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

It’s All About Love

Have not wanted to write much lately. This usually happens when I have too many things to process. Information keeps flooding in from the universe and sometimes it takes me a little while to work through and integrate this new knowledge into my being. I was also thinking about the way I write. I use plain language and have a difficult time fancying it up. That is just the way I am in life. I like things simple and do not trust things when they come wrapped in fancy packages, it distracts from the real purpose. When the writing is full of big words and ideas I find it difficult to get to the heart of what the writer is trying to say. It’s as if the words (and author) dance around the subject without getting to the point. I like getting to the point!

There are some things I am uncomfortable writing about. I know, this statement coming from the girl who writes about some very personal things sounds bizarre.  One thing that is very important in my life is the universe and spirit. During meditation last night I had a strange encounter with a beautiful male blue heron. He was in front of me in the water with his wings spread wide moving his feet in a dance with great joy. I walked up to the heron and placed my forehead against his and he continued to dance in place. I knew this was some form of mating ritual. Now, whether herons have one I do not know, but this is how it felt. Our foreheads touching we danced and at some point it was as if we melded together and became one. I could feel the breeze in my wing feathers and the strength in my long delicate legs. I felt so much love coming from this great bird that is was amazing. No other thing, just love. That is the message he had for me, it is all about love.

Love with no strings attached is a beautiful thing. Have you ever experienced love without strings? I have, though it is rarely from people. I love trees, all trees, but I do not ask them to be anything other than a tree. I do not think, now if that tree was only 6 inches taller or a little greener that would the perfect tree for me. No strings attached to my love of trees, water, nature or people. My love is given freely without strings. Well most of the time, I am still a work in progress! We enter into relationships with people, animals, businesses etc to satisfy our needs. If we are clear about our needs that is great. I do believe that some people do not have a clear idea of why they do anything. Having said that, relationships with those people can be tricky or difficult. One time I was talking to a friend about a problem I was having with someone in my life. Their solution was to pray for them. My allergy to religion and my mindset at that point rebelled and I asked if God bless the bastard counted as a prayer cause that was about all I was capable of. He said that did not count as a prayer. He told me to find the love in my heart for that person, to separate their behavior from them as a person and pray. It took me a while but I finally did it and damn if didn’t work!

The universe also decided to teach me what prayer was all about and proceeded to steer me in the direction of a prayer and spiritually based life. I love praying! I do not pray to a specific God. I pray to the universe as a whole because to me it is a conscious living breathing entity and we are all a part and the whole of it. We are all connected so in a sense I am praying to all of you as well. When I pray I pour my heart and soul into it and the love that is part of us all radiates out and is reflected back to me. Sometimes when I pray it is as if I as a single entity cease to exist and I am everything and nothing at the same time. The universe, spirit, God or whatever you believe in is asking me to step forth and share my gifts with the world when I am not even sure what those gifts are. The only thing I have to offer is love and I am getting better and better at approaching everyone from a place of love. I am secretly enjoying it so do not tell anyone!

I was given a lot of messages last night from the universe through the animal symbols it used to help get the point across. The main theme was love and then the others were relax, trust, enjoy life, pray, be aware and in the moment. Good advice regardless of where it comes from. I had the honour of learning (many years ago) from a Native American Medicine Man from South Dakota and one thing he said to us as a group when we were in ceremony was, “Pray when you wake up, pray when you work, just pray until your life becomes the prayer.” Those words have always stayed with me and had a profound effect on me. Those words changed the way I looked at the world. I have noticed that when I approach the universe from a place of love, prayer and faith I feel connected to the world and the people around me. When I approach the universe from a place of anger, doubt and fear I feel disconnected and isolated. There comes a point when your realize that the love you spread to others makes it more important to understand than to be understood, more important to love than to be loved. The animals are right it is all about the love.

I do not care whether you believe in God, Buddha, Allah or Jehova, You don’t have to believe in anything. To me it is all the same and the message is about love, kindness and compassion. I share my experiences but do not ask you to change your belief system. I thank the universe daily for allowing me to experience this life in such a miraculous manner, through the world of spirit and animals. There is much to learn and much to do. I especially want to acknowledge the wonderful elephant that has made her presence and teachings known to me in such a gentle and beautiful manner. I also am looking forward to what the horses have to teach me. I am blessed to walk in spirit with the animals on a daily basis and am grateful for this gift from the universe.

Love and peace to all
Hugs
Donna

Electrical Tape and Shrink Wrap

I am back!  It is just after five in the morning and I have my sunny yellow mug filled with steaming coffee and though my slightly soiled chair is in the room I now sit on my brand new sofa instead.  The need to write has resurfaced in a new way, perhaps because of my new perspective from the sofa.  I am looking around this yet unfamiliar room and seeing the old blended with the new.  That is also who I am, the old Donna intertwined with the new Donna.  A wonderful synthesis of all I was and all I can be.  Transformation can be beautiful and difficult at the same time.

I am driving back to Sooke this morning to visit the post office, drop off some things to a friend and plan on visiting my favourite coffee shop to see who is around.  I am also going to buy a piece of art that spoke to my soul and am keeping my fingers crossed that it is still hanging on the shop wall.  If it is not, it wasn’t meant to be mine.  If I am going to make a frivolous purchase that is over a hundred dollars I usually walk away from it for a few days.  I want to explore my feelings about it and know why I am buying it.  This piece of art is a local Native American thunderbird mask that gave me goosebumps.  It is a symbol of many things and the thunderbird holds special meaning for me.  The mask itself reminds me of the masks we all wear in our daily life and how important it is for me to walk this earth unmasked.  This is what the universe is asking of me.  Well the universe is demanding it really and every time I try to hide it thrusts me naked into the world and makes me deal with it.  Sometimes the universe has a funny sense of humour!

I like the fact that the universe and its strange sense of humour keeps me humble and on my toes.  It challenges me in the same way that the people I care about challenge me to be a better person.  The universe encourages me to grow and stretch the limits my own mind imposes on me.  My mind can sometimes be a dark and lonely place, but when I use it in combination with my heart and all the love it holds there are no limits to what can be.  There are no limits.  Unless you live in a constant state of fear, then there are limits.  This is what I think about fear, because I do have moments of sometimes overwhelming fear, what is the worst thing that could happen?  So, I visualize the worst thing that could happen and then think oh what the hell!

My entire life for the last year has been about overcoming fear, loss and doubt.  I think I am handling it really well, but I am not going to get cocky about it cause then the universe will send something my way to remind me that I am not all that.  I have done things in the last six months that I would have never thought of doing before.  I have started this blog, I have deep conversations with complete strangers, and I have reached out to other people in ways I never thought I would even though I am shy.  There is a contradiction for you, I am extremely outspoken and extremely shy.I have no idea where my life is headed or what my next great adventure will be.  Somedays I am okay with that and other days the uncertainty drives me crazy. Oh Hell, I drive me crazy!

I have met a young woman recently, who I absolutely adore.  She is brave, funny, strong, and has a huge heart.  I admire the fact that she is who she is without apology.  I also admire the gentle spirit she has when dealing with other people.  She has taught me much and I am sure will continue to do so.  So in the spirit of our blossoming friendship I will leave you with the following thought today.  Having trouble with something in your life?  Just visualize yourself using electrical tape and shrink wrap on it until it is small enough to handle.  Yup,  electrical tape and shrink wrap will help you fix anything!

Much love to all of you
Donna

Freedom

Well, the move is complete and I hand over the keys to the new owners of my home today!  It is a bittersweet moment.  I knew who I was in Sooke and am not sure who I am in Langford, if that makes any sense.  I guess I felt that I belonged in Sooke and don’t feel that way in the new place yet.  I will give it some time, but know this is only temporary.  Let’s see where the universe sends me next!

Now the unpacking and further sorting and sifting through the material parts of my life begin.  My goal is to get rid of all the things that are not necessary or bring me joy.  Cannot part with my car Lola though and I am so happy she has a warm and safe place to wait for me.  It is going to be so much fun driving her this summer!

Wow, the last year has been quite a roller coaster ride.  Lots of highs and many low spots to navigate through.  My life has been completely changed because of Howard’s life and death, mainly his life though.  It has also been changed by the new people who have entered and become so important to me.  I am blessed to know and care for each of them.  It can be hard sometimes when life turns shitty to find the positive aspects of it.  I am one of the lucky people who can experience and see both sides of every situation.  Even during the darkest moments there was light visible.

I had better get this day started and over with.  There is a freedom that comes with not being tied to a property and animals.  A freedom I have not had in a very long time and I’m not quite sure how to respond to it.  There are so many options open to me that it is hard to pick one.  For now I will just keep sorting and sifting and see what direction the universe sends me in.  I do know one thing, it will include many wonderful new people and I am looking forward to meeting them and getting to know them.  I also get to build on the relationships that have already formed for me and that is exciting too.  Even freedom has a price.

Peace and love to you all
Donna

Odd Shit and Potatoes

Well once again it is just after five thirty in the morning and I am sitting in a mostly empty house waiting for the coffee to brew. In a few more days this house will be occupied by a young family. I wonder how the house will feel, it has never had children living in it before. The energy of this house is very calm and peaceful so it will be interesting to know how the family and the house react to each other. I know it sounds a little odd for me to write about the house like it has a personality and feelings but I think about these things. Perhaps it is the energy of the people that permeate the building, like the house is a container for their spiritual energy. I may never know.

Speaking of odd, some people would describe me and my lifestyle as odd and that is the way I like it. I am open to all the possibilities and if that makes me a little odd so be it. One really strange and funny thing happened this week. I was talking on the phone to a friend who also happens to be a medium and she started laughing. When she starts to laugh it always makes me nervous and curious at the same time. She had Alfred Hitchcock show up on the ceiling of her little sitting room. I started laughing as well, really Alfred Hitchcock. So, I asked what does Alfred have to say?
Well his message was for me to keep writing but in a more creative form. He told me to make up stories. Who am I to argue with Alfred Hitchcock? So once I am in my new place and life has settled down I will start writing in a more creative form, which has always been my passion, reading and writing fiction. No idea what I will write about at this point but you can bet it will have a spiritual theme and some odd characters.

The universe has a funny way of leading me to things. I also notice this happening in the lives of the people around me. We are lead where we need to go, even if at the time the method of getting us there does not appear to be beneficial at first. You lose your job unexpectedly then out of nowhere the perfect job for you appears. This has happened to me a few times! I was lead to this new place I will be living and there were lots of applicants for the suite, but I knew that it would be mine. People show up out of the blue just when I need them. I always get what I need though most times that is rarely what I want or perhaps it would be better to say what I think I want. The universe is much wiser than I am.

Some would say that our thoughts create our reality and for the most part I would agree with them. However, sometimes shit just happens. Sometimes big shit or unfair shit just happens to you or to those around you. I don’t think our thoughts manifested that situation but I do think that our thoughts determine how we respond to the shit! Keep expecting negative things to happen and negative things will happen, expect the positive and you get positive. I am always surprised that the universe thinks I deserve all the wonderful things that it brings me. I am no more special than the next person, but am constantly amazed at the things that happen to me and around me. Not all of them have been pleasant but each one has been a learning experience. Some lessons are easier to learn than others of course!

Well it is now three hours later and a wonderful friend just left driving my 51 Caddy called Lola. It was hard to see her leave the garage with someone else behind the wheel but I know she will be treated with care and is being stored in a safe place. I love that car with her curvy behind and all the little things that come with owning an old piece of rolling art. I especially love the colour, which was a happy accident. Someday I will tell you the story of the creation of Lola and all the laughter, happy coincidences that happened and how she got her name. Today is not the day for that. I had tears in my eyes as she went down the driveway with me standing in an empty garage. Here I am once again saying goodbye, alone with tears in my eyes. This portion of my life has almost come to an end, no more standing here by myself watching people and things leave my life. Just got the phone call, Lola and driver have arrived safely, woohoo!

Friends are arriving this morning to help me move the last few things from the house. Don’t know if I will sleep here again. Maybe one more time to say goodbye.
Life is funny and messy and beautiful and tragic and miraculous and difficult, it is all good, all the ups and downs are good. So my final words today are, if a man asks you to hold his potatoes walk away, even if they are warm!

Peace and love to all of you
Donna