Good Grief

“Oh, good grief!” When I was younger my mom (and Charlie Brown) would say this a lot, it expressed much frustration and possibly the end of any kind of patience. In other words, it was not a good thing to hear these words.

Now, I think of those words: “good grief” and have a new feeling associated with them. It is nearly a year and a half out from my mom’s death and while my grief does not always feel good, I can view her process of dying and see the beauty in it, see the miracle in it, and see the good in it.

seaport during daytime

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I had never thought of birth and death as a (not quite) matching set of bookends, with birth on one end and death on the other. They were always separated in my brain, one a miracle and one an inevitable (sometimes) tragedy. One an anticipation the other a dread. But they are both miracles.

A few explanations, she was nearly 97 when she died, she’d lived an interesting and pretty glorious life, she went on Hospice in late January and died early July–this was not sudden or unexpected, actually, to be honest when we were told she should be in Hospice we were a little shocked, I don’t think we had thought she would ever die.

Watching her face, her eyes–sometimes loving, other times confused–I could see her journey from one world to another traced there.

I was lucky to witness this. Another explanation, although we (her daughters) were with her (nearly) constantly, she chose death after all three of us had gone to sleep exhausted after surrounding her bedside until 3:00 AM.

After, I started hearing about Death Doulas, a person (not medically) trained to care for someone holistically at end of life. It made me happy to know this is a thing and gave more credence to my miracle bookends.

I have so much more to say about this, but I want to press “publish”–sorry about any typos, etc.

Talking to Strangers

Repost from an old blog: 2013

So, it’s hot out. I mean melt the candles, burn the soles of your feet, let’s go to the State Fair hot.

We decided to go to the mall instead, you know the one–the big one, the Mall of America. Dang right, ‘Merica’s Mall!

 

I loathe it. Okay, I don’t loathe it, what I mean to say is, I hate it. Wait, what I really mean to say is, it’s like going to the State Fair but without all the cool smells and sites. Just the crowd. And they’re not even as interesting…for instance, no one is stumbling drunk and or wearing overalls. Not one person. And there are no cows or pigs, and certainly no Miracle of Birth barn…I digress.

 

But something happened today, which made me very happy we went to the mall. I talked to a stranger. And not any stranger, a young woman/girl stranger. Okay, a teen stranger.

 

Let me explain:

After doing what we came to do, spending large quantities of dollars (for prescription spectacles) we went to lunch, and let the 14 year old choose where to go. Buffalo Wild Wings was his selection. We sat at a high top, and after a little bit, a few tables over a large group of teens came in…maybe 12 of them.

 

One girl did not look like the rest–all the rest were kind of sporty/jockish/every kid. Nothing against that AT ALL–I own one of those (except he’s exceptional)–anyway, she sort of got frozen out. All the girls were filing in on one side and all the guys were on the other. As she went to sit down, a boy broke rank and sat next to a very pretty girl on the girl’s side, the other girl (the one different from all the rest) looked a bit lost, just for a moment, then she took a seat at the end of that row.

(BTW–none of these girls was the girl–rather, the idea of the girl)

Now, here’s the important part–she was so different from the rest of the kids.

Her hair was blue green, cut in a cool way in the front, kind of choppy layers, and she tucked the rest of it in a black beret (!) she wore a black and grey striped long sleeved shirt–I wish I had a picture! I had to keep looking at her…because she was the most interesting person in the joint.

 

Besides me, that is. Just Kidding, she was way more interesting.

 

Another girl had finally sat across from her and they were chatting…but she still seemed outside “the group” and I wanted her to know how cool she looked to me.

 

Now, listen, I understand that when a woman (of a certain age) tells a girl she looks cool, or she likes her shirt etc. that’s like the kiss of horribleness and the offending item/style will probably never be worn again. So as we were getting ready to leave, I said to my husband and youngest, “Hey, wait, I have to tell this girl over there something.”

 

My 14 y..o said, “No. Mom, you don’t want to do that.”

And, I thought, oh, he’s probably right, she might get all embarrassed. But then I thought, young women are different from young men–girls should hear encouraging words from their *cough* *choke* *gasp* elders.

 

I stood in the aisle, hesitating, then I thought what the hell, and made my move. I walked over to her long table, walked to her open side and said:

“Maybe you’ll hate hearing this from me, but you have more style than anyone in here.”

She smiled and said, “Really?” and I said, “Absolutely.” and she said, “Thank you!”

 

And I walked away. I could feel eyes on the back of me–the rest of the table asking her questions: who was that? What did she say? I smiled.

 

I am so happy I decided to talk to a stranger. Maybe she’ll forget about it tomorrow, maybe she thought I was some crazy older woman, but maybe, maybe it made a tiny difference in her day.

 

I hope so.

 

So I’m challenging everyone to say something nice to someone you don’t know (it has to be sincere) things you think, but don’t say–try it, say it–talk nice(ly) to a stranger!

Worthwhile Life

In order to have a worthwhile life I’m pretty sure you might have to have a belief in your own worth first.

And just how does one go about that? Especially if you are like me, and you spent years saying, OUT LOUD, every Sunday, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I will be healed.”

Besides me wondering what the “word” would be to “heal me,” all I heard was “I am not worthy, I am not worthy, I am not worthy…” over and over and over again. Then one day, in Junior High (Middle School for you youngins) no less, I said to myself, wait a minute–I am worthy, and I am not going to say that anymore. So, I became my own little  conscientious objector in church.

Unfortunately, the damage was done. I spent years looking for my worth through others’ eyes–mainly boys. Sheesh. Apparently I was still waiting to hear the “word.” Look, I’m not laying the full blame of this on the Catholic Church, I had some other stuff happen, nothing horrible, but all adding up to this. I never realized at the time what I was doing–searching for worth, in fact, I was a grown-assed woman before I figured it out.

I went so far as to go shopping, see something I liked and think, “I’m worth it–I deserve this!” and buy it. With a credit card. That my husband didn’t know I had. Two, in fact. I had two credit cards he didn’t know I had.

I could say, “I’m worth it!” but really really REALLY it was my feelings of NOT WORTHY–not worth it–that directed me to shop and buy to fill the hole of not worthy. While I was buying it, I so wasn’t buying it. It took my husband finding out about the credit cards, joining Debtors Anonymous, and a whole lot of counseling that got me right with spending and let me realize (once again) the whole “worthiness” issue and the trying to fill the hole using forces outside myself.

Worthiness has to be an inside job.

Gratitude works wonders. So do affirmations. Both inside jobs.

I love the saying: “You can’t feel anxious and grateful at the same time.” I don’t know who said this first, but I think gratitude helps a multitude of ailments. And I would say, you can’t feel worthless while feeling grateful.

And this quote from Einstein: “There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.” If everything is a miracle, than you are too. There.

I started saying affirmations in December of 2016 and wrote about it here I would say the act of repeating these every morning has done so much for my state of soul (and mind).

I’m not completely cured from my doubt of worth–there are times I still have a push/pull with it. But because I have made affirmations and gratitude a habit, it’s as if they simply take over for me and save me.

photography of woman surrounded by sunflowers

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When you can see your own worth, you can see everyone’s.

How have you ever felt that hole of unworthiness? What did you do?