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What is Within You? Find out.

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So many people, experiences and events came together to inspire this post.

It may even be you reading this!

Without going into great detail, I had to sum it all up to 2 thought provoking quotes.

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Jesus Christ

“For David….served his Purpose of God in his own generation.”  Acts: 13:36

What is in me? In You?

Will we bring it forth in our generation?

If we don’t, will it hurt us?

Loaded questions but worth exploring, especially now.

It’s seems a lot of people I have talked to are at a point in their lives where change has happened suddenly, is happening currently, or has to happen to move them forward.

Change rattles the norm. It shakes up our world. It also presents an exciting opportunity to reflect on the direction of your life and do something different or more meaningful.

So what is in you?

Will you bring it forth in your generation?

This is not to say you need to do more than you already do…just something else.

Perhaps God wants you and I to redirect our lives. To live with more purpose everyday.

To start to align our life on earth for the next chapter.

Maybe it’s time to jump over the lines in the sand you set for yourself.

You see, I believe God’s got glorious plans for you on the other side.

Yep.

To be his experience on earth.

To bring out that little light that is deep inside you.

So that you can use it for good, on earth, in your lifetime.

Just imagine.

He needs your help to inspire change.

And, look after his people on earth.

You ARE here for a reason.

Your passion and wisdom of experience is a torch we need to light the path forward. If you blow out the flame and walk away, we stay in the dark. If you find a match, light the torch and share it, we can see again.

So, get it? We need you. What match will light your torch?

Tell me what you want, what you really really want.

What do you sing about? What makes you HAPPY?

What do you cry about? What makes you SAD?

What do you dream about doing or becoming? What is your VISION for your FUTURE?

Take the time to answer these questions.

They are the keys to your next chapter.

Pursue what you sing about. Bring forth more of what brings you joy. You will bring happiness to you and the world around you.

Turn your pain into purpose. Your experience grieving and lessons learned along the way will help heal others on their life journey. If you do not bring forth the realness of what you know, others stay lonely and in the dark and so may you. Ouch. Bring on the light.

Go after the dream that been tugging at you for years now. God’s waiting for you to bring it forth. Write the book, start that blog, start that new biz, start a tribe, book that bucket list trip, sign up for that race, run for office, go on that mission, make that call.

Why wait anymore?

You have a positive impact to make. Let it shine in your generation.

In closing, I leave you with this quote by Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms company and the One to One business model:

“I believe each of us has a mission in life, and that one cannot truly be living their most fulfilled life until they recognize this mission and dedicate their life to pursuing it.”

Fin. Amy

PS. Let me know if you need some help on this. You may also enjoy reading the short book How to Find Your Mission in Life, by Richard Nelson Bowels who also wrote the life changing book, What Color is My Parachute.

Begin the day with Gratitude in 2017

A new year. Hello 2017!

The possibilities of each day are within this year for each of us.

Aren’t you excited? I am.

I have decided to let go of the long list of resolutions and keep it simple for 2017.

I am setting 3 goals and committing to them.

Here they are.

#1 Begin each day with gratitudes and a positive lead.

#2. Finish 1st round of my book by Dec. 1.

#3. Focus on achieving my best health ever.

Today I will focus this post on #1: Gratitude.

I am going to start the day with more gratitude and lead with the positive. Having been doing this off and on for years, I have witnessed instant benefits in my attitude, happiness and impact on others.

So how do we turn the ordinary dawn of a new day into the extraordinary?

Use awe as a catalyst. What gives you awe?

Our church minster, Joe Clifford at Myers Park Presbyterian in Charlotte, NC  spoke about this concept in a sermon where he recited a beautiful poem I had never heard before.”I thank you God for this amazing” by EE Cummings.

Here it is along with two verses and one very powerful video that was done over  Christmas. That should help put us in a positive mindset for 2017.

“i thank You God for most this amazing” by E.E. Cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

 

Isaiah 40:28-31 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak….31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

 

The creative director at Forest Hill Church did this funny video over Christmas.  20 million have already viewed this video. Have you? Click here: Funny video on Gratitude

Want to join me on this road to glory in 2017?

For the next 21 days start your day with gratitude.

First, say this before you get outta bed every single morning.

Psalm 118:24 “This IS the day the Lord has made, Rejoice and be glad in it!”

I bet it will light a tiny spark of mojo to get you going.

Keep a journal by your bed. In the quiet of the early am write down what or who you are thankful for that day.

Then do a “power lead” into the day by keeping your first comments, texts, posts or emails to your family then friends, neighbors or co-workers positive.  Be intentional on this. You may have to bite your tongue! It’s worth it.

Are you in? Let me know how it goes for you.

Cheers to 2017.

Let’s make it AWEsome and spread some cheer.

 

 

 

 

 

Thrive.

A few years ago my husband and I had the great opportunity to meet Dan Buettner who is a world cyclist, adventurer, researcher and author of health books The Blue Zones and Thrive.

His talk was about his research into the healthiest communities in the world.

He started out by asking the audience of 100 adults a powerful question:

“Did you walk or bike to school as a kid?” Every one of us raised our hand.

“Do your kids walk or bike to school now?” Not one person raised their hand.

That got our attention Dan!

His research was inspired by the Danish Twin Studies, among others, which established that only 25% of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes. In other words almost 80% of how long and how well you live is up to you. 

Beginning in 2004 Dan, along with longevity geneticists, medical researchers, anthropologists, demographic scientists, epidemiologists funded by National Geographic, identified pockets of people across the world who live the longest and are the happiest.

Then they went to visit them!

They were searching for evidence-based common denominators among all places.

They termed these healthy pockets “Blue Zones.”

In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States! And they have astoundingly low incredible lower rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, those big and nasty killers in the US. Here is what else they found.

9 common traits in Blue Zone members:

1. They move naturally all day.

The world’s longest-lived people don’t just pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about.

Think: Do I really need to drive to the library or grocery store? Can I walk or ride a bike? Can I get a stand up desk? Take a walk at lunch outside? Get a dog and walk it?

2. They know their Purpose. 

The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans in Costa Rica call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy!!!

Identify what you are passionate about and pursue it as your purpose daily.

3. They take time to Down Shift.

They experience stress like we do. But they take time to relax every day. Okinawans take a few moments each day in the am to remember their ancestors, Seventh DayAdventists (Lomo Linda, CA) pray, Ikarians (Greece) take a nap and Sardinians (Italy) do happy hour with friends.

Take time to relax, meditate, and give thanks daily. We know stress leads to chronic inflammation which contributes to very major age-related disease. Why feed the monster?

4. They stop eating when they are just 80% full.
“Hara hachi bu” –Is the  Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals which reminds Okinawans to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.

Think. Do you really need that extra helping?

5. They eat a lot of beans and plants.

They have a “Plant Slant.” They eat what they grow too. Vegetables and beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the basics of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month.

Start small: Double daily intake of beans and veggies.

6. They enjoy wine moderately. 

People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly with friends and/or with food. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers in these zones. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine says Dan).

If you can drink just 1 or 2, do.

7. They have a faith-based community. 

All but five of the 263 centenarians they interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy!

We need God and each other. Find a faith community and connect.

8. They put loved ones first. 

Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of elders and children).  Neighbors of all ages are also active in visiting other families and learning from elders.

Have you talked to or hugged your family lately? Checked in with your neighbor?

9. They have like-minded friends

Dan said,

“The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life.

Research from the Framingham Nurses Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.”

Connect with a healthy, caring tribe daily.

It is so interesting that 6, 7,8 and 9 are all about the power of connecting in community.

Try to apply some of these tips today and let me know how it goes.

Check out Dans new mission – Creating Blue Zones across the US! http://www.bluezones.com/live-happier/thrive-centers/

Fin! Amy

Take Another Step. Choices do Matter.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Afloat.”

Can telling our stories bring us afloat and help others too? 

I know so! See how survivors, thrivers, dreamers, story tellers and fellow runners Bruce McIntyre and Jim Willett learned to do this despite both hearing those dreaded words: “You… have…cancer.” 

Bruce: Choices Do Matter  http://www.choicesdomatter.org/you-have-cancer/

Jim : Take Another Step  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyjM2S6MGPU

What a day!

Beauty, Resilience.

IMG_3584 This picture of our beautiful grandmother, Alice Hill Rupertus, also known as “Sleepy” is something I treasure.  I found myself gazing at it last night during a quiet moment while reading in our library.

The photo was taken in 1946: At the christening of the USS Rupertus, named for our grandfather, her husband Major General William Rupertus USMC, who passed away of a sudden heart attack in 1945, at the end of WWII.

In this photo, she was just about the break the bottle of champagne against the ship in order to christen it with good cheer and blessings right before the destroyer rolled out to sea moments later in Lowell, Massachusetts.

I’ll have to post a photo of when she broke the bottle against the ship! It must have felt great after what she had been through.

My sister still has the shattered glass in a special wooden case.

Beside her (though not pictured here) are my father (age 5) her sister Dixie, a minister, and the Commander of the ship.

I have learned from family and friends stories that she was a beautiful, smart, elegant, graceful, joyful and fun spirited woman.

In the late 1990’s, we actually had the opportunity to meet some of the ship’s crew at a USS Rupertus reunion in Virginia Beach. Though the group’s ages spanned decades, the common bond of service on the same ship connected then, no matter what rank.

How exciting it was to meet the WWII sailors who had been serving on the USS Rupertus the day it was christened!  They had seen our grandmother that very day! In our conversations, they shared stories, what it was like leaving the safety of a US port for war, and how “Mrs. Rupertus’s” stunning beauty and grace during the bitter-sweet christening, gave them some peace.

A life altering path was ahead for many of them that day.

Sleepy is an inspiration to me.

The sudden loss of her husband and stark reality of raising their 5 year old son, as a single female in her early 30’s (especially in 1945), must have been devastating.

In those sparkling blue Irish eyes I see sadness of course, but also see a strong, kind person and resilient spirit. A spirit she must have called on, over and over to move forward in the years ahead.

Ah. The stories we all have.

Stories and photos connect the dots and light the path for those of us left behind.

Sleepy died of Leukemia just 7 years after this photo was taken.

Our father was only 16.

What a portrait of beauty AND perseverance.

Beautiful Sleepy. We love you.

Fin. APR

American Sniper “Breathe”

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Silver Screen.”


American Sniper: Bradley Cooper

As someone who comes from a military family I want to briefly focus on the movie American Sniper, which has been on my heart and mind since seeing it, and then close with some thoughts on the civilian military divide.

Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of US Navy Seal Chris Kyle is Academy award worthy.

Through Cooper’s studied work (and 8 years supporting the USO), and screen writer Jason Hall and Clint Eastwood’s guidance, they were able to show the rest of us (any controversy aside) a clarifying glimpse of what Chris Kyle, our soldiers, and their families go through at war, and later when they work to assimilate back home.

The precision Cooper displayed in showing Kyle’s incredible mastery of his mind, body and rifle is stunning. His watchful eye (like a hawk), steady body, mindful breathe and quiet patience before shooting (or not) was remarkable. In the movie, whenever he said the simple word “breathe”, my heart-rate shot up and I held my breath, knowing I could never be as steady under such duress.

The care for his family and fellow soldiers was also compelling.

Cooper demonstrated in the movie that separation from families during service is very hard on both parties but the toughest battle often arrives when the soldiers come home.

The soldier’s separation from their mission, their buddies, along with explosive memories of battle and loss, can create a haunting void.

Or, it can allow opportunities for resilience, as we saw with Chris Kyle.

So thanks Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood and the brave ones in our media who strive greatly to inform. Thanks to the Kyle family for allowing this movie.  I hope it wins an award, or many. 

Movies like these, and related stories and discussions, will drive us to better understand and support our military and veterans, perhaps closing the divide between us.  

Interestingly, only 0.05% of the American population serves in our military in comparison to 12% in WW11.*  Wow.

US Navy Seal and sniper Chris Kyle was one of those very few and brave Americans who step up to serve their country today.

Just O.5% serve?

This is cause for great pause, awe and utter gratitude.

And then just maybe worth a look in the mirror. What are the rest of us doing for our country? Our communities?

#courage #honor #duty

The fact the soldiers go on multiple deployments is also cause for pause. Just imagine if another 1% of Americans would choose to serve?

How did we get so far removed from serving our country?

How did we get so far away from supporting our military and veterans, in the good and bad?

Or simply putting out an American flag to show our support for the USA – everyday?

As Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired Army lieutenant-general said, “The civilian-military divide erodes the sense of duty that is critical to the health of our democratic republic, where the most important office is that of the citizen. While the armed forces retool for the future, citizens cannot be mere spectators.” *

And as writers Eikenberry and David Kennedy go on to write, “Somehow, soldier and citizen must once again be brought to stand side by side.”

* #courage #honor #duty #serve

*Americans and Their Military Drifting Apart? \http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/opinion/americans-and-their-military-drifting-apart.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Father’s Day.

USNA 1962, Marine Corps, A-4 Aviator, 2 Tours of Vietnam, Husband, Dad, Developer.
USNA 1962, Marine Corps, A-4 Aviator, 2 Tours of Vietnam, Husband, Dad, Developer.

Whew! Glad I got through Father’s Day.

Ya think you are so over a loss of a parent or someone you love, then boom, it hits you.

It still hurts!

A wake up call for me.

Can I get over this please?

When “it” hit me after church, I ran through my rolodex of people who would understand…Mom (gone), Aunt Jo (gone), Friends who are in same boat? I only knew a few. Call them on father’s day?  No way!  Old deep tears started welling up inside. Crap!

Thinking of Dad, searching for pictures, thinking of all the loss this past week, thinking of kids without dads. I returned to this earlier post I wrote for solace.  In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Audience of One.”

The audience is with my father who died of Agent Orange related cancer March 6, 1991 and returned from Heaven for an unexpected visit.

I am talking, he is mostly listening.

My dad walks in the room.

Dad! Daddy! Poopsee!

You are here???

My God, my God, what a surprise!

Am I dreaming?

Please sit down Daddy! We have to talk!

My handsome smiling Dad sits across the sofa from me, with his right leg crossed at an angle, and a drink steadily balanced on his right knee, just like he always did during our “talks.”

“Yes, Amy?” He asked.

Daddy….I just have to ask this first question before anything else!

What is Heaven like?

When you got there did you meet up with everyone? All our family and friends who have gone on?

Do you get to fly free, soaring high among the celestial skies?

You must be out there!

When I am traveling on a bumpy flight, I always imagine you on the wing, taking control of the plane, with that crazed smile on your face, and a peace comes over me like none other. It is very real.

We were only together for 21 years!

That was just not enough time.

I miss you still.

Quite a lesson for me.

All the words we did not say.

All the photos we did not take.

All the hugs we did not share.

Did you know how special you were to us?

In the years right after Vietnam when I was a very young, I sensed your sadness intensely. I never had a name for that behavior. You were funny and gregarious but also pensive and strict.

Thankfully, I was given the will to stay near you, maybe to soften your burdened heart on those days when I wanted to run away.

Now I know what “that” behavior was!

Your grief.

You just never talked about it.

Today we call it PTSD.

My God Daddy, how did you get though this alone?

Well, you had us, but was that really enough?

You lost your father by age five.

Then to lose you mother at age sixteen!

You were practically an orphan.

Then to follow in your fathers footsteps serving in the U.S. Marines.

You saw the best of friends die, disappear or go undercover.

When you came home from war there was no “Welcome home Solider!” “Thank you for serving!”

There was not much support for Vietnam Veterans. For this, I am so sorry. We should be ashamed. Thankfully now we seem to be doing a better job of honoring our vets and soldiers of all wars.

Daddy, despite all those hurdles you were an engaged and loving father and husband!

Thank you!!

You taught me to tie my shoes!  You played guitar for me!  You let me chew Dentyne gum (just in your car)! You snuck in our room after tucking us in to scare us and make us giggle! You took me to Don’s for lunch, grocery shopping at Jewel, shopping for Mom at the old Marshall’s, and would always take me to the bakery for one of those big yellow smiley face cookies!

You did NOT coach me in soccer or say “run, run, hustle your buns” to me from the sidelines like you did my sisters (thank you!).

To my utter shock, you told me my classmate was right when you said:

Yes Amy, Leprechauns are for real.” 

You let me draw on the back of your white undershirts. I got to have fun, and you got your back scratched, demonstrating a “win-win” early on.

Remember when you left us for a weekend seminar in 1980 called  “What Color is Your Parachute?”  You came back and immediately changed the direction of  your life. I still remember the phone call, then us waiving goodbye as you drove away in your little red car to be closer to your roots in Washington, DC, and the career you wanted.

You finally pursued your dream and passion and changed the direction of all our lives! 

In last ten years we had together, you reminded me to mind my manners always, “not to take a lazy boy load,”and brush my hair in those days as a teenager when I was into wearing black and listening to The Cure.

You tought me humility and perseverance. You were non-chalant about my win for class president. You demanded excellence in math when I complained, and constantly joked with me about my “sensitive” side and choice in dates.

When it was time to leave for college, I did not want to leave you and Mom! But you were so supportive of me being at UGA it made the transition easier. You were a true Dawg at heart!

Thank you.

I miss biking with you Dad!

Are their biking trails in Heaven?

Remember those days on the C&O Trail?

You always raced ahead of me!  I could never keep up.

Then that one day came I never ever imagined.

You were way behind me.

Looking back at you, I sensed something was really wrong.

When I questioned it, you said you had hip pain.

Oh Daddy!

We soon found out you had tumors on your hip and in your lungs.

When I had to go back to school, your lungs filled with fluid.

Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks. CANCER SUCKS.

During treatment, you were amazingly calm. You renewed your passion of flying and forecasting weather. Mom took up art and Chopin.

Cancer took over your body so fast!  16 months!

We had ONLY 21 years together.

Did you see how packed the church was at your funeral?

Standing room only.

Did you see everyone crying?  It was intense. Nobody was prepared to let you go.

It was a blur.

In truth, it was really hard for me Daddy.

The last pictures I have of us are from high school!

Yep, it has been a long journey.  I am stronger for it. I have made great progress over the years in releasing grief, dealing with loss, whatever you call it, and trying to help others.

Running really helped me!

In fact, as I was headed out for a run last week, “Unchained Melody” came on my Pandora station and the wind was knocked out of me!  I immediately thought of you and mom and started to get teary! Wow!

A longing…you know?

Look who I married? You were on to something in those final words!

Look at your grandkids! You would love them!

They all resemble you, have your persistence, smarts, and sense of humor!

Can you believe you got 3 grandsons after having 3 girls?

Yes, males!  And one is a naval aviator!

All are engineers like you!

You must be so proud!!

Oh no….what did you say?  Our time is up? You have to go?

Dad, I could stay here talking with you forever.

I don’t want to leave you.

It is a dream to be with you.

I don’t want you to go now.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for being my Dad.

I love you so much.

I know you have to go back to Heaven now.

Please don’t go Dad….

I know you are not of this world anymore.

You must go. 

Thank you for visiting.

I need to go too Daddy.

My life on earth is calling.

I love you Daddy.  Always and forever. I love you.

Audience of One

Why What a Day blog?

The 2014 Push Onward.

1. Research: I researched leadership, resilience, trust, community, health, anger, positive thinking and the power of the brain to change. Important stuff to share.

2. Mentor: My former English teacher, Dave Sharrett, encouraged me to write.  Not only had Dave and his wife been a huge support when my Dad died, he understood grief at its highest level. He lost his own son, Dave, aka “Bean” to war.

3. Reality: Life is short. Cut to the chase. I participated in the SouthEastern Brain Tumor Foundation Race for Research on the Babes with Brains team for the 3rd time on behalf of Jen Gilberto, my amazing Babe with Brains friend, who has a “piece of shit” brain tumor (see her blog at Greymatterlife.com).  Over the weekend, Jen and I had been discussing transparency, writing and life.  She finally said, “Amy, what are you waiting for? You need to start pressing publish!”

4: Freedom: I heard it yet once again, this time from Ron Carter, President of JCSU: “When you tell your story, it sets you free, and lights the path for others.”

What a day!

8 Tips on How to Take Action on Grief

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” (Albert Camus)

Overwhelmed by grief? Can’t shake a loss?

Been there.

There is light ahead.

I promise you.

Here’s my story on how I (and others) finally found a way out.

To a sense of peace with the past.

If you are stuck grieving, angry and confused, your road ahead will diverge into two paths.

Take a solo path (like I did) and run away from it, you may hurt for a long time.

But if you slow down, run towards the grief and reach out to others, you will find the brighter way.

You wont forget your loss or the person who hurt you, oh no.

But you will be on the road to healing, health and happiness sooner.

Maybe even able to help others.

As I sat down to finally write this, it has been over 20 years since I saw my beloved, awesome, funny, amazing Dad take his last breath of air.

For 16 months cancer ravaged his strong body.

I was only 21 when he died.

In shock for months, I made the executive decision it hurt way too much to deal with it.

I had to be package it away in a wooden box and put it up on the shelf.

Get through school. Get a job. Get on with life. I’d deal with it…later.

You know?

That anger, lump in my throat, tightness in my chest, tears welling in my eyes.

We are so small but the pain of loss can be so immense.

The blur of loss.

A year after Dad died I remembered at times feeling like I was in a glass room.

I was sad and so angry.

I wanted to smash the glass that surrounded me with a steel wrecking ball.

To get outside of the grief I had kept inside.

To escape.

Yet, I had no glass house….no wrecking ball.

Every time those emotions came up, I pushed them right back into the box.

I chose instead to work my ass off and exercise every day to find peace.

Years of counseling and “anxiety” medication Drs. gave me did nothing to help me navigate the grief.

So I stayed on the move.

I worked in sales and traveled every week for a internet start-up business.

I made it to the gym at 5am every day.

Sundays were painful for a long time. So slow and quiet.

If I had to go to Church, or just “be”…my mind would wander to my Dad-gone.

Then, I would feel trapped back in that darn glass room with the grief monster!

Nowhere to hide.

“I never knew grief felt so much like fear?” wrote C.S Lewis.

Eight years after my Dad died of cancer; my mother was diagnosed with ALS.

ALS?

Holy shit.

With ALS, I learned Mom would become 100% paralyzed within months or a few years.

Mom would eventually only be able to communicate with her eyes… then die.

My God…where are you?

So, at age 30, I quit my job to be with her. To care for her.

My husband and I rallied a care team to help my sisters and I manage the ALS.

We had no ALS in our family history.

When the neurologist at Johns Hopkins tested mom’s muscles and drilled her on her past, He asked if she had any physical or emotional trauma (Yes, she had some. Could that spur disease?).

The cigarettes and Manhattans did not seem as of interest to him.

It was the heart wrenching, brain draining, emotional and physical trauma he focused on.

It’s like those tears you refuse to cry become icicles inside.

Mom died 4 years into her diagnosis….100% paralyzed, could not speak or move.

I was 34.

Hello…GOD?

My long road to healing.

A month after my mom died of ALS, I was sitting on a cozy couch in the office of a RN name Margaret Nunez who specialized in grief therapy. I had been referred to her by my Dr. who was concerned about me.

Arms crossed.

I was wondering why I could not move on “normally.”

Normally?  What is normal?

This hurt. So, I wanted to know how to get through those stages of grief faster.

With a brand new baby girl and a 16 month old little boy, I had to get clear.

You know?

“The loss of a loved person is one of the most intensely painful experiences any human being can suffer.” (John Bowlby)

She looked right into my eyes and said ,“Grief has no timetable Amy.”

Argh!

Not what I wanted to hear.

“Two weeks is the amount of time the outside world moves on. Someone who suffers a loss, tragedy, or diagnosed with illness does not move on as fast.”

Then she said:

“To begin healing, you need to find a mentor. A community of support. And follow your passion…do more of what gives you joy, daily.”

Good thing: I chose to follow my passion (running outside).

Bad thing: I ignored everything else she said.

Reaching out would make me way to vulnerable.

So I put the pain of losing Mom in that box with Dad.

Will “deal” with the hurt later.

It took me 6 more years to realize I had to stop running away.

Time to grow. Time to deal. Time to let go.

For my own little family.

I had kept the grief monster in a box for 20 years!

We all know long term grief and stress is not good for mind or body.

I made healing a priority.

I was going to finally figure out how to deal with the grief.

It was scary.

You see, sometimes grief is the only thing to hold on to. You can feel it intensely.

So I guess I held on tight.

I could not move on alone (exactly as the RN had said 6 years before!).

And, it would take way more work than reading handouts on grief my church gave me.

Yet, I had no idea where to turn locally in Charlotte.

Where is Lucy and her stand?

Hey you!  Want to heal your grief? Stop here like Charlie Brown does for some advice.  

So, I did some research online.

I found a resource out west and booked a trip to Golden, Colorado for a “Transformation Camp” weekend.

Hubby watched kids and I flew away for a “fitness” weekend. 🙂

Transformation “Camp” was life changing. Life re-directing.

I met my amazing team in the hotel before boarding the bus to the gym.

All ages. All backgrounds. All had suffered losses that had kept them stuck.

For three days, we circled up, shared our stories, laughed and cried.

We worked out together, ate clean meals, talked, thought, and built friendships.

Relationships that I still have today, years later.

In this circle of trust we learned we were not alone. That fact alone can change lives.

This is what I learned works to heal old wounds.

8 Tips to Take Action on Your Grief Today.

1. Grab a Hall Pass
This is big. Give yourself a freaking break. Forgive yourself for holding on. You loved!

2. Connect

Reach out.  As soon as you are able. Raise the white flag. You cannot do this alone.

Trust me.

Whether a loss just happened, or it has been chasing you for a lifetime, connect with others. Loneliness is not a long term option if you want to heal.

You have to be proactive. Be your own advocate.

Find a community you can relate to. Then go check it out. Bring a friend for your first visit if you need motivation. This community might be found within a church, a religious center, a local respite center, local veterans group, art or music therapy group, outdoor fitness group, local college, fitness club, alumni group, senior center, AA, ALANON, etc. So many options.

Cant find one? Create your own tribe. This community should be both online and offline for max connectivity and accountability.

3. Forgive

Often the hardest part. Forgive those people who have hurt you.

Release them from hurting you and owning space in your brain.

If someone says: “Is this gonna be your life story?”

Or, OMG, “It’s TMI.”

They just do not get it, for whatever reason.

You wanted to move on. You just did not know how.

If they keep judging you.

Well.

As my pastoral counselor Jim once said, “Just fuck ’em.”   Yes, he said that.

4. Sweat it out & Get outside

Exercise is some of the best medicine for mind, body, spirit.

Exercise outdoors = Bonus endorphins.

Be intentional (and vigorous) about this when you are feeling blue or under stress.

Running, walking, working out at a gym, outdoor bootcamp, yoga, golf, tennis, swimming, biking, whatever works for you. Just get out there and do it. One step at a time. Sweat.

5. Do what you love

What brings you joy? What are your passions? What gets you in the flow?

Pursue it.

6. Know you are not alone

This is key.

We are no so alone in our crazy ways.

Everybody Hurts Sometimes (1st saw REM sing this in Athens, GA)

My thought after all these years is it isn not Gods fault. He hurts with us. Why can’t his people on earth figure out disease? If are too shy to reach out ask him to walk with you. Really. Try it. You will learn you are never alone.

7. Get Expressive.

Write it all down. Great therapy. Be authentic. Cathartic. Write to music you love. Write songs. Take up art. Whatever you need to express, do. Then share it! It may set you free and…light the way for others.

8. Pay it forward

When you finally begin to heal. Help others.

We are our bothers and sisters keepers, right?

Shoulder to shoulder. Arm in arm. Onward.

There you have it.

8 ways to find your invincible summer.

Fin. ARP Nov. 2014

* I do not claim any rites REM, Warner Brothers, this video or music.

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