Tag Archives: sadness

When Life is a Construction Zone

Life is in upheaval.

After several years of cringing at the slipshod workmanship, chipped paint, and overall ugliness of my pool area, I decided to bite the bullet and have it completely resurfaced.

What I didn’t anticipate? The constant throbbing noise of jackhammers, upending layers of old concrete, paint, even carpeting (!) that lived beneath the surface.

My lanai looks like a war zone.

The noise, the upheaval, the mess? A perfect metaphor for my life.

For those of you who may not know, 2021 has been a humdinger of a year.

More aptly put, a cluster#$%^ of loss both expected and unexpected, and the waves of grief that accompany the death of your dearest people.

You likely read about my experience losing mom back in March.

You KNOW your aging parents are eventually going to die, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I sobbed during Shasta’s morning walks, feeling lost. During mom’s final year, my life was wrapped up in taking care of her needs, trying to bring a smile to her face (despite the distance COVID mandated), and, at the very end, holding vigil at her side.

When she died, I felt unmoored; with no purpose. She had been my purpose.

Slowly, I found my footing, grateful for a loosening of pandemic restrictions and finding comfort in Mark’s companionship.

Plus, I had a new purpose! My godson David’s wedding!

As if in training for the Olympics, I shattered all previous weight loss records and lived to fit in “the dress” – a dream of a gown that made me feel a little like a celebrity. The promise of this happy occasion brightened my spirits and I looked forward to celebrating.

And boy, did we.

It felt like turning a corner to better days.

And then, the unexpected.

Just a few weeks after the wedding, Mark died.

He hadn’t been feeling great; chalked it up to indigestion, kept adjusting his diet, put off going to the doctor, and when I finally called the ambulance, it was too late.

His aorta burst.

Since August 24th, my life has been a blur of shock, sadness, anger, depression mixed in to small pockets of hope, gratitude, and peace.  But these final three are elusive.

Honestly, I felt stronger in the initial days and weeks following the shock.  Friends swooped in to sit Shiva with me. Cards and flowers and food deliveries kept me distracted. I jumped back into work after just a week, because what else would I do? Just sit around crying?

My purpose in writing these missiles is always to encourage, so I can imagine you all wondering when we’re going to get to the good part.

Me too.

When you’ve spent every night for the last few years holding hands with a dream of a man who lavished you with love and kindness; who fixed every problem that could be solved with power tools; who never failed to be your biggest cheerleader and was always on your side, you don’t just move on easily.

Yes, I am drawing on every spiritual tool in my toolbox.

And yes, I do believe that there is a future and a hope for me.

But there is no fast-forwarding past the heart-wrenching ache that is my constant companion.

I know that this, too, shall pass.

I also know I will never be quite the same, though I have to believe that, eventually, I will be better for this experience. 

A little less trite in my positivity.

A lot more empathetic.

And oh, how the sting of death puts so much bull#$% into perspective.

Mary Oliver’s poem, When Death Comes, says it so beautifully:

When death comes like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me, and snaps the purse shut; when death comes like the measle-pox;  
when death comes like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,  
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?  

And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular,  
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, tending, as all music does, toward silence,  
and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth.  

When it’s over, I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.  
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real.  
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.  

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
 

I wake up each morning determined to shake the cloud of sadness. 

If I must live without Mark, then I must LIVE

We’ll see what that ends up looking like. 

But for now, I mine each day seeking reasons for gratitude.

I know gratitude is the lifeline to pull me out of the darkness and back into the light.

As I look out my window and see the concrete dust and slabs of jackhammered rock. The brutal ugliness of construction.

I see in it, my life.

For my future lanai, how easy it is for me to imagine the done deal! The new surface, with a (finally) secure foundation.

And – through tears – I choose to believe that this deep work in my soul will lead to a similar, beautiful end.

If you feel inclined, Mark’s memorial service can be viewed here.

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No Crying on the Devil’s Shoulder (and the New WOW)

Many years ago, a friend suggested to me that complaining and feeling sorry for myself was like “crying on the devil’s shoulder.”

This analogy struck me with a visual that always caused me think twice about letting my feelings run a muck.

When I reflect on my teens, 20’s and much of my 30’s, I wasted a bunch of time crying over things that wouldn’t change by crying.

The tears didn’t serve me, they only fueled the pain.

To be clear, I LOVE a good, cleansing cry.  The kind that makes you want to call everyone you know and tell them you love them; the kind that relieves stress like air leaving a balloon – and a good snotty howl from a heartrending movie or book (yes, I’m talking about YOU, The Notebook and The Art of Racing in the Rain.)

Those pity party, “Oh woe is me!” cries?  As Janet Jackson would sing, “What have you done for me lately?”

When I peel back the curtain on those quicksand feels, I see they predominantly began with negative thoughts that, left unchecked, grew exponentially.  I played with those thoughts in the shallow waters and next thing I knew, the undertow whipped in and I was drowning in the deep end.

Which brings me to RESILIENCE, our most recent word of the week.  Resilience, to me, is like a tank that fuels our get up and go. Every complaint, every negative thought entertained, every pity party or surrender to fear depletes the tank.

When your get up and go has got up and went, check your resilience tank.

For me, encouraging someone fills my resilience tank.  Checking off an item from my to-do list; surprising a friend with a gift and yes, self-maintenance in the form of a mani, pedi, massage or blow dry fits the bill.

A walk on the beach at sunset.

Or simply deep breathing.

What fills YOUR resilience tank?

As we end this week, I hope the only parties you had were on Memorial Day (and certainly not pity parties!)

Onward to a brand, spanking new WOW:

Unmerited favor, ushered in through humility.

Yes, please – heavy doses needed!

May our cups run over with GRACE this week.

xxoxoxoxo

Love,

Brenda

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Jumping, Writing, Fighting Malaise and Two WOWs

When my spirits are low, I can’t jump at Zumba.

I’m just made that way.

I remember distinctly when I got into a screaming, knockdown fight with one of my best friends (now several years ago but still fresh in my mind.)

Such conflicts, especially with my friends, aren’t the norm and totally rendered me off-kilter. So much so that even when I went to Zumba class, I couldn’t wiggle or shimmy, let alone jump. A weight of unseen gravity was like a ball and chain around my heart.

This went on for a couple of weeks until we had a true kiss and make-up reconnection.

And then I could jump again.

Actually, not only could I jump, I felt like Tigger.

Oh the freedom that comes from conflict resolution!  And the joy of reconciliation?  It’s better than winning the lottery.

I say THAT to say this:

The events of recent weeks – and it began in Orlando with the shootings at Pulse Nightclub – heightened racial tensions, the disheartening political landscape, police officers murdered in Dallas…and just this past week, Nice, France – well, I felt a sadness; a hopelessness that perhaps some of you have felt.

This crab (my astrological sign is Cancer) tends to retreat when her heart is heavy.  And just like my inability to jump, I couldn’t type a blog post last week.

First one I’ve ever missed since I started.

I was going to blame it on technical difficulties, but since we’re all about being honest with each other, I couldn’t pass it off that way.

There are no pithy quotes or simple solutions to these perilous times in which we live.

On the theme of WILLINGNESS and last week’s FLEXIBILITY, I have been working at not judging and hearing all sides of an argument.

And depending on who I’m listening to, I can be persuaded.

Is anyone else out there like this?

For my mental and spiritual health, I can’t keep on focusing on what I can’t change.  All I can do is what I can do.  And though there’s still a good part of me that wants to hole up in my shell and ask you all to wake me up when things are better…

…that’s not gonna help anyone.  Least of all, myself.

So I will plow ahead (and so will you) and know that these were recorded when a little bit of sun shone through the clouds (because not only can’t I write when I’m sad, I’m also pretty silent).  And don’t want to wear makeup.

To catch you up, here’s last week’s WORD:

And here’s THIS week’s, which is remarkable:

We’ve been at this quite a while, and to get three consecutive words that say pretty much the same thing?

I know there is a message here that is taking its sweet time to penetrate my heart.

I suppose I should be OPEN to it taking as long as needed.

But one thing I’m going to work on this week is being open to receive.  (Since I feel a bit unable to give, it’s not a stretch to make that my focus.)

I’m open to receiving all sorts of love this week.  Feel free to send some my way!

I know, I know.  The best time to GIVE is when you feel like ya got nuttin’.

So I’ll try some of that, too.

What are you hearing in these words WILLINGNESS, FLEXIBILITY, OPENNESS?

Because maybe you have an insight we ALL could use.

xoxoxox

Brenda

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