Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Estrogen Infusion

In September I spoke at a conference about 3 hours away. I was kind of dreading it because I was on the committee over the previous year and just wanted it to be over with. However, I had a great time and met some great women. I was surprised to hear myself say I didn’t want to go home.

In October, I went away with 7 of my girlfriends to our annual “Magical Misery Tour.” Some said it was the best year yet. We laughed, sang and danced. There was some intense grief being processed as well. The epitome of bittersweet.

This month, I went to Chicago (I lived there for 9 years) for a death doula training. I spent 5 days with some of my dearest friends, was educated in a very stimulating educational training, and met some super cool women. One of them articulated it perfectly. She said “I’m wholly unaccustomed to quick-witted, loving, likeminded people.  It fed my soul.” I REALLY didn’t want to go home this time. Here’s our crew:

It got me thinking. When Mom died in 2007, she was my best friend. She hated when I said that and would come back with, “Stop saying that! I’m not your friend, I’m your MOTHER!.” True that, but she didn’t have a choice. She was my favorite female in the world. The hole that she left in my life was astounding. I made a decision to find and nurture good female folks to bond with.

When I didn’t have a significant other in my life, I had to rely very heavily on my girls. Now I do have a significant other, I realize how deeply I can just appreciate them and my connection to them.

The last 3 months I have been so terribly fortunate to have those little trips away. Next month I am supposed to go to Florida for work. A friend of mine got me the job and she is on the team with me. I imagine that will be another great experience.

Yay for estrogen! I love my ya-yas, the old and the new. I’m so grateful for every one of you. Every single one!  


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Secular & Sacred

I believe that I have been approaching a crossroads. I am well aware of folks in my life who love and forgive me for mistakes I have made (and I mean big, hurtful mistakes!) I am also aware of a slew of folks that don’t like me. Some might even hate me. The ironic piece is that they are generally folks I have gone out of my way to be kind to, yet that has somehow been twisted in their minds.

In the church I have been recently attending, I have had my heart pierced again with messages of forgiveness, grace, freedom, which of course begins with God’s perfect love and sacrifice for us. I find myself lying awake at night wondering if I should be knocking on doors and trying to repair the broken relationships I have out there.

I went to see Scott, my decades-long therapist. He knows the history and story of most of these people that I am estranged from. Some of them he has even met. He gave me an empathic NO, I should not be knocking on doors of people who have pretty much abused my kindness because of their own brokenness. Why do I have such a deep need for everyone to like me?

He pointed to my missionary spirit. I even got a degree in it in college. I have a vision of love and healing and I am crushed when life doesn’t happen that way. Unfortunately, it rarely does. I walked away thinking that I do not need to assertively push my, “I’m finally walking away from your toxicity” quest, but I also most definitely do not need to assertively walk into a space where I am most likely going to be hurt or abused again. I can be open if they ever approach me with a goal of reconciliation.

Then I decided I wanted to chat with my pastor as well. Would she say forget the world’s wisdom? Give unconditional love and grace, turn your cheek over and over. That is God’s example to us – radical love. Doesn’t that feel more “right?”

She did not say those things. I was shocked to find that such an amazing woman also has “haters” in her life. She talked about God’s vision NOT being that of a doormat. She talked about working hard to accept that we cannot control other people’s response is to us. What God does call us to, is to be who we need to be every day when we wake up. A person dearly loved by God who continues to love and grow.

She then challenged me. What will it take for me to accept that kind of love from God? For me to believe in my heart what my head has believed for years now? To take my own passionate advice when it comes to supporting other people?

I think I have glimpsed moments of that in the last decade of my life. I think as I have aged I have begun to push back when treated badly. I have begun to seek reciprocity. Scott says to sink my energy into the people that love me and desire my company.

There was no big disconnect between the secular and sacred wisdom I sought out. They complemented each other.

I’m sure I will stay lay awake some nights and feel bad about the people around me who have rejected me and the efforts I made to be a good person to them. It will still hurt. But I am also going to seek to turn my energy away from that and focus on my own growth.

And be deeply grateful for the many truly wonderful people who have chosen to love me.


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GUEST BLOGGER: Natalie Jones

Natalie and her husband, Jason, recently bought their first home. She hopes to make the process of buying a home less scary for first-timers by sharing what she and Jason have learned along the way.

How Couples Moving In Together Can Save Money During the Home Decorating Phase

If you’re part of a couple that is cohabiting for the first time, decorating your new home or apartment is one of the first true tests you’ll face. You’ll have to come together, make sacrifices, and show each other extreme patience. What will certainly throw a wrench into all of this peace, love, and harmony is an overblown decorating budget. Here’s how you can save money during the decorating phase and put as little strain on your relationship as possible, whether you’re coming up with a budget or using a Crate and Barrel promo code.

First things first: Budget

As Vogue notes, moving in together often presents a “serious test for how well couples will work together in the financial realm. To avoid any financial surprises, map out a master budget for decorating your new space — and stick to it.”

Planning how much money you are willing to spend is a tried-and-true method for saving money. That’s what budgeting is on a large scale. When it comes to the still important but significantly less ambitious task of budget for home decor, be sure to estimate on the high end for every item. This will also help you avoid surprises.

Make use of coupons and other deals to acquire your basics

Major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond or Kohl’s often offer coupons and other deals that serve a great purpose: filling your new living space with the essentials. Before you begin shopping for things like pillows, bath towels, and small appliances (like a coffee maker), be sure to check for online coupons and discounts so you can save as much money as possible. For example, if both of you love to shop at Crate and Barrel but you want to keep that cost as low as possible, find promo codes and savings to bring those purchases in under budget. Also, when you take advantage of the Crate and Barrel free shipping offer, you can even more money. There are also a handful of solid apps that allow you to set up alerts for price drops on certain items.

Take your time gathering furniture piece by piece

Hopefully, you and your partner will bring some of your own beloved furniture with you to your new living space, but inevitably you’ll need to populate your new home with new pieces. Patience is the key to saving money. You can’t expect to find great furniture for good prices all at once. Making a habit of thrift shopping on the weekends, for example, is a good way to save. Remember: it’s smart to shop for second-hand items in physical, brick-and-mortar stores and online (sites like Craigslist and others).

Embrace eclectic design

If your design aesthetic is all about matching decor, you’re going to have a tougher time saving money. The more eclectic your design style, the more freedom you have to incorporate decor of all different styles, with cost instead of style being your main determining factor. Eclectic doesn’t mean ugly or low-quality. It simply means having an open mind and being able to embrace alternative design elements

Prioritize multitasking when buying furniture and decor

HGTV calls it pulling “double duty,” but you may think of it as multitasking. You can save money on decorating by prioritizing furniture and other decor elements that serve multiple purposes. Think coffee and end tables that offer plenty of storage and convertible furniture. You don’t have to be trying to save space to opt for this sort of smart decor. All you have to try to save money.

Above all else, don’t forget this one important tip: communicate. Open communication between you and your partner is vital if you want the moving in and decorating process to go smoothly. Be honest about your wants and needs — especially your budgeting. Only when you take the time to develop a real strategy can you make your new home beautiful without breaking the bank.

Photo by Unsplash


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Workaholic

I’ve been labeled a workaholic again lately. It’s not the first time in my life. Over the last handful of years, things had slowed down a bit. I spent a year and a half marketing my new services but it took that long to for it to take off.

Now I’m back in full swing. I know where the work stuff comes from. Straight from my upbringing. Dad never missed work and he was clear without saying a word that working hard was a very highly valued ethic to live by.

I was in a session talking with a woman who is facing that struggle so many of us do. How do you honor your instinct and gifts of helping others with taking care of yourself? How do you not over-extend and over-burden yourself?

Fine line to draw if you ask me. A very fine line.

I’m proud of my work ethic, but as I was mulling it over in my head, I thought I’m really more of a “responsibility-aholic” than a workaholic. My days are bounced back and forth between the several careers I am juggling, but also being a homeowner, a parent of a teenager (academics and sports), caring for an aging (and failing!) pet, being in a relationship and having a balanced social life. Yes, even having a balanced social life I consider a responsibility in order to take care of myself. You can’t help others if you are depleted.

I want to officially coin that term. Not sure if there’s a huge difference between work and responsibility, but it feels like there is at least a small distinction.

I’m on Step One: I admit I am powerless over “responsibility-ism”. Not sure if my life has become unmanageable. I can usually manage ok when my support systems are in place. (Although some of them suffer from the same disease so they aren’t always available.)

Just need to stop and smell the roses en route to my next thing. Today it was stopping to pet the cat for a few minutes when I was making the bed. She is a purring machine so I paused my “list” and enjoyed her joyful personality. Gotta do things like that more often.


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Vitamin D

When you are coming off a crummy spring like we had, it makes you appreciate the sunny days. It is no secret that it is much easier to be more motivated and less depressed when the weather is pleasant and the sun is shining.

This weekend was a lovely one. I have been working hard at relaxing more. If that isn’t an oxy-moron, I don’t know what is! Saturday night we had a fire and had an exceptionally good turnout. There were 16 of us and it seemed as if everyone had a great time. The highlights of the night were Mike’s fire dance (which I am unable to provide video of, sorry to say) and the discovery that Tiffany is capable of making the perfect toasted marshmallow.

Seriously, isn’t that amazing? Of course, it looks ginormous in the picture…

Sunday it was another lovely day and it progressed as it usually does around here. It started out with me and then the calls came in. Some friends stopped over and lounged in the pool. Then my granddaughter Callie called me. She melts my heart when she wants to do something with me. She came over and played in the pool, then took a walk with me and Taffy by the creek.

I’m hoping Mother Nature remains kind to us. I like to like life!


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Duh Moments

The “duh” moments just keep increasing. Let’s see. I sent a payment in the mail except it returned in my mailbox. Good thing I had my address and stamp on it so it came back. The only thing missing was the entire name and address it was going to. Nice.

Then there was Tim’s hunting/lawn chair. I took it to Dave’s track meet and forgot it there. One of the parents took a picture and texted it to me. He brought it back which was nice because it was an hour away. Fast forward to another track meet. That parent laughed and said, remember when you forgot that? Yep, I will never do that again. Of course, that very same day, you guessed it. I left the chair. Only this time there was no one there to rescue it. I drove back the next morning but it was gone. My cousin started #prayfortim.

My favorite one was coming in the house to ask the boys what the heck happened to the basketball net. We have two in our driveway. Now they are big, and with all the wind we get they tend to fall down. I was passing by the yard and noticed only one of them was on the ground. How could anything so big go missing?

Timmy did his usual blank stare and Dave asked what the heck I was talking about. He goes over to the window and says they are both there. I go over to the window and point out there is only one laying on the ground. He points out that the other is standing next to it in the upright position, just like it’s supposed to be. OMG, I really am losing it.

One thing I did get right though. Dave has a small room off his closet. It has slanted roofs so the space is difficult. It used to be a playroom but at 16, it had become a dumping ground for hockey equipment. Tim and Timmy got on the mission and designed this lovely thing.

It looks like a professional locker room if you ask me. (The picture looks like the shelf is slanted up but it’s actually not.) Do you think it might not smell as bad if that equipment is hanging like that? One can only hope. Kudos to the men in the house for deisgning and building in a difficult space.

Sometimes my brain works.


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Legal Lying

When I am with clients, I am very careful to articulate that while I may have some experience, I am NOT a doctor, and I am NOT a lawyer. I don’t want to misrepresent myself and give advice out of my scope of competence.

But holy crap, do I ever wish other professionals would do the same. Last week we were exposed to a lawyer that is everything that gives them a bad name. Why can someone who DOES have the official training and degree get to go out and blatantly lie about what is legal and what is not?

Poor Tim has been trying to sell his trailer since February. We thought we had a buyer a couple of weeks ago. Correction. We DID have a buyer. He signed a binding contract with an agreed-upon amount. It clearly stated the trailer was “as-is” and even a non-lawyer could understand it. Tim knew the guy and he is a close friend of two of our relatives. He was actually excited about buying it.

Then his “cousin” who is a lawyer got involved. It started weeks of nonsense. I mean utter nonsense. He was saying and doing things that are absolutely not the way a trailer is sold. A trailer is like buying a vehicle. Most people don’t even have a lawyer for the transaction. Couldn’t be more simple.

One of his brilliant suggestions was giving us a check for half the amount, allowing his cousin to live there for a while. If he decided he liked it, he would pay the other half. Who in their right mind would agree to that? Wish I could get a car dealership to agree to something like that.

I won’t bore you with the dozens of untrue things he said. I will tell you the day he was supposed to pay, they brought four people to the trailer. One was a home inspector. Oh yea, they lied about that too. He was a contractor, not a licensed inspector. They decided the trailer was “unsafe” and breached the contract. After they provoked Tim until he loudly told them to get off his property (with an expletive or two) he got applause from the ridiculously dressed lawyer. (He had on a suit and bow-tie.)

The kicker was discovering the contractor was trying to record it all. It honestly felt like the whole thing was a set-up. Perhaps they thought they could provoke Tim enough to hit someone so they could record it. They severely underestimated my guy.

What is beyond comprehension is that this lawyer works for the city of Buffalo. He’s high up and all over the Internet. Another lawyer explained to us that these city slickers are used to doing whatever they want. The follow-up communication was more nonsense with absolute untruths regarding the law.

It infuriates me. I already hate politics. Kills me that this guy can go around doing what he is doing because he knows he’s untouchable. The law doesn’t touch him. He calls himself a lawyer but advises people erroneously and without shame.

Anyone out there who is honest that wants to buy a trailer?