Grief and Loss: Part 1 Breathe

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/35916758@N04/6281003099/">milkandblue</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>Loss. It has a way of ripping us apart inside. Whether the loss is a loved one, a family unit, a sense of wellbeing, or a way of life, loss changes the landscape of our future. It leaves us in a foreign and unfriendly land, fighting our way back to any semblance of normalcy, all the while wrapping us in a wet blanket sinking to the bottom of the ocean in this foreign and inhospitable place.

It is an unfair foe. Not only does it leave you feeling misplaced and alone, but it strikes from the shadows. It hides beneath the surface and attacks suddenly at the most unpredictable times. If ignored, grief can lead to depression and even physical illness. It just sits in the shadows, poisoning you.

It’s time to do something about it. Take control of your life. Kill the poisonous and insidious creature lurking in your soul. Together we can find our way back to wholeness.

The stages of grief are not set in stone. No matter where this blog finds you in your grieving process it can help put some order back into your life. If you find yourself in depression but don’t know why, try to identify the moment of loss that pushed you over the edge. Was it a thought that wouldn’t leave you? A phrase spoken hastily by a loved one, that echoed in your mind until it changed your own perceptions? What point was something precious ripped away from you?


Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/116226176@N07/13945272669/">Sarah Lynn Fine Art Photography</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>

Emotive Educational Activity 1 Breathe

“Your daddy passed away last night.”

“No!”

It is the first thought after bad news. “No! It just can’t be.” Even after reality sets in, you will find yourself saying “It just doesn’t seem real.” That is your psyche trying to protect you from a dump of reality. It doles out the pain of loss in increments of reality, then steps back intermittently. Giving you time to process the vacuum, it releases small increments of oxygen, called denial.

Loss is unfathomable.

Today, give yourself permission to breathe. Dance with denial for a few moments, it’s okay. It is a great protector at this point in the process.

 

Speak: I give myself permission to breathe.

 

Write: Put into words. What would this moment look like if I had not had this loss? What would I be doing right now, if the loss never happened?  (Example: If dad were alive today, we would have coffee at Starbucks and talk about his last fishing trip.)

Connect with a professional mental health provider in your area. They will help you walk through the process of recovery. Let me know if you need help finding someone.

Can you recall a moment in your life when a loss stole your breath? What did you do about it?

LaDonna Cole RN BS CART, writes wild adventurous stories that pierce the heart with their themes aimed toward grief recovery. Find her published works and contact here.

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Miraculous Monday: Little Green Blessings

Little Green Blessings

I always wanted a Christmas wedding.  I had fantasized as a young girl of bridesmaids in red velvet trimmed in white fur and snow covered Christmas trees lining the cathedral aisle.   When the man of my dreams proposed in October, I knew a large formal wedding could not be planned in a couple of months and I wasn’t going to wait another year.  We had a life to get on with.  So we decided on a Spring Break wedding, landing on St. Patrick’s Day. A red color scheme was abandoned for emerald green and gold lame’.

The wedding was glorious.  Satiny emerald dresses reflected candlelight and brass lanterns adorned the sanctuary.  I was wed to my best friend in a fairy tale setting complete with carriage ride to the reception. Jewel toned emerald colors and delicate white flowers surrounded our nuptials.

 

***

Bailey had Christmas money burning a hole in his pocket, so we went shopping. We stopped into one of my favorite stores and my son walked past a sale table and screeched to a halt. Sitting on the fifty-percent-off-after-Christmas-sale table was a nutcracker. Not just any nutcracker, mind you. This was a baseball player in a kelly green and white pin stripe uniform.

My son in all of his 8 year old wisdom exclaimed, “Momma! This would be perfect for me. I collect nutcrackers, my room is green, and baseball is my favorite sport!”

Green Nutcracker

I checked the price tag. Though it was 50% off, it still would use up all of his money. I told him he could afford it, but it would take everything. He stood in front of that sale table for eons, trying to decide whether or not to give it all up for that nutcracker. Finally, with eyes downcast and wrinkled brow, he decided he couldn’t let go of all the money and we left the store without the nutcracker. I assured him it was always better to wait if you weren’t certain about a purchase.

For weeks, he talked about the nutcracker-that-got-away. I couldn’t believe he was so attached to the idea of a baseball player nutcracker. Months later as I tucked him into bed, his chubby face was crestfallen, pinched eyebrows and pouty lips broke my heart.

“What’s wrong, Bailey?”

“I was just thinking about that nutcracker.”

After all this time, it still weighed heavily on his mind? I was sure he would have forgotten about it by now.

“I made the wrong decision. I should have bought it.” His lip quivered and a tear slid down his rosy cheek.

My heart fractured as I gazed into his glistening eyes. “Well,” I asked, “are you gonna be able to stop thinking about it and get some rest?”

“Probably not.” His voice cracked.

My heart wrenched right out of my chest and shattered on the floor to see him so miserable.  “Well, do you want me to get you something to sleep with?”

“Okay.” He swallowed back tears in a forlorn voice.

I walked to my closet and pulled out a hidden gift, unwrapped the tissue and held it behind my back. I took it to him and said, “Will this do?”

I revealed the Little Green Baseball Nutcracker that I had returned to purchase for his birthday. His face lit like a bonfire, joy exploded onto his features. He reached for the nutcracker, then swerved around it and grabbed me in a bear hug and sobbed into my hair.

“Thank you, Momma.” His little voice broke, his tender eyes weeping tears of joy.

We hugged and cried as he stroked with reverent awe, the little green blessing. Finally, he settled down, we wiped our tears with gulps and shudders and laughter of relief and wandered into the land of dreams.

 

***

It sat on the side walk in front of the antique shop, tiny and green and just the right size for the three year old walking along, hand in hand with me.

Little Green Rocking Chair“Mommy! Look!” She tugged on my arm and pointed at the perfectly sized rocking chair. Slipping her fingers out of mine, she ran to the chair and backed into it, bottom first.  A bright smile dawned on her face.

“Come on, sweetie. Let’s go inside.” I had one thing on my mind, finding a chest of drawers for the nursery before the baby came. I pressed my fist into my back and waddled into the store

Dayla pouted out her bottom lip and scowled, but obeyed and followed me into the musty smelling shop.  A longing glance at the perfect green rocking chair, still moving back and forth, carried her through the door.

I found the dresser and negotiated a price, arranged for it to be delivered and called Dayla from the front window. “Time to go, baby.  What are you looking at?”

“My rocking chair, mommy. It fits me just right, did you see?”

“It does? Show me.”  I grinned at my precious daughter as she dragged me out to the side walk. Frustrated with my pace, Dayla ran ahead and hugged her chair, then planted her bum in the seat.

“See, Mommy? It’s juuuust right.” She rubbed her chubby fingers along the arm rests and kicked the rocker into high tilt, face beaming with satisfaction.

I watched sheer joy dawn across her face.  This child was not one to ask for every little thing.  She rarely got attached to objects. I waved to the store clerk, struck a bargain and loaded the tiny green rocker into the van.

Dayla was ecstatic.

“Oh Mommy! Thank you thank you thank you! Oh Mommy, it is perfect! Oh my! Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Dayla kept the words of gratitude rolling all the way home in a chorus of jubilant repetition in her Shirley Temple voice.

My eyes welled with tears to hear such deep and heartfelt appreciation pour out of a three year old. “Dear Lord,” I thought, “Let my heart be so full of thanks when you send blessings my way.”  I glanced into the rearview mirror to see Dayla wagging her head emphatically, fist wrapped possessively around the little green rocking chair.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

***Green Yard

I was never really fond of the color green, red or blue was more to my liking, until these little green blessings started infiltrating my life.  Green has become one of my favorite colors.

I cannot see the color green without thinking about the good things in my life.  Emeralds and satin, pinstriped baseball nutcrackers and little green rocking chairs have become symbols of love and family for me.

The marriage is dissolved, the feisty daughter is grown and going to college, the cherub boy drives away from me every day into his own adventures and I am left with a thankful heart.  Thankful, because I know that little green blessings aren’t just in my past, but surround me, uplift me, and call to me from a hopeful future.

Green Herb GardenA sprig of mint struggles up through dried and yellowed ancestors to wave at me from my garden; a little green blessing buds for my tea cup.  A postcard from a foreign land displays green and lush hills and whispers heartening words from a kindred spirit; good news breaks open a smile.  A children’s book featuring leprechaun’s beckons to me from a book shelf; I tuck it in my arms, a gift for a future grandbaby.

I will always look for these emerald drops and it won’t be hard to find them.  They crop up everywhere as gifts to brighten my journey.

“Oh thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you, for little green blessings.”

 

Miraculous Monday: Confessions of a Worshiper

14729088682_1febb5a546_b Tears spilled down my cheeks.  I was terrified.  I didn’t know how to play these songs, or these keys, my brain felt sluggish, I couldn’t think fast enough, my fingers wouldn’t move to the right notes. The worship leader was sick, so the song list had completely changed.  We were given the songs as we walked in the door, so I didn’t get the usual hours of practice during the week.    Church was starting in 40 minutes, 30 minutes, 15 minutes and I wasn’t ready.  This was it.  It was time to play or quit.   I had to choose…walk away and tell them, I just can’t do it (very tempting) or believe that He would give me a miracle and cause my fingers and mind to work.

“You are getting too old for this kind of stress, LaDonna!  Just walk away.”  “You don’t have to put yourself through this kind of torture.  They will be just fine without you…better even!”  “You are about to really embarrass yourself.”

The practice was over.  Church was about to start.  We never did work out the transition to that last song.  We didn’t get the right chords in the chorus.  We didn’t even get through the whole song!  My hands were shaking.  It was a disastrous and nerve wracking rehearsal.  I played more wrong chords, than right chords.  I hit more off beats than on.

We walked to the green room to pray before the service.  On the way, Jarrod said “Well…” sigh.  “What do you think?”

I answered, “I think, I am on the verge of bursting into tears.”  I don’t have it in me to take praise and worship lightly.  It is serious business, a sacred trust, and I was about to breech that trust with a hideous display of incompetency.

We walked into the room and Annie was on her knees.  I fell to the floor beside her, desperate.  She began to pray.  I don’t remember all the words to her beautiful prayer, all I remember is praying in agreement.  “God, help us!  Take our hands our voices, our minds.  Play and sing through us.  In our weakness you are strong.  In our weakness you are strong.  In our weakness you are strong.”

Then we were walking through the door, past the game table, into the side room, up the stairs, onto the stage.  I looked at the people, their faces up turned with expectation or hunger, need and lack.  They had come to meet with God.  They were waiting for us to lead them into the holy place.  They had left their issues and problems, worries and needs to come to this place to hear from Jesus, to feel His presence, to sing His praises.  They were depending on us to be ready to take them there.

We weren’t ready physically, musically.  I was the least prepared, the rookie musician.  But something had happened in that prayer room.  Surrender.  We chose to trust Him to be the worship leader, the singer, the musician.  We relinquished control.

The count, the intro, the music started.  We pressed our hands against the keys and strings and He took over.  We opened our mouths and forced air through our vocal chords and He sang.  We stopped looking at one another for cues and fell into a particular unison, a river of Spirit sound that rushed by and carried us away in its great current.

By the second song, I realized I wasn’t even thinking, I was worshiping.  My fingers formed chords that I didn’t even know.  My hands moved in rhythms not even possible for my level of coordination.  My heart soared.  He was using my body to create worship, He was moving through me.  Not just enhancing my ability but actually taking control of my faculties. 4823024371_9c631ed461_b

I was stunned.  Humbled.  Overwhelmed.  Literally.

Tears fell freely down my face and onto the black and white keys at my fingertips.  Words I had never formed spilled from my lips.  Miraculous notes and harmonies poured forth from a soul that had been emptied of pride only to be filled with Him.

Jesus led worship that day.  He was ready even though I wasn’t.  He met His people and touched their needs, healed their hurts, breathed in their praise.

When I told this story, my friends and family all but rolled their eyes.  I could see the disbelief on their faces.  I saw them process the information through natural explanations and rational events.

Understandable.  I would have done the same thing in their shoes.  Maybe you are there now, coming up with many arguments, imagination, drama queen, senility as they did, quietly in the natural processing of reason and fact.

They weren’t there.  They don’t know how utterly terrified and unfit I was.  They only see the fact that I play frequently.  How big a deal could it be?  They don’t know that I practice 3 or more hours a week on one or two songs.  They think I am exaggerating.  Only God and I know the truth.  It was His hand, His mind, His ability that played that day.  I had nothing to do with it.

I came so close to walking away.  I almost took the easy way out.  I could have walked off the stage gracefully, keeping my dignity intact, no risk, no chance of humiliation.  Instead, I chose to trust.  I offered what I had…my loaves and fishes…(or in my case shaky fingers and foggy brain) to the Miracle Maker.  I stepped off of the cliff of security into the unknown abyss of faith right into His miraculous arms.  In doing so, in shedding my need for dignity and control, I was overtaken by the Holy Spirit and was merged with the master creator, the master musician, The Master.

Emotive Writing: One More Time with Feeling

Movies have music.  TV has directors. Artists have color and texture. What do writers have to create the perfect mood for a scene?

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Words.

Jan exited the front door of her house, headed down the sidewalk and entered the waiting vehicle with driver.  They drove down the street and around the corner and introduced the car to the Mack Truck parked in the road. Death came.

Um…okay. That is a facts only account.  How can we spice it up?  Let’s try adding some power verbs.

 2130922569_1e01da2b88 Jan slammed the front door of her house, bolted down the sidewalk and jumped into the waiting vehicle with driver.  They sped down the street and around the corner and smashed the car into the Mack Truck parked in the road. Death ensued.

Hmm, better.  How about some impact in our nouns?

Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.  They sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac and smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood. Death ensued.

Well, those are great word choices, but do you have a nagging impression that something is still missing?  If so, you are right on the money.  There is no emotion in the paragraph.

Emotion is a writer’s ticket to moving stories from newsprint to novel, from flat and bland to staggering depth.

Many writers struggle with emotion in writing.  They lack an intimate connection with the drama of the scene.  I want to demonstrate how emotion can change a scene.

3271754319_859a4d60f3Let’s take our improved scene from above and play around with the emotions.  See if you can identify the emotion evoked in each rewrite.  Then practice in your own works of art.

Screaming at her father, Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

“Get me out of here! I hate him!” She growled.

Jimmy smirked. It worked. He had succeeded in driving a wedge between Jan and her father. He shoved the gas pedal to the floor.

They sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac. Scanning her long tanned legs, Jim’s gaze made its way slowly up to her face.  Perfection!  She was his possession now.  Dear Daddy was out of the picture, finally.

“JIM!” Jan screamed. He jerked his attention to the road just before he smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

“I knew you’d be the death of me,” he gurgled through blood soaked teeth as he watched Jan’s life seep into the concrete.

What did you feel? Disgust? Anger? Justice? Confused? Frustrated? This was an exaggerated example, butminor changes can evoke emotion.   Now, let’s play with the feeling de jour.

“Bye, Daddy, see you soon!” Jan slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

Leaning over the console, Jimmy gently embraced her and kissed her lips, gazing into her eyes.  Heat spread through her skin at his touch.

“Are you nervous?” His voice was tender as he stroked her cheek.

“A little,” butterflies wrestled in her stomach. “But I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you, Jimmy.”

He kissed her again, then started the engine to take them into their future together.  He laced his fingers through hers as they sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac.

She leaned over and nestled into his shoulder, he was her soon-to-be-husband and the love of her life. He closed his eyes and planted a kiss on the top of her head.

“Jim!” she screamed. He jerked up just as he smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

The life they would never have flashed through her mind and she stretched a trembling blood-drenched hand to touch his cheek one last time.  They entered eternity, forever together.

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Emotion plays a huge role in telling the whole story, if we had changed our verbs in this example, we could have really created a softer, more romantic scene, especially with a slower more lyrical pace. Let’s try it one more time with a different feeling.

“Jimmy!” Jan squealed and slammed the screen door of her home, bolted down the cobblestone path and jumped into the waiting Porsche with her boyfriend.

“How’s my girl?” His eyes twinkled with mischief.

“I can’t wait to get to the beach! Party!” Jan reached down and pressed the button so the convertible top would roll back. She threw her face toward the sun and raised her arms.  Jim punched the stereo and Nicki Minaj blared into the blue sky.

Laughing and slapping playfully at each other to the booming base beat, they sped down Maplewood and around the cul-de-sac.

Jan sang and bounced along with the rap song. She rolled her shoulders and sent a wave through her arm to Jimmy’s bicep.  He bobbed his head to the beat and watched Jan maneuver through several crump moves.

Blinking away the flare of sunlight reflecting from something enormous in the road in front of them, they smashed the classic sports car into the Mack Truck parked in the suburban neighborhood.

A blood covered beach ball bounced down the street and the mangled teens flew from the car and skidded across the pavement. Nicki Manaj “Till the World Ends” vibrated in the puddles of oil, gasoline, and blood.

6768927805_61c04d9a26Okay, well happy death is not exactly easy, but you get the idea.  So jump into your WIP’s and rewrite it one more time, with feeling!

Try your hand at creating a different mood for the scene above in the comment section below, or just leave a helpful hint that you have learned about creating the right mood in a scene.

 

 

SunglassesLaDonna Cole loves to write fantasy/fiction, songs, and poetry. You can read samples of her work on her author pageAmazon_logo-8.

Or at www.HeartworkVillage.com,

immortalportals@wordpress.com,  or connect at

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Miraculous Monday: Money from Heaven

Heaven Spills

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There was no money.

The cupboard gaped, bare. Rice giblets glued to syrup drippings clung to the corner and an old can of water chestnuts remained to witness the emptiness. Company on the way, she knew she had to buy groceries.

She got in the car and prayed it would start. Turning the key, she sighed when the engine sputtered to life. She pulled onto the highway with a prayer on her lips. “You will provide.” All the sermons about trusting, believing, and miracles paraded through her head. “You are the provider.”

She slowed as a stop sign drew near and eased the old car to a halt. Other cars took their turn, then she pressed the pedal and pressed the heavens. “You will provide.”

Before she could pick up much speed something fell from the sky and plastered against the windshield. It was a $20 bill. She pulled over, got out, and picked up the bill, turning it over in her hand. Jaw dropped, her attention was drawn by another bill flitting down and landing beside her.

She looked up. Bills rained down on the road. She rushed to gather them up, wondering why the other cars weren’t stopping. Gathering all the money, she cast glances into the sky, wondering where this money spilled from.

She completed her grocery trip and had enough left to pay a bill. She will never forget the day money spilled from heaven.

Miraculous Monday: You won’t believe what this mother did for her daughter.

For each of the next five weeks, I am going to share a story with you of something truly miraculous. These stories are based on true happenings. The names have been changed and the details altered, but the facts remain the same. I hope you enjoy Miraculous Mondays here at Immortal Portals.


fturmog / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The diagnosis was bleak.

Barely five years old, she lay in the hospital bed unresponsive. Her tiny face splotched and beaded with sweat. The fever raged and curled her neck back in an unholy spasm, like a demon possessed her body and writhed within. Thin emaciated legs sprawled. Arms, poked and prodded, were tethered to fluid bags. Her tiny chest rose and fell in shallow pants as she fought a hopeless battle.

I wanted to scream.

My first born lay stricken with spinal meningitis in Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Hospital. Nurses, nuns, and doctors marched through the room and shook their heads in defeat. I could see despair puddle on the floor around the bed.

I clenched my jaw.

The primary physician clasped my husband’s shoulder and escorted him from the room. When the last nurse exited, I crumpled onto the chair beside the bed and enfolded my baby’s hand into mine.  No words would come. My eyes pricked, pressure building, but I couldn’t spill anymore tears. Anger grew beneath my breast bone with every back pat and sad face that came to visit.

I turned the damp cloth over and adjusted it to my daughter’s forehead. Her red cheek burned my fingers. I trembled, rage barely checked.

“Meryl, why don’t you take a break. I’ll stay with her?” my sister-in-law whispered over my shoulder. I felt her pity pat and jumped from my chair.

“Yeah, okay.” I couldn’t listen to anymore sympathy words. I dashed out of the room, through the hall, and down the stairs . Bursting through the front door, I gulped cool December air and ran to the lake.

Swans dove in and out of the water. Diamonds trickled down their pristine feathers as they preened and glided over the surface of the dark mirror. I didn’t even know how to pray anymore. All my words were spent, my tears dried up in the broiling madness of my spirit.

I stared into the overcast sky. Where are you? You told me she had a purpose. You gifted her with incredible talent and abundant intelligence. Where is your purpose, now? I’ve heard her, when she didn’t know I was listening. She sings to you. She worships when no one is looking. She talks to you from her hiding place in the climbing tree. Where are you? Now that she needs you.

Silence rained down with droplets of mist. I put the swans behind me and made my way back to the hospital room. As I turned the corner, I heard my husband’s voice. He was singing.

“…just to rest upon his promise. Just to know, thus saith the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him. How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er.  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus. Oh, for faith to trust him more.”

He turned when I stepped into the door. Tears streamed down his face. My heart stopped.

“Meryl, come sit here.”

Numb and weak, I stumbled over to the bedside, my eyes latched on my daughter’s chest. There, it moved, she lives. Shaking, I lowered myself into the chair he vacated. He knelt down in front of me and took my hands.

“The doctor says we need to prepare ourselves. She isn’t going to make it, hon. She just has a few hours left. The pastor has come to console us.”

His voice droned on, but I couldn’t hear over the roar in my head. A man in a cheap suit and cheaper toupee stood in the corner. No. No. No. I jumped up, and the chair tilted and slammed to the floor behind me.

“Stop it!” My voice rose in defiance. “Get out!”

“Honey—”

“Get out, get out, get out! Take your faithless sorrow out of here now! She is going to live and I don’t want another soul to walk through that door unless they are willing to believe it. GET OUT!”

They hurried from the room and I turned my head to the ceiling. “I won’t lose her! She is going to be healed, completely and totally! I bind this sickness in the name of Jesus. She will live and not die.”

I looked down at my daughter. Her eyes were open. She smiled at me and slowly drifted back to sleep. It was all the confirmation I needed. She was going to live and it didn’t matter who I had to throw out of her room. I would surround her in determined faith. There would be no sorrow in this room while we were here.

Over the next few days, she got stronger. The fever broke, she sat up and watched the swans swim across the lake. She giggled at the nuns and called them penguins. The IV came out. She ate and held it down. The room flooded with gifts and flowers and well wishes. People from all over the hospital came to visit the miracle child and the mom who would not let go.

She lives today. Still singing. Still worshiping. Still believing for her own children.

Do you believe in miracles? Why or Why not?

Share this post with your friends and leave a comment below to let us know you stopped by.

#LaDonnaColeAuthor

Top Five New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year! I usually don’t do resolutions.  Mostly because life was going fine. I was happy where I was and didn’t see the need to implement a list of tasks that didn’t fit with the life I’d chosen.  But this year is different. I need some resolutions to change my direction. So here are my top five.

I am resolved to…

1. Engage with people more.

I’ve worked from home for 14 years, gradually withdrawing from the society of live humans to the social media front. Don’t get me wrong. Some of my best friends are from far away states and the daily contact with them keeps me sane. My like minded friends are remote. It’s probably for the best. We’d never get anything done if we all lived in the same town, but oh, the heart thumps at just the thought of having them near!  So my increased engagement will be with live humans, but also driving my online network into deeper waters.

Monkey rampage

2. Be kind.

This one speaks for itself. Kindness and mercy are rare. People automatically jump to disdain and defensiveness. I want to break out of that “norm” and show myself and others a measure of kindness that is not common.

Kindness to self: I want to quit putting myself down with my thoughts. Stop calling myself names in my head. Believe I deserve the life I want.

Kindness to others: Smile. Speak the nice words, hold the words of correction or critique, be honest only when invited to be, otherwise keep my mouth shut. Try to be aware of people and not just driven by the task at hand. (That is very hard for me. I am a tasker.) Serve more, demand less.

3. Set my focus on retrieving the heart that was lost.

This is the big one for me this year. A VIP in my life made a decision that broke my heart. The first part of the year will be spent trying to understand the decision, see it from his perspective. Listen. Discuss without judging, make sure all the information is available. Pray with the might of a hurricane. Examine my own heart, get rid of panic and fear and replace it with faith and trust. Listen. Discuss some more. Offer love and options. Keep praying. Keep discussing. Keep listening. Keep offering information and options without resorting to manipulation or controlling tactics. Allow him space, offer him love and acceptance. Be a safe place for him.

4. Quit letting life happen to me and get out there and be a life force for others.

The past year slammed me with great loss at least once every month. Rapid fire circumstances and dramatic life changing events just pelted me like an endless boxing match. I retreated into a crouching posture, covered my head, and hoped it would end soon. It didn’t. Depression, a guest I’d never entertained, moved into my home. He is an abusive house mate. He leads to self destruction. I ate too much. I sat down and stopped moving. I listened to his constant commentary. I let him take control of everything.

I let life happen to me. This was a problem. I’d always been the strength for others. My family, my friends, my coworkers. They’d come to depend on me over the years. I was supposed to be the strong one, unflappable.

But this year I was flapping. Flapping in the wild winds of the constant barrage of bad stuff, I passively crumpled under the sheer weight of life circumstance for the first time ever. It all culminated in a blow to my previously unwavering faith. At my lowest, weakest, moment, the one string of hope that I dangled in the wind by, was severed. My faith, stretched beyond belief, snapped.

Skydiving Aubs

I fell, wildly grasping at the frayed remnants until I realized the bent and crooked threads would not help me even if I did grab a hold of one. So I curled into a ball and fell into a great and bottomless void of the unknown.

I’m still falling.

But now I’m awake and aware. As I open my eyes, I see most people are falling right along side of me. Some have eyes wide open. They know they lack understanding, but they are searching for an air current. Some have found a jet stream to take them onward to a destination of hope.

S.R. Karfelt in research mode.

S.R. Karfelt in research mode.

Others are like I was. Curled into a ball, eyes closed, waiting for the next object to pelt them. Some don’t even know they are falling. They smile and posture, with eyes closed, sure that they are on firm foundation. But it’s a delusion. They’re falling, just the same as everyone else.

Then there is another group. A network of outstretched arms and legs, intertwined. Their eyes are open, their arms are connected in a strong hold. They are the skydivers, with life force pumping like adrenalin. They have learned the cause of the fall is irrelevant. What is important is the experience. What brings meaning is sharing the experience with others. They aren’t trying to solve it. They aren’t trying to understand it. They are just joining together to enjoy it and share that joy with as many who will open their eyes and connect.

So my resolution is to stop fearing the lonely fall and start enjoying the *Relative Work of a *formation dive with others.

 

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5. Express my love and gratitude without reservation.

Too many times we hold back words of affirmation because we don’t want to put ourselves in an awkward situation. That’s just crap. The world is a lonely place and we are all just trying to make it from one moment to another. If you have positive thoughts about someone, speak them aloud. Tell that person you like their new hair-do. Express your appreciation to someone who has been there for you. SAY it. Don’t assume they know. Speak your love. Life is short. I’ve lost too many people to ever hold my life words again. If something I say, brings a glimmer, a second, a moment of joy to another person, I’m going to say it.

So readers, friends, and family, thank you for following me this year. I know it’s been quite a mess of a year. Thank you for the comments, the shares, the support. I’m holding out my hands. Let’s latch on and get to the relative work of creativity, connection, and building a better world.

What are your top five resolutions?

 

*Formation – When referring to Relative Work a formation is a group of skydivers forming particular pattern by taking grips on each others arms and legs.
*Relative Work – Now known as Formation Skydiving.  Skydivers in
freefall link up to create formations. This can be done in any numbers from
2-person (called a 2 Way Skydive) and up. Competition RW is mainly done in 4
person teams (4 Way Teams) and in 8 Ways & 16 Ways.