’s the fifth guy? What’s he like? You gotta get me an appointment!”
When the dentist came in, he asked if I’d been flossing, and, like we all do, I lied. Then he pulled a chunk of lobster meat from between my molars. As the jazz trio played him off and he left the room, the parade of specialists began.
First it was the cleaning expert—the hygienist. She came in looking like one of the riot police in South Korea. On some people, a large Plexiglas face mask isn’t flattering. You can’t imagine the noise the tool made as she chiseled that stuff off my bottom teeth. I don’t have tartar; I have coral. That’s why dentists’ offices always have fish tanks. You could sculpt Michelangelo’s “David” out of my plaque.
Next came the X-ray technician, because God forbid the hygienist should have to do two things. The technician put a heavy lead blanket over my goodie basket and sprinted out of the room. That’s comforting. I figure with 60-plus years of X-rays, my family jewels have been covered with more lead than a kid’s toy from China.
Then the dentist came back in after looking at the X-rays, meaning that he would be charging me for a second visit. He said, “Billy, you need a root canal.”
“Oh, I don’t do them—you’ve got to see Dr. Jack Wu for that. He can see you in about three weeks.”
As soon as he’d said that I needed the root canal, my tooth started to hurt. “Three weeks of this kind of pain?” I asked.
“No, not this kind of pain—tomorrow you’ll have a worse kind of pain. I’ll give you these pills I got in Mexico. They may constipate you, and if they do, call Dr. Ari Weitzman.”
“How about my wisdom teeth?”
“Right now, they’re fine, but if you want them extracted, Dr. Abrams does uppers, and Dr. Hunter does lowers.”
“So what exactly do you do?” I asked.
“Oh, I do fillings and crowns and sit by the pool you paid for.”
I currently have six dental specialists. My dentist farms out everything. I’m looking at the pictures on his desk, and I say, “Are those your kids?”
He says, “Technically no, I didn’t handle that. I sent my wife to Dr. Feldman.” 

Monday, January 20, 2014

When In Doubt

If you have ever have doubts about talking to someone you hardly know about a recent loss in their life, please think twice about ignoring the subject.
You may think you are doing the person a favor by not mentioning their loss or the name of the loved one that died, but it doesn't really work that way.
Acknowledging is important and helpful to you, and more importantly, to the person experiencing the loss.  It's extending sympathy or compassion and even though it may be hard to do, it's something that needs to be done.  So take a deep breath, remind yourself that you an adult and proceed.  Think about the person who is suffering rather than your discomfort.  If the death has happened to someone you know well, perhaps you can give them a hug, say you are sorry that they are going through a painful time and listen to what they want to say.

If the loss has happened to a work colleague that can be tricky.  But it is still just as important to acknowledge what has happened to this person.  If you can't seem to find the right words to say, then you can always give them a card with a short note.
To understand the bereaved person's point of view, here is a short letter that someone who did not want to be named wrote to The Washington Post's advice columnist Carolyn Hax:
"When I returned to work after my dad's funeral, everybody avoided me like crazy.  I guess they thought I would burst into tears if they even said hello.  Who knows, maybe I would have.  I felt so sad, so alone and isolated.  His obituary had been e-mailed to everyone , so all details were known.
After lunch on my first day back, I slipped off to an empty conference room to collect my thoughts, and a man I only know marginally saw me go in.  He came to me and started this conversation: 'I was so sorry to hear about your dad.  I didn't know he was a music teacher!  Tell me about him!' I was so happy to have someone to talk to about him.  We talked for about 20 minutes about my dad.  Yes, I cried a little.  But at that moment, that was what I needed so much.
After a funeral, everyone goes back to their lives, what they were doing before -- and the family who has lost their loved one is completely lost and directionless.  This man, who hardly knew me, reached out for just a moment and cared.   I still run in to him periodically at work and can't tell you how much his gesture, at that moment on that day, helped me to cope."

Psychologists often cite isolation as one of the main dangers while grieving.  Reaching out can make a difference.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Downton Abbey

Today I join millions of Downton Abbey fans who can't wait to watch a new episode tonight.
I am arriving at the Downton Abbey party very late, for I watched my very first episode last Sunday at the home of some good friends who have watched the popular series from the beginning.  This was very helpful to me because they were able to tell me exactly what was happening, who the characters were in relation to each other and the intricate backstory of different storylines.
I'm not sure why I didn't embrace this amazing award-winning series earlier.  I think I already had a number of television programs I was already following and couldn't imagine adding another series to my busy schedule so I never tuned into Downton Abbey despite all the media attention and conversational buzz.
That said, I am totally taken with how the series is handling the sudden tragedy of Matthew Crawley's death and where the characters find themselves this season six months later.  The etiquette of grief in 1922 was prescribed and deliberate especially in Great Britain.  There were rules and everyone followed them.  In a way, the rules were a comforting guide, for you knew what was expected of you and didn't need to think twice about what you should do or say.  It was already settled.
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley
To give you an idea of what was acceptable for a young widow in 1922 with regards to mourning, here is a passage I found in Emily Post's Book of Etiquette, which at the time was the official reference book on social manners:

"The young widow should wear deep crepe for a year and then lighter mourning for six months and second mourning for six months longer.  There is nothing more utterly captivating than a sweet young face under a widow's veil, and it is not to be wondered at that her loneliness and need of sympathy, combined with all that is appealing to sympathy in a man, results in the healing of her heart.  She should, however, never remain in mourning for her first husband after she has decided she can be consoled by a second.  There is no reason why a woman (or a man) should not find such consolation, but she should keep the intruding attraction away from her thoughts until the year of respect is up, after which she is free to put on colors and make happier plans."

And so at Downton Abbey this season, we find Lady Mary Crawley, the young widow of Matthew Crawley, coming out of six months of official mourning and surprised to find herself the focus of attention from an old friend visiting at the Abbey, Lord Anthony Gillingham.  He asks her to go horseback riding and she is a bit unsure of whether to accept or not.  Is it the right time to go on such a venture?  What would others think?  Lady Mary does accept and they do go horseback riding on the grounds of the Abbey but it is all very proper and constrained. 
We also find Matthew's mother, Isobel Crawley, still processing the sudden death of her son.  Isobel Crawley, who has already lost her husband, feels her life is over because she is of a certain age and with no husband or son, finds it difficult to move forward with any real purpose in her life.
I found it very touching that the crusty Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by the incredible actress Maggie Smith, invites Isobel to a dinner at the Abbey in effort to get her to come out of her isolation and socialize.  The Dowager is compassionate and sympathetic and offering support in reaching out to Isobel and it is so painful, yet authentic, when Isobel replies to the invitation with the same thought that haunts those in mourning even today: "Every time I smile.  Every time I laugh.  I feel I am forgetting him."
Remarkable isn't it that human beings have not changed that much at all in our core emotions and reactions to the shock of losing a loved one: grief, solitude, resolution, frustration guilt and then a bouncing all over the place of the same emotions.

In Downton Abbey I find remarkable storytelling and honest and authentic dialogue about dealing with life's moments of deepest sorrow whether you are surrounded by servants, glamorous clothes and leisurely comfort or work by the sweat of your brow downstairs as a maid or a hall boy.

Let's see what happens tonight!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A World View

Something To Think About. . .

"The world is before you
and you need not take it 
or leave it as it was when you came in."
~ James Baldwin
Heavy Fog Rolls Into New York City
NY Metro Weather via Earthcam


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Notebook

I never know when I am going to read or hear something that I might want to use in writing a future blog post so I try to always carry a small notebook with me.  On the times that I have forgotten my notebook, I have written notes on the back of envelopes, cocktail napkins and business cards which then creates this messy pile of stray notes.

For now, the small spiral notebook I am using is almost full and it caused me recently to flip through the worn pages to check and see if I had missed anything that might be helpful to myself and others who are trying to rebuild their lives after a loss or strengthen their resilience when facing life's unexpected trials.
And then there it was.  Handwritten notes from a sweet conversation I had this past summer on the beach with a young woman in her twenties.  She had lost her grandfather and an uncle within a few months of each other.  We had just met and were casually talking about ourselves.  I told her about Cry, Laugh, Heal and surprisingly she then began telling me about her experiences with loss.
I write about this conversation today after so many months because I was struck by the common thread in her thoughts and the fact that if I closed my eyes and forgot about her age she could have been a member of my support group made up of people much older than herself.  She was voicing many of the same feelings older people have expressed after losing a loved one:  the need to talk, the shock and confusion and the contradictions brought by the pain of loss.

"People know you are going through an awful time of it and yet they talk to you as though nothing has happened," she said remarking on what it was like to go back to school after attending the funerals.  "I think people react this way because it's far too messy for them and they also think they're upsetting you.  And they definitely don't think about how you might want to cry and release your feelings."

She continued talking quietly about this experience and said after a period of time following the losses she knew she needed to be part of a  trusted discussion addressing grief issues.  The loss of her uncle and her grandfather made her realize that she needed to join a support group and she was so glad that she did.  She wasn't sure what she would find or what it would be like, but she came away surprised and also curious about the amazing dynamic that had occurred in her group.

"Isn't it weird how you can find yourself in a support group, among people who you have never met before, people who are strangers, and you start speaking honestly from your heart about how you really feel and what you are really thinking about.  I found that I was saying things to strangers that I couldn't tell my loved ones, the people who have known me for most of my life.  And for some reason the other people in my group felt that way too.  And it worked.  I felt I was with new friends."

Our discussion about life and loss was not for long; I would say at the most it was about 10 to 15 minutes.  But within that short window of time while we talked, I felt her willingness to expose her vulnerability on the contradictions of these grizzly subjects of loss and resilience was amazing.
Here's why:  in her young soul she had dug deep and found strength in a truth that sometimes takes many of us (myself included) a life time to discover.  That truth? 
Her words say it best: "Sometimes beauty comes out of pain.  I found that something good can come out of something tragic and that's hard for people to understand.  I think people are afraid to say something good came out of someone's death because we are afraid it would be seen as though we were glad that it happened when of course that is not the truth at all.  No one, no one wants anyone to feel that pain but it's surprising to discover that a light can come out of darkness."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creative Encouragement

Each day is a new opportunity to find inspiration!
People, nature, architecture, words, acts of kindness or even criticism can spark inspiration in me to go forward and think about my life in a new or different way.  The world around us can serve to fuel the fire of our inner creativity or cause us to shift our ideas about the way life happens.
Inspiration keeps me going and renews my faith and hope in the future of myself and others.  Regardless of where you find yourself right now or what happened to you last week, last month or last year, you are capable of shaping your life to reflect your passions and goals.
We are a community of beings in need of each other and no one should ever feel they are alone in their precious life. 
We can heal.  We really can.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Magic of A Party

The Washington, DC weather on Saturday may have been rainy, foggy and dreary but it had  no affect on the atmosphere inside one cozy house in Northwest DC where it was bright, warm and full of happiness.
Was this house in some kind of weather bubble?
Yes it was because it was the site of a birthday party that my super duper spectacular friends gave for me and I can say without hesitation that it was the best birthday party ever!!  Talk about healing!  Wow!  I was feeling the love and it was totally through the stratosphere for me in terms of people, food and fun!!!
Me and My Fantastic Son!
Truly great friends are a treasure to have and to hold and I keep my friends near and dear to my resilient heart.  These are the incredible people who were here for me after my husband died, these are the people who have helped me keep my heart open to the future and these are the people who came together and let their creativity flow to help me celebrate my magical birthday.
My friends are my soul mates and they make most things in life bearable because great friends always find the time to either hold your hand, listen to your story or go out and boogie on the dance floor with you!
The theme?  What else?  THE BEACH!!!
Mini beach balls, candles, sand, shells and best of all beach food.  As in lobster rolls, spiced shrimp, crab cakes, potato salad and tomatoes and mozzarella and chopped fresh basil.  And if that wasn't enough deliciousness, dessert was a Key Lime pie and a chocolate cake with many, many candles!!!!!!!! Totally yum, yes?
Home Made Lobster Rolls

And just when we thought we could not eat one more forkful, it was time to crank up the tunes and dance the night away! Donna Summer you would have been proud of us!!
Twerking, congo lines, and a version of something called The Throwdown, were just some of the dance moves proudly performed and thoroughly enjoyed!!
After all these years together, we've still got it going on and I thank you my dear friends from the bottom of my heart!! 
I am still flying from the emotional high.  And that's the true magic of a party!

Home Made Chocolate Cake

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dream A Little Dream

Here is something to think about ~

You have to speak
Your dream out loud.
               ~ Kelly Corrigan

To me the importance of this beautiful powerful thought is that when you speak your dream out loud, you start to make it real.  It's the first step in owning your dream and part of owning it is making the dream and all of its possibilities yours so that it can become real. 
By talking about your dream out loud, you give your dream a place in your life and it becomes a real part of your life, instead of just a passing thought that sometimes you think about but then it goes away and you continue on and put your energy into other things.
One of my dreams for 2014 is to upgrade my kitchen and I think I have finally saved enough money to start this exciting project!
Everyone has a dream.  It can be big or small; anything that you want it to be.
What's yours?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Falling Can Make You Stronger

One of my sisters sent me the video posted below that's about Moms and the endless, loving support they give their children.  In the case of this video, it shows Moms and their budding athletes in the beginning stages of learning their sports skills and then the years of repetition, the daily practice, practice, practice performed by the children until they reach the ultimate competition of the Olympics.

It's a wonderful video, tracing the path of infants and babies falling, getting back up, trying again and again, finally learning to ice skate, snowboard and ski so that they may perform more accomplished routines.

On another level, the video is also about raw persistence, resilience, determination and the commitment to never give up on your passions and your dream no matter what you decide to pursue in life.

Emotional resilience doesn't come to you just like that.  Unfortunately, you don't wake up one morning and suddenly you are resilient.  But don't be discouraged.  Resilience is the ability to become strong, healthy, bounce back or rebuild again after a loss, or a personal crisis.  The good news is resilience is something that can be developed within you.
You can gain strength through pain.  And little by little I bet you are doing it every day and you may not realize it.  Always get back up.  You can do it!
Here's the "Thanks Mom" video:

Hunk A Hunk A Birthday Fun

Today is a special day.  It's my birthday and it's also Elvis Presley's birthday.
Uh, Thank you. Uh, Thank you very much!
I'm not wearing a tight white jumpsuit today or gold wired sunglasses and I'm not wearing my hair slicked back.  And I'm not suggesting that I can sing or act but I do find it  a lot of fun that Elvis and I share a birthday because as I was growing up it would always be in the news that Elvis was having a birthday on my birthday and of course his was always a bigger celebration!
Elvis in 1972
Today I am so happy to be having a birthday because there was a time when I was much younger when I burned the candle at both ends (kind of like Elvis) and did some reckless things that today make me close my eyes and thank my guardian angel for watching over me.
So I am here today, pretty much all in one piece, counting my lucky stars and thanking the Lord above for all of the many, many blessings that I have in my precious life.  I have no idea what the future holds for me but I am enthusiastic about jumping into each new day and continuing to embrace my wondrous journey.
Me in Kindergarten

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hooked -- A New Song from Pip

Yesterday was an absolute lousy day.  I arrived home from work and was not feeling good about my little world but was also looking for a way to rid myself of those negative, counter-productive feelings left over from the office.

While making dinner, I checked my email to see if there was some wonderful piece of news that would cheer me up.  My stressed out mood buster came in the form of an email from Pip, my cousin's talented son and singer who participated in season two of NBC's The Voice as part of  Adam Levine's team.
Music.  Yes, that's what I needed to erase the day's frustrations and bring me back to a relaxed state of mind.  Pip's email contained a new song and video titled "Hooked"  which I clicked on right away because I knew Pip's amazing voice and positive energy would shine through his music video and be contagious and mood changing.

It was!!  Thanks Pip!!  Check out "Hooked" for yourself below:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Kickstarting Change

Hey there!  I hope you had a great and productive weekend and if it wasn't one of those two things then I hope it was a weekend chock full of fun!
Mine was full but it was full of running interference for family members and in particular trying to understand the emotional needs of one family member.  I keep reminding myself that it's all about love, love, love!
In the midst of this whirlwind weekend of emotions, I found the following quote which I felt was insightful and particularly timely:

"And that is

how change happens.

One gesture.  One person.

One moment at a time."

                        ~ Libba Bray

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snow In DC

Wow! This time the weather forecasters were right.
We got covered in snow in Washington, DC.
Many, many times, snow is forecast for our part of the world and then nothing shows up.  The Washington, DC region is a strange weather pocket that seems to create it's own kind of weather which can be that sometimes the air is just not cold enough and the forecasted winter storms come close to us but then miss us.
The weather forecast misses wouldn't be so bad but the local news media hype of what is expected to come our way that always accompanies these weather forecast is what can be the most annoying.
These forecasts usually cause people to rush to the grocery stores to grab all kinds of stuff because they think they may be socked in their houses for days.  Bread, milk, toilet paper and bottled water are usually the first things to disappear from the shelves.
But this time they were right.  And on top of the snow, the weather people are also saying that today we will get hit with some pretty strong winds.  So check in with your neighbors and see how they are doing and let's be careful out there!

Here's a view of what my neighborhood looks like:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New 2014!

As I awake to the beginnings of a new day and a new year,
I feel the air is crackling with the sense of possibilities.
Let us embrace the unknown and untried.
Let us go forward, secure in the knowledge that we are resilient.
We can gain strength from pain and we will help others in their journey.
For we are truly better together!