Lay Me Down

Karen and I met for tea today. She is deeply grieving her beloved husband who passed away just weeks ago. Every day she visits the grave site still fresh with dirt and flowers.

“I can’t go on. Today I just wanted to lay down right there in the grass and mud and die beside him,” she sobbed.

I told her, “Then you should have. It’s okay to feel what you are feeling, and think what you are thinking. You have had a great loss. If you wanted to lie down right then and there, then you should have just done it. There’s no wrong here. It’s okay to meet the grief head-on and yield to it and your feelings.”

What I didn’t say is this . . .

“As you’re lying there in the dirt, maybe, after a while, you will realize that you’re still alive, and it’s cold on the ground, and you are hungry, and the kids need to be picked up. And because you are still alive, there are things you must do to keep living.

“And when you stand up, you will still be sad and filled with grief at the loss of your husband, but you will go on. Not with him walking beside you, but in a new way.”

Cheryl Strayed, writer, has said, “If it is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.”

Give yourself permission, the right to grieve as long as you need to and whatever way you need to. Rest, pause, from life for a time but then get up, brush yourself off and go on.

“Ah, but the sweetness is gone out of life,” you cry.

You are surrounded by sweetness – the sun beaming down from a blue sky, a child’s bubble of laughter, a fragrant flower. When you are ready to look up, you will see it. Today you are blinded by grief and the painful reminders that you will never have yesterday’s sweetness again. But tomorrow’s sweetness is waiting patiently for you – just up ahead.

The Story of Christmas

The story of Christmas, the birth of a baby, conceived by God within a young, unmarried girl’s womb is a story of simplicity and magic.

Jesus came to be in the most natural, simple way – a regular birth to young parents who must have been afraid and unsure, simple people just looking for a room for the night who ended up sleeping in a stable. They were just a hard-working, everyday young couple, just starting out in life, doing their best with what they had. Nobody special.

And yet, the story is laced with magic: a miraculous conception; angels appearing throughout the story, ensuring Mary and Joseph that this child was special, appearing to shepherds, singing praises of Hallelujah under a starlit canopy sky. Wise, spiritual leaders travelled from afar with expensive gifts fit for a king, guided by constellations and other portents of magic.

It’s an unbelievable story. Difficult to imagine. But the story of Christmas is our reminder that miracles do happen to the simplest of people. That in the dirt and grit of everyday life, magic exists to illuminate our path and show us the way.

May you find both this Christmas. In the midst of the shopping and baking and rushing about to prepare a celebration, may you find the magical moments: of laughter, of children, of quiet love shared with another. Our simple lives are filled with everyday magic if we just open our hearts and watch for it.

A Strand of Pearls

(The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book”10 – A Story of Love, Life, and Loss” soon to be published by Balboa Press, and available at local bookstores or on-line at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com):

I had a great discussion with my daughter and son-in-law the other day about living life to the fullest. Bill said: “Most people think they should live each day as if it is their last, when what they should be thinking is they should be living each day fully because death only has one day. You only have one day in your whole life to die and a multitude of days to live. So make that your focus.”

The two statements seem to be similar but, in essence, they’re not. The first statement “Live each day as if is your last” puts the focus on death and its power in your life. Your fear of it is what makes you live each day fully. Visually, it is a series of small connecting beads with a big, giant bead at the end.

ooooooooooO

The second statement “Live abundantly for all the days you are given for death, itself, only has one day” says it in a new way. Your life is filled with a multitude of days to live and just one day to die. So put your focus on the living days, not the one day death is given. Visually, it looks like a series of big rich full beads ending with a small one.

OOOOOOOOOOOOo

It’s a subtle but powerful difference. Death may seem a fearful outcome, but when we put it into perspective it is but a moment in our entire lives. So live your “wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver). Live every day of it. Let it be a strand of glistening pearls.

With Open Arms

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book “10 – A Story of Love, Life, and Loss” soon to be published by Balboa Press:

Whatever we face in life – debilitating disease, long-term illness or palliative care – I hope my story reminds you to live for the years, months, weeks that you have left. Don’t waste your days with panic and fear. Use your time to live as fully as you can. Be full of awareness, seeking those things that give you joy and satisfaction and pleasure. Be full of gratitude, not only for the life you have had but for a life that can still be full of abundance and true happiness.

Rather than focus on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. Use the bodily functions and skills you still have to savour life and all its riches. For life is glorious. Open your arms wide and let life embrace you in a giant two-armed, full body hug.

We all need to be reminded to live life like this, and so, my story is really for all of us. If even the dying can live like this, in the face of certain death, then we all can. For we are all dying. Not one of us is going to avoid that certain end to our lives. So live the rest of your life. Really live it.

When we live abundantly, with arms wide open, we send that positive message out into the world. Kindness, gentleness, respect, raising each other up, optimism, joy, love, gratitude, care, fun, laughter, appreciation, sharing, helping each other through the difficult times, finding the magic in life, all become the natural manifestations of living with that open and generous spirit.

When we live with arms wide open, we invite others in. We drop our pride, our fear, our ego. It is an invitation for others to step over the threshold of our being and join with us in community, camaraderie, friendship, and love. When we live with arms wide open, we act as a conduit for our love, appreciation, goodness, and care of others.

Open arms choose life. Open arms aren’t afraid of death. We are always faced with both, but if we can lift each other up, we need have no fear of death, of failure. And, magically, beyond our logical understanding of it, God (the energy of the universe) moves through our lives, raising us up. We don’t have to fully understand it. We just need to open ourselves to ourselves, to that spirit within, to experience life’s magic and life’s abundant love.

In our lives, wherever we are, whatever we do, live abundantly and love completely. Embrace life with open arms. For open arms equally and simultaneously give and receive all of life’s gifts.