Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


3 Comments

A Day in the Life

The many hats I wear can be exhausting. Sometimes it’s the number of hats, and sometimes it’s the number of times I have to change them. And sometimes it’s how quickly I have to change them.

Doorbell rings. It’s my 18-year-old college student I have been hiring to help me with the yard work. The yard work has been overwhelming this year. That is because of the debacle with the neighbor in November which resulted in the privacy fence being put up, and other fencing coming down. Lots and lots of plants and bushes had to be replanted. She starts another job next week so I am trying to get as much done as I possibly can while I have her. I give her two or three jobs to focus on and then run off to do what else I have to do.

Computer work. Check all the emails. Ask clarifying questions about upcoming meetings. Quotes on Facebook for the business. Follow up on leads for the book and speaking engagements.

Dad pulls in. He has the picnic table he is giving me because he is hoping to move soon. Stop the student. Refocus her. Move the old picnic table, clean the new one. Yep, do that first because otherwise Dad might try to do it and he really shouldn’t be lifting things or carrying things with his balance issues.

Keep Dad busy. Give him the dreaded basket full of socks that need to be matched.

Back to phone calls. Dad wants to move. After months of trying to persuade him to downsize with seemingly little effect, he now is ready. And he is ready right now. Can’t happen fast enough for him. I try to get him to catch his breath. Let’s not just make up a number. I have calls in to my mortgage friends I trust. They give me the right direction which now involves more phone calls. Waiting for calls back.

Client comes. Put my focus on. Go in and talk to them and be fully present for the things they are struggling with. Actually like this because it involves a full hour of one thing and one thing only on my mind.

More computer work. I’m scanning lots of documents and pictures I found at Dad’s house while we were cleaning out Mom’s closet and bedroom. Send emails to my siblings and ask them what they want. This goes on throughout the whole day because I scan in between everything else. Can’t get rid of the large pile for a week though because one sibling is camping and has no internet access. I have to wait an entire week before I get an answer. That’s ok. I will just add it to the 20 or so boxes of stuff of Dad’s that I have been trying to sell. So far zero success. Haven’t sold one thing.

Student ready for more work. Damn, she’s really good and pretty quick as well. I have to keep her busy though while she’s here so out to the yard again for the next set of directions.

Holy cow, I am going to sell a bench. Back and forth text and emails several times, but she is coming to buy it at 6 PM. Have to remember she is coming. But we actually sold something!

In comes Mark. He is working on fixing the ceiling in the office. He has to be there when I don’t have clients. He has a few other things to fix too but I’m not sure how much he can get to in the limited time he has.

Surprise! Matthew (my step-son) shows up with my granddaughter. She is delightful and I wish I could scoop up every second with her. But she is terribly attached to her daddy so there is about 20 minutes of piercing screaming until she gets used to being with us again. We wait it out and eventually we are able to interact with her. I put everything else aside for the time being because she is my priority. I can’t get the cutest video ever to load on this so you can check out my Facebook page if you want to see her.

Dad asks if I am ever going to put those socks away. Really? Really?

I have another client coming but I am now filthy and have to jump in the shower. No shampoo. I call for Colin. He goes in the storage cabinet and there is no shampoo there either. Are you kidding? How did I let that happen? Luckily, the boys have some upstairs so I can actually finish my shower. Gotta remember to get to the store.

There’s only a hundred or so other things I did but don’t have the energy to write them all. It’s a new day.

My student has arrived and I send her to Home Depot with a list of things we need to keep going on the lawn. Then my brilliance kicks in and I send her also to Dollar Tree to get me five bottles of shampoo. Should have gotten 10 probably.

I start my blog but Dad is up and wants to know if we are out of cereal. I find some in the basement. Phew. Phone rings. Another realtor call. Left several messages for the place Dad is waiting for an apartment. I’ve left four so far but no response.

I let out a heavy sigh. Writing is almost done for today. Tonight is Frankie’s Jr. National Honor Society Induction. Can’t miss that. Because oh yeah, I’m still raising kids. LOL. Just means I had to reschedule clients for Friday night. I don’t normally work on Friday nights but tomorrow I have five at night, one in the morning. Sigh again.

Not really trying to complain. It isn’t that. But sometimes people tell me not to be stressed. Sometimes they offer to help. But they really have no idea at all what is happening in my life. They couldn’t possibly begin to understand or even manage half of it. Summer and I talk about this because we have similar amounts of responsibilities. The best is when other people act like we are the crazy ones who stress ourselves and then everyone else. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What we need is no critics, and people who will actually help. Follow through, be there even when it isn’t convenient.

Regardless, I will keep doing what I can do and somehow try to take care of myself in the process. I do a lot of mind gymnastics where I convince myself I can only do what I can and that is good enough. Period. And I really am ok with that.


2 Comments

Drama Free

I have said before that as an author/writer, I have really grown to appreciate those that can write fiction. I can really only write about things that happen in my life. I have no idea how people make up characters and plots from their imaginations. When I have something on my heart, I can whip up a blog in a very short time. It usually just flows easily for me.

Because of my personality type, I am also drawn to the melancholy. That is why I could write a book about death/dying and then grief/loss. Sure, I added humor and hope to it. That is also my personality. But let’s face it, the topic falls on the sad side of the spectrum.

Lately, I have been experiencing a lot less drama than I usually do. Drama free is a bit misleading, because I don’t think life is ever completely free from it. But I have certainly decreased my daily intake of it. Now, of course that is a very positive thing that I am extremely grateful for. However, everything in life has its loss and its gains, no matter what. The downside for me, is that I find it harder to write on Thursdays. When I don’t have any gut wrenching things going on, the writing doesn’t flow very easily. In fact, I sit and stare at a blank screen for a while.

I asked Frankie what I should write about and he said he had no idea. I told him to try and he said he can’t because he doesn’t care about my blog. Then he blabbered off something about how he’s just being honest and honesty is the best policy. Damn teenagers.

There has been plenty of changes and stresses around lately, but it hasn’t really been mine. I’m totally involved, but it doesn’t belong to me. Big difference. We have been helping my dad clean his house out (simplify things), work on his finances, and discussing the possibility of moving to an apartment. I come home from his house with tons of things to do, both physically and mentally. My sister is moving south so she is packing, selling things, and making all kinds of preparations for a very big anticipated change as well. I try to help when I can and be as creative as I can about how to do that.

I’ve been super busy. And sometimes I get stressed out. But overall? Not much drama.

I feel like my blogs have been pretty un-inspiring lately. I am grateful to all you faithful readers who read them anyway. And for those of you who know and love me personally, you can actually be happy that I am writing boring stuff, because it’s the heartache that usually inspires me. So stretch yourself and be glad for blah reading, cause it means I am in a shortage of drama to write about. I like it!


Leave a comment

Responses

Here are the responses I asked for. Hope you enjoy them!

A college student shares her struggles which are complicated by angst and other anxieties:

“Well, not only did I fail one difficult science class, I got an incomplete on a second science class. I never did the final research paper. And then I ignored my professor’s emails because I was so shamed of myself for not being able to pull myself together for anything. My professor was a nice enough person to be genuinely worried about me and contacted behavioral medicine at the college. They called me over break basically asking whether I was stable and if they could let my professor know I was ok. I said yes of course.

I am so nervous that I’m going to do just as poorly this semester. While I was studying in the library in between classes the first day back, my hands started shaking. I would like to point out I do just fine with any authority figures I don’t like. It’s those that I have respect for that I am terrified of a little bit. I feel very unintelligent compared to you because I’m incapable of communicating my feelings. I don’t do well when pople are gentle or caring with me because I instinctively assume it will be used against me at some point or another. To summarize, my level of sass correlates to the amount of fear I have.”

(My comment: You just communicated your feelings quite beautifully, my dear. Bravo for being brave enough to put it down on paper!)

A 40 something women’s reflections:

“Meeting and dating someone who’s schedule and general lifestyle is so completely different from what you know. Is it worth it?  I still don’t know.

For the first time in my life, I’m really challenging myself to give something/someone very different a shot. The way I see if, even if it doesn’t work out, it will have been worth it to try. In a very weird way, I am already stronger. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let it go and let it be. For a planner, this is the hardest thing to do and goes against all I know.  Ultimately,  it will end up just the way its supposed to. It’s like a line in the poem Desiderata:

‘And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. Max Ehrmann'”

(My comment: Another example of bravery. You go, girl!)


Leave a comment

Hmmm…

I try to blog every Thursday. Usually something happens that is on my heart that I blog about in my head and it’s just a matter of getting it out on paper. But some Thursdays I struggle. And when I don’t have something clear in my head, I don’t usually write all that well.

I have a lot on my heart and in my head, but it isn’t really anything that I can write about yet. I am in a holding pattern. I could probably write a book if I was free to, but I’m not. (By the way, this isn’t one of those legal issues…lol!)

So here is your chance. Got something you want to write about? Vent about? You are free to comment, or you can send me a private email and I will cut and paste your story. I know at least one of my readers is working on being more vulnerable. Perhaps he/she will use the opportunity to express some things. It can be just a paragraph or a sentence or two. Let me be the reader this time while I am in the world of waiting.

Here is an author I read recently that might inspire you, David Whyte. “Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another… To be courageous is… to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility…”

Ok Lions, live into your courage and send me some stuff.


3 Comments

Taking a Break

It was kind of funny last weekend when I went to see my therapist. He hadn’t read my blog, but he might as well have. He said all the things I predicted he would. Guess when you know someone for 15 years you do get to know them pretty well.

He opened up the possibility that perhaps there is something in the way I communicate that somehow invites people to comment (good or bad) or judge my thoughts and actions. He reminded me (as I predicted) that I actually have a pretty decent head on my shoulders and should be confident most of the time that I’m right on target. He also reminded me (as I predicted) that while I do have a ton of awesome support, I also have a relatively high level of critics in my life.

He also suggested (to my surprise) that maybe I should take a break from blogging every once in a while. I guess it’s obvious really. When you blog, you completely put yourself out there and anyone in the world can read it and comment if they would like. Duh.

I think my plan is still to blog on Thursdays. I get texts and emails from some of you when I’m late so I know I have some faithful readers out there. But if I don’t have good blog content in my head, maybe I won’t try to force it.

The goal is always to get more comments. I want to be brave enough to keep encouraging everyone to comment, good, bad or otherwise. But let me add a twist. I invite all of you to be brave enough to share your own stories. It really is a vulnerable thing to write about personal things. I know I make it look natural, especially after publishing two very personal books. The truth is, it really isn’t easy and it really does take courage to take a stand and put it out there for the world to see and disagree with.

If I’m honest, the challenge is directed more at those critics out there that usually have something to say about my negativity or attitude, those who corner me in person to let me know they didn’t like my blog or disagreed with it in some way. While I welcome everyone to “share their own story,” I especially invite those of you that find my blog an occasion to let me know how you think I’m screwing up. Come on. You are brave enough to tell me what you think. Be brave enough to put your stories out there.

I know this is a different flavor than what I usually do. But I think Scott is right. I need to figure out some new ways of communicating. I will make a few blunders along the way, so forgive me. And write away!


1 Comment

Thanks, Lisa!

I have been thinking about how negative my thoughts (and therefore my blogs) have been lately, but honestly have had a hard time coming up with anything positive. Then I got this email today and cried my eyes out. Some of you may remember a blog quite a while ago that was written by David Breth. He wrote a very moving story about taking our Frankie to a hockey game while Tim was sick. I included it in the second book (which came out last week) with his permission. I joke with him all the time because his writing got more response from the editors than mine! Anyhow, I saw his wife yesterday and she bought the new book and sent me this incredible email and gave me permission to share it with you.

“I bought your book to give to David. I knew I wanted to read it too…but WOW! It is soooo good! You are AMAZING! I knew I would have a hard time reading it, but knew I would anyhow. I just didn’t think it would be so fast and I didn’t think it would be now, just seven days till Christmas! I started it last night during my daughter’s piano lesson and only planned to read the introduction…but I could not stop. I finished 38 pages during her 30 minute lesson! I should also tell you, I was looking forward to reading a book I had just renewed at the library, since I was just getting to a very exciting part of the book. So much for my plans. As soon as I started reading yours, I was transported back to those last few months with Tim, and the months after losing him. Not only do I remember reading the blogs when you first wrote them, I remember all those “moments” in your and Frankie’s life too.

I went to bed too late last night – almost ruined the surprise by telling David I wanted to go read more of your book, but managed to keep it hidden. Today I don’t go in to work till 1 pm and I got to stay in bed and read. Ok, so now I am starting at page 38 and you guessed it. I read David’s telling of the hockey game. Mind you I have read it before, talked to him and you about it, lived through it, and even laughed at how jealous you are of the way everyone calls attention to it. But I bawled my eyes out reading it! I can just hear him telling the story in his voice with all the crazy sayings and wincing yet again at his choice of the words about Frankie “chirping”… but it was so good. Thank you for including it and giving me the perfect gift for him for Christmas!

Keep in mind just yesterday I was trashing him (and all men) at work about how they do hardly anything at Christmas to get ALL THE THINGS done that everyone expects done during the holiday season. And how hard it is to get it all done while they sleep on the couch or chair each night! But in my heart, I know my husband is one of the GOOD GUYS and he will be responsible for all the special moments on Christmas day…and still continue to surprise and delight me and the kids. Thanks for reminding me of that.

I am so proud of him for “being there” for you and Frankie and so grateful you feel and know that! It is something that is so important to him and me that you all know that we as a family love and support you! Whether it is just listening when you call to just “vent” or taking you away on that tough weekend each year to be silly and crazy for a “MOM Break.” We are so grateful to be part of your family and support network. You have taught my kids more by just being you during the pain and loss, and moving on in grief than you will ever know. You CAN DO THIS! Because you are doing this! There may be stumbling blocks, and life is crazy, but you keep going with a smile on your face- and lots of warm hugs too! I am so amazed that you continue to find ways to speak about this to many others whether one on one or in your seminars… and do it so well. When I was a Youth Minister there was a saying- you may never see the garden made of the seeds you are planting, but it will be beautiful! It made working with moody and sometimes difficult teens a little easier. And since then I have been lucky enough to see some of the “seeds” I helped plant, make those same teens into wonderful adults and parents!

You are going to help so many more than just those of us lucky enough to be in your support network. Your beautiful and honest words of how loss and grief “SUCKS” will help so many. You are truly a “GIFT” to my family and me, and I look forward to hearing how much of a “GIFT” your honesty and bluntness will help so many others! The garden you are planting with the “seeds” of wisdom in this book is going to be the most beautiful garden ever…with a hummingbird watching over it!

SO SO Proud of you! This book is even better than the first! And sorry to tell you…I still think there will be more books in you. I know how you agonize over every word, the editing process, and Baby Coop Publishing, but it is worth it! It’s WONDERFUL!”

Lisa, looks like there are at least two writers in your family. I can’t thank you enough. This second book was a struggle and I second-guessed myself all the way through it, no pun intended. I am humbled, and grateful. And my blog readers are thankful for the boost in spirit :)!


3 Comments

Guest Blogger: My Son, Frankie

We are getting ready for school and I tell Frankie it’s Thursday. Blog day. As usual, I’m stuck for an idea. Somehow it morphed into him writing it. Perfect! When he was five, he wrote a beautiful and poignant story called, “The Kite and the Snowflake,” that won third place in the Reading Rainbow contest, which was a huge deal. (Sorry, brief bragging moment.) Anyhow, here it is, an interview/blog from 12-year-old Frankie.

What will you write about? “Nothing is more important than football.”

Why would you say that? “It’s true.”

Can you be more specific? “Cause it’s fun to watch guys tackle each other.”

Seriously, what makes it interesting? “There are a lot of different positions. Then there a lot of different players that fill each position. It’s not a run-on game. The clock stops and starts. Passing, running. Contracts are interesting- how much the players get paid.”

Anyone that knows you, would have expected you to say that nothing is more important than hockey. Why the switch? “I don’t know. The Sabres suck! Hockey gets boring. For football, every team has a phenom player.”

What the heck is that? “A phenomenal player.”

Who are some of your favorite phenoms this year? “I don’t even know how I got into writing this blog! Are you going to write down everything I say?”

At this point, Frankie grabbed the computer himself and typed, “Sammy Watkins, Mario Williams, Jerry Jughes, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus, Leodis Mckelvin, Dan Carpenter, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers.” The bus came at this point and he handed me back the computer saying, “I can’t possibly write them all down.”

This blog doesn’t do him justice. He can hold a conversation with any adult about any sport- hockey, football, basketball, baseball. Men (usually it’s men!) are amazed and have often told me he knows more about sports than most adults they know. One guy actually hired Frankie to help him with a fantasy draft last year. He knows the history, every team in the league, every player, their stats… It’s crazy. He wants to be a general manager someday so he has written HUNDREDS of drafts for teams. Hundreds. Knows every NFL and NHL player’s salary.

Anyhow, this is one of the best mornings I have had in a long, long time. Frankie has been shutting me out for a couple of years now. Getting him to interact with me is a heart-wrenching and usually futile endeavor. This little interchange between us is monumental. It was a connection. I will take it. Thanks for sharing it with me :).