Renaming Grief and Other Shit

After a mostly sleepless night, I have a throbbing headache but have maxed out my painkiller quota for the next four hours.  Having sciatica issues makes it difficult to sleep.  I cannot get comfortable and my legs, (sometimes one, sometimes both) burn, tingle and ache.  Yoga and stretching are not helping and I have decided to seek some medical help and get them to look into what is going on with my lower back.   I am a light sleeper and one of the problems I had last night was hearing this strange scratching noise outside.  I lay awake in bed listening, trying to figure out what it was and then heard what sounded like a bear giving a frustrated long grunt, the dogs started barking and I flew out of bed. The dogs live outside and I don’t want them tangling with a frustrated bear.  Shawn and I are outside with flashlights having a look around, the dogs quieted down and we were left cold and wide awake. There is a beautiful creek right beside our property and the salmon are spawning so it is like a bear picnic at the edge of the yard.  Shawn thinks it was a raccoon, but he did not hear the noise the animal made.  I decided that he can think whatever he likes, but I heard a bear.

Okay, 2:45 am and I am wide awake.  We watch a little TV and head back to bed but the pain in my back and legs won’t let me get back to sleep.  So it is now 5am and I am still awake and in pain.  So I try meditating, becoming one with the pain, breathing into it, just breathing and finally drifted off to sleep for a few hours.  I don’t think people who have never dealt with chronic pain have any idea how debilitating and tiring it can be.  I look fine, you would not know that I have been in constant pain or discomfort for 3 weeks if you looked at me.  This happened to me about seven years ago and lasted for over a year.  Chiropractor visits, massage, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation were all part of my healing.  It got to the point where I could not put on my own pants, socks or shoes and was unable to lift my leg high enough to get in the tub.   I also could not drive because I could not move my foot quickly enough from the gas to the brake pedal and almost ended up in the ditch at the end of my driveway.  This was a year from hell.

However, it as nothing compared to the emotional, mental and spiritual pain I suffered when Howard was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few months later.  While physical pain is a “damn pain” it has a different quality than grief and emotional pain.  It is not just the loss of someone you love, but also your hopes and dreams, and in my case my business, job and home as well.  Yes, it was my choice to close my business and to stop working.  I could have made other arrangements to take care of those things.  But, I did not have it in me to still manage those things behind the scenes while Howard and I navigated cancer world.  One thing that a lot of people do not realize is that the moment you or your loved one are diagnosed with a terminal or life-threatening illness is that the grieving can start immediately.  Life as you knew it has ended and you are thrust into a world full doctors, appts, chemo treatments, medications, and the never-ending supply of people who are only too happy to tell you what they think you should do, or criticize what you are doing.  Just navigating the medical system and being pushed to have this treatment or that treatment without being given enough information to make an informed decision had me wanting to pull my hair out and scream. The man I loved was dying and it seemed that some people, even those in the medical profession did not care, it was just another day at work for them.  He was just another cancer patient.  They did not know his story, or our combined story.  They did not know he had the biggest heart of anyone I knew and spent most of his life doing things for others or that he had finally started doing something he loved and was creating the most beautiful sculptures out of recycled metal. They did not know that I was terrified.  They did not know us and did not have the time or the desire in some cases to get to know us.  They did not know.

I made it my mission to let them know.  I talked to people, I annoyed some people, I got pushy with some people and I even told some people off.  They said I was angry.  Your damn right I was angry.  I was angry, terrified,  heartbroken, and I was watching this big strong man who was my rock waste away and there was nothing I could do to stop any of it.  One of the most annoying questions I was asked when people found out Howard had cancer was,” Oh, what type of cancer is it?”  What the hell does that matter?  I would tell them lung cancer and immediately their next question was “did he smoke”?  So if he smoked then he deserved to have this cancer, he brought it on himself.  If that was the case, then all assholes should get colon cancer, and heartless greedy people should have cancer of the heart, well they do have a type of cancer already, it is cancer of the soul.  Don’t be one of those people!  So my guy is fighting for his life and some people don’t ask if there is anything they can do, they just want to know what type of cancer he has so they can go to sleep at night knowing it will not happen to them because they don’t smoke.  Yup, I was a little angry.  But that is also one of the stages of grief, so are denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  The experts in the field of grieving and loss bandy these stages around and some think it can all be summed up just like that.  The bad news is it is much more complex, sometimes you are in one stage, sometimes the stages overlap and other times (at least for me) there seemed to be whole new stages that had no label.

What are these new stages you ask? When the shit hits the fan make them laugh,  they will never know how torn up inside you are.  If you have read any of my earlier posts you may have the idea that I have a sense of humor and you would be right.  My sense of humor along with dear friends and family helped me get through one of the toughest periods of my life.  If you have a sense of humour use it, if you don’t then cultivate one and watch comedies that make you laugh or do whatever you need to do to laugh.  Laughter heals, even hysterical grieving laughter heals.  My sense of humour is a little warped sometimes and it is one of the ways I deal with life,  my inner comedian comes out. It is one of my strategies for coping with life.  It came out at my mother’s funeral, it came out at my father’s deathbed and it came out when the six of us ( Howard’s parents Pat and Bob, Me and 3 dear friends) were sitting in the living room with Howard waiting for the funeral home to come take his body away.  I sat on the bed beside him and did the only thing I was capable of doing at the time.  I told funny stories about our life together and we all cried and laughed together.  I was exhausted, I was heartbroken, I was relieved it was over, I was terrified and consumed with guilt for feeling relieved that it was over.  I made everyone leave around 4:30 am and collapsed on my bed.  I did not remember anything for six hours.

Did I mention, that I did not get much sleep last night?  Well, now I am really tired and having trouble getting my thoughts out through my fingers so I will end this here.  If you want to know more and haven’t already clicked on something more entertaining, then I will  let you know what I called the other stages in the next few days.  I think they should all be renamed.  All that is going through my head at the moment is the seven dwarves but that would be way too Disney for me. I think the stages of grief need some new labels that have a little edge and a little humor in them.  I definitely think one needs to be called, How dare you die and leave me here all alone to deal with this shit!  Can’t believe I just typed that but it is true.  Don’t judge too harshly.  Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to the pub I go.

Love you all

Donna

PS  That is one of Howard’s sculptures in the picture and one of my favorites!

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Fear and Mirrors

Sometimes things have to break completely before you can fix them. Life is funny that way. There is a cat that lives on the property, we call her Lucky. I guess she is lucky in a way. She has survived outside on her own for about twelve years, though that is just a guess on my part. I put a bowl of food out for her every night and I lived here for about six months before I ever caught a glimpse of her. Sometimes I wondered if she even existed before I saw her. She is a small, almost white cat with beige and brown markings on her paws, tail and ears. She is tiny, almost delicate like every other female in my man Shawn’s life. She is small but she has a fierce heart. She is a survivor. Every so often I sit with her while she eats and once in a while she lets me pet her and jumps on my lap for a cuddle. Lately, there has been a larger black cat that comes up to the deck to eat the food I set out for Lucky. I call him Spirit. God this black cat is fast! He fights with Lucky over the food and I don’t like that. I think he is a bit of a bully. I say he, even though I don’t know if the cat is male or female. Tonight he ran up the stairs and was across the deck and almost on top of Lucky before I moved and scared him off. I want to protect Lucky but I can’t be by her side all the time. So, I do what I can when I am present, though I am not sure if it helps. I am just the person that fills the silver metal bowl with cat food every night and most mornings before the sun comes up. I have my role to play and I do it with love most times.  Other times, there is more impatience and annoyance than love.

This reminds me that we all have our role to play. Sometimes it is the lead role and other times it is a small cameo. Regardless, the extent of the part we play in the world and others lives is not important, but the role itself big or small is of the utmost importance. It matters to the world and the people we interact with. Remember that. Your part matters. The world would not be the same without you.  The role we play in others lives, in my opinion, is one of the most important things in the world. People and our connections to them shape and change us all.  Lately, my interactions with others have made it quite clear to me that I need to make some changes.  Great more changes!  I had tea and lunch with a friend last week and she pointed out the number of changes that have taken place in my life in the last few years.  I was shocked by the amount even though I have lived, and in some ways thrived, through them.  I left my job, closed my business, wrestled with the illness and loss of the man I loved, sold my house, moved, started a new relationship, moved again and adopted a new circle of friends and family.  There are more changes but those are the most significant ones, and the ones I am willing to share with you.  My new life does not even closely resemble the life I had two years ago.  I sometimes feel as though I am adrift in a huge sea of change and am just waiting to spot land where I can once again feel the solidity of the earth under my feet.

Okay, back to people and fixing things.  I am no longer comfortable with the roles I have previously played.  The life I had disintegrated and while that was extremely difficult it has also given me the opportunity to create a new one and in essence, create a new me.  I have led a very self-centered life up to this point.  I am not proud of this and have been taking a good look at this aspect of my life.  I have also realized that I do like to have time for myself even though I enjoy having lots of people around and finding the balance between the two has been challenging.  In the last month, the universe has kindly provided me with many opportunities that have shone a bright light on my character and pointed out the parts I want to change.  I don’t think I have been a great friend, daughter, sister or partner.  So, I am looking at each of these relationships and the role I play.  If there is a problem with any of these relationships, I need to look at myself first.  The only thing all of these relationships has in common is me.  So sometimes your life needs to fall apart before you can fix it or turn it into something you are proud of.   You need to strip away all the extraneous bullshit of your personality (ego) before you can change it.  Love yourself and love others as unconditionally as you are able to do.  All the things about yourself that you don’t like are magnified in others.  Some say others provide us with a mirror,  I think it is more of a funhouse mirror at the fair that distorts and twists things so they don’t really show what is in front of them as they really are.  The ego is a tricky little thing!  The universe is tricky too and will present you with the same thing over and over in different ways until you are able to see it clearly.

I have come up with many reasons in the last six months that I am unable to write.  I don’t have time, I don’t have a space of my own that inspires me to write,  I have nothing to say, I cannot write about the people in my life because they are entitled to their privacy, and the list of excuses goes on and on.  The reality of it all is that I am afraid.  Afraid I will be judged, afraid that I will fail, afraid that I will succeed and afraid that people will see what lies beneath this facade that I try so hard to protect.  I am taking a big leap next week.  I am attending a writers conference in Orlando with my older sister Margaret.  One part of me is looking forward to the conference and another part of me is afraid. I have mentioned before that I have anxiety attacks.  One of the tricks I have learned in dealing with these anxiety attacks over the years is I ask myself what is the worst thing that can happen.  I spend a few minutes visualizing these worst-case scenarios then visualize ways to deal with them.  Things are never as bad as I imagine they could be, they are usually more wonderful than I ever thought possible.

So, next week will be my 55th birthday and I am off on an adventure with my sister and have no idea how things will turn out.  I am looking forward to spending some time alone with Margaret and sharing this experience with her.  One thing is for sure, there will be lots of laughter and a few glasses of wine in store for us.

 

Hug everyone
Look into the fun-house mirror without fear
xoxoxo
Donna

No Strings

I am sitting once again in my slightly soiled chair with a coffee beside me in my sunny yellow mug. It is five thirty in the morning and the birds are singing the sun up with cheerful little songs. It has all the makings of a wonderful day even though I have only had about four hours sleep. I had trouble settling down last night. There were a few things weighing on my mind and my heart. I have started making plans and dreaming and low and behold the universe throws a few curve balls at me just to see if I am paying attention and waits to see how I will handle it.

Have you ever had one of those moments where certain events in your life become clear in their meaning. I had one of those moments last night and I have to admit that it scared me a little. Actually my response was “well shit.” It reminded me that certain things are beyond my control. I can say I want this, I don’t want that till the cows come home and the universe in its wisdom will give me what I need. I never expected to fall in love with my life again, I never expected to feel or experience so much joy and peace again. Some of the best moments of my life have happened when I was not expecting it.

So I had a moment of clarity and it scared me. I am not sure scared is the right word. Perhaps it is more being unsure with a tiny bit of fear thrown in. I don’t know where this path will lead but I trust in the universe to guide me along and in the meantime will set the fear aside. No one knows what tomorrow will bring but I have had a few visions of the future and they do not coincide with what I thought I wanted. Perhaps there is a lesson in that. Do not be so tied to what you want and don’t want that you miss the wonderful people and opportunities right in front of you. Be flexible with your how your mind and heart respond to the events and people in your life. Be teachable.

I have ideas about how I would like things to be and have expressed a large number of those ideas on this blog. One thing that I do know for certain is that as long as I let my heart rule over my mind life is as it should be. The minute I start over thinking things and second guessing every decision, fears settles in and my mind gains control. Fear versus love the eternal struggle for control. So the universe is putting people and situations in my path to see if I can actually live what I say. Anyone can say anything, but can they back it up with action. The universe is saying enough talk Donna lets see some action.

So, I have said numerous times that it is all about living with your heart wide open. But what does that really mean to me? It is about others not about me. For one of the first times in my life, I have led a very self-centered life up to this point, the happiness of others comes before my own. I want the people around me to know what it means to be loved for just being them, no strings attached. I want to bring peace and joy with me everywhere I go and spread that around. I want the people in my life to know that they are appreciated and that I truly see them for who they are and that they are more than enough. I thought I knew what love was. The universe has shown me lately that I have only danced around the edges of it in the past. Well shit!

Have a bliss filled day
Hug people
Donna

Grief and Compost

Woke up this morning with tears streaming down my face. I had a dream about Howard which I do not think has happened since he passed away. It was a wonderful dream and he was so happy and full of life. Then I woke up and remembered that he is gone and the grief started pouring from my heart and eyes. This has not happened for months and took me by surprise. I remembered the last few days of his life and some of the conversations and experiences we had together. I asked him not to leave me here all by myself and he said he wouldn’t. I knew he could not stay and I could not stand to see him in so much pain. So, I had to let him go and let him know I would be okay. He just grinned and said I know you will, like he knew something I didn’t.

There must have been some part of him that knew he would be leaving long before he got diagnosed with cancer. He tidied up a lot of loose ends with the vintage cars and made connections with people who would become important to me. Sometimes it feels like he is still looking after me and that I am never alone. Other times, I can barely remember what it was like to have him here, my life has changed so much. I have no regrets, I feel no guilt, and know we both loved and appreciated each other. Howard actually thanked me for staying with him through all of it which surprised me. He said some people would have walked away. I don’t want to know those people. How could you walk away from someone you love just when they need you the most. According to the hospice staff it happens more frequently than we know. What a sad and lonely world we live in.

I thank the universe that I had the strength of spirit to stand by my man when things went to shit. I never realized how much strength I truly had hidden inside this small body. I will be there for the people I love regardless of how much it hurts me to see and feel their pain. My heart just keeps getting bigger because of it. I also had a lot of people who stood by me and supported me through this whole process and my God I love them for it. They are my tribe, my community. It takes special people to allow someone to fall apart and just be there for them without trying to change it or fix it for them. Some want to stop your tears and your grief. They cannot handle your pain, it makes them feel things they do not want to feel inside themselves. It is all about them and their fears.

Today I have a few people coming to the house to take more things away. The fishing boat, some sculptures and tools. Soon there will be nothing left but an empty house sitting on this land. Land that has nurtured me for twelve years. I am going to walk away from here soon and it is proving to be much harder than I expected. However, I am not walking away from my life with Howard, I am walking towards something, I am walking towards my future.

Be there, really be there, for the people you love. Don’t shy away from the tough times, you don’t grow when everything is all rosy. In our disposable society, in which even people are disposable to some, be the compost. Be the compost that provides nourishment and promotes growth in others. Take all the pain you have experienced in your life and use it to find that connection with others and encourage them to be the best them they can be. Be compost for their soul and yours.

Love to all

The Joy and the Anger

One of the most difficult years of my life has created some amazing changes in me. While my initial response to all of the adversity and loss that I faced was a soul numbing anger, things have taken a different turn in the last few months. There is a softness in me that did not exist before and a renewed and refined compassion and love for others has blossomed out of that. While I have faced challenges before in my life, this was the first time I looked nowhere but inside my own heart for solutions and answers. I did not look for an external solution.

Something I have discovered is that I have an ability to be in the moment with whatever is happening internally and externally. I am able to be present and look at what is going on and as a result have a better understanding of myself and others. One thing that happened when Howard passed away was extreme sadness and grief which greatly conflicted with my hopes and the feelings of freedom his death gave me. I believe that conflicting emotions are normal during the loss of the significant person in your life and we waste too much time feeling guilty about it. It is a horrible situation to be in, you are trying to let go of them, the life you shared, move on with your life and remember and miss them at the same time. It is a tall order, the letting go and holding on to their memory all at once.

Life is full of conflicting emotions, challenges, joy and miraculous moments. We choose how we respond to that! I allowed my anger to take over for a short period but could not sustain it for long, it was killing my soul. The anger did serve its purpose for that period of time and I am thankful that I experienced it. The anger taught me a lot and may have been the catalyst for the softening that happened. I have a softness for myself and my struggles and have started behaving in a more gentle manner towards others. I do not know, nor should I presume to know how others should be under any circumstance. We just need people to allow us the space to work through it in our own way. We all need that space to learn and grow.

Having the ability and desire to look objectively at yourself and your reactions to the world and circumstance is a priceless learning opportunity. You can allow theses things to harden you and I believe that the people who feel as though these things have happened to them will harden. Life is happening to them, they are not active participants in their own life, the surface of the why of things is barely scratched. When you take the time to look deeper with an attitude of discovery and wonder it is amazing to see the layers and depths of the pain and untruths. My anger was there to insulate me from the pain and fear. But in insulating myself from the grief, pain and fear, I also insulated myself from fully experiencing all the good, the joy, the hope and the wonder. It is a double edged sword, anger is, that closes your heart off so you don’t feel anything.

I sat in this living room the day I started this blog and had an awakening of sorts. I fell in love with my life and could see how all the emotions, both conflicting and complimentary, were connected. I will call this a spiritual awakening simply because I experienced my own soul breaking free from all of the constraints my mind and beliefs had placed upon it. I was free in a way I had never been, I was free to just be. No rules, no right and wrong, just me naked in my humanity. I have great hope for humanity and know that people just like me are having awakenings of their own in the most mundane of places. Our quiet strength is far more powerful than the anger and fear being spewed out of so many minds and angry hearts at the moment. Living with your heart wide open allows you to feel everything and that can be a scary place to live from. It is painful and my heart breaks on a daily basis but my heart with it’s wide open embrace also gets to experience all the joy and wonders of being human in this time and place.

Be gentle

Donna

Mental What?

When I was twenty three I got married and moved from the only home I had ever known on the east coast all the way across the country to Vancouver Island. I also suffered my first panic attack shortly after that. I thought I had a heart attack and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where they declared me physically fine, said it was just a panic attack and sent me home. I had no idea at that time that anxiety and the associated panic attacks were going to lead me on a painful and wonderful journey of discovery.  At one point in my late twenties these attacks were so bad that I could not leave the house on my own. My own territory, my home, was a safe place where I could control the environment and who entered it.  Just going across the parking lot to get lunch at work was a walk of extreme discomfort. At work I was fine, at home I was fine, or was I? I had trouble breathing, got frequent chest pains, headaches, suffered from severe stomach issues and the list goes on. Living in a constant state of fear is hard on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Living in a constant state of anxiety is like being slowly buried alive and not being able to do anything about it, you are frozen with fear.

I did not get my drivers liscence until I was in my thirties and still deal with panic attacks when I have to drive somewhere that I am not familiar with, though the severity of them has lessened over time. I have to tell you that I have driven across most of Canada now, woohoo!  I would like to be able to tell you that there was one magic thing that fixed it all but there was not. It was a whole bunch of little things learned and ways of being that were incorporated into my life in small increments that helped. I also had help from professionals and non professionals. I also encourage anyone with any type of problem to reach out for help. Apparently some would consider this to be a form of mental illness, though I do not label myself in that way. From what I have seen over the years everyone suffers from some form of mental illness even if it is just an grossly overblown sense of self importance.  Just take a look at the Trump disaster that is going on with our neighbours to the south. Do you think he is displaying any level of sane thought or action, or the country as a whole is thinking with their right mind?  We are seeing only a small part of the picture. The anxiety and panic attacks are only a small part of you, though they can take over your life. I think as a society we are too caught up in labels. Every one has felt fear, anxiety and panic at some point in their lives. For some of us the dance with them lasts longer and for others the dance only ends with their death. Please reach out to people and keep reaching out until you find someone that you can relate to. I have worked extremely hard to get to the point I am at today, so I understand the struggles people face. Their struggles might not be exactly the same, but if we focus on the differences there will never be any understanding of the other.  I won’t lie it will not be easy.  Nothing worth having ever is.  You are worth it so fight, dig, cry, scream, but do the work.  You. Are. Worth. It.

I did not expect to write this post and quite frankly I am not all that comfortable doing it, but once again the universe compels me to speak. Okay universe I will go with this, but know I am not happy about it. This makes me vulnerable and I know based on previous experiences that I will be judged by some people and loved by others for my honesty and candor. I have no control over how others will react to this. I want you to know that most of these panic attacks and severe anxiety episodes have taken place in private. I still have them happen in public and this is when I say slightly inappropriate things or my behaviour seems a bit off. I laughed so hard at a funeral that I had to get up and leave, people thought I was sobbing in grief and I was almost peeing my pants with laughter! Yup, I’m a giggle at a funeral. Sometimes I look away from you when I am speaking to collect myself and so you do not see the pain or anxiety. Most of you don’t notice. People who know me socially, may be surprised by this post. Those who know me on an intimate level have seen me struggle, overcome, struggle again and grow and grow and glow.  Little typo there but I’m going to keep the glow, I like it.  It fits.

What do you think when you hear the words mental illness? It sends shivers up my spine let me tell ya. I want nothing to do with that. I had a friend who was a psychologist and I had a chat with him one day. I told him that I thought I might be crazy and gave him a few examples of why I thought this.  He told me nope you are just human and the secret is that the really crazy ones would never even question their sanity, they are the serial killers, the Hitler’s of the world and the ones with no thought of anyone or anything but themselves. God, I loved that man and miss him still. Thanks John for helping me realize my humanity was showing and heal myself.   I loved his down to earth perspective on life and am grateful for the short time I got to spend with him.

So our societal and medical systems love labels but labels don’t take into account that we are so much more than just that and capable of so much more than we ever thought possible.  I think that what I am supposed to remind you of today is that you are so much more. You are so much more than your fears, insecurities, doubts and struggles. You are also enough, more than enough and much more lovable than you believe. Your ability to heal is also far greater than you have been led to believe. You are uncomfortable and fearful for a reason. Get help and discover the reason. There is always an underlying reason. Do not be afraid of uncovering what lies underneath.  I know it is extremely difficult and I would hold your hand through it if I could. The truth of it all will set you free from the prison that anxiety has you caged in. Today I will leave you with a poem that I wrote a few years ago about a crystal called sodalite. I had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to write the poem down so I could go back to sleep. The stone wanted to speak. This dark blue stone is related to your voice, throat chakra and speaking your truth. My wish for each of you is that you are always provided with the help you need and you live your truth with love and compassion. I also hope you find your voice and use it to help others.  Much love to all of you.

 

Cold, blue, stone of truth

Release the bonds of silence

That fear has wrapped

Around my soul

The truth inside me is released

With quiet strength

I find my voice

In the middle of my thoughts and feelings

My hearts sings with freedom

Arms raised to the night

I dance with my tears

Under a cold, blue, sky

Reach out and hug someone

Judge none

Donna

 

Let’s Dance

For most of my life I have always felt that I did not fit in. Didn’t seem to fit with my own family, coworkers, or society. I tried to fit in, I really did. I did what they told me was right and good and tried to be part of them but something always felt off. It was like they were living in a slightly different world than I was and spoke a different dialect.   I wanted to be a part of it so badly that I sacrificed my own beliefs to try. One day, I do not know the date, I realized that I could no longer live that way if I wanted to live. I am now sure that I was not the only person who struggled with this. I’m sure of this because I have met others who felt the same way over and over again. We were struggling to be true to ourselves in a world that wanted conformity and we paid a price.

Some of us turned to drugs and alcohol to deaden the feelings we had inside. Some of us walked away from society and live far from other people, hermits I suppose. Some of us stood up and made a huge difference in the world. We were not thanked for it at the time. Look back over the history of our culture and these people will stand out like sore thumbs! You decide who they were, I am not going to tell you. Please do not judge us for trying to stop the pain, we did not know any other way to do it and felt we had no one to guide us, we felt we had no other choice. We are a passionate bunch and have created some beautiful art, music, movies, books and poetry in our attempt to reach out to you from our hearts. Our hearts pouring out of us in the hope that the pain would stop and someone somewhere would understand. Most of us have not stood out in the crowd but we are stepping out now!

I use the word dance a lot in reference to pain. Anyone can walk with pain but there are those of us who literally dance with it. We get down and dirty with it in a primal way and because of this have much to share with you. I have come to realize that I have been in pain both physical and emotional for most of my life. I did not talk to many people about it. I did not think they would understand. Now I realize that them understanding my pain was not the point. The point for me was I needed to understand it and sharing has helped me do that. This is the story of Donna, pain, fear, joy, celebration, love and hate, the whole enchilada!

I do not have a competitive bone in my body, jealousy doesn’t exist in my world. How do you think I fit in a corporate culture that has a cutthroat attitude? Not so well, so I left the corporate world and just took a job. I have been selling you things since I was sixteen years old and I was good at it but not in the traditional sense. I even used to go to chain stores and teach the employees how to sell based on the corporate cultures mandate of illusion and fear, that was my career. That is not how I sold things though. I sold by not selling! I gave you information about things so that you could make the best decision for you! I empowered you to purchase based on your own wants and needs and had some of the highest sales rates in the country. They could not figure out how I did it. I was honest with you and sometimes I would even send you away without selling you anything, not what the boss wants to see but they couldn’t argue with the sales statistics. I developed relationships not customers. As you can see, out there in the retail world this is starting to happen all over the place. Woohoo!

One thing that people are surprised to learn about me is that I was a classically trained violinist and started playing at the age of seven. I was fairly good and at the top of my class in music school. Then it got super competitive and I walked away. Not because I couldn’t cut it, the competitiveness ruined it for me. I had my first solo at a concert when I was twelve and no one in my family came to see it. I was heartbroken. I walked away from it all a few years later. It was the pain I couldn’t handle. I feel music! Even today I do not listen to music with my ears, I listen with my heart, so it doesn’t matter if it is being sung in a different language, I feel it. I still love the violin, it is the instrument that speaks to me and once in a while I will rosin up my bow and let all the pain flow through me and transform itself into the air as sweet music. Even pain can be beautiful.

I guess what I am trying to say is that the world is changing. There is a shift in consciousness happening all around us and I am excited. I am doing my happy dance! We are moving from being exclusive to inclusive, head thinkers to heart minded, small minded to open minded and oh my God we need that if we are going to thrive as a people. Don’t be surprised the next time you see a homeless person sit down to play a piano like a genius, or sing songs so sweetly your teeth ache. The only difference between you and them is they danced with the pain and have not found their way back to their chairs. They deserve love and compassion as much as you do. Feel the music, feel the pain, just feel. What I once looked at as a curse I now see as a blessing. I help people, I help them heal in many different ways and I can do this simply because I can feel the pain, my own, other people’s, I feel the world’s pain and I am ready to dance with it. So today I say to you, I don’t feel as though I no longer fit in, I was born to do this, I was born to be part of this new way of thinking and help people in whatever form that takes.  This new world that is forming is all about the heart and love. Are you ready to be part of the revolution that is taking place inside of us, are you already part of it? Good, let’s dance!

Thank you Carolyn for the inspiration

Love you all

Donna

The Dance of Grief

Grief is a funny word. I think it should contain more letters and have a harsher sound to it. It sounds soft and uncomplicated doesn’t it?   It is not soft, that is for sure. Experts say it has five to seven stages to it depending upon where you get your information. Seven stages sounds complicated especially since you can go through them in order only to revisit one of those stages at any time. Grief is different for everyone! Just like life and the way humans respond and react to that, it is different for everyone. Remember that.

Dealing with loss is complicated and you can grieve for many different reasons. My grief is due to the loss of my husband and sometimes it sneaks up on me in the strangest situations. I think it’s odd when someone says I lost my husband. I did not lose him, I know exactly where he went and there were times I wished that I could have gone with him. It would have been so much easier if he had lived and I had died, well easier for me. I would have traded my life for his and offered that solution to the universe a few times. The universe had other plans for me.  I have had a few long chats with the universe and all the powers that be, I was not impressed.

Okay grief let’s dance. It was mind blowing how powerful the grieving was. It brought me to my knees, some days I didn’t get out of bed and a few times I just sat in this chair staring out the window not seeing or feeling anything. I had trouble concentrating, I couldn’t sleep, some days I couldn’t even get dressed. Please, oh please, oh please don’t ask me to make another decision. It doesn’t matter how many people you have around you, grief is there waiting for you. I just got this image in my mind of grief as a dust bunny ninja, lurking in corners and hiding under the bed, jumping out at you when you least expect it. Not only are you grieving the loss of the person, you are also having to let go of your dreams and the future you had planned. Your person ( mother, father, child, friend, husband) dies and your entire life is changed forever, dreams gone in the blink of an eye.

I am a practical person and can usually find solutions in any problematic situation. There is no solution for grief. It doesn’t stop and is constantly changing. One minute it is in your face and messing with your ability to breathe and the next it retreats back to its dark corner and waits. I can remember a day when I was out with friends and on the drive home I had realized I had not thought of my husband for a few hours, grief jumped into the seat beside me and I was assaulted by it. My heart screamed how could I have forgotten Howard for those few hours? My mind was on other things and I had some fun with the girls, then the minute I was alone the reality of the situation hit home. This was no ordinary lunch date because Howard was not going to be home when I got there.  Sometimes when I go to sleep I forget what has taken place and when I wake up in the morning it hits me all over again.  Some mornings I wake up and don’t think about it all.

Perhaps I am one of the lucky ones. Because I have always had the ability to go with the flow when grief struck I embraced it. I explored this aspect of the process and went where it led me. Grief also has the ability to transform you and like any transformation the process is not pretty or pain free. The amount of growth for me has been proportionate to how willing I was to experience all that grief had to offer. I have grieved without apology. Despite the fact that I am moving on with my life, I still have moments of overwhelming grief. I had one last night. Driving home, tears pouring down my face and singing at the top of my lungs in great gasps and sobs.  Thank the universe it was dark and no one could see me. I grieve in private and I grieve a lot in my car.

There is no end to this story, no tidy summation to leave you with. The loss is always there, you just learn how to go on with your life and live with the loss. You learn to live with it and if you let it grief can teach you much about living. So please have some patience with the people you know who are suffering a loss of any kind in their life. Just love them through the process and set aside your own expectations of how they should be handling it. Until you have danced with grief you don’t know if you will be dancing a fast and hard flamenco or a slow intimate waltz.  In my case it has been an awkwardly beautiful interpretive dance that changes speed and rhythm on a whim.

Hug people, all the people

Love you all

Donna

 

 

Let It Go Baby

Sunday was a strange and difficult day full of mishaps, anger and discoveries. I guess I do not grow when everything is going smoothly and let me tell you sometimes growing is not a graceful process for me. In fact, the morning was so spectacular that I crawled back into bed shortly after noon for a nap. One of the things that I discovered is that my authentic self is always present, she just gets covered up in the untruths that are wound around and around what is real, by myself and others. So what is true? How do you peel away all the extraneous lies, half truths and bullshit. I guess you examine every belief you have about yourself and the world around you and search out the source of it. It doesn’t sound like much fun, but it could be, depending on how you look at it.

With every layer that gets peeled off the weight that has been crushing me lessens. Some of these beliefs are buried deep and it is tough to find their origins. Some have come down through the generations, some from your religion, society, the media and any other entity that needs you to have certain beliefs to further their own agenda. The big question now is what do I believe. I remember talking to a friend when my first husband and I were parting ways. I told my friend that I didn’t believe in divorce, that was for people who didn’t try. He looked me in the eyes and laughed, then he said “Whether you believe in it or not it is happening to you.” That was the first time I traced the origins of a belief and realized it wasn’t really mine, I had been trained to believe it. So, I decided that if I am going to get divorced I am going to make it the best possible divorce I can have. People had lots of advice for me but even back then I looked deep within my own heart and did what I needed to do. The two of us had hurt each other enough and I was not going to allow that to continue, despite the fact that the lawyers and my family all thought I was crazy. I did it with heart.

I now examine things on a regular basis. Sometimes it is easier than others. I have a resistance in me called my ego. Now this ego is a self centered creature and does not want to change anything let alone a belief system. That little voice inside my head that constantly has an opinion and tries to keep the status quo by playing upon my fears and feeding the untruths. Untruths sounds so much better than lies doesn’t it? Nobody likes a liar. So now I know where some of these beliefs come from and that my ego tries to bolster them. What is a woman supposed to do? Well, you look the little liar in the eyes and say enough. You tame that voice until it sits there quietly and becomes the best little ego it can be. You do this by observing your ego’s childlike antics, practicing meditation, yoga, or anything else that works for you and then letting go. Did I mention letting go? Letting go of the beliefs that never served you well, letting go of the ego’s hold on you, and the unrealistic expectations you have of yourself and others. Breathe and let go. Trust. Trust yourself.

Once the letting go becomes part of your life funny things start to happen. I want you to discover them on your own, but as a teaser good days will far out number bad days, laughter will burst out of you more often, and moments of joy for simple things will occur more frequently. The truth was always present, you were born knowing it. Once all the lies and untruths are stripped away you are left standing in your truth all naked and vulnerable like a baby. But a baby with years of worldly experience who lives from the heart, cause really the most important and beautiful things are all about seeing the world through your heart and eyes brimming with love. So, get out there and spread the love and help support others to do the same. Provide them with a safe space to unwind the layers of untruths that are crushing their souls and causing them pain. Please do it gently, they are babies after all.

 

Peace and love

May you be hugged a lot today

Donna

 

More than Enough

I think there must be an art to letting go. A sweet release of everything extraneous and unnecessary. A paring down, uncomplicated by desires or expectations . Sounds peaceful and gentle doesn’t it? The reality of letting go for some of us is neither gentle nor remotely peaceful. We cling and grasp, leaving deep marks with our fingernails down the backs of the people we once loved. We suffer and wallow in self pity. Sometimes letting go gets tangled in our broken dreams and emotional turmoil. We love to complicate things, make them more than they are and think doing damage on our way out will take some of the pain of our loss away. Sometimes we think of letting go as a loss, but I think that’s where we go wrong.

You’re angry, let it go, breathe it out through your mouth. Whatever it is that you need to let go of, breathe it out. One forceful puff of air and the anger, or whatever it is for you, dissipates a little bit. Over and over breathe it out until it no longer remains. Can you feel that? The letting go gave you something, as though offering up what it is you need to let go of made room for something else. Something so unlike what you released it takes time to decipher the feeling. A sense of peace perhaps, or a calm acceptance of the loss? I think people could have any number of descriptions for it and they would all be right. The space created by the letting go is just that a space, you can fill it with anything your soul cries out for. But, do we need to fill it before the thing you released creeps its way back in. I think some of us will try just because that space makes us uncomfortable. The pause between breaths, that is where you find you. That quiet space is where you hide.

I don’t understand why any of us would hide from ourselves but we do it. I have done it and still do, a lot. Why is facing the truth of ourselves, the pure love that wants to radiate out of us so difficult? Everyone tells us the answers are out there somewhere. Feeling bad? Have another piece of cake, drink, spend money on anything, gamble, smoke, just grab something and stuff it into that space. We are afraid. We are afraid we will be rejected, ridiculed, laughed at, criticized, unloved and any other number of things we can imagine that will fuel that fear. We are deficient and lacking. We are never enough of something or enough for somebody.

I say you, just you are enough. With your wounds and scars you are enough. With your imperfect body and wrinkles, you are enough. With your heartache and tears, you are enough. Just be you, you are perfect in this moment. Love yourself, deeply and passionately until the space inside you grows so large there is room for everyone you meet. You surround them with love and now you are more than enough. For you are love itself and people can see it and feel it and they desire it. You are more than enough!

Hug everyone
Love yourself
Donna