Taking stock of the old, ushering in the new

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Two weeks ago I began the following post. This morning I found it, nearly complete, on my computer. Although not timely in relation to the date on the calendar, it may still resonate for some as it does for me: Numerous emotions course through me just a week after my birthday celebrations (yes, plural). Gratitude as I observe each day as the gift it truly is. Love for family and friends as we embrace the spirit of Christmas mere days away. An indwelling of peace as a byproduct of restored relationships. Yet, even then, a sense of melancholy over unexplored opportunities. Grief and disappointment. “What if’s” and bittersweet memories. The should’ves, could’ves, would’ves. But a glimmer of hope remains—a brightly covered package I tear into each morning with renewed expectation. As we tie up our last-minute holiday shopping and baking, wrapping and socializing, I encourage each of us to pause and reflect on the clean slate ahead.

What is one thing you’d change about the past year?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


Finding hope in the most unlikely places

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On a Monday morning I drove to work as is my habit, my mind preoccupied with a litany of tasks I hoped to accomplish. In addition to eight hours on the job, I needed to pick up a couple prescriptions for an infection I’m battling, get to yoga to create a little breathing space and decide what color my painter will be painting my kitchen cabinets. Plus make room to practice my Spanish. Under my breath, I whispered prayers for close family and friends struggling with illness and grief, those undergoing surgery and others wrestling with financial and spiritual drought. When I pulled into my parking spot, my mind still flitting from thought to thought, a flowering branch caught my attention. Its peachy blossoms, the only blooms noticeable in my row of stalls, encouraged me with its new growth. A simple reminder—in the midst of shadows, hardships and yes, my friends, Monday mornings—that infused my spirit with restored hope.

What is something that renews your hope?

Suck it up, sister: when our words do little to help

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Well-meaning intentions, words meant to encourage and build up, may be reduced to mere platitudes or a stale Sunday-morning sermon to a heart unwilling (or unready) to hear. We might open-mouth-insert-foot or, instead, offer the perfect verbal hug. Regardless, if we approach each person, each situation, from a place of love, then we’ve done the thing. We cannot control the rest, but we can be kind. A new favorite quote of mine: “Sometimes not saying anything is the best answer. You see, silence cannot be misquoted.” I opt for silence when words fail me in the face of grief or hardship. Or when I have nothing nice to say. I admit, however, that oftentimes my zeal gets away from me and I overstep my bounds. But when the shoe is on the other foot—when it’s not what I want or think I need to hear—I hope I remember that a simple ‘thanks for your encouragement’ is always the right response.

When do you opt for silence?

Image courtesy of aechan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Lifestyle factors, depression and making a change

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[Image credit: Jeanne Claire]

When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.
~ Viktor Frankl

Recently I read about lifestyle factors that may contribute to making us feel depressed. They include grief, sleep-deprivation, lack of exercise, poor diet, stress, all work and no play, imbalanced hormones and missing meaning. The latter factor hit home for me because finding meaning fuels my happiness. According to Frankl, we can find meaning through work, relationships, helping others, learning, creative activities, spirituality and more. If we’re in a dead-end job or relationship, it’s easy to feel “lost” because our life doesn’t align with our values and goals (see Aligning our Beliefs, Actions).  If we’re grieving, counseling may be one answer. In order to be more fulfilled and to minimize feelings of depression, I’ve already started making changes. Baby steps. And hopefully with a little more sleep, and a lot more play, things will look better in the morning.

How do you know it’s time to make a change?

Moving forward through the grief


Moving through grief

[Image credit: -Marcus-]

It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’
I do not agree. The wounds remain.
In time, the mind, protecting its sanity,
covers them with scar tissue
and the pain lessens.
But it is never gone.
~ Rose Kennedy

Nearly a month has passed since my family experienced an event that garnered much heartache. One of those situations where you don’t know how you would handle it unless you’ve been there, done that. Even now, I’m not sure how I should feel or react. I’ve found myself going through the various stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and — hopefully one day — acceptance. Or something similar. I have even struggled with guilt. Yet as I move forward and the wounds still linger, the pain continues to lessen. I wish there was a quick fix to ease the transition through each stage. But I’ve been allowing myself to laugh again, while looking for joy in what remains.

What is your secret to moving forward through the grief?

Healing a broken heart


Healing a broken heart

[Image credit: fotographic 1980]

Time can heal a broken heart
but it can also break a waiting heart.
~ Unknown

The box thing (see Outside of the box) isn’t working so well. It’s just not in my nature to compartmentalize my feelings. In fact, I wear pretty much all my emotions on my sleeve. And now I’m nursing a broken heart. I’ve known heartache over the years, but never at this magnitude. While I wait for time to heal it, it continues to break as it waits — for healing, for dreams to come true, for promises to be kept. For time to pass. In any case, time has slowed to a crawl for this grieving heart. “They” purport that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But what about the part of you that dies as you keep on living? The part no one can see? I wish there was an easy fix, but apparently time is in no hurry and the journey isn’t over.

Has time healed or broken your heart?

A feeling of helplessness

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[Image credit: Salvatore Vuono]

There have been instances in my life where I’ve felt helpless.  When I knew that nothing I said or did would affect an outcome.  Soul-wrenching grief.  If I could have stayed under the safety of my bed covers until the universe righted itself, I would’ve been the first to raise my hand in agreement.  Loss and I are no strangers.  One time, a year or so after a tragedy touched my family, I ran into an old acquaintance who knew that story.  “You don’t look any different,” she’d said.  I laughed off the comment then, acknowledging that I was, indeed, the same person.  But that was only a partial truth.  To the naked eye, there were no visible changes, but on the inside there were many broken spots.  After all, to go through a catastrophic event unscathed would be unlikely.  And yet, the essence of me remains.  Except a few cracks that still require mending.

Describe a time in your life when you’ve felt helpless in your circumstances.

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