Category Archives: grief counseling

Blessings Found Daily

Standard

In an Australian photographer and filmmaker, Hailey Bartholomew’s

documentary, “365 Grateful,” you will find blessings. This, of course,

is referring to there being 365 days or chances to show your gratitude.

You will start to believe in possibilities and living on the ‘sunny side of life.’

A woman inspired by Hailey, named Lori Portka, embarked on her own

project, “A Hundred Thank-You’s.”

 

Do you see how this ripple effect can keep on going?

 

Lori Portka had not been painting since she was younger.

She was in tenth grade when a personal tragedy struck.

She gave up her love of art and beauty, in ‘one fell swoop.’

 

By viewing Hailey’s documentary, something loosened up inside her.

This moving and visceral film helped to put her back on a better path.

She chose to put her hidden and deeply rooted sorrow to better use.

To think she had quit her passion, back in her 15th year of life, to carry

around her anger, denial, hurt, and pain is so sad, to me. Her refusal to

experience true happiness until her thirties made her original loss, deeper

than ever.

 

Actions speak louder than words. Such ‘trite’ words, but they can make

you decide that there is more to life than mourning.

‘You are alive,’ Lori finally felt.

 

She started to take delight in her favorite parts of her daily routines.

She was inspired by nature, yoga, traveling, animals and friends.

She had not pursued art as her primary focus, in going to museums or

any other attachments to it.

 

Those were of her past life.

Lori had obliterated all of it from her life.

 

What started her thinking about her own way of handling being grateful,

was to decide she would paint, create and give 100 art pieces away.

This project became her motivation to engage in life, art and spreading

happiness to those who she wished to ‘thank.’

The ones who had ‘touched her life in a beautiful way,’ received their own

unexpected joyful gift back.

 

Lori Portka can be found at LoriPortka.com,

Listen to these words from a changed woman,

“I feel like I am on the right path, doing what I am supposed  to do.

Art feels like home to me.”

Consider finding your bliss, spreading it around by engaging some lucky

participants in your activity or ‘craft,’ and discover how the gifts come

back to you, in unexpected ways.

Lori was a former counselor and educator, she became a fine artist.

One who had stopped painting due to that particular, personal  loss.

You may feel inspired by the film, or Lori’s thank you project, or some

other impetus, that will get you started.

Feeling again, enjoying simple things that sometimes are more meaningful

when you realize, in one moment, your ability to carry out those tasks,

could be swept away.

Loir’s art now pours forth, boldly expressing her joy. Each image is filled

with saturated pastels, paints, chalks and inks. The bursts of color and

vibrant patterns remind me of several artists. But to compare to others,

sometimes is not a necessary part of feeling the emotions rendered by

the artist. It sometimes, in my mind, takes away the individuality of each

artist’s heart and soul.

Lori Portka’s quote for the day can become yours:

“I make artwork that is a reflection of gratitude and joy to the world.”

 

What is your passion or how do you find your ‘bliss?’

Will sharing it broaden and expand your life and horizons?

Will it bring happiness to someone else?

 

Wipe the Slate Clean

Standard

Do you remember when you were a child in school? Were you ever this young?

Just kidding!

Have things changed since the days you were in ‘grade school?’

Children, in the old days, would be assigned ‘cleaning the blackboard’ on the

classroom’s job or chores chart. That meant to erase the whole board, followed

by the activity of taking the erasers outside and clapping them together. I used

to like this ‘after school’ job. I would see the dust rising from the erasers being

pounded together and be filled with a sense of accomplishment.

I also enjoyed this chore,  since sometimes the teacher would talk to us, along

with let us choose something from her treats jar or a stash she had in one of

her drawers.

When I taught sixth grade, the first year was 1979-1980. The “Board Cleaner,”

was how I wrote this particular chore on a magnet. Each of the children would

rotate this, with other ones such as “Line Leader,” etc.  I would also have a small

bucket, to have the student fill with water. Using an old towel or ‘rag,’ the child

would wipe the remains of the dust off. It was a nice feeling, for me as a teacher,

to see that ‘clean slate,’ at the start of the next day.

Imagine your bad times, past hurts or difficult periods in your life.

Write them down on a blackboard in your head.

List them, one by one, remembering the pains, trials and sadness.

Take your mental ‘eraser’ and carefully, slowly rub each one of these away.

Rub the eraser up and down, or if you prefer, side to side. Make sure that all

you see, at the end of this mental exercise, is a hazy blur of grayish black.

Now, take a dampened rag and get a small stepladder, or if you are back in

time, a child’s wooden stool. Use the wet rag to clean all the remaining chalk’s

powder and blurred images off. If you need to, turn the cloth inside out.

Finish this process mentally, along with your imaginary blackboard.

You now have a ‘clean slate.’

Picture, if you will, the best times of your life.

Make a list of places, faces and beautiful images.

It is possible, I have done this process, in my head, too.

You can ‘re-invent’ yourself.

You may become a renewed person.

Your positive energy can ‘re-charge’ you and make you whole again.

Believe in unlimited possibilities.

 

Somehow, move into the present.

There are no ‘time limits’ or penalties, in this.

There are no ‘school bells’ going off.

There is no need to do anything but leave the board behind you.

Proceed outside.

Breathe in, breathe out.

You are free of the painful past.

How will the story of your life continue from here on out?

 

I have had friends who have asked me,

“How did you bounce back?”

In my case, I had a sense of purpose, to raise my children and make

their lives as positive and happy, as possible. I could not take any

more time on my own dissatisfaction or depression, I would not

dwell on what choices led me to the places I went. I just knew I had

to start over. I chose a town in Central Ohio, a college town, you know

it as Delaware, Ohio.

My parents were in Cleveland, later in Vermilion and my ex-husband

lived in Cincinnati, later in Dayton.

It was a halfway point, between the two cities, letting me able to make it

in either direction, without too many hours on the road.

I chose this place to ‘start over.’

I knew it was my children’s and my ‘new beginning.’

I knew absolutely not one soul here.

I later found some high school friends who had chosen to live here.

One was my children’s high school Biology teacher, another a swimming

and gymnastics instructor, and another followed me here, after her own

divorce.

If you have caused someone else’s heart to break, let it go.

Try not to cause any more heartbreak, try not to crush or break a

child’s spirit.

Any mistakes you have made, learn from them.

Always think that there are more chances in life.

I believe in multiple chances or opportunities to start over!

Another way to handle strife and tough times is an interesting one,

that editorial cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey gives in an article in the

December, 2013 issue of “Prevention” magazine. M. Ramsey’s

suggestion is to look at your life and remember the “terrible twists”

that happened to you. He personally likes to list his own negative

occurrences and then, see them in a positive light.

Here are some examples found in the article called, “True Grit.”

“The way to get through tough times is to start with advanced gratitude.”

M. Ramsey’s list of Life’s negatives matched with happy outcomes:

1.  His first job after college was as a high school janitor.

The job led him to his future wife, the daughter of a fellow janitor.

2.  The recession forced him into part-time work.

Getting laid off gave him the time to start 2 new careers;  in book

illustration and radio.

3.  Melanoma diagnosis.

His cancer diagnosis helped him to decide to organize a series of

races to raise melanoma awareness.

4.  People who did not believe in him.

All those naysayers were just ‘ill winds beneath his wings.’

Great words to live by, quoted from Marshall Ramsey:

“A good analogy is if you’re canoeing downstream and you hit a rock,

it can either sink you or push you in another direction. If you choose

the other direction, it’s a blessing.”

Advanced gratitude is explained in this article as:

“The ability to identify and appreciate the bad events in your life because

of what you’ve gained from them.”

M. Ramsey gives these steps and you may find more details in the article,

if you wish to look up “Prevention” magazine, 12/13.

This process is a three step one, which includes changing your perspective.

First, establish a gratitude ‘baseline.’

Then, retrain your own brain. Tying thoughts of

stressful events in your life may even change your neural pathways.

Reminding yourself that good things come out of difficult times, may

just pull you through the bad times.

Remember the hard stuff.  What have you gained from sorrow, losses or

sadness?

There were studies listed and other experts in different emotional

areas covered, including Dr. Robert Emmons, Dr. Rick Hanson, and

Dr. Richard Tedeschi.  These authorities have done research and written

books on the subject of “Who am I? What kind of future do I want?

What makes sense to do with my time now that this event has stopped

me in my tracks?”

I have heard someone on television talking in my past about how we can

create our own destiny, change the course of time, and I have come up

with many times, the image of a blackboard with writing on it. Lots of

thoughts cluttered on it, sometimes I have made lists on it, but always

I like the satisfaction of wiping the figurative blackboard clean.

Starting today with a clean slate, just fits my notion of a happy beginning!

10 Ways to Stay Young

Standard

I received Mom’s card, that she bought in the downstairs area of her senior living

apartments, at the end of last week. This is called the ‘library’ where you can choose

to borrow, return or give books and pick out greeting cards. There is an ‘honor code,’

where you go to the nearby Front desk to pay for the cards or check out the books.

This card, and its message, really made my day this week!

It was one of those simple ones that talk about friendship. She vacillates between

saying that I am her ‘best friend’ and missing her faithful little dog, Nicki, (her ‘other

best friend.’)

These notes, I realize I have mentioned, hold important feelings that she shares

with me, her only daughter. I am touched with her added embellishments, sincerely

expressed ideas and loving memories of our special ‘girlfriend’ visits and shopping

trips.

She writes to many people, her words are less descriptive and their clarity may not

always be there. Time has taken some of her training in spelling, grammar and English

usage away. But the essence of love shines through to all of her recipients of letters.

Her good friend, Joyce, who will always be known as “Pooky” to those who love her,

wrote her a long typed (on the computer and printed out) letter. In this, she was

supporting my Mom’s asking to be able to have her dog back. Nicki is residing with

my brother and sister in law, with multiple dogs, on a ‘better, healthier’ diet and

regime. Their main concern was that Mom had fallen, so they felt with her new

walker, therapy visits and trying to manage Nicki with the walker may do more

‘harm than good.’  “Pooky” lives in California and I have written her notes to

keep her abreast of my Mom’s current health status, along with over the years,

many holiday cards. She is a good and true, lifelong friend of my Mom’s.

“Pooky” sent a clever list which has some fun, but often expressed, ideas about

growing older, includes positive life lessons and ways to stay young.

On the top of the first page, my Mom had handwritten these sweet words:

“You know all of these, my Robin, but it never hurts to be reminded of them. . .

To my best friend in the world!”

“How to Stay Young

Friend to Friend Advice”

1.  Try everything twice.

On one woman’s grave, the epitaph reads:

“Tried everything twice. Loved it both times!”

2.  Keep only cheerful friends.

The Grouches pull you down.

Keep this in mind, if you are one of those Grouches!

3.  Keep learning.

Don’t stop!

Whatever it is that stimulates your brain cells and keeps

your mind active.

4.  Enjoy the simple things in life.

The little ‘details’ can make you happy.

5.  Laugh often.

Belly laughs, long and loud.

Laugh until you gasp for breath or tears run down your face.

If someone produces this level of joy, spend lots and lots of

time with them.

Be silly!

6.  Sad things and tears happen.

Unfortunately.

Endure, grieve and move on.

The only person who is with us, our entire life, is ourselves.

Live while you are alive.

7.  Surround yourself with whatever you love:

Family, pets, keepsakes, music, art, crafts, plants. . .

Make your home a retreat or refuge.

8.  Cherish your health.

If it is good- preserve it.

If it is unstable- improve it.

If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

You are still here.

9.  Don’t take guilt trips.

Take instead trips down memory lane, to the mall or to a new place.

If you can afford to, travel far and wide. If your health does not permit

this, wander through countries in books or on the Internet.

10.  Tell the people you love that you love them every time you see them.

Every opportunity, try to show your gratitude towards them.

(Author Unknown, some embellishments are my own added to the list.)

So here goes, I am following the ‘rules’ laid out in the life list! I wish to tell you

again, that I appreciate your being part of my life. I think that our community

of fellow bloggers satisfies many things on the examples mentioned. So, in

honor for #s 3, 4, 7 and 10, I am thankful for your enhancing and enriching

my life!

You fill in the gaps in my life, helping me to utilize my brain daily.

We talk, through our posts and replies, about things and share our worlds.

Your thoughts and feelings bring us closer together. Sometimes more than

my friends I spend time with. Maybe it is the safety of being separated by

time and space. Maybe it is due to being sojourners in a world of our own

making.

Fellow bloggers you brings my inner thoughts and respond positively, for that:

I thank you!

Maybe it is the way we bounce off each other, spurring each other to reach out

and connect on a different level than most daily interactions.

To those poets out there, thanks for treating me to your beautiful (sometimes

angry, distressed but always meaningful) words. You have inspired me to try

my hand at writing poetry. It is a different way of writing than I am used to!

To the artists out there, whether using paint, pen and ink, photography or

other creative and artistic ways you lead your life, I appreciate your sharing

this with me. The ‘details’ of life that you give to me, through your art and

music, are limitless!

To the ones who incorporate animals, healing solutions, share your faith and

other ways to connect and feel whole; your posts make me feel good and lead me

to peace in my heart and soul.

Those nature lovers and healthy lifestyle believers, you make me want to be

more interactive in environmental issues and eat more healthier. The cooking

blogs and vegan choices are certainly ones that I copy down suggestions and

feel that I have become more aware of what I am ingesting!

Then those who have traveled or are out there, living in different countries,

letting us know what is happening, Thank you!

It makes the world come together and become a ‘smaller’ place, uniting us in our

common interests:

Wow! The inspiration in the gifts you all share, continue to amaze and challenge

me to be a better ‘me!’

 

 

 

 

 

Carry On

Standard

Isn’t it marvelous when a burden is lifted from your

shoulders? When you know that everything is finally

going to be all right. I have three grown children who

when they are ‘down’ or have worries, I feel some of

that empathetic worry, myself.

On my way to work, I heard the band, Kansas, singing a

song straight to my heart. It was such an appropriate

song for this first day of freedom from worry for one

of my loved ones! This progressive rock band’s single,

an oldie but goodie, begins like this:

“Carry on, my wayward son,

There’ll be peace when you are done.

Lay your weary head to rest,

Don’t you cry no more.”

(Written by Kerry Livgren, 1976.)

One of my children no longer has to feel like there

isn’t closure in a personal situation. I am so happy that

I will be walking around, sighing in relief, possibly this

could have been noticeable to others, had they been working

in my area today.

I wanted to write a poem expressing this wondrous feeling

of joy and weightlessness, floating around the atmosphere…

but I just couldn’t write poetry today.

Instead I thought of a list, one that would have life’s

irritations and burdens included. Where you, as readers,

may choose one that really had an impact on your life.

A time when it was very challenging to put one foot

before the other one, making moving forward an almost

impossible task.

Here are a few feelings you may relate to, have had

experiences with and have made it through to “the

other side.”

Unfinished business.

Disappointments.

Life’s Abrupt Changes.

Long-Distant Move.

Major Transition.

Debilitating Illness or Disease.

Unresolved Issues.

Disaster.

Death of Loved One(s.)

Death of Friend(s).

Death of a Beloved Pet.

A Series of Uncontrollable Events.

Divorce.

Fire.

Break up/ heart break.

Piles of bills and debt.

Suicide Attempt.

Anorexia/Bulimia.

Alcoholism.

Addiction.

Troubles.

In my family member’s case, something had been left

opened for years, festering, lasting longer than it

deserved to. It had a ‘hold’ on my loved one, who was

dwelling on it and not really enjoying life as much as

they should have been. Closure was reached last night!

Hurray! Yippee!

The more recent American indie band, Fun, put out a great

lively song called, “Carry On,” (2012). The lyrics were

written by a combination of the band members and producer.

Nate Reuss, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff and Jeff Bhosker.

Another song with the name of “Carry On,” performed by

the legendary band of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, was

written in 1991,by Stephen Stills. It is meaningfully

written about relationships.

Although the Disney movie, “Frozen,” won for the song,

“Let It Go,” I chose this song because my grandkids love

to belt it out, both boys and girls alike! It gets very

grand at one point, where you need to raise your voice!

This can be very exhilarating and liberating. This helps

to remove any cobwebs that are caught in your mind. It

could raise your spirits considerably. The power in the

words of this song, can alleviate some of your pain and

heartache.

I think the act of singing, while driving down the road,

particularly, can make you feel ‘free’ of sadness.

“Let It Go,” was written by the husband and wife team of

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, sung by Idina

Menzel. There also is a Demi Lovato cover of the same

song.

In conclusion, music lifts our spirits. Other things

can be chosen depending on your individual tastes and

interests to help release the ‘angst.’

Some very serious problems can not be handled simply by

engaging in walks in parks. That is something for me that

helps me unwind and think. I like to see nature and its

wonder, and sometimes it relieves my temporary depression

by knowing I am but a small part of a greater world.

Meditation can remove the rocks in the way on your journey

through life. Seeking counseling can help you to have a

neutral party to listen, absorb your pains and anger, then

help by gently guiding you to a safer, saner existence.

When was the time you felt heavy in spirit, dragged down so

low it was hard to be motivated to do daily chore? Do you

mind sharing it? If not, please share techniques that helped

you and this will encourage someone, maybe even today, to

be able to…

“Carry on.”

Newsworthy Ties with Cleveland!

Standard

An Alternative Title for this Post:

“Two Films, New Life and a Funeral”

There was a photograph on the front of the Plain Dealer newspaper,

of a man’s funeral being held in Cleveland. It was for the founder of the

company Progressive Insurance, Peter Lewis.

Lewis passed away down in Coconut Grove, Florida and the services

and funeral were held up here in Ohio. He died on November 23, 2013,

a man who was a billionaire and had given over $500 million dollars to

numerous charities, the three main, renowned ones being Case Western

Reserve and Princeton Universities, along with the ACLU.

Peter Lewis was buried in a simple pine casket with his black Stetson on

top of it. He had waited until September, this year, to marry his longtime

lady friend and partner, during his later years who he loved dearly.  The

essence of this report of his death is to tell you that this Jewish man, Peter

Lewis, held high regards for the rights of people of all backgrounds in our

country. His proof was in his support for the agency that can either be

sneered upon or praised. He chose philanthropic projects that served and

added to peoples’ lives. He wanted workers’ rights to receive a lot of his

financial support, even at the “expense” of losing some of his valuable clients.

Mr. Peter Lewis’ memorial service was peppered with others who declared his

outspoken, kind and humorous nature, held at the Temple Tifereth Israel on

University Circle in Cleveland, Ohio.

Such praiseworthy descriptions for the deceased, were given, that anyone would

wish to be remembered in such a manner:

“A loving father” and an “ethical leader.” The family flying in the “Untouchables,”

a jazz band, who played and filled the air along the Cleveland streets during the

procession from the memorial service to the gravesite:

“When the Saints Go Marching In…”

There were a few people interviewed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer who said, Peter Lewis

had acted as “saint” in his 80 year lifetime.

Another photograph that caught my eye, was of Kevin Costner. Sorry, men! I

am sure that you know we, women, cannot resist his “charms!” Anyway, there

were a group of attractive people gathered in a local watering hole. The movie,

“Draft Day” will be released in April, 2014. It is a fun movie that any Cleveland

Browns’ fans will love and a story that is fictional. It is about the Browns having

a General Manager played by Kevin Costner, joined with the beautiful actress,

Jennifer Garner and witty Denis Leary. The Cleveland Brown alums will also

be exciting to view, with legends, Jim Brown and Bernie Kosar. The Lionsgate

movie was filmed around Greater Cleveland area. This will be all about the

NFL draft, coming out a month before the NY drafting process  begins.

In 1961, a Clevelander Langston Hughes wrote a play about an African American

celebration of Christ’s birth. He entitled his play, “Black Nativity.” I am proud

and excited that this play has been annually performed and celebrated around

the U.S. by varied groups but its origin from Cleveland’s poet, playwriter and

novelist is important to bring people up to date in that there is a movie being

shown now based on this play. “Black Nativity” has Forest Whitaker, Angela

Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Mary J. Blige in the cast. It has been not well

received by critics, but will be worth seeing by the people I believe due to

the beautiful music and meaningful message. There is a teenager who has

been acting up in it, asks his grandmother this question. A line that is being

attributed to the original play goes like this:

“How do you keep your faith when so many bad things happen?”

Her wonderful and powerful, but so simple answer was,

“God’s grace is all around you.”

An exciting and happy news event occurred at the Cleveland Metroparks

Zoo: Announcing the rare birth of a Giant Anteater! It is their first to

be born here in Cleveland, in our Rainforest exhibit.

This occurred on Monday November 25, 2013. The “baby” is less than

2 pounds and is being closely guarded and protected by its mother.

The sex will be hard to determine for awhile. The proud mother, “Pica,”

will be having this baby clinging onto her, almost appearing like a

marsupial in its infant appearance. She is 13 years old.

Travis Vineyard, the zoo’s animal curator, tells a few facts about these

animals.

Anteaters are insectivores, or bug eaters. (Myrmecophaga tridactyla).

Hey, does that last word sound like a dinosaur? Well, they are one of

the oldest animals… The females can weigh as much as 80 lbs.,

while the males can weigh as much as 100 lbs. Their origin is from

South or Central America.

Another interesting fact that I learned about the reason why these are

challenging creatures to take care of, they have a slurry or flurry or

slushy concoction that appears as a milkshake made of tiny pellets and bugs.

The zoo now does not have to blend this up on the premises, but a company

out there produces these and sells them.

So, there are always things happening in Cleveland and I was happy to give

you a few ‘ties that bind’ me to this place on Lake Erie, Ohio!

The Fabric of Their Love: Tapestry

Standard

You hit for the jugular;

I will aim for the Heart!

Some friends with unusual names are

celebrating five years of marriage!

I was happy to have met them about a year ago.

They give me encouragement in all things LOVE!

The couple, Arlene and Axel, met through a church

group where parishioners could talk about the loss

of their partner or spouse.

This grief and spiritual counseling helped to build

a firm foundation for their early friendship, then

their close dating life, and finally in their marriage.

Out of the complete shock of losing spouses in their

fifties, two broken hearts became one. They feel

renewed in their love together.

They celebrated marriage by going to Hawaii for their

honeymoon. Then again, last Fall, 2012, they walked

the beaches holding hands, kissing and felt the warm,

sunny breath of the winds upon their skin.

Sometimes, when I call, I hear Axel pounding as he builds

or fixes the house he lived in with his deceased wife. I will

hear Arlene sigh, she will tell me things sometimes literally

fall off the walls from Axel’s “ghost wife.”

I know she is not sad, but sometimes I feel they need

to find a completely new home, built on their mutual

interests in colors, fabrics and furniture choices.Both

of them have children and multiple grandchildren.

It is a busy life filled with laughter and family

gatherings.

Their lives are bright, colorful and decorated with

the sparks that fly across the table when they play

cards or when they are sitting in their living room

in separate Lazy Boy chairs, his and hers. I see their

chuckles and giggles and say, “I want some of that!”

I think of the cotton commercial that plays on t.v.,

where they talk about “The Fabric of Our Life.”

I am not sure but I think each day that passes with

this lovely couple, there are threads connecting and

weaving them closer, tighter and making a most

amazing and beautiful tapestry.

Today, on this special occasion, I wish them a

“Happy #5 Anniversary, Arlene and Axel!”