Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflections


This has been a year of laughter, tears, service, heart, soul, friendship, delight, confusion, and many blessings.  This is the year that I can stand here whole again after six years of widowhood.  Healed?  No.  Done?  No.  Like I was Before?  Never!!  Transformed?  To my very core.

The photo is the tree I decorated for Christmas - it seems fitting to have this be the primary photo in this post as it signifies the green and growing nature of my life and spirit right now. 

What do I know?  I know that I am a strong and resilient soul who is loyal and steadfast to those values and people that are important to me.  I know that I like the person that has emerged from this grief journey.  I know that I am strong in the broken places.  I know that I can stand alone and create a beautiful life each day.  I know that I am a good and loving companion to the right man should he come along.  I know that I am grateful for the companionship of the man that is currently in my life - he needed a place to come for awhile and I needed to open my heart again and see how I have changed.

One of my intentions for 2010 was to "Practice Self-Compassion" - a difficult thing to do.  Most of us are so good at being compassionate towards others and suck at doing the same for ourselves.  I made strides forward this year.  Have I learned to do this now?   Nope - but I am getting better and better.  Treating myself well - forgiving myself - embracing my own humanity - celebrating my accomplishments - being a well-loved, self-contained woman, filled with gratitude for all that spirit has brought to my life - those are the things that I am learning and practicing and relearning and practicing and getting better and better at doing.   It has brought such balance to my life.   This photo is the mantra that I taped to my bathroom mirror this year - it has helped to moderate my "inner critic" voice - I sing it sometimes :-)  and it is true.  Here it is:  "WHOLE, CAPABLE,  RESOURCEFUL, CREATIVE, RESILIENT."

I am grateful for my work and can say with a whole heart that my work has made a lasting difference to many.  I am grateful for Jonathan, my dearest brother and business partner, we stand united in our deepest values while preparing ourselves for the uncertain future - remaining committed to doing this work together.  

I am blessed that my BFF and a day - Joan - who my long-time readers will recognize as "J" - has moved to Minnesota and now lives 2 miles from me.  A long-held dream for both of us.   The last time we lived this close was 1979-1980, when we shared an apartment in California with our two boys.   Many new things will come to fruition in 2011 for us both!! 

I have continued to keep my commitment to fitness by faithfully seeing my personal trainer, Suzy Levi, for functional fitness and Pilates training.   I am now in my third year of weekly sessions with Suzy and am stronger, have better balance, and know that exercise and movement are the keys to active aging and good health.  In addition to the physical fitness side of things - Suzy and I have developed a treasured relationship - fitness is about more than the physical side of things.

Another of my intentions this year was to "do push-ups at least five days a week" and for the most part I have done that  - I can now do a set of 50 push ups!!  - that 's right - FIFTY.   When I first began to see Suzy in 2007, one of things I wanted to do (but didn't think I could) was push ups.  She just smiled and said, "oh you will, that's just the beginning."  She was right about that.

"Supporting those in Grief and Life Transitions" has been an ongoing intention the past three years.  I have continued to be present to and part of the grief journey of many widowed who (unfortunately) have followed me on the widowed road.   This next year holds a renewal of "The Grief Project" - the dream I have held in my heart the past five years will finally become a reality.  Much more to come about this new endeavor of hope and love.

I met a man this year who has been a wonderful companion.  He also has walked his own widowed road and so we share a very deep understanding of loss and renewal.  We have laughed and loved, and done many simple everyday kinds of things together.  He is a simple yet complex man and while I feel deeply for him in my heart - I think this is a just for now and a blessed time for both of us.  We needed this and are enjoying it as the old year comes to a close a new year begins. 

This year has been busy = has been revelatory = has been fun and filled with good work and laughter.  There are some changes to come - that's life - there is so much to look forward to.

While I have not been very faithful in posting to this blog the last few months - doesn't mean it is not important to me.  It has brought some of the most wonderful people into my life.  I appreciate and love each of you.  I hope the new year holds all comfort, joy, blessings and love for each of you.  There is much more to come........................

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Whoa - it's been too long ------

I have not posted since the day before Thanksgiving - much too long.  One reason:  I was on vacation for two weeks.  I did not "go away" for vacation - I stayed right here at home.  I nursed my cold, baked cookies, played with the animals (Miss Kitty the resident feline and Foxy the doggie visitor that I love).  I read books, cleaned a few closets, made a couple of gallons of chicken soup and celebrated Hanukkah. 

Just as I was healing from my cold, complete with chills, runny nose, cough and general malaise - the guy fell ill.  Ratz!  We have been taking it easy.  Lots of juice, soup, and naps.  Finally feeling better and hoping that this is the only cold we each have this year.   We can put that stuff behind us.  

Don't know if you have heard:  Minnesota is in the midst of a blizzard.  It is the largest snowfall I have experienced since I arrived in 1988.   Something like 1-2 inches snowfall per hour; tiny grains of snow that don't let up. 

We have had a wonderful day today.  The guy and I shoveled and walked and talked and shoveled and walked outside again in over the knee deep snow, came inside and drank hot coffee with Bailey's and then walked outside some more.  Both of us are hyperactive kids - that's for sure.  This photo is looking out my front door.  It has snowed for at least 5 additional hours since this was taken.



It began snowing on Friday night sometime after 11 pm.  The amount of snow is astounding - I think we are at 16 plus inches and it is still snowing tonight (Saturday) at nearly 10 pm.   When you live in Minnesota - you get to live in winter - cold, snow, ice, real winter.  One amazing bonus you get once in a great while is this blizzard - a chance to have everything just stop.   The silence of winter, wrapped in white. 

Sorry that I have been so silent - I am ready to return to more regular posting - so many interesting things happening in my life.  After so much sorrow - after the after - I am blessed and filled with joy.  If you are in the path of this winter storm - stay home sta7 warm.  Light and love flows out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude

I am so incredibly grateful for all my blessings.  For the past 22 months I have worked as an interim leader in a battered women's shelter, a family homeless shelter and a food bank.  
 
The work is very sobering and also a blessing.  To be part of making a difference in the lives of others is a privilege.  That we have so many hungry, homeless, desperate women, men and children in this country is a scandal. 

As Thanksgiving approaches I can only fall to my knees in gratitude for my life.  I have food, shelter, personal safety, friends, family by blood and precious family of choice.  I have walked the widow road and stand here - whole, capable, resourceful, resilient and alive.  I have opened my heart again and have a new man friend that I respect and care for.  My life is filled with laughter and companionship.  

I have an amazing group of friends that I have never met but am connected at the heart right here on these blogs that we lovingly keep.  I am filled with gratitude for the support, the care and concern, the guidance and the love each of you have given to me over the last five years that I have written here.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Blessings abound.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved. 
I am not sure that you are of the same mind, but the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. 
This is the world of light and speech, and I
shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear. 
                                - George Eliot

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wordless

Decisions....

We all are called upon to make decisions - every kind of decision - some very easy (do you want fries with that?) and some more difficult (do you want to remove your unconscious husband's respirator?).

Six years ago I was called upon to make that decision.  To literally have another's life in your hands is frightening beyond words.  What a terrible dilemma  - never mind that we had discussed this and agreed that we would never let the other be incapacitated to that degree.  

Never mind that Tom's right brain was destroyed - it was blank on the MRI.  The neurologist said she didn't think he could wake up because of the extensive new damage coupled with the damage on the other side of his brain from two previous strokes.  Never mind that the Doc felt that even if he awoke he probably would be deaf, blind, have limited, if any, higher functioning.  Never mind that Tom was already frustrated by the deficits caused by earlier CVAs.  Never mind, never mind, never mind.

I looked at those MRI's many times over a day and a half - with my dear sister Lisa and then with my dear sister Joan - guided by the neurologist, a no-nonsense chinese-american woman.   She returned to show the MRI when I needed to see it; each time she patiently described what I was seeing on the image.

Even though I knew what Tom wanted - how gut wrenching to finally say, "do it" - I stood by the bed while they took the breathing tube out of his throat - holding his feet with one hand and clasping Joan's hand with the other. 

It was the right thing to do; the fulfillment of a sacred commitment and promise - I hope that I am never called upon to make that decision again. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Journal

I have been keeping journals since I was 18 years old and before that it was diaries and the like.  I have a journal that I faithfully kept (and wrote in nearly everyday) for the first six months of my widowhood.

Writing in it was one of the only things that kept my sanity - as much sanity as one can have at that point.  I tuck that journal away and bring it out once a year - this is that time of year.  I have only read it four times now,  this year is the fifth time.  There is so much pain on those pages that it sometimes has almost scorched the skin off my face and yet, it is a chronicle of faith and pain and love and life after death. 
Tonight (or to be more exact, this morning - since I cannot sleep - it is now November 11th) I began to read it again.  Here is an entry from that journal - the photo above was taken on the day this was written.  A frigid day at Fort Snelling - I can still hear the sound of my heart pounding as I walked against the wind - uphill to that place for the first time - hand in hand with my dearest sister and friend.....

December 11, 2004 - 4:20 pm

Hello My Darling, 

Today I went to see your grave for the first time - Lisa took me and the beautiful grave blanket that I had made - it is covering your memorial spot right now -------> and now I know for sure, for real:  you are no longer in your body.  
Your headstone says, "Our Strength and Our Guide" - You were just that you know.  The past few years have been ------------>

Oh, I am so fortunate to have had you with me these past few years - they were years of challenge, of love, of laughter, of sorrow, of (stroke-induced) deficits, of joy, of courage, of our marriage.

I know how tired you were sweetheart.  You of the beautiful smile.  

I cooked Latkes last night - it was the fourth night of Hanukkah - Susan and Bonnie came to eat with me. When I opened the cupboard to get the food processor I realized that "my tall guy" just isn't here anymore - I guess I need a kitchen with shorter cupboards.

Today when I stood at your headstone - oh my god - wanted to lie down on that grave blanket and never get up = out there on that cold and lonely field - I wanted to lie there like I could hug you forever - lay down with you for eternity.  
The last few nights I have laid in bed and I memorize your body - your sturdy calves, your tiny butt, your strong chest to lie my head upon, your sensitive fingers, your long, elegant feet.  Those feet that I kissed after you passed.

Remember how frustrated you were that it was difficult to cut your toenails in the aftermath of the stroke and how I would cut them for you?  How I would say - "when we are both old, you will cut mine too - we will cut each others' nails."  And you would smile.

I remember the mole on your forearm that made me nervous.  Your craggy face that showed your character, your life, your compassion, your intellect,  your wit, your love.  Your easy smile - you who were so quick to smile - a genuine smile.  Your 36 inch waist that you were proud of - a 6 foot 3-1/2 inch tall guy who would never have a "gut" - you were adamant on that point.  

You had such a built-in sense of responsibility. You held yourself accountable to those values and those things that were important to you.  We had shared values - we saved and we loved.  You loved me to the bottom of your heart and that is about the only thing that can keep me grounded at all right now.  

Remembering your physical being - your strong thighs - your ears (I cut the little hairs that grew there) - your smile, your great booming laugh, how you laughed.  Oh how I loved having a tall husband.  Remember when I would watch my weight and lose a few pounds - when we would hug you would pick me up, swing me around, hug me tight and say, "wow, I really feel it!"  
Right now, I am sitting on the kitchen stool and right behind me is our "big hug place."  It will forever be a place in this house that I cherish.  It is also our dancing in the kitchen spot - filled with so many memories.  Standing on my tip toes to be engulfed in your arms and say, "it's so nice to have a tall husband" and you would smile that big loving smile. 

I feel your arms around me and surround me - oh if it could only be so.  I miss you so dreadfully, my heart is broken in tiny pieces, my life seems pointless, I love you forever and a day.  Suzann

 Here I am nearly six years later - in a new life that I have hand-forged from sorrow and the desolate wasteland of widowhood.  I am happy.  I have a satisfying life - good work, wonderful friends, family of blood and choice, and dreams for the future.  And yet, tonight I say, I will love you for forever and a day and never as long I am breathing on this planet will November ever come without remembering this man that gave me so much, who taught me so much and who loved me unconditionally until his own last breath.  I am a fortunate woman and I celebrate the life of Tom Murray - Namaste.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The November Vigil Begins.......

Soon it will be six years since you left me here on this earth.

November 11th - I arrive home to find you on the floor mortally wounded from another stroke.

The days in the ICU - the three-day journey with only one inevitable destination.

The music, the flag being given to me,

the gatherings of people who loved you so - everything a swirl of disjointed images.

These are the days of remembrance - now it comes again - the flood of feelings,

tears and laughter - loss and longing. 

Remembering the laughter, the fun, the friendship -  the unconditional love.

Remembering YOU.

The vigil is about to begin. 

The Invitation



It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

Friday, November 05, 2010

What I Know Tonight

I am grateful for my life  -- deeply grateful.  I am more blessed than words can ever express.  This man who has come galloping into my life is supposed to be here for a bit - right now - in this moment. 

I looked at him asleep just now and I know - I am loving it and learning from it.  Funny how things have a way of happening.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Just a Drive By

Yes, I have been fairly silent these days ---- I am about to complete my current interim leadership gig and then plan to take some well earned time off from the frenetic world of transition leadership.  November, December and January will be much quieter.  Time to reflect, write, work on Dendros projects that are calling my name and time to blog. 

Winter is on its way - what a lovely time for some quiet time.  More to come.....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meeting the Woman I Have Become


I am meeting my new self and I like her.  She was birthed along the twisted widowed road.  She can love again - she can give her heart.  She can live in the moment and when she gets ahead of herself - most times, she can come back to that centered place inside.  She can fling fear aside and step forward.  She can be here in the moment.  She can forgive herself and others.   I embrace her - she is the old me and more.  

This is not about love affairs.  Oh, I do adore this blue-eyed guy and his arrival has been a gift.   He has given me hugs, laughter, kisses and companionship.   Is there a little part of me that suspects he might be here for many seasons?  Yes - however, today is just fine.  And if that is not to be - so be it. My happiness is not dependent upon one person.

I have written much about the personal transformation brought about by my widowed journey.  How amazing it is to meet the new woman I have become and feel the transformation deep in my bones and in my spirit.

The next doors are opening - oh yes, my dear blog readers -  I am here. I am whole.  Strong, capable, creative, resilient.  I am meeting my new self.  I embrace this transformed woman - she is worth it.  Oh Sister Moon - Great Spirit - thank you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Laughter and Love

My life is abundant with blessings.  My work is bearing fruit.  My relationship with this blue-eyed guy is amazing.  There is laughter in my life.  There is love in my life.  There is companionship.   What a joy to do life's simple things and have a friend and lover to do them with - cooking a meal, raking the leaves, walking the dog, making the bed.  Simple everyday things that are so precious to share with someone else.

I have laughed more in the last three months than I have laughed in the previous five years - real laughter - the kind that makes your stomach hurt.  Real joy.  Real sharing.  Real caring.

This relationship is easy.  We have many, many shared values.  We both have walked the widowed road and know some very deep and dark truths.  We spend time together and time apart.  We laugh together and we have cried together.  There is respect.  There is affection - oh those kisses!  So one small step at a time - here on the other side of a very long road - my feet on a new path.   My heart filled with gratitude and with wonder at what is happening in my life.  Namaste.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Building Community

My very best friend for more than 40 years just moved from Jacksonville, Florida to St. Paul.  She and her husband have rented a really cool pad across the street from the Farmer's Market, 3 blocks from my office and 2.5 miles from my house. 

We met one another in the 1960's in San Francisco and then again in the mountains of New Mexico.  We have seen one another through so many things - births, deaths, and rebirth.  We have not lived close to one another since 1980 when we shared an apartment with our two boys - one then a teen and the other a toddler.   Here we are again - both boys all grown with children of their own.  It is a joy and a blessing that we will have this time together - this incredibly precious time. 

We are looking forward to long afternoons of soup making, bread baking, book reading, soul sharing.....you know, the things women sister-friends do so well.  Blessings abound.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Unconditional Love

Tom passed at 7:30 am on Sunday, November 14th.  Earlier that morning, I wrote in my journal - about gratitude, gratitude that we had our life and our love.  Tom was buried on Thursday, November 18th, they handed me the folded American flag sometime just after noon.    After midnight on his burial day,  and after countless drinks at his Irish Wake, which was filled with laughter, tears and lots of whiskey, I again wrote in my journal.  That night I wrote again about gratefulness - for our lives together - the precious celebration that we found and held fast to one another. 

This weekend I was standing outside with my sweetheart, who has walked his own widowed road, when I said that thing we widowed often say to one another - "the journey we didn't ask to take."  His immediate response, "oh yes, we knew when we married."  For a moment I was puzzled, thinking of strokes and cancer and care giving and standing helpless, standing witness to the end of the person you love so deeply.

We were standing shoulder to shoulder, hands clasped and he simply said, "of course, 'till death do us part."   The fulfillment of the vows - unconditional love - not a fairy tale - authentic love.

After nearly six years of widowhood - I am grateful to have this man burst into my life.  We both know that unconditional love - in all its messiness and all its humanness - is possible.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Breathing

Inhale
Exhale

Remind yourself
"Fear is a bio-chemical phenomenon"

Inhale
Exhale

Laugh
Laugh some more

Inhale
Exhale

Kiss
Kiss some more

Inhale
Inhale
Inhale

Step back
Remind yourself
"Fear is a bio-chemical phemonenon"

EXHALE
Step forward
Lead with your heart

Inhale
Exhale

Listen to the breathing next to you
In the dark

Reach over 
Engulfed in warmth

Inhale
Exhale

Remind yourself
"To hell with fear!"

Relax
Exhale

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Past is Approved - The Future is Open

Death is powerful. You do not know what it is like to live until you have experienced death first hand, up close and personal.  I may not be living in the past anymore but it still effects who I am today.

That is a quote from a widow I met on Facebook.   It is so true.   As the years have passed since Tom's death, I have often thought and wrote about this new life and how much it has changed since his passing.  If Tom walked in the door today - he would not recognize the house since it has been remodeled; he would not recognize the backyard since I put in the patio we were planning to add; what else would he not recognize?

The transformation after the death of your life partner profoundly smashes your world.  It shakes everything to its  core - you think, "death doesn't scare me, in fact it hurts so much death would feel better."  It makes you open your doors wide and welcome death in.  It brings you to your knees over and over again.  It shares its truths with you - life is short - those are not just words anymore.  

One thing I know after experiencing "death first hand, up close and personal" is that I can open my heart quite easily to those who need the hand, the heart, the silence, the support, the companionship during their own personal journey.  I also can more easily recognize those who are truly friends and those who are going through the motions.  I have no interest in sharing my heart or my life with those who are unable to give in return.

What else would Tom not recognize?  Would he recognize me?  The new me that has emerged from my personal fiery hell of grief and loss. Would he recognize this life I am living?

The answer is NO.  In the past:  that saddened me.  Today:  it doesn't matter.   There is only one thing I would trade from the lessons and transforming experiences of the grief journey and that is not going to happen.  I am not living in the past anymore - standing here in the present - continuing to live, grow, learn and love.  Thank you for being loving companions on my life's journey - Namaste.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Nine Nine Two Thousand Ten

Memories to cherish - the faces of family and friends as we pledged our vows to one another.  The vows we fulfilled - "in sickness and in health - til death do us part."  The laughter - the huge wheel of St. Andre Cheese with plump strawberries and fresh baked baguette.  The cake Lisa brought, "nonsense, you HAVE to have a cake" - a whirlwind confection of fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

The toasts - the fact that Lisa and Pat brought a video camera - the beautiful ivory roses in my bouquet, called Porcelana - and one long stemmed rose for each of my sister-friends.  The music - the love - the fulfillment of our deepest longing - to be a family.  And we were.

This morning, 15 years later - I hold those memories close for a few minutes and then release with open heart and gratitude.  Through years of sorrow are born new memories.  I believe there is much more to come.................

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Nine Nine Ninety-Five

Yes, tomorrow would have been my 15th wedding anniversary.  Death takes so much and life gives so much in return.  Even with the difference in our ages we hoped to have 20 years of married life - that was not to be. 

I will always love my darling - my husband - my Tom and yet, the last few years I have stepped into a new life.  The life I live is filled with joy, with promise and with many blessings. 

Happy Anniversary my Angel - watch over me.  

Monday, September 06, 2010

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Yes - that is how my life feels right now - from my professional life to the deepest recesses of my personal journey.  Laughter is abundant in my world today.

I wrote in this blog that sorrow stripped me bare and left me by the side of the road - abandoned by all I held dear.  During those years of scalding tears; those years of deep longing for that which would never return, I wondered if the laughter had died with you know who.  At some point, in the journey, I picked up my scarred and scattered bones - gently held together the gaping, ragged edges of grief-hewn wounds and slowly began to grow new muscle, sinew and skin - the softest skin imaginable now covers an indomitable spirit and the will to live and grow and celebrate each day that is left.

I took my passion and turned it into work.  I hand-forged a new life for one - me.  Slowly I began to find enjoyment.  I embraced my cherished friends and family of choice.  I took care of family and honored my duty to my mother.  I counted myself blessed to do the work I am called to do.  And thus, a new life slowly emerged and I began to embrace each new day.

And yet, there remained an empty reservoir - hidden deep inside.  It is a deeply personal place that feels best when filled with laughter, kisses, hugs, passionate embrace and long slow times of talking, walking, and sitting in companionable silence.  A strong and gentle blue-eyed man - with an amazing laugh, a tender touch, and a passionate soul has arrived in my life.  It has been the reawakening of the woman I thought was lost. Not lost but standing here - the woman who was transformed in the fiery cauldron of grief.

Laughter abounds in my life.  Passion surrounds me.   All I can say is Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Learning, Laughing, Growing

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
- Rumi 
                                                                                                 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Life After Death

For the past 5 years I have walked the widowed road - often that road was littered with my own broken dreams and the scorched earth of a life forever changed against my will. 

I have spent hours upon days in solitude weeping for what was lost.  I have spent months and days attempting to make meaning from the journey - the journey none of us ask to take.  I struggled to come to terms with being married in my heart and soul to a man who now was dead - and even as I came to terms with it, my arms still ached to hold him and my spirit longed to have him by my side.   Yes, the scorched earth and rutted path of the grief journey is filled with pain and sorrow and just when you get your breath, here comes more pain and sorrow.

Slowly I emerged - transformed in a million ways - deeply scarred in places known only to me.  November 14 will be six years since my husband passed and I stand here this morning: whole, capable, resourceful, resilient, creative.   I will always have a hole in my heart - there always will be times that I long to hold Tom, "just one more time" - I suspect that will not change until the hour of my own death.  

Here I stand this morning, my feet firmly planted on my path, knowing that the grief journey is never totally over and yet - I have just been given an incredible gift - the gift of an amazing new person in my life. 

A man who has walked his own scorched earth path of the widowed road.  A man who is funny - passionate, creative, authentic and much more that I will discover in time.   Here we are, the two of us  finding life after death - today I know there is much more to come, how much, I do not know - so we just take it a step at a time in this moment - the only one we really have anyway.  I am filled with gratitude and with bursting with joy.  Namaste.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alive and Loving It

Last night I was standing in the kitchen with my friend and said to him, "today I posted on my blog about you for the first time and I have a feeling it is going to make some widders I know very happy."  His reply, "there is only one widow I want to make happy."  I am speechless, breathless, pinching myself and trying to not let my fear get in the way.  The future is open, the adventure continues - I believe there is much more to come.....


"You can't wait for the storm to be over - you've got to learn to dance in the rain."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Amazement

A new person has come into my life - he is wonderful. He is widowed and ahead of me on the road - he is authentic, funny, smart and warm. I am blessed - I have a feeling that there is much more to come.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Dwindling

I have been silent these past two weeks or so. It is really hot and humid here in Minnesota - more so than usual for this time of year. I have finally wrapped up my work in the homeless shelter while the work in the food bank is popping all over the place. Mother is struggling and I am trying to have a life in the midst of it all. :)

Can someone please, please tell me what happened to my ability to upload photographs on blogger. The icon to upload is gone from the toolbar at the "new post" screen. Is there some new place to find the upload button? I have photos to share and it is frustrating not to be able to do so.

It is supposed to cool down here in the next couple of days and I think we are all looking forward to the relief this weekend. I will do my best to create a longer post soon - there are some neat things happening in my life - I am reaching out to connect with new people in new ways....very exciting. More to come.....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Blog Birthday

That's right - this morning I realized that June 21st was was the FIVE YEAR anniversary of starting this blog. Wow! I started it to pour out my grief and sorrow. I began writing here to prevent myself from going absolutely insane. I never dreamed it would take me to so many places and introduce me to people from all over the world. People who I have come to know and love so much. So Happy Birthday Blog and thank you to each of you for your friendship and support.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Still on the Planet

This has been an incredible month. I started a new leadership transition on July 9th and am still winding down the last transition in the family homeless shelter AND my mother is taking incredible amounts of my time. My new gig is about feeding hungry people - a mission that is dear to my heart. To make things more complicated, the food bank is a 28 mile commute (each way) from my home. I am not complaining but it is challenging right now.

One thing I have managed to do is to begin my summer food preserving - last weekend I put up 7.5 quarts of garlic, kosher dill pickles - yummy!! I have a few more cukes and I think sandwich pickle chips are in my future before the end of the week. I wanted to upload photos of my pickles but blogger is being stubborn right now. Maybe later.

Really exciting news: my bestest friend for over 40 years, J and her husband S are moving here from Florida in September. Hooray - we have wanted to do this for so long. The last time we lived close together was many, many, many years ago in Northern California. They plan to try out Minnesota for a year and see what comes next. I am excited and feel very blessed.

I will try to blog more often - even though I am not writing, I am reading everyone on my feed - trying to keep up with all your activities this summer. Take care.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sadness

I have just returned from my second trip in a month to California to help my mother move into a new house. It was a really sobering experience. I accomplished my goal, she is moved and totally settled in her new home. That is a good thing.

The hard fact is that she is either entering the terrifying slide into dementia or she is becoming so forgetful that soon she will be unable to function on her own without more supports of daily living.

She has big mood swings. One minute loving and the next saying some pretty ugly things to me. She cannot remember what day it is and asks repeatedly, "what day is it? what date is it? what time is it?". She forgets to eat. She is unsteady on her feet and of course, she is legally blind. I am hoping nothing happens and that she can stay in this new house for the next year or so - we shall see.

Today, I am physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually spent. I am working from home to catch up and get back in touch with my clients and prepared to work hard the rest of this week.

I have accepted another transition client - I know I said there was a break at the end of the interim leadership in this homeless shelter but it feels like I am supposed to go to this next leadership assignment. Their mission is to feed hungry people - who can argue with that. They are a large organization and they have hired a search firm to assist in hiring the new Executive Director. That pretty much guarantees this to be a short-term, 100 day assignment. So, with the end in sight - tomorrow I meet with the Board Vice President to work out the contract details and Friday I will go to the organization to meet the Executive Team.

My work in the family homeless shelter ends on July 31 so for the balance of this month I will be juggling a great many balls. My new plan - take a good chunk of time off to enjoy the Autumn and early winter.

I know I will have to return to California more often. That is fine. Unfortunately that means I cannot do much of the other travel I have been hankering for - like going to visit my grandchildren in Philadelphia or just taking a trip for myself to have a vacation. I am not complaining - just longing for some time to myself to see and/or do some new things. Such is Life.

It is wonderful to be home. Home, in my own little house. Yes, I am sad to see my mother on this path - yes, I am glad to be home and to reflect on all my blessings. With deepest gratitude to be here on the Planet. Namaste.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quite by Accident

I had such a fun day yesterday. I began my day with a rigorous workout with my trainer. Then I went shopping for the perfect cheese, plump strawberries, the perfect wine and a great loaf of bread. After shopping, time for a late and tasty lunch at Barrio in St. Paul with my dearest friend and Evil Twin, Lisa.  I drank my first mojito - OK, my first two mojitos - but after all it was a 3 hour lunch.  And, the mojto was fresh blackberry - oh my goodness!!

In the early evening I had a fabulous conversation - with a wine toast - with my oldest friend, J. And then, I had another wonderful wine toast and long phone talk with my sister Missy. Dinner? Yes, pristine seared tuna crusted with black and white sesame seeds. The wine - Mer Soleil - a beautiful barrel aged 2006 Chardonnay.

Today, I have been enjoying a quiet and reflective day.  I have watched a couple of movies, talked to friends on the phone, spent time petting Miss Kitty and thinking. As I was looking at things on my computer I came across the following document that I wrote November 16, 2002, Tom died 2 years and 2 days later. It was written for a friend that had suffered a stroke and was struggling. Interesting to read it today.

Here is the piece I found today ---- To Marvin:

"Our family knows first hand the mighty path one is called upon to walk in the aftermath of a stroke.

It has been 26 months since Tom’s stroke. When he was released from rehab and we began the next phase of recovery, Tom could not speak intelligibly, could not drive, be alone in the house, use kitchen appliances, read a book or a newspaper, listen to music, watch television, or perform most of the large and small tasks of daily living.

The mundane tasks of life became major undertakings – dressing might take an hour. For many months, depression and wanting to sleep a great deal were the norm.  Tom did not remember my name for nearly a year. “Honey” was good enough for me. In fact, “good enough” became our mantra.

In August 2001, the medical professionals released him from therapy and told us, 'Recovery is over'. Tom was not even driving. It felt as though our life was over. It was. The old life was over. What we could not see at that moment was a new life emerging.

A stroke changes everything. For us, the new life challenged us to be persistent and find satisfaction in the smallest achievements; to examine what was most important in our lives and to rejoice in the comfort of daily life together. It also called upon us to exercise a patience that neither of us knew we possessed.

It is true that Tom will always have brain damage from that traumatic incident. That is a tragedy – one that will not change. Is he frustrated? Yes. Did he let it stop him? No.

Tom was always an impatient person. In the aftermath of the stroke, he has found a deep sense of patience and joy in the small but important endeavors of life. He works in the garden, polishes his Porsche (yes, he is driving again). He reads – a great strength of his and one he was not robbed of in the stroke.

He tells me fifty times a day that I am beautiful – and that he loves me. When he gets frustrated or begins to be angry – he stops himself, shrugs and says, “It’s not worth it,” – life is too short and he knows that stress could bring on another CVA. The old Tom could not (would not) have controlled his annoyance, impatience and frustrations in that way.

For me, the stroke put my life in sharp focus. What once was vitally important seems now to be merely a portion of the greater whole of my life. Some things that seemed vitally important have little significance today. I quit my job; opened a home-based consulting practice and I gave myself permission to grieve (instead of filling my time with “busyness” so I would not have to think about it). I take time everyday to be alone and to reach out to others.

I am grateful to have Tom still by my side. The stroke forced me to examine my values and take steps to live them in my daily life

It has been a long journey, one that will never be over. Remember those expert opinions about Tom’s recovery being at an end? He continues to make strides forward. Some steps are miniscule; others are huge. We celebrate them all.

Do I wish the stroke had never happened? Would I trade the lessons learned? Do I pray for Tom’s brain to be completely healed? Absolutely. That doesn't mean the lessons are without value.

In the first year after the stroke, I never could have imagined that life could or would change so much or that we ever would be happy again. But we are. In many ways, we love one another more than the day it happened.

A social worker at the rehab hospital said, “You know why it is called a stroke; because in one instant, your life is changed forever.” How true. Yet in the aftermath of life’s sudden destruction, you still have choices. You can choose to wallow in self-pity or choose to live your life in new ways.  What we know for sure is the most important things we have are our relationships with others and living our lives in ways that make meaning for us – with our values rooted firmly in the center."

I am blessed today and everyday. Thank you for being companions on my life's journey.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the Eve of a Birthday

This has been a really quiet blog month for me.  I returned from California on June 11 and was immediately immersed in work and continuing to help my mother.  The time has come for me to provide additional support to her by having someone else pay the bills.  This was a hard thing to do but needed.  She has agreed and is by turns:  relieved, sad and a bit angry.  I understand,  as much as I can from my seat in life's stadium.

I am on my way back to California on Tuesday to help with the actual move and get her settled in her new home.

Tomorrow is my birthday - this time of year is always a time of reflection and taking stock.  It is sobering to watch the decline of one's parent.  She is in her mid-eighties and has been incredibly healthy and active for most of her life but still, this is the beginning of new stage.  Between aging and reality of death - that I know well - it has me thinking about what I want to do.....right now, I am doing it.  But, what about next year?  What about 5 years?  This year I have been practicing mindfulness - doing meditation and trying to live in the moment.  One can live in the moment all you want - the question is still out there - what shall I create next in my life.  If I am no longer on the planet - so be it - if I am, I want to be doing those things that bring me joy and completion.

For today, I am exactly where I am meant to be.  Right here and filled with gratitude for all my blessings.  Om Shanti.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Napa Valley

Yes, I am home with my mother - the house is sold.  For the past four days I have been busy packing and taking things apart.  It is really difficult.  She bought a new place - probably the last thing she needs to do right now but it is her decision.  There is so much to tell about this story - I have not had internet access for the past four days and now am online again - hooray.  There is much to reflect on this time right now and more than I can say.   There is much more to come......................

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day

In honor of those who have served our country.  In memory of and deep gratitude for those who have paid the supreme price and died while serving in the Armed Forces.   Holding those close who grieve the loss of their loved ones who have perished while in uniform.  Namaste.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Be Content

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.                       
 
                                                 ~Lao Tzu

Summer is on the Way

I have been really scarce here for the last couple of weeks.  So much is happening I don't know where to start.  First - I finally got the tomatoes and herbs and eggplant and flowers planted!!  I worked for five hours nonstop in the garden today and I feel really good.  I have dreams of tomatoes and basil with my homemade fresh mozzarella - yum! 

I planted four different varieties of tomatoes - yellow pear, brandywine (a really big heirloom), opalla (an heirloom paste), and aussie (a early, medium-sized heirloom).  I also planted a currant bush and rhubarb!  The picture at the left is in the front of my house.  Those of you who have been visiting here for awhile might remember pictures of the front of the house with bountiful pots of foliage and flowers.  Last Fall I had the gravel mulch removed and had it dug out and replaced with rich compost and garden soil.  Now I can grow food there - how fun!  I still haven't decided what to plant for the border - maybe more basil.  You can't have enough basil!

I am still growing in pots - I have lots of chives, more tomatoes, tons of other herbs of every description, flowers and there is more to come.   I get such enjoyment out of digging in the dirt and watching things grow. 

The big news is my Mother sold the house in Yountville!  This a huge life-transition.  The is much too big for her plus the two-stories are really not practical for a woman in her 80's who is legally blind.  She has lived in the house for a long time - we have our work cut out for us.

Of course, I am on my way to California to help find her a place to live (she wants to buy something - her choice, not a great idea from my perspective - nonetheless - I will honor her wishes).  I need to help pack her things; I need to help her decide what will go to the new place and what we will do with all the stuff that will not fit as she downsizes.  I will be leaving the beginning of June and will spend 11 days with her.  I will also go back in early July to be with her for the move.

I have been juggling a lot of balls lately.  We moved our office (the new one is great); my client work is still very intense; I have been trying to get the yard in shape; I have been trying to simplify my own life by getting rid of stuff and the beat does on.  Oh yeah, and then there is laundry and things. :)

The next couple of weeks will be really busy.  I will try to keep the garden photos updated and of course, it is always fun to post wine country shots.  I hope you are all well and enjoying these days leading up to summer. 

One marvelous thing - I have stepped into my new life.  It is terrific to be here now - not in the past, not longing for what I cannot have, just enjoying my life as it is - very grateful for life just the way it is.  Namaste.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The VOICE

This year is about LIVING.  Not making excuses, not waiting until I (lose the 10 pounds); (finish the really tough client); (get a better night's sleep) --- OMG, fill in the blank.  One of my major intentions for 2010 is to practice self-compassion.

When I wrote that Intention it was about being nicer to myself.  It was about treating myself with the same kindness and support that I offer to others.  It turns out, it was about those things and more than I could have imagined.  In the beginning of the fifth month of this year here are some of the things I am learning and putting into practice as a result of this intention.

I am learning to silence THE VOICE.  You know the voice - the one we all have inside.  The Voice that is always ready with a critical word or a judgment.  The Voice that revels in living in yesterday or tomorrow.  The Voice that blocks living in the present.  The present moment - the only one we have. 

Treating myself with dignity and respect - consciously, deliberately and consistently is transforming.  This is not magic transformation - this is baby steps, baby steps, baby steps - the changes that stick.

Here is an example:  I gained some weight over the winter.  That's not unusual.  When that happens, I am really, really good at losing it - once I put my mind into it and do it - it gets done. (I am also good at using food to soothe myself when I am upset, bored, frustrated, sad - which of course causes a cycle of gain/lose the same pounds over and over)  I do NOT want to continue that behavior and that cycle.  This time, I do not want to go on a diet.  It is a losing proposition in more ways than weight.  It keeps the cycle going.  Gain a few, lose them, gain a few again, lose them - you know what I mean!  I am done!!! 

I am practicing living in the moment - making good food choices, staying active, continuing to build more muscle mass and finally getting it straight to stop the yo-yo right here, right now.   Living in the moment; being kind to myself; making conscious choices, forgiving myself when I make the inevitable mistake.   Loving and cherishing myself and my life whatever the scale says - it is clear that the VOICE keeps me locked in that cycle and that thinking.

I am learning that self-compassion is also about accountability - no excuses - it is the VOICE that keeps me trapped in old habits.  This exploration of eating and weight is only one small area in this new approach to living my life.  Self-compassion is about balance and acceptance not just words but the daily actions and conscious choices that that make up one's life.  This an exciting time of practice, patience, active learning, growing, gratitude, forgiveness, and transformation.  There is much more to come on this topic.  How does your VOICE hold you back?  How have you learned to listen to your authentic self not the VOICE? 

We are always getting ready to live, but never living.
     - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I stand in the Present

This weekend, when I removed the Burning Bush shrub from my yard, I couldn't help but think about the day Tom and I planted it.  We went together and selected exactly what we wanted.   This tree was especially important as its location is one of the main views out our living room window.  We wanted something that would fill that corner of the yard and be beautiful in different seasons.

We planted it at least 8 years ago (maybe longer) and I remember that day so well.  We had fun, laughing and talking about how wonderful it is to watch the miracle of nature as our plants and trees grow and mature. 

There would have been a day when I would have removed that tree with tears streaming down my face - totally consumed by the loss of Tom and those memories.  Not so this weekend.  The rabbit destroyed the tree - it had to go. 

Of course, I will miss Tom always.  Of course, there will be times that I wish he were here by my side.  Of course, I there will be times of sadness that he is gone from the earth.  That is the reality of losing someone you love and cherish.  For me - I have stepped into this new life - joyfully I can say - "I STAND IN THE PRESENT."

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

In My Backyard

I had a wonderful weekend working on my outdoor project that I briefly mentioned in a previous post.  There is a portion of my lawn just in front of my rose garden beds that is difficult to grow grass - between the pine trees and the shade it is a constant battle.  So - I made a new outdoor sitting room by covering the lawn to kill the grass, put down landscape cloth and covered it with mulch and ringed it with river rocks.

I also scrubbed the deck, mulched the gardens, dug and discarded my beautiful burning bush that the rabbits destroyed over the winter.

I moved the outdoor dining table to the deck and I think it looks nice. 

Next weekend I will begin to plant the herb gardens, get a few annuals in the ground, and then plant my veggie pots.  How I love the Spring and Summer - digging in the dirt, sun in my hair, pure heaven.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wish You Were Here

Standing on my back porch this morning with misty rain hanging in the trees, coffee in hand and the incredible perfume of lilacs scenting the air.   Both last night and this morning all I could do was stand outside and breathe in their heady aroma.  There is lots more fragrance to come as they are just beginning to bloom. 

My major pursuit this week has been fundraising for my client - writing and getting out funding proposals.  I completed all that was priority on my list this morning and here it is -- Friday!!  I am so happy.  I accomplished so much this week and am anticipating the weekend ahead.  

My new bed arrived and I am in heaven - I got a wonderful night's sleep last night.  I have not been sleeping well - the old mattress must have contributed to my restlessness.  Good sleep, good health. 

Happy, Happy Friday -

Monday, April 26, 2010

Staycation!!!

The past few days have been glorious.  I have done absolutely NOTHING and LOVED it.  I worked in the yard, I organized some closets, I had a five hour spa day (heavenly), I watched movies, made amazing polenta, walked in the rain, and enjoyed myself immensely. 

I do feel refreshed and relaxed.  I am preparing for an important annual meeting of our town home association (I am the board president) which is being held tonight.  It seems we will have a good turn-out, which hasn't been the case in the last few couple of years.  We are a small association, only 16 units and I have worked diligently the last year to build community and encourage more communication among neighbors.  We have an important vote tonight to create a capital reserve fund for future improvements.  I have my fingers crossed.

One thing is clear, I need to take more of these breaks - it's just healthy.  One of my 2010 intentions is to practice "self-compassion" taking time is an important piece of taking care of me.  I feel very blessed and filled with gratitude for my life, my friends, my family and all that I have been given.  Namaste.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today is the anniversary of Tom's birth.  Tomorrow I will go to put flowers at his grave-site at Fort Snelling to commemorate his birth.  It is interesting.  Every year, until now I have been quite sad on Tom's birth day and today I am here, just here.  I am grateful and always be grateful that he was on this earth.  I will miss him until the day I die.  He was my husband and my mate.   He is gone.

I am standing solidly on my feet - I am here on the planet - I am ready for new adventures. 

Happy Birthday Tom - RIP - I know you would be so proud of me today if you could see the life I have forged from loss.  Namaste.

I'm Ready.....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rest and Relaxation

I am in the midst of taking a few days off - it has been a long, long time since I have taken time just for me.  My time off started yesterday and I will go back to work next Tuesday - not a long time but enough.  I rarely take a work break without going to my mother's or going on some other family related trip.  That is not bad, I am blessed to have family that love me and I am blessed to still have my mom on the planet.   However, time just for me - that is a luxury.  I know that sounds weird when I live by myself and do have solitary time but time without responsibilities and strategies and finance and leadership and busyness that has been in short supply.  My current contract is over the end of June and then I will take a much longer break but for now - I treasure this time.

Yesterday I hung out, ran errands, purchased a  new mattress for my bed - more on THAT later and went to bed early.  Lately, I have been feeling like I "hit the wall" and no matter how much sleep I get I am still tired before the end of the day.  No wonder!   I have spent the last nearly 14 months working in organizations in crisis whose missions are to work with families in crisis.  As I have said, "this is my shelter period."  That in itself can be draining and while leadership transitions are rewarding they are always challenging.   

So, here I am recharging my batteries.  Today, I cleaned and organized some closets that have been bugging me; I filled two large bags with donation items; I worked on my outdoor garden project and pulled weeds in the flower beds and now I am getting ready to go to New Beginnings for a four-hour Spa experience.

I have been outside taking Spring photos and will post pics and other things later.  Rest and relaxation - walking, journaling, gardening, organizing, napping, reflecting and just having a darn good time.   I think there is an art project embedded in here somewhere too.   More to come.........................

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Moving......


Yes, we moved our office this week to this beautiful Cass Gilbert building downtown St. Paul a few yards from Mears Park in Lowertown.

The photo is the front entry of the Gilbert Building, my office is the far left corner window on the fourth floor.  It is so wonderful to be in this building to have windows and a private office.  We loved our former office - we were in that building for seven years - now we are moving not just to new physical space but to a new developmental stage of our business and our partnership.

I expect to meet new people  and I am ready.  I am joining the YMCA, which is a half block a way and on the skyway - it is newly remodeled and has a pool and lots of cool classes.   The park is steps away from the front door for a quick walk or a picnic lunch.  There are lots of downtown restaurants, places to walk, and a larger, more lively neighborhood.  I am ready for new friendships, new experiences and yes, some male companionship.  It will all unfold as it is supposed to.



This is a photo of Mears Park - lovely isn't it?  It has a stream running through it and there is lots of music and art and other fun things happening in this little urban park.  Our move is a transformation of light and space.  Our former office did not have windows to the outside - it was in another old historic building with a "mall" type feel with windows out into only the interior hallway.  Now natural light floods the space - my business partner's office is next door to mine (the next big window to the right.)  The front of the office is also all glass and the center conference room is glass on both ends.  It has a full kitchen with a neat breakfast bar and even a dishwasher.  I will take photos to post soon.

J and I both feel the new space is going to bring new edges, new people, new energy, new business and new beginnings to us personally and professionally.  Here's to new things in the air.

I am taking some time off work too!!  Next week - Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday with the weekend in between.  I don't know what I am going to do but one thing I am NOT going to do is work!  I need some downtime.  I need some time to walk, to write, to reflect, to do a spa day, to do whatever I want.

Happy Sunday - it is a beautiful day in my backyard.  More to come................

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time for Outdoor Living

I spent most of the weekend working in the yard.  Things are greening up quite nicely - the chives are up, the daffodils are blooming and the outdoor furniture is out from under their winter covers.

It is time to begin thinking about grilled asparagus, outdoor dining and just plain enjoying the being outside again.

I am doing something new with the outdoor dining area - more to come as the project moves forward.  Gotta love these four seasons.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Tattoo Experience

Many who know me well are aware that I have been talking about getting a tattoo for 4-plus years.  Intuitively I knew that it would become apparent when the time was right.  The tattoo was to be symbolic of Tom's spirit and my transformed life.  That's right - no tattoo until I was in my new life.

When I first contemplated the tattoo I thought it would be on my back, then I thought of it as being on my left shoulder.  As it became increasingly clear that tattoo-time was arriving - I knew deep in my bones that I needed to have it somewhere on my body where I could see it.  The tattoo is for me, not for anyone else.  That is when I settled on my left wrist.

When Deb and I arrived at Acme Tattoo on Friday evening I was excited and could feel the adrenalin pumping.  Acme is a well-respected establishment and has a reputation for quality work.  I didn't make an appointment, even though I knew for two weeks that April 9th was T-Day.  I felt that when I walked in the right person would be there.   I was correct.  Beth was the right person to do this tattoo for me.  My friend Deb, who has tattoos herself, was my encouraging companion - she was right by my side.

In the past five years, the dragonfly has become an important symbol to me.  In the beginning of my grief journey I was sent the legend of the dragonfly and it made a big impression on me.  Here is the story:

There once were a bunch of grubs who lived in the bottom of an old pond.  Every once in awhile one of their number would climb up a stem and leave the pond - never to be seen again.  The grubs agreed that the next one of their members that left in that manner would come back and tell the group what happened to them.  One day, one of the grubs had an overwhelming urge to climb up a stem and go to the surface.  Once out of the water the grub found that he had been transformed into a beautiful dragonfly.  He flew over the pond again and again - he could see his friends in the water below but to no avail - they could not see the dragonfly.  Remember, just because people take the trip we call death doesn't mean they are gone forever.

Those we lose live in our hearts forever.

For the past three years I have worn a tiny gold and silver dragonfly pendant around my neck.  In the these years, the dragonfly has come to have deep meaning for me - especially renewal, hope, and the power of change.

So I did it!!  Here is to my new life rushing up to meet me.  Here is the visible symbol of the journey no one wants to take and most important here is to my life - bursting open before me.  Here's to the future, with all my heart and with deepest gratitude.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Here it Is!!!

I have a post to go with this photo. However, Blogger has other ideas this morning and I have to go to workout.  I will post more about this experience later today. 

Friday, April 09, 2010

Today is the Day

That's right blog buddies - tonight I am getting my tattoo.  I am excited and scared - and excited.  More to come....................

Friday, April 02, 2010

A sure sign of Spring

That's right one of the ways to know it is Spring and Summer at my house is that my bedroom changes from the deep burgundies, purple, and golds of the winter bed dressings to these light and airy cream and gold quilts and shams.

Today I worked in my home office and found some time to do a bit of spring cleaning in my room.

One nice thing about being back in my right (or left) or leftover mind is that I am actually remembering to do things on a timely basis. And so today when I changed the bed,  I realized the Cream and Gold Set was in a dry cleaner bag all done up and hanging in the downstairs closet.  Oh happy day.

Today it rained and rained - and we need it so badly.  April showers and all that jazz and my beautiful ready for summer bed.

I am on my way out to dinner with a girlfriend I have not seen for awhile.  A wonderful weekend is ahead.  Enjoy your Friday evening.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Reflections



Our weather is so amazing in Minnesota right now.  This is the first March in over 100 years with NO snow - that's right, no snow.  March is generally our second snowiest month - what a joy.

The loss of my friend Amy has really given me pause.  Back to the old question - what would you do if you knew you were going to die in 10 months?

There is part of me that says, "exactly what I am doing!"  There is another part that honestly doesn't know.  I am grateful that many years ago I had the courage to give up my "paycheck job."  I do love my work, my business partner, our networks and all we have built together.

For example, several years ago we put together our vision of what we intended to accomplish.  We did it in the form of a Mind Map, which is a graphic, intuitive way of planning, visioning, tasking, thinking, etc.  Today, we realized that in 7 years we have achieved most of our dreams and intentions.  Today, we agreed it is time to do a new Mind Map - a new vision.  Reaching for the future to make a difference in our world - that is a blessing.

Then I can't help but think about not working so hard and spending more time on a different kind of creative pursuit - write a book for instance.  Or, how about just waking up in the morning and not think about anything other than reading a book, taking a walk, going to the library, traveling to reconnect with friends, breaking out my art materials, volunteering as much as I want - going to the gym during the day.

I am not someone that has dreamed of "retiring" - once I took the leap from the paycheck to the entrepreneurial side of things I never looked back.  And one nice thing about our business - we are constantly looking to be relevant to community needs and are flexible never static.

On a happy note, I have been able to work in the yard the last couple of nights - raking and cleaning and looking forward to planting those pansies this weekend.  I broke out all the deck furniture and have a plan in mind to change the backyard for the outdoor dining table and chairs.  As those of us who have suffered great loss know, life goes on - life goes on.

Om Shanti.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wandering Aimlessly Through this Weekend

I am having a difficult time this weekend with the loss of Amy.  It is so unfair - I know Dad,  "who ever said it was supposed to fair!"

Death is so final.  Last night I went to GROWW (the online support group that saved my sanity early in the grief trip).  Towards the end of the time I was online - there were just a handful of us there who knew and loved Amy so much.  It was a wonderful little time of sharing our remembrances,  laughing about the bzillions of funny things Amy did and said.  She was irrepressible.  There were times you wanted to bean her because she didn't meet a silent moment that she liked.  And yet, her heart was big as the sky.

One weekend, Amy and I went shopping and I needed to replace my black easy spirit oxford style lace up shoes.  I loved those shoes because I could wear them with pants to work and they looked professional and were comfy.  So, here we are in DSW and I am looking for a pair close to the oldies.  Well, Amy was incensed.  "Why would you want to have the same pair?" she demanded.  "Step on out, do something different, you're young, don't be stuck in a rut," now she was wheedling.

That day, I purchased a cool pair of European designed lace up shoes that I still love and wear with pants in the winter.  Every time I put them on I think about not "being in a rut" and having a loving friend like Tigger.

My heart is broken open for Amy's husband and their 7 children - especially their little 8-year old son.  Amy and her husband both had been widowed and found one another on a widowed website.  Amy always called him "her boyfriend" and it was obvious that they were indeed deeply in love.  Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.   I know, I know if we find the next love, there is always the chance to experience widowhood again - but my god, Amy was only 47!!!  They already did it!

Amy's cancer was diagnosed in early June 2009.  This brings to mind the old thing ---- what would I do if I knew I would be dead in less than a year?   Amy's passing brings forth once again the randomness of life.  Think you're in charge????   HA!  Think again.

I want to cook and yet I can't get myself motivated.  I want to work on my art project and again I can't get it together to set up the art table.   I am still in my black nightie and short robe.  I am watching (with half an eye) Ken Burns' PBS documentary about the history of Feminism.  How fortunate we are that those strong women stood up - we stand on their shoulders.

I went to workout yesterday and had a good training session.  I met Darrin at the duplex and made plans for the spring clean-up, I took my friend Phil to the airport when his cab didn't show up.  I did my housework.  And yet, I feel like I have wandered aimlessly through this weekend - wandering and wondering - and asking that unanswerable question - WHY? 

It is a beautiful day here.  I have been outside in the backyard a bit - we not yet ready for prime time yard work.  Next weekend we shall have pansies!!!!!!

I am wandering aimlessly through this weekend.   If you read to the end of this post - thanks.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Memory Eternal



I just found out that my friend Amy passed away tonight.  Please keep John and all the children in your thoughts and prayers.

Amy was a warrior and one of the funniest women on this planet.  She helped so many through their grief journey.   Her screen name on the grief site was Tigger and that was so apt.  She would hug you and give you a swift kick when you needed one - all delivered with a smile, a hug and real care.  

Always in our hearts - never to be forgotten.   ((((Amy)))))

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finally!

For the past few years I have been planning to get a tattoo.  The tattoo is to mark a rite of passage in my grief journey.  I told myself that I wouldn't do this until I was sure that I was back in my body and in my right mind.  So, here I am back in my body and future focused. 

The tattoo I am planning is a dragonfly.  In Native American culture dragonflies symbolize renewal and of course, I love the legend of the dragonfly, which is about the spirit of our lost loves still being with us after "that transformation humans call death." 

April 9th, my friend Deb and I are going to the tattoo place and I am going to get it done.  I have been looking at designs today.  Here is one I like:

I have thought so much about this and one big consideration is where to put it?  I thought I would have it in a place that was more "hidden" and now I have decided to put it on the top of my forearm just below my wrist.  It's my body and my tattoo. 

So here goes the next step on this journey.  Perhaps this sounds weird but for me it has been a long-time coming and I knew I would know when that day came.   It's here!!

What do you all think of this design????

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Spring

Hooray!  We made it through another winter.  Spring begins at 12:32 pm - 3 hours and 9 minutes from now.  I am so happy and look forward to digging in the dirt, blooming roses in the backyard and sitting on the patio with sun on my face. 

I have not been feeling too well this week and have been mucho busy with work and so am just taking it really slow this weekend.  I just finished cleaning the house and it looks so good.  Deb is coming at 2 pm to give me a massage.  I am reading a really interesting book:  Nudge - I started it late last night and immediately fell asleep however, I am looking forward to spending time reading it this morning.

The photo is one of the Parrot Tulips in a big jug on my dining room table - isn't nature incredible?  Natural art that takes your breath away. 
It has been in the sixties here in the Twin Cities (although it is cool today) - it has been glorious to walk outside without hat, scarf, gloves and being buttoned up in heavy coats.  Yes!!! 

I hope whatever you are doing today you are celebrating the arrival of Spring - the season of new beginnings. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rain and Things

It has rained here for the last few days.  We do not see a lot of rain in Minnesota - except the frozen or cold, fluffy kind.  I grew up in the west where we had rain - rain and rain and rain.  I have fond memories of being snug inside my cozy grade school classroom with with the smell of wet wool wafting from the coat room.  It felt so good to be where it was warm and lighted with the gray skies outside the window pouring rain.   Today felt like one of those days for me.  Of course I was working and not home in front of the fire with a mug of cocoa and good book - oh well.  It was comforting anyway and it is sooo much better than the white fluffy stuff that brings us those gross March snow storms.

I feel like I have turned a bit of a corner in my transition work with the current client.  That is so good to know in my bones.  It is not over by any means but some of the larger obstacles and angst in the organizational transition have begun to resolve themselves.  The client is extending my contract through May and so I will continue to be busy but not as crazy.

Can you please continue to remember my friend Amy in your prayers.  Amy was recently released from the hospital and now has hospice care at home.  She is an amazing woman - I met her in the early days of my widowed journey in a chatroom/support site for the widowed.  Amy had been widowed many years before and met her current husband on the widowed site (yes, he too was widowed).  They are wonderful people and have 7 children between them including a seven year old.  Please send golden light, prayers, and all good thoughts to their family.  Amy lives here in Minnesota - she was one of those that gave me hope that there was a new life out there - it was just out of sight right then.

I hope everyone is looking forward to a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.  I will try to be more faithful again in my blogging.  Now, off to push-ups.  YES, one of my 2010 Intentions - at least 25 push-ups 5 days a week.  Take care.