A Sentence… A Journey


The Story Teller - Images available at sharonabbottfinearts.com

I need it today – right now – a major attitude adjustment!

I woke up this morning full of frustration, wanting to blame (and that’s a joke – who would that be?), feeling sorry for myself.

No jumping in the car to run errands, drive up the gorge, meet friends and family!

No quick return trips upstairs to grab my earphones – and anything else that I forgot to bring down with me  this morning

No running to the kitchen to grab a snack – now it’s a time-consuming, uncomfortable trip.

After only a few days of this Stay-Off-My -Broken-Foot sentence, I’ve gained even more compassion for those who are immobilized, or restrained – for any reason.  I used to take an elderly woman for rides and errands and you can bet I’m going to again find someone  that I can help.  As soon as I can drive again.

Yes, I have crutches and use them when I have to move.  Coordinated and comfortable with them yet?  Not!   After losing my balance a couple of times – fortunately catching myself with a wall, our bed…  I’m not very confident about navigating.  Especially when I’m by myself.  But when I see this in writing,  I hear “The Whisper” in my ear – how can you whine?   At least you can move!

I woke up feeling very gritchy this morning.  I keep telling myself… “It is what it is and, Grasshopper, you can choose whether you want to  fight your circumstances or relax, accept and go with it”.  Easier said than done!

Many times I  enjoy an entire day writing, reading,  playing computer games, being very sedentary.  My recorder is full of my favorite shows.  In fact I need to delete some so that I can record more!   I even forget that many times I ignore what I need to do so that I can do the very things that I can now do!  Unlimited time.  No demands.  But when  I have limitations, I rebel.

Yes!  Now I have time.  Lots of it.  My daughter reminded me that maybe this is God saying Stop!  Take a rest, Sharon!  (I might have said that to her a couple of times in the past:)

I just love blogging!  My mood is shifting as I write.  I can clearly see that it’s pretty easy to share my good moods, attitudes, observations.  Not so easy to share the less positive me.   It’s really no fun living with a negative me.

It’s magic – this writing!   It’s raining outside.  The fireplace is keeping me warm, physically and emotionally.  I am kind of excited about feeling cozy, snuggling up and reading my Oprah Magazines (I have an entire year of unread O mags!) .  I’ve been wanting to re-read “Death Comes To The Archbishop” by  Willa Cather.  I’ll watch a Netflix movie on my computer while my husband watches yet another golf game on TV (do they EVER get to the 18th hole?), I’ll sketch my next painting, I’ll meditate.   I’ll eventually get upstairs and paint.

I’ll be grateful…Yes, I am!

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Handling Stress… Letters To My Children


Reblogged from SomeLettersToMyChildren.

Stress can take our joy away.  It can make us sick, keep us from sleeping restfully.  Stress can be a huge strain on relationships.  It can even kill.  And it causes many more symptoms as well – constant fatigue, fat gain around the abdomen, overeating because of low blood sugar episodes, inability to lose weight, feeling light-headed, body pain for no apparent reason, gut symptoms, irritable bowel, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, loss of sex drive, increased PMS or menopausal symptoms, allergic reactions, skin problems and sensitivities, acid reflux, frequent colds, flu and lowered immunity….it’s not fun!

There is much written about adrenal stress and cortisone – an anti-stress hormone.  It’s worth reading about on the internet.

Some causes are physical – low blood sugar, chronic illness, late hours, jammed schedules, chronic pain, sleep deprivation, excessive exercise, excessive stimulants (to keep you going), eating a poor diet – too much sugars, especially sugar substitutes, processed foods, environmental toxins…

Other causes of stress can be constant worry,  our inability to handle uncertainty,  pessimism, trying to “do it all”, emotional trauma and ongoing strain, perfectionism, negative self talk, unrealistic expectations, lack of asserting ourselves, continual anger, pushing yourself when you know you need to rest…

We need to take personal responsibility for our health – physical and emotional.  Taking medication for stress and depression is an interim solution but not a cure – should be used only when absolutely necessary while we are working on the real cause.  I  was the Queen of Stress and anxiety over this last year, (WAS – past tense, thank God!)  and it caused so many problems  that it got my full attention – physically, spiritually and emotionally.  I’ve studied in detail.   I’ve learned so much.  So thought  I’d pass on some things I’ve learned –  some simple and healthy ways to deal with stress…

  • Breathing exercises.  Learning to breathe properly and consciously has been a miracle for me.  Breathing can reduce stress, help maintain focus, increase energy, calm mind and body, and help with sleep.    Exhaling completely is easy to learn – it will improve health.  Take a deep breath through your nose, exhale naturally through your mouth –  and then squeeze out a little more.   It’s the old smell a rose – blow out a candle exercise.   Do it regularly and it will become a body habit with time.  Try to concentrate only on your breathing out – exhaling – and saying “relax” to yourself while you’re exhaling.  Let go of all of your worries by breathing them out.
  • Exercise – Morning is better but anytime works!  Other than within four hours of bedtime – it may keep you from sleeping.
  • Quit all stimulants – caffeine and any type of energy drink, chocolate and teas for starters.
  • Diet is huge in managing stress.  And it’s effects are nearly immediately – good and bad.  Cut sugar and sugar substitutes, starches and processed foods out of your diet.
  • Eat tons of fruit and veggies.  1/3 protein, 2/3 steamed veggies and fresh fruit that is in season.
  • Stress and adrenal stress makes us crave salty foods.  A signal?
  • Always eat a healthy breakfast within an hour of getting up.  It will give you energy, better brain function and help keep your blood sugar stable during the day.  You can’t drive a car without gas and you can’t function efficiently without good nutritious food in your beautiful body!
  • Eat something, a healthy snack, every three hours – every two hours if you’re really stressed.  But keep them healthy.  Remember – protein is brain food.   If you’re craving sweets, eat some protein.  It helps take away the craving.  You don’t  have to eat a lot when it’s nutritious – a good combination of lean or plant-based protein and healthy carbs.  Consider a high nutrition-low calorie way of eating.
  • Get rid of boxed, processed and man-made food!  It’s toxic.
  • Drink plenty of water – it cleans and detoxifies your body.
  • Don’t eat late at night but a small protein-high fiber carb at night just before bedtime helps you fall asleep and keeps your blood sugar level stable throughout the night so that you don’t wake up.  A few pumpkin seeds or a tablespoon of almond butter is a great bedtime snack – full of magnesium.
  • Take a good whole food multivitamin every day.
    • B-complex. B vitamins can help calm and balance your mood.
    • Omega-3 (fish oil) supplement. Either from molecularly distilled fish oil or from krill.  Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency has been associated with increased anxiety and depression.
    • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). An extract from the root of this flowering perennial contains essential oils that have been shown to help some people more effectively deal with stress.  Don’t mix this with prescription drugs.  Ask a pharmacist before you use any medication or mix medications – or herbs for that matter.   Ask about the half-life of a medication that you’ve been taking to determine how long you need to be off of it before mixing with another herb or medication.
    • Calcium and magnesium. These can help a lot with muscle relaxation and healthy sleep.
    • Take vitamin supplements in the morning.  They help wake-up your brain.  Taking them too late in the day may keep you awake.
  • Sleep Sleep Sleep – and I know this is a tuff one when you’re under a lot of stress.  It takes a lot of meditation, planning and maybe sometimes a little help.  I prefer herbal sleep aids – melatonin, valerian, hops, passion flower – there are many combinations available and pretty inexpensive.  But don’t mix them with any other sleep medication and be sure to check with your pharmacist before you mix them with any medication that you’re taking.  
    • Pay attention to what you eat and drink at dinnertime and later.  Avoid sodas (horrible! Anytime!), overeating, chocolate, tea, coffee, and excessive sugar and salt.
    • Plan your evening carefully.  Create a relaxing sleep routine.  Think about how we put our babies to bed – we rub their backs, read them a book, turn down the lights.  To this for yourself.  We need a “turn-off” period so our brains know it’s time for sleep.
    • You may be photosensitive so avoid working on a computer or looking at a bright cell phone before bedtime. Try setting an 8 pm limit on visual stimuli.  Reading may or may not help you fall asleep.
    • Make a To-Do List for the net day and then let it go.  It will get done.
    • Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night.  Tell your body that it will sleep restfully and deeply for 8 hours.  I’ve read where it’s very important to go to prepare to fall asleep before 10 pm, that sleep before 2 am is the most beneficial.
    • Keep everything out of your bedroom that keeps you awake – TV, animals…
    • Keep your room cool and uncluttered.   Keep it clean, organized and the bed made daily.
    • Make your bedroom your sleep retreat.   Make it your haven.  Don’t watch TV (especially the news), check email or eat in bed.  Bed is for sleep.  Don’t confuse yourself.
    • Have a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime.  (I know – I said no tea or coffee.  But chamomile?….
    • And take calcium and magnesium in the evening or at bedtime with your snack.
    • Snuggle in bed.  Close your eyes, consciously rest your mind and every part of your body. Breathe deeply.  Meditate.  There are great free and inexpensive apps for your phone to guide you thru relaxation.
    • Put lavender in or around your pillow to help calm and relax you.
  • Most importantly, start working on yourself.  Start identifying problems and situations that cause stress in your life.
    • Say no to at least as many things as you say yes to
    • Don’t worry about other peoples’ problems – you have enough of your own.
    • Exercise.  It’s the only way to balance your brain and your body – a great way to “burn off your stress”
    • Eat lean protein with every meal – preferably before you eat the carbs.   No carb-only meals.  Ever.  Proteins build healthy brain chemicals.
    • Manage your hormones.  Get tested to see if you have too much estrogen in your body.  It can be balanced.  Small amounts of natural bio-identical hormones that perfectly match the body’s molecular structure make a huge difference!
    • Get rid of the toxic people in your life.  Surround yourself with more people who make you laugh and smile, who have positive energy, who help you be a better person.
    • Brush off emotional baggage – literally.   Therapeutic touch, energy fields – our entire body and world is energy.  I read this and I like it…”If you have left a conversation, a meeting, or a negative encounter with anyone – even yourself; if an encounter leaves you feeling drained, irritable, angry, exhausted or totally wiped out, try this.  Use your hand to brush your arms, legs, head and back  as if you’re wiping them and removing a layer of bad emotional residue.  Do it outside if you can and imagine yourself removing everything you no longer need – irritation, anger, bitterness, jealousy, sadness, fear, etc.  And keep what you want – love, compassion, empathy, calmness and peace.”
    • Shrug your shoulders.  “If you can’t get outside, or you want to switch the negative energy coming in, consider the simple act of shrugging your shoulders.”  We carry emotional stress in our shoulders.  So shrug them and tell yourself that you don’t need to carry resentment or other peoples’ problems.  If you have to be around negative energy, when you leave, shrug your shoulders to symbolically remove the negativity when you leave their presence  Don’t take it with you.
    • Blow off your negative feelings, energy, emotions and irritability.  Yep – that works too!  Breathe deeply and exhale quickly and forcefully through your mouth.  When you’re by yourself, make a loud sound – “ahhhh” – when you exhale.  Try it daily after work or at the end of the day before bed.  Visualize getting rid of or blowing out everything that is no longer serving you.
    • Re-fuel.  Make positive statements to yourself.  Put affirmations on your phone reminders – every hour if you need them.  I do.  Make sticky notes and put them on your mirror.  Make a positive statement and memorize it.  Say it out loud.  Every day.  Flood your mind with positive thoughts.  It it’s true that you are your thoughts, think what you can do with this one!  You are in control of your destiny by changing your thoughts.  Keep them positive even if you don’t believe them right now.  Keep your eyes on what you want and where you want to be and you can’t help but get there.
    • Schedule time for you.  Do something that you just love to do  as often as possible – where you lose track of time, forget to eat….  Find ways to help others – every day.  It doesn’t have to be huge.  Senseless acts of kindness…
    • Remember how much you are cherished!  My world lights up just thinking about you!

Lesson 12: Holding On to the Past


Lesson 12: Holding On to the Past

Oprah believes that a universal issue for so many of us is that we are holding on to the hurt and pain of our past.  In this class, five sisters have been entrenched in a bitter feud for years and find ways to move on.  Getting on with the “now” can only be accomplished by letting go of the past.  Some insight from Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 12….
Aired: 10/25/2011
Today’s Question:  What memories of the past still dominate your thinking?  What do you need to let go of?

Oprah’s Lifeclass Notes:  Oprah says, “It’s not just letting go of the past, it’s all bigger than we can ever imagine.”  We all want a  better life.  How do we get there?  

Are we living in what could have, what should have, what we wished could have been?  Living in the past is one of the biggest detriments.

Five sisters’ relationship went from a simple misunderstanding to a full scale war.   The conflict was affecting the sisters emotionally, physically and spiritually.   When we see defensiveness, that person is in pain and needs love and acceptance.  It took a major tragedy – the loss of one sister’s son – to bring them to wake up.    18 years later the sisters reconciled.   Jackie’s oldest son was dying of AIDS and a sister, Vicki took him in.  In order for her to see her son, she had to be in Vicki’s home.   The reconciliation had begun.

When we resort to name-calling, it means that we are out of control and we’re using that to bring more value to ourselves.

The only person we ever have any control over is ourselves.  We have a choice in how we see the situation, or we can remove ourselves from the situation but we  cannot change the other person.

Whatever energy we are carrying from the past, we carry into the future and that energy colors everything we do and experience.  It blocks us from being all that we were meant to be.

Forgiving is necessary to let go of the past.  It doesn’t mean that we say “it’s ok”.  Forgiveness is acceptance, not approval.

All of life is about “waking up”.

When the Oprah Show first started talking about men having affairs, women in the audience were adament that they would never put up with it, they would leave.  That attitude gradually changed over the next few years – in the 90’s.   Oprah says that she has discovered that men don’t cheat because of someone who is more attractive, smarter or…. He cheats because of how another person makes him feel.

In 2008, Psychiatrist Gary Newman, found that men cheat because they feel underappreciated, unimportant, not admired.  Men want to feel valued.

Unless the other man (or woman)  completely understands and expresses remorse for what they have done, it’s very difficult for the betrayed person to get over it.   Both parties need to sit down and talk about it openly.  Give yourself permission to deal with the issue.  It takes time to build trust again.

Not everyone can get over an affair.  You need to decide for yourself  if you can or can’t get over an affair.  If you decide that you can – then really get over it.  Deal with it and let it go.  You have to deal with the past or it will continue to show up in your relationships, your health, in every aspect of your life. If you can’t get over the affair, then move on from the relationship.  Don’t live in between.  There needs to be emotional closure.

On losing a loved one…with Gary Zukav… Oprah says…It’s not just about letting go of the past.  It’s about the ultimate lesson for us as human beings.  I am not my body, I am not my circumstances, I am not what everything looks like.  I really am a higher level of being and consciousness that is a soul.  My personality is not my soul.  My personality is here to serve my soul”.

We, our lives, are bigger than what it looks like.

A couple lost a new preterm baby, a twin.  They were both born perfect but on the third day after their birth, Ryan had a brain bleed.  He could not save the baby.  The parents went into a tailspin, were having a difficult time not letting this tragedy take over in their lives.

Gary Zukav counsels -“Look at Ryan as a soul, like everyone on this earth, that left this earth when it chose, then you will have a different perspective.  You will be able to see the gifts that this soul gave you during it’s short stay on this earth.  You will reach a place in your life where you are grateful that this soul chose to be with you for however short a time.  If you do not, you will live your life feeling that a tragedy has occurred.  Whenever you see your other son growing up, you will say Ryan should be here.  You will be placing a burden on your other son, the twin, because no matter what he does, what he accomplishes, he will be causing Mommy pain.  If you look at Ryan as a great soul who voluntarily entered the earth school and voluntarily left it in, you will begin to fathom and appreciate the interaction that you had with that soul and you will be able to receive the gifts that this soul came to earth to give to you and your family.  And if you do not, then you will continue to be turning away from those gifts.  You will be denying the very wealth of wisdom and compassion that was offered to you by this soul. ”  The soul is a great deal more than just a personality.  Interact soul-to-soul.  Recognize the power of the soul.

Many others were impacted by this story.

Oprah says that this story gives us a glimpse a notion that you are bigger than your body and your personality.   Oprah called this a holy moment in the room that day.   Oprah says it reminds her to stop and and think about her own soul and everyone around her, causes her to just for a moment to disconnect from the egos and personalities around her,  and to recognize that it is all bigger than we can ever imagine.

“You are not your circumstances.  You are a higher level of being and consciousness that is a soul.”  If we think life is only what we can see, then we are missing the whole point.

Oprah encourages us…”When you lose somebody in the physical form, the formless becomes an angel that you know”.

“Life is much bigger than just a body.  When you are grieving over the loss of a loved one…sense the presence of their soul, which is always with you, instead of the personality that is gone.”

Oprah quoting Iyanla Vanzant…”You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people.  But until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed.  You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life.  You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick you hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”

Oprah says…”The sooner we can let go of the past, the sooner we can get on with the “now”, our daily life.  If we don’t let it go, it becomes a wall, a barrier, and it prevents us from the vibrancy, the aliveness, the glory that our life should be. ”

Oprah’s Lifeclass
Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 12: Holding on to the past
Oprah’s Webcast Lesson 12: Holding on to the past
Oprah’s Lifeclass Notes
Today’s Lifeclass Question

My Life, My Mortality… and My Loves


I got some sleep last night – Yay!  And today is brighter…

Writing my letter to Dr. Oz (thank you Sister – for suggesting that I do it) clarified my plight – to myself.  I’m so grateful for some clarity.  Now I have hope again – that I can deal with my fear and get my life back.    I was suddenly able to see the part that fear is playing in my health issues.

I recognize clearly that my fear is about death.  My death.  It’s also in some strange way about the people that I’ve lost in the last 5 years.  I realize that I’ve never grieved them.  I realized yesterday that thinking about them is so painful that I avoid even letting them into my mind.  When they slip into my thoughts, I keep it at a very superficial level – and quickly change my thoughts to something else.

One of my doctors told me that she thought that these losses were having a part in my health issues and that she feels I have some grieving to do.  I heard her say it, I listened, I went thru some motions of grieving but I didn’t really get the connection.  Now I do.

I’m thinking about them today with joy and tears.  I’m honoring them.  I’m missing them deeply.  I miss Dad and my three sisters at a whole new level.  I’m remembering what I loved about them.  I’m remembering fun, funny memories – one of the many times we sisters came from different directions and met for lunch and a few hours together.  Our human pyramid picture.  Our sisterhood reunions. Shucking corn for a dinner.  Posing for pictures together.   What I learned from each of them is such a part of who I am.

And my husband, Dale.  We had such a rocky marriage and a deep unshakable love.  Our friendship lasted thru a divorce until his death in 2007.  He loved me.  Completely.  I loved him in the same way.  We had a bond that neither of us knew how to break – or even wanted to.   It wasn’t a consideration.  I didn’t realize until after his death that he was the reason that I could never move on into a marriage with another man.  Neither of us remarried.  But we didn’t live together either.  We were there for each other – right up to the last phone call the last day of January,  hours before his assumed death.  He lived by himself and when he didn’t return several phone calls, I was alarmed.  When I didn’t hear from him on Valentines Day – a yearly gesture even after our divorce many years ago – I knew something was terribly wrong.  I called the police who entered his home and found that he had passed – they estimated about two weeks earlier.  I handled his estate per his wishes.  I’ve avoided thoughts that he’s gone – always.  Not today.  Occasionally I’ve started to go there and recoiled as quickly as if I had touched a red hot wood stove!  Today, I’m remembering him…so many things.   There were very painful and difficult times in our lives but in many ways he was such a rock for me.  I feel way too vulnerable without him in my world.  I miss him terribly.  So much love!

And Peter.  My love.  We were in each others’ lives for 7 years.   Wow could he dance!   He knew how to have fun.  He was an old school Hispanic man and was such a character!  My Latin Love….  He loved taking care of me – cleaned my home, cooked, pressed my clothes,  was a lot of the reason that I was able to be very successful in my business.  He took care of many things in my life that allowed me the time to focus.  And did I mention fun!  I’m remembering the Las Vegas evenings, all doors open to my outside living area.  He loved cooking in the outdoor kitchen – for everyone, palm trees swaying, warm evenings, music playing and  NO BUGS!!!  We drank wine.  We loved.  We laughed.   He was so incredibly handsome to me – his dark skin, hair –  and bold, warm eyes.  He was gallant and classy.  He sang songs to me in Spanish – all of the time.  He ended up battling major health issues for two years that led to his death.  With such courage.   He wrote love letters to me.  I haven’t read them for a very long time – much too painful.  But I’m going to re-read them as I can, starting today.  Yes, of course there were difficult times too.  But I grieved those at the time.  Today I’m grieving and missing the sweetness, the love, that man.  Towards the end of his life when he was on a respirator, he wrote “Sin Ti” on a piece of paper with x’s and o’s.   I still have it tucked in with his love letters.  He used to sing that song to me.   I miss you so much, Peter!  You made your mark in my life.   Thank you!

And my sisters.  I’m going to write about “The Sisterhood” in another post.  I miss them so much.  They were my three older sisters and my link to so much of my history.  I wish I could have thought of more questions about how they remembered our lives before they left.  There’s no one to answer those questions now.   I know that they each knew how important they were in my life – no regrets there.  I just miss them.   It’s almost impossible to comprehend that they’re so gone!   Today I’ll remember them…

I’ll remember them all.  With so much love and gratitude!  I had – and have – some very special people in my life – some great loves!

And maybe, if I grieve my loss of them, I won’t have to worry about losing myself?  If I honor their lives, I can live mine – fully – without fear?   If I accept and remember their lives – and deaths, will it help me accept my eventual great adventure?  Without fear?  Will it help me live my life without fear?  hmm…

Is the doctor right?

Amidst the grief, I have my joy back today!  I’m starting to let go

Oprahs Life Classes
Joy, Letting Go

Religion (Spiritual to me) and politics….


I know, touchy subjects I suppose. But this is my journal and I’m looking for answers.  Comments are welcome!

I’ve struggled with getting to sleep for years.  And struggle is an understatement in the last year.   My health has always been pretty good, however, a struggle this year.  I’m told by the guys with the stethoscopes that the only thing that they can deduce from my symptoms and experiences is a sleep disorder that is affecting my blood pressure and  these scarey symptoms are all part of it.  A lady doctor told me she thought my problems were about not grieving recent deaths.  Hmmm.   I sleep well about every other night when I’m exhausted from very little (and I mean very little!) sleep the prior night.

This leads me to my latest episode last night.   Yesterday was my “good” day, awesome, felt like myself, had fun.  My day was a great one actually.  Then in the late afternoon it hit.  My blood pressure took a hike – upward.  Way high again.  All of my ugly symptoms alerted me to what my blood pressure was doing.   I had taken my highest recommended dose of meds by late evening and they were not doing their job.  I continued meditating and doing the best blood pressure lowering breathing that I could muster.   It wasn’t helping.  In fact, my BP was going higher!   By 2 am, I was exhausted, considering yet another trip to the ER, trying very hard to visualize good things but ending up right back in my scariest thoughts.   I was, to say the least, desperate.  I had moved into sheer terror and fear.  And that was not helping my blood pressure – at all!  That’s when I suddenly got help.  I don’t say this easily or carelessly.  But it was nothing short of a miracle.   If you had been there you’d understand.

OK, this is the God part.

I think there are a lot of  different names for God if we believe in a higher power – I call mine God.  My belief is that there is no doubt – God exists.  In fact, I don’t even consider it a belief – it’s who I am.  Me and God.  I don’t talk about it much at all but it’s always there.  I don’t go to church, at least at this point, but I talk to him regularly.  My Dad was a preacher.  Yes, I’m a PK (preacher’s kid).  I enjoy good conversations about spiritual things with a few people but I rarely talk about being a PK to most people.  They expect me to know verses and have answers.  Uh…Not!  I’m not proud to say that I did more note-passing and day-dreaming in church than listening.   Not to say I didn’t have my spiritual experiences as a young person – a few funny stories about some of those.

Over the years, I’ve tried many times to read the bible but it’s totally confusing to me – I have a very difficult time understanding and applying what I read.   Those who can and do, amaze me!   I have read other easy-to-understand translations.  They’re interesting but even if they’re inspired, I question words.  They can be interpreted many ways – depending on many things – human perceptions and motives.  I would like to have a bible written by God – not translated by humans who may or may not have agendas.  I have my favorite verses but I rely mainly on my very personal communication with God.  Thus the spiritual and not religious comment.

I have huge questions of my own.  (I’ll be writing about those and comments from anyone who happens on to my questions will be welcomed!)  Most of the time I don’t want to think about my questions.  Not saying that’s smart, but it makes things simpler for me right now.  I’ve spent so much time in my life trying to figure things out.  Having faith, “just accepting” and believing are not my strong suits.  I’m working on that…in a lot of areas.  Balance Grasshopper….

Well, last night – in the night – in my desperation, I was talking to my Dad – in my thoughts.   I was missing him terribly.  Right up until his death, I could call him from wherever I was and he’d say a prayer.  It almost always – 99% of the time – helped me.   He’d invariably ask God to “renew my mind and my spirit”.  And God did.    It seemed that My Dad had a real connection.  My sister seems to have that connection… but it was 2 am!  Not a good time for a phone call.

Anyway, that’s when it happened.  It wasn’t my Dad but I felt sudden relief.  I felt God.   I haven’t experienced this – to this degree – except for one other time years ago when my best girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver.  I was deep in grief over my loss and suddenly felt the comfort of God. No other way to say it.  I had grown up hearing about “The Great Comforter” and that spirit was very real for those moments.  And it relieved my angst.  I don’t know how to explain the experience so I won’t try.  It wouldn’t work and would sound woo-woo.   But it happened.   It happened again in the night.  It was a complete surprise.  I sure can’t say that I used the power of believing –  “believed” it was going to happen and then brought it on myself.  But I’ll gratefully take it!!  It was quite the opposite.  I was in a “fear spin” and far from being able to be positive – even with my best effort.   I was shocked.  Very peaceful – immediate and sudden –  And very, very grateful.  That Great Comforter again – I recognized it immediately.  In my head I was singing “He Touched Me” (Gaithers).

I finally went to sleep!

I’ll work on the Politics part another time

Oprah Life Classes
The Power of Believing

Letting The Balloons Go!


My husband and I had few surprise moments of unexpected glee, joy, just plain fun.

In September, my son was visiting from Las Vegas – a 50th birthday trip.   We had a wonderful family gathering and dinner in our home – cousins, aunties (one had traveled quite a distance), sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, sons, grandchildren – you get the picture.

My sisters picked up some helium-filled balloons.   They’ve lived in a corner of our dining room for two months  (the balloons, that is:).  They’ve hung in there, lasted, they’ve rested against the ceiling.  They’ve been a daily reminder of a very special day with some of  our most loved.  Fun, pictures, good food, a lot of “catching up”.

A joyous day celebrating my son, and each other.   Family who are also friends!

Today, my husband said he was ready to put the balloons away.  And so  was I.  On his way to the door, we looked at each other and, at 71 and 75, we felt like little kids again.  We headed to the backyard, made some wishes, filled those balloons with our worries,  and let them  go.  We laughed.  We watched until we could no longer see them.  We marveled at their movement.  We felt some moments of freedom and exhilaration.   We laughed again.   And we still have our memories of that day.

We also decided that we’ll go buy more balloons and do that again some time soon.   Just because….

Oprah’s Lifeclass…What gives me joy?

Does My Life Make a Difference?


I grew up with my Dad telling me to live my life as an example…that someone is using each of us as a role model…there is always someone who is watching to see how we handle situations and life – especially the difficult times.

I’ve witnessed 17 deaths of family members and most of my best friends over the last 19 years.  The youngest was a three year old niece.  Sometimes my grief has been overwhelming and I’ve not been sure which death(s) I was grieving.    My doctor told me  at one time that she thought I needed to grieve and it would help a health problem.  I’m not sure I know how to grieve.  Is there a proper way to grieve?  I don’t know.  I’ve read books, listened to Oprah shows, listened to friends, observed …

Last month we lost a 46-year-old niece to ovarian cancer.   There was an obvious transition from her “fighting” to “acceptance”.  Up until she was placed in hospice care, she was grieving her loss.  She wanted so much to see her two teenage sons graduate from high school, share their college experience, see them married and hold her grandchildren.  Her fight kept her going.

Then she told her parents, shortly before her death, that she was ready to leave;  that, knowing how much sadness her leaving would bring to others,  she almost felt guilty about her excitement over the adventure ahead of her.   She was very sad to leave her two teenage sons, her husband, her family and friends, but that she was ready and excited to leave.   It gave all of us a lot of peace, but how can that be.  Truly?

I am so fearful of dying that it’s very difficult for me to comprehend all that she said she was feeling.  I have enough gray hairs to know that God gives us grace to face…when we need it, when we’re actually confronted with challenges and passages.  Jennifer was a recent example.

She was involved.   There were over 700 people at her “celebration”.  She wasn’t a celebrity but she had lived life.   She was involved.  She made a huge difference in many lives.   She was very active in her church, children and recovery ministries, her children’s schools, 12 Step Programs.  If you had known her, you would understand….

On our way home from her celebration  in California, I was again trying to make sense of death…her death…all of the deaths.  Why do we live?  Why do we die?  How do I make sense of this? How do I accept it?

I do know that with each death and loss, I feel a new resolve to live life more fully.   I feel my own mortality and feel even more determination to make a difference in some way.   Peace came when I realized that one reason that we live our lives is to teach others.  By how we live our lives.

At Jennifer’s service, I repeatedly heard from those who spoke, that she “showed up” – no matter what!  She was there, whether or not she felt like it.  If she had made a commitment or knew she could help, she “showed up”.   She loved to sing.  Really loved to sing.  She knew how to be a good friend.  She had a wonderful laugh – and laughed a lot.    She was full of fun and joy – even when she had reason not to be, especially during her illness.  She was courage personified.  I want to be known that way.  I’m paying closer attention….

Each person has made a very real difference in my life.    And I’m so grateful for them all.   I started thinking about those I’ve lost and what I’ve learned from each….

To hug my loves when I’m leaving.  Really connect and tell them I love them.     No matter the mood….  I was fortunate to have had that from my husband.  He was much better at it than I.  But I remember that lesson every day.

My brother-in-law was a constant support and father/brother substitute for those who needed him.  He was an artist and couldn’t help himself…he had to create.  He did it as an expression of himself, didn’t do it for anyone else.  I can learn from him…

My friends, Eloise and Marcia, were loyal, fun, excellent Moms, and taught me so much about being friends.  They still have a profound influence on my life…I’m so grateful for their lives that were much to short.  They made such a difference in my life.  I still miss them.  A lot!

My sister was very outgoing and social, maintained long close friendships over her lifetime.  She had a great sense of humor, loved to entertain, made everyone feel welcome.   She taught me to hug.

Another sister was our family historian – to the max.  She saved pictures, documents, stories, provided our family with a priceless record of our  ancestry.

Another sister was a school teacher.  She and her family lived many places during her life – Greece, Tehran, Sumatra, and other places. She was intelligent,  a teacher in all aspects of her being.  She was an amazing cook, fun and creative.  I saw her very little but she gave me some invaluable advice and encouragement during her life.  She was adventure and excitement.

My Mom was a little dynamo.  She lived a pretty unconventional life, was very creative and could get tickled over little things, especially about herself.   She was good at choosing to see something beautiful in everyone.  She was a spiritual influence in many peoples’ lives.

My Dad was a prayer warrior.  His faith and example was a huge influence to almost everyone he met and he made a solid  difference in many lives.  He was a teacher and minister.  Quietly consistent.  Corny too.

So many others, so many wonderful others.  Some were in my life from childhood and they are truly part of me.

So what difference will I make in someone’s lives?  How do I matter in this world and to my closest?   I try to do meaningful things with my days, be courageous and accepting, interested and interesting, fun to be with, have hilarious moments.  Enjoy, share, appreciate.  Do some act of kindness at least once each day.  I’m working on being “present”.  Putting my phone down and connecting in person when I’m with someone.  Listening.  Responding.  I will remember to let everyone know how much I love them by lighting up when I see them.   No matter my mood.

Dad was right…all of these people have been examples in my life.  Sometimes they’ve taught me what I don’t want to be.  I hardly remember that part.  I remember deep love, laughing til we hurt, sharing plays, concerts, love of life, courage, we were there for each other during painful times and for celebrations.

I am and will make a difference.  I’m living my life…. I’m here so I matter.   We all do.