Grief. Confusing?

Yes, it is. There are several stages, and you may rock back and forth between them. One minute, you may recall wonderful memories, and suddenly, painful memories rear their ugly head. The feelings are contradictory, and totally normal. The key is to learn how to navigate among them. Ignoring them does not work. I tried.

Applying alcohol or drugs to the pain is counterproductive and causes other problems. My siblings and I tried that (no drugs for me, just alcohol and withdrawing), along with never talking about Dad. Mom usually became angry when we did. Years later, we individually compared notes, and learned a lot. We also learned to share the happy memories and enjoy talking about him. It’s much healthier and we could move on then.

The thing is, the feeling of choice for many people is anger. All that does is try to blanket fear. That doesn’t work, either. Fear is usually unfounded, unless it’s a twelve foot grizzly bear in the Montana wilderness growling in your face. Then fear is very justified.

Fears originate from the unknown. Often folks who are fearful think they need to execute every move according to their rigid plan. Our plans, foiled by life, often are useless. Yes, knowing what your life work is and achieving the education and experiences to realize that plan is great. Sometimes, the plan, spoiled by life events like death, loss of financial support, unexpected pregnancy, and a host of other things, does not work out.

That doesn’t make you or me a failure. You will feel grief. Your plan cannot work right now, but maybe later. Maybe you need a better plan, a different timetable or different source of revenue.And yes, you can be angry with the situation. Remaining that way will affect your life in very negative ways. You will become negative. Getting through the anger is hard work, but worth it.

Feeling guilt for things said or not said, things done or not done is also normal. Those are mistaken sentiments, especially if you feel, “I should have . . . ” or if you feel as if “I’m being punished because I . . . “. God doesn’t play with us like that. He wants to comfort us.

At long last, the frustration, exhaustion and fog lifts and we can accept the change the loss has caused in our life. It is our life, and it won’t be the same. Sure, we’ll still be sad from time to time. We won’t find ourselves lost in it, though. Life goes on. We need to live ours while we have the opportunity.

Acceptance does not mean forgetting the loved one or the dream. It means putting it in a place where you can remember without pain or anger. Acceptance means the loss is a fact in life. An ultimate fact. And you have healed your way there.

Thank you for reading about something most of us would rather avoid. Living again is the best result of all. See you tomorrow!

Mom’s New Wheels

This morning, I’m reflecting on life since Mom fell. That’s kind of how life of an elderly person is gauged. At 92 and insisting on aging in place, it’s my brothers and my job to make sure she’s as safe as she can be. Whoever said parent becomes child, and child becomes parent was right. And it’s meant with the utmost respect. I’m thinking back on when I lived with Mom and Dad when my son Frankie was born, 50 years ago this October 20. I stayed with them while my first husband was in the service. He isn’t a Veteran of a Foreign War but of the Vietnam ERA. He was stationed in Europe.

They were doing a huge remodeling project to prepare for their 25th wedding anniversary party in their home. Once Frankie started walking (he did at 10 1/2 months and has been on his feet ever since!), it was our job to make that same house safe as he manipulated through it, walking or crawling at break-neck speed.

I’ll never forget her laughing when he grabbed a handful of her brand new white sheers and started chewing on them. Somehow, he snagged them. Instead of blowing her top, she laughed. Who was this woman? Her prized, very expensive sheer curtains, snagged. Ruined, really. She’d have killed any of my siblings or me for the same action. Wow. Wasn’t the first time my son has amazed me.

Isn’t life just full or ironies? I’m glad God has a sense of humor. Wouldn’t life be boring if He didn’t? I think it would be, definitely. Mom’s doctor told her she had to quit using the cane, and use walkers 24/7. Mom had been resisting. Sure, it’s a symbol of some independence lost. I had been trying to convince her all summer to use one. I pitched how much steadier she would be, and how it would actually save her some energy, something we’ve witnessed declining over the last 4 months.

Now, it’s a great idea since her doctor told her. Well, that along with if she keeps falling, it’s an assisted care center. Mom doesn’t understand how nice they are, and if she doesn’t want to participate in activities, she doesn’t have to. That also is a topic for another day.

The Babe looked in the closet the Post has with durable medical equipment in it, and found a walker with the seat on it. Old folks love them, they can stow snacks in them, and have a more secure walk. She’s a firm believer now. We did a maiden voyage Sunday to the wedding shower, and a second trip out yesterday to get her haircut and a perm. She was eager to try her new wheels out, away from the house.

She kept asking “What do you want me to do?” Who is this woman? I told her how I thought moving about to the driveway should go. She jumped right on it. It reminded me of how a baby can scoot around once they get used to their walkers. Back in the day, they had round walkers, with wheels on them. (Sadly, they’re no longer allowed. Too dangerous). Unless they were stopped by an ill placed throw rug, they could pretty much cruise on, full speed ahead. First, my babies, now my mom. Moving around is no longer such an effort for her. We’re thanking God she had enough of a scare to get her attention, and nothing was broken.

One of the most important things? Her spirit and zest seems to be somewhat restored. Her courage is restored. She is less afraid than a month ago. She has seen how she needed the assist of a walker. She says she had no idea how tired it made her trying to stay upright with just a cane or holding onto furniture while navigating her house. It’s a win-win. And nothing is broken. Not even her spirit anymore.

While my brothers and I enjoy a beautiful fall day in Nebraska (well, I will. They’re both stil working!), think about what you may be deep-down fearful of. Trying out a new hobby? Drawing? Art? Making new friends? Is something in you holding you back from enjoying your life? Get some new wheels for yourself. No, not a car. Send fear packing. Get your sense of adventure back. No matter what, you can still Live a Great Story! See you tomorrow.

Overcoming FEAR

Ideas for writing this daily blog drop into my lap some days. I’ve read something from two unique sources about the same topic – FEAR. It’s something we all have; it wears many masks, though.

The first time I tried to speak to a large group of people was when I was a senior in high school. I never had debate or speech or drama classes. I just simply did NOT want to do that. Ever. I was painfully shy, which really didn’t help. Everyone who was an after-school club President had to give a presentation to the entire Freshman Class; it was about 250 people. I was the Art Club President.

I remember writing what I wanted to say. It sounded so good in my head. When it was my turn to speak, I stood at the podium and looked out at the sea of hunter green uniforms; and I froze. I felt nauseous, hot, cold, and I shook. I stood there and could not utter one word into the microphone. I was so embarrassed. Finally, I stepped away and stood near the other club presidents. One boy named Dave Schwee told me, “It’s OK.” I was grateful to him for that.

You can imagine how shocked I was when one girl, a quiet girl like me, approached me a week later and said she wanted to join the Art Club. Maybe she related to my terror. It was something I’ve never forgotten. I believe now there was a lesson for me in that. Even though I died in front of that microphone, I remembered how that felt. Twenty years later, I took Public Speaking class at a local University AND joined a group for business people to practice public speaking – Toastmasters. I learned how to speak, and it doesn’t bother me now. I haven’t done it for a while, and I must practice for when Cartney McGuigan (my illustrator) and I have our book launch later in 2021. I’m sure she’ll have no problem speaking. She is accomplished in acting, forensics, and singing onstage. I will learn a lot more than about art from her!

Julia Cameron, Author of The Artist’s Way and The Listening Path, describes fear as, “Perfectionism in a fancy dress.” I need to read more about her theory, at first I disagree with her. My fear of water isn’t perfectionism (at least I don’t think it is)! It’s the knowledge I will absolutely, positively DROWN if I am in deep water. What do you all think?

Julia continues we “don’t want to look foolish.” I get that. She claims we hang back, thinking we’re being sensible. Hanging back paves the road to kill our creativity; we don’t realize our potential, and we can deny our human need to create. OK, maybe that is what it really is. I need to think on that some more. I’ve certainly started to think creatively again after a couple months off.

Julia also tells us to let go of any fears you have about the drawing, painting, writing, or anything creative. We need to stop the negativity. Fear of success can strangle creativity sure as fear of failure. Right now, I feel so lucky. I’m not depending on income from writing to feed my kids or to keep a roof over our heads. I have unique freedom that I can do this. That is very freeing, and a feeling like no other. 

My Facebook friend Mackenzie Clench (Ken) says fear is an ally. He says he needs to face what he fears. We all do! It’s keeping us back from really living. And we want to live life fully. So it boils down to we are stopping ourselves and calling it fear. That said, I’m not afraid of failure as an author. At least I tried it. Doing it is what we need to do. I certainly have learned a lot of things I didn’t know a year ago. So I’ve already “won.”

However you slice it, we have to overcome things that hold us back. No matter how we try to shift the blame elsewhere (I had a bad childhood – most of us had things less than ideal); I’m too nice (you’re probably an enabler – I know I was); I can’t draw a straight line (you don’t have to do learn to draw or paint!). Self sabotage is the reason there are so many unfinished manuscripts, stories for kids, and paintings. We lost faith in ourselves. Let’s work on getting it back and keeping it.

Omaha Nebraska is so fortunate to have McGuigan Arts Academy call it home. They offer a unique array of classes for every age. Guitar, Art, Theater, and many other categories. Check out their offerings at http://www.mcguiganartsacademy.com. They also have a Facebook page. A photo showed the outside of their temporary space with welcome chalked on the sidewalk to three students on their first night of class. I cannot think of a more fun way to be greeted to something that will help change your life – AND you. Kids can learn so much if they just have the opportunity. And much of their fear diminishes when they master these creative things. Maybe someday I can finally learn to sing. But that’s another story!

Thank you for reading and being here. We have quite a journey to finish. I’m so glad you’re along for the ride. See you tomorrow. Be safe.

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday, I wrote about venturing out for the first time. Or rather, the anticipation of going out for the first time. If you’d like to read it, check yesterday’s post, Woo-Hoo Wednesday. We all felt very strange going somewhere to dine again, and to especially see our friends after two months.

I spoke with a lady who reiterated what I felt yesterday. She mentioned feeling safe because we all know each other. I wholeheartedly agreed. It was wonderful to be out. To be among friends. To feel safe while relaxing some aspects of social distancing. The Post strictly adhered to the guidelines the Health Department insisted be followed for reopening. People understood. People were kind to each other. As I reflect back on it today, I am thinking of those who did not come out. They were not convinced they should be out yet. And that’s ok. We took a risk, and it was a good one.

It did our hearts good. Sharing a meal with friends who are like family is almost a sacred act. I can only imagine the joy we’ll feel when we are able to be with our grandkids again. Hugs for all! We all miss those the most. Yes, it felt like forever since we were able to gather. We tried to catch up on the news from each other. We had a limit of six to a table, and had to rotate in and out to not break the rules. It was so worth it. Some men hadn’t shaved for awhile. Some women needed haircuts. None of that mattered, we were just glad to be out.

All that said, I can’t say I have a desire to get on a plane, drive to Colorado (really hard to not go, with a new grandson and all!), go shopping in a crowded place, or attend a outdoor concert yet. I don’t feel we’re safe enough to do that yet. We may not be for a long time. Yes, warm to hot weather is going to make the virus unable to make us ill, but traces will still be around. It will be round two in a few months with a double punch from Coronavirus and the flu. Lucky us. We’re going to be doing this for a long time, folks. We can do baby steps getting out again. In time we will be more secure about it. Just pick a place you know you’ll feel safe. And go, when they’re open. And you will experience joy at being with your friends again. A reward for staying home these past two months, that we were all present. It will happen for all of us soon. Enjoy the experience. Savor your people.

I may have lost 3K words from my book while editing with Pro Writing Aid. Not sure if the word counter had a hiccup or anything, I don’t see where they are missing. It may take awhile to locate the gaps. There are some chapters that need more work, and I’d still like to reach 50K words or more. Lots of loose ends to tie up, and relationships to mend (those that can be mended). Hoping I can find them sooner rather than later. It will work out, things always do!

Ancient Chinese Proverbs May Be The Best

Thank you for reading today, I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Hope to see you again tomorrow. I’ll be here! Stay safe! Wash hands, Be Kind, Call a Friend Today!

More Monday

I just had a scare. After the Babe left for the VFW Post to do bookwork, I saw a clip of the news with firefighters at yet another apartment fire at 106 & Charles. My pulse quickened, my stomach rolled, my heart was in my mouth. Not again. Not another crappy life event for my eldest, Frankie and the roommate, Ryan. Not again. Please God.

Luckily, the Babe was at 108 & Maple and could run over to see exactly where the fire was. Whew! It was in a different building, one Frankie lived in when he thought his girlfriend would move in with him. So glad he dodged the bullet – (both of them). All is well, my pulse is now normal, stomach back where it belongs, and my heart is back on my sleeve. Back to normal.

This morning is a trip to the dentist. I’m a teeth grinder. I’m not aware of it, I just do it a lot. I often wake up with huge bites in my cheeks that I have no idea where they came from. My son Nick does it, too. I have some triangular bone fragments in my lower jaw that are sharp enough to interfere with my partial bridge. Sometimes they dull on their own, other times a grinder has to have surgery to remove the bone fragments. Wow. I’m hoping they are better than a month ago and don’t need a surgical intervention.

Yesterday afternoon, we attended the Parents/Grandparent’s show for Addison. She has attended Acapriccio Dance Studio since age two and a half. She has come a long way from that little girl who, at her first recital, marched on stage and faced the back curtain. After her first twirl, she figured it out and was flawless the rest of that first performance. Now she can flip without putting a finger on the floor, she can twirl again and again and again and again . . . until I get dizzy watching. She is tall, beautiful, and man, can she dance. You can tell she has put ten years of hard work into competition dance. As has her family. The families dedicate themselves and all the members of each family to competition dance each year. It keeps the kids busy beyond belief.

Watching the girls yesterday – all of them, from the tiny tots to the high school girls – I saw little girls with dreams become young women with crazy skills. We have seen many of the high schoolers grow up in front of our eyes. They have all bloomed where they are planted. They believed and worked hard. It was a joy to see them.

None of the girls yesterday thought their dreams were dumb. They believed they could do it. The little faces of the smallest girls reflected fun, magical transformations. They were all in it to be their best. I don’t believe the dream I’ve had of publishing books is dumb. I’m on my way, and it takes a lot of practice, too. I’ve imagined myself at a book launch party. I’ve imagined being interviewed about the book. Only my son Frankie knows who I imagine is interviewing. He laughed and said, “That’s cool, Mom.” He is my best fan, followed by the Babe. I’ve just known Frankie longer!

Thank you for taking the time to read today. Go out and make it a great day, I am! A lot could go and it will still be a great day for us because the worst (a second apartment fire) did not happen. We are all forever grateful. Hope to see you tomorrow!