Life, Uncategorized

A Trip to the Medium

The idea of seeing a medium has been bouncing around in the back of my mind for years. Nearly thirty three years since I lost my brother, Jeff, to suicide. There was no note. I was gutted. Why had this happened? I needed answers. John Edwards was a fairly new phenomenon back then and he had been a guest speaker at my college at the time. I don’t remember what he said that night, but I knew there could be an answer to my questions by visiting him. But I didn’t persue it.

There were a couple of local psychics in my hometown and one reached out to a family member a while after my brother died. She said my brother had visited her on the night he died and he wanted her to tell my mother he was OK. He mentioned very specific jewelry in her posession that no one else would know about. I imagine she was terrified to bring this information to my mother knowing we were a devout Catholic family who didn’t go in for other wordly nonsense.

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Life

Merry Christmas Eve!

 

 

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It will all be over in twenty four hours. The build up and planning and anticipating will be over and we can rest easy into another blessed Christmas morning. But before then, there will be lots and lots of work. A labor of love. Traditions and rituals to observe. We’ve decorated, shopped and watched all the Christmas movies. We’ve witnessed the build up of advent and the journey to Christ’s birth. It has been a particularly spiritual journey for me this year as I attended weekday mass on many occasions during the month, and isn’t that what the season is about.

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Life

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect hinges on the theory that a small change (such as a butterfly flapping it’s wings) can cause a much larger event halfway across the world (such as a tsunami). I think of this often when I’m trying to retrace how life gets off course for me in just a short amount of time. Three weeks ago, said life was humming along. I had a faithful morning routine which entailed prayer, journaling, exercise and morning pages – all before my job which starts at 9 a.m. I had weekly commitments I didn’t veer from. AA meetings, yoga practice, meditation, meal planning, laundry and cleaning routines. And then the thing happened that knocked it off kilter.

What was the one thing that caused my life to tip over as though it was teetering on the edge of a cliff? The first chink came with a funeral which caused me to miss my weekly yoga practice. The funeral wasn’t optional as it’s crucial to be there for the important people in your life during times of loss. The funeral, also, was ripe with life lessons for me and caused me to think hard about some things like bucket lists and what’s really important in life. Next came the death of our beloved Murphy and this has caused much sadness and perhaps a low grade depression. Getting out bed in the morning became difficult but Thanksgiving was coming and a trip to Florida was on it’s heels.

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Life

Pet Grief

It’s been just over a week since we had to say goodbye to our beloved golden retriever, Murphy. He’s been part of the family for 11 years (almost to the date), having arrived just a couple of weeks before my son Liam’s second birthday. An (active!) toddler, an exuberant puppy, a full time job and a busy life.

There was puppy training, potty training, play groups and doggy daycare to squeeze into an already packed life. Then there was everything I’d read about dog food and decided I better make my own which was no small task. I worried over teething and sleep schedules. Again. For isn’t a puppy so much like a baby in many ways.

But here we are, a blink of an eye and it’s eleven years later. A teenager and an elderly dog whose time has come up much too soon. How do you say goodbye to an integral part of your family? At 100 pounds and no longer mobile, I called a vet who makes house calls. It was time.

It was a peaceful and gentle process. The vet as compassionate a man as I have ever met. He has called, emailed and sent us a sympathy card, making sure that we are all doing ok. Even checking on our cat Stella who is no spring chicken herself.

But a pet death is not like any other. A close bond forms over the years with the primary family members. Murphy loved people, giving his tail an enthusiastic shake at the mere approach of anyone new, and people loved him too. No one knew him like we did though, and the grief is like a tight knot holding us together. The fact that he’s no longer holding his post by our entrance door, a constant source of pain, a phantom pain, that reminds us each time we come home of his absence.

It’s a time of grief, to be felt for as long as necessary until it dissipates little by little as time goes by. Keeping the memories close, sharing our heartache, restitching our sense of family.

MC

Life

Building daily habits

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Back in September, I started a daily journaling exercise called the 6-Minute Diary. The basic outline is that for three minutes in the morning you answer three items:

  • Three things to be grateful for
  • A couple of sentences on how to make the day great
  • A positive affirmation

At the end of the day you complete three more exercises:

  • Your good deed for the day
  • How you’ll improve
  • Three great things you experienced that day

I just passed the critical juncture (66 days according to research cited by the author of this book) for establishing a solid habit. This is 66 days of positive thinking first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed. I have to say it works for me and makes my days a little more meaningful. I have to put thought into my daily good deed. I have to think about how I can do better tomorrow. Even on a bad day, there have to be three good things.

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Life

Synchronicity

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The term synchronicity shows up early on in week three of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (which I am currently halfway through!) and she likens them to answered prayers (which she says are scary). She tells you to be on the lookout for them every week there on out. One minute you are wishing, praying for something and the next thing you know, it’s right there. A weird coincidence. I don’t think synchronicity is scary but I’m not always paying attention for it either. A couple weeks ago it bowled me over.

If you have been following along these last several months, you might recall I have been unemployed since early January. I had a few weeks before unemployment benefits would kick in and from there I would have 26 weeks to find another job. I scanned the job listings casually at first, looking for a good fit. I was steering away from marketing jobs which I’d been doing for the last fifteen years, wanting something a little different. I also wanted to work part-time so I could spend more time writing. What is out there that fits this description? Retail, service jobs, low paying jobs. I am cool with less money but after thirty years of work history, I didn’t want something at minimum wage level. This is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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Life

Life in the messy middle

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Sometimes I think of life as a sandwich with three layers. The bottom piece of bread is where you don’t want to do anything. Energy is lagging, you might be feeling like a cold is coming or you feel like getting through each day is enough of a struggle without trying to do much more than sustain yourself and family. You feel weighed down by the rest of the sandwich. The top layer of bread is where you are sitting above the fray. Energy is high. Things get done. And there’s not a lot of work involved. The middle is messy. It’s where you push yourself a little more. You don’t just show up to life but participate in it, making decisions, making an effort, letting yourself shine through your actions.

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Life

Dreaming of what’s next

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A sign in front of the Amorgos Diving Center. All roads lead to and from Amorgos.

Until this week, I have never written a formal bucket list. Things would bounce around in my mind through the years and if I did them I would mentally tick them off. Skydiving. Check. Zip line over a rainforest. Check. See the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Check. I even got to see a parade for a dead member of the royal family. That was not on my list but we happened to be in London when Queen Elizabeth’s mother died in 2002.

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Life

Writing a Palanca Letter

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What is a palanca letter I asked myself as a woman from our congregation passed out a flyer asking parishioners to write one. Oh course, I turned to Google for assistance. Palanca is a spanish word that means lever, an instrument that helps lift something up. The palanca letter is a personal note to someone attending a spiritual retreat and as with many things in life, I was coincidentally being asked from two separate corners of my life to write these letters on the same weekend. One for a stranger, an inmate at a nearby prison and one to my aunt who lives in Texas.

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Life

Dreams you don’t know you have

Greece was never on my bucket list and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s because I heard about their economy which had imploded. Maybe it’s that the language seemed scary and so foreign. It was nearly half a world away and the flight would be long. But, alas, when my friend mentioned she was going there for a yoga retreat every ounce of my being was aching to be there too. More for the yoga retreat than anything else.

When she asked me to go, I was elated but I never imagined I’d be able to go. I have my family and I’m unemployed – how selfish would it be to ask if I could do this. When I arrived home from the bruch where I heard about the retreat, I casually mentioned it to my husband. My brother-in-law was there and can vouch that I never outright asked to go, but within minutes it was happening. I was texting my friend- I’m in!!!!!! Yes, I’m pretty sure I used all those exclamation points. Greece. Yoga. Meditation. I can remember the joy I felt the moment I realized it was going to happen.

This was in March of this past year and the retreat was slated for the end of July. It seemed like an eternity away. I wanted to lose some stubborn weight that had been sitting and growing in my belly area for a few years. I had stopped going to yoga because our Saturdays were filled with other activities and I needed to get back at it. Life kept chugging along. I got on a nutrition program, upped my workouts and rekindled my love for Saturday yoga.

The day to leave for Greece finally came. All the work to get there was about to pay off. With a suitcase full of new clothes and my longtime friend by my side we started the trip of a lifetime. I didn’t know that it would be more than I ever imagined.

MC