There are mornings when I wake up and the reality that I have lost both of my parents hits me hard! My heart falls into my stomach, I feel sick and so lost. To be without them always feels like a punch in the gut. It still takes my breathe away. My father is gone a year and four months, my mother passed away almost a year ago. It’s a pain that I would never want for anyone to experience, yet we all will. Some morning I feel completely paralyzed, unable to accept that they are both gone, until I hear my 12 year-old call out to me. Her voice helps me to refocus and be grateful for her existence.
It’s not easy to deal with loss, especially when you suffer multiple losses. Regardless of my pain, I put a smile on my face and try to begin my daughter’s day on a positive note. We chat as she gets ready, some mornings we are frantic, trying to get out the door. After I drop her off at school, I return and often find myself unable to leave the couch.
I try to enjoy and be mindful of my first cup of coffee. It always puts a smile on my face. I thank God for my husband, who almost never leaves the house without making me coffee. That’s love.
As soon as I allow myself to feel gratitude, my heart gets lighter. I am grateful for the people I have in my life. Today is a present.
You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
The past few weeks have been difficult for my family. It was our first Thanksgiving since my parents passed away. We decided to skip it this year, it was too difficult. Instead, we sat in our pj’s and watched movies. I took some time to think of all that I had to be thankful about, there are boundless things and people whom I am thankful for. I am mostly grateful for my parents and their gifts of discipline, faith, compassion and their love of family. We will forever cherish one another because of how they raised us.
So while I mourn my parents, I also need to honor them by being the best wife, mother, sister, friend that I can be. So I sit, I reflect, I am mindful of the pain, but I’m also mindful of all they have given me. I am grateful for their love and that will never leave me.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness expert, uses the ancient metaphor of the ocean to describe how mindfulness works. The entirety of our mind is deep, it’s vast and intrinsically still and quiet, like the debts in the ocean. There are times in life when the waves are dangerously rough, but if we learn to sit still and get a hold of our thoughts, we can ride through the waves.
Mindfulness is a practice, it’s all about being. Mindfulness helps you find your way, it allows you to listen to your heart, listen to your own yearning. Just begin by paying attention to your mind, really get to know it, be present, so when you are stirring the pot, or washing the dishes, just do that, be mindful of it. Whatever you are doing, do it with awareness. Dive underneath your pain, your anxiety, your anger and you will find awareness capable of holding it all and knowing “this is anxiety, It’s going to be ok”. When we actually believe our negative thoughts we spiral into anxiety and depression. Change your thought pattern and you can change your entire life. When you become aware of your negative thoughts, you have power over them. Zinn says that mindfulness is the gateway into the full dimensionality of being human of being alive. Without it you miss a lot.
I try to be mindful as much as I can. I often find it easier when I walk in nature. Mindfulness is not meditation, you don’t have to sit still for a period of time in order to be mindful. It’s just the practice of being present. Try it and you will realize that you are not your thoughts, but the awareness of your thoughts. It will change your life.
You can learn more by picking up Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Mindfulness for Beginners.
Do you like the path you have chosen in life? Maybe it took you years of getting your education to become a lawyer or a doctor, or a teacher. Maybe you are a stay at home parent or an advertising executive or a postal worker. It doesn’t matter what you do. Have you ever just given it some thought? Does it fulfill you? Does it make you proud? Does what you do contribute positively to anyone or any cause? Does it make you a better person? Does it bring you some sort of satisfaction? Maybe it challenges you, if it feels right then good for you!
There are many who are not feeling especially positive about their work. Maybe it does not bring them joy or satisfaction. It pays the bills but why just settle for paying the bills? Why not spend some time and thought on what will make you happy and pay the bills. Many of us just grow up expecting to find our way to the perfect vocation. We go to school, then to college, then to a good paying job that will support us. Some of us are happy, others start off being challenged and satisfied but something changed, their jobs no longer makes them feel good. That is just a little nudge from the universe telling you that it’s time to do something different.
Human beings are ever evolving. The one constant in life is that there will always be change. If we listen to those uncomfortable feelings and we try new things, we grow and blossom. If we cling onto something that is no longer serving us then we become stagnant. That is a foul place to be. We are always evolving, always growing, always learning something new. Even in grief, especially in grief.
Life is short, stop looking in the past and stop worrying about the future. Just be in the present, be thankful.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
–William Ernest Henley
Invictus means “unconquerable” or “undefeated” in Latin, The poem was written while Henley was in the hospital being treated for Pott’s disease.
If you are fighting some sort of battle be it depression, loss, divorce, just go inward and feed your soul. Be kind to yourself, take it slow, meditate, pray, surround yourself with people who love you and want to listen to you. This may be a painful time but know that you are strong and you are never alone. And remember to count your blessings, that in itself is a way back from the dark.
They were the heart and soul of my family and quite frankly, my siblings and I are having a difficult time navigating life without them. In fact, it’s the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to endure. I honestly don’t know how we are functioning but we are taking it one day at a time. I’m thankful for my siblings and although we try to be supportive of one another we are each handling grief in our own unique ways. After all, we each had different relationships with our parents. In the end, we all mourn alone, that’s just the way it is. Grief is an emotion that needs to be felt alone.
I’m not quite ready to share any more about the passing of my parents, it’s too raw and painful, but I do want to share my journey with you. I’m not sure how but I know that I will survive this loss and thrive. Partly because I have no choice, I have a beautiful little girl to raise and partly because I come from resilient stock.
In my blogs, I’ll share things that I’ve learned, things that inspire me. pacify me and keep me sane. I know that there are so many of you who have gone through difficult times and that perhaps there are some who are going through it now, just like I am. I just want you to know that I’m here to be your sounding board, your virtual friend, maybe even your lifeline, or perhaps you will be mine. I’ll leave you with this little inspiration, from one of my favorite poets……(I know it’s so cliche..all the Persians/Afghans claim Rumi as their favorite poet because he is the greatest but also because he is one of us. I guess that’s natural, to have pride in someone so knowledgeable, beautifully poetic and so connected to God who comes from your part of the world. }
“This place is a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief.”
In just a second your entire life can change. Someone you love can be diagnosed with cancer, or get hit by a car. You can have an accident that can leave you disabled. Your perfect idea of a relationship can suddenly end in divorce. These are changes that can leave you filled with anxiety and fear. There are also many positive changes in life, such as a new partnership or marriage, the birth of a new baby, a new exciting career opportunity. Change is inevitable, it’s all part of life. Some are planned, others are unplanned
We forget that we are all on an inexorable journey that will end with the obliteration of our individual ego. Change is all around us but we ignore it. I can remember exactly how I felt bringing my daughter home from the hospital. She was so tiny and perfect, so helpless, unable to do anything for herself. Now she is a tall, lovely, competent ten-year old girl with her own opinions and ideas. Before I know it, she will be a teenager and there will be even more changes in my life. These are things we can’t control. When you can’t control what is happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That is where your power is!
The end is inevitable. The journey is irreversible. We die because we are born and that begins the unrelenting odyssey. We don’t know how much time we have in life. What matters is what you do with the time you have. In fact, with each day. Live it now!
Spend time with the people who bring you happiness
Do what makes you happy
Don’t fall into the ‘some day’ trap
Use your best china
Go on that vacation
Explore the world, go somewhere new every year
Show your love to the people who mean everything to you, saying I love you is one thing but actions speak louder than words
Be kind, serve others
Spend one on one time with your children, parents, partners and friends you cherish
Sometimes having a breakdown is what we need to keep our emotional life in balance.
Most of us have experienced holding back our emotions for so long that when they finally come out, we have something that looks like a breakdown. The overwhelming flood of feelings coursing through our bodies consumes us, and we stop functioning. Often, it takes us by surprise, welling up within us as we drive to or from work, watch a movie, or are busy with some mundane task. We may feel like we don’t know what triggered us. This is because we are releasing feelings that have accumulated over a long period of time, and whatever inspired the release was just a catalyst for a much larger, much-needed release.
When we find ourselves feeling this way, it’s important to find a way to let our feelings out. Set aside some time for ourselves to give our emotional system much-needed attention. Allow ourselves to release the pent-up emotions inside ourselves so that they don’t create imbalances in our bodies and minds.
When you are feeling better, make a plan to find a way to process your emotions regularly. You can do this by seeing a therapist, talking to a friend, journaling and or meditating. Making room in your life to take care of your emotional needs on a regular basis will keep you healthy and balanced.
You look at me and you think you see me, you see my smile but did you notice my eyes? You see me calm, serene as the sea but can you not see my ripples? You hear me speak I sound of cheer, but can you not hear my pain?
There’s a part of me that no one sees, its hiding just behind my eyes, pain so deep but no one sees, each day I wonder how bad it will be, I wonder if anyone will ever see. But I see, I feel, it keeps haunting me. Will I ever be free?