Friday, August 31, 2012

Muscle Memories

Christmas 08
Mike, Me & my fav. nephew opening stockings

Muscle Memories

When I first lost Mike I didn't know how he smelled, tasted or felt.
I couldn't remember. 
I worried that I had lost those feelings forever. 

When I started dating, and then falling in love again, it felt even further away. 
It seemed like when I tried to think of holding Mike's hand, all I could conjure was "hand", 
this was indistinguishable from my new man's hand. 

I stumbled on the above picture today and it took my breath away. 
I could smell that sweatshirt, 
feel that day old scruff on my neck, 
taste those earlobes,
run my fingers through that wiry hair, 
feel what his giant hand feels like, 
stretching my fingers apart in an attempt to interlock. 
I could feel Mike again. 

This is an amazing realization. It feels like muscle memory. Akin to getting on a bike for the first time in a decade. I can truly feel Mike again. It took getting over two years away from the trauma of losing him to realize that he hasn't entirely left. 

I've felt shocked by my ability to recall Mike with my senses once before. When packing for Golden, Colorado's retreat I pulled out Mike's old sweatshirt from the box of clothing I kept hidden in the office closet. I put it up to my face and smelled. Inhaled all of the molecules of that sweaty neckband. I almost vomited, or passed out - or passed out in my vomit. Holy cow. It was overwhelming. I went to text a widda friend, and accidentally texted my boyfriend in my shaking haste. (He was a little stunned, but recovered gracefully.) 

I sat in my office and sobbed, truly sobbed. For one of the few times since Mike's death I allowed myself to cry alone. I usually didn't trust myself to really breakdown when alone. I knew what Mike's demons had led him to, and I extrapolated that to mean that I could never really let my grief, PTSD and heartache rule the show. As such, I tried to have a safety net if I really needed to break down.  I would either wait until I had to leave in 30 min,  someone was coming over shortly, or there was someone in the other room so I couldn't really be alone with the nitty gritty freak out indefinitely. But not this afternoon. I cried unabashedly. I wasn't alone. I had Mike there holding me. I held his sweatshirt, breathed him in, felt his presence, allowed myself to feel his love, and allowed myself to miss him. 

I look back on this day with fond memory actually. I remember having a glimpse of Mike again, not the "background task" of grief, but a front and center show of the man I missed and loved. I wasn't mourning a loss, I was missing a man. A flesh and blood person who truly existed. Smelling him again brought his actual existence into focus. 

This is what I experienced an hour ago when I found this picture. A "holy sh*t!! I loved a man that existed. A man who loved me, and I loved him. It really happened. I can feel/smell/taste and touch it again." Thank you muscles for remembering Mike, even when my crazy brain thought I had lost him for good. Thank you for saving pieces for me to find again later. Breadcrumbs back to memories. 

With Love and Light, 

I hope this message finds you well and happy. Anyone had similar circumstances? A picture that brought back memories that other pictures failed to elicit? A smell that took you to a moment in time? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Announcements & Guest Blog: I am worthy!

Celebrate via Creative Commons

Today Is A Day To Celebrate!

  • Happy 1 month birthday to ButtonToBeans!
  • First re-post/guest blogger opportunity over at *see below
  • 2 weeks into the 30 Day Challenge
  • With that comes 2 challenger's updates: **see below below
  • 300 blog the past 48 hours! (holy-crap-a-moly)
  • and personally...I get to go to my second Krav Maga class tonight and I'm super excited! *Watch out bad guys, Here I come!!
Its been an exciting last few days!
Here's a screen capture of my post being hosted on Yup! I'm a total nerd and I captured it as soon as I saw it! As you can tell by the fact that it says "a few seconds ago", way to look desperate Jess!

The fact that my divorcing widow post was so popular totally blew me away. I have received dozens of emails and comments thanking me for writing this. Widows who didn't know that there were other complicated widows out there and no longer felt alone, and individuals who had never even realized that this kind of situation existed and will now be more conscious and kind. Both scenarios are EXACTLY what I was hoping for. 
This is why I knew it was a story that needed to be told. 
Thank you for receiving it with the positivity and light with which it was offered. 

On to our 30 Day Challenge updates:


Kim boldly (like so many of you) accepted the 30 Day Challenge by deciding to take a photo every day. You can see those photos on her personal blog. Here's my favorite:
Longest Day

I think she really captured this moment well. I also appreciate the effort she is putting into making something unique and indicative of the moment.
She also put a challenge out to her blog readers and gave some really persuasive reasons why you should do something, or not do something for 30 days. Her final point of persuasion...If you chose to do something everyday for 30 days, imagine what you would have to show for those 30 days. It doesn't matter if it is 30 crunches everyday, walk on a different trail everyday, take a picture everyday, or do something you have never done before everyday... Any of these goals would be beneficial to you. Your 2 pack stomach may develop into a 3 pack! Or you may take some really beautiful pictures you may have never taken before! Besides, if you don't take the 30 day challenge we both know you will just sit on the couch creating a permanent butt imprint that everyone will see when they come over and they will all whisper behind your back about how you are such a couch potato. And I know you don't want that.
I think she makes a good argument.

WiddaGoddessMomma04 (WGM04 for short)

This lady is one of my favorite humans on earth. Her light shines like the goddess she is. She helps everyone with a radiant smile and is one of the best mamas I've had the pleasure of knowing. She has one small problem...she doesn't see it! She doesn't know how loved and beautiful and SPECTACULAR she is.

But! Wait! There's Hope! She's learning. Her 30 day challenge was to follow her plan for affirmations that she picked up at Camp Widow. She's agreed to author a guest blog (its awesome) about her affirmations and her experience on the condition that it remains anonymous.
Here it is....... Please leave her some love in the comments section at the bottom. Maybe next time she'll even post under her own name!

I am worthy

Guest Post from: WiddaGoddessMomma04

This past month at Camp Widow 2012 I met an amazing woman named Barbara.  In the few moments I was privileged to speak with her she taught me so much. About life.  About loss.  About love.  About me. In one 15 minute conversation she drew thoughts and feelings out of me that I hadn’t allowed in 21 months.  

You see, when P died, my confidence went with him. My self- worth.  My self- love.  Whenever I would have doubts about myself he would tell me “Well,  I love you, so that’s all that matters.” Or “Who cares what others think?  If they don’t like it,  Fu*k Em!” He had such a great outlook on life.

I always struggled with my self -esteem and self -worth. 

There’s nothing significant in my life that caused this, it’s just the way I’ve always been.  Being married to my best friend, true love and soul mate filled up my “cup” of self- worth.   Having children together and being a family with a home, jobs and security caused it to overflow. Then losing him in an instant shattered that glass into a million pieces.  

Fast forward to almost two years later- on the tail end of my first relationship since his death, and  I have been left questioning my self worth. How can I give to others when I don’t even love the person who’s dishing it out? One thing that Barbara said to me in those first 15 minutes: “You can give and give and give but you aren’t really doing anyone any good if you don’t love yourself first.”  She then went on to tell me  about affirmations and saying them with intent (by putting your tongue behind your teeth on the top of your mouth you are signaling your brain to “pay attention”) and the need for committing to at least 30 days.  I committed to saying my affirmation within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning, and again 30 minutes before going to bed at night. These are times of day when our brain is most open to accepting the thoughts.  Barbara also stressed the importance of saying my affirmation ALL DAY LONG. With INTENT! You have to let go of the negative and allow the positive to flow in in order to create change.  

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t really LOVE me.  I am told all the time about the great things I do for people, all the great things I offer them.  But in my head I immediately dismiss those compliments.  I ALWAYS  return with “Oh, no! – But,  Thank You.”   Compliments on my looks, ideas I have or things I do for others- (I always dismiss the great that I’m doing for others).  Thinking about Barbara’s statement,  and in talking with her a little more, I decided that I needed to instill that self -worth and confidence back into my brain.   I picked one simple sentence for my affirmation.


I am worthy of all that life has to offer.
Of what people have to offer.  
Of what I offer myself.  
I am worthy of all good things.  

It’s been just over two weeks, and I am still saying my affirmations.  I am starting to see a change. I don’t dismiss compliments as much.  I still have my down days- but that’s to be expected.  I know I am not going to change completely  “overnight”.  But, by telling myself that  I am worthy every day , I am boosting my own self- worth and retraining my brain to accept it.  I can’t wait to see what the next 2 weeks (and beyond!)  brings!
To learn about Barbara's book “True Love True Self” - visit

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Divorc(ing) Widow

Complicated Love - used by Creative Commons

"When I saw how much pain love could bring I felt sorry for those in love, when I saw how much joy love could bring I envied those in love." - Unknown

Many widow/ers have a beautiful love story of the man/woman who passed long before their love could ever run dry. Of kissing someone and not knowing it was going to be the last time. 

I knew I'd kissed Mike for the last time. 
Not because he was physically ill. 
But because we filed for divorce. 
The day we decided that we could not continue to hold each other back, 
we both left work early, curled up in bed together and cried. 
Cried and cried 
and held each other as if there was a death in the family. 
It was the death of our "family".

We cried for the hopes and dreams that would never be, 
we mourned the relationship that never reached the potential that we dreamed so vividly.
We hated that we were giving up, 
but neither of us had the strength to carry ourselves 
and the gimping, bleeding, festering relationship any longer. 

We praised each other for the accomplishments and goals we set for our new lives. 
I was going to continue doing yoga, 
Mike was going to finish school. 
We would find our true selves again,
then remarry someone new.

The plan:
Learn from the mistakes of our marriage, 
and find our friendship again.
We always were best friends. 

We were good at that. 

I was so excited for him to find his path. 
I could see it vividly....
he would finish school, find a pretty young woman, 
more in-line with his parent's expectations - 
and they would raise a family and be happy. 
I wanted this for him. 
I loved him so much that I wanted him to find his peace, his family and his future - even if that meant without me.

That may have been my plan, 

may even have been Mike's plan, 
But that wasn't fate's plan. 

Turns out, 
I wasn't the one holding Mike back.
I was the one treading his water.
I was the one fighting the demons.

Sometimes when you let the baby bird out of the nest, 

they fly right into the window.
But you still had to let them fly. 

I don't regret filing for divorce.
Mike and I agreed it was the right thing to do. 

But he never signed the papers before he took his last breath. 
A breath filled with desperation, escape and inhalants.

Filing for divorce doesn't take away the pain of death,

Death doesn't take away the pain of a failed marriage. 
Both are ranked as the most stressful events of your life
Having both together... 
if you haven't experienced it....
just be kind to those who have...
you can never understand...
how deep the betrayal, 
how tangible the regrets
how abandoning the loss
and how isolated you feel. 

Being a divorcing widow is a unique form of solitary confinement. 
You feel
isolated from your family, 
hated by your in-laws,
distanced by your friends,
and (sometimes) chastised by other widows. 

To all of the other separated, divorced, or 
just-plain-complicated widows out there. 
You aren't alone, 
You aren't a horrible person.
You are loved.
You did the best you could.

Try to love the man you married, 
and forgive the man who died.
In time, that combination of love and forgiveness will give you peace. 
Nothing removes the pain, 
But the ever-elusive peace can be attained, even for only moments. 

*Author's note: If you like this post, please share it. Let the "complicated widows" know that they are not alone, that you stand next to them and realize that their pain is just as real. 

With Love and Light, 

You can also check out this, and other blog posts at

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rings...and setting your own timeline

I had another visit from a sweet recent widowed employee George. This was my third visit since his wife passed 4 weeks ago. I really had never met the man before this.

He came in to change more forms and pulled me aside hurridly and whispered "But I have one more question too."
"Sure George, whats up"
He is obviously upset and keeps wringing his hands, then he looks at me: "What do I do with this?" Pulling at his wedding ring, "Someone asked me when I was going to take it off, and I didn't know the rule. Do I have to take it off?"

Ughh! He nearly broke my poor widowed overly-sensitive heart!
"George! You do whatever the hell you want to do."

"Ohh, ok. Someone asked me, and I didn't know the answer and I thought I'd ask you." He's still nervously fidgeting with his ring. Obviously not satisfied that he was doing the "right thing". **But I am a little flattered that I have suddenly become the how-to-be-widowed expert to a man 2.5 times my age.**

I inhale a deep breath and realize that attacking him into standing up for himself probably isn't the best technique (though usually my go-to method regardless).

"George," I ask, a bit more gently. "Do you still feel married?"
"Well, yes...."
"Then you are still married. Until you want to take that ring off, or move it to the other hand - you have no obligation. Some people leave their wedding rings on for months, some leave it on for years - some only days. Its completely up to you."

He seems relieved that he doesn't have to leave behind his precious ring. We continue on with the rest of the meeting.
I really love that he comes and visits me as often as possible. He always shares his achievements in the grief world.
"I made it past one month!"  "I figured out the washing machine!"
We all need a cheerleader sometimes

I have struggled with ring issues in my own life too. I used to get really excited when I had a "widows event" because it was the only time I gave myself permission to wear my wedding rings. I had convinced myself that my new boyfriend wouldn't care for me and wouldn't accept me if I was wearing Mike's wedding rings. (I had no basis in reality for this, but it was a really big fear - deepened every time someone asked me... "well what does "E" think about that?" Now I realize that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about it - as long as I'm being true to myself.)
I LOVE my wedding set - it is very similar to my grandmothers - because it was her mother's. I knew the second that I saw it that it would be my wedding ring. My grandmother had just returned from visiting my cousins and passing out family heirlooms *like grandmas do* and she asked me if I'd like "this". And she pulled out the most perfect wedding set I'd ever seen. It had a unique "crown-like" setting that held the stone close instead of putting it on display and a simple white gold band. It currently had a crystal in it because it was my great-grandmother's "traveling set". This was even more perfect! Mike and I got to pick out the stone we wanted and make it our own. This ring, it just means so much to me, even if I only got to wear it for less than 3 years.

Around my 1 year mark I got myself a present, a "widows ring" . I wore it every day....For about 6 months. Then that didn't feel right anymore either. I felt strangely smothered. I felt stuck, and the ring that brought me closer to Mike when I bought it, felt like it was holding me in the past. So I took it off and added it to the ever-growing pile of unworn Mike-related jewelry.
Band of black stones on a gold side for Mike,
and a band of white diamonds on a white gold band for myself.
I used to carry Mike's wedding ring in my coin purse. I would pull it out occasionally to see the inscription of "My Favorite". It would make me smile to remember that mine says "My Only". Complete with the quotation marks because the form asked what you wanted inscribed and I wrote "my only" and "my favorite". When they arrived, just days before the wedding, and no time to fix it - I had to learn to live with "  ". Much to my own dismay.

I think I may replace the diamond in my great-grandmother's setting with a sapphire someday so it can be reclaimed as my own and worn on my right hand. I'm not really in an expensive-jewelry-wearing place right now. So we'll just wait and see. I also wish I wouldn't have been so timid about listening to my heart and its desires with my ring in the beginning.

I hereby give permission
(because sometimes we feel as if we need to be granted permission)
to anyone to do anything they want
with respect to their wedding rings and their own grief.
Tell them "some crazy widow who calls herself 'button and beans' told me I could!"

What have you done with your ring? 

I've seen beautiful tennis bracelets made, new rings, necklaces....feel free to share your story here - it gives hope and validation to other people who are fighting the same fight.

With Love and Light, 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Make a commitment

How are you doing on your journey?

Check in for the 30 day challenge

I wanted to check in and share a success story of the 30 day challenge as motivation for those of you who might be struggling (like me admittedly).

About a week ago I put out the challenge to anyone that was willing to accept it to make a small but sustainable change (you can see the original post here). I was inspired by a TED talk that I'd listened to and all of the happy women returning from Camp Widow speaking about their affirmations.

I have continued to be inspired as people have shared with me what they are challenging themselves to do and as I've heard their check ins along the way.

Here's one of my favorites from a beautiful soul Claire:
Day 1: she challenged herself to walk 15 min a day.
Evening of Day 1: I receive this message from Claire:
"So I had to work late tonight, then I stopped at my parents' house for dinner. Got home after 9 and there was a cocktail made and waiting for me. The perfect storm of excuses to not start today. I know that there will be days in the future where it will be easy to make excuses and I will try. That is why I STARTED TONIGHT! If my first day was a day full of potential excuses, then I can overcome any other ones in the next 30 days and after that. So proud of myself for starting tonight and looking forward to the next 29 days! Tomorrow, I just have to remember to wear bugspray for my walk ;) Thank you for all of your encouragement and inspiration ♥"

I am so amazed by Claire!

She DID have the perfect storm of situations to not start her challenge. I might have had the cocktail first, then thought about walking after ;)  But she knew the importance of making a commitment.

Listen to how she rocks it on Day 6:
The walking challenge is phenomenal! My times get better every day. It is becoming routine so no matter what, I walk. No excuses. I am so thrilled to be doing this and I am so grateful to you for posting the challenge. And it's only day 6 :D"

 'Make a commitment and the forces of the universe will conspire to make it happen' Goethe


Way to go!

Here is a list of the challenges that I've heard so far. Its not too late to pick one and start. 
  • Work out 30 min a day
  • Make the bed daily & say personal affirmation with intention while making the bed
  • Write for 15 min a day
  • Exercise 2x a week + increased activity daily
  • Personal affirmation in the morning and evening, and whenever reminded during the day (layered with personal compliments - 1 a day)
  • Resorative yoga daily
  • Take a photo a day
  • Pushups daily
I personally am writing one true thing a day in a google doc. I don't know where it will go. But isn't that the adventure!

"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." — Henry David Thoreau

How are you doing? How successful have you been? Share your success and struggles. 

With love and light, 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

To Thine Own Self Be True

I was reading an inspiring book today about creating a world beyond poverty called The Blue Sweater. I was highlighting quote after quote on my kindle.
The words on the page were speaking to me:
not only giving respect but insisting on respect, 
how much crueler the poverty of a broken spirit can be than the poverty of income alone,
listening as the key to leadership, 
action over talk as the catalyst of change. 

Then as I read I came to a line where I *gently* tossed the kindle aside and went running for the laptop because today's blog post had made itself known:
"My first-grade nun had instructed me that from those to whom much is given, much is expected. I was learning that this lesson had to be combined with Shakespeare's wisdom that one must 'to thine own self be true.' "

To thine own self be true.

That is the difference between the Jessica that stands and writes and bears her soul in front of you today and the Jessica of years and situations past.

I used to be too afraid to write, even a month ago - I couldn't comprehend who would care what I'm saying, and who would read. The fear of rejection was terrifying, so was the fear of success.

Who am I to write? Who am I to ask people to read what I write?

Then I didn't matter.

It doesn't matter.

If nobody reads this blog, it doesn't matter.

If someone dislikes this blog - still doesn't matter.

Will I embarrass my family, myself....doesn't matter.

I learned something from a dear widow friend of mine almost 2 years ago - Don't go along with something if it is not being true to yourself. You can only grieve, recover, flourish and thrive if you are true to yourself first. This was again reaffirmed a year ago when I met another radiant widow who again had vibrancy, purity and a spirit that was unmistakable. I asked her about her secret, for a second time I heard...following/finding your own north star.

The best part of being true to yourself is that you have nothing to apologize for.

Since I started on the journey of living for myself
I have never cried so purely,
I have never laughed so freely,
I have never loved so deeply,
I have never swam so naked,
I have never danced so confidently
as I do now that the only thing that matters is that I am being true to myself.

I have built a fence,
traveled internationally,
studied yoga,
gained control over my food allergies,
buried a husband - but remained open enough to love again,
counseled friends,
attended a music festival with 80,000 other people,
cried in public,
sold my house,
Most importantly I have released old dreams so that new ones could take seed.

It doesn't bother me if someone doesn't like that I am writing, or what I am writing. Because I don't write for them (obviously!) If what I write doesn't speak to their soul as something they need to hear, so what? That fact does not negate the fact that it may speak to another person's soul.

In the past 2 weeks I have seen that I can instil confidence, inspire self-reflection, encourage peace. Just by being willing to find myself in the open.*Who would have thought?*

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.

Source: A Return to Love-Marianne Williamson, 
as quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech (1994)

My purpose in writing this blog is not to be pigeonholed into any category (widow, activist, yogi), or to break any stereotype (that of the young widow, that of the bleeding heart, or the granola hippie).  Instead, it is to be true to myself. To honestly convey the feelings and motivations and inspirations that drive my day.
Hopefully to inspire and encourage even one more person to do the same.
I used to shy away and hide myself - for fear of being judged, for fear of not being good enough.
I will fear these things no more as long as I am true.


To write down something every day that is TRUE.
True to myself.
It might be funny, it might be insightful, it might be tough to say...but it will all be true.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Motivation for your 30 day Challenge - Just Begin!

One of our fellow challengers sent me this link. I think its important as we gear ourselves up for our 30 days of small sustainable change. JUST START!

Don’t Make Change Too Complicated: Instead Just Begin

Don't wait for everyone to keep it as a whole.
Don't wait for one more week.

Grab a calendar - circle today as your starting day....and let yourself start!

With Love and Light, 

PS- I will be out of town for the weekend. I will be bugging you for what challenge you decided on when I get back.

Hopefully some of you will have JUST STARTED in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Challenge: 30 whatever you choose

“ Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is. ”
— Ernest Hemingway

After watching the video at the bottom of this blog I was inspired. And I thought this would be a great plan for me to get to know and bond with my friends & blog readers.

So here's the plan:

30 days of Small Sustainable Change

Its that simple.
30 days to add or remove something from your life. Something small, but sustainable.

Here are some ideas:

  • Take a photo everyday
  • Make a diet/exercise change, but don't weigh yourself for a whole month
  • Walk 10 minutes each day
  • Cook an at-home scratch meal every day
  • Play one-on-one with each child for 10 minutes
  • Eliminate processed sugars
  • Remove the word "can't" "don't" or "&*(*&" from your vocabulary
Basically anything that you can do EACH day for 30 days. 

There's a group of us meeting for dinner tonight to discuss this further. What I'm hearing so far is exciting.....affirmations.

Do you think you could write down something positive about yourself each day?

I think it might be harder than I anticipate.


Design your own 30 day simple and sustainable change


Tell me about it! Lets inspire each other!

With Love and Light, 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Offer & Observe - another yoga reflection

Another musing from my yoga mat.


I have an idea to bounce off of you. I heard these two phrases while in yoga class on Saturday:

"What did you offer of yourself to your practice."
"Observe what you have received/accomplished/reached during your practice."

These concepts have changed the way I've try to frame my day.

I believe that the energy you send into a day is your offering to the universe.

OH WOW! You're telling me that when I'm having a crappy day, I should look back at what I was offering to the day, and see if it was only giving my own steaming piles of grumpy right back at me?

Sometimes we think that day after day is crap that is just beating us down. And some days are just crap - unfair piles of crap - we all have those. And nothing is going to change that. But what if some of it lies on our shoulders.....

What if we are accountable for what we are offering the universe. 

What if we can only observe the good, if we offered good?

I like to believe that there is a balance of good and bad in the universe. If I wake up and put more negativity into the world - running late, spilling the coffee, tripping over the cat, yelling at the other cars, and arriving like a giant grumpy face - what else is the world supposed to give me back?


I have offset the balance with my own negativity.

BUT! If I sing in the shower, pet the cat when I wake him up, listen to happy music (even if I'm late) and try to take it all in stride....maybe the events of my day won't have been ANY DIFFERENT - but when I look back and reflect on my day - what will I remember? I'll remember the sweet kitty who licked me, the goofy looks I got from other drivers while I sang and danced in the car, and all the other mediocre details that made the day not so bad. 


Your Challenge:

Take a second when things are calm tonight. Observe what kind of a day you had. Observe the good and the bad. Observe what you are offering the universe: but don't judge. If you don't think you put your best offerings forward today - set the intention of what kind of energy you want to offer tomorrow. Maybe even leave yourself a sticky note in the bathroom or on the fridge.

Your Response:

What is your intention for tomorrow?
What little things can you do to improve your day?
What did you observe that you'd like to remember?
Maybe make a list of little joys and happiness to remember on those days when the negativity won't stop flowing.

PS - My happiness of the day....Its my birthday and I'm listening to the new Joss Stone album!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

When to be a widow

When to be a widow. 

(this was written in May 2012 when I was playing with a transition in my widowhood experience)
I am a firm believer in always being yourself. Also, I believe that you shouldn’t hide a part of yourself just because it makes you or someone else uncomfortable. I believe that this goes for the beauty and the quirks alike. However, it has come to my attention that now that I am a year and a half away from the death of my husband, maybe I don’t need to be a widow all the time.

This is difficult for me. First off, I guess I don’t even identify myself as a widow all the time, but I reserve the right to feel like one whenever I darn well please. (Weddings, funerals, grocery lines, doctors offices). I don’t like the idea of people saying that I’ve moved past my grief. I consciously know I have moved FORWARD in my grieving, but I don’t think I’ll ever move past it. It does consume less of my time, and when it does consume my time and attention it is in a much different manner.

I used to spend hours at a time hiding in my office supply closet with a trash can and a box of tissues I kept hidden there (probably a significant factor in the end of my employment just a few months after Mike passed). Now my widowhood is expressed in spending hours at a time talking to other widows and widowers online, via text or on the phone, sharing my experiences and trying to help them see love and light in their own. I don’t sit and cry alone very often, but I often think about being a widow, what it means to be a widow, how to support other widows better, better outreach, better support, more funding, how to fundraise and how to help. I also think a lot about how to mesh the love that I have for my late husband with the love that I have for my new partner. How to be fair to both of them, more importantly how to be fair to my heart that won’t give up the ghost of the man that taught it to love but in turn wants to continue life with a man who reciprocates that love.

For example when I am helping a fellow widow move and her friends ask me how I know her, is that one of those moments when I am supposed to lie? She is moving to be with her new lover and mate, and I am no longer a “recent widow”, so are we now just “friends from a while back” so that nobody has to deal with the awkward “ohhh you’re too young to be a widow”... … … “yeah, I told God that and he didn’t listen”... … … “ok I’m going to move this box to the truck now”. But in some way, wouldn’t that also be denying who I am. I am not JUST a widow, but I am a widow.

And I think it is important for people to see that widows do grow up into [partially] functional individuals full of love and life and happiness. I am still a widow even if I’m not fresh and raw.

I don’t think of “widow” as a negative word anymore. I think it is one of the biggest POWER words in my arsenal. Widows are not weak and powerless. We are all, as humans, essentially powerless and widows are freaking amazing! We have loved and lost, and still have the gumption to rise out of bed in the morning. We know ourselves more intimately than those who have not lost because we have seen ourselves when we were mere shells and chose, yes CHOSE, to keep going. I love being a widow. I love the look of shock and awe that people get when they ask why I have a gap in my resume and I tell them I took some time off after my husband passed suddenly. But mostly, I love that I am still standing and that I am still living so I get to tell them all of this with an unabashed smile. I love that they get to see the beauty of a widow, not just the news story and fleeting thought of pity for the wife and kids left behind.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Being hit by the grief bus

The Grief Bus

Last week I had George in my office. A man in his 60's changing the beneficiary forms because his wife died  suddenly 2 weeks prior. He came in reserved but strong, braced to complete another set of forms to remind himself that she was gone, and he was alone, and things were changing.

I didn't have the form he was expecting, I had the other ones that I knew he would need. He looked confused. I said "I'm just trying to help. My husband passed 2 years ago, trust me - you'll be glad you changed your withholdings. And if you need any help with the forms, let me know. I've done them all."

He seemed to need a second to absorb it. During that time, I kept filling things out and showing him where to sign. Then, without looking up, he said "I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you understand."
I gently said, "I do"
He continued... "It just hurts. Not the way people think it does, I mean actually physically hurts,"
He looks up with these vulnerable eyes and pounds the center of his chest "right here, ya know?".

Yeah George - I know

A week later, I wake up.
The day after completing my 2nd year without Mike.
I have to roll out of bed, because I can't stand.
My back is in too much pain to climb the stairs at work without stopping for a break.
And I remember George.

I remember that I'm not alone.
We all feel the pain of grief.
Not just the emotional, but the physical pain.

Our bodies react to trauma and stress.
I can't hit a significant date without wanting to sleep all the time, but actually sleeping - never.
Then the body goes out. First I'm comatose on the couch because it hurts to lift my arms.
Then I realize I'm staring at the wall because it hurts to think.
Lastly, I wake up in the morning and have to roll because I can't stand until I've done some yoga.

Whats ironic- I'm not in emotional pain today.
Just that nagging - I've been hit by a bus feeling.
I feel relieved that I've passed the date.
Relieved to have it past. I'm officially in the third year.
Now I just have to build my body and immunity back up.
And recover from being hit by the grief bus.


My plan:

yoga - I have a class pass that has to be used soon. I will use that and start yoga-ing more frequently.
read - get back into the calm of reading at night.
massage - I'm going tonight to try to work out some of the muscular issues that have been plaguing me.
connecting - I will be genuine and connect with friends and family.
truth - I will be honest with myself about how much I am going through, and try not to judge myself

Your response:

What do you do to recover from the grief bus?
When do you notice the physical symptoms outweighing the emotional ones?

With love and light for your journey,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Year 2 Photo Dump & Memories

2 years. Memories and thoughts for today 

Do not stand
Last year. August 6, 2011.

At my grave and weep
I am not there,
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand 
Winds that blow.
I am the diamond 
Glints in the snow.
I am the sunlight 
On the ripen grain.
I am the gentle 
Autumns rain.
When you awaken 
In the morning hush, 
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in 
Circled flight.
I am the soft stars 
That shine at night.
Do not stand
At my grave and cry.
I am not there;
I did not die
-Hopi Prayer
"I wasn't ready to say goodbye"

I spent the weekend reconnecting with nature. Swimming in the river, floating rapids, hiking in the moonlight. It helped to ease the pain and stress and anxiety of knowing that this day was coming. Then last night - reality hit. And the months of peace and security and closure go out the window for the why? and the how come? and it isn't fair! But such is life.  If Mike wasn't so special, and such an influence in my life, it wouldn't hurt so badly.

Also, I've heard of people requesting random acts of kindness on their loved one's day of passing. In honor of Mikey, I have requested random acts of mischief. He would be pleased.

4 Years Ago Today

August 6, 2008 - James Taylor Concert
This was part of our rehearsal dinner before we got married.
This right here, this moment in time - it might be one of the best of my life.

2 Years ago Today

Last Year:

Some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen.
I asked friends to bring flowers from their (or someone else's) garden.
The red gerber daisies are from me. They were our flower.

(from my balloon)
I love you and miss you every day of my life
our time together was beautiful and i will remember you always.
your life here on earth was too short, but you changed mine for the better.
for always
i love you and forgive you
all my love,

TODAY: August 6, 2012 - 2 years out

Tonight there I will hold a small memorial at Mike's grave to say hi, leave some flowers and share some memories. The thing I'm most excited for......a lady bug release! 

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-And neither the angels in heaven above,Nor the demons down under the sea,Can ever dissever my soul from the soulOf the beautiful Annabel Lee.For the moon never beams without bringing me dreamsOf the beautiful Annabel Lee;And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyesOf the beautiful Annabel Lee;And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the sideOf my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,In the sepulchre there by the sea,In her tomb by the sounding sea.Edgar Allan Poe

I feel like sometimes we know the widow and their grief so much more than we know why they are grieving. For those who would like to remember Mike, or who would like to get to know him more. Here's some pictures over time. 


Volunteering at the Humane Society
Lazer Tag with my little bro Alex

My Under-Grad Graduation '07

Our first long trip together - Oregon Coast '07
At the end of our long trip - Half Moon Bay, CA '07
The day we picked up the engagement ring from being sized!  October '07


Christmas 2008 - Right before we left on Honeymoon

Christmas 2009 - Kittens had their own stockings
Dash: Opening his presents
Christmas 2010
Christmas 2011 Our house was full of friends for a wonderful Christmas after-party. Everyone brought treats and shared drinks and stories and had a wonderful time making new traditions and memories.

Valentines Days
Valentines Day 2010
Valentines Day 2011

Here's something happy to end on. These are things that I try to bring into my "new life", I hope you can find something to brighten your day:

And a little more happiness - or strength, courage and wisdom rather

Your Response:

Will you leave me your random act of mischief or kindness for the day as well as a favorite Mikey memory. 

Just ....
Love and Light,