Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?

I’ve been having some serious angst about what to do when I grow up. I was here in January of 2018 and now I’m back. I went to see my former spiritual director. She made reference in our conversation to the song by Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler.” It made me chuckle because I had just listened to that CD earlier this week after I don’t know how many years. Love his music.

I know that when it comes to my decision making, I don’t have a problem with stick-to-it-ness. I can hold ’em indefinitely. I will try every avenue no matter how long it takes or how frustrating it gets. My error usually lies in knowing when to fold ’em.

I’ve sought out some wise folks to help but it is still a daunting endeavor. Some say you have to do what you are passionate about. That is the foundation for all else. Others say it is primarily a job, an avenue for making money. Passion is the icing on the cake. I think I’ve decided you need to balance the two.

One of the things I got out of spiritual direction is that my underlying emotions are in conflict. We recently made a pretty large financial decision. While I think it was the “right” couple decision, I discovered I wasn’t as emotionally comfortable as I thought I was. I know it’s hard to believe that a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve so blatantly even has underlying emotions, but it does happen on rare occasions. At any rate, postponing financial wiggle room has made my work search a bit more frantic.

I love variety and I love that I have had so many different experiences in life where I have been able to earn money. At the same time, moments like this I wish I just had that one simple thing. So many of my endeavors require networking and advertising ad nauseum. How do you evaluate if you are using your time and energy wisely? How long do you keep having conversations that seem so promising but turn out to be fruitless before you just stop having them?

Anyhow, that is where I am at these days. I have an appointment with Darren in just a few moments. I’ve blogged about him several times over the years. He is the last “ear” that I have scheduled with and I am hoping we come up with some helpful plans of actions for how to move forward.

So please feel free to share your own stories. And keep those prayers coming. I need to know when to walk away and when to run. Or maybe stay put.


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Puppy Love

I have no great writing agenda today. I just think this puppy is so dang cute, I wanted to share my pictures of him. My brother introduced us to nine-week-old Willow yesterday. I had spoken to Randy on the phone earlier and his exhaustion and comments about what a pistol his new baby was had me laughing and intrigued.

I mean really, isn’t he priceless?

He did not disappoint. He is this tiny fur-ball with the energy of ten puppies. With three adults giving him full attention, Willow still managed to pee about five times on the rug. He ended up back in his pen a few times for biting with some razor-sharp puppy teeth. Actually, I would call it more like a death grip. He would get my shirt or sock so firmly implanted in his jaws, we couldn’t get him off.

Now how could we leave him in there for long?

After an hour I expected Willow to do the puppy thing and suddenly drop to sleep. It never happened. He would look sleepy, but it was all just a mischievous ploy to fool us into thinking we would get a break. But he’s worth every ounce of energy you put into him. I could tell you how soft and adorable he is, but the pictures speak for themselves.

No writing of depression, grief or medical nonsense this week. Just unadulterated cuteness. Hope you enjoy!


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Huh?

I had to give a presentation in Williamsville. Silly me, I was pretty nervous about it. Williamsville is a bit upscale and I was being hosted by these supposed power-house women who have been published and herald themselves as specializing in helping women in business. I wanted my presentation to be perfect.

What a joke.

The stories are limitless but I will highlight a few. They created an event on Facebook and then kept pressure on me to promote it daily (or more) for over two months. Along the way, they seemed to forget their promise to promote it as well. Two days before the event, my neighbor tried to buy a ticket and found the event closed for sales. I contacted them right away and they fixed it, but I was surprised at their error considering how pushy they were about Facebook.

I sent my power point to them well in advance and specifically asked to check a certain slide where I linked to a YouTube video. It is often tricky and I wanted it to go off without a hitch. They assured me they checked and it was fine. You can guess what I’m going to say next. When I arrived it’s the first thing I did and of course it was NOT working, which left me scrambling.

Well, the second thing. The first thing I had to do was bring up three loads of boxes to their second floor office. I showed up in an air-cast boot. Their elevator was broken. (Isn’t handicap accessibility a law-thing?) The partner that was there offered me no assistance. One of the participants who was also a friend ended up bringing up my boxes.

No refreshments there like they do for other workshops they host. What’s that about? Not even water for the speaker. That’s a given usually.

About two minutes before I began she asked me how long I was planning on talking. I said 60-90 minutes and she made it clear she had only planned on an hour. Nice thing to throw at a speaker last minute. I had a lot of material to cover. She made the event invitation. Last time I knew (no pun intended), 6-7:30 pm was 90 minutes, not 60.

Through my entire presentation, she played on her phone. She didn’t interact or participate. When it was over, I went through the same nonsense trying to get everything to the car. I asked her outright for help which she said she would do but then ignored me. The participants carried my things to the car.

She told me in front of the group she would email me the evaluations in the morning. Several days later, I had to ask for them. I also was in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for my check. There was no charge for the workshop per se, but we did charge $10 for materials. Each person left with a 3-ring binder with the information that was presented.

Another few days later, I received an email that said they would send half the amount. I was enraged. I put a call in and was told that the agreement was that we split the money 50/50. There was no such agreement.

But here is the real kicker of it all. Why would they even think they would get material money when they didn’t provide the materials? Not only did they provide nothing, I reminded them that I asked them no less than 3 times to make copies for me because I am a one-person operation and their answer was NO. They wouldn’t even copy one piece of paper for me. Yet they wanted half the material money. I was in shock.

Her final answer? If you provide me with receipts, I will be happy to give you your money. I could have peed myself.

My friend that referred me to them sent an email with her disgust and they agreed to give me the money that was mine. How nice of them. But they also went on to justify themselves by saying I was the one not prepared and didn’t know how to use PowerPoint. Completely not true.

What a joke that I was worried about impressing them. I have never been treated so rudely or unprofessionally. My evaluations were glowing, and I know the participants were disgusted with their behavior as well. I guess that is good enough, but man, I still really can’t believe it.

Why do I still get surprised at this stuff?


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Progress

I have been enjoying working with my lady and the organizing we have been attempting to. Here is one of the before and after photos I have:

I’m not sure what you think about that. Is it like, wow! What a huge difference!  Or is it like, big deal! It’s just one small wall.

I guess both statements are true. This job has gotten me thinking more about the dynamics around hoarding vs. disorganization. Usually when I go to a typical home where things have gotten a little out of hand, folks are just overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Once we get going, they pick up momentum and catch on to my method. Next time I go there, I find they have been working on their own and making great progress.  Most people love feeling more free and less encumbered.

With hoarding, or on your way to being one, it seems to be a different dynamic. It usually develops over many, many years. I think people become completely unaware of how their environment has affected them. This lovely lady I work with sits quietly when I get excited about the finished section. I will tell her how great it looks and she will say calmly, “Whatever you say. I thought it was fine before.”  And I believe she really feels that way.

I am hoping with time she will develop some intrinsic motivation. If she doesn’t, I know what will happen. Things will just return to the way they were, which will put her at risk with the building managers. Keep your fingers crossed and say your prayers for her.


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Paying Forward

We got a new carpet this week. A crew of three came to rip up the old and put in the new. One was a female. The guys told me they love working with her because she works harder than 95% of the men on their crew. (No offense men, but that really isn’t surprising!)

She complimented the house and we ended up chatting. Found out she was struggling a bit. She lives in an apartment and is raising her granddaughter. Unfortunately, that usually means her child is either a drug addict or has a serious mental illness. I didn’t pry.

Turns out she could use some of the excess small tables I had that I was going to post and attempt to sell. I told her I would be happy to give her them which saves me the hassle of selling. She was very grateful but didn’t drive. Her boss picks her up every morning and takes her home and she didn’t want to put him out any further.

I went out to talk to “the boss.” I told him I was going to “bat my eyes” at him and he asked what it was I wanted. He had no problem taking the items for her. She was so thrilled. I mentioned that one of them had belonged to my dad. She saw a picture of him on the wall and said he looked kind. She also said she would say some prayers in his honor. It was a lovely and seemingly sincere moment.

She was hesitant to take it at first because of it belonging to him. I told her that keeping it would not bring him back, but it would make me happy to know that someone so kind and appreciative was using it.

It was a lovely day in spite of all the stress that house remodeling brings. For those of you that haven’t been here in a while, you should stop in and see the new bathroom and bedroom. Tim and I have made a great team and things are looking spiffy!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially those experiencing the loss of someone they care about. Holidays always seem to multiply the grief. 

And please share my post if you are able. Always trying to boost interest in these topics and hopefully expose my business. Love to all of you!


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The Christmas Queen

This time of year, I’m known as the Christmas Queen. I hate the thought of Christmas presents, but I love the media stuff. Thanks to my OCD, I am also known more as the Christmas Nazi. That is because I HAVE to do the following every year:

Read every Christmas book I have
Listen to every Christmas record I have
Watch every Christmas movie I own
Listen to every Christmas CD I have
Play every piece of Christmas piano music I have

My friend Darren knows this about me so last year he sent me an external drive with his Christmas collection. This year I got it open and let me tell you, he makes me look like a Christmas Scrooge. He sent audio books, dozens of movies, and about 4,000 Christmas songs!

You can see why I had to start at the beginning of November. There are several things that I enjoy, but wouldn’t particularly want to visit again every year. And I’m learning lots of things, probably only interesting to me.

1- When it comes to audio books, I prefer actual readings vs. additional voices and sounds to dress it up. Patrick Stewart’s reading of A Christmas Carol is awesome, which is of course followed up by watching the movie with him as Scrooge. The exception is The Grinch. Having those fun songs throughout the reading is a definite bonus.

2- When it comes to movies, I was surprised by a few. Curious George and The Smurfs actually have repetitive worthy specials that I thought for sure were going to be on the one-time only list. Tim was particularly unhappy when he came home last week to my announcement that we needed to talk. I told him I still loved him dearly, but my heart has expanded and I am also in love with another man as well. ANDY WILLIAMS! My, what a heart-throb. He is so dang handsome and has the most beautiful eyes. (Well, so does Tim for that matter!) Tim pointed out that he is old as dirt and I pointed out he is still pretty damn handsome with his salt and pepper hair.

3- As for music, I found I am not quite as eclectic as I thought. Darren has brought my attention to all types of genres that I didn’t even know were out there. I found the B.B. King file and figured I would love him but discovered I didn’t care for his style at all. The big surprise was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, who I had never even heard of and would have thought would have been a big no. Turns out I loved them. Lou Rawls voice is as hot as they come. And my favorite find so far, is Julie London, who I also didn’t recognize. She does a song called, “I’d Like You for Christmas” that is so sexy and sweet, I almost woke Tim up at 2 a.m. to dance with me. He said he appreciated my wisdom on not following through.

While you might think this a monumental waste of my time, I have found a way to make this useful. If Darren can put movies on a disk, then I can too. I can add to the drive and dispense of my DVDs which is consistent with my desire to keep getting rid of “stuff” in any way possible. Plus, any books on audio, I can get rid of those as well. See? It’s such a good use of my time 🙂

This was an indulgent blog about my own quirks, but a non-depressing theme is ok once in a while, isn’t it?


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Tired Out

I had surgery on my feet last week so I’ve been on crutches. Mostly, there isn’t much pain. The thing that has surprised me is how much I am sleeping. I can sleep for hours. As I slowly increase my activity, I find after an hour or two I need another nap. Someone pointed out that once I stopped, the last few months may have just caught up with me. I’ve been crashing hard.

My first time driving again, I went to a building complex for folks 62 and over. I have two jobs there I will be starting where I am helping the resident clean the built-up clutter in their homes. Both apartments are going to be quite a challenge. The conversations with the two women in their mid to late 70’s were amazingly similar.

“I’m tired.” Both ladies repeated that again and again. Tired with a capital T. Tired of taking care of themselves. Tired of taking care of other people, which is definitely what most women do for most of their lives. Tired of all of it.

One woman made it clear that she was not referring to “giving up” because there’s a big difference. It brought back floods of feelings and memories of Dad. I spent the last year or so trying to explain to others that exact sentiment. Dad was tired. He was done. But I saw that as completely courageous. There was no giving up, it was an acceptance. Done here. Ready for the next.

I don’t think the women I saw today were necessarily referencing the end of their lives. They are just ready for a change. Needing to simplify. Needing to stop and slow down. Wanting to be taken care of a bit which is the biggest change of all. “I’m tired.”

Later I spoke with one of the managers who asked if I had an initial assessment. I said it was too early to know for sure, but my gut feeling is that neither of them had a mental health issue of concern. They are both just tired. Tired with a capital T.

I’m aware that this week held one of those realizations that once again, God, the universe has brought my life experiences to dovetail beautifully with my work. I was able to understand and relate to them in a much deeper way more quickly than I would have a few months ago. Thanks Dad. It felt really soul-satisfying to hug one of them at the end and hear her say, “You are the only one that is listening. I could kiss you right now.”

My approach to these organizing jobs will have a slightly different slant. I will be emphasizing that peace is coming their way. They can sit in their chairs and direct me and I will do my best to give them rest. The soul kind of rest they desperately need.

My sleep has been more physical, just recovering from surgery and lots of stress. That kind of fatigue is important to respond to, but these women are tired in a much deeper, wide-reaching way. Send prayers for us as we begin our work together that the outcome will be much more significant than a clean apartment. This feels more like a ministry. I’m so glad for the opportunity!