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 Salt

I love old things, and older people for that matter.  I thoroughly enjoy listening to the stories that my elders tell of times gone by and their experiences. I love their wrinkled faces that give physical evidence of the life they have lived.  My favourite is eyes all crinkled from laughter, smiles and sunshine.  I also enjoy the stories that antique items tell in their own rusty and timeworn way.  I have a slight addiction to antique fire extinguishers for some reason and also to old cars.  The picture above is me and my little shadow Georgia (if great danes can be called little) at 7 in the morning after we unloaded my 31 Model A from the trailer that delivered it late at night.  I think I threw a hoody on over my pyjamas and ran outside to look at it and placed my hands on it.  I put my hands on a lot of things to feel the energy of them and in some ways I think that the items become a part of me, as if I can absorb their history through my hands. If that truck could talk!

The Model A arrived not too long after we returned from our trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the land speed races.  I had never been to the salt flats before and had no idea what to expect.  The salt flats are a short drive from the lights, sounds, and throngs of people at the casinos in Nevada to a  white covered world that reminded me of the moon.  There are no animals, plants or insects on the salt, at least none that you can see. It is barren and beautiful and if you ever get the chance to visit during the summer I highly recommend it.  In the winter the salt is covered in water and looks like a large lake. In the summer it transforms into a white wonderland that draws racers from all over the world hoping to break land speed records.  This area is so flat that you can sometimes see the curvature of the earth as you look across the salt to the distant mountains.

img_0665
Donna at the starting line with one of the race cars
img_0746
Panorama shot of the Bonneville Salt Flats

There is something about this place that seems to become part of your blood and the people who frequent the salt call it salt fever.  I am not normally an overly emotional person, but the day we said our goodbyes to the people we met and the place itself I cried like a baby.  I did not want to leave.  For anyone who has been there they know that my words only scratch the surface of what goes on here. There is a bonding that happens with the salt and the people.  Everyone is friendly and helpful and there does not seem to be much of that us and them attitude that is part of most car gatherings and races.  People are just as excited to see the rusty old cars that don’t look like they could run let alone be driven hundreds, if not thousands, of miles as they are to see the race cars that people have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into for the chance to race.  There were speed records broken, dreams dashed, friends made and old friends reunited in a place that calls you back time and time again.

My guy has been going there for years as a race spectator.  Some years he drives from Vancouver Island to Wendover, Utah only to discover that the races have been cancelled because the conditions on the salt are not suitable.  One year it was still covered in water and on another year it was just a big mud pit. I am so thankful that the conditions were perfect for my introduction to the Salt Flats. In 2017 we will be there again but this time my guy Shawn will be behind the wheel of his own 1955 Studebaker racing across the salt in search of the speed record in his class.  I will have my ear on the radio so I can hear his speed called out for the mile markers over the noise of the engines at the start line.  I can’t be in the race car with him as he flies across the salt but my heart will be.  I have a feeling that the salt from my happy tears will hit the ground and i will also become part of that place forever.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Love you all

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

Ancestral Influence

Got a phone call this morning at 5 am. My first thought was something is wrong. Turns out one of my cousins back east called my cell phone by accident. So we had a brief conversation and I sent him a text to make him laugh. Started my day with unfounded worry and a smile. I was worried because I have a nephew who is ill and going for surgery in a few days. This got me thinking about the wonder of our DNA and genetics. I know, how does an accidental phone call lead to a post on genetics.

Our family has a genetic condition called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch syndrome, which may or may not predispose you to a number of different cancers the main one being colon cancer. Four members of my immediate family have had colon cancer so it looks like the odds are not in our favour. So that is the downside to genetics. I have regular screening for two types of cancer and after testing have found that I do not carry the gene that causes this. Other members of my family have not been so lucky. The gene has been passed down through our maternal line of ancestors. I on the other hand take after my father’s side of the family. I am the spitting image of my father and my grandmother. So this stuff makes me think about what else we inherit from our long line of ancestors.

What is it that makes us who we are? Do we inherit personality traits as well? I would say yes to this. I have a cousin who is about 16 years older than me and when he was here for a visit a few years ago we discovered that we have some of the same quirks. I am constantly losing my coffee or tea mug and never close a drawer fully. His wife started laughing because he does the exact same thing. Family trait or coincidence, we may never know. I thought it was hilarious and we still talk about it nine years later. As far as learned traits go I would say I am a mixture of both parents. I grew up being influenced by them and was taught to see the world through two very different sets of eyes and life experiences. They helped shape the person I am today. I on the other hand am wholly responsible for who I am today and like to think that I have refined and expanded the world view they had. So are we simply the sum of our experiences? You can have two people experience the same upbringing in the same household and they move through the world in completely different ways. I look at my own brother and sisters and marvel at how we are so alike in some ways and so different in others. I also marvel at how each of has a unique memory of the same event from our past.

I have never felt like I fit into my family. I used to wonder if I was adopted but looked too much like my Dad for that to be the case. When I danced down the wonderful path of discovering my ancestors during my genealogical research I discovered some interesting things. My love for fiddle music, my writing, my ability to sketch, and having a head for numbers, are all things that one of my ancestors excelled at. I am a great mishmash of everyone who has contributed to my DNA. Magical isn’t it?

I also believe that my cells and DNA have their own memories of all the things that my ancestors both close and distant experienced. Even my intuitive abilities are inherited and handed down through my family line. Sometimes these things seem to have skipped a generation or two but if I look closely enough they are there in all of us. So I have chosen to hone my writing skills and my intuitive abilities, others in the family have chosen a different path. My Grandmother whom I have never met, she passed away when my mother was a baby, comes to visit in spirit and she usually shows up when I am writing or doing some piece of creative work.   Does she have this connection to me because I am pursuing things that she loved? I like to think so. She spends a lot of time looking over my left shoulder when I type. She is nodding her head right now and says that I am doing things that she wanted to do but never got the chance to. So I guess in some way the grandmother I have never met in person has influenced me and continues to do so with her presence in spirit. She also tells me that my intuitive abilities come from her line as well as my father’s side of the family. A double whammy! So the predisposition for colon cancer, as well as artistic and intuitive abilities are handed down from generation to generation.  Nothing is ever all good or all bad. The truth of it all is somewhere in the middle. So I choose to walk in the middle of the path, the view is much better from here.

Peace and love to all
Donna