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!

Sitting in Silence

I woke to what I thought was the sound of a black bear cleaning out my garbage can but when I pulled back the drapes in my bedroom to take a look, what I saw took my breath away. ­­­­Snow had fallen overnight and already there was an accumulation of several inches. It was one of those beautiful snows that coats every leaf, branch and wire in dazzling white and transforms cars and roadways into mere accessories in a Mother Nature painting.

No one expected this storm. Least of all the National Weather Service that first predicted a 40% chance of precipitation and then changed their forecast to less than an inch of accumulation (probably after some forecaster took a smoke break and realized it was already snowing outside). By the time it ended, we had 9 and ½ inches.

The bank closed early and the grocery was a mob scene of people buying milk, bread, sleds, and propane. The storm caught everyone off guard and threw most of us into survival mode. Some people really enjoy survival mode. They’re the ones who show up at the grocery with a loaded pistol in the front seat in case some mother of six gets to the milk before they do.

As for me, I needed this snow. My to-do list was longer than my arm and I only had two out of the twenty odd presents I plan to give for Christmas wrapped and under the tree. I was in a near panic over the things left undone. What is it about the holidays that makes time seem so short and the life requirements greater than usual. No wonder some people just take a two week cruise. The frenzy is unbelievable.

This unexpected snowstorm gave us all permission to STOP. It kept us from doing much of anything or going anywhere. All the activities were cancelled, no one could make it out anyway. As the snow collected on top of the fence and rose to 4, 5, 6, 8 and then 9 inches I plugged in my Christmas tree and just sat still. The world had grown so quiet that I could hear the gentle rise and fall of my little dog Pip’s breath as he snuggled beside me. (He gave up on going anywhere when the snow drifts were taller than he was).

A holy silence fell upon us all just when we needed it the most.

Reflecting on all this by the warmth of a fire, I have come to think that God’s message that arrived all wrapped in white is this: I don’t need you to do anything, I just want you to be still and lay your heart against mine. Your heart, beating against mine, is the reason for the season sweet child of mine.

If you are looking for loving support, ideas, and resources to rebuild your life now and through the New Year, you need the Widows Recovery System. A one-on-one program that walks alongside you as you recover from this loss.  Your first call is free. Email me for that today!

Feeling Left Out of the Holidays?

Have you experienced any of these feelings recently?

A deep feeling of sadness as signs of the holiday season arrives.
Confusion about what day it is.
A numbness in your spirit.
Difficulty concentrating.

If you’ve had one or more than one of these, join the club. The rest of the world is filled with lights and color while you feel like you’re stuck on the other side of a frozen lake. A “Blue Christmas” is what some people call it. I call it really rough.

The things that used to bring you joy might not this year. Do you ever wonder why? It’s because nothing is the same now. Your whole world has been turned upside down and you’re still trying to right yourself. Your work now is to define a new normal because that old one, the one with him in it, is gone forever.

So you have a choice here. You can embrace the change in front of you or you can ignore it, and hope it goes away. It won’t. I say that because I tried it. It didn’t work too well. Facing the change head on, however, was very freeing and gave me renewed energy for the holiday plan I needed to make so I could not only survive the season but enjoy some of it!

So, do me a big favor right now.  Take a deep breath and try to think of one thing you’ve always wanted to do at the holidays. Maybe it’s go see “A Christmas Carol” or “The Nutcracker.” Maybe you’ve wanted to  volunteer at a homeless shelter on Christmas eve or give Christmas canes to people as they leave church. Or play Secret Santa to a child in need.

When you actualize one of these things that you’ve thought about doing but never have, you’ll create a new pathway in your brain. It’s true. And you’ll reward yourself with a little dopamine and a new way to feel happy.

If you want loving support to get through the holidays and into the New Year that is waiting for you to claim it, the Widows Recovery System is waiting to help you.