You Know What I Mean

“Happy Diane” (front left)

“You know what I mean…” “Happy Diane” would say that with a wave of her hand when she got stuck trying to come up with a word. Funny how those little things bring a smile to our faces when we get together to grieve our loss when someone we love makes their transition from this life to the next.

“Happy Diane” got her nickname because she was always positive and encouraging. Accepting that we would have to go forward without her was another team effort. The brain can play tricks – the word we want is just out of reach. Playing “Senior Charades”– with our friends helps us connect our wandering thoughts to elusive words. It’s definitely a team effort!

We go to coffee each day after water aerobics to share stories and laugh together. How many of us would keep coming if we couldn’t count on that time together and the mutual support of friends? We do it to benefit our bodies, but spirit and relationship boosts are maybe even more important. We need each other to stay healthy.

Remembering habits and characteristics somehow makes it easier for us to turn the bubbly things she would say and do into precious memories. Sometimes when leaned on us to help her remember, the word would pop up, other times we just nod and smile. We knew exactly what she was trying to say. Good friends can often finish each other’s sentences. Sharing a history with special people brings us together in a very satisfying way. No one needs to feel alone even when we’re not physically with our friends. Our hearts connect over time and distance.

Diane and I first met our freshman year at then WSU-Eau Claire when we stayed in the same dorm. What fun to reconnect with her when another group member invited me to join the group all these years later. We didn’t skip a beat as we shared 40 years of family and career history. Making new memories actually enriches and adds depth to the original ones. We wish we could go on making more with her.

Saying good bye to dear friends is heart wrenching. Loss leaves big hole in our lives, even our identity changes. It seems to happen more often every year. But we can appreciate having loved and the memories that are ours to keep. Over time, that may get easier, but the hole simply becomes a part of our lives. We are different for having loved.

Thank you, Happy Diane, and to God for sharing her with us. She was God’s dear child, showing unconditional love throughout her lifetime. We’ve been blessed. Please let your friends know how much they mean to you in the precious present.

A Reflection on Grief

How was it possible that I identified with the dry, curled up petals that fell from my poinsettia? I’m alive, but sometimes my experience of “widow-hood” means the lack of energy and enthusiasm I’ve felt since moving forward alone. Everything looks and feels different now-every minute. Fifty one years of marriage are now history. Even 9 years dealing with Bob’s lung cancer didn’t prepare me for this. Women willing to share their experience try to help since my husband passed. Friends and professionals guide me through urgent legal/ financial tasks. I’m thankful for that help which grounds me.  

Considering countless choices, I’ve begun constructing a new life after my “fork in the road.” What makes me feel alive? My energy is sorely limited. I seeking activity that builds rather than draining my spirit?  The many items we gathered together during our travels represent treasured memories. The photo books, art work, and music surround me in our home spark joy. For now, staying here seems my best choice. 

Grief hits hardest at the lonely end of the day. We enjoyed recapping our days together. Now I miss that more than anything. Stories pool in my head and heart. Stella, our Golden Doodle is a great listener, but her stories are sorely limited. No one is here to rely on my compassion, share frustration, joy or angst or let me know about theirs. I still have lots of love to share, but with whom?  I become restless without knowing how to deal with the problem. My daughters are busy with their own families, and I realize my active contribution to their lives is basically finished. I’m thankful for their families and busy lives. I know they love me, but I still feel a void in my heart-brain *. 

This quote seems to clarify my experience. “The worst part of grief is losing the outlet for my love.” God has certainly taken care of me since Bob passed. But I miss having someone to benefit from the love God still showers on me, keeping me alive.    

Playing one of Amy Grant’s early CD’s, her “Greet the Day” describes her daily prayer. She asks God to “lead me to the ones I need, and to the one who needs me”. Meditating on that, I know God has carried me through tough times. He can also guide me to connect with the people who are willing and able to give and receive what’s best for next steps. 

In the fatigue and fog of widowhood, I found myself more comfortable alone at home, sometimes pulling away from those I needed and those who needed my God-given gifts. People would ask “I haven’t seen you in ages! Where have you been?” The “in house retreat” was important for my healing.  But God’s love and provision is constant and free flowing. To keep it fresh and vital, it needs to be passed on to others, not to pool in my own spirit. Opportunities have begun presenting themselves, allowing me to pass it on.

Friendships and exercise, working out and laughing over coffee with WaterBabes gives me a boost, and the chance to enjoy friends. Threshold Singers allow me to channel love as our group sings for patients. I feel new peace each time we sing for someone. The recipients and their families appreciate our gift, and my relief at expressing that love brought my spirit back to peace. 

Looking back on the past years, I recall the theme words I prayerfully chose to guide my mindfulness and energy. While I was researching and writing Max Your Mind, 2014 the word was Study.  2015 required me to Trust as we travelled whenever the oncologist gave the green light, and as the book progressed through its growing pains. Beginning 2016, I chose Joy was the focus, but realized Boundaries were necessary as foundation for creating Joy. That took two years during Bob’s worst times. 2018 could only be Abide before and after he passed. 2019 was clearly my time for Self-Compassion.  Now, for 2020 I’m focusing on Gratitude, one of the big three elements to brain and body health as I gingerly make my way through writing, speaking, coaching, volunteering, creating, and enjoying friends-while honoring my energy limitations.Seeking the ones I need and the ones who need me feels like a comfortable way to start the New Year and new decade. 

Thanks for taking the time to join me on this journey. Bless You!

If you’d like more on the “Brain Team” of Head Heart and Gut, CVLR (Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement) registration for the spring session will be held in February or on

We invite you to make healthy life changes for 2020.  Max Your Mind: The Owner’s Guide for a Strong Brain has suggestions that could help. Give it a try! 

Max Your Mind Video

Frustrated with your brain? Wishing you could remember where you put your car keys?

Mature brains-those over 30-sometimes leave us stranded. Max Your Mind explains the process with humor and hope. We can Bless the Boost celebrate improving skills– and Fight the Fade by taking care of Brain, Body, Spirit and Relationships.

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Tools for Calming Down

The Cozy Comforter

Weighted vests can calm an agitated nervous system. These folks based out of Menomonie make them to order:

CVLA Interview Mind Maxing Conference

Hope you can join us to Max Your Mind on Saturday, October 6 at The Center (Day Retreat Center) Eau Claire

Mind Maxing Conference

Bless the Boost shows us how the brain grows stronger as we age. Fight the Fade offers tips to slow the fade we experience through the years. We will focus on these through a morning and afternoon session at The Center on Hwy 12, Eau Claire WI, Saturday, October 6, 2018

“Making the Most of the Memory We’ve Got Left” will be our morning session focus 10:00-11:30. We sometimes find that life has left us with less energy and enthusiasm. The afternoon will help us “Return to Joy” 12:30-2:00. Choose either half or full day workshop.
Reserve your spot today! Choose a half day morning or afternoon for $40 or a full day for $75 on or before Sept 30. After October 1, $45 for half, $80 for full day.

Choose a Session

Contact Sandi

Return to Joy! Tips and tricks to get your brain back on the happy track

Enjoy this presentation to learn some easy tips and tricks to invite more joy into your life.
“Max Your Mind” is available on
Sandi is available to give a presentation for your organization!

For more info, please contact Sandi!

WEAU Interview for “Return to Joy”


I had a great interview with Judy at WEAU to talk about my upcoming workshop, “Return to Joy.” Come and learn how to reclaim the child-like joy with in yourself! Tuesday March 13th from 11-12 at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library (Downstairs in the Eau Claire room). I’ll see you there 🙂

Gratitude Video Part 3

Keep calm and be grateful!

Gratitude Video Part 2

Max your life with gratitude!

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