Alzheimer's, Ambiguous Grief, Discovery, Divorce, Grief, Grief Support, hope, loss, Parenting, Resilience, wellness

Peace Out (and in)

One of the many, many things I have learned during my ambiguous grief experience, is that we truly captain our own emotions.  If we want to feel better during times of loss, whether by death or by discovery, divorce or diagnosis, it’s up to us to make that happen.  When I first started to examine the kind of twisted, nuanced grief I was feeling, peace wasn’t anywhere on my radar.  Sure, peace was something I wanted, but quickly came to understand it isn’t simply “given”.  It is created.  It isn’t something we achieve by happenstance, or simply fall into and find.  We curate peace daily, and we do so moment by moment in the choices that we make.

While I have yet to meet anyone in this experience who CHOSE ambiguous grief, I have met many who are choosing to work toward peace.  I’m not talking about making peace with the living loved one that has been lost, or even coming to a state of peace about the activating event that brought on ambiguous grief.  I’m talking about inner peace.  That feeling deep within that isn’t derailed by external happenings.  The deep contentment that lives at a cellular level and grows like the sunrise, with golden light, throughout our bodies.

I’ve also met those who aren’t there yet, but who are willing to be willing to one day start working toward their peace. And I get it, sometimes just acknowledging that you are willing to someday remove your resistance is the very first step.

So, how do we practice inner peace?

I believe by protecting our mind, body and soul we practice peace.  The good news is that we can do this daily, moment by moment, by simply bringing awareness to our desire.

We are choosing to practice peace when we are discerning about :

  1. Who we spend time with.
  2. What we spend our time on.
  3. Where we focus our attention.
  4. When we make time for self-care.
  5. How we observe our thoughts.

World peace begins with inner peace. (1) In contrast, I’ve learned that we resist peace when we allow ourselves to get stuck in grief and (for me) get apathetic about our choices, and focus far too much on my own troubles instead of acting in service of others.

So when I find myself there, as I inevitably do, I examine my choices.

I’m not talking about the big and oftentimes daunting, life choices we have to make. (Where should I live? How much should I be saving? etc.)

No way! I’m talking about the teeny tiny ones (Do I want to have coffee with that person? Should I pray and meditate today? Should I share gossip?)

Because, as it turns out, it’s the itty bitty choices that build up to the big ones.

Hundreds (thousands?) of “little” choices each day. Choices to stop negative self-talk, or practice self-care.  Choices to say no to spending time with people who don’t fill your cup.  The choice to pray and meditate and follow your inner guidance, vs doing what you “think” you should do out of habit or societal pressure.

It’s the decisions to these choices that help us make clear our values and our priorities.

Then, the more we make choices that serve us, the more time we spend in that sweet spot of peace.  AND THEN…. the magic happens.

Peace duplicates. It impacts those around you, and grows.

The more I’m at peace with who I am, the decisions I have made, and am crystal clear about my personal values, the less I am affected by the behaviors or others.

Grieving the loss of a loved one still living isn’t an experience I would ever categorize as “FUN”.  It is, however an opportunity to go deeply within yourself, to examine oneself, and to seek to understand. To learn more than you ever wanted to know about your inner being, and define what (and who) helps you toward peace, and what (and who) doesn’t.

Curating your own inner peace isn’t easy work, but with so many wonderful resources available, it’s absolutely possible.  Talk therapy, books, podcasts, workshops, spiritual teachers, and retreats are great ways to get support as you embark on your quest for inner peace.  It’s yours for the making, so get at it!

Peace be with you.

(and if you don’t feel it today, keep trying until you do!)

 

Addiction, Alzheimer's, Ambiguous Grief, compassion, Divorce, Grief, Grief Support, hope, loss, Resilience, Uncategorized, wellness

AmbiguousGrief.Com

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 8.15.40 AMReally excited for the launch of ambiguousgrief.com. In collaboration with my research partner, Dr. Sophia Caudle, this site features everything Ambiguous Grief (AG):

🌱the AG Process Model   🌱the AG survey and  (interesting) survey findings 🌱an Assessment Tool- to help determine if you are experiencing AG 🌱links to helpful articles and meaningful personal stories.

It’s my hope that this website will serve both patients and clinicians alike, and help them to recognize and name this grief. Doing so is the start of a positive pathway to healing, and I know it’s important. 

Also, whaaaaatttttt?! 🙋🏻‍♀️this girl learned to build a website! 🙌🏻 Yes! hashtag#ambiguousgrief hashtag#grief hashtag#resilience hashtag#posttraumaticgrowth hashtag#recovery hashtag#mentalhealth hashtag#mentalhealthawareness hashtag#addiction hashtag#divorce hashtag#discovery hashtag#deathofarelationship hashtag#healing 🌱

Addiction, Alzheimer's, Ambiguous Grief, betrayal, compassion, Divorce, Grief, Grief Support, hope, Resilience, wellness

So It Turns Out I’m Resilient. Who Knew?

The capacity to recover quickly from difficulty is known as resilience, and we hear a lot about it today.  Or at least, those of seeking to understand grief and healing do!  It’s a cornerstone block in the building of life, and has proven to me, to be a valuable tool that I’ll strive to keep sharpened.   Undoubtedly, we will all face adversity in life.  But, I’ve recently learned,  it’s our ability to find and hone our resilience that determines how we get through that adversity and come out the other side. Or not.

As I came out of the shock phase of my discovery, (which was many months after D-Day), I began looking for tools to feel better.  Showering and meditation helped, but only momentarily.  I needed more sustained reprieves from my grief.  It was about that time, two friends sent me the then new book, OptionB by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.  It’s a beautiful, candid story about love and loss, hope and healing.  In it, the authors speak of the importance of resilience.  Working on it daily, building it like a muscle, they said, was key.

“I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had. He explained that our amount of resilience isn’t fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity—and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.”

– Sheryl Sandberg

I devoured the book, reading it like a text book, complete with notes and margins and plenty of highlighting.  Ok, I get it. I need to get resilient, and fast.

But how?

Thankfully, the authors offer suggestions that I immediately instated into my daily practice.  It was one in particular, that made a huge difference for me:

At bedtime, write down 3 things you did well that day.

For me, this started out teeny tiny, I struggled to identify 3, and my list looked like this:

“Got out of bed”, “Brushed my teeth”, “Packed school lunches”.

But I stuck with it, and night after night, I noticed the list was growing. I had 5 things, then 7, then 10 things that I could list that I didn’t just DO, but DID WELL.  A year after beginning this practice, I saw just how far I had come.

“Ran 3 miles”, “Folded and PUT AWAY 3 loads of laundry”, “Booked flight for family trip”.

I wasn’t just taking baby steps back into reality, I was now living in the moment and able to dream (albeit just a little) about my future.

This exercise provided me with a way to build my resilience muscle.  All in a 1-minute mental exercise, laying in my pajamas.  (If only my abs could be built that way!)

Over time, it’s precisely that resilience that teaches us so much about who we are. It shows us our capacity to love, our determination to heal, and the inspiring human ability to find joy after heartbreak.

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I call this “Resilience Selfie”. It took me 16 months to get here, but I made it. Took myself (and kiddos) on a trip to Hawaii, where I found joy every hour!

If you would have asked me about my own resilience 3 years ago, I would have shrugged not knowing.

Today, I own it, embrace it, and celebrate it. I have worked so hard to learn about my particular kind of grief and take control of my healing.  Along the way, I’ve met my own resilience, an unexpected part of me that I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Check out my own 7 ReRooting Tools,

including Resilience.

OB_book_new.pngTake a look at OptionB.Org to learn more about adversity, resilience, and finding joy after heartbreak.  I highly recommend buying the book, too!