Changing Expectations

Cee had a revelation a few days ago.  We had a great day, with plenty of physical activity, time spent cleaning up the house, planning the future and working on our business.  And we were astonished by that.

We shouldn’t have been.

She discovered that we have come to expect bad days, low achievement days, sitting in limbo days, because that is all we have known for fifteen years.  Lyme disease, and the grief that came with it, reduced the quality of our lives to barely breathing.  We were couch potatoes, not by choice but by the control Lymes had over both of us.

We don’t have to live that way any more but no one told us to change our expectations.

Drat these lives for not coming with instruction manuals.

Here’s the thing… when the circumstances of our lives change, we have to adjust our expectations, too.  Sometimes that is painfully obvious, like with the death of a spouse.   With something like a disease or illness, that isn’t always so obvious.  Cee came out of a debilitating coma with the expectation that life would return to normal, but it didn’t.

But what do we do when there are good things in our lives?  Do we think to change expectations?  Probably not.  We’ve become hard-wired the other way.  So when, like in Cee’s case, you are getting healthier and more able to move, what do you do with it?  Do you even recognize that there is an opportunity for new expectations?

Nobody ever tells you that when a life pattern changes, you have to change your expectations, but you DO have to change.  Expectations come from your heart, not from your head.  You might know that something isn’t going to happen like it used to, but that comes from your head.  Your head is telling you one thing, and your heart is saying another. You have to get the two of them in alignment with each other again.

Bad things are going to happen.  Good things are going to happen.  That’s what life is all about.

Can you think of a time your heart held onto old expectations, old dreams, good or bad, even when you head was telling you not to?  Did you adjust your expectations or not?

Lots of virtual hugs,


Didn’t know before…

I know for me, forgiving myself is one of the hardest things to do.

The definition of forgive is “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake”.

My illness has caused a lot of damage in our lives.  We’ve lost our home, cars, jobs, friends, everything… almost.  I wonder at times how I didn’t lose Chris.  Chronic illness effects every part of your world.  I blame myself for all of it and I struggle to forgive myself.

Is it right to blame myself?  Chris says no, because I didn’t do anything to cause my illness.  But it’s hard not to feel responsible. It’s hard for me to forgive me.

I am learning through my training as a Grief Recovery Method Specialist that I was only judging myself for a lack of knowledge and experience in new or different situations, none of which needs forgiveness.  There is nothing for me to forgive because I did nothing wrong.  I didn’t set out to create an “offense, flaw or mistake” as the definition of forgiveness states.

Sometimes we just have to let ourselves off the hook, to let go of the past.  Sometimes things just happen.  It’s no one’s fault.  It just is.

I’m learning to love myself more, and that feels good.  It makes me smile.

Hugs, Cee




Loss: Grieving Our Pets

(We are thrilled to have our friend, mentor, and fellow Grief Recovery Specialist Cari Dawson doing a guest blog for us today.)

First Love, First Loss: Grieving Our Pets

Sunday night, winter in the Ohio Valley, light snow falling and I’m sitting on my bed half listening to comedy programs on the radio, half doing my homework. It’s the 1950’s. My two younger sisters had gone to the neighborhood store for some milk. My year-old puppy, Toni, followed them, but didn’t see the car coming after my sisters crossed the street. Toni was hit and died immediately.  Of course, I didn’t know this until my sisters came running back to the house, hysterically summoning me.

I grabbed my coat in a daze, as I had been sitting in my underwear, and ran shoeless down the snowy hill. There was my beloved puppy lying in the street. I gathered her up and took her home, placed her on the kitchen floor and held her and wept uncontrollably.  Toni was my first significant loss, much more traumatic than the death of my great-grandfather with whom I grew up, who died about a year before. At that time, I recall my mother quietly shedding a few tears at his funeral, quickly gaining her composure, but that was the only display of grief I saw from her or any other relatives. She had modeled for me how to grieve.  You just shed a few tears and then stuff it. Move on. Something I was having difficulty doing.

It is not surprising in retrospect that I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me when I found myself becoming more and more depressed and, embarrassingly,  on the verge of tears for many months after Toni’s death. Embarrassed that I couldn’t control my feelings that wanted to bubble out just as they did when I held Toni on the kitchen floor of my childhood home. I was just entering puberty, trying to blend in with my contemporaries, trying to lead a normal life. And, no one seemed to notice how profoundly this loss had impacted me. No one asked about my feelings. Alone and isolated, I worked hard to stuff this loss deep within my psyche where it lay accumulating and gathering other losses and unresolved grief like a huge snowball over the ensuing 40 years.  In 1995, the Grief Recovery Method helped me delve into those painful old losses, including the loss of Toni, when another major loss—my granddaughter—led me to grief work.

My first significant loss and my adolescence seem quite remote now. In my seventies, I had the audacity to welcome a new furry companion into my life, Pace`.  She reminds me daily of what I know deep in my soul: Life and Love will always include joy and sorrow. We can hold the tension of both. It is worth it!

Cari D. Dawson, MTS, MA, JD, has been a Grief Recovery Specialist for over twenty years. She helps grievers in the Portland, Oregon area. Visit her website is for more information and a link to her blog. 

Feeling Stuck?

(Note:  no turtles were harmed in the writing of this blog.)

Are you feeling stuck?  You know the feeling…. like you’re in a rut and can’t seem to get out.  You wind up with the same crummy relationships.  Or maybe you are in a job that is not fulfilling.  Or maybe you have given up on your dream of going to Europe.  Or finishing your degree.  Or… the list is endless.

No matter how you try to motivate yourself, at the end of the day you are still in the same place.

You kick yourself for being lazy.  You berate yourself for your lack of discipline.  You feel like a real idiot when you can’t figure out why you aren’t moving forward, even with the things that are most important to you.

You spend all your energy dancing with the Should Monster.  You know the Should Monster, that annoying fellow who sits on your shoulder and repeats that litany of all the things you should have done, should be doing.

I’m here to tell you to lighten up on yourself.  You are stuck in grief and don’t even know it.

“But, wait”, you say.  “I haven’t had anybody die on me.  How can you claim I’m in grief?  You don’t even know me.  You haven’t heard anything about my life.”

True.  But I know something you don’t.

Grief isn’t always about death.  But it is always about loss and how we deal with loss.  And we all have losses, many of which we haven’t dealt with all the way.  We’ve become emotional hoarders, mental packrats, hanging on to all the bits and pieces of our lives.

To be continued…


The Scary G Word

There is a word I use all the time that scares people.  I wish I could say it right now, but I’m afraid that if I even hint at it you will run away.  I know, because I’ve seen people freak out when I say it.  I watch them turn pale and get those deer-in-the-headlight eyes.  I can see that they’re looking for an escape route.  But I have to say it, so here goes.  Stay calm and keep reading.  It’s not nearly as scary as you think. Continue reading “The Scary G Word”

Cee’s Turn

It’s my turn to tell you about why I’m a part of the Grief Recovery Institute, and why I am doing this work.

Through the Grief Recovery Method, we talk about our own experiences of grief and loss.  That’s where the magic really happens.  People see us and how we’ve gone through it, have been there, but even though our experiences might have been different from theirs, they know that we know the pain of grief.

There is a way to go beyond that.  And to get the magic back in your life.  To get the feeling… “I really like this life.”

There’s life beyond loss.  Yes, it changes your life.  Sometimes hugely.  Sometimes not. But it’s still loss.  It just matters what you do with it.  If you work the Grief Recovery Method, you’ll have your own stories about how you got your life back.  You’ll learn how to deal with losses in your life.  We all have them.

Today we all feel so isolated and so alone.  It’s wonderful to see people who can talk about their experiences, and smile, and be happy, when people hear our stories it gives them hope.

A lot of times you just need somebody to listen without judgment, someone who just lets you talk.  Someone who can be a heart with two ears.

That’s why I do this work.

It’s fun to see the life come back.

That little spark when they realize they aren’t alone.

That’s magic.

That’s what the Grief Recovery Institute is all about and just think, I am a part of it.

Hugs, Cee

A Heart With Two Ears

Eight years ago I put an intention out into the Universe that I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with grieving people.   Some people thinks that sounds pretty cracked (or, as one person playfully suggested, like I’m on crack), but working with people in grief and seeing them begin to heal is so amazing, so magical.  It’s the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done in my life.

At the time I was working with grieving children between the ages of five and eighteen, watching them adapt to the changes forced on their lives, seeing them grow and start to smile again.  Years later I started working with the adults in their lives.  But even in the first months of helping to run grief support groups, I was hooked.  I knew what I wanted.

The years went by and I needed to keep my day job and pay the bills while we dealt with Cee’s health crises, but I never lost that intention.  And now it’s time to realize it.  Cee is healthy and ready to take this new journey with me.  This is my passion, and I look forward to the time when I can quit my day job and do this full time.  But for now, we’re starting our private practice, nurturing it, getting it ready to support us in our “retirement” years.

To help people who are grieving, all you need is a loving heart and the willingness to listen without judgement, without comment, without censure.  Just be a heart with two ears.  They want the feeling of loneliness to go away, to not feel so isolated.

One month ago, Cee and I were certified as Grief Recovery Method Specialists, and I started to live in my passion.  There is so much need in the world for someone to listen.  I am glad I can be that person.

Love and many hugs,



What are Cee and Chris up to?

If you’ve come looking for my old blog, 61 Musings, it’s been retired.  I had run out of things to say.  Cee and I are using that space in the blogosphere to start a whole new site, devoted to our new Life’s Work.  Yes, we’re starting something brand new (to us) that we’re really, really, really passionate about.

We’re going to help people who are feeling stuck in life, in relationships, in their careers, or even in their spiritual growth figure out why they’re stuck and teach them an effective way to move beyond.  We’re helping people create a happier life for themselves.

So stay tuned as Cee works her artistic magic on the format of this site.  We’ll be adding content over the weekend that we hope you find interesting.  Join us here at  Stay calm and don’t worry, Cee will still be hosting her photography site.  All those wonderful challenges, and Share Your World, will still be there.

We have a lot to talk about, my friend!