Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Taking a Break

It was kind of funny last weekend when I went to see my therapist. He hadn’t read my blog, but he might as well have. He said all the things I predicted he would. Guess when you know someone for 15 years you do get to know them pretty well.

He opened up the possibility that perhaps there is something in the way I communicate that somehow invites people to comment (good or bad) or judge my thoughts and actions. He reminded me (as I predicted) that I actually have a pretty decent head on my shoulders and should be confident most of the time that I’m right on target. He also reminded me (as I predicted) that while I do have a ton of awesome support, I also have a relatively high level of critics in my life.

He also suggested (to my surprise) that maybe I should take a break from blogging every once in a while. I guess it’s obvious really. When you blog, you completely put yourself out there and anyone in the world can read it and comment if they would like. Duh.

I think my plan is still to blog on Thursdays. I get texts and emails from some of you when I’m late so I know I have some faithful readers out there. But if I don’t have good blog content in my head, maybe I won’t try to force it.

The goal is always to get more comments. I want to be brave enough to keep encouraging everyone to comment, good, bad or otherwise. But let me add a twist. I invite all of you to be brave enough to share your own stories. It really is a vulnerable thing to write about personal things. I know I make it look natural, especially after publishing two very personal books. The truth is, it really isn’t easy and it really does take courage to take a stand and put it out there for the world to see and disagree with.

If I’m honest, the challenge is directed more at those critics out there that usually have something to say about my negativity or attitude, those who corner me in person to let me know they didn’t like my blog or disagreed with it in some way. While I welcome everyone to “share their own story,” I especially invite those of you that find my blog an occasion to let me know how you think I’m screwing up. Come on. You are brave enough to tell me what you think. Be brave enough to put your stories out there.

I know this is a different flavor than what I usually do. But I think Scott is right. I need to figure out some new ways of communicating. I will make a few blunders along the way, so forgive me. And write away!


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I Got Sunshine

I am on the last day of my trip to Florida.

Day one:
Couldn’t be more perfect. Arrive at 4:45 AM and my friend and I go to breakfast. We drive to the beach and watch the sunrise. 20150413_071156_resized

Go back to her house and sleep for a couple of hours and then return to the beach. Spend less than two hours on the beach, smothered in sunblock and still get utterly fried. 20150413_134734_resized

Oops. (Later, other Floridians told me to never go to the beach between 11 AM and 3 PM. I guess my friend didn’t know that.)

Lunch at a cute little patio bar where I had amazing seafood. Oh yea. I forget I’m in Florida and am startled by the small lizards crawling around the floor. These were special. I took a picture and this old couple was cracking up. I asked if I thought they were doing what I thought they were doing and they said yes. Well, at least somebody is getting some action.
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Day two:
My friend goes to work for the day. Thus begins the comedy of errors.

When she said she had to work, I didn’t know she meant 13 hours. I have no car. Nothing is in walking distance.

That’s ok, I brought my computer so I could do work.

Her Wi-Fi doesn’t work on my computer.

She texts me the password to her brother’s computer. Yes!! Except he has no sound on his computer. After spending an hour researching solutions, I find out there are no speakers.

She texts me the password to her laptop. Yes!! Except I can’t find her laptop. Ok, it’s under the bed. Silly me. It works!! For a little while, then it completely dies.

Ok, I don’t normally watch TV but today is an exception. I try every remote and button in the house. Can’t get it on.

Ok, I don’t normally exercise, but there are bikes in the garage and I have a map of a bike route. Except I can’t get the garage door open. That’s ok, I will go out the side door. Nope, big boat there. Can’t squeeze by it, much less with a bike.

I can’t even figure out how to turn the light on in the bedroom.

13 hours. I decide I’m taking a taxi to the beach tomorrow.

Day three:
Oops, I realize I forgot to pack underwear. Great. (Ok. I wore sundress on day two because I was so sunburned and couldn’t wear underwear anyway. That’s why it took me til Wednesday to realize I didn’t pack any.)

I load “Uber” on my phone. What a great app! The driver comes within ten minutes. Sweet! Except the driver got lost. He was very apologetic and he turned off the meter, but no lie, he got lost. What are the chances? The beach is five miles from the house and we got lost.

Finally get to the beach. I had called ahead so I knew there was Wi-Fi. I get everything out of my backpack, plugged in, set up, and order a beer. Can life get any better than this?
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Then I realized the Wi-Fi doesn’t work. I pack up and try another part of the restaurant but no good. I finish my beer, pack up for the third time and try another place.

Success! I get my work done while watching the beautiful ocean. I have to stay in the shade but its gorgeous here.

Day four:
I’m at the beach. Now I’m an informed beach bum (perfect timing seeing as I’m leaving tonight!). I hit the beach by 9:15 smothered with lotion. It’s already in the 80’s of course. 20150413_125856_resized

Chat with a couple of girls and now I’m back at the pizzeria with my computer. Its almost noon so I’m out of the sun. A couple more hours and I will take a taxi home and shower for the plane ride.

Hundreds more stories I could write about all the “gone wrongs.” Comedy of errors, far from perfect. BUT I HAVE SUNSHINE :)!!!


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Julia Cameron: Freedom

Today’s gratitude card is “freedom: I cherish my freedom to act, think, feel, and choose as I wish. I celebrate the choice which lies for me in every moment. I accept the responsibility which comes with freedom. I embrace my liberty and use it to create an abundant and meaningful life.”

This is one of the those cards (well, let’s be honest; MOST of these cards this applies to) that is more like an affirmation I am saying, trying to will it to be true. This particular card has a twist though. I think it is true just as written for the most part. The problem with me has always been that I want everyone else to be happy with my choices too.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted people to approve of me. For as long as I’ve been in therapy, we’ve talked about this. And for as long as I can remember, my therapists have always thought I’ve been surrounded by a fair number of people in my life who don’t approve, or who feel quite comfortable making their criticisms known to me.

I suppose it is true that almost all human beings want people to approve of them. I think our particular personality type is what moves us along the intensity continuum.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve figured out how to seek more people in my life who do approve of me. I don’t mean they agree with me 100% of the time. But most of the time, they think I rock. Most of the time they trust my decisions because they believe I think through things and generally have a pretty good head on my shoulders.

It’s funny. Those people who know me on the deepest level, know that I am actually quite open to criticism and feedback. More than most, I seek out help and advice from professionals and from family and friends.

I like affirming my freedom and choosing to act. I even think I do a pretty good job of accepting the responsibility that comes with it. And I usually try to create a meaningful life, not just for myself, but also for others. My biggest problem is I DO give a rat’s ass about what other people think.

I don’t want to be the person that stops caring altogether. People who are like that, tend to be selfish and unaware of how they affect others. I don’t want to be a rock with no feelings. But I also don’t want to be the one who gets crushed like a bug so easily.

I am going to Florida next week. I decided I was going to crack if I didn’t get a break, if I didn’t get some rest, and mostly if I don’t feel some sun on my face soon. I found a reasonable flight and I just booked it before I could change my mind. I’ve been saying that I never do things like this for myself so I feel totally justified. But then I remembered that last September I went to Vegas for a couple of days. I need to stop saying I “never” do things for myself. I do. I am learning how to take care of me. And that should NOT be a bad thing.

One of my support people told me that people are going to be thinking that in their heads when I tell them about my trip- that I just went to Myrtle Beach in February. So I guess I’m saying they can think whatever they want. It was 25 degrees there the week we were there. It was very cold and I couldn’t walk on the beach without feeling sick. I need warmth. And I work my ass off most of the time so I’m going.

OH AND…

I don’t care if I eat too many carbs. I will work on that when I can. I will choose the best things I can day to day and that is good enough for me.

I don’t care if my schedule sucks because I try too hard to help other people. I will choose to do as much as I can every day to be the best person I can every day, and then I will complain about my legs hurting when I go to bed. That doesn’t make me a bad person because I’m exhausted at the end of the day.

I don’t care if I take too many vacations. I only go for a brief time. Sometimes I ache to see my grandkids. Sometimes I just want to not have to take care of anyone. I am ok with those choices.

Now I am working on not caring what you think about all that stuff. Now I am working on not caring if you disapprove or disagree. The truth is, I care deeply, but I am working on changing that. At the end of the day, I am looking to surround myself with voices that think I’ve been amazing even though I haven’t been perfect. The first voice has to be my own. The second voice I have to recognize is God’s. After that, I have to be selective.

This wasn’t one of my better blogs. I didn’t start out with a solid idea. It hasn’t flowed the way I want it to. My humor hasn’t shone like I like it too. But hey, maybe this is the start. I choose to write a less-than-perfect blog. And I’m fine with that. If you don’t like the tone, or the negativity, or the message, I’m fine with that too.

Well, not really. But I’m a work in progress! 🙂


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Plodding Along

They say that the most-read blogs have catchy how-to titles. I have to laugh because the older I get, the less and less I feel like I know “how-to” do much of anything. Maybe I could write one entitled, “How to have no brilliant earth-changing ideas” or something like that.

My schedule is usually over the top. I’ve probably blogged about it a few times. Last week I spent some quality time talking with my peers, friends, and counselor about it. A couple of themes emerged so I’m pretty good at figuring out it’s time to listen to the message when it gets repeated in my life. Over the weekend I spent a pretty large chunk of time conceiving and implementing a new scheduling system. I knew it wouldn’t make me more efficient necessarily. I’m already the efficiency queen. But I was hoping that it would help me be less exhausted at the end of the day.

It wasn’t terribly hard to implement. It was just a re-shifting of ideas and priorities, not a massive lifestyle change. Almost a week in, I’m sorry to say it was a dismal failure. It hasn’t made my life harder. It hasn’t made me less efficient. It just plain didn’t make a difference.

I’ve been so excited (and frankly, shocked) that I’ve been off anti-depressants. Acupuncture has really made an impact. I think that is why I’ve been telling myself so adamantly that I’m just having a bad day. I didn’t want the wave to crash. The end of last week, my acupuncture doc and I decided that perhaps I needed two sessions this week, even though we had made the encouraging decision to go down to one treatment a week.

Yesterday I went in for my second appointment this week. I was laying on the table waiting for her and it started to happen. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide it. I couldn’t hide it from myself, and I couldn’t hide it from her. She walked in the room and asked me how I was doing. Then it happened. I just started crying. Not sobbing or anything worthy of a good drama film. The tears just fell down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed. In spite of my best efforts, my life was getting the better of me again.

She poked me up good and then told me she left me on the table an extra long time. Kind of made me laugh. Ya think? I laid there and was unable to sleep, but the stress did start to lessen. I started thinking a bunch of different things. In her cute and simplistic way, the doc said I just have too much to do. She also said I need a vacation. I reminded her that I was ready for the cruise that she and I have been talking about anytime she was ready. She said I need more days to myself. Yep.

I started thinking about a simple but wise statement a friend made to me recently after I had described my grand plan to reschedule my life over the weekend. I wanted to pop him in the nose, but I knew he was right. He said ever-so-gently that no matter how you slice up a hundred things to do, you are still left with a hundred things to do.

I also started thinking about some of the gifts that had come my way over the week. I hadn’t ignored them. I was deeply grateful for them when they happened, but I need to post them in my eyelids.

1- a client brought me in a beautiful framed Wizard of Oz picture for my office wall. The occasion? She said there was none, but she was thinking about how special I am and she thought she should do something special for me. AWESOME.

2- a student emailed me after our three hour class and said it was the best supervision she had ever had and that I had a gift. MELTED ME.

3- after a conversation about my struggles with diet and weight (which have been lifelong, by the way), a friend texted me and said I was beautiful, inside and out. HIT A RAW NERVE.

When the timer went off and the needles were removed, I still had the same 100 things to do. But I had stopped crying. I was breathing easier. I still am overwhelmed. But I’m trying to remember the gifts I have. And I’m trying to remember that when I can’t possibly waste a second with all I have to do, that it might be time to invest a minute or two to close my eyes and relax. I just don’t have to poke a bunch of needles in my head. (The doc didn’t have to say, “Don’t try this at home.” I actually know better without being told!)

Keep hanging in there. I will if you will. There will always be circumstances and people who will want more from you than you can give. There will always be those who look at you and not realize that one small thing they want from you is the straw that might break your strong camel back. But it’s okay. There are also people who love and encourage you. And it helps to focus on those moments.

Here’s to plodding along. Forward, backward, and hopefully forward a few more. Blessings!