Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Good Will

One of the great things about writing Bitter and Sweet has been the people I have met and the stories I have heard. There are many, many people in the world that are trying to do good things with thier lives and resources. Today Brigitte and I had the opportunity to meet some neat people… again.

There is a group called Rural Outreach Center. Their tag line reads: “Assist- Elevate- Empower.” They have some property but no building yet. There has already been five years invested in doing hard-core research and for the last four months they have been helping people on borrowed space.

The thought process is to give people in country settings a one-stop place to help them in a holistic manner. The man said “How would it be if the first thing you heard when you walked in a door someplace was that someone cared about you?” They have spent months interviewing people and just listening to their stories. They have come up with a comprehensive list of services they are hoping to develop. Finding jobs, raising the level of income, financial budgeting and saving, marriage and individual counseling and support, medical help, literacy programs, etc..

They talked about how many people they have met that just don’t meet the stereotypes that I hear people describe all the time. People DO want to work. They DO want to do the right thing. They are NOT sucking off the system. I hear so much prejudice and assumptions sometimes, that it makes my heart sad.

It’s easy to say “Get a job.” It’s not so easy to tell them how to actually get downtown without taking several buses. And what do they do with their children while they are gone? The scenarios go on and on. Answers are not so simple.

I’m not sure how we are going to be able to help, but both Brigitte and I want to help in whatever we can. It doesn’t fit in exactly with our “mission” with grief group and patient advocacy education. But it does fit in with where our hearts are at- treating people with dignity and respect. Helping people outside of yourself when you are able to.

So thanks to those people who are working tirelessly to make this happen. Thanks for the inspiration. The needs are many and the possibilities are endless for ways people can help. If you are interested, please let me know and I will get you in touch with them. To quote from Bitter and Sweet, “THERE IS MUCH GOOD IN THE WORLD, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH.”


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More Serious Cheating

Ok, I’m cheating on a more serious level this week, because I didn’t even write what you are about to read. My sister’s friend is caretaking for her husband who is in the late stages of cancer. I believe they are in their 50’s. She sent me her latest journal entry because she thought it was right up my ally. She was right. She is one of my new heroes. See if you agree:

“It’s funny, this journey we are all on. It is kind of like a book that we are the star of. We are the leading character, the hero and sometimes the villain. No one knows quite where their character will take them, how the story will go and where and when or even how it will end. We do not write the story but we can change the story with choices we make along the way. Through this recent chapter of my journey, I am choosing to make changes that I have found will enhance my story.

Lately, I have learned to listen more and talk less. I am hearing more birds singing their sweet love songs to their mates that are eagerly munching on the seeds we have provided them out our dining room window. I am finding that I am engaging more in play with the little ones. They are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and they have deemed me to be the silly one, Michaelangelo, or Mikey (as the new ones are all called shortened versions of their old formal names). This is because I never choose to do battle or injure another, that being my nature to do no harm to anyone. So I embrace my character, Mikey, and enjoy my time at the table drawing with the boys and displaying their works of art for all to admire.

I am learning to use more perfume, not to save it for special times, every day with my husband is special and he deserves to know that. I long for the day I can stand with him, hand in hand on the beach, letting each wave bring the cool ocean water over our feet and feeling the warm sand beneath our feet gently glide back out into the ocean with each returning wave. I want to spend less time on the computer and more time with people I love, not letting them feel unnoticed or unappreciated. I want each of them to have quality time and not quantity minutes that mean nothing as we did not communicate, being too busy on phones or games played all by yourself. I want to interact more with people, not things that will not love me back. There will be more treats made, just because I want to smell the aromas of things I loved and brought me special memories of times gone by and will in return, make memories for the children that they can pass down. I want to share the time with the boys, teaching them how to love the earth and respect it and all the creatures in it.

As the lyrics say, we only pass this way once, so I want to live while I am here. I have become too keenly aware of how quickly your story can change and into a new direction you will go, a new chapter you never saw coming will be where you suddenly have entered into blindly. Learn to be nicer, kinder, care more, take less, want less, open your heart and soul and let people in, and love, love with all your being. Have no regrets, no should haves, no I always wanted to, no I always thought I woulds. Breathe, really breathe, close your eyes and imagine how you can make people you love, happy. That is a gift only you can give. Love them and tell them what is in your heart, they deserve to hear it right now, they long for it. I don’t know how my story will end but I do know I have the power to change little things that will make my journey a better one. On my last day, I want to have a smile on my face and a heart so full of wonderful memories of a life well lived, and leave, knowing I am on a new journey, a whole new book.”

Wow, thanks for sharing that with us. You are an inspiration. You make us want to make better choices too. Peace and love and healing and support your way, dear friend.


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Holidays

Did I say I don’t like Mother’s Day? Not sure I’ve actually blogged that or not, but I know I’ve definitely said it. Here’s more fickle: Today, I LOVE IT!!

Frankie came home from school today with a purple flower (my favorite color) and a People magazine spoof for Mother of the Year. I won’t write it all, but here are some of the highlights that shock me, surprise me, warm my heart beyond belief.

She should be mother of the year because:
She doesn’t make me spoiled.
She gives me good advice.
She is cautious about my health.
She works three jobs to put food on my table.
She comforts me when I am sad.
She supports me when life throws problems at me.
When I’m sick she stays up all night to make sure I’m okay.
She supports the school by coming in class every once in awhile.

What do you love most about your mom?
She cares about my feelings.

What’s the smartest thing your mom has ever told you?
Don’t sing during class.

What kind of stuff is your mom really good at?
Singing.

What’s one thing your mom should do more of?
Go to the bar and have a good time. (And I feel guilty when I get the chance to go out!)

What do you think your mom was like before she had kids?
She was probably happier. (That’s an ouch!)

Complete this sentence. “I know my mom loves me because she thinks I am funny.” (I think he’s hilarious, actually)

And last but not least, drum roll please….

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
Nothing, you’re amazing!

I love Mother’s Day!!!


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Processing…

Sunday I had a speaking engagement with a very unique group of individuals, then shared a potluck supper with them. The energy was great and the dialogue was flowing.

Monday we went to a spirituality and health type conference. It was our first experience with a conference and we had no idea if it was a good investment of our money and time. I left the house at 7:15 AM and returned home at 5 PM. Again, it turned out to be great. We sold books but also made a boatload of contacts that I think were perfect for us.

Monday night I had clients. Good sessions. I walked in the house and Frankie was already upstairs for the night. I went up and said goodnight and begged him for a hug, which he reluctantly gave me. Then I walked downstairs and collapsed in bed, but I was in tears. And I had no idea why.

Tuesday morning I went to a session with my spiritual director. Just what I needed. I told her the events of the last couple of weeks since I’d seen her. I felt a little out of sorts, but mostly I thought I was just plain exhausted. The cool thing was, that she had attended my talk Sunday night so she had a first-hand view of what I do these days.

It’s always fascinating when I go see her. She was extremely supportive and complimentary about the skills she saw on Sunday. When we started our “work” together, she said the first image that came to mind was that of a big coal stove. She said I’m shoveling coal in it like crazy. I’m working hard and doing a good job. However, the same work could be done by solar energy. Light. Light itself is full or imagery that is endless. As we continued to talk, she said that I need to be vigilant about remembering that my source is The Light, A.K.A. God. I will still be tired at the end of the day, but I need to remember not to rely on my own strength. My work is utimately about being vulnerable. It is good and I am reaching people, but it truly is exhausting. Stay connected to the Solar Energy. She is so very, very wise.

Later that day I got an email from a dear friend of mine and Tim’s. He wanted to know how things were going, but also wanted to tell me how the book launch had impacted him. He was having his own minor symptoms that he had been ignoring. He decided to go to the doc and is now making some necessary changes in his life to take care of some medical issues he is facing. He wanted me to know that he got off his butt and was inspired to take steps after seeing my presentation. I thanked him for letting me know. This was a new type of story and I love hearing about the endless ways that our story is putting positive energy out there for others.

So… moral of the story? It’s good to be tired from a job well done. Stay connected to God and watch the fruits of your labor. It’s worth it!


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Mounting Excitement

It’s been quite a week. I’ve written before that I keep trying to be excited but I mostly get terrified. Saturday, the Buffalo News printed an article about the book. I WAS EXCITED!!! The editor said he was having trouble cutting it down because he didn’t have enough space so I was expecting a column. So when I opened it up and there was a full page article and a big picture, I got VERY excited. I usually hate pictures of myself and I actually thought this one was good. Very cool!

Today there is a smaller article in the Bee. It was also great other than getting the name of the book wrong. It was kinda funny too because it was listed right next to the picture of the cover of the book LOL. People will see the name on the picture.

Monday was AM Buffalo, our local 10 AM TV station on ABC. It was only five minutes, but everyone says it was a great piece. It is the most popular footage on the station’s site right now. People say I didn’t look nervous, which really makes me laugh.

But the biggest excitement of all came about a half hour after the show aired on Monday. My dad called my cell phone. Now, you have to know my dad. He is the perfect German stoic. You know he loves you, but it would embarrass the heck out of him to say so. All my life people would tell me how proud he was of me because he couldn’t stop talking about me when they bumped into him. But to give a compliment to you verbally, face to face, would really be tough for him.

So I answered the phone. I truly expected to hear something like “I couldn’t really hear you very well” or something like that, because that’s just his way. I said “Hey Dad, did you see the show?” He said “Yes. That was really, really nice.” He then asked if we could get it on a dvd for him because he “would really like a copy of that.” I hung up and looked at Brigitte. Here come the tears again, this time for joy. I doubt I’ve ever felt prouder in my entire life.


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Crying

So I cry, probably more frequently than other people. I read somewhere that the tears that come from joy or sadness are of a different chemical makeup than other kinds of tears (like from onions, wind, etc.). Tears from emotions supposedly have healing elements to them, so there is truth to “feeling better after a good cry.” I should be feeling pretty good after 46 years of crying 🙂

Today I lost it in Wendy’s parking lot. Brigitte was with me and we were doing our usual running around to promote the book. Her latest wild (and looks to be successful) idea is that we need to get into colleges. The book could be very helpful in philosophy classes that discuss death and dying, and also in medical classes that talk about patient care. Today was our first meeting at one of the campuses here in Buffalo.

Overall, things have been wildly successful. The article comes out Saturday in the Buffalo News in their new section called “Refresh”. AM Buffalo airs on Monday and I will be on that in the second half of the show. I am awaiting an interview that will be in the West Seneca Bee, hopefully next week. And the big launch is going to be Saturday. The details are coming together and it’s going to be a smashing event.

So why the tears? God only knows. I’m just plain exhausted and overwhelmed. Can’t get everything done. But there is also an emotional element. I know that Tim would be thrilled with this book. I know it can help lots and lots of people. But there is still this awkward feeling that nags at me. I am getting “noticed” and being “successful”, largely because my husband died. I know he didn’t “die in vain” as they say. I know this is doing something positive with this experience. But nevertheless, he is gone. And we all miss him. So no matter what good happens, it is still “wrong” too.

Just hit me while I was typing. It’s the epitome of “bitter and sweet”, is it not? Guess if nothing else, I pick good titles!!


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Be Careful What You Wish For

So it has been an exciting, emotional week. Me? Emotional? I have been recognizing that as the book draws closer to the launching date, I am getting more and more intense. Crying at the drop of a hat. Sometimes the hat doesn’t even drop and I cry anyway. I have theories I guess. The subject matter is intense and grief-ridden. That’s one thing. When you pour your heart and soul into something for 13 months, that’s pretty intense. That’s another thing.

On Monday, Brigette was here working with me and we had a conference call scheduled with our Hospice contact. There was some question as to whether they were going to be able to be involved or not so this was a crucial call. They came through with fulfilling our highest hopes. They are going to handle all the press releases which is a huge burden lifted from our shoulders. The release will go to radio stations, newspapers, and tv stations. She mentioned that we would probably get at least one tv station to cover the launching.

They are also trying to get a tv personality to emcee the event and get us on their tv program the week before the launching. We answered “okay” as if this sort of thing happens to us every day. I was stunned and silent, terrified.

On Tuesday, we received a review of the book from a big, important dude at Sloan Kettering in NYC, the #2 cancer treatment center in the USA. We asked for a two sentence blurb. We got a two page review. And it was GLOWING. And more importantly, his words indicated that he truly got the whole book- he just plain got it. He got what I was hoping readers would get from it. He is a total stranger too. No bias on his part. I sobbed. Like a baby.

Tuesday afternoon I made contact with Roswell (Cancer hospital in our area). Given the other events of the week, their person was like “thanks for letting us be a part of this!”…. She was thanking me and excited about figuring out how they could help. What??

This all set me into a tailspin. Isn’t this what we have been working our butts off for? Then why I am numb? On Wednesday I talked with my daughter Emily. I decided she has a very wise, old soul. She listened to everything, including the review. She calmly said she knew exactly what my problem was. My problem was that my world just got bigger. Much bigger. My problem is that I’ve never experienced this level of success in my life before. She calmly said she now knows the purpose of why her father died. Now she knows that he is taking care of Frankie and I. We are going to have enough to live on and we are going to be able to take care of our house. Anyone that knew Tim, knew he worried about that. That’s why he worked til two weeks before he died.

Emily. She’s brilliant. She put it into words for me. It took some of the terror away. Today I had my spiritual direction session and we discussed it further. She cried too when she heard about the events of the week. We talked about how I don’t know how to wear success. I understand hard work, but I don’t know what to do with having it pay off.

Don’t get me wrong. When I wake up from the dream, I will be grateful. I figured out how to be grateful in the face of disease and death. I just have to figure out how to be grateful in the face of positive happenings. But careful for what you wish for, it just might scare the pants off you!