How to Get Your Power Back?
Everyone, at some point in their lives will go through a personal crisis, and what I mean by crisis can be anything from some form of mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual trauma to a period of enduring low or high grade stress. The human body, mind, and spirit must process this change of internal atmosphere in some way, whatever way the human will allow. If the stress is left unexpressed, disease is the ultimate result. So, the goal is to recognize the signs of trauma or enduring stress and recognize the process of diminishing energy that leads to the loss of personal power. Before we get started, let me just plant these seeds in your garden. Any condition can be reversed with right action over time. When you stop the stress you begin the healing. Stress is our conflicted response to our situation, and even though we may not be able to change our situation, we can definitely overcome our response. One last little thing, even when you don’t feel it, you have limitless power at your disposal.
What does it mean to lose your strength?
I know that some of you out there may relate your loss of energy and inspiration to simple aging, however, how we age is directly connected to the way we deal with our stress overtime and when you’re young the aches and pains that you experience can be signs of stress. The energy generating and processing systems in your body; you’re adrenals and central nervous systems are directly impacted by your energy and emotion. Let’s take for example, a child who grows up in foster care from the age of two, naturally growing up with distrust and a low expectation of loyalty. Now, what kind of impact do daily thoughts of disappointment, confusion, and betrayal in any form have on that child over time? Keep in mind that for this child these thoughts are a part of their natural internal landscape. Every time they experience a little loss or disappointment the brain, central nervous system, and adrenals are re calibrated to overcome and move through those feelings to stay functional and this could happen fifty times a day or more. Over time, without intervention, these systems in the body get overworked and this person gets sick, sad, tired, or mentally imbalanced and doesn’t even know that there is opportunity to not feel that way as the feelings are as natural as breathing.
How do you know when you’ve lost it?
Lack of empathy, apathy, and lethargy are three of the tell tale signs. You are unable to empathize with others and just stop caring about all the things that brought you currency and joy in your life. When you hit this marker, you’ve been on the decline for a while. Spiritually and mentally you may have some thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that must change. The good thing about getting tired is you begin to pay a little more conscious attention to the things you think and say to yourself every day in your internal dialogue. The next level is the physical decline, physical depression and fatigue with daily chronic dilemmas. When you consistently wake up and feel; fat, ugly, sick, tired, angry, frustrated but just don’t give a @#$%! Welcome…you have arrived. Adrenal fatigue is one of the most common ailments that acknowledge all of these symptoms. In Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, James L. Wilson PhD writes, “One person may withstand a stress quite easily and be ready for more, but another person, or that same person at another time, may find the same stress overwhelming and impossible to bear. It is important to understand that the onset and continuation of adrenal fatigue has great individual variation.”
The really good news is that there is great purpose in the decline. It completely sets you up to acknowledge yourself on deeper levels to achieve deeper healing. When you recognize the decline you then have access to everything that has contributed to it. Now you have found the path to freedom.
How Does this Impact My Relationship?
Naturally, even folks that have the most tuned in and connected relationship can suffer from “Mis communicationism”…yes, I made up that word and it means acute miscommunication on deep spiritual and emotional subliminal levels. You can’t always identify the thing that crept up on you, and if you are a person with a consistently positive outlook on life, you may have just trained yourself right out of recognizing the signs. So, remember these things. 1. Ask questions before you take anything personally and react. 2. If you sense something is amiss with your partner, ask them how they are feeling and listen intently, knowing that it is not your job to fix it. 3. If you are the one feeling the loss of energy, say that. Don’t expect your partner to notice and inquire. 4. Consider that apathy and lethargy make us less likely to engage and to your partner, it may feel to them like you don’t care. Being mindful of this can help you to speak your affection even though it may not be coming with the expected blast of emotional love they are used to.
How to Get It Back
Now that you recognize the signs, your first goal is to stop the bleeding. Look at the people, places, and things in your life that cause you conflict and stress and make different choices. If you cannot change the situation, you must change yourself in it. Whatever you do, don’t consider that everyone else is the problem and want them to change. Evaluate how you feel and what you can change in yourself and what you cannot, doing that will make obvious what choices and changes that you need to make to reduce your stress. Now that you’ve stopped the energy loss you can begin to rebuild. Remember that you didn’t arrive here overnight. Enlist the spirit of patience in yourself and shift your expectations to little daily wins. You are processing something spiritually deep and abiding and with your patience it will eventually reveal itself so that it can be resolved. Taking care of your body through diet and supplements is imperative. Your body in a diminished capacity needs all the nutrients that you can give it, but most of all the priority is to stop the bad habits; drinking, smoking, fatty foods, sugary foods, and low to no activity. This is where you start. Next, educate yourself: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, by James L. Wilson PhD, is a great book to begin with. Finally, begin generating energy by practicing mindful meditation and hand yoga (Mudras). These are two ways to help release mental stress and begin to generate physical energy without a lot of effort. You are a valuable child of the creator, you are loved, you are important, and you are powerful.
Today in my morning prayers, I was contemplating the struggle that so many people have with depression and negative thinking. It’s not surprising with all of the violence and nonsense going on right now in the world. All the daily insults to our psyche from the news, it takes an effort to find a little bit of happy place. Although, that isn’t the subject of this blog, it’s about the connection between food and emotional balance.
It is normal in times of emotional upheaval to crave comforting fatty foods. Eating them, makes you feel grounded and happy for about five minutes until you feel dissatisfied again; that diet in just a matter of days diminishes the immune system and deeply affects the brain and the chemicals that your brain produces to feel happy and at peace. Fat isn’t the only consideration. Nonfat foods are the worst for you. Immune building nutrition is paramount, and most of your fast food restaurant food doesn’t have much of it. If you like the burgers and fries, remember that fried and grilled foods are filled with carcinogens that are like little super ninjas in your body fighting your immune system.
I know this isn’t MEGA BREAKING NEWS; in fact I am certain you’ve heard it over and over again. Spirit just wanted to remind you. Remember that anger, sadness, and apathy make you crave fatty foods, and fatty foods make you feel tired, sluggish, and depressed. It truly is a vicious cycle. Finally, for the ending thought. Know that when you are making substantial diet changes, that your mind, body, and spirit will resist at first. You may get sick, emotional, and have incessant running thoughts of your favorite fast food restaurant. DO NOT DRINK the Kool-Aid! The first 3 days are crucial: drink lots of water, get some exercise, eat lots of protein, vegetables, and a little grain. No matter what, don’t give up.
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It’s Just Twitter
I’ve noticed that there is quite a bit of dissent about a campaign that a bunch of famous American musicians/ actors (at least I think they are all American) did showing their support for the 250+ girls that were stolen by a terrorist group in Nigeria. The campaign says #Real Men Don’t Buy Girls. I was startled to see folks slamming it. Really, why would you want to thwart any effort at moving the situation as it stands now? The girls haven’t been found and truly, it is because of the international outrage that the Nigerian government and other countries are joining forces to save the girls and say no to ignorance and terrorism. Which is good.
First of all, let me give you my definition of ignorance. It is not the absence of information or truth, it is the sitting aside of that information/truth to put a focus on the information that best serves the individual in their need, understanding, or agenda. It is true that a person can only see as far as their needs will allow. We are definitely living in a time where it is less a time for patriotism and more a time for humanism. One of my funny Facebook peeps had the best sentiment. Just wait till we have a galactic event, then it will be easier for people to accept the human race and our interconnectedness as human beings no matter our patriotic pursuits. That, however, is a topic for another blog.
I thought I would take this opportunity to focus on the benefit and understanding of a mass emotional sentiment on a spiritual level and its impact on us.
Mass energetic support of an idea will change the outcome.
When a bunch of people feel the same way about something it does one of two things. It either, creates support for and is in alignment with the universal truth or it is at odds with it. A lot of folks think that mass thinking is dangerous but in fact, over time, it forces the universal truth to come out and eventually helps those out of alignment with it, to assimilate the change of ideas to one that includes everyone. Why it feels so dangerous is that until the universal truth is integrated there often is great conflict. As with this conflict in Nigeria, the opposition to the terrorist’s position that they will change mass sentiment with intimidation has clearly been defined by the power of the global masses. It will put these men in conflict with themselves because there sentiment is not in alignment with universal truth. Their conflict will continue until there is a change in the balance of power which is inevitable. In other words, delusional men, and people who separate themselves from others align with the weakness of the small instead of the power of the great. They will inevitably be assimilated.
Ignoramuses are moved easily.
The interesting thing about single minded ignorant people is that they are incredibly vulnerable on energetic and spiritual levels. I think that folks may have responded to the nature of the message #Real Men Don’t Buy Girls, as being juvenile, and it is, but perfectly appropriate. These dudes took a bunch of young girls out of their ridiculous belief in the importance and power of their manhood. Our power and connection to the universe comes from the heart not the genitals. What happens when you attack their manhood is it will connect to them, whether or not they ever see twitter there are millions of people in alignment with each other questioning their manhood. Their intellect is not being questioned as they are not using it. If they were, we could question it and connect that way. Energetically or emotionally, when you directly oppose a person or groups idea of themselves it naturally puts them on the defense and in conflict with themselves. It moves them from their position of comfort and stability in their beliefs into a connection with the universal truth and if their position is not in alignment with the whole, they will be weakened. It is in that transition and new position that they are vulnerable to change. #RealMenDon’tBuyGirls #Bringbackourgirls #Bringbackourdaughters
Terrorism can be stopped when people refuse to be terrorized.
Don’t get me wrong. If you have ever been victimized in any way, then you know what a beast it is to overcome the illusion of someone’s power over you. Every moment before then… they do, in fact, have power over you…but when you recognize that you give your authority to others or you don’t, you experience the most amazing feeling of personal power and internal freedom. It is in that moment that you truly align with the power of the great and let go of the weakness of the small. Now, before you get your panties ruffled, I am purely speaking a concept that is truthful spiritually. I am not saying that if you have been victimized that it is in any way your fault. What I am saying is that you have power whether or not you know it, feel it, or believe it…all the way to superhero status. I believe it can take lifetimes of experience for a soul to learn to stand up in faith and in the face of perishable odds to learn how to truly be powerful and not separate itself from others, but it is inevitable. #evolution #love #bringbackourgirls
It’s Just My Imagination
I have always had an “active” imagination. Anything I have ever done, I have spent hours on it in my mind first. It would appear that my personality dictate that I am impetuous and impulsive, but in fact I am not. The countless hours of daydreaming, now called visioning as I am a mature professional. Really it’s just daydreaming; sorting out every detail of an action and its consequences, or every word in a conversation to fully recognize my full meaning and intention so as to own every ripple I make. Daydreaming has even been the way I stay prepared for the world that I live in; picturing myself cleaning my house, dancing without care, and even warding off evil with complete and unequivocal success. It has also been the way I am able to tolerate witnessing for someone some of the most unimaginable sufferings that this world has to offer. My inner crime fighter is a combination of “Storm”, “Wonder woman”, and Bruce Lee. I always loved the way Wonder Woman stopped a speeding bullet, or Storm changed the entire environment with a little focus and arm swinging. Somehow I have always seen that as possible. Obviously, imagining having a better life is not necessarily a new theme but a recent trip and fall triggered a reflection on how many times my meanderings of the mind have prepared me to be safe, sane, courageous, physically adept, and joyful in the physical world.
Stop Drop and Roll, in My Mind
The other day, as I walked down the street to meet a friend at the local café, I tripped. Plunging forward somehow I caught myself, and kept walking. The trip made me realize that I forgot something at home, so I turned back. This time, in the exact same spot, I tripped again. This time I was going down. While on the way down, yes in that split second, I thought to myself…”I will not be hurt by this”. My shoulder automatically turned in and I tucked and rolled. If there had been a little more momentum I would have landed on my feet again. There I lay in the middle of the sidewalk in a little ball, without even a scratch, laughing. I easily got up, and surprisingly nothing hurt. As I walked to the café my heart swelled with joy. You see, I spend a lot of time wondering what I would do if I had to get out of the way of a speeding car, escape from a burning building, or fend off an attacker. So, I often visualize the dive and roll or the round house to the jaw. I imagine that my legs are strong and my form is impeccable. Of course, I don’t spend all day on these things but several times a day I catch myself in little 30 second snippets of what I would do if… I always visualize the answer, and that day I had proof that it is not time wasted.
Hip Hop in My Mind
I love to dance. I went to NYC and dancing was to be a part of my repertoire. I quickly learned that I was more of a choreographer than a dancer, and I definitely was not an athlete. I always held so much emotion in my gut that always found a way to come pouring out. That’s workable for yoga class, but definitely not ballet or even jazz. The thing that I got from dance was moving with the flow of the universe, bending, weaving, and being a conduit for universal life force. Thinking in this way brought to me an ultra awareness of the subtle influx of change and how to move with it instead of against it. To move towards the steps I could do, and do them well. Always seeing myself becoming good at the things I wasn’t good at just yet. Hip Hop dance was just blooming at the time and I was awful at it. You really need great balance to be good at Hip Hop, and imbalance is my specialty. However, in my mind, I am amazing. I can even do flip’s, get up with one leg, NO hands, and the ole slide and spin. I always feel invigorated after a 30 second Hip Hop session in my mind.
Now that brings me to the real world application. I was at the doctor’s office one morning, and walking out the door just before me was a lady who was clearly on her last appointment before the baby came. Her husband was about 20 feet away talking to the desk people when I opened the door for her and motioned her to go before me. She smiled and softly said thank you. Something was not right in her voice. Without thinking about it, my body began to drop to one knee about the same time that I realized that she was going to pass out. It was only a few seconds before I had the full weight of her sitting on the impromptu chair I had created with my knee. Her husband noticed at the point her head fell back on my shoulder. She was out. He and the nurse came running over and we shared an awkward glance, as if to say, “Is this your pregnant wife on my lap?” She came too; they got her some juice and helped her to a real chair. The husband said, “Thanks.” I said, “No problem” and walked out the door and moved on with the day. As I laughed to my car, I thought…”I really love Hip Hop.”
Bruce Lee in My Mind
I had a poster of Bruce Lee in my room literally all my child hood. I always felt a special connection to him and to the martial arts. The concept of using an opponent’s energy against them, or summoning and directing universal chi always resonated with me. However, like I said, I am only an athlete in my mind. So when I took those six months of Jiu Jitsu, it was a bit of a struggle. Sparring just for the sake of sparring did not make sense to me. My Kung Fu was definitely magical like the old Chinese martial arts movies. Flying through the air for a triple running kick… now how could that possibly help me in my future? Well, I found that warding off evil began with making some personal decisions. 1.) Deciding you’re not going to be a victim. 2.) Deciding that you will not be around violence or that violence cannot be within or around you. 3.)Knowing that Universal life force flows through you and aligning with it.
One dark Sunday evening walking down an old cobblestone street on the lower east side of NYC, I saw these two gentlemen walking on the other side of the street, they were eyeing me and I knew they weren’t gentlemen at all. Even though it was early the street was vacant and quiet. I had to cross to their side of the street to get to the train so just as they passed, I crossed diagonally to end up behind them on the same sidewalk. Just as I stepped into the street, so did they. They were causing me to directly confront them. Knowing that the meeting was inevitable, I said, in my mind, “I will not have this. Whatever this is, I will not have it.” Just as we crossed paths in the center of the street, the taller gentleman began to take something from the inside of his jacket, just as his armed raised up to come down on me…I raised two fingers to him…and said, “Uh Uh.” He and his friend were so befuddled by this that he mimicked me, in a fairly high tone for a man, he said, “Uh uh, and sort of waived his hands in confusion. I just kept going and did not look back. When I got to the next block I broke down in tears and cried and laughed all the way home. As it turns out, the two fingered Mudra (hand yoga) that I unknowingly used, means protection. It certainly was that night.
Day Dreaming: More than it’s Cracked Up to Be
Watching the evening news can be tumultuous, for some. Just getting through the day without worry in this sometimes desperate place that we all share is a feat. So, I recommend, once a day in your quiet time; answer just one of those…”What would I do if…?” And since it is your vision, it can only end well for everyone. You never know when it will come in handy.
Original Oil by Tashina Suzuki
How Feng Shui Happened to Me
Throughout my spiritual life, reflections of the creator have always been given to me in the way of signs, symbols, and messages. They have been the bread crumbs that I followed to get to the buried treasures awaiting me. The first time that stands out in my mind was being in the old East West bookstore in NYC. I had a book in my hand to purchase but was still looking, when almost simultaneously, the book dropped out of my hand and another fell out of the bookshelf right where I was standing. Now, I am not a rocket scientist, but I was certain there were no coincidences about this coincident. I promptly picked up both books and put back the one I dropped and bought the one that fell. Truly, that book changed my life. It was the beginning of the understanding and acceptance of my spiritual self. It was a game changer for me, and so it continued with every new yet familiar piece of information that came my way.
The Dying Tree
One day I came home and saw that my favorite potted tree that was housed on my eight foot altar looked to be in the last throws of its life. I was dismayed, I hadn’t seen it coming. My thumb isn’t exactly green, but I had been doing pretty well monitoring its sun and water intake so it did not make any sense. This time I set out on a quest, deliberately to find the reason for my dying tree and how I could help it. I went to my local spiritual book store and being a pro, I waited to see which book got my attention. The message I was getting was about direction which originally I was thinking about a verb instead of a noun, and then I saw a book on Feng Shui. The Chinese art of the placement of items to maximize the flow of chi in your environment; my tree was in the Eastern corner and it was the month of December. The Chinese New Year period began according to the Chinese Lunar calendar, in the middle of the 12th month and ended around the middle of the first month with the waxing of the full moon which falls on different days every year. This year the New Year came in February and it meant that the #5 flying star of disaster would be taking its place for the year in the direction of the East. Oh my! I promptly gave my beautiful dying tree to my neighbor whose western corner in her apartment got beautiful light, and west had good stars that year. Within in a couple of weeks the tree had taken back her health and I had embarked on the study of Feng Shui.
Getting Into the Flow
I have always had a deep reverence for ritual and have always had some sort of sacred place of worship in my home and I suppose that my environment, intuitively, has somehow instructed me on any changes that would support my well being. However, the study of Feng Shui from the original traditions even down to the many books of western interpretation has been an amazing journey of the realization of our daily relationship with our direct environment and the world around us and how important and fragile it is. Tapping into the subtle nuances of a change in direction and shift of energy can absolutely support and inhibit growth. Recognizing the energy of the natural elements and their relationship to one another can not only teach you about yourself but can offer understanding of how you relate to others.
Year of the Majestic Wood Horse 2014
December 31st, 2013 is the Chinese New Year commencing the Year of the Wood Horse. Great strides will be made through self acceptance and the acceptance of others this year. While the horse is always wildly independent and great strides of progress can be made in the solo journey, this year’s Horse will support great strides in transforming group efforts and democracy; the expansion of your own ideals and beliefs and the recognizing that some ways of thinking are just no longer helpful and to continue them is futile. This Horse year offers you courage and knowledge different than what you have. Evidently, “Great Strides” is the theme of the year, as I have unconsciously written it three times. So plan on making great strides in all ways in your life this year and if that makes you nervous, the energy of the Wood Horse will help you move through it.
Wanna Feng Shui?
I practice using two main tools of Feng Shui; one is setting up the space according to the Pa Kua which outlines the nature of the home itself and then adjusts it for those who dwell in it. Yearly, I implement Flying Star Feng Shui which recognizes the yearly movement of the 24 Mountains, which allows you to become aware of the influence of the world around you on your environment and then shows you how to flow with it for maximum; health, vitality, harmony, and prosperity. If you would like to set up an appointment for Feng Shui now is the time. Personally, I always reset before the Lunar New Year but really, anytime is good to call in fresh chi. Go to www.itztime.com and fill out the contact form with all of your details. Many great strides to you this year.
Photo by Stan Cunningham; Cunninghamoutdoors.com
I Have a Friend in Bear
Two times in my life during profound transformation, the Bear has come to me in a dream. The first, when I began working as a spiritual empath. The first three years were the most intense; I barely slept and rarely went outside. My inner world was rich with new knowledge and experience but my body was wrought with fatigue. I don’t suppose it helped that I was on the Carl’s Jr. Diet. You see, since about the age of 12 I had always been weight and health conscious, but after contracting an illness that required the adoption of extreme measures, I stopped eating sugar, drinking alcohol, and became vegan. I learned about supplements and herbs, and with these choices came a complete physical recovery and the beginning of an opportunity to heal myself emotionally, and then spiritually. The spiritual healing was a lengthy process that took several years of daily work. All of it awe inspiring. About the time I began working with clients I had been quite healthful for about a decade so I allowed myself to enjoy soda, burgers, and fries on occasion. My indulgence was only about once a month for about two years and the freedom alone to eat what I wanted when I wanted was invaluable but the physical fatigue from the spiritual and emotional transformation was mounting. One night, after several nights of very little sleep and extreme emotions, I prayed to the creator for some relief and a new strategy. That night I fell fast asleep and woke up in the middle of a dream sleeping in the warm clutches of a big Mama Bear.
For the first time in months I felt calm and at peace. Safety was truly not a feeling I had been accustomed too until that moment and it was overwhelming. I wept to create space to receive this feeling of safety and comfort for the first time in my life. That night Bear told me what was next. It was now time to eat only the things that brought nourishment to my body. That taking a leadership position in my life meant that it was time to walk through my fear of sharing who I really am, and not hiding any of my abilities. Finally, that compassion means setting boundaries with people instead of just understanding that they do not know the impact that they have on me and others.
The Freedom in Opinion
The second time Bear joined me in dream time was just a few months ago. This time it was Papa bear. He brought me the message of safety, comfort, and compassion as before, but this time was distinctly different. This time his message to me, as we sat face to face, was an enormous courage and strength with a physical vitality I haven’t experienced since I was a child. He told me that my opinion had value; which struck me funny as anyone who knows me, knows I am not necessarily “shy” about my opinion. It then became clear to me that my emphasis has always been on understanding and having compassion. That while having empathy for both sides of any situation is definitely a skill set, it was now time to truly cultivate my opinion. A freedom opened in my heart that day; a new level of trust in the Creator, myself, and others that took me deeply into the consciousness of safety.
So, should you seek the assistance of Bear, a powerful ally you will have indeed. Bear brings a new comfort in the truth and an integration of understanding. Mama and Papa Bear have much to teach about leadership and its true meaning, self reflection and self love, joy in resurrecting a pure heart, and physical strategies to sustain a healthful and balanced way of life.
Prayer for Bear
Thank you Great Spirit for your powerful Bear warrior. May you teach us how to take care of him in the way he takes care of us, and may we always be mindful of the space he needs to live and grow and the connection he has to all of our relations. May our hearts be open to the message of strength and integrity that you offer us through him. Aho
One of the easiest and hardest things you will ever do is support someone you love with the loss of someone or something that they love. Losing a beloved human, pet, house, or job; are all profound and experienced differently by everyone. Grieving the loss of a beloved can bring an unsuspecting person to a crumpled pile on the floor. It often redefines the idea of devastation for the people experiencing it. Being a grief counselor and working with those who are grieving has taught me a lot about how people grieve differently but having lost vital loved ones, friends, and lovers at every stage of my life by everything from cancer to murder has made me an expert. Theorizing about what you think it would feel like does not compare to experiencing it. For this reason, I’ve put together a list of the top do’s and don’ts. Relationships can be made or broken at this fragile time of grieving and mourning, and not everyone is comfortable with the process. I have created this list for your consideration.
Don’t Say Anything if You are Not Sure Say What to
The best thing to do if you’re not sure what to say to someone who is grieving a loss is to say, “I am not sure what to say here.” For the grieving, sometimes there are no words, and often no words are better than wrong words. Hello, I love you, and I am sorry, are all good minimalist strategies when you want to acknowledge someone and their loss but aren’t sure what to say.
Friendships are made and lost in times of grief, so if you care about someone who is grieving do anything you can to show up for them even if you are uncomfortable and don’t know what to do. Everyone knows how to wash a dish, sweep a floor, or make a cup of coffee. Not everyone knows how to emotionally comfort another person in times of trouble so it is best to stick to what you know. Bring whatever you do best into the situation, just being there can make a world of difference for a grieving person.
Whatever you do; do not compare your situation or experience to theirs. Telling them that you understand what they are going through really isn’t helpful because just possibly you don’t. Nothing makes a grieving person feel more isolated than feeling like no one understands, however that very sense of isolation is a part of the grief experience and there is nothing you can do to change that until the person is ready to align with those who have had similar experiences. Sometimes speaking up with the, “I completely understand” elicits an angered response if you’ve not taken the time to understand what experience they are having.
I’ve always been that person who finds a little wisdom in all things, but for our purposes here, there are definitely things that you should not say. For the short list; “Keep your chin up”. “She’s in a better place”, “They had a good long life”, are all absolutely ones to take off the list. It may be true that the grieving one should keep their chin up, or that the one they lost is in a better place but honestly, it’s not for you to say. I have found that in grieving losses, there is always something that you do not know about the situation or relationship that the person experiencing the loss knows. It is called complicated grief. For example, if a husband beats a wife and then he dies unexpectedly, the wife is left to grieve not only her loss but the unresolved relationship she has to him, herself, and then to the people in her life that didn’t know what was going on. Her time of grief is not the time for you to talk about how great your relationship is and how lucky you are to still have your husband… being mindful and present to what others are feeling is most important.
Be of Service
Often times grieving makes regular mundane daily activities incredibly difficult, so bringing food, cleaning the house, or tending to the garden will all be helpful. When my mom died, my step dad didn’t really know what was going on with all the bills because my mother had always handled them. He was so thankful when my sister offered to sit down with him every month to get it all organized and make sure everything was paid and nothing got over looked. It is best to always ask what is needed before taking action. Whatever you do, if you make an offer, follow through with it.
Find a Way to Process your Own Grief
I know a lady who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In a state of shock she made her way over to her best friend’s house. The response she received from her friend, was a wail, a moan, and then a hail of tears exclaiming, “Oh My God, this is the worst day of my life!” After consoling her friend for quite some time, telling her everything would be alright; she got the girl her Vicodin, put her to bed, and made a b-line for the door. Shutting it behind her, she shook her head saying what the hell just happened?! If you know someone who is grieving, please don’t try to work through your own grief with them; choose someone in your own circle, therapist, or outside party to help. Remember, this is their time for attention and support from you.
If They Offend You, Get Over It
There is no better time in a person’s life, other than possibly a woman in child birth, to receive a tremendous amount of latitude, then when they are grieving a profound loss. It is not uncommon for someone to say things that they don’t mean and at times don’t even remember, than when they are grieving. Especially the day of the loss or the funeral. So do your best to roll with the punches. That is not to say that you can’t set loving boundaries, it’s just best not to hold grudges.
Stages of Grief
In the 70’s we learned the 5 stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While a grieving person may experience all of these dynamics they don’t always follow in this order and are not experienced by everyone. There is no rhyme or reason to grief, at times just pure unadulterated emotion begging to be expressed. At times the slightest interaction with a grieving person can elicit an extreme grief response; i.e., screaming, crying, wailing, moaning, and occasionally an anxiety attack. So if you are witness; stay present, don’t react, encourage them to breathe, and if it’s appropriate…give a hug. The emotion will quickly pass. Also keep in mind that some folks are more comfortable being stoic or the funny guy when it comes to grief. All of these are appropriate ways of grieving. Please don’t ever accuse a person of not feeling grief because you don’t witness it, and the only time to intervene is if a grief response becomes life threatening. Like playing with guns or drinking and driving.
Social media is not the place to announce your grief response, period. Deal with your feelings first and comment later. First of all, not everything on the internet is true, and you cannot undo the pain or humuliation of incorrect or pre-mature information. Secondly, if the family of a loved one wants your input publicly they will offer a clear opportunity; i.e., a page to welcome such comments and acknowledgements. Please don’t tag them in the grief response you post on your own page. Even if you feel you know someone well and think it is being supportive, it’s best to wait on the public memoriums until you have a clear sign from the grieving that they welcome public input.
People don’t just grieve at funerals so bringing your open hearted lovingness, any opportunity that you get, to a person who is grieving is appreciated and will long be remembered. All during my mother’s illness and then after she died, my friend Dawn called me almost every day. I rarely picked up the phone but even so she would leave me long messages singing me silly songs, telling stories, or just saying hello. Often, I received a letter with photos and other stuff. Those letters and calls became the respite from my pain, but what meant the most to me is that she didn’t need or expect anything in return.
Finding a way to accept what life brings is a powerful challenge anyway, but even more so in the face of loss. The ways in which people have stepped up for me in times of loss are forever etched on my heart, whether it was a trip to the airport, a phone call, a meal, or helping me take care of my own responsibilities, nothing makes a person more aware of connection to other people than when they feel debilitated because of loss. Giving them the gift of presence, love, and service is the glue that will hold them together.
I cannot stand liars and bullies. They are not always one in the same, well…a liar isn’t always a bully…but a bully is always a liar. If the bully isn’t lying to you, he is definitely lying to himself. Just for convenience I’ll be using the he pronoun, but women are definitely bullies too. I imagine if we could take a poll of bullies just to see the gender make up, women may just be in the lead. People have tried to bully me twice in my life, once in grade school and once in high school. Now, I have known a few people who were just bully by nature, they lacked emotional self control. But the ones that I am talking about went out of their way to try and physically intimidate, belittle, and humiliate me. What they got it return; well let’s just say they weren’t expecting it.
Forging a Friendship
Bonnie was the newest second grader to our school. She was a cute little auburn haired girl with a hook. Yes, that’s right, a prosthetic hand from 1974. I don’t know how many other schools she had already been to but I think there had been a few. So, I think she was pretty well used to being made fun of, and was fairly or unfairly abrasive because of it. I don’t remember every explicit detail from that time but I know that her first couple of weeks at school were rough and she was mean about it. I had tried to befriend her but to no avail. Until she cornered me in the girl’s bathroom, pinned me against the wall, and took her hook off and shoved her stump in my face. I think I cried from the shock, and when I told her that I was sorry she didn’t have a hand and asked her if she was okay, she cried. We were best friends after that.
Christine on the other hand, her issues were a little less obvious. We both were in Mr. Miller’s 9th Grade Civics class. I sat directly in front of the pencil sharpener. Yes. That’s right, we still used pencils then. I loved a good sharp #2 pencil. Every day, Christine would arrive just in the nick of time. She sat somewhere across the room and would inevitably get up and walk over to the pencil sharpener, shove my chair, and call me a bitch under her breath. Every day. I didn’t get angry or start a fight or even tell the teacher. No, I was clear that waiting and watching until a time when she was vulnerable was the strategy. The day soon came when the bell to be in first period rang and Christine was running. Out of breath she makes it to the door and Mr. Miller said, “No, you can’t come in, go to the Tardy Control Center” (that’s the cafeteria). Ha, now I had her where I wanted her. We had a huge test coming up and we were finding out what was on it that day. Vulnerable. I sat and worked diligently on my notes all hour. Walking from class, there was this dark outdoor hallway with the door that lead to the other side of the school near the cafeteria. Yes, there she was… and as we crossed paths in that dark hallway, I gave her the second copy of the notes I had made for her in class. I simply said, “Here, this is what you missed in class today”. I walked away just as her jaw was dropping. Who’s the bully NOW, beeotch?! Seriously, I was slightly prideful that I won that round. Now, no great friendship came out of this but she stopped bullying me, gained some respect, and joined a few of the activities that I participated in; like the Freshman Forum.
So if you haven’t figured out yet, bullies are insecure, self conscious, and seek to control what you know about them. By nature they are liars. They lie to themselves by thinking that no one sees what they are doing, and that their indulgence in taking power over those they bully, really is a profound sense of powerlessness in themselves and their lives. Self mastery is something that we really don’t value or teach in our culture, but make no mistake, it is the one thing that successful people have in common. Some form of self mastery. The good news is when you finally get some, it multiplies.
I just heard that song from the 70’s,”Sad Eyes”, by Robert John. Part of the lyric in a nutshell is a dude who is having an affair with another woman before his wife comes home from where ever and he’s telling her he can’t see her any more, and he says…”sad eyes…look the other way…I don’t want to see you cry”. Whew, it made me sad. I won’t even get started on the actual crappy situation I will keep my commentary strictly to the, to cry or not to cry part.
Bridging the Gap
Of course it stirred the pot in me. I know there are quite a few of our brothers and sisters on the planet that have a difficult time watching someone cry, so I would like to be of service if I can. I would like to bridge the gap between those of us that cry at everything or at least important things and those of you who have a really uncomfortable time with it. I would like to give a quick tutorial on what to do if someone breaks down in tears in front of you. First of all, let’s discuss the different kinds of criers. In general profoundly empathetic and sensitive people have an enormous amount of compassion. Of course not in every case but for the most part. Usually there is at least one in every family and they have a very important role in their family and on the planet. Highly sensitive people often feel the grief of the planet. There are folks who will help to carry your grief or the grief of other family members. Sometimes there are those who feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Take the events of 9/11 for example. There were a lot of us that sat around for days after that, immersed in crying and sadness, and then there were others who kept the flow of the community going. Not taking the time to express that kind of emotion.
Emotion Takes Electricity and Gas
Emotion takes an enormous amount of energy and stamina. It also takes the right philosophy to accompany it. Many people don’t cry because they associate it with shame and weakness, others feel that if they give in to it they may never dig themselves out. The truth is if you or someone you know is experiencing grief and sadness but unable to express it, that energy goes somewhere. Most likely to the closest family member or friend who is willing to feel it. Or even someone like me who feels every ones grief. Now that we know; the who, what, and how; let’s organize the options for how to support these highly sensitive compassionate people.
- Always look them in the eye. Ignoring them or showing them your discomfort can never help and usually supports the idea that somehow they are broken.
- If you don’t know what to do, ask. It is okay with most criers if you admit that you’re not sure what to do and ask. Ultimately it makes them feel better to be acknowledged rather than judged.
- Never yell and scream at someone who is experiencing extreme emotion. Not only will it escalate the situation but it will make both of you feel worse.
- Hugs are good for some and not for others, but always a good idea. Just ask if it will bring comfort to the one who is grieving. Just a little disclaimer: Usually the crying one will cry harder when hugged.
- Sometimes just sitting in silence with a friend is the best medicine.
- Always remember that grief is temporary. What you feel now you won’t feel later. So focus on getting through the moment. If you do, it will process more quickly.
A Loving Job
In the times in my life when my grief was the worst, somehow the people around me provided the least comfort, and it always seemed that it shouldn’t be that way. Living in New York City certainly made me durable, but there was a lot of grief. During those times it was often the homeless people on the street that were the only ones who would look me straight in the eye, and ask if I was ok. I always said that I was, and felt great relief and comfort because someone had the courage to look at me and ask. Ultimately someone who suffers doesn’t want you to take their suffering, they just want you to be nice, kind, and honest, and they definitely don’t want to have to help you deal with the fact that they suffer. That is your job…and a loving one should you decide to embrace it.
Television Is the New Daniel
I love the television shows from the70’s and 80’s. This morning I woke up to an episode of Highway to Heaven, the old show starring Michael Landen. Going there takes me all the way back to my first decade on the planet. I had such a crush on Patrick Duffy in The Man from Atlantis, and Lee Majors in The Six Million Dollar Man that I would go to bed early just so I could dream about marrying them. Not both of course, but either one was suitable. Something about those shows created a space for my young mind to fantasize and imagine what a world would be like where they could replace body parts with electronic ones, angels came in human form, and the story of Atlantis was no longer a mystery.
Living in the future is not as interesting as fantasizing about it. In those old shows the idea was that the more we understood how much power we have and what we could accomplish, the more peaceful we would get. Ultimately living in a utopia where we all coexisted in joy and acceptance side by side. Another fascinating morsel about those shows is how slow they were by comparison to today’s line up. Dialogue centric and plenty of pauses that gave the viewer time to empathize with the characters. Now so much content on the airwaves is reality based and fast moving that our brains now enjoy and need the drone in the back ground. I even know people who actually watch two shows simultaneously so that boredom doesn’t set in. It is amazing to think that so much of what was prophesied in those shows has come true. A Bionic man is common place.
The Insatiable Human Spirit
Evidently conflict, struggle, and suffering are really more interesting than peacefulness will ever be. From the looks of our culture, it seems the general consensus. The wars keep getting bigger. The crimes more brutal, the pundits meaner, the greedy are definitely greedier. We all talk about a million dollars like it is easily within reach. So, really what’s the problem? None of these things are ever going to satisfy us. I guess it will be when we are willing to endure the boredom of self-acceptance and contentment, and we don’t care what other people think. Maybe that’s when peace will set in.