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 www.CVLR.org

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

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Grateful for Max Your Mind’s Journey

mym_coverBooks like Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series put me in awe of the writing process. How could anyone actually research and turn all that information into a gripping story? I doubted that I would be able to tackle such a project, but I truly wanted to accept the challenge.

Over the years, nonfiction and the complicated world of neuroscience caught my attention. I had been fascinated with how the brain works since Junior High when my brain carried my friends with me during our family’s move to Cumberland, Wisconsin. I found many answers and tried to explain the brain in clear terms people could understand. My search led through education, counseling, and coaching.  My first attempt to explain the answers in print became a series of eight articles “Dr. Brain’s Basic Eight Things Every Brain Needs: Security, Play and Exploration, Music and Movement, Interaction, Touch, Good Food, Reading and Language, and Rest and Sleep ”  for Eau Claire’s Leader Telegram beginning during Brain Awareness month in 2005. I had become a member of the collaborative BRAIN Team (Brain Research Awareness Integration Network) when it formed through the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families in 1999. This was my chance to download some of the accumulated information to parents and others who could use it. Building Baby’s Brain classes for prenatal to toddler parents, Music, and the Brain:  an interactive class for parents and toddlers gave me face-to-face opportunities to teach about my favorite subject.

That series was on its way to become a book to accompany St. Mary’s Press’ Breakthrough Bible in 2006, until their marketing team made the decision that it wouldn’t sell. I kept trying with other conferences and publishers because I sensed a promise that God would use my work and finish the project in His time-not mine.  I had gone to several writers’ and speakers’ conferences, each one resulting in invitations to send the book proposal to publishers, each of whom eventually rejected it. Maybe the children’s Picture Book series based on my developmental guidance classes was a better plan.  I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers’ and Illustrators group and attended national conferences working to hone those skills. I learned the most from my gifted SCBWI critique group and our weekly work together.

Who knew God could work through Twitter?  In January 2014, W. Terry Whalin of Morgan James tweeted me back to work on Max Your Mind. I replied thanking him for his Book Proposals That Sell which gave me tips to improve my work through six rejections. Our online conversation continued, and he asked about my “Brain Book” which I had shared with him at one of those early conferences. Long story short, he encouraged me to submit the project to him, and to come to Author 101 University in March of 2014 at LAX. As I was packing for the conference, he called to let me know Morgan James was offering me a contract to publish the book with them.

This was the beginning of a complete rewrite with the help of Amanda Rooker, my gifted editor who cared as much as I did about sharing this information with readers. We wanted to reach people over 30 who had experienced frustrations with declining brain function. At the conference, I met Amanda and the Executive Team of Morgan James, and found that they shared my vision for the project.

Each writing day began with God’s marching orders at 5:00 AM.  The ten-hour days for ten months including weekends were extremely intense. I “finished” probably five times. My husband–and I– wondered how many times our finishing celebrations would only lead to more revisions.

On April 20, 2015, 500 copies of Max Your Mind: The Owner’s Guide for a Strong Brain arrived, the baby was born! The writing deadlines were over, but marketing is an entirely different kind of busy! Many more deadlines, contacts and arrangements needed for signings, promotional articles and campaigns, local book release parties and a book tour.  As a newbie, I learned much more than I signed up for, mostly by making mistakes. But, I’m very thankful for the journey.

Today being Thanksgiving, I’m filled with gratitude. The thrill of readers letting me know about something that helped them manage their health or adding helpful habits of laughter, breathing meditation, time in relationship, gratitude or exercise give me wonderful waves of thanks.

My business is Connections of the Heart, LLC, which means that I appreciate connections with real people, an antidote to the solitary times at my computer. I would love to hear from readers, and I am open to coming to you either personally for a presentation or online webinar (to be developed) or coaching by phone. Brain Coaching is my focus, and I offer Max Your Mind as a taste of my work to help people make the most of their lives through understanding and enjoying basic neuroscience. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog!




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