Stop Killing Time

July 5, 2012 by  
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Yesterday, I was on the phone with a friend who was telling me how unhappy he had been.  He wasn’t happy with his relationship.  He wasn’t happy with his work.  Mostly he was just coping.

I told him I didn’t mind talking to him about his issues, but wanted to point out they had been the same for the past five years.  Once I said that, he tried to change the subject as he didn’t want to have any responsibility for his current unhappiness.

After we hung up the phone, I thought about how many of us stay stuck in situations that are no longer happy or productive simply because we are used to them.

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How To Transform Grief Into Hope

April 5, 2011 by  
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Grief has been very much on my mind lately.  I’m not doom and gloom, but I believe I’m coming full circle in understanding the structure of grief, and most importantly how grief can be turned into healing.

As we go through life we lose friends, relatives, parents, looks, youth, wealth, health, jobs, reputation, possibilities, opportunities, love and at the end of it all, life itself. Wanting or not, loss is part of the human experience. Denying it leaves us in limbo.

Great grief takes away the ground from under our feet. We falter and look for support. It hurts and often feels like it’s going to swallow us whole. It also announces a period of mourning, introspection and the possibility of growth.

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The Magic Of Touching

January 5, 2011 by  
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Many years ago when I moved to New York from Brazil the thing I missed the most was human touch.  In Brazil, when you meet someone you give them one kiss on each cheek. You hug and hold hands of family members and friends.  And when Brazilians talk to each other there is a lot of hand on hand and hand on shoulder action. So as a newly arrived Brazilian in the US, I had to resort to going to get manicures just to have my hands held.

As I think about it when we were babies; touching and holding is how we communicated and experienced the world.  As we started to walk – an adult holding our hand – gave us the courage and the safety to take those first steps.

When we were kids we touched, pushed and hugged our friends.  When we started dating holding hands became a whole new experience.

I wonder when in this country we become hesitant to touch each other.

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Celebration Of Life

December 21, 2009 by  
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Walking the beach and listening to the ocean. A vacation? It definitely doesn’t feel like one. A vacation would include my husband. This trip is immensely beyond the horizon of my comfort zone. I am here alone, in a city I’ve never been, not knowing a single person.

This trip was planned around one day, December 19. The day last year when my husband left, no longer walk beside me in this life. A time in our marriage that my husband had unending peace and strength  yet I was overcome with fear and weakness.

I’ve watched the sun come up and go down every morning. Walked up and down the beach for literally hours at a time. Hypnotized by the serenity of the ocean I’ve sat and cried. I thanked him for all of our memories. I honored his life.

“You’re stronger than you think you are” my husband kept telling me those last 24 days we spent together. I’d tell him through the tears “But I don’t want to be strong” as I felt my world crumbling in front of my eyes.

My man from the land of enchantment… he brought meaning to my world and guided me to be a better person.

My husband. One year as my Guardian Angel. I love you.

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What The Fox Said

November 22, 2009 by  
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To talk about my husband in past tense is extremely difficult. When he passed away everything in my world changed. I’ve never lived alone before. It’s never been just me. To wake up all alone just doesn’t seem natural.

When my husband retired he took over everything. He managed our finances, the laundry, even taking my clothes to the cleaners. He went to the grocery store. He did all the cooking. I would wake up to coffee and breakfast on the table. Everyday he would cut up an apple for me to take for lunch and he would always drive me to work on the first day of teaching at each new semester. There were lots of days he drove me to work just because; just because he wanted to talk and for us to spend more time together.

The life that I lived blinked off the screen. My world of us, we, ours… that world doesn’t exist anymore.

I feel like I have been dropped off in space. I don’t know how to function, how to just be. I have to relearn, to rewire the way I think. How do I live as one? How will I know what to do? Who will listen to me late at night when I have a bad dream? Who will I talk to about all the little things I used to talk about with my husband?

What do I do with all the time I have since he isn’t here to share this journey with me? How do I learn to live without the man who walked beside me for over 20 years?

Antoine De Saint-Exupery offered wisdom in “The Little Prince” that has stood the test of time. This book teaches the secret of what is really important in life. There is one quote that really speaks to me and I often remind myself of the message. “Good-bye” said the fox. “Here is my secret: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eye.”

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Learning To Unplug

October 7, 2009 by  
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I have been feeling a great urge to travel.  I’m thinking of distant and foreign places like, Nepal, Thailand, or Vietnam. 

I had those thoughts when my husband passed away.  I wanted to lock up the house and go someplace where no one knew me and I didn’t know anybody.  I wanted to take sometime to transition from where my life had been to what it was to become in the same way I had driven to Los Angeles from New York, rather than taking a plane, after leaving a long and sad marriage.  Sometimes taking time to transition is important. 

But I didn’t.  I plowed through my pain and threw myself into writing a book, releasing a film, and launching this website.  That was my way of coping.  Maybe it was a way for me to see I still had life, or a way to turn something sad into something beautiful, or my strong work ethics or most likely a combination of all those things.

In my fantasy of going to a far away place, I also fantasize about leaving my cell phone and computer behind and to live in the moment and not worry about things that are happening too far away for me to participate.

I have to confess that dropping out of my life, (the one in LA) even if for only two weeks, causes me a certain amount of anxiety.  I try to investigate this anxiety and I think it might come from thinking I’m going to be missing out on opportunities or a matter of wanting to be in control of everything, like things and people related to me would all go to shit without me.  How crazy is that?  Or a even scarier thought: What if the reason I am afraid of disconnecting is that I would find out that the world would continue to exist without me?  I heard the director Scott Hicks (Shine, The Boys Are Back), on NPR say that “nature is indifferent”.  What he meant was that life goes on with or without us.  If you have ever been through a tragedy in your life you come to grasp with that understanding very quickly.  You and you alone have fallen out of step with life; everything and everyone else continues to move forward.

So going back to my travel fantasy, I realize that doing the experiment of traveling alone leaving any strings attached for the time that I’m gone unattached, seems to be a difficult but necessary experience.  I say necessary because it challenges who I am and that’s a good thing.

As an aside I have to ask: what did we do before portable computers, cell phones and every other gadget out there existed? 

The Jewish religion has the Shabbat as a way to help people unplug.  Unplug from their work and anxieties by not doing any work and being forced to sit around with family and friends and talk and pray. 

I think a version of the Shabbat would be good for all of us on a weekly basis, if not for a whole day maybe for a half a day.  Imagine that; forced to unplug. As for me a version of a Shabbat would be great training for my future trip.  I’ll keep you posted.

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