Sharing the lessons along the way…

There is a natural order and flow to the universe.  It becomes evident as one period ends and another begins.  No time is it more evident than the ending of one year into another.

This year, on New Year’s weekend, I did something a bit different than I have in the last few.  While I was my usual reflective self, purged things in my house no longer necessary, and such, I was also ever conscious of the need to be still enough and grounded enough to understand what I needed to let go of from 2015.  I wanted to be clear and certain about what would carry over into 2016.

My 2015 was overall quite positive with the exception of the loss of my soul mate dog.  Much of what happened in 2015 involved the ending of an era.  An era that started nearly 15 years ago, and I am not sure I realized the magnitude of that ending.

I didn’t just need the stillness and grounding to close out a typical year, but to close out an era and to put some serious thought into what I wanted to create for the next era that had already begun to emerge in 2015 (late 2014 technically).

Moving forward is probably one of my frequently used tags for this blog, so it might surprise you that I historically am not very good at letting things go.  I have so often in my life hung on so tightly to ideas, thought patterns, people, jobs, situations, friends, etc. long after I knew it was no longer serving me.  I am not sure I can say that in this new emerging era.  I have gotten quite a bit better, and perhaps even more efficient, in my ability to let go and move forward.

It was certainly something Duke and his brother tried so very hard to teach me in their lifetime, so I am proud to be able to honor them by finally “getting” it.  I surprised myself when it was time to let Amore and Duke go because I didn’t feel the need to hang on for dear life for myself.  I felt more the need to let them go for them.  Duke was truly the testament for that.  Amore paved the way for it.

Letting Duke go meant the end of a very challenging era.  My entire life was thwarted, derailed, and I was on a detour for quite a while.  But somewhere along the way, I realized I might just be a Weeble-Wobble.  How else can I explain where I am now, based on where I started?


The detour taught me more than I ever expected to learn, and gave me a perspective that I never thought I would have.  The lessons, the perspective, gratitude, humility, and the strength from that era helped me to move forward at the time of his loss, but more than that, have allowed me to get back on the path with more certainty, in spite of my illness.

It is this foundation I chose to take with me into my life’s new era, and into 2016. What are you choosing to take with you into 2016?  What are you letting go?




Celebrating Life and Death


As I remember it, twenty years ago tonight, I got a call from my older brother.  He said, “Your mother is dead.”  To which I replied, “What do you mean she is dead? Where is she?”  He then said she wasn’t dead yet because she was at the hospital.

We were all there in the ICU waiting room when I suggested we all leave the hospital.  After years and dozens of what we thought was the last trip to the hospital, I said, “She is not going to die just to spite us, so we should probably go home and get some sleep.”

And we did.  I didn’t rush to the hospital the next day either.  I told my husband at the time to go to work because I didn’t figure anything would happen yet.  I don’t remember what everyone else did.  I only remember what happened once I got to the ICU waiting area and no one from my family was there.

I called back to the ICU nurse’s station and the nurse asked me to come back there so she could talk to me.  I asked, “Is she dead?”  She replied, “Ma’am, please just come back so I can talk to you.”  I demanded she tell me before I went through those large double doors into the ICU.  Perhaps I made a bit of a scene in the waiting area, but I don’t recall and am certain I didn’t care.

The nurse finally said that yes, she died earlier.  I was shocked at what I said next,  “Is she still here? Can I see her?”  I am not a fan of dead bodies, but I had to see for myself if what she was telling me was really true.

It was.  I saw it for myself while my stepfather and his sister stood on either side of her body.  Somehow, I was told that everyone was at my grandfather’s house and given directions on how to get there.  I only remember the walk to the parking garage at the hospital.  It was cold, dark and I don’t remember knowing what to do next.  Then I have flashes of memory at my grandfather’s house.  My husband found his way there eventually, although I have no real memory of how all of that happened or how I got home from there.

Ironically, after twenty years, the parts I remember are the same as the week after she died.  Even as clearly, I remember the true gravity of the situation a few weeks later.  I had waited for mom to get sober for years.  It took a few weeks for it to sink in that the hope I had held onto so tightly for mom to get sober and be more mom-like had died too.  At that point, the real healing could begin.

Twenty years later, I have a better understanding of why mom was the way she was when I was growing up.  I have a better appreciation for what was good about her and for those characteristics that I share in common with her.  I certainly would not be the person I have grown into had it not been for her, so for that I celebrate her life.



Source: Creating a Better 2015 #3 of 3


My last post was about how to avoid becoming a Holiday Zombie.  I am not sure it was helpful, as I have seen my share of Holiday Zombies in my world in recent weeks.  The Zombies are nearly blank in expression, seeking to numb whatever feelings they may have about the holidays.  What is left of their expressions is simply a compulsion to get their hands on whatever they can to alleviate those feelings.

Only a handful or two of people in recent weeks appear to be motivated to do something differently to cope with those feelings that move them more towards wellness and health.  I hope to see more than a handful before we round out the entire holiday season.

It is unfortunate that choosing the Holiday Zombie route always has consequences that last far longer than the holiday season itself.  Zombies cannot see them.  Those who don’t understand Zombies don’t get that the Zombies cannot see the consequences.  I get it, but there is little I can say to effectively make a non-Zombie understand that.

The Holiday Zombies don’t have the awareness to understand that every behavior, whether during the holidays or not, have some consequence.  Having been a Holiday Zombie myself, I am trying to help them minimize the consequences.  But because Zombies in general don’t tend to be that cooperative, I wonder if I am making any headway.

It is fortunate that I am not a Holiday Zombie, so at least, I can model being an Un-Zombie.  Holidays no longer suck for me because I no longer choose to let them suck.  I intend to make the most with whichever family and friends I get to spend them with, honor those I do not get to spend them with in some small way, and move forward into the New Year.

I spent my holiday mostly at a homeless program 11 years ago, and my roommate and neighbors all made handmade presents for one another and made the best of what was not an ideal situation.  We found things tossed by the thrift store and made them into something fun and thoughtful for each other.

It might be one of my first positive memories of Christmas, and there would be many more after that as a result.  And that experience was not a happy time in my life by any stretch.  I was nearly a Zombie all the time back then.

Choices aren’t easy.  Choices to do something different in our life, or to shift our way of thinking about something are even more challenging.  If I could make a choice to be present and aware during the darkest time of my life, I am pretty sure that a Zombie can too if given the right encouragement.

How might you encourage a Holiday Zombie?  How might you help a Zombie out of the Zombie Zone long enough to encourage them?



In holiday zombie mode, we are more likely to go back to old patterns of behavior whether we mean to do so or not.  It all starts with the old patterns of thinking we have about holidays, family, loss, etc. and quickly turns into some sort of unhealthy obsessive or compulsive behavior.

This sort of thing can go unnoticed because it is the time of the year where it is socially acceptable (and encouraged in our society) to spend more money than we have, and eat and drink more than we need.

Back in my holiday zombie days, even when I knew I needed to do something differently to break those patterns, I found it almost impossible to find the motivation and drive to do it.  I can remember the exact year I figured out how to do it anyway.  My zombie-hazed brain didn’t realize that simplifying the goal and making the change very small would make a big difference until that year.

Holidays are temporary.  Shifting my thoughts to “get” that made a difference.  Although that wasn’t always enough to make it through.  From there, I eventually realized that holidays can be enjoyed whether it is the “ideal” holiday scenario.  No matter where I am or who I am with, or not with, there can actually be enjoyment celebrating a holiday.

Seriously, there can be if we decide it can be.  I have celebrated many more holidays without family than with them.  The ones I spent wishing I was with family (or had family that didn’t make the holidays crazytown) weren’t as enjoyable because I was wishing I was somewhere else.  If I wish I am somewhere else, there is no chance I can find pleasure where I am—that is a fact.

Next time I will share another zombie-proof holiday trick I have learned.  In the meantime, please continue to share how you get through the holidays—no matter what your experience is.  Even the happiest of holidays often is hectic or includes notable losses.  My hope is to get every one of us through the holiday season without being any worse for the wear on the other side, so any thoughts are considered helpful.


Are you a holiday Zombie?

It is a well-known fact that we cannot move forward when our thoughts are consumed with something from the past.  Whether those thoughts are positive or negative from the past, if we are consumed by them, we cannot move forward fully.

Being consumed with overly positive thoughts is no less serving for us than being consumed by traumatic or upsetting events.  We miss this moment, right now, when we allow our thoughts to drift fully into those past events.

That is not to say that we cannot have happy or not so happy memories—that isn’t what I am talking about.  I am talking about the wishing for a different time, living the emotions from a different time, and missing being present now.

Around the holidays, anniversaries of deaths and other times of the year, this becomes more prevalent.  The steady diet of past events swirling about in our heads creates a lot of stress on our bodies, and we move about our day like zombies because we are reliving the past instead of living in today.

Moving forward becomes quite a bit like trudging along in quicksand because we are literally stuck in another time and place.  If it gets thick enough inside our minds, even the people in our lives today take on the characteristics of those from the time period in which we are stuck.

We may see only negatives or only perceive someone doing something to us that might be similar to what someone from our past did.  Or we overly glamorize someone because they remind us of someone (or some feeling) we knew in that past moment we find ourselves.  Either way, we aren’t seeing it for what it really is today.

I have struggled in the quicksand at various times in my life.  All I know for sure about it is that it is no way to live with any quality.  I know for sure that there is no true way to discern what is happening right now when I am looking at it through those past filters.

We cannot get out of quicksand by fighting the quicksand.  Thoughts of the past and memories are going to flood our thoughts.  That doesn’t mean that we have to give them the power to overtake our lives.  So how do we get out of the quicksand?

I have done it in many ways over the years of managing quicksand, but I am by no means an expert about how you might find your way safely away from it.  What worked for me each time was different, but the critical factor was that I truly was willing to do something to get out of it.

As we trudge through the holiday season’s quicksand together, I want to hear from you.  I want to know how you have gotten yourself through it and to the other side of it.  I will share mine throughout the month, if you share yours too.  Imagine the list we can compile to help others if we do it together!


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