Archive for March, 2011

This Year’s Hot Spring Fashion-The Lead Jacket

March 25th, 2011 | 1 comment
The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings. -Gita Bellin
Yesterday, I was reading a short article about the hottest new fashion items for spring. There is always an article like this at every change of season. The absolute essential ten pieces you need in your wardrobe to survive the next four months.
I don’t always buy into the fashion of the month, but the change of season does bring a sense of renewal, and the urge to purge my closet.
So, yesterday, I did just that. I dove into that closet and starting pulling things from hangers and shoving them into bags for the Goodwill. Haven’t worn it in six months? Good bye. Don’t need the stuffy business suits of years gone by? Off they go. Pants too tight? Adios. Pants too loose? Good bye, but let’s take a moment to celebrate shall we?
If you’re like me, you have The “Armageddon” Closet. It is prepared for any wardrobe scenario you may be faced with.
Faced with a tornado, followed by a frost warning, with an evening of rain? I have this jacket I’ve held onto for just that very day. On a diet of lettuce? Choose the pants on the left. Having a love affair with Oreos and Ruffles? Pants on the right please. Zombie attack? I have an outfit with enough pockets to accommodate the various weapons required to save yourself and those you love from the wrath of the undead.
But really, who needs it? Is my closet living in the present moment? Do I need to be prepared for every wardrobe scenario?
So, I purge. There is a steady stream of clothes flying out of my closet. It feels good to clean out, to gut, to purge. It is good to get rid of old clothes and the memories attached to them, to make room for new stuff, perhaps, dare I say, a new size that is more acceptable to me?
And then I find it. A shelf full of memories. The first was one of Stephen’s t-shirts. I remember holding this item close to me so many lonely days. If I closed my eyes and smelled the shirt, it almost felt like he was still here. Next I found some papers, school stuff from his younger days, pictures I had tucked away in this private space for me alone. And finally, I found his bag. It was filled with vitamins, allergy medicine, dental floss and contact solution. I’m sure he just emptied his medicine cabinet into this bag before he came home for summer. Everything was neat and organized, and labeled. So Stephen. I’m not sure why, in the 20 months or so since losing him, I have not emptied the bag, or thrown it out entirely. I’ve just let it sit there. I’ve looked at it several times, knowing I need to do something with it, but never being able to actually make the move. There is something about the bag and its contents. It reminds me of his personality. It leaves a lingering scent of his life, even after all this time, when most of the fragrance has dissipated.
And so, I sit in my closet and I cry. I look at his organized dental flosses and I cry all over again for someone who is gone too soon.
And I realize. No matter what the season change, or what the fashion magazines say about this year’s hottest looks, there is one item I will always have in my closet. My lead jacket of grief. Most days, it hangs there. I look at it each morning, but choose to wear something else. But every now and again, regardless of the weather or season, I will wear it for a little while. I will put it on and allow myself to once again feel the pains of a loss so tremendous that I could never find the words to adequately describe it.
The jacket is heavy, but comfortable in a way as well. It hugs into you, and reminds you of the love you share with the person lost, and how that love still surrounds you to this day. There are always tissues in the pocket of the lead jacket. The heaviness of the garment forces you to slow down, to release some of the minutia of daily life, and just be with the sadness. In your stillness, sitting with the grief, you remember, you lament, and you heal yourself all over again.
You don’t have to wear it often, but you will always return to this important piece of your wardrobe. It is important that you do. It is the only piece in your closet that will teach you something each time you wear it.
For me, I wore it for a couple of hours yesterday. I’m not sure when I will try it on again. But I know I feel different today because I did take the time yesterday to let myself feel the weight of the jacket and my continued sadness over the loss of my son. I feel lighter, for allowing the built up sadness to just get out. I feel like I can go a little further. I feel like I have once again been reminded of what matters in this life. It is okay to feel the sadness, and then move forward and live a happy life, wiser because you were brave enough to acknowledge it.
The lead jacket. Not just for spring. And a piece of your wardrobe that will always fit.
Take some time today to look in your closet. Find your own lead jacket. We all have one. Don’t be afraid to try it on once and a while and see what you find out about yourself.
Have a spring is sprung kind of day,
Kelly

The Dangerous Game of Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

March 7th, 2011 | 6 comments

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” ~Fulton Oursler~

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~Alexander Graham Bell~

It’s a two quote kind of day.

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

If I can be completely honest, those three fabricated words drive me nuts. Those three words are actually what is wrong with the world these days. We keep looking back hoping to fix what’s in front of us. Shortly after Stephen died, a person said those words to me. This person said, “I know you must be playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game right now.”

Yes, it is true, someone actually said that.

My reply? “No, actually I am not. Even though I wish things could be different, I would not change the way I loved my son, nor would I expect him to have loved me any differently than he so beautifully did. If something happened to someone you love tomorrow, I hope you could say the same thing.”

Was I a perfect parent? No. Was he a perfect child? I think so, but I suppose I may be slightly biased. But woulda, coulda, shoulda? Really? I was absolutely stunned that someone would say this to a mother who was grieving the recent loss of her child. Speechless, and let’s face it. That does not happen to me very often.

This statement, early in my grief, shocked me. I just didn’t see it coming. The person did not see the error in saying it. It was almost as if it was a given for her, a natural process in her own life to look back over her shoulder and “play the game”, revisiting your actions and the actions of others with a focus on regret, blame and shame. Looking to the past in the hopes that reflection can somehow change the reality that you are facing in the present.

But we all know you can’t erase or change the past. So why do we spend so much time trying to do just that?

It never works. It can’t. Looking back does one thing. It keeps you stuck. You cannot move forward as long as you are trying to affect change on the unchangeable. And how far do you plan on going back? To your most recent mistake? How about college? Hell, if we are playing the game, why not go back to that unfortunate incident in the third grade? If this game really worked, we would all spend our today’s fixing our yesterdays.

Now, that is not to say that you can never look back and reflect on your life lessons in an attempt to improve yourself for the days and years ahead. That is a good thing. It is also not to say that you will never make any mistakes. No matter how great you live, you will always be imperfect by design. I am cringing right now thinking about some of my own “cringe-worthy” moments on my journey to now.

You also can’t change the past for someone else. Many times, when we hurt, we look to the past, and say, “If she didn’t do that to me, I could be happy.”

Okay, but she did. And unless you are Marty McFly with a DeLorean and a mad scientist for a friend, you can’t go back and change it. So what now?

Look back to learn. Don’t look back to lament. You can only change your now.

So, today:

    • Wipe the slate clean.

 

  • Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Everyone else does.

 

 

  • Make peace with the fact that no relationship will ever have perfect closure. Whether it is death, divorce, break up, or firing. It will never be the perfect script you write after the fact. And that’s okay. That’s how you learn.

 

 

  • Know that you only ever have power to improve upon the present.

 

 

  • Distance yourself from any toxic emotional vampires who tell you that you should play the game of woulda, coulda, shoulda.

 

 

  • Promise yourself you are done playing that game. No more. Refocus yourself on the now. It will take work at first, but keep trying. It will happen.

 

 

  • Imagine what your loved one would say to you. For me, I think about that chat with Stephen. I think he tells me daily to take all the love I have for him in my heart and give it away to those who need it.

 

Wipe the slate clean. You deserve to be happy.

Have a clean chalkboard kind of day,

Kelly

Book Review-Doreen Virtue’s The Angel Therapy Handbook

March 4th, 2011 | no comments

The world is changing so rapidly, and many people are paralyzed with fear and anxiety about the future. The angels can guide us through these changes, and give us solid guidance that we can trust. ~Doreen Virtue~

 

I am pleased to review another book from Hay House, Doreen Virtue’s The Angel Therapy Handbook.

Before I begin my review, let’s quickly go over some housekeeping items. I received a copy of this book free of charge from Hay House, as they reviewed my blog and thought my readers might like to hear about the book. I want to make sure I am compliant with all FTC regulations, and let you know that although I received this book without charge, the review is my own personal opinion after having read the book from cover to cover.

Doreen Virtue is a world renowned spiritual clairvoyant, also holding B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in counseling psychology. Doreen is the author of numerous books on the angelic realm, and has appeared on Oprah, CNN, The View, and other television and radio programs. She is truly an expert in her field.

The book essentially provides guidance for the reader so we may connect with our own angels. It begins by explaining the “who’s who” of the angelic realm, and then discusses how people can connect. Doreen explains in detail how we can all find that connection, and unblock our minds to hear and be guided by angels and our loved ones. It helps a person give angel readings, regardless of your spiritual background. It is a the manual for what she has been teaching for years.

She believes that anyone who wants to communicate with angels, and open their hearts to hear their messages, can do so.

I am not sure why I struggled so as I wrote this review. The fact is, I really enjoyed the book. I liked reading about the various angels, and learning about opening your mind to hearing your own angels. In my own life, since losing Stephen, I have written about butterflies and magic that I could not explain without some acknowledgment in the existence of something beyond our physical life. This book is one that I will not pass along. Rather, I will keep and refer to in the months and years to come. But yet, for all the positives, I still struggled.

I finally realized, in all my writing, I had kind of skirted around the issue of afterlife, of our loved ones or angels being around us. I was just vague enough so I did not have to really hang out there with my detailed beliefs. On that limb. Telling you I go to bed and pray to God and angels and all things good, that I wish nightly for Stephen to come to me in my dreams. Reading this book made me slightly uncomfortable. Not because of the content or the way in which it is presented. It was just so concrete. There was no mist of vague interpretation I could hide within. It was all there, to believe or to doubt.

In the months I’ve been writing since Stephen’s death, the pragmatic logical business person in me had myself presenting this information in such a way that if questioned, I could perhaps answer in whatever way would please the person asking. The generic version if you will.

But here’s the truth. I do believe. I believe in life after death. I believe in angels. I believe there is so much we don’t understand. I believe in angels and connections from the other side. I believe in the helping hand of God. I believe. And perhaps Doreen’s book validated all of my feelings.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for the connection that we all wonder about. The book can be purchased at the HayHouse website, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. If you are in Canada, you can also purchase it at Chapters.

I believe. Take some time to check out this book and learn more about the unconditional love that surrounds all of us.

Kelly

We Don’t Need to Change the Law, We Need to Change Ourselves…

March 3rd, 2011 | no comments

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

Here’s a recent conversation with my husband:

Me: I was watching the news tonight, and I just can’t believe what is happening.

Hubby: In Wisconsin?

Me: No.

Hubby: In the Middle East?

Me: No.

Hubby: Then, where?

Me: Everywhere.

All together. What is happening all at the same time.

This was our conversation last night. The speed by which the world is changing, and pulsating, and the growing pains we are all witnessing on the nightly news. Our conversation was sparked by the recent Supreme Court Ruling regarding the First Amendment Rights of protesters at military funerals. It just doesn’t seem right that something so hateful should be allowed to continue. But, under the law, in a democracy, it is.
It doesn’t seem right that a parent, or wife, or husband, or sister, or brother, or best friend should have to endure that additional pain as they try to say goodbye. It doesn’t seem right that anyone and their dog ( if said dog can type) can post their opinion, and say terrible things about others online without having to so much as sign their name and stand by their words. It doesn’t seem right what’s going on in this world.
But, on the flip side, it is good that we can speak openly right? Is it good that I can read the blog of another bereaved mother and get some comfort on a night I feel lonely and sad? Is it good that we can have public discourse about our elected officials, and be heard? Is it good that I was able to grieve and share openly, with all of you?
The freedom of speech conversation is not an easy one is it. On one hand, we celebrate the nation’s freedoms, we praise the revolution by the Egyptian people, propelled by social media, but on the other, we expect those that we disagree with to be silenced.
I find it so interesting that in the past month, we have watched a group of young men and woman in Egypt change their world by demanding their freedom to speak, assemble and choose who will lead them. We all watched the power of words crisscross the globe to spread their message in a grassroots way that astounded the planet; all of us holding our breath, to see if change could actually be achieved in this way. And, we stood in silent reverence when we watched the power of a peaceful protest, in a land that we have been historically conditioned to believe is violent. The ripple effect of their initial shout into the night sky that they had enough is still reverberating throughout the Middle East, and essentially the world. The citizens of the world are discovering the power of their voice.
It just seems to make so much sense when the voices heard are saying what we want to hear. But what about when the speakers are hateful? What about the people who spews lies, fear and pure hatred in God’s name no less?

Our voices have power. We can comfort, we can inspire, we can make others want to act or retreat, we can encourage others to believe in themselves, or we can bully them until they believe in nothing but the images we present. We can use our voice to share our opinions, or we can use our voices to ram our opinions down the throats of anyone who will listen.

I believe a change in the law is not what we are wanting. I believe we all are longing for the days of civility, when their was a line that you just did not cross, even if you did have the right to free speech. Policing those who say what we don’t want to hear does not change their message or beliefs. Although on a visceral level, I will admit, I did wish the supreme court ruling would say something like,
“We want everyone else to keep their right to speak freely in this country, except those people who use words to inflict pain on others, especially the weak. You may have as much freedom of speech as you want, you may disagree and talk through those disagreements respectfully. But you may not hurt others with your words. From now on, the United States of America will consider your voice to be as much of a weapon as a gun. Use it responsibly, we have no beef with you. Injure the innocent, and there will be consequences.”
Sadly, my euphoric vision is not at all realistic. If we accept the beauty of free speech, we must also accept that not everyone sees beauty in this world and has the right to talk about it. I know it seems right to silence the few that show no respect for the last passage of a life, and the bereaved. I can not imagine what I would have done if something like that had happened as I tried to bury my own son. I do know that I probably would not have shown as much grace as those parents I have heard from on the news.
We must not look to the laws to correct what we have created, but look at each other to improve and grow. Technology has allowed us to connect in ways like our grandfathers could never have imagined. We can comfort someone from another country, read a twitter post from a young man in Cairo who is, with his people and changing his world. We can also comment on a news story anonymously, and make judgments about people without ever having to be held accountable. Certain groups can even search online and find funerals of the fallen heroes of this country, and attend ones that will garner the most attention to spread their misguided message.
There is no easy solution. But I believe we must let our own voices of love continue to speak, and we will, by virtue of our volume, silence the fear filled rhetoric that is about as far from God as you can get. The only true defense against words of hate are words of love. If we believe that if our only option is to silence anyone who opposes our view on life, we are no better than the corrupt leaders who try to suppress the voices of their people. We must be brave enough to be able to hear those who do not make sense to us. We must be brave enough to listen and to consider, and courageous enough to speak in our own voice about what we know to be the truth. And when others are hurt by those negative voices, we must use our own voices to comfort.

We do not need to change laws. We need to change ourselves. We can only ever change ourselves. We need to stand up, person to person, and demand something better, for now and for our generations to come. We need to ask for a return to civility.

To circle back, I feel truly blessed that I am married to someone who, on a regular basis, has “How can we change the world?” conversations with his wife. Today, I am thankful for the knowledge that we all have the power to affect change on the planet earth. Person to person. With love and kindness.

Kelly