A gift for you at 8:50 EST on Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day Agenda: Feb. 14
8:50 EST – Listen to Donna Marie’s Valentine’s Story
on WNCW FM’s WORD STAGE

Purchase and eat a really nice, decorated donut because they taste so dang good. And, it’s good to feel good! I want to feel good! Fat tastes good and it’s just 1 (possibly 2 if I need more happy!)

Make a list of my own happy Valentine’s day memories and call a friend (or child) to wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Remember that from love I came and to love I shall return. Do everything today from and for love.

Listen to the story on the website and forward it to a friend.

Arctic Griever’s Retreat

I imagine you heard about the bitter Arctic weather in Chicago recently. Minus 41. Please know that was the actual temperature, not the modern-day, Dixie-darlin’ weather-girl, wind-chill stuff. Six homeless people and scores of animals left outside died, giving new meaning to the words “bitter cold.”

So I guess you can imagine how excited I was to be flying there to perform stories and lead a Navigating Loss retreat. As we began our descent into O’Hare, the depth of the cold was perceptible. No, that’s too small a word. You could feel its wickedness rising up. It was palpable. Even the clouds looked cold. The landscape was white on white, snow distinguished from ice only by its opacity. Thick icicles hung from rooftops, trees, and power lines. The outside walls of the warehouses at the edges of the city were frozen in place, as if they had been spray-painted by the cold. I felt like I was flying into the set of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” The airport had just reopened after several days in the deep freeze and we landed on an ice rink of a runway lined by four-feet high walls of piled up snow.

This is yet another reason that I reside in the South. But my dear storytelling friend Patricia had been waiting for me in the cell lot with a warm car so I can’t even pretend to have been affected by what they had just endured. We slid across the hotel parking lot with my luggage and then left for dinner at the pastor’s house where we were greeted by two very curious dogs and a warm fire in the hearth. It was a symbolic beginning for what was to be a very friendly, enthusiastically embracing, achingly lovely weekend.

The story concert came first. My sister was there. Friends from the Network of Biblical Storytellers’ Prairie Wind Guild came. I felt enfolded in warmth and affection.

Saturday dawned bright and cold as 27 people arrived for the Navigating Loss retreat. We were a mess of a mix: Widows and widowers, orphaned 50-somethings, those facing unrelenting illness and its accompanying loss of financial and physical freedom. As we shared our stories of love and loss we bonded deeply. As we laughed at the absurdity of society’s rules about grieving and the deeper absurdity and danger of pretending we’re not, the weather warmed to a balmy 26. Homemade soup and thick sandwiches were consumed, along with cookies of every description. (I hate the cold but love the heartiness of a Midwest buffet!)

Sunday it rose above freezing, I took credit for bringing the warmth of the South with me as I shared the sermon-story “Sometimes the Angels Ride Harleys,” which you can listen to here.

Then I spent the night with my sister and met her new dog. Drank some red wine and ate take-out Chinese. As I flew back through the friendly skies the white clouds of change were appearing on the horizon. Thank God I was back on Southern soil before they were socked again by an ice storm. May the fire of love and understanding warm what’s left of this winter for all of us!

Who Is Helping You?

Widowhood is a tough business. It arrives uninvited with many challenges. And it brings life-changing grief with it. Grief that affects almost every aspect of your life . Without help you can drown in the sorrow.

Many of you have participated in one of my A Widows Tale retreats. Now, I’m offering an online version of this program called Navigating Loss.

This proven program provides a new audio course and lesson worksheets every week for six weeks. And you can interact with other women who are rebuilding after loss in our new private Facebook group. (If you’ve already done a live event retreat with me, you’ll be invited to join this group!)

You can learn more about the program by watching this video.

If you’re wanting to review what you’ve learned at a live event, this is a perfect way to do that. You can order it here for only $149.

Frozen?

I woke today to a world encased in ice. A glassy vision held stunningly still by the frozen air. The beauty of it took my breath away, as did the treachery I watched as the dogs slipped and stumbled in the undertaking of their morning constitutional.

For a moment I wondered if my heart had brought this upon the earth. If nature had somehow created a mirror image for the numbness that has all but rendered me useless for the last several months.

I watched a small bird fight to free its feathers and understood its agony explicitly. Frozen is a dreadful state to be in. When one gray moment blends into the next it’s hard not to feel hopelessly suspended. I’ve been up against something larger than my will.

The icy suspension brought metaphor, too: The tens of thousands who can’t pay a house note on frozen wages and the freezing of our personal freedoms in the name of safety. Environmental salvation so hard won disappearing into thin, cold air. Children ripped from the arms of parents and teachers with icy zeal in a Nazi-style round up. Yes, perhaps I am not the only one who feels a cold grip upon the very nature of my soul.

Just as it all becomes unbearable, the air outside warms and the stillness gives way to melting water that falls like rain. The ice loses its grip on limb and roof and chunks of it crash to the ground. I close my eyes and pray for a warmth like this to come and free our frozen hearts.

If you want love and support during your grief journey, check out the Widows Recovery System. A new group begins on January 15.

Who Is Loving You Through It?

As this new year begins, open yourself to the possibility that this year can be a sweeter, stronger, happier year for you. There are so many ways to pull in positive energy, so many ways to contemplate what you would love to have in your life and then to begin to make those dreams into reality. A reality that fits you like a glove.

In that magnificent mind of yours, in the realm of deepest thought, your imagination sits waiting to help you. But there’s a  secret to accomplishing things with imaginative thinking.

Just like a lamp will not light up a dark room unless you plug it into a source of electricity and flip the switch, your imagination cannot help you access and feed it with your energy. If you’re feeling uninspired or stuck, it may be that your imagination is starved for attention. Have you given it permission to plug in and light up your life?

I have led imaginative thinking retreats and workshops for over twenty years.  In the Widows Recovery System you will learn how to access your imaginative thought and put this internal power source to work in your life. So that 2019 will be a sweeter, stronger, and happier for you!

A new Widows Recovery System program begins January 15. For only $495 you’ll receive fourteen weeks of ongoing and insightful support.

Reserve your space today and start building a happier you next week!

Never Travel Without a Toothbrush

Have you ever taken a trip, arrived at your destination, put on your jammies, gone to brush your teeth, and realized you don’t have a toothbrush?  Not fun. You spend at least one night feeling kind of scummy. Not fun at all. Then there’s the morning breath, the one where you have to smile at people and wonder if there’s moss growing on your incisors and if it shows.

Much better to have a planned out travel kit. I keep one in my suitcase.  Because I’ve been on too many trips without a toothbrush and i don’t like feeling scummy inside.

Life is a lot like a travel kit. It’s good to know you have a toothbrush and shampoo no matter where you land.

Working through widowhood is a lot like taking a trip. A long trip. And it too often feels like we’re traveling without a toothbrush or shampoo. It can make you feel scummy inside.

Well, there’s a few ways you can pack a travel kit for widowhood. One is to lean on supportive friends. Not the ones who tell you what to do (because unless they’ve been through it, how the hell would they know?) but the ones who support YOU through it.

Bereavement counseling is a lot like using shampoo. It gets the top layer of old hairspray off.

And then there’s the ongoing work of rebuilding your life. Looking gently at all the loss of hopes and dreams their death brought to YOUR life. Finding healthy ways to support new growth in your own life. Maybe even think of loving another again.

If you’re looking for a travel kit for this journey, consider the Widows Recovery System with Group Support. A new Recovery System group begins on January 15.

You’ll receive 13 weeks of support with 7 audio courses and 6 sacred support group calls, along with a downloadable workbook that lets you try on the new ideas you’ll be learning about.

This group program is only $495.

It starts Jan. 15. So if you’re ready to move ahead on your journey, register now.

What’s New for the New Year?

Life has portals we pass through. Birth is one, as are birthdays. The beginning of a new year and obviously death as the final one. What we do in between our birth and our death matters. Our lives are sacred times and we should remember that they have good purpose.

I find that it’s really helpful to acknowledge life-portals and I also find that it’s really helpful to be intentional about how you pass through them. So for instance, when the new year rolls around and or when my birthday rolls around, I spend some time at the portal instead of leaping across into new territory without a toothbrush. In each case, I like to reflect on my previous year with journal writing and meditation (usually in the reverse order) and then set some gentle intentions for the year to come. Over the years, I found this to be a personally powerful and rewarding process.

Now, intentions are different than goals or resolutions. Goals are concrete, left brain stuff. They have their place, but portals aren’t good places to put goals. It’s too likely they’ll get run over when real life comes running by, like those parking barricades you see in grocery store parking lots – the ones with all the chips dug out of them by distracted drivers.

Resolutions on the other hand always make me feel like a naughty child, “You MUST lose 5 pounds by February 1!”  “You will work out 3 days a week in 2019!” When I speak to myself that way, my psyche rebels and it’s usually not pretty what happens next. I have a very stubborn inner child – how about you?

When I’m at a life-portal, I don’t want to get run over and I don’t want to be treated like a child. Instead, I want to gaze gently at the past and even more gently at the future. So I focus on what I would love to have in the coming year.

Instead of goals or resolutions, I spin dreams, but I do so with intention!  Then as the year unfolds, I return to my intentions for these dreams and look for the intersections that always “magically” appear. And from these intentions comes my life for that year.

If you’re ready to gaze at your life with intention, I have something you might want to consider. It’s a new version of the Widows Recovery System, one that’s designed to help your budget while giving you great tools for moving through loss and rebuilding new life. It’s a 13-week program of excellent audio courses, along with a downloadable workbook with helpful lessons for each week that let you try on the new ideas you’re learning. The only difference is that you’ll participate in group calls with me instead of private, one-on-one conversations.

At $495 it’s very affordable because I don’t want money to stand in between you and what you need. A new group starts on January 15th and runs for 13 weeks. But, each group has a limit of 10 participants so if you’re interested, register now!

Pick One

Alright. We all know Christmas can be rough. Here are four survival strategies widows I have worked with. Pick one.

Hide out under the covers all day.
Book a 3-day cruise that leaves the day before.
Make reservations at Cracker Barrel and have the waitress give the check to your brother-in-law.
Spend the holiday with a bottle of Chardonnay

Well? Which one did you pick? I should have used number 3 but caved and went to the family party without a plan. Big mistake. BIG mistake. Everybody’s having a normal holiday but you.

You’re going to want a real plan, a set of ideas and strategies that let you remain calm and celebrate in ways that are meaningful to you. To your own self be true” is never going to be truer than now, at Christmas, as a newly solo woman.

The good news is that it’s not that hard to make a plan. Pick something now that will make you feel good. When you actualize new ideas for yourself, you begin to build new pathways around your sorrowful thoughts. (It’s true, it’s neuroscience. I don’t make this stuff up!)

Here are some ideas: Play Surprise Santa, go see a Christmas movie, buy a new Christmas CD and do a deep breathing meditation while you listen, invite someone else who is alone over for a drink and appetizers (or maybe dinner or lunch).

And if you want loving support, it’s here for you. Your first call is free. Email me and let’s talk about how I can help you feel better and move forward into joy.

A Season of Waiting

I’ll never forget the Christmas before my son was born. I was about 8 months pregnant and very ready to have my body back. I lumbered around like a bumble-bee and hadn’t seen my feet in months. (My son was breech and the size of a three- month-old, but I didn’t know that at the time.) What I did know was that I wasn’t in charge of my body anymore and to make matters worse, I was on an emotional roller-coaster. It had turned unseasonably cold in the Delta as Christmas drew near and none of my coats fit. My maternity clothes were stretched tight and I couldn’t even tie my own shoes, there was too much baby in the way! Some days I was ready to perform my own delivery and other days I was terrified about the whole idea of giving birth. It was a dreadfully uncomfortable time of waiting for the unknown. I was excited and scared all at the same time.

My first few Christmases as a widow were like that, too. The familiar rituals of the holidays no longer seemed appropriate without my husband and nothing seemed to fit me. I was suspended in a quiet interior space where other people seemed very distant, even when we were in the same room. Sometimes their words seemed slurred or made no sense. My brain couldn’t fully process what had just happened. Carols made me cry. I either had no appetite or ate every cookie and chip in the house. Memories swirled like crazy visions in a carnival mirror. I was trapped in a house of horrors built for one – waiting in the dark for hope to arrive.

I was busy with the real work of widowhood. I was busy giving birth to a new relationship: the one I was forging with myself. It was exciting and scary, all at the same time. I was rediscovering parts of me I had forgotten and making cautious friends with the new wisdom I acquired from death. Just like childbirth, this birthing was both bloody and beautiful. It was filled with pain and joy, all at the same time. With the Holy Spirit as a mid-wife, I gave birth to a new me.

If there’s one thing widows don’t have, it’s delusions about human invincibility. Life forces us to be brave new creatures. We emerge scarred and tested, wise and loving, empathetic and forbearing. Death forces us to confront the last human frontier: our true relationship to ourselves and to God. We are forced onto our knees as we wait in the darkness. From this prayerful position we are able to see by the light of the Christmas star just how God’s hope is given to a weary world. From deep within the darkness, we get it. We finally get it. Life is always being reborn.

So as this Christmas season unfolds, I wish for you the joy of inner rebirth. I wish for you peace within your own heart and memories as sweet as a sugar cookie.

If you’re looking for loving support to renew your life, please consider working one-on-one with me in the Widows Recovery System. Your first call is free. So email me and let’s talk!