There Is No Place Like Home

It is a big world, full of things that steal your breath and fill your belly with fire…But where you go when you leave isn’t as important as where you go when you come home. Lindsay Edgar, author of Hour of the Bees

My husband and I are flying home to Marco Island, Florida today after being away for nearly four months. We traveled near and far (Oregon, Wyoming, Canada), spent quality time with all of our kids/spouses, grands, and great-grands (a total of 34 in all), saw a few old friends and had a marvelous, fun-filled, productive (I did get work done on my book) summer. But, as the saying goes, there is no place like home. 

We love our physical space, our beautiful island paradise, our precious friends. We have found our happy place for the Winter of our lives. We are truly blessed.

Affirmation: I love my home.

Coaching questions: Where is your happy place? If you’re not living there, what can you do now to help you get there later? 


Share Your Stories

Sharing tales of those we’ve lost is how we keep from really losing them. Mitch Albom, American author

It is important for us all, no matter the loss we have experienced, to share the stories of the deceased. Telling the tales, reminiscing about the past, remember the details of a lost loved one is critically important to the welfare of the grieving daughter and other family members. When photos are put away and silence about the past is the rule, ultimately everyone suffers. Recalling a lost loved one may initially bring tears of grief but ultimately those memories will bring tears of joy and help in recovery. 

I would know next to nothing about my mother if my father hadn’t shared who she was and how important she was in our life. Her picture was prominently hung above his bed, a photo album of our brief eight years together was readily accessible to me. I thank my dad for his openness and willingness to help me know my mother and keep her present. 

Affirmation: I remember.

Coaching questions: What tales do you tell to keep your past loved ones present? If your family doesn’t speak about your loved one who has died, who might you speak with for information and to share your memories? 

IMG_1481.jpgThis photo of my mom hung over my dad’s bed.

Permission to Laugh Out Loud

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy. Einstein, German theoretical physicist

Einstein is the last person I’d expect to show up under humorous quotes. What a revelation—revelation—get it? As you can tell, I’m not a particularly funny person. Unless humor is direct, it eludes me. However, I truly admire and appreciate funny people. Those who cause us to laugh out loud have a precious gift we can all enjoy.

 If you’ve recently experienced loss, know that it is acceptable, and even desirable, to laugh out loud. Your momentary joy and laughter doesn’t negate the significance of your loss. 

Affirmation: I love to laugh.

Coaching questions: What tickles your funny bone and makes you laugh? If you don’t have enough laughter in your life, what can you do to bring it in? What movie or show can you watch, what friend can you call, what book can you read? Find something today to make you laugh out loud and bring tears to your eyes.

Everyone Needs a Tugboat

Be someone’s security blanket when theirs is in the wash. Richelle E. Goodrich, author

On a recent cruise up the east coast from New Jersey to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, we saw several tugboats at work. Tugs push or pull vessels restricted in a narrow canal or crowded harbor. They also help ships that are unable to move by themselves such as barges or disabled ships.

We all need a virtual tugboat in our life when we are in a “narrow” place or “crowded” with negative thoughts and feelings. We especially need the tug of a strong arm to help us with we feel unable to move forward on our own or we’re disabled by grief or guilt.

Affirmation: I accept the help of tugboats in my life.

Coaching question: Who are the tugboats in your life? When have you been a tugboat in the life of another?


Lighten Your Load

In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed closet is a trivial thing, yet I find that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness. Gretchen Rubin, author

The average U.S. home contains more than 300,000 objects. Our society trains us to regard the ownership of things as a mark of success and happiness. Yet, even when we are surrounded by things we value, their impact becomes negative when we become stressed and overwhelmed by the prospect of digging out or when they impinge on our movement, time, relationships.

Clearing closets and distributing personal effects of loved ones after they have died is an especially difficult task. Yet, even these things, unworn and unused, become emotional as well as physical clutter in our lives and stand in the way of our recovery. 

Affirmation: I live in a clutter-free environment.

Coaching questions: Look at your environment with fresh eyes. Do you have unworn clothes in closets, unused utensils in drawers, knick knacks gathering dust, piles of papers? Spend 15 minutes today cleaning out one area of clutter. Congratulate yourself on your accomplishment.

Live Like An Ikarian

We just forget to die. Ikarian woman interviewed by Blue Zones researcher (Ikaria is a Greek Island where many live to be over 100)

People on Ikaria rarely, if ever, experience dementia which affects more than 5 million people in the United States. Here are a few lifestyle tips to help you live a longer, healthier life like the Ikarians. 

…Challenge yourself to master new skills. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the type of activity doesn’t matter. Find something new you enjoy and master it.

…According to the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, eating whole foods like beans, greens, berries, olive oil, and whole grains will help you improve your cognitive processes.  

…Avoid chronic stress. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that those who participated in mediation increased the amount of gray matter density in the learning and memory area of their brains. Daily exercise is also recommended as a stress reliever and to protect your mind.

…Get enough sleep! Quality sleep without the aid of medication is most important.

Affirmation: I choose to live a healthy life. 

Coaching questions: What do you do to stay healthy? What can you do better? What’s one thing you will add or change today to do the most you can to avoid the onset of dementia? It’s never too late to begin.

Patience Is More Than a Virtue

Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. Joyce Meyer, author

Taking care of loved ones who are sick, dying, or have dementia requires a great deal of patience. It’s also important to be patient with ourselves and others as we process our grief.

Here are a few tips to improve your patience:

  • Keep a journal about what causes you to feel impatient. Be specific. This will help you acquire greater awareness of your feelings and their cause. 
  • Stop and be still for a few minutes everyday with no TV, no reading, no music, no electronics. This will help quiet your impatient mind.
  • Use small experiences requiring patience…i.e. waiting in line at the grocery store or the doctor’s office… to practice dealing with your impatient feelings. Read, write, think, knit…use this down time to be creative and side-step the stress caused by impatience. 
  • Have a back-up plan. We are never 100 percent ready for someone to die, but as you envision your life without this person, plan how you will live, consider the inner strength/faith you will call upon, you will be able to execute more patience as you deal with death and your grief in the future.

Affirmation: I am patient.

Coaching questions: Think of patience as an exercise, practicing a bit every day helps you to achieve a stronger peace of mind. What will you do today to exercise your patience muscle?