Reclaiming Your Joy After Loss

Wabi-Sabi and Grief

Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of finding the beauty of imperfection.  Grief is like this. There is nothing perfect about grief. Grief goes all over the place with highs and lows and unexpected sharp turns and cliffs. Yet grief also has the beauty of precious memories, the coming together of family and friends, and the peace of relief when we catch our breath.

A roller-coaster is akin to the Wabi-Sabi of grief. While if you step back to look at a roller coaster, it may seem chaotic a messy. Creating a roller coaster actually takes years of thought and effort to design. Things like safety and thrills as well as what makes a new roller coaster bigger, better, and faster are all considered to create a carefully crafted, perfectly operating machine. And when the roller coaster ceases to function, a great deal of work is required to take it apart. The relationship you had with your loved one also took a long time to build and perfect, and it was likely filled with twists and...

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These Times are Not Normal

Uncategorized Oct 14, 2020

What unusual times we are living in right now.  I never dreamed that our country would experience the type of hate, disrespect, and violence we are now. Some days I feel overwhelmed by yet one more outlandish act that has occurred. But as soon as I start to think that direction, I remember the commitment that I made to myself that I live my life based on love, fully and completely.

Getting absorbed into the sensationalism that comes along with unimaginable things that have occurred this year is an easy trap to fall into, so it is imperative for us to keep our eyes open and write our own script. Instead of worrying and crying about the results of the pandemic, what can we do with our love to bring comfort and support to those affected? Instead of rioting in rage at the senseless shootings and violence, what can we do with our love to peacefully demonstrate and make positive changes? Instead of complaining about the political situation going on, what can we do with love to help...

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Bring My Flowers Now

I enjoyed watching the Grammy Awards last night, though the constant reminders of the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter kept me thinking about his family. In that context, one song really affected me. Tanya Tucker sang “Bring My Flowers Now” for which she earned her first Grammy 47 years after her first Grammy nomination.  Not only that, but it took her 30 years to write the song.

I related to her lyrics as a read them.  The chorus is:

“Bring my flowers now, while I’m liven’ . . .

Don’t spend time, tears, or money on my old breathless body,

If your heart is in them flowers, bring ‘em on.”

This reminded me of my sweet Jacques who believed I should always have fresh flowers. When they were blooming in our garden, he’d cut them to bring inside. When they weren’t blooming at home, he would bring them from the grocery store, and always from the florist for special occasions. I never doubted his love. I didn’t...

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Grateful for My Love

Uncategorized Oct 14, 2020

Valentine’s Day is always a tough one.  Everywhere I look I see hearts, flowers, and diamonds. People are smiling and holding hands, and here I sit trying to remember what it felt like to be kissed.  When I realized what I was doing, I decided I had better shift my focus, so I started remembering the Valentines of days past.

I never wanted to go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day because I always imagined it would be crowded, but on our first Valentine’s, Ron showed up and wanted to take me out to dinner. We walked to one of our favorite places, and we happened to be the first ones there so not having reservations was not a problem. And he brought me a beautiful necklace that had two hearts, overlapping. One was silver and the other gold. A perfect representation of us. We had a wonderful evening with dessert back at my place after dinner.

Thinking about that sweet experience, I started to recall things I was grateful about both Ron and Jacques. And I...

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Peripheral Grief

Uncategorized Oct 14, 2020

I was born and raised in a small town in central California named Porterville. Growing up, I spent lots of time at our library. My very first job was there when my teacher recommended me to read stories to the children on Saturday mornings for pay.  I was thrilled to be in a place I loved doing what I loved to do. I haven’t lived in Porterville for many years, but I still am an owner of Imperial Ambulance, the company my father traded our home for when I was 13. 

I started going on ambulance calls at 14 because you only had to be 14 then and have an advanced first aid certificate.  I have a deep respect and admiration for first responders and am happy to provide jobs for them.  When the fire started Tuesday, I knew our crews would be there. They stayed there around the clock until last night when the second firefighter’s body was found. He was only 25. The first firefighter was a Captain at age 34 and had started his career at our ambulance company as...

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Look Up

Uncategorized Oct 14, 2020

Have you noticed an apparent obsession with screen time that people have? In restaurants, look around and see how many cell phones you see? I don’t use my cell phone while walking on sidewalks because it seems like everyone else is, and I prefer not to get bumped into. And in movie theatres, even though they announce to please not use your cell phones, you can always see screens glowing during movies.  All this preoccupation with screens has led me to make a decision to be mindful of when I use my devices.

When I am with someone, I put my device away. I look at people who are speaking to me, and I look in the eyes of the person I am speaking too.  Saying this seems odd since BCP (before cell phones), this is how people communicated, but often now, this doesn’t happen. And it’s not only looking at people, it is hearing too. Little white pods seem to be growing out of everyone’s ears. The gym I go to plays good work out music, yet still most people...

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Who Do You Listen To?

Uncategorized Oct 07, 2020

After Ron died, I was drifting, not knowing what I was supposed to do next since I had spent so long tending to his needs and doing all I could to cherish the valuable moments we had left. Only after a close friend of ours died suddenly did I realize that I could help his wife, and in so doing, I helped myself start rising up from the fog I had been slogging through. Helping her helped me find ways to help others in grief. And the more I helped others, the easier I could breathe.

I have worked now for three years to find ways to support people through the private Facebook groups I  lead, the classes I teach on writing through grief, the interviews I do online, the social media I post all of which offer positive support, and the book I have written.  I am not saying this for praise. I do all this out of a commitment I have to help others. While I appreciate when people express gratitude to me, that doesn’t drive me. I feel my life’s work is to support those...

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Loving Again

Uncategorized Sep 29, 2020

I was married to Jacques for 22 years. We had so many things in common and many differences. We loved theatre and music. We loved deep, long conversations. We loved to laugh. We loved to travel. We loved to entertain. We had any amazing life together.

I came to Jacques with fragile self-esteem after a long relationship where I couldn’t seem to do anything right, I was an embarrassment, and I wasn’t smart enough. Jacques saw the real me. He told me I was beautiful. He was amazed at the many talents I had an would introduce me as a renaissance woman. He loved me deeply. With all this, it took me awhile to totally believe him.  But I did eventually and even was appointed as a commissioner to the Self Esteem Commission in our county. Working on the commission, I grew to recognize my strengths and grew strong while helping others.

Jacques and I worked on many theatre productions together and he sang in a quartet that I managed. He was a bioethicist, and we worked...

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Paint Your Blues Away

Uncategorized Sep 23, 2020

Sometimes I can get a bit overwhelmed with all that is happening and then dealing with grief on top of that. When I had a piano or my flute and these feelings came up, I would sit down and practice. I could easily get lost in the music, sometimes for hours, and when I had played long enough, I found myself so refreshed. Listening to music that you deeply enjoy can provide similar results. 

Since I don’t have my piano or flute now, I have turned to art.  There is something about creating something artistic, especially when you can get your hands dirty, that takes over your full concentration.  Thrifty person that I am, I used to think I had to have a specific purpose for anything I created, but I have realized now that art takes practice, especially when you are learning something new, and I can take as long as I want to in finding the perfect way to paint a flower, a landscape, or a person. The same thing goes for learning how to best use a medium, like...

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I've got the Cure For You!

Uncategorized Sep 16, 2020

My son introduced me to a new song by Rick Astley named Dance.  The lyrics are: “I’ve got the cure for you. All you gotta do is dance.” Watching it reminded me how good it feels to dance. It gets my heart pumping and my energy up.

I thought about one of my first dates with Ron.  I always had dreamed about having a strong partner who was taller that I am who I could dance with.  I am six feet tall, and Ron was 6”2”, and I sure hoped he could dance! We went to my high school reunion.  They had a band, and everyone was dancing. He was hesitant to dance, so I didn’t know what to expect. But the music was so good, we ended up on the dance floor.

He could dance. He could dance so well! As we danced, the other couples moved away from us and ended up watching us and clapped at the end of the song! We had so much fun!  He told me that in high school he wanted to dance but was afraid that girls would say no when he’d...

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