Next week we celebrate 4th of July, Independence Day. What does that mean to us, on a personal level? Merriam-Webster defines INDEPENDENCE as:

"not dependent: such as 'not subject to control by others' self-governing (2) not affiliated with a larger controlling unit".  

Let's talk about that. I have a background with addiction. I discovered at age 25 that I was an alcoholic. My therapist was brave and insightful enough to tell me he KNEW I was an alcoholic. I was shocked but also relieved. I didn't even suspect that a young person could BE an alcoholic! In those days alcoholics were thought to be male, old, borderline homeless types! We've come a long way in our cultural understanding of addiction, but in those days, it didn't even occur to me!

I was one of the lucky ones! I went to AA, found I was too young (again, long time ago) to fit in, then went to PDAP, a program started by the members of the rock group ZZ Top. It was more geared to the needs of young people! I got sober there. Then relapsed. This happened twice but at age 27 I was able to quit drinking ONCE AND FOR ALL (God Willing!!)! Talk about INDEPENDENCE! Alcohol and the secrecy, shame and embarrassment that went with it, had ruled my life! I stepped into the long process of recovering......a lifelong process. But I gained a bit of independence, a reprieve from the shackles of drinking.

That was the good news, the 'bad news' was that I had to face the emotional reasons I had needed to drink. THIS WAS/IS A LONG AND HARD PROCESS. The data suggests that only about 20% of kids get their needs met in childhood. I was not in the 20%. My childhood was fraught with trauma, both emotional and situational, and I suffered greatly. Drinking was a great way to dull the pain and I happily accepted this solution. Once sober, I was flooded with all the feelings I'd not been feeling.........it was a rough period. By this time I was 'old enough' to feel comfortable with AA and the steps, folks, support helped me with healing. As did therapy. I worked with a series of different therapists, based on my needs as they evolved. I had GREAT therapists through the years and couldn't have done it without them!

I'm now 63, have been sober 37 years. I have been sober LONGER than I drank. But it has not been easy. When we are young, our brains AND HEARTS become wired in ways that are somewhat permanent. Yes, I no longer depend on alcohol to dull the pain but that doesn't mean that sobriety CURED me. I have had years of therapy, 12-Step work, depression, over-eating, isolating and rebuilding my heart to contend with. But here's the good news: it works! My sad childhood is always with me, it's part of the fabric of who I am, but I've now added strength, COMPASSION, resilience and hope to my 'quilt'! I am both independent AND interdependent. I've learned to 'let people in' including my husband of 31 years! My life is beautiful, not perfect, but full of joy and meaning.

That's why I LOVE being a therapist! My clients come to me feeling lost and hopeless and together we find the solutions that are needed. As I walk their path with them, uncover all the painful memories, unleash the repressed anger, allow the painful memories to return and heal, we make space for the new, INDEPENDENT life to appear. It's a long and painful process but it leads to such joy. 

Enjoy your 4th of July, the fireworks, food, family/friends can be fun. But look inside and ask yourself: 'what do I need to rise above?'

I'm here if you want a partner for your journey!


Healing Depression ("Why Can't I Just Get Happy, once and for all?")

How I wish that healing sadness and depression was easy: followed a logical, sequential, 'one-size-fits-all' pattern. That's how it works on TV. Dr. Phil can solve these things in one single episode....with commercials! God help us, if we come across Dr. Laura, SHE not only clears it up in a 5 minute phone call, she adds guilt for all the ways we've screwed it up in the past. NOT helpful.

Having worked with clients suffering with depression for many years, and having suffered with it myself since childhood, I know that, SADLY, the 'cure' is not quick OR easy. It is certainly not 'One-Size-Fits-All': for some exercise, diet, success at work or fun and distracting travel can be just the trick. But for others, the opposite is true! Ask someone who eats for depression about diet and recovery, they'll tell you that diet is anything BUT helpful! For those of you who isolate and struggle to even MAKE it into work, 'fake it til you make it at work' is not a helpful suggestion. And to those too depressed to work and make money, hearing that 'travel will take your mind off of it' is just rude.

So what IS the solution? Well, and I'm biased here, but a trusted therapist is invaluable. We need someone objective enough to see our patterns, cries for help, unhealthy responses and unmet needs. We need someone to call bullshit when we swear that 'things are great, just great' but somehow we still seem VERY SAD. We need someone to care for us when we are overwhelmed by self hate. "Corrective emotional experience': love us until we can love ourselves.

Maybe we have issues with alcohol that MUST BE POINTED OUT. Maybe we need to look at unhealthy relationship patterns. Yet another boss has let us go even though we really are doing the BEST JOB THERE. Some friends will do this but they often look through their own unhealthy lenses. Like attracts like. Therapists can be both objective AND loving...and brave enough to make us mad.

But what if we can't afford a therapist or just don't want to go that route? There are myriads of great self-help options out there: fantastic books, podcasts, classes, prayer groups, 12-step groups, churches. Help truly is out there but we have to be brave enough to seek it out. My favorite self-help author/personality is Brene Brown. I highly recommend any and all of her Ted-talks, books, CD's, etc. I promise you will have fun while you work on your shame and self-doubt! Rent her stuff for free at the library. Help is there when you are brave enough and ready.

So don't let yourself be even more depressed by thinking you are 'doing it wrong' simply because you aren't getting huge improvement from following a '!0 Step Sure Fire Anti-depression Course!' Each of us is made up of a million little experiences, some of which caused SOME OF US to be depressed. Just as our paths to depression are individual, so are our paths to healing. It takes what it takes, timing is key, we most likely need the support of others and sometimes medications, and it's always possible to get better. Turn Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura off......they are (most likely) not the answer!~

Embracing Our Shortcomings...

 I am terrible at blogging! I mean to do it. I try to make myself do it. I am not good at it.

I love being a therapist: walking alongside people as they face their demons, sooth their pain, change their harmful habits. I love that. But making myself sit down and write a blog (what IS a blog anyway???? This is a 'young person' thing, new to my generation!). But here I am!

I believe there is a balance between changing old habits that don't serve us any longer and embracing who we are innately. I am always trying to lose weight! I have ALWAYS struggled with this and I probably ALWAYS will. I'm not overly heavy but I'd love to lose 10 pounds. 

But do I allow my inner critic to constantly run the show? Do I allow my internal messages to sound like 'You are just a lazy mess?' I sure try not to. I'd love to have the inner dialog be more loving and understanding. 'You are tired after a full day of work. Of course you don't want to cook a big meal. How about just adding something green and fresh to dinner? That will make you feel so much better in the end.' Like that! Loving AND yet healthy! Balance!

So try to listen to YOUR inner dialog! Catch the mean stuff you say to yourself and think of how you would talk to a child. Tweak it towards love. We are all just doing the best we can!

Caregiver fatigue.....

Nothing feels as good as helping others when they are struggling. We love caring for loved ones: aging parents, sick or struggling kids, family members going thru a hard time, our beloved pets.....it goes on and on. However, many caregivers forget to care for THEMSELVES. I see this in my practice ALL THE TIME. My clients pour everything into their loved ones, going above and beyond to help them, forgetting that THEY NEED CARE TOO.

My clients who are parenting struggle to meet EVERY ONE OF THE NEEDS of their kids: getting them to games, practices, lessons, school functions, homework, church, therapies of every kind, friends' houses, shopping, etc etc. On top of this, they often worry that they aren't doing a GOOD ENOUGH JOB. I have to help them look at their role as parent with more balance and compassion. YES, it's crucial to be a good parent! We want to be patient, supportive, consistent, loving.....of course we do. But there is only so much we can GIVE without being exhausted, frazzled and even resentful. Parents are people too and need time see to their own needs. They need time off, time to rest, time with friends and/or their PARTNERS, time to not 'be on'. Therapy helps them see this!

Clients seeing to their aging parents have very similar issues: they LOVE their aging parents and want to go above and beyond helping them with doctors, hospitals, care-givers, housekeeping, medicine management, listening, visiting, helping with food, etc., but, again, there is only so much time in our lives. Some clients I see have kids, aging parents AND are working. These folks are so tired they fall sick, fall prey to substance abuse, totally ignore their own needs. 

Same holds true for folks caring for aging and/or sick pets. Our pets can seem particularly vulnerable and we want to make sure they have the best (longest) lives possible. This can mean spending money we don't have for 'Doggie Day Care' or running home to care for them during our work day. Pet-parents can really suffer too.

So what do CAREGIVERS need: Here is a partial list, largely developed through working with my tired, struggling clients:

~ Rest (consistent, non-in-demand time off

~ Sleep (at least 6/7 hours per night....uninterupted

~ Decent food (not necessarily made 'from scratch' but not a steady diet of fast food

~ Support from caring friends, family, professionals (including therapy_

~ Fun: can be anything that takes your mind off of your demands (movies, dinners out with happy friends, hiking/riding bikes/swimming...whatever floats your boat)

~ Quiet time/Prayer/Meditation: Caregivers neglect their own inner selves because they are either too busy to schedule quiet time OR are too angry/resentful/conflicted to look inside. Many clients put their quiet time ON THEIR calendars at my suggestion. It becomes 'important' that way, as it certainly is.

~ Boundary Setting: It's hard to say no to loved ones in need. No question about it. But everyone has the right to say 'no', or 'I can do this but not that', or 'who else can help with this' or 'will my child really suffer if he/she doesn't make it to EVERY event?'    Setting boundaries is one of the scariest tasks my clients learn and one of the most valuable.

Flight attendants tell us to place the oxygen mask on OURSELVES before we place them on our kids. Wise advise for our everyday lives. IF we aren't seeing to our OWN needs, how can we truly care for others!

Be well!








Springtime in the Rockies......challenging!

I have so many clients who are negatively impacted by weather! Weather is funny: some people love the cloudy, rainy days and others (myself included) prefer warm and sunny days. Either way, we are affected by weather and it's never more apparent than in 'Spring' here in Colorado.

As a therapist friend of mine says, it's just a reminder that we must learn to 'go with the flow'. True for sure, but what if we aren't feeling ...... 'flowy'?

It's a good time to practice self care and self love. Does the weather or even the time of year bring up old hurts or old sad feelings? If so, take a few minutes to sink into how you are feeling! Treat yourself like you would treat a sad child: be compassionate, offer love, see what is needed (maybe a quiet day with an old movie, maybe a call to a friend, maybe a snuggle with your kitty, dog, or mate). Ask what the 'child within' needs and try to provide that.

Another thing to consider is that with season changes we often have anniversary grief and it can feel like it is coming out of no where! My sister died last year in June and as soon as it started getting warm I was feeling tons of sadness and couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then I remembered Robin died in the summer.......summer is coming.......anniversary grief. I've been taking some time to be sad, crying and remembering her and reaching out to friends who can handle such deep conversations, and simple slowing down. Some people speed up though and that is fine too. You have to learn to treat yourself the way YOU need to be treated! When it comes to the human psyche, one size DOES NOT, fit all!

So think of the little budding flowers and trees, they can roll with our crazy weather here in the Rockies: they can handle the 'out of nowhere' snow storms just fine. They just let the snow cover them up for a bit and then they bounce right back! in one week, we will have had harsh snow and cold ...... then bright sunny and warm days! It's all part of the process!!

Honor yourself. If you're down and feel you need help consider getting extra help! We are all in this together!

Explore All Options!

I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition (thyroid) and it opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes what is making us feel bad, sad, depressed, anxious, etc....is a combination of emotional AND medical components. We are a wonderful 'stew' made up of so many ingredients: our past, our present and our various 'ingredients' of daily living (physical, spiritual, emotional, and more). I am a huge believer in all things emotional (BIG SURPRISE......I'm a therapist, after all). But what I also know is that everything about us factors into how we feel. I know I feel better when I get some sort of exercise daily. Do I always succeed? NO!! But it's a worthy goal! And I know that what I put in my body affects my mental/emotional health as well! Does that mean I always get 3 healthy servings of leafy greens every day? NO!! Have my hubby and I been known to have frozen yogurt for dinner? OCCASIONALLY.....not gonna lie! But it's the big picture that counts!

Takeaway: Listen to your body along with your spirit for clues about what you might be lacking! We had a healthy practitioner once who said 'BODY VERY WISE'. Get in the habit of checking in!! There's a lot of information there!!

Grief, Depression and Social Media

So I am having a pretty good day.......seeing clients, practicing self care (eating decently and forcing myself to do bike rides regularly). I settle in after a decent day, open my Facebook and......BAM, there is a 'this is what happened this day last year' message FROM MY SISTER (who died June 7th). The tears start flowing, the memories flood back, the pain in my heart and soul are back in full force.

I am a grief counselor. I get it. I know that when you lose someone, or a marriage/relationship, or a job, or a house you love, or your kid goes to be with her dad for the week.......you grieve. I get that grief comes in waves. But sometimes it comes in TIDAL waves! Bam. I think the hardest thing about grief is how UNPREDICTABLE it is. I was having a great day, for heaven's sake! Thanks, Facebook!

The thing I have learned and that I teach clients is to just be kind and gentle no matter what. We just can't be on a time-schedule when it comes to grief. If it was a diet, we would have to allow for losing 5 pounds but gaining back 2 from time to time. It's up and down.......AND THIS HAS TO BE OKAY.

So that night I cried a little, snacked a little and allowed myself to disappear into crap TV. The world didn't end even though I didn't 'accomplish' anything. It's okay to be normal, to be human, to screw up, to fall short.

I miss my sister. I miss my dad. 2 huge losses in 3 years is rough.....even for a 'professional'. Cause guess what, we are just all doing the best we can!

Hang in there..............hang on!! The sun DOES always come back out after even the worst of storms!! I promise!

Grief: what a roller-coaster ride!

To say my emotions have been all over the place is an understatement! Having just lost my baby sister (June 7th), I knew a little of what to expect: sadness, depression, lack of energy, lack of motivation, crying for 'no reason', forgetfulness, over-eating, isolation....for starters. But I have been so surprised at the 'up and down' nature of this time. I feel joy at times, mostly when working with my beloved clients or when surrounded by my sweet family. But I notice that even when I'm feeling happy there is a veil of sadness with me. It's like when you have a tiny headache: too mild to feel actual pain but enough that you are a bit distracted by your head. Same with grief. I have been able to get thru my day-to-day activities for the most part (not saying I haven't made some silly mistakes, forgotten things, had brain-freeze), but my sadness over losing her is always there.

I think there is guilt for feeling good after losing someone. 'Survivor guilt' is where you feel bad for still being alive when someone you love has died. As Robin's big sister, I do feel some of this guilt. I got to live 9 years longer, have 9 more years with my family, with the grand kids she didn't get to have, with my amazing husband. Guilt.

And I have noticed that I feel guilt when I feel happy/good/engaged with my life. 'How dare I feel happy when Robin just died last week/month.'  Guilt is a big part of my life and a lot of what I process with my clients. There is definitely guilt in grief.

The thing that has been the hardest is to be gentle with myself; notice the guilt, the need to isolate, the tendency to snap at people.......and let it be okay.  It IS okay. We can just do the best we can do. I tell myself that she understands what I'm going thru and is loving me for it.

Grief is a roller-coaster of emotions. Ride on!

Cancer sucks.

My baby sister just lost her battle with breast cancer. 51 years old, with 2 amazing teenage daughters and the husband we all want to have. My heart hurts so much and I am reeling in grief and sadness. 

She was first diagnosed when she was pregnant. Can you friggin imagine? Morning sickness AND chemo......unthinkable. Then radiation while caring for a toddler and an infant. Unimaginable. But she 'beat' it for 10 years or so. Then it reappeared and she did treatment again. 2 more years of a reprieve......then it came back with a vengeance. She died June 7th.

She was my baby sister but SHE taught ME so many lessons. Even before cancer she lived life with a passion that was remarkable. She lived in a zillion places, knew people all over the world, never cared about gathering 'stuff' so much as gathering experiences.....and boy did she gather them.

I think once the cancer struck, she knew or suspected she would die young. So she lived her life with even more zest, even more dedication to being the best mom/wife/sister/daughter/friend she could be. She succeeded. Even after it became obvious that she would die, she focused on helping her loved ones deal with all of the grief and fear. She made sure she said everything she wanted us to know and allowed us to be honest with our own deep sadness. She died with such grace and courage that all of us learned important life lessons.

So as a therapist who often helps clients with their grief, you would think I would sail through this easily. Not so much. I am so up and down....very depressed at times.....angry and scared a lot too.  I'll drift off in the middle of a session and have to apologize to my amazing clients. "I'm so sorry........I went away for a minute. Will you repeat that?". They are always so sweet! My husband has been great but it has required me telling him what I need (space, hugs, dinners out so I don't have to cook.....). One night he just said 'I don't know what to say or do." This was good. I was forced to help him help me. We are closer because of it.

Life is full of surprises, good and bad. What I have learned from losing my dad and my sister within 2 years is that we have to be kind and gentle to ourselves. We have to throw away the rules and expectations and just sink into being sad when needed. AND ENJOY YOUR PEOPLE NOW!


My heart hurts today....

I am losing someone I love very deeply. I will save the details until after she dies but suffice it to say it is someone very very special. I am a grief counselor, I counsel hurting/struggling people every day, so you would think I would have this whole losing a loved one thing....down. WRONG. This morning I came downstairs, ready to go to work, with 2 different colored shoes on. Okay, I get it, not handling it well. 

Here's the thing: there are certain situations we simply can't handle WELL. Handling it well really means to feel what we feel, to let others love us, to be gentle with ourselves during the hard times, to eat an extra piece of chocolate......whatever it takes to soothe the 'sad little kid' inside.

I wish I could name all the feelings I have running through my system now. I can capture a few but not all of them. What I'm aware of include:


All of these are normal, plus a zillion other things as well. Everyone experiences grief in their own way. A la carte grief is what I call it: a little of this, a little of that. My husband handles it completely differently than I do. Typically males hold stuff in more but not always.

So here is my plan: I'm gonna trust.......trust that I will be able to handle this loss and not fall down some deep hole of emotion. Trust that my friends, family and clients will make space for me to be crazy, bitchy, forgetful, whatever. Trust that I'll say to my dying loved one what she needs to hear. Did I say trust that I'll get thru this.....I hope......

Ho ho ho………hmmmmmm.

The holidays are A LOT: a lot of tasks to complete, a lot of money to be spent, and a lot of memories. We all have memories of holidays in the past that were good, bad, sad, horrible; involved people we love, we miss, we are mad at. All of this gets thrust at us and sometimes it feels like we don’t have a choice about how to deal with it. But we do………

I have mostly good memories of Christmas. We piled in the car and headed to our grandparents’ house. There was a lot of food, presents, cousins, grown-ups talking. I loved my grandparents so I liked going, for the most part. Of course, as I became more busy socially, there was always the problem of leaving friends. No cell phones, remember, so a whole day without being in touch was hard. I had to wait a whole day to find out what Deb got for Christmas. Did she get the Beetles album? The new boots? But, like I said, it was mostly good.

Problem is, in my Christmas memories my dad was there and he is now gone. This will be the 2nd holiday season without him. Also the 2nd year he is not here for his birthday. I’m so sad about this. He was horrible at buying gifts for all of us girls. Fair enough. So one year he stumbled upon a great gift idea: a lovely, plush robe. Score!!! Well, from then on, every time he wanted to get us a gift it was a robe: long, short, blue, purple……..he had scored big points with the robe one time and he was sticking with it! The last robe I got from him hangs proudly in my closet! He forced himself to go to the mall (which he hated), wandered through the strange and awkward women’s lingerie department and settled on a pretty light blue robe. It was a labor of love, just because I had told him “Daddy, I miss getting something that YOU picked out just for me.” So he obediently schlepped up there got the blue robe. Labor of love. Memories.

Be gentle with yourself during the holidays. There are good memories but also sad ones. There are too many gifts to buy, too much traffic, too much food and alcohol. Pick and choose carefully. It’s okay to say NO THANKYOU to any or all of it. It’s okay to stay home and cry or watch old Christmas movies (You’ll shoot your eye out). Call old friends if you want…or don’t. Just design it in a way that feels good to you.

Think I’ll go put on that blue robe.

Happy Holidays….or not~

Robin Williams……funny man?

Our society values HAPPY! As a grief counselor, I am constantly struck by how little support is given to those of us grieving. When I lost my dad I heard TOO MANY TIMES,
‘well, he had a rich full life’. I didn’t care about that…….I missed my sweet dad! It feels like a slap in the face to be feeling sad and have those around us push us to be happy.

I imagine this is part of what drove Robin Williams to an apparent suicide. He was ‘the funny guy’, right? No space for him to be a tortured soul. Add to that his apparent problems with substances and he must have felt there was no way out. We are all grief stricken. This is yet another reminder of how the pressure we Americans feel to be happy, healthy, busy, successful and, did I say, happy????? We just aren’t always going to be ‘up’! I challenge my clients to find people in their lives (besides me) who will allow them to be authentic! I have great friends who ‘get it’ but I’ve had to work hard to find and develop those relationships! They are as good as gold!

Some tips for surviving in our ‘Must be Happy’ society:

~ Be honest when people ask you how you are doing? If you are sad, say that.
~ Take time to honor your needs! Find time with friends who will let you be who/how you are.
~ Think about developing a meditation practice.
~ Develop a relationship with your ‘inner child’. Listen for cues that tell you when there are pains that need to be addressed. Overeating? Overeating? Over-shopping? Might be an indication that you need some quiet time with a box of tissues.

Wish someone had been able to comfort Robin Williams……….he will be sadly missed.


I’ve recently had a slew of women coming to me for painful boyfriend issues. This is always the worst kind of pain/loss and I love helping them find their feet again. These have been smart, capable, successful women, completely devastated and disempowered by men who don’t seem at all ‘good enough’ for them. WHAT IS THAT??? We’ve all had our experiences with ‘bad boys’ or men who don’t show up. ‘I’ll change’ is a common statement from these guys who don’t seem grown up, don’t do what they say, don’t treat us the way we should be treated. We’ve all been there but what to do when it’s time to clear the slate and start dating ‘good guys’? Some ideas:

~ Get into therapy and look at your old patterns/experiences that have taught you to settle for being treated unkindly.
~ Look at what you truly want out of life. Life is short and if you plan to build a nourishing life with a partner, it’s best to get on with it!
~ Write out the ‘history’ of your times with current guy. If you were reading this, as in a novel, would you want to shake ‘your’ shoulders?????? What comes to you as you read this objectively!
~ Look at what you tell yourself when you think of breaking it off. Do you hear things like ‘no one else will love me’ or ‘he will change any day now’? Is that true? Really?
~ Truly examine what you deserve. Honestly. Do you tell yourself (down in the depths of your soul) that you don’t deserve to ‘have a good guy’? Or that ‘he’s the best you can get’? Every person deserves to be loved, it is our birthright. If you are truly honest with yourself, you will see what is driving your need to stay in an unsatisfying relationship.

So get honest……..be brave………dare to dream of a truly good relationship and then get a great therapist to work it out!!

You can do this!

Independence Day…What can I do with that?

4th of July can be a fun time of year: excitement, explosions, celebrations….memories. But what else can it mean for those of us dealing with transition? Was I with the person/people I wanted to be with? Was I missing someone? Feeling lonely….even in a crowd? Was I reminded of happier holidays from the past? Do I want to create a happier holiday for next year? Things to ponder!

I recommend taking time to think about these things………what would I like next year’s 4th of July to look like? Do I need to make changes so that I will like the photos from 2015’s 4th better?

Try this:

Imagine a photo from next year…..one that you LOVE! Who is in it? WHO IS NOT? What do you look like? Have you made changes? Put it up on your mirror and see it every morning getting dressed………make it make you happy!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy New Year????? Maybe………

2014? Really? Where did 2013 go? Are some of you wondering that same thing? I was muddling through the loss of my dad and my dog. Two huge losses crammed into one year. So a lot of my energy was spent just trying to get by in a somewhat effective manner. The balancing factor for me was MY GRAND DAUGHTER (see above!).

Life is like that: good things vs. bad things. I believe it is important to honor our grief; don’t fall into the American Trap of thinking we can move past our sadness if we move fast enough! But, and this is important: if we allow ourselves to feel sad, we can move into feeling happy sooner. Seems weird but it’s true!

So here are some ideas for this new year we have begun:

~ Set goals for yourself. Not new but important. Make them as small or as big as you are comfortable with. Could be as generic as ‘I will find a way to be happier this year’ or as specific as ‘I will lose 5 pounds’. Just take time to think about what YOU want, moving forward.

~ Honor yourself. Allow yourself to sink into what you have been through and be realistic about next steps. When I lost my dog, my knee-jerk reaction was to go get another pet ASAP but I really sunk into the reality of doing that. What was I trying to do with a new pet? It felt like I was looking for a new critter to love but when I really got honest with my heartfelt feelings, what I really wanted was to have Chance back. So I have to wait a while to honor grieving for him. THIS IS AN INDIVIDUAL THING. Some people might do great with a new pet super soon. Just wasn’t right for me.

~ Take some risks! ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always have what you’ve always had.’   Again, not new, but potentially important. I signed up for a huge new training this year that really challenged me in several ways. The classes were early in the morning (for me……..9:00 AM is early!); I had to challenge my brain to listen and attend to huge amounts of information (been a long time since I did THAT!); and it was a new thought system that I had not paid much credence to before. Guess what? It was fun and I learned a ton of cool stuff PLUS met a ton of great people in my field. So……..try something new.

That’s it for this time except to say HAPPY NEW YEAR and here’s hoping some good stuff comes your way!

Why do bad things come in blobs?

“Blobs” was my grandmother’s favorite word. She crocheted using a blob of yarn. She cooked using a ‘blob’ of this or a ‘blob’ of that. Made it tricky to recreate some of her amazing food sometimes but it was just one of the mysterious things about what made her so special. You didn’t quite understand it but it just worked.

Now one thing I know, especially lately, is that bad stuff seems to come in blobs. Why is this? What IS a blob? How do I handle it? It’s just as tricky as defining what a ‘blob’ of flour looks like before putting it in the mixing bowl.

I lost my precious, amazing dog last month. I had him for almost 16 years. He was born on my dad’s birthday, December 13th. They both died of liver disease. This was a serious blob of sadness. Why did they die so close together? Dunno.

What I have come to see, now that I can get through a day upright and mostly dry eyed, is that grief is its own, well, critter, if you will. It sort of does what it wants, goes where it wants and is pretty much unmanageable. When my dad died in November 2013 I tried to ‘take the bull by the horns’. I am a grief counselor, “I’ve got this. I’ll give myself through the holidays to be sad and then I’m moving on with life”. After the holidays were over, I thought I was doing pretty good until I dropped my new iPhone in the bath tub. 

Few months pass, I’m going to my second Grief Group through our amazing local hospice (highly recommended), prepared to ‘introduce Daddy to my group’ with photos, songs, stories, etc. “I’ve got this”, I think to myself……BAM, hit a curb and blow out 2 tires. 

“I……. DON’T …… GOT……THIS”.

Then, when I am finally coming up for air after losing my dad, my dog starts failing. I put it off as long as I could and I finally had to face the fact that he was miserable, he was not enjoying life. To keep him with me longer would have been cruel, putting my needs above his, something he would never have done to me. So I did the unthinkable, I took him to the vet who had cared for him for all those years and held him while he was lovingly “put to sleep”. [Don’t get me started on that term…..another great example of how death is hidden in this culture!]. I don’t remember a lot of that weekend other than a ton of crying and looking around my house for him. Why wasn’t he at my feet in bed? Why wasn’t he at the front door when I got  home? Where WAS he and WHERE was my dad, for that matter?

Grief is like that. A lot of the exhaustion and disorientation comes from the fact that we don’t understand it. And a lot of the fear comes from wondering if we will survive without our loved one. It wears you out, makes you eat the wrong stuff, makes you bitchy………..forgetful………..makes you forget the rules (‘DONT’ PUT EXPENSIVE ELECTRONICS NEAR WATER’).

I can’t emphasize enough the need to be gentle! Don’t put any expectations on yourself regarding time to heal, ways to behave, social expectations…….anything. You can’t know how you will handle it until you are in it and, THIS IS HUGE: no one will understand what you are going through, even though they will insist they do. 

Bad things come in blobs. If you are grieving, find yourself a blog of compassion, kindness, forgiveness…..and chocolate! This too shall pass………eventually!

Anniversary Grief

Any time we live through a time that we associate with our lost loved ones, it hurts! I recently had a family reunion, WITHOUT MY DAD, and it was both good AND sad! We put a photo of him on the wall near where we were gathering and there were tears and laughter, in equal parts. All of us shared how we missed him, what we remembered, and how we were dealing.

It’s important to say that grief is different for every single person. Both my sisters were dealing in ways completely different than me. And our mom was dealing in different ways still. 

EACH OF US IN UNIQUE AND WILL GRIEVE IN OUR OWN WAYS. Be gentle and non-judgemental with yourself. This is so important and SO HARD! 

Until next time: breathe and go slow!


Media Trauma…….How do I handle it?

I don’t know about you but sometimes I think it’s better not to watch the news. The Oklahoma tragedy was really upsetting. To think of all the kids being hurt in the most sacred and safe place of all, their school, was very hard to take.

How can we handle all the sad stories we hear about? Here are some ideas:

~ Don’t watch the news more than you have to. Consider watching old comedy reruns instead. It’s not particularly healthy to go to bed with a ‘full stomach’ of horrible news storied.

~ Do some positive self-talk: “As horrifying as XYZ news story was, the truth is that my life is full of safe and satisfying people and events’. Or ‘I am safe today’.

~ Exercise more. It’s a proven fact that when we exercise our bodies emit ‘feel-good’ hormones which help us stay more positive.

~ Talk about it. When we are upset, some of us want to hibernate and isolate. Scary/upsetting things in the media may trigger upsetting memories or losses. The truth is that, while it may be tempting to ‘handle it privately’, it is healthier to share our fears and sadness with a trusted friend or family member. It is always recommended to find a great therapist when needed. Sometimes an objective listener is good, in addition to sharing with a close friend! Mix it up!

~ Donate to The Red Cross or other great charities or if you can get involved in a local entity to help those in need you will feel great! Go sort food/donations at the local Food Bank. Anything you can do to be proactive in helping others will remove any feelings of helplessness you are struggling with! Get involved!

Tough times require action! Good luck!!

April Showers….tough month!

It’s snowing here. It’s been snowing a lot this month, the month we all get ready to move away from snow and outside into Spring. But  you can’t hurry nature, it will do what it will do. We don’t get to understand the ‘why’s’ of it, it is out of our control.

This is similar to grief. We want to be ‘done’ with it; want to move on to our ‘regular’ life; want to feel good and ‘normal’ again. But, like the weather, you can’t hurry grief. It too, has a life of it’s own.

Be gentle with  yourself; accept your frustrations and impatience; acknowledge that, like the Spring weather, you have up’s and down’s; sometimes you feel warm and comfortable while other times you are cold and blue. Get help if you want/need to: share with a friend,  family member or therapist how you feel………..you’ll feel better for it.