We can let fear get the best of us if we allow it to. Once you've lost someone you love so unconditionally, it's even easier for fear to creep into so many other areas of or lives. I have to admit, I've been the kind of person who experiences a good amount of fear on a regular basis, so it's nothing new to me. I've been that way as long as I can remember.
In the recent aftermath of the loss of my son, I thought to myself : Okay, bring it on, what else can you do to me now? You've made my worst nightmare a reality (this directed to God or whatever super power that let this happen). So, what else ya got?" That's scary thinking. I realize this did not "happen to me" but it sure felt like it did. I'm pretty sure most of us feel that way. In the process of trying to make sense of my pain, I actually remember a moment of feeling relief. Now that the worst was over, maybe I won't have to live in so much fear anymore. Well, I found it doesn't work that way. Fear still exists and rears its ugly head and tries to torment me on a regular basis.
That being said, fear is not always our enemy. Fear is a primitive human emotion. It exists to help us survive. Fear alerts us to danger and threats in the form of physical or psychological danger. Where it gets tricky is that it can also come from imagined dangers and we are not always consciously aware of the difference.
Sometimes it's easier to give into fear than to take on the challenge of trying to overcome it or understand it. That's not always the best answer. Neither is making statements bold enough to challenge the hands of fate or indulge in that type of negative thinking. Over time I've found that if I'm not in real immediate danger, I can name it, claim it and allow it to be there until I get a better understanding of it's origin.
I have also been able to shift my perspective.
I realized all of the ways I'm still fortunate and had so much more I could lose. I still have two amazing sons and an amazing family and friends that I adore. I have a four legged girl that will follow me everywhere (if I let her). I have so much MORE I could lose. I can't change what's already happened, however I can change how I think about my life going forward.
If you find yourself struggling with fear due to a loss or possibly something else in your life, take a look around and see what you still have in your life that matters to you. Are you in immediate danger? What provides meaning, purpose and value to you? If you look hard enough, I'm pretty sure you can find something. Make a choice to focus on that instead when you know there is no real threat. Take the time you need to step back and notice how you are still fortunate. I think what you will find is that a little understanding and a small shift in perspective can go a long way.
Until next time,
ps: I'd love to hear from you. Send me a note or schedule a free 20 minute consultation!
I don't recall as much craziness at once in such a short amount of time as I have recently in my whole life. Usually when something unprecedented happens, it kind of stands alone. However, we have all seen and will continue to see large shifts and changes in our culture and lives going forward. It's not all bad either.
We are just beginning to see some light after months of lockdown due to the pandemic. It's far from over but things have begun to open up. It's like a breath of fresh air, however we have the haunted feeling of the unknown. I have to admit, I am not a news monger. Much of what I see and hear is not positive so I choose not to indulge. I stay informed for the most part and that is good enough for me.
Most recently the tragic death of George Floyd has the world reeling. When I first heard about it, I knew if I were to see that video I would not be able to forget it or keep it out of my mind. I did not need to see it to be horrified by it. One does not need to personally know someone to feel the horror of what is happening to another human being.
I very quickly saw how this was not going to just go away. And it shouldn't. The discussion quickly went from being all about Covid-19 to the movement of Black Lives Matter. Every time I went into my inbox or the internet I saw more discussion about individuals taking a stand against the atrocities that are and have been taking place for a very long time.
I have to be transparent here. As much as I don't like to admit this, (due to my fear of being judged or misunderstood) I was a little annoyed in the beginning. I was thinking to myself "Really, you are getting on this bandwagon too? Why is everyone acting like this is something new? BLACK LIVES AND ALL LIVES HAVE ALWAYS MATTERED SO WHY ARE YOU ACTING SO SURPRISED?"
The fast escalation from peaceful protests to violence and destruction upsets me to my core. I have never thought that violence solves anything. We have unfair brutality and injustice happening to all kinds of people all over the world and I never thought hurting one another was a good solution.
This all brings me back to my childhood and not so great a time in m life. I thought we were so beyond this. I lived in the city of Chicago in what now is considered a very nice and somewhat exclusive area. When I lived there it was an average middle class neighborhood. A few blocks away however, it was known to be not very safe due to gang activity and crime. As in most places, you go to the school within your district. When the time came for me to change schools for 7th and 8th grade, my school was within that not so safe area. Not many years prior that school and the adjacent high school had struggled with violence due to racial rioting.
It was too close for a bus so I had to walk. Every day I had to pass by the corner where the gang members congregated across the street from my school. I was terrified for those two years I went to that school. Occasionally I would get stopped and checked for money. I would hide my money for lunch in my socks. I was a latchkey kid so I would hide my single key as well. I was picked on sometimes because I was white. You see, I was the minority. A few times word would go around school that so and so was mad at me and they were going to kick my ass after school (for no reason). I would feel like throwing up the whole day and there were a few times I actually had to fist fight another girl after school while a group of people stood around and watched.
That being said, I am grateful that I was exposed to different types of race and ethnicities in may formative years. It was normal to me. I saw the good and not so good in ALL types of people. I admit I was traumatized and carried a lot of fear due to my early years. However, that was just two years in my life. Not my whole life. I had a small glimpse of what it feels like to be out numbered and treated as an outsider. Just a very small smidgen of what it feels like to live in fear because I was not the majority. I realize that many kids get bullied. Nothing makes it okay. I naively did not think that people were still getting bullied or treated unfairly to the degree they are based on the color of their skin.
So, I've been feeling a bit like I've had my head in the sand. Racism and White Supremacy have always sickened me. How can I not be aware of all the ways it is still affecting us in our world? Have I not been paying attention? I realize we have brutality and injustice to all kinds of people but we have to ask ourselves, are the scales tipped equally?
To do may part I have to take stock and see where I could possibly be contributing to the problem. Becoming more aware of what is going on in my brain is a way of becoming more conscious of the problem and the solution.
In my heart I believe we are all created equal and perfect. If I take a brown marker or any color maker to my hand and color it, it does not change who I am and my level of worthiness. My daughter-in-law is racially mixed and so is my grandson. I can't even fathom loving them more or less if they were any different.
We cannot walk in other peoples shoes, however we can try to open our minds and our hearts and make the effort to look inside of ourselves and see where we may have our own blind spots. This is what can begin to make a difference in our country and our world.
Empathy and love feel good and will always win.
Until next time,
We all deal with things that come up in our lives in different ways. Lately I've been hearing a lot of talk about people overindulging in food and drink during the pandemic. I'm sure there is truth to that for some people and I have to admit, I've experienced some of that myself. It's easy to understand considering that many people have been spending a great deal of their time at home. What I find interesting is that regardless of the circumstances, we often distract ourselves in the same old ways.
Do you ever notice or pay attention to what you normally do when you are stressed out, bored or procrastinating doing something that does not appeal to you? Do you usually grab a cookie or two, a handful of chips, or maybe you look forward to the evening cocktail or beer (or plural) after work? You may instead find yourself watching hours of Tik Tok (seems to be the new favorite). Whatever the case, we usually have our go-to distractions.
I'm not referring to the much needed down time to allow ourselves to rejuvenate. That's the healthy kind. I'n talking about the things we do in excess that neither benefit us and are sometimes the opposite of what we really want to be doing. Much of the time we are not even consciously aware of it. To end the cycle, you often end up feeling not so good about yourself or what you've accomplished that day.
If that sounds familiar and you find yourself sabotaging your weight loss, drinking more than you'd like and not getting things done, here are a few simple ways you can change it up a bit.
PAUSE; Notice what you are doing and if you are doing it in excess. Once you pay attention to it you can usually get an inkling if you are.
WHAT; Ask yourself what's on your mind? What thoughts are fluttering around in your brain right now?
HOW: Are those things you are thinking about making you feel?
DECIDE: Is this really what you want to be doing? Is this working for you or against you? Once you decide, you can...
CHANGE: Change it up a bit. Do something different that feels better to you in the long run and is in more alignment with your goals. At the very least you are making a conscious decision and being more aware and honest with yourself.
I know I've made reference to this before and I think in these crazy times, it's worth repeating.
We all do have a choice about many things we think are beyond our control. We can make a decision that leads us to a different outcome. That's powerful. We may not be able to change the circumstances in our lives, however it's pretty awesome to know we can manage our mind around them.
Until next time,
I was reflecting on what's been going on in the world today due to the current circumstances with the pandemic. I don't want to give the impression that I think this is a good thing, however I try to find something at least a little positive in any given situation if I can. It feels better to do it that way. When there are unfamiliar and scary things that happen around us, it's easy to only focus on that. Not so good because then we miss so much of the goodness that also exists in our world.
While I was thinking, Forrest Fenn's memoir "The Thrill of the Chase" came to mind. If you have not heard of it, you may find it intriguing. It's not just a memoir. Within the book there are also clues to help find his buried treasure. I'm serious. There's a real treasure out there waiting to be found someplace along the Rocky Mountains and if you can find it, it's yours. It's rumored to be worth at least a million dollars and could be worth much more. There have been thousands of people that have devoted many hours in the hunt for the treasure, as well as some tragic accidents that occurred during their search.
However, I'm sure that was never Forrest Fenn's intent. He's encourages everyone to take precautions and stay safe. You may be wondering what his motives were for hiding the treasure and what it has to do with what's going on in the world today.
He first launched the search in 2010 during The Great Recession. It seems he wanted to give people some hope and something to believe in.
He is quoted in an article from Business Insider:
"I wanted to give the kids something do do, They spend too much time in the game room or playing with their handheld texting machines. I hope parents will take their children camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. I hope they will fish, look for fossils, turn rotten logs over to see what's under them and look for my treasure."
We as humans like to make sense of things. We like to find reason and use logic to explain what we don't understand. We may never fully understand why things happen the way they do. What if we never find a valid reason for the loss we've experienced and how it's affected our families, jobs and economy? What if there is a reason that serves as the greater purpose for our universe that we will never see or understand? I guess it boils down to some kind of faith in that possibility. The harsh cold reality could just be that it was meant to happen simply because it did.
Here are a few of the positive things I've noticed or experienced recently:
We band together during tragic times to help one another.
People have become extremely creative whether it be working from home for the first time or celebrities providing streaming entertainment for their own homes at no cost.
I've had more time with my husband than ever before (some may not think this is a good thing but it's not been too painful for us).
I've had the time to take long walks with my dog. I've noticed people are getting outside, especially families together more than ever before.
Projects are getting done at home.
I've been able to see and hear the birds in the morning which is something I love.
I've not been spending 2 to 3 hours every work day in my car and have saved a ton of money on gas and tolls.
It's a matter of shifting your perspective.
What if there is a force out there telling us it's time to slow down a bit and forcing us to take the time to appreciate some of the simple things. The world has changed and it will continue to change. It has been evolving since the beginning of time. During a time like this when we all have concerns about the state of the economy, our future and even loss, it feels good to take just a moment to look for some good.
Any good is better than none. Maybe there's a hidden treasure someplace close to you. Keep on searching and you may just find it.
Until next time,
I've found that one of the most challenging things after experiencing the loss of someone close, is the ability to find a similar connection to another person. I think that's one of the most difficult factors in our process of healing. We remember the closeness and love that we felt for that person. We remember all of the memories and all of the experiences we've shared with them and the deep emotion and profound hurt we felt of our loss. This can really apply to any great loss we've had; our pets, jobs and our relationships.
It's harder for some of us than others to move forward in our current relationships or to make new ones. We may view them in a very different way. We are changed in ways that other people, even those who know us well don't understand. We look at things and people under a different lens. You can become hyper focused. Some of us still seek and hope for the same kind of connection to replace the one we've lost. We may not be consciously aware of it but nothing else will ever measure up the same.
This is normal and even expected. However, there is one big problem here. At some point we realize there isn't going to be anyone that can fill those shoes in the same way. It can make us feel even more distressed and hopeless.
The good news is there is a solution. We can make a conscious decision to stop comparing and seeking only what we consider to be close enough to what we had. When we hold our loved one in their own special place and space in our mind and heart, it is in a sense honoring them. Acknowledging this can help you begin to make that shift. We can give ourselves the grace and understanding that we will never find the same connection because we are all different people and experience unique connections with each and every person we encounter. We can then allow ourselves to open up to the possibility that we may find good connections with others. We can create new experiences and memories. We can focus our mind on those possibilities to allow feelings of anticipation and maybe even excitement to emerge.
It depends on where you decide to focus your energy. We as humans always find what we are looking for and we place our attention on. You can continue to focus on what you've lost and no longer have (which never changes anything) or you can allow yourself to look forward to something different but also something that can be amazing for you in the future. What the heck, give it a try.
Until next time and stay well,
There are days when no matter how far you think you've come in your journey of healing and making progress moving forward that you feel like you come to a screeching halt.
This past week I've had a number of days that felt this way to me
My heart's been heavy and the feeling of hopelessness keeps trying to creep back in. My body has actually been feeling physically heavier as if I'm constantly dragging around something heavy.
This time of year is not an easy time for me. My son passed away on Good Friday. He was at work that day unlike many who have the day off as a recognized holiday. The date that year was April 14th. So each year it's not just one day, it's a number of days where those memories are in the forefront of my mind. I remember it like yesterday...the people, the Easter gathering at my sister's house so we could still be together to support one another and our Pastor Lisa coming to say a prayer with us.
This past week had some additional challenges that presented themselves. I found out that a coworker that I had worked with for 20 years had unexpectedly passed away. I don't know how or what happened. I only that someone I cared dearly for is no longer with us. He had just retired last year and was one of the kindest and funniest men I've known. He was a retired Major in the Air Force and a graduate from the United States Air Force Academy. We bonded over this. I have two sons and a daughter in law that graduated from the Academy as well.
I also found out a close family member has been given a grim prognosis on their life expectancy.
We are currently in the midst of a pandemic so most of the news you hear these days is about more loss in our world.
I know I sound pretty gloomy. That's exactly how I feel. I also know I have to allow it to be there for now. I have to allow myself to be enveloped in my feelings of sadness and even temporary hopelessness. Not forever, just enough time for me to work through it. I know if I allow this and give myself this time to process and heal, I will be okay.
Writing this is a way for me to express myself that provides me some comfort and relief. Today is the third anniversary of the passing of my son and it happens to be a beautiful sunny day. My step daughter told me the sun was shining for me today. That melted my heart and I felt something shift inside of me. That's what love can do for you.
Until next time,
I have a difficult time existing in uncertainty. I don't like being in the the "gray" area of things. I think there are a certain group of individuals who may thrive in the uncertaintly and the excitement of the unknown. I know we all need to balance some of both in our lives to keep it interesting. I personally lean toward knowing what the heck is going on and having some kind of idea what to expect in the short term.
However, the reality is that most of the time life is not so black and white. It's not always that simple. What is going on in our world today is something that the majority of us have not experienced before. If you told me one month ago we'd be in the midst of a pandemic, I would never have believed you.
It seemed to me we were thriving. Unemployment was down, our economy was doing well, the airline industry was doing great. These are just a few of the things I pay attention to. It appears that most everything just halted. In many ways, it did.
One positive thing I see is that most people are doing whatever they can to support each other during this time. Often when things such as this happen, people step up. I believe it's a beautiful part of our humanity.
I know there is a lot of great advice and ideas that people are sharing out there to help. Here are a few things that I have found helpful for myself:
1. STICK TO THE FACTS:
It's easy during a time like this to hear something different every time you go to the internet or turn on the news or the radio. You may be seeing different posts from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. If you're not sure that what you are reading or hearing is a fact or something that can be proven as the truth, it could be another person's opinion or speculation. You can do your own due diligence and research to help you feel more comfortable on which one it is. In addition, you may find much of what is going on in your brain are thoughts that stem from the fear of the unknown. So, if it's not a "fact" and more of a "could be" or "what if", try to put it aside until you know for sure.
2. MINIMIZE YOUR EXPOSURE:
Although I understand it is imperative to keep ourselves informed during this time and to follow the guidelines from the CDC (Center of Disease Control), if we're spending too much time watching TV and surfing on Social Media, it will create more confusion and make #1 more difficult to achieve.
3. KEEP MOVING:
This may seem too simple to be effective but I promise you it can be enough to lift your spirits at least a little bit. We can look at this as if we are trapped and can't do anything and complain about it (I don't mean to be harsh but...) or we can look at this as an opportunity. It can be an opportunity to get some fresh air and some exercise. It can be an opportunity to take your dog for that nice long walk that you never seem to have time to do. If you have children you can view it as a gift to spend some time that you may not have otherwise. As a parent, I would do anything to have had more time and not feel like I should always be doing something else and making work and other things a priority. There are projects that you may have been putting off. You may be struggling with a decision and have not had the time to figure it out. You may have the quiet time you need right now. If reading is your jam, here is some time to catch up on it. Honestly, the list can go on and on. I understand your concerns about the financial aspect. Most of us are experiencing that right now. My point here is that by sitting still in worry or avoiding your feelings by doing things that are unproductive, it does not change the reality of what is happening. Over a prolonged period of time, it can make you feel even worse.
So really, what can you lose? Try something different today and see if it helps.
My hope and prayer is for us all to stay safe and well. May we all look forward to a brighter light in the not too distant future.
Until next time,
I was thinking today about all of the ways we avoid our feelings. What's funny is that many of us, or dare I say most of us, don't even know what we are feeling much of the time. So therefore, if we are not consciously aware of our feelings, how do we know we are avoiding them? Crazy huh? So, what if we are? (you might ask) What's so bad about that?
Here is the short version of the answer to that question. When we avoid our feelings, especially when they are unpleasant, they don't just go away. Instead they just show up in other ways. Most of the time the ways they show up are not really serving us, and they can morph into a separate problem or situation for us. Some examples are overeating or eating when you are not hungry. It may be over-drinking to numb out what you don't want to feel. You may spend too much time surfing around social media or watching too much TV and Netflix.
The list can go on and on. I am not suggesting one is worse than the other, I am simply saying they are all ways of escaping what we don't care to feel in any given moment. Instead, you divert your attention to something else.
The secondary result is that you have a new problem. You may be overweight, or drinking too much or not accomplishing other things you know you want to because you are busy doing "that other thing". We think it's easier to focus on something else than the thing you are avoiding. Many of us add insult to injury by beating ourselves up for not doing what we think we should be doing.
There is a simple solution to help you begin to change this cycle. If you find yourself doing something in excess, pause for a moment and ask yourself what you've been thinking about or trying to avoid. If you realize it's something that makes you feel like crap or stresses you out, you may just have been given your first clue.
Try sitting down with whatever it is you are feeling for a minute or two before you turn to your normal "go to" that ends up not feeling so good after all. If you need to, give it a bit longer. You may find the worst of it is allowing the feeling to be there long enough for it to do its thing and process itself. It's possible you don't need to create something else to feel bad about instead.
Until next time,
Earlier this week I was in a session with my therapist. Yes, I still have one and I also have a coach. I have found them both to be invaluable for my healing and growth. I look forward to my sessions. I am still surprised sometimes by what I discover or the clarity I can get by the end of a session.
During my last session we were discussing a topic that shows up often for me; my fear and insecurities about "putting myself out there" or "exposing myself". I am a pretty private person, not a big social media expert and I would consider myself an introvert until I get to know someone well and I feel comfortable. Even posting on social media terrifies me sometimes. It seems so ridiculous to say it out loud or write it, however it's the truth.
In my most recent training program I have been required to do many of those things that push me way beyond my comfort zone. Sometimes so much so I almost convince myself that it's simply not for me. What always helps reel me back in and to keep me motivated is having the opportunity to help someone and possibly make a positive difference in their lives. However, my brain often has others ideas and it tries it's best to sabotage me by putting thoughts of doubt in my mind.
My doctor had the grace to remind me of something that made a big difference to me that day while in my throes of self doubt. She said what she has noticed over the years where life coaching has become more and more popular, is that many of the people that become coaches are people who have been through some kind of struggle. It's not something that we decided early on to do or planned when figuring out what kind of career we wanted. It's because we experience something, discover how life coaching can help and then feel compelled to help others. For some, it does not feel like a choice, it feels like a must. Some people prefer to get help from those that have been through a similar experience and that's what may set someone like myself apart.
There is room for all kinds of help in this world. We are not here to compete or try to be better than someone else. Most of us simply want to help. We all have something unique to bring to others and you get to decide what feels best to you. I think that's a beautiful thing.
I am thankful for being reminded of that.
Until next time,
For more information or to schedule a free 20 minute consultation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to share my story about "Think Of Me Always". Life certainly has a way of weaving things in peculiar ways without us being the least bit aware of what lies ahead.
Just under 3 years prior to my son's passing, one of his closet friends, unexpectedly passed away. They grew up together as his parents and I have also been close friends since high school. As the boys became adults, they connected on their own and continued their friendship. One of the things that strengthened their bond was their love of music and guitar.
For his friends service, my son created vinyl stickers of his friend in a perfect silhouette of what he loved doing most. They were done in a way to perfectly capture his friends essence. It was an amazing reminder of who he was and I'm guessing, how he would have preferred to be remembered. It was a small gift for those who knew him and for those who didn't as well. It seemed to provide some comfort regardless.
We talked about how his vinyl stickers were received and appreciated. I encouraged him to pursue it and consider offering it to others. During one of our conversations, he shared a name he thought would be appropriate for this type of business. I'm sure you guessed, it was Think Of Me Always. I loved it enough that I bought the domain name so that it would be available for him if he ever wanted to use it.
When deciding what name to use for my own business, this name kept coming up for me. I had other names I had already been considering but nothing felt right. It was because this name had so much meaning to me. It was my way of honoring him. It felt perfectly right.
Think Of Me Always is my way to remember my son with not just sadness, but to remember his heart, thoughtfulness and creativity. I'm pretty sure he'd be okay with that.
Below is a photo of the sticker he created for his friend. My hope is that they are doing some amazing jamming together once again.
With all my love.