Grief Part 682

I will start this post by saying that I am no expert when it comes to grief. I have danced with grief a number of times from a young age to today, at 54 years of age. I say dance with it because grief has a rhythm to it that moves you. I have experienced the death of two grandparents, a number of friends, my baby girl, both my parents, my older brother and finally the man I loved and lived with for twelve years. Each experience was different and each person’s death brought about a change within me. Howard’s passing happened Sept 15th, 2015 and I have to say that his presence in my life and his exit from it has changed me in ways no other experience has. Howard’s life and death had a profound effect on me and in some ways I am still discovering what those are. I will tell you that the grief never ends but it changes over time and becomes more of a slow heart warming waltz instead of a heart racing paso doble that spins you around and shakes your world. Grief changes you and grief changes.

I am one of those people who cries when I am happy and laughs when I am sad. This is not to say that I do not cry when I am sad. Howard’s death brought me to my knees, but I did not cry, I wailed a deep soul shattering sob that robbed me of breath and thought. I would cry myself to sleep at night and when I woke up in the morning for just a moment I would forget that he was gone and then the sobbing would begin as reality came into focus again. I cried at the grocery store, I sobbed in my car and had to leave a few places, (the bank for one) when my emotions overtook me. I wouldn’t change a minute of the grief. It was heartbreaking but it was also heart opening. I do not see the world in the same way, my vision is clearer because I see with my heart, not my eyes. So a year and a half later something will catch me by surprise and the loss of him will overwhelm me. I was visiting the hair salon that I frequent a few weeks ago and a song came on the radio there that had special meaning to me and Howard and the tears started flowing. This is a song by Shawn Mendes called “Never Be Alone” and here are some of the lyrics:

I promise that one day I’ll be around
I’ll keep you safe
I’ll keep you sound
Right now it’s pretty crazy
And I don’t know how to stop
Or slow it down
Hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now
Take a piece of my heart
And make it all your own
So when we are apart
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
When you miss me close your eyes
I may be far but never gone
When you fall asleep tonight
Just remember that we lay under the same stars
And hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now

Howard passed this song on to me through a friend who is a medium. This happened while he was still alive but could not talk much. He did manage to say a lot to my friend in spirit while he was still alive even though they did not really know each other well. He chose his words sparingly at this point and did not waste his energy. Well, I played the song as Howard lay in his bed in our living room, while a few friends were visiting, Howard had his eyes closed with a big smile on his face and his toes were dancing to the music while the rest of us had tears streaming down our faces. After Howard was gone every time I started my car (for a few weeks) this song would be on the radio, it was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It made me cry and reminded me that I am never alone.

So, here I am early in the morning finishing a post that I started over 4 months ago. I want you to know that I still miss him and think about him every day. I also want you to know that some days I still struggle to find my place in this new life I have created. Sometimes I still struggle. Howard’s artwork graces the yard and walls of the new home I share with Shawn the new amazing man in my life. He has brought much joy and laughter to my life. He loves me, he challenges me and encourages me to dream and grow. But, grief is a funny thing and I don’t think it ever goes away or is something you can overcome. I believe that it is always there, always a part of you. Grief changes you and grief changes you again, but your dance with it also changes the grief.
Now, it is not so much about the loss of Howard in my life, but the end of the life that Howard had cut short when he was just beginning to blossom as an artist and had found something he was so passionate about.

I believe that I have a difficult time finishing this post simply because there is no end to this story. Nor can I sum it all up and leave you with a something to think about. This is just a snapshot of day 682 of grief.

Be kind
Love ya
Donna

Forgiveness and Freedom

I have been having a lot of conversations about the past and the events and people that shape us.  These life events and the people in our past can have a huge and lingering effect on our lives and how we react and respond to the world.  I don’t think we should shut the door on the past, but I don’t think we should spend so much time there that we miss the wonder of what is right in front of us now.  Yes, these things have shaped us and left scars on our souls in some cases. I am telling you it is nothing you cannot overcome if you choose to. You have already survived it, haven’t you?  We are responsible for ourselves and our actions.

Grief, childhood trauma, hell just trauma in general, disappointments and betrayal,  all these things can make you feel isolated and so alone in this huge world.  No one seems to understand.  Or do they?  I don’t think there is anyone I know that has not been through some major traumatic event in their life.  We isolate ourselves with our pain and our anger.  Trapped within a vortex of emotion swirling around us like a tornado it can be difficult to not feel helpless.  True we are helpless in the sense that we have no control how others will act or respond but do we want to live the rest of our lives based on how others have acted.

When you decide that what you have been doing is not working and take a good long look at  yourself, you will realize how much power you actually have.  For example, someone in your life has wronged you in a large way.  You now have some choices. There is nothing wrong with getting angry but if you continue to live from that space it will bite your little butt!  So you are angry, now forgive. Just forgive.  Forgive them and forgive yourself.  Sounds simple and it is even though we make it so complicated.  I think people have attached all kinds of things to the word forgive.  One of the on line dictionaries describes the meaning of the word forgive as “excuse, condone, pardon, forgive meaning to exact neither punishment nor redress. excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.”  Another describes it as “to stop blaming or being angry with someone for something that person has done, or not punish them for something they have done.”  For myself, forgiving someone is something like this;  I acknowledge their action and the pain it has caused me then I simply let it go. I do not seek revenge.  I do not hold it over their head.  Now I don’t want you to think that this is instantaneous.  Sometimes it is, but for larger transgressions it can take a little bit of time.  It takes me a while to process or work through some things.  Some things are so large that in the process of forgiving the other person I end whatever relationship I had with them.  Sometimes in order to let go you have to let go of the person as well.

I was abused by a neighbour as a child.  This was a traumatic experience for sure and while I will not go into all of the details of the whole thing  I will share a small part of it with you.  I was abused then the abuser moved away.  What sweet relief that was for me.  Our family also moved to a different part of town about a year later.  I was walking to school in our new neighbourhood and low and behold there was the man who abused me walking towards me.  I was afraid, I was angry and I looked him in the eyes as he walked towards me.  I am also stubborn so I was not going to run away or switch to the other side of the street. When I looked at him and he recognized me the look of fear on his face broke something open inside me.  I was no longer the victim of his sick mind, I realized that he was the one imprisoned by it.  I was free and I forgave him.  I never spoke to him that day and I rarely ran into him again.  I just knew, even as a child, that it was imperative that I  let the anger and the hatred go or my whole life was going to be poisoned by it.

You will find your own strength in the letting go and forgiving.  I have to admit that sometimes I have to do this numerous times for the same thing or person.  Some things that I think I have worked through pop up again.  So I let it go, then I let it go again.  The forgiveness can only come when you have let go.  The power or hold of the situation in your life only loses its grip when you let it go.  There is freedom in that.

Peace and love to all
Donna

Shaped by the Past, Sculpted by Dreams

I have been awake at 4:44 am for the last three mornings. I am not sure why, and this morning I was having a dream about Alfred Hitchcock which will make my friend Debra laugh. So, I decided to sit and write while the coffee is brewing and see what comes up. I think about things a lot, my mind never seems to stop unless I sit and meditate and lately even that is difficult. I have this unsettled feeling swirling around inside me and I cannot explain it. It is almost as if I am waiting for something to happen and feel like my life has been in a holding pattern for a long time. Weird huh? I you have any insight into this please let me know.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is my childhood. Most likely because my sister is writing a book and we have been discussing some of these things lately. My sister and I are 13 years apart in age (she is older) and had completely different lives growing up. Her father was an angry abusive man and mine was the gentlest of souls who rarely got angry. Our mother met my father after her first husband was killed in an accident. It amazes me that four children in the same family can be so different and have such varied responses to life events and their memories of them. It makes me wonder how reliable my memory of events actually is.

Growing up in a family filled with alcoholism and all the dysfunction that comes with it teaches you some things. It teaches you to not take responsibility for your own actions. Someone else is the cause of your anger, your need to drink, your inability to get ahead in life etc. etc. It teaches you to keep secrets. God forbid if anyone every found out what really goes on in your home or your head. They would turn away from you in disgust, wouldn’t they? One of the biggest things it teaches you is fear and mistrust. When you cannot trust your own family how could you trust others? When you live in a constant state of fear it takes a toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You are always living in anticipation of the next drunken tirade that is filled with discord and abuse, in some cases physical and in some cases emotional and in a lot of cases both. Not pretty is it? I remember phoning home everyday from school to ask my mother if she needed anything from the store just so I could check her tone of voice to see if she was drinking. If she was sober I would go home, if she was drinking I would go somewhere else. This is the only world I knew and alcohol was destined to play a large role in the rest of my life. I was enrolled in Life Skills 101 with an alcohol fueled instructors. I was taught to think and navigate life like an alcoholic. All I wanted was to be loved and spent many years looking for that in all the wrong places. I didn’t understand that I needed to love myself before I could offer it to or receive it from another person.

In my thirties I found myself drinking a lot and married to someone who drank enough that his work forced him into a rehab program. The alcohol saga continued, but it was a familiar one and I knew it well. Funny thing though, I ended up walking through the doors of AA in 1992 and my life was changed forever. It was in those church basement meetings that I was taught the healthy life skills that I was not taught growing up. It did not happen over night because my conditioning was firmly entrenched and they were asking me to feel my emotions and take responsibility for myself, both of which I had no idea how to do. I discovered that I only had two emotions, or states of being, angry or not angry. I sometimes still revert to anger in extremely stressful situations. However, anger is not all bad and boy oh boy can I get some housework done when I am trying to get rid of some anger in a healthy way. I have made a lot of discoveries about anger since then and that emotion is rarely caused by someone else or their actions.

It has been over 20 years since I started this journey of healing. I have learned a few things that have improved my life and me as a person. I still have much to learn, but look forward to it. It is impossible to know yourself with out understanding what made you who you are. One thing is for sure, you always have choices regardless of your life circumstance. Sometimes you may feel like you don’t have any choices but you do. You choose whether you are hardened or softened by your experiences. You can also make new choices every day. You and you alone are responsible for the person you are today. Your life experiences began to mold you, but you are like an artist finishing the beautiful sculpture that is you.

I guess I have rambled a bit, though that is not unusual for me. I understand my mother and what caused her to be who she was. I also want you to know that every time I think about her with love and forgiveness her spirit becomes lighter and brighter. The people who were in our lives and have passed on are aware of our feelings and the repercussions of their actions when they walked this earth. We get to choose whether we will hang on to the anger, bitterness, or whatever else we are feeling. There is freedom in fully accepting responsibility for who you are. You can let the past shape your future if you want. Sculpt yourself, paint yourself, sing yourself or write yourself a new future based on who you want to be, not what has happened to you.

Treat others with kindness and compassion
Hug yourself for me

Donna

The Same but Different

It is 5 am and the coffee is brewing. My slightly soiled chair is in the garage, so I now sit on a big comfy sofa to write, but my sunny yellow mug is still a part of my life. The only noises are the occasional car driving down the highway and the gentle snoring of a great dane named Georgia who has become my shadow and follows me everywhere in my new home. It is hard to move into someone’s home and find your place. This is not to say that the man I am living with has made this difficult, he has done everything to make me feel at home. My things are mixed in with his things and there are pieces of me and my life in every room. There is a blending that happens and it takes me a little while to settle down and feel comfortable. It is not the place that makes it a home, it is the people and our shared experiences. In my case home is definitely where the heart is and my heart has never been tied to a place or the things in it, my heart is connected to the people.

I have been talking to my older sister more than usual and am enjoying this new relationship we are developing. The picture at the top of the page is of me and my sister Marg taken last June at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. My sister has one of the best laughs, you know the kind that makes you smile or laugh just hearing it. Well, my sister is in the process of writing a book and I get to be a small part of it which is very exciting. We are having conversations now that were not possible before to some extent because our lives were so different. This is no indication of how we feel about each other, I love my sister dearly and she has been more like a second mother to me for most of my life. We are having conversations about things we would never have discussed 5 years ago. I am excited to get to know my sister on a different level.  I have a number of people in my life that I can have conversations with about life and the things that matter and then there are others where the conversation is kept light and just skims the surface of what really matters. This does not make one type of conversation good or bad, I think we need both.

I have been having a difficult time finding my way. I suppose I should give myself a break considering the huge changes that have taken place in my life in the last year and a bit.  The new man in my life, his name is Shawn, was a friend of Howard’s that I had  met once very briefly before Howard passed away.  One of the things that drew me to Shawn was how big his heart is.  He has a lot of room in that heart for a lot of people and that included Howard.  Now it includes me.  Howard’s sculptures have become part of the landscape here and his artwork is also hanging on the walls, sitting on the deck or a shelf.  Shawn’s heart is so big that he is able to include the people that I have loved and still love into it.  So, while Shawn and I are building a life together we both get to include the people and other important things from our past into it.  My heart has a lot of room also.  I will tell you more about all of that in a blog piece that I have called The Tale of Two Ravens.  I have started working on it but the time is just not right to tell that story.

The only reason I am writing this morning is to try and incorporate my writing into my new and busy life.  I have missed sitting in my chair connecting with all of you. The last year has been filled with new experiences, new people and new ways of viewing the world.  I think it just takes me a while to be able to process it all and write about it.  Sometimes I just don’t have the words to express myself.  Someone asked me yesterday to smell a healing spray they had made and give them my opinion.  It was the strangest thing, I almost could not describe the smell.  It just brought up so many feeling that words almost escaped me.  I couldn’t say, oh that smells like roses or some other distinct thing.  It smelled fresh and ancient at the same time, it was almost as if she had captured everything the entire world has ever experienced in a bottle.  Weird huh?  I think she has a gift.

Well, I hope you all have a wonder filled day and don’t forget to make your heart big and greet the world from that place.  Live with your heart wide open, it is worth it.

 

Hug everyone, Peace to all

Donna

A Year of Grace

Apparently it can take more than one year to figure out who you are after your life is torn apart!  I didn’t realize how much of my identity was derived from my business and my relationship.  Once those things were gone, there I was standing naked, feeling exposed and alone, wondering what the hell I was going to do.  I have moved on with my life in a number of ways and most of the time it was trial and error and the best things were happy accidents.  This is the first time in my life I am not working, since the age of 15, and I also didn’t realize how much my self worth was tied into my job and being productive.  It has been one hell of a year with lots of ups and downs but the ups are winning.

I have done things in the last year I never thought I would do.  I tried online dating without much success.  How the heck do you write a profile?  The best and most honest one I could come up with went something like this:  I don’t dye my hair, I don’t wear make up, I own 6 pairs of black boots and I have all my own teeth.  There were few who were intrigued by this!  I finally gave up on the dating thing and asked someone I knew a bit if they were interested in being my friend with benefits, even though I wasn’t really sure what that meant.  Well, this friend with benefits thing turned into much more than I was expecting.  He helped me find the joy in life again and continuously makes me laugh.  He is a very private person so he may not like me writing about this.  Oops, too late.  I guess I just want you all to know that when you least expect it, someone or something is going to come along and help you find the joy in life again.  I also started this blog in the last year after a spiritual awakening of sorts and gained so much from not only the writing of it but hearing what other people had to say about it.  Some comments were surprising and made me see that I was constantly downplaying who I was and what I contributed to the world just by being myself.

Each of us has something to contribute.  You don’t have to move mountains or earn six figures to have value to this world. Sometimes a kind word or a smile can change the course of someones day or life for that matter.  I recently ran into my former husband who I have not been married to since 1998.  I was a little uncomfortable at first but we had a few chats and it was like having coffee with an old friend.  I also had lunch with his parents a few days ago while they were in town and it was a joy to see them again.  I forgot how much I adored them and realized that when we got divorced I essentially divorced a lot of people in my life.  The pain of that period of my life is long dealt with and gone, there is nothing left but love for all of them.  One thing my former husband said in a text message really made me stop and think.  He said, “Maybe you just bring out the best in everyone.”  Perhaps I do, though my first thought upon reading those words was I am not that special.

If you have the ability to approach people and love them unconditionally that is special. If you can let them be them without judgement that is a wonderful gift, not only to them but yourself.  Don’t try to change people, love them for who they are and just by doing that you give them the space they need to grow and change because they want to, not because you think they should.  Don’t restrict other people or your love for them because of your own definition of right or wrong, good or bad.  Open your heart and the world opens its heart right back.  Besides, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?  I love being wrong.

So, I would some up the last year as a year of grace.  There is a gracefulness to awkwardly finding your way.  There is grace in the tears of grief as well as tears of joy.  I am one of those people who cry when I am happy!  There is grace in this world, it is all around you and you can see it if you look for it.  You know what they say, you get what you expect.  So expect grace, expect kindness, expect love, just expect great and wonderful things to happen all around you.

 

Be kind to yourself.
Hug everyone like you mean it!

Donna
aka Miss Daisy

Love and Shit

Yesterday was the first day of summer and I am back home on Vancouver Island. The sun was shining and my guy picked me up at the airport on Sunday with a huge smile on his face and big hug that lifted me off my feet. No one has ever picked me up at the airport with so much joy and it made me melt a little, it made me feel loved. Today, Tuesday, finds me awake at 4:30am suffering from a bit of jet lag as my internal clock tries to sort out the time change. So, I sit here on a comfortable sofa wrapped in a purple blanket waiting for the coffee to perk in the French press and feeling the need to write. You would think that someone who writes so much would have a way with words when talking to people, this is not the case for me. I stumble as I try to speak from my heart and I can be as awkward as a newborn colt when it comes to expressing my feelings. I worry about things and I worry a lot. Sarcasm and joking around are easy for me, serious discussions not so much. I don’t like being vulnerable.
One of the reasons I don’t like letting people know how important they or something else is to me stems from how people have used those things against me in the past. I have also come to the conclusion that I cannot let the past, regardless of how it turned out, write my future. You cannot approach life or people the same way time and time again expecting different results. I realize that everything I say on this blog has been said by countless others. The truth of these statements, as old and worn as they are, has withstood the test of time and then sometimes regardless of the truth of things, the heart of things, shit happens. Shit you were not expecting. I also want to point out that shit helps things grow. So it doesn’t matter whether your glass is half full or half empty the truth is, it is still half a glass. Your viewpoint of the truth is the important thing.

I know that I can ramble on sometimes, but this is the way my mind works. One thought leads to another and the point comes out at the end, if there is a point. I don’t know what the point of this blog is. I know it has helped me tremendously in dealing with my grief and growth. I hope it has made a small difference for someone else even if it is only that they realize that someone has had the same thoughts or fears and they don’t feel so alone in this vast world of disconnectedness. We have vast amount of information at our fingertips but we are all lost in that sea of data looking at a small screen and not noticing the people or events taking place right in front of us. We excel at being disconnected when the only important thing is our connections with others. But, in order to connect you have to open up, let people in and work through the difficulties together.

When I started this relationship with the wonderful man who picked me up at the airport, I wanted someone to do things with. I was essentially looking for a friend with benefits. I did not think any further than that. I have written blog posts about what I want in a relationship and this man is quite aware of my aversion to marriage or living with someone and all the other things that I have written about. He has read my blog and he has listened to me when we have a conversation. He and I are similar in some respects. We both have a weakness for antiques and rusty old cars, sushi, reading, music, coffee chocolate etc etc. We are also very different in the way we view the world and move through it and there is nothing wrong with that. We have much to learn from each other and are inadvertently helping each other refine our perspective and grow. What I was not expecting was this relationship becoming so much more than I had originally intended. I am not going to throw the love word out there simply because I think it is misused and misunderstood. That word holds great meaning for me and I do not use it lightly. Anyone can say the word, few actually mean it in its purest sense.  This man has helped me fall in love with life again and I cannot imagine my world without him in it. I am grateful that he is part of my life and hope he feels the same way.

One of the professors in an English lit class ,yes this was years ago but I have never forgotten it, asked us who had the most to lose in a relationship. I could not come up with an answer. His answer was the person who loves the most. I disagreed with that then and I still disagree with it now. How can you love too much unless the meaning of the word is twisted and warped in your heart. To me the word love is about acceptance, truth, it has a softness and warmth to it. Just looked the word up on line and in my opinion none of the definitions come close to explaining love. Some describe it as a feeling of deep affection, a strong attraction to another person that may include a sexual attraction. I think they, in their definition, have only scratched the surface and in trying to define it have reduced it and taken something away. For me love is never grasping or confining it is about letting go. Letting go of your expectations, letting go of the need to be right and letting go of the person if that is what is needed. When you let go love has some room to enter your heart. When you let go there is space for another person in your heart. So let go, open your heart and watch the magic happen.
Hope you all have a wonder filled day

Plant some flowers for the bees, they need our help and 

our very lives depend on them

Donna

Know Who You Are

I have witnessed three beautiful sunrises this week from the east coast of Canada. I am in Halifax, where I was born and spent the first 23 years of my life. The city has changed so much I barely recognize it. I have lived on the west coast for more than 24 years so I have officially spent more time there. I still refer to Halifax as home. For us east coasters our roots run deep. If we meet people anywhere in the world and they are also from the east coast there is an instant bond, a shared understanding of a culture and way of being in the world. I love the accent that rolls off tongues in that sing song drawl and can recognize it wherever I am. The accent will vary depending on whether you are from a big city, or one of the smaller towns which each seem to put their own twist on a way of speaking. For now, I just want to sit and listen to the people speak. I find comfort in those familiar patterns of speech from my childhood.
I woke up at 4:30 am this morning listening to the birds sing the beginning of the day into existence and even they sing a song that is different now. I lay in my borrowed bed comparing them to the bird songs of the west, unable to identify any but the crows. I am hoping to see a blue jay while I am here, they hold a special significance for me and they don’t exist on Vancouver island. We have jays on the island but the Stellar Jays of the west are slightly different. The eastern jays are brighter in colour and slightly smaller, though their screech is very similar. This trip has me comparing many things between the east of my childhood and the west of my adulthood.
I did think about moving east after Howard left this earth. I spent hours looking through the real estate listings and dreaming about a waterfront home along the Atlantic. My heart is in the west now though, with the people who have come to mean so much to me. I call them my soul family. I fit there amongst the cedars, bald eagles, mild weather and the laid back lifestyle of small town Sooke. I belong there now. Perhaps I had to leave there to know that. I wish I had the ability to be in two places at the same time. I just started laughing cause the word bicoastal ran through my mind. I am bicoastal!
When I arrived at my sisters home and unpacked my suitcase I found a note from the special man in my life. This man was kind enough to wake up at 3:30 am to drive me to the airport, I think he likes me. This small note brought tears to my eyes and melted my heart. His presence in my life has helped me to wake up parts of myself that have been dormant for a very long time. I thank the universe for him every day and appreciate the fact that he has the strength to walk beside me and encourages me to grow, heal, and live my dreams. His note was a little reminder of all that is waiting for me when I return. This was a trip of necessity, I needed to revisit the past and make peace with it to move forward with clarity and purpose. I needed to remember who I am. So, today I am going to visit with some of my cousins. I am looking forward to reconnecting with them and getting to know them again. They too will help me remember who I am.  
So while I was away living my life on the west coast the east coast has changed. I guess time stood still in my mind and I expected things to be the same. We change and grow and places change and grow. I am not the same person that left Nova Scotia many years ago. This trip has confirmed one thing for me, while the east will always be part of me I belong among the cedars of the west.  I have also learned that you need to know and understand the past to move in a different way into the future. Learn from the past but don’t dwell there or live from there, learn from it . Know who you are. Live your life with no regrets, just live!
Love to all

Donna