The Polynesians who first paddled to Hawai’i filled their canoes with the necessities of creating a new life on an unknown island. In the modern era, similar outrigger canoes with six seats race sprints in bays and long distances across ocean channels. Since the first six ‘Ohana Oasis retreats I facilitated took place in Hawai’i, I incorporated aspects of the culture into some of the activities. Using this Polynesian history as a metaphor for life, a retreat cohort was gathered around the dining room table working through an activity called, “What Floats Your Boat?” They were tasked with identifying who or what filled each of the unique roles of the environment, the canoe itself, and the six team members paddling in it.
How often have you driven to work on automatic pilot only vaguely aware of your surroundings?
“Trigger.” That’s a word we hear a lot these days. Triggers bring on a wave of emotions, feelings, and maybe even memories unbidden and typically untimely. Inconveniently, most of the time when something strikes an old wound, a place that causes a reflexive response, it’s in a place and circumstance where it can’t be addressed. … Continue reading Triggers – Saving for a Safe Time
“Mom!” I didn’t answer immediately as the kids had all just got tucked in and I was trying to catch the opening dialogue of the newest episode of Alias. “Mom, come here please…” Alison called out. “Coming!” I replied, heading in during a commercial. Bedtime was easy in our home, everyone knew the routine and … Continue reading Grappling with Guilt
Grief is “deep sadness or sorrow” caused by a loss. The sadness and sorrow come from the severed connection. When we lose someone we can’t finish the conversation or resolve the disagreement. Often things are left unasked, unsaid, or unanswered. Even when all the things are said and the parting is sweet, there is deep sadness because the chance to start a new conversation or simply being in the presence of one another isn’t possible. Although it still hurts, we expect to face the loss of our grandparents, parents and others of an older generation. Likewise, we aren’t sure how it’ll shake out, but we know the possibility of out living our significant other, siblings, and other contemporaries is real. What parents don’t anticipate is giving up the presence of their children. When a child comes along, parents figure on being stuck with their child, for better or worse, for the remainder of their lives. Parents plan on being the ones to make the permanent exit. Living without their children feels unnatural and just plain wrong to grieving parents. Click on title to read more
Today is a good day. I’ve chosen to take on an old pattern in a new way and while, incredibly scary, it’s also freeing. It’s an affirmation of the work I’ve done over the years to build an effective and healthy toolbox that works for me. It brings me increasingly closer to living my day-to-day life in an emotional state I want, regardless of external circumstances. I want to share with you two brief stories contrasting how I coped with my grief and offer a powerful tool to sort out what works best for you.
Storytelling is a time tested way humans connect with one another. Telling stories and listening to them has been an important part of the human experience for thousands of years. Unfortunately, for those of us in the Grieving Parents Club, we often find it especially hard to tell our stories.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to get lazy with life, making unconscious choices. It’s easy to slip from one day to the next. I get tired or bored so a Saturday winds up full of binging on popcorn and Netflix instead of getting on the water taking in the elements … Continue reading The Power of Intention
I live in arguably one of the best places on earth, leading a pretty satisfying life...good friends, work with a purpose, playing in the ocean several days a week, and beautiful views right out my door. But it’s only through losing absolutely everything that I eventually made room for this life. Growing up I never once thought, “I want to dedicate my career and time to growth through grief.” Instead I spent my childhood yearning for the golden era of adulthood. I foolishly thought that’s when I’d finally be in control of my own destiny. As an only child of divorced parents, all I ever hoped for was a family of my own with a handful of kids. For the twenty-two year old version of myself, marrying a man and inheriting three-step children all aged six and under, whom I loved as my own, actually seemed like a good idea. Four years later, I gave birth to my one and only biological child, Alison Belle. How’s that for a big family to call my own? This is when I knew I was finally living my dream.
I'm well aware of the futility of many New Year's resolutions and the school of thought which says you should be making changes and resolutions throughout the year. And I still find myself making them year after year. The close of one year and the beginning of a new one along with the winter solstice … Continue reading Resolutions or No Resolutions?
Besides a nine year gap, I’ve journaled from the age of ten to my current forty-seven. I had reasons for not doing it. During those years, I stopped because I was in relationship where I didn’t trust my writing would be sacrosanct. I doubted it would be for my eyes alone. Unfortunately this gap also … Continue reading Reasons Not to Journal
We just made it through quite possibly the most stressful Thanksgiving ever! No matter how you celebrated, or didn't celebrate - can we all agree this year was different? Whether you were able to gather with friends or family or stayed isolated, the circumstances of the pandemic lent a new layer of considerations to the … Continue reading Post- Holiday Hangover
We as a society in general struggle with the topic of grief. People are fearful. Those who are grieving are afraid they will drive others away with their own grief, and those who want to be supportive are afraid they will say the wrong thing to those who are grieving. But telling your story is important. … Continue reading Telling Your Story
I bought my first journal in the fifth grade. It sported a red cloth cover with white hearts on it. The inside held the deep ponderings of a pre-teen, oh and a lot about boys too ;). Journaling was my safe space to process my day, my struggles, and my emotions. Close to forty years … Continue reading Journaling and Journal Prompts
The holidays are a tough season for many who've lost a loved one. And not just the first year, or the second. I still have my moments close to twenty years later. What's different for me is that I'm a seasoned pro. I know by now what works for me and what doesn't. Many of … Continue reading Holding Space During the Holidays
Talking to my adult stepchildren I made a jarring discovery. As children they thought I was lazy, languishing on the couch reading all day. It never dawned on their pre-teen brains the house was nearly always clean, they had well balanced and varied dinners, and clean clothes stacked for them to place in their dressers … Continue reading Permission Slip for “Lazy”
Grief vs. joy. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I catch myself seeing grief and joy as an either or proposition. But it doesn’t have to be. Emotions aren’t linear. It isn’t like you graduate from grief to joy. They can be in the same container together. And when Grief Island isn’t a place of … Continue reading Grief Island – Stay as Long as You Need
I often field messages from people who feel helpless as they watch a loved one bear a devastating loss. They search for tangible ways to help, or resources to give. Unfortunately, grief is hard work only the grieving can do. However creating partnership alongside in the grief - holding space, a place of loving non-judgment … Continue reading Partnership in Grief
Today I’m choosing to lean into the tension and anxiety of desiring a particular outcome in a situation I’d so love to control and dictate. It’s the same struggle and a different day. I’ve found over and over again that I think if I have things go my way, just this one last time, I’ll … Continue reading Leaning into the Tension
When someone significant in your life is no longer here to celebrate the holidays, it’s tempting to shove thoughts and preparations surrounding celebrations to the back, with perhaps the unspoken hope they’ll quietly slip away without your attention. Unfortunately, whether or not you ignore the holiday festivities, the feelings remain. Every year on my deceased … Continue reading Create a Seat for Memories, Feelings, and Honoring
You got through and maybe even enjoyed Halloween this past weekend. Yay! And in case you missed it, we also have an election coming up tomorrow. Oh and a pandemic that's changed how we do life. So much going on that's stirring up so much in ourselves and friction in families, friends, communities, and the … Continue reading What’s Your Why?
Last time I wrote about celebrating the holidays – how they can be a stressful time for everyone while acknowledging the added difficulty for bereaved parents in particular. Today I want to delve into some of the whys this season (and frankly any celebration) can be so utterly wrought with conflicting emotions for parents who’ve … Continue reading The Celebration Laundry List
Holy cow is it that time again already?!? You know how I know it is? I saw a Hallmark Christmas movie commercial ;). Then I got invited to a pumpkin carving party. So, yes it is indeed time to navigate through the sometimes complicated holiday season. No matter who you talk to, holidays appear to … Continue reading Holiday Season – Is it a Trick or a Treat?
When it clicked with me that tending to my state of being was the most important job I have, it felt so freeing. We live in a culture where doing is more valued than being. And yet the state of our being directly dictates our doing. Think about it, when you’re in a good mood … Continue reading Rainbow State of Being
I’m baack! It’s been awhile since writing in this arena. Over the last fourteen months I’ve dipped my toes in a variety of community efforts – tracking and reporting on local government activity, helping a local charter school find its way through getting up and running, and navigating ‘Ohana Oasis through COVID-19. This year was … Continue reading It’s a New Day at Ohana Oasis
I’m baack! It’s been awhile since writing in this arena. Over the last fourteen months I’ve dipped my toes in a variety of community efforts – tracking and reporting on local government activity, helping a local charter school find its way through getting up and running, and navigating ‘Ohana Oasis through COVID-19. This year was … Continue reading It’s a New Day
I've been writing every morning, yet it's felt a bit all over the place so haven't posted it. This morning once I got grounded and tuned in asking, "What am I to express today?" I was reminded of what came up yesterday and spoke so powerfully to me. It was something I wanted to refine … Continue reading The Power of Presence