Returning to the Land of the Living

I’ve been silent and missing for a while now but I’m ready to announce that I’ve returned to the land of the living.  It’s an amazing, incredible, wonderful feeling.

In March I started B School, business school for entrepreneurs in the digital age, run by Marie Forleo.  Marie is inspiring, practical, knowledgable and packs years worth of information into every class.  It’s intense.  The homework alone is the equivalent of a full time job.

I was also holding down my day job, which is stressful and pretty exhausting.  Working on multi-million dollar software development projects is not for the faint of heart.

I was working with grieving children and their families when I could.

And I was trying to lead a normal life, shopping for groceries, keeping up the laundry and cleaning the house.  

In other words, I was burning the candle at about four ends.

And I got walloped.  You name it, I think I had it.  Take the worst flu you’ve ever had and combine it with the worst cold you’ve ever had, and that’s where I was.  For FOUR agonizing weeks.  

I slept sitting up so I could breathe, popped all kinds of pills, worked as much as I was able in between naps to keep a paycheck coming in, and let everything else fall by the side.  I even paid someone to do my grocery shopping and deliver it.  It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it.

My body told me in no uncertain terms that it was maxed out.  It gave me no choice but to stop and take care of myself.  I listened.  I healed.

Now I’m picking things back up but doing it in a much more realistic way.  So look for more content and all kinds of cool stuff coming up.  I’ve had time to do some thinking and have a whole list of interesting things to talk about.

Hugs (the safe, non-contagious kind)!

Chris

If I had my life to live over again

I received this in my email yesterday and found it delightful.  I’m thinking about my own list now. — Chris

If I had my life to live over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax.
I’d limber up.
I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances,
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones.
you see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane,
hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments.
If I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had to live my life over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances,
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would pick more daisies.

– Nadine Stair, Louisville at 85 years of age

Puppy Surgery!


Sorry I haven’t been posting this week but our little pug puppy Maddie had surgery on Monday. She had an impacted baby tooth removed and was spayed. We’ve been busy trying to keep her quiet so she wouldn’t pull her sutures. That is more than a job for both of us combined. This puppy was overly endowed with energy. And speed. And dexterity. She’s been on lead when she wasn’t in her playpen. Her older sister can’t understand why we won’t let them wrestle and run sprints around the house like normal.
I’m exhausted!!! And frazzled!! With another week of this to go!!!!!

We All Live in a Yellow Submarine

The year was 1967. The Beatles had just released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and created the movie “Yellow Submarine”. If you haven’t heard the album or seen the movie, you’re missing out on something. I turned Cee on to the album a long time ago, she being a child born in 1960 and a little too young for Beatlemania, and we watched the movie recently on Netflix. At least I think it’s on Netflix. It might have been Amazon Prime.

One of my favorite songs from there is “With a Little Help From my Friends”. I mention that because I’m in need of a little help from you, my friends. Or at least some of you. I’m looking for help with a homework assignment for school. I’m supposed to interview some women over the age of 45 to find out what some of their concerns are at this point in their life. Forty-five is when empty nest starts hitting, when we find ourselves taking care of children and parents (the sandwich generation), come smack-dab up against realizing we’re starting to play the second half of our lives, and starting to look at retirement (for those of us who can afford it). A lot is changing in our lives, and it keeps on changing. I know, because I’m a 66 year old woman.

If you are willing to spend a little time chatting with me, I would be grateful. I’m easy to talk to. Everything you tell me will be completely confidential. I’m just learning how to do research, so any time you are willing to give me would be greatly appreciated. If you are in the Portland, Oregon area, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.

Please help! Send me a note via the contact form below.
Many thanks, ’cause I get by with a little help from my friends.

Chris

My Extraordinary Life

I have an extraordinary life. I have two criteria for determining that:

  • I wake every morning before my alarm, energized and looking forward to the day and the adventures it will bring. I love waking up in the morning.
  • I go to bed at about the same time every night, relaxed, content and satisfied. I sleep like a baby.

Rinse and repeat.

That’s what goes into living an extraordinary life. Having a zest for living, for being alive, and for eagerly anticipating all that life and the Universe is bringing to me.

I didn’t always live life like that. All too often I was in victim mode, being buffeted around and wondering how to get off this wacky carousel we call life. It wasn’t fun.

Then I went through the survivor mode. I wasn’t feeling victimized, feeling like a permanent and professional victim any more. Instead, I felt like a survivor. I was proud of that. I was proud that I made it through the day and came out the other side alive, and ready to fight again.

What a way to live! Being in survivor mode sucks. Big time. You’re proud of what you’ve overcome and just hanging on to that, thinking that if you can keep on surviving that someday things will change and you won’t have to survive quite so much. That things will get easier.

Somewhere along the way I finally noticed that I wasn’t just surviving any more. I was starting to thrive. The trouble was that surviving became a habit. A deeply ingrained, etched-in-stone operating system in my head. I didn’t know how to break out of those grooves, even though they weren’t playing music I enjoyed any more. It had gotten boring, like a first music lesson where you had to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”  over and over again until you got it right. Or blood began pouring from your ears, whichever came first.

Now I’ve gone beyond thriving and I’m into the exquisite freedom of living. Living for myself and on my own terms. Free from the past heartaches, from “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, to quote Shakespeare.

Every time I’ve made that giant step up the emotional ladder I have wondered how I did it. I spent so long in each place praying for more, for different, envisioning what my life would be like if only fill-in-the-blank changed for the better. The funny thing is that when the shift came, I never knew how I did it. It was frustrating because when I hit the next stopping point I’d try to repeat what was obviously a wining process only to come up empty. I had forgotten how I did it before.

When I was in the Army, I was injured while on a mission. My knee had gotten smashed up and had to be rebuilt. After the tissue had healed sufficiently, I started physical therapy to retrain the muscles to respond to my nerve’s commands. The physical therapists started by wheeling my roommate out of the room. I thought that odd. They explained that this was going to be a painful procedure and there was no need to traumatize someone else. Ominous thought.

They placed electrodes around my knees where the nerves attached to the muscles and the bones, then they started cranking up the juice. At first it was just plain weird to see my leg moving on its own without any conscious direction from my mind. Really weird.

Then they cranked up the juice a little more and the pain hit. I screamed and the reason why they took my roommate out became apparent. Over and over it went. Time after time. Electricity. Pain. Leg moved. I sweated and tried not to scream or cry like a baby. Then they’d have me try it on my own. I focused and concentrated and grunted and tried as hard as I could. The leg didn’t move. More electricity. More pain. More attempting on my own. Finally a ray of hope. I could move a little. A teeny, tiny, little movement but a consciously directed one. That’s what counted. My brain was starting to take over. My muscles were learning to listen.

I practiced that little movement all through dinner, all the while I was watching TV that evening. I was determined to master this so that I wouldn’t have to endure that pain again. Over and over I moved that leg, a tiny wiggle but a definite one, until I finally fell asleep out of exhaustion. I was so proud of myself. And relieved.

The next day the therapists came again with their machine of torture. “There’s no need for that”, I proudly exclaimed. “I practiced all night and I’m really good at this.”

“Show us”, they commanded.

And I did… nothing. My leg had already forgotten how to listen to my brain. A few hours of sleep and all that hard work was washed away. I felt defeated and humiliated for bragging like I had. They tried to reassure me that it was normal, explaining nerve fatigue and other technical mumbo jumbo I wasn’t hearing in my pity party head.

Eventually I did learn how to communicate to my leg and it has taken me on some marvelous hikes over the years.

I don’t know how I retrained my head then, and I don’t know how I retrained it through years of victimhood, survivorship, and thriving to make it to living an extraordinary life, but I’m committed to remembering the process so that I can help others do the same thing.

We all have within us the ability to live extraordinary lives. Really, we do. There are a few things we have to learn about taking control of our brains, and our lives, but we can get there. And it’s so much fun when you do. It’s the ultimate freedom, the ultimate high.

Hugs and high fives!

Chris

What are your Superpowers?

Here’s a challenge for you:  email five people you know and ask them to list your three strongest, best qualities, your superpowers.

We all have them.  Sometimes we have trouble recognizing them, but they are there.  Even if you don’t see them, the people close to you do.  Pick people you trust or respect.

Here’s a sample email for you:

“Hi.  I’m writing you to ask for a favor.  It may sound a little strange, but I’ve accepted a challenge to identify my superpowers.  I’m supposed to ask a few people who I trust to tell me what they feel are my three best and strongest qualities.  Is there anything you respect or value about me?  What do you think makes me unique, special?

I’m asking you because you have a better view into me in some ways than I do.  My view is filtered by my inner critic.  I’ve been told that everyone has a superpower, something that they have to give to the world, and I’m trying to define mine.

Thank you for taking the time.  I truly appreciate you for doing this.”

I did this and sent the letters to my spouse (Cee), my manager at work, a colleague I do volunteer work with and some friends.  Their answers had commonalities but they also varied according to the role I play in their lives.  It really did help me get a well-rounded picture of who I am.  It was amazing, uplifting and affirming.

Give it a try.  You’ll be glad you did.

My Dickens Christmas Carol

I was thinking tonight how interesting it would be to live through our own versions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.  We’d have to make it a lot less scary, granted.  But what would you experience….

When the Ghost of Christmas Past takes you to see and hear what really went on in your childhood home, but with you being able to see it with your adult eyes?  Would you gain a better understanding of the influences that formed your early life?  Would you cheer or be sad?  Would you feel forgiveness or anger at injustice?  What would that teach you?

When the Ghost of Christmas Present lets you see and hear what those around you think of you?  How do they judge you?  Do they love you or mock you behind your back?  Do they make excuses for your shortcomings or blame you for their failings?   How do you feel seeing your life through someone else’s eyes?

When the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows you where your life is heading if you stay on the same path, and lets you imagine a different road?  How would you change the future if you could see it enough to adjust your presnt?

(Cee liked the idea of this post but objected to “A Christmas Carol” being so scary.  She’d change it to be “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  So you can write your own version of it.)

Just wondering… will you have a “Bah, humbug” adventure or will you hear Clarence the angel: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.  When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

And to all a good night!

Love and hugs,

Chris and Cee

On Feeling Overwhelmed

I’m starting business school today.  Not just any business school, but B School with Marie Forleo.  You remember Marie, the figure-out-able lady I told you about last week?

(*yawn*) “Good for you, Chris, but what does that have to do with me?

Funny you should ask.  The topic for today is about feeling overwhelmed.  We’ve all been there.  Overcommitted, too many obligations, too much happening at once.  OVERWHELM.

I’m trying to avoid that nasty burned-out feeling of overwhelm.  I work a full time day job that can be mentally exhausting.  I write this blog.  I am leading the It’s Never Too Late class.  I do my grief work.  I have a thirty year marriage that I would like to see get to thirty-one years.  And I have two pugs, one of which is a super-charged, six month old bundle of energy, both of whom have managed to do a Houdini and get out of the yard last week.  I still don’t know how they did it.  So on top of everything else, I have to staple up chicken wire and make sure there are no gaps big enough to crawl through.  In my spare time.  And while the sun is out.

Fortunately, the Universe delivered some good advice to my inbox in the form of a blog by Courtney Carver.  Courtney writes Be More With Less, a blog I very much enjoy reading, including a recent post, 12 Things to Remember When You are Feeling Overwhelmed.  I love this, especially #2 and #3.  #4 should be something we all need to be able to recite in our sleep, it should be that familiar.  But then it’s hard to deny #9 and #11.  Ah, heck, they’re all good.  Courtney knows what she’s talking about.  In 2006 she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and had to drastically revamp her whole life.  Her blog is all about living better by getting rid of the noise and clutter in your life, so she’s a bit of an expert on handling overwhelm.

Which ones spoke to you and your life?

Life Tool Box: Anne Stock

Yesterday I wrote about my Life Tool Box.  I’m still thinking about the things in it, all the things that help me through life, that allow me to be me.

Some of the tools are real and physical like my Blackwing 602 pencils and plenty of paper to write on.  Some of them are physical like my copies of the Tao or “Think and Grow Rich”.  Others are books in electronic form that live inside my Kindle.  Some are the memories of people and the things they taught me.  Anne Stock was one of those people.

When I was a young teen, my parents would bring in Anne to babysit.  I was the oldest of the four (and later five) of us, but still a little too young to handle that many kids.  I was angry at first that they didn’t think I was grown up enough for the job, but that quickly changed to joy as I realized what having quiet time with Anne would mean to my life.  It was a blessing, a miracle, a treasure beyond belief.

After the other kids would go to bed, Anne and I would sit up and dream.  It started with the Sears Wish Book.  For those who don’t know what that was, the Sears mail order company put out a catalogue they called their Wish Book.  It was in full color and amazing.  Everything you could ever want was in there.  We’d thumb through page after page of items and imagine that we were buying them.  We didn’t stop at clothes, but included furniture, kitchen appliances, everything and anything in our wish list.

We didn’t just look at the pictures.  Anne taught me how to weave a narrative of what my future would be like.  Where and who I’d be.  What I’d be doing.  What I’d be wearing.  What my house looked like.

She taught me to visualize in great detail, and with emotion, what I wanted my life to be.  And it has become that.  Not in exact detail, of course.  I’m glad we’re still not wearing saddle shoes or white gloves and a hat when we leave the house.  But it came true in the spirit of my intentions.  Happiness mixed with occasional joy.  A comfortable house in a quiet, safe, pretty town.  Having fun with life.

What is remarkable is that I lived with a mentally ill mother who could be at times violent, always unpredictable, and inevitably denigrating.  I should have turned out to be a whimpering shell of a person, lacking self-esteem and being unable to trust or to love.

I turned out to be a confident woman, one who enjoys life, loves to laugh, loves to love, and who cares deeply for others.  So much of that comes from Anne Stock teaching me how to envision a better life than the one I was living.  I am so thankful that she was in my life when I needed her the most, during those teen years when I was trying to discover the adult me.

Who was your Anne Stock?

Life Tool Box?

We’re having fun kicking off our “It’s Never Too Late” class this week, getting to know each other.  In the course of responding to a comment, I wrote something about putting one of the techniques we’re learning into my Life Tool Box.  I didn’t realize I had a Life Tool Box until I typed those words, but my subconscious mind seems to have been collecting tools for quite a few years.

So now I’m challenging myself to think about what is in my tool box.

Books.  Lots and lots of books.

“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill was one of the first philosophies I learned to live by as an adult.  I always have a copy of the original book in my book case.

Multiple copies of the Tao Te Ching, in many translations, including those by Ursula LeGuin and Stephen Mitchell.

Journalling, or doing Morning Pages if you’re familiar with Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”.  I journal every morning, and add more thoughts at the end of my day.  Been doing it for many years now.  I can always tell when there is something off in my world because I quit writing.  It’s a big warning sign that I’m out of alignment.

My favorite pencils, Palomino Blackwing 602s.  They are the best pencil in the world, and well worth the $2 each I pay for them.  Boldly stamped in gold on the side of each pencil are the words “Half the pressure, Twice the speed”.  They write smoothly, allowing you to ease off on your grip and write faster.

Absence of sad and depressing things.  Cee and I don’t watch the news.  We don’t watch TV shows that are downers, or deal with an apocalypse or nasty things like that.  Comedy that thinks it’s funny by denigrating others or relying on swear words to make a point.  We stay with uplifting ideas, heart-warming shows.  Yes, we’re sappy.  And proud of it.  Pollyanna?  Sure, why not?  I’d rather envision a happy world than anything else.  And for the most part, we live it.  Almost every day’s journal ends with “It’s been a great day.  Life is fun”

I live with so many powerful philosophical ideas that I’ve collected over the years.  It would be hard to list all of them.

Techniques like Pivoting, Segment Intending, Baby Steps and others, that allow me to reframe my experience.  One of the first things Cee ever taught me was how to turn the bad into good, followed closely by baby stepping, breaking things down into small parts instead of trying to be Practically Perfect in Every Way, which we know is reserved for Mary Poppins.

I’m going to keep thinking about what is in my Life Tool Box.  It’s fun to appreciate all the wisdom I’ve collected over the years.

What’s in your Life Tool Box?

Chris

Everything is Figureoutable

I am a big fan of Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Conversations podcasts.  For those who might not know Oprah, she’s an American talk show host and interviewer, writer, philanthropist, actor and, well, almost anything else you can think of.  She’s retired from television now and is doing her SuperSoul podcasts that are “

Oprah invited Marie Forleo to do a presentation called “Everything is Figureoutable”.  I love the philosophy and have included it in my Life Tool Kit.  I hope you like the video because Marie is a funny and captivating speaker.

Do you have trouble eating?

It’s been a serious week with some deep and revealing discussions, so I thought I would tell a funny story and give all of us a break.  It’s a true story, but the details have been changed to protect the innocent, as they say on television.

Some years back I was working with a group of academics researching childhood depression, especially after divorce.  We had a set number of questions to ask elementary school children.  I was working with a darling little girl, very dainty but sure of herself.  She sat up straight and reflected seriously on each question before she answered with complete candor and amazing composure.

I asked about school, friendships, then moved into the realm of physical sensations and health.  I asked carefully constructed questions about sleep patterns, night fears, all that fun stuff.  Answer after answer, my little darling was cool, calm, collected and seemingly very well adjusted.

“Do you have trouble eating?”

Vigorous head nodding indicated an affirmative answer.  It was the first passionate response she had given me.

I repeated the question.  “Do you have trouble eating?”

“Yeth”, she said.  “See!”

She pointed to the gap in her smile where her baby teeth used to be.

Trouble eating, indeed.

Have a lovely weekend filled with sunshine, joy and laughter.  And no trouble eating.

Chris

 

I feel fine, and thank you for asking

Yesterday’s post on self-talk drew some heartfelt comments.  I can tell it touched a chord.  I’d like to continue the discussion.

If you haven’t read Na’ama’s story about the little girl who stops to check in with her body before answering a question about how she’s feeling, please jump back a day and read it.  That little girl has a valuable lesson to teach us all.

I’d like to tie that story in with the comment that colonialist made about how we report on our health as a moral value (good vs bad) instead of just responding with how we are actually feeling, like the little girl in Na’ama’s story.

We are so conditioned to come up with the right answer, aren’t we?

How are you?

What’s the right answer?  Do I play it safe and just say “okay” like I’m supposed to?  Do I speak my truth and alienate everyone around me who is having a good day?  What if I say the wrong thing and people give me that pitying look, or that bored look, or that “whatever” look? Why is this is so complicated? I want people to like me.   I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer.  I don’t want them to think I’m a whiner.  But if I don’t tell them the truth then I have to move and act like I have energy that I don’t have.  Why should I pretend to be happy just to make them feel comfortable?  No matter what I say they’re never going to understand anyway.  

Have you ever held a conversation like that in your head?  We are so programmed to have the right answer.  All of our advertising tells us how we should look and feel.  We can’t even answer a simple, “Hi, how are you doing?” without going through mental gyrations.  We have forgotten how to be simple and innocent, taking the question at face value, checking in with our bodies and answering with the facts.  At this moment, right now in this place, I feel (fill in your own blank).  It’s not an equation seeking to identify the statistical mean of every moment of our lives.  Right here, right now, in this moment, how do you feel?  No moral “good vs bad” judgment.  Just find a simple answer to a simple question.

I feel fine, and thank you for asking.

Love, peace, hugs and good health to all of you.

Chris

Have You Listened to Yourself Lately?

Cee and I have done a lot of our own grief work over the years. We’ve gone from grieving, to surviving, to thriving. It’s a wonderful feeling. But for all of that, we found ourselves stuck in a funny kind of way. We were stuck in what I will call the Habit of Grief. When we do or think or say anything for too long, for too many times, our brains become hardwired, becoming what  we call our reality.

With Cee, we were always looking over our shoulders, waiting for another round of near-death struggles. (You can read her story here.) Even when we were as sure as we could be that she was beyond that, every time she coughed too much (Lymes had a lung component to it) or was too tired (as chronically ill people tend to be), we’d get ready for disaster. But disaster didn’t come.

We’d heave a big sigh and get on with things, all the while still subconsciously looking for the warning signs. Life was a constant repetition of breath holding followed by a big sigh then more breath holding. It’s not a fun way to live.

Now she’s healthy and we don’t need to do that. But how do we get out of the habit? By pivoting and practicing something new until it becomes old and “normal”.

Here’s a practical example. When someone would ask Cee how she was feeling, she’d say, “Not bad”.  Not bad. That implies not really good, either. Isn’t it at least one notch below “good”? Yet when I asked her what was wrong, she couldn’t find anything.

Me: “So, that means you’re good, right?”

Cee: (Reluctantly) “I guess so.”

Me: “So why not say that? Why not say you’re good?”

Cee: (Mumbling) “I don’t know.”

The reason she wasn’t able to say she was good was because she was used to saying she was bad. She was just used to it. It had become a mindset, a hard-wired-in-her-brain mindset. It had become her reality and she wasn’t even aware of it.

We’ve made it a practice to change those two little negative words, “not bad”, to a positive life-affirming word, “good”. It’s made a huge amount of difference in how she views her world.  Now she’s proud to announce with a big smile, “I’m healthy.”

Hugs and peace,

Chris

 

“It’s Never Too Late” – Class full


Our new class, “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again”, is full.  

Does anyone else see the irony in that?  It turns out it is too late, at least to get in on this session.

We’re putting names on the wait list for the next class.  Click here to fill in the form and we’ll contact you when the next class is ready to kick off.

Thank you for your interest!

It’s Never Too Late

I promised you a new focus this year, so read on for what’s coming up next.

Twenty-five years ago, Julia Cameron wrote her best seller “The Artist’s Way”, a book that has helped countless people rediscover their creative selves.  She recently wrote “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again:  Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond”.   I’m in love with the book, because she challenges those of us who are retired, or are now “senior citizens” (what a horrible label), to awaken our inner child’s sense of wonder and creativity.  

I’m telling you about the book because it includes a 12 week course in “reigniting a sense of

  • wonder
  • freedom
  • connections
  • purpose
  • honesty
  • humility
  • resilience
  • joy
  • motion
  • vitality
  • adventure and
  • faith

Wow!  Doesn’t that intrigue you?  It does me, and Cee.  So we want to start a book club where we can all explore it together.

Every week we’ll post a discussion of what was in the most recent reading assignment.  We’ll talk about what we discover and uncover about ourselves.  Weekly summaries will be on private pages on this site, open only to book club members.  We’ll also form a private FaceBook group for book club members to encourage and support each other.

Who can join?  Anyone.  While it’s geared more for people of a certain age, there is still plenty of content relevant for younger people.

What do you charge for membership?  Nothing but your sincere desire to learn and grow.  We may decide to charge a small fee in time to help defray costs of hosting a book club site, but we’ll let you know well in advance.

What do I need to buy?  Will I need supplies?  You will have to buy or borrow a copy of the book.  (You can follow the link to Amazon and read a sample.)

We’re really excited to get your input, to gauge your interest.  I think this project will be exciting and fun.  Cee and I would love for you to join us.  Add a comment below and let us know if you are interested.  But don’t wait.  We want to get started on the 25th of February.

Lots of love, hugs, rainbows and balloons.

Chris

Chris@Cee-Chris.com

Grief is…

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss.  Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.

I recently asked an adult peer support group to define grief.  Their answers were at times eloquent, and at times the stating of raw emotion.  They talked about how grief feels in their bodies, and of how it affects the mind.  But no one really understood or could express what caused those feelings.

Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who’s always been there for you, only to discover when you need them one more time, they are no longer there.  

The quotes above come from the “Grief Recovery Handbook”, the basis for the Grief Recovery Method (GRM).  When I wrote about Fog Busting last week, Lois Hall left a comment about the Grief Recovery Method:  “I believe the Grief Recovery Method is that next step – indeed teaching us the new skills needed to complete with the past so that we can indeed be more present in the present… leading to the next future. Many have found this to be the case, in my experience. Thanks for writing!”

Lois Hall has been using GRM since 1998, and been teaching GRM certification classes since 2002.  She’s a lovely and engaging person to chat with.  And she knows her stuff, having had a distinguished career in public health in addition to her GRM work.

Cee and I took the Grief Recovery Method certification training a year ago.  When I signed up for it, my friends in the grief community thought I was wasting my time.  I’d been doing grief groups for nine years.  What more could I possibly learn?

A lot more, as it turned out.  GRM could explain grief in a way that gave me an understanding and insight that I lacked.  It gave me a practical way to demystify grief.  Beyond that, it is the single most effective way to recover from grief that I have ever seen.

Get the book.  Read it with a highlighter and pen in hand.  You will see a lot of your story there.  Then go to the Grief Recovery Method site and find a group class or a specialist in your area who does one on one sessions.

Hugs and blessings to all of you struggling with grief.  There is a way out, and a brighter future.

Chris

Chris@Cee-Chris.com

The Step after 12

I’ve been doing grief work for ten years now, helping to facilitate peer support groups for children and their families.  We facilitators meet for a pre-group session before our families come.  The purpose of that is to talk about anything going on in our lives that might influence our ability to be present and focused on our grieving families.

Last week at pre-group, I said that I didn’t have anything to say because my life was wonderful.  Cee is healthy.  We’re loving our two new pug puppies.  We’re looking forward to exciting new adventures in our life and in the work we’re planning to do through this blog.  Life is wonderful, but I felt like I should apologize for being so happy and upbeat.  My good friend Mia told me that I shouldn’t apologize for having a wonderful life.  She said the world needs examples of people who have come through heavy duty life experiences and found happiness waiting at the end of the tunnel.

As I sat through the group session that followed, I thought about all the people who were stuck in their grief.  I’ve seen so many of them over the years, just telling the same old story over and over again.  No wonder they are stuck.

One of the biggest complaints from people dealing with loss is that everyone around them is telling them it’s time to move on.  I’m going to encourage them to keep telling their story, but do it by taking a slightly different path.   Shift it just a little bit away from the pain, to start remembering something good.  Something funny.  Something heartwarming.   Don’t make massive changes.  Just little changes.  Little tiny shifts in how you tell your story.  That’s your way out of the fog.  That’s your next step.

So that’s one of the exciting new things we are going to be working on.  The 13th and 14th and 15th steps.  And all the steps that come after that.  They are boundless in number and beauty.

Love, hugs and peace, my friends.

Chris