Monthly Archives: March 2019

Coping With Post Loss Anxiety: There’s More To the Story #DearWidow

Your anxiety is understandable.
You feel out of control, like you’re missing things, and out of sync with the whole world.
You might feel like slightly selfish for wanting to be free of the burdens of adult-ing for a little while.

Anxiety comes from feeling out of control…and playing a narrative in your head that you’ve accomplished nothing, you’re overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. It feels lazy and pitiful and hopeless and you just wish you could press reset – back to when things were normal.

Just. Breathe.

First of all… nobody has control over how their story goes, ends, or begins again. Its all  a free fall. That’s not comforting. What IS comforting to ME is that, I can regain control by changing the narrative to point out what I CAN do in my response, or evidence of what HAS worked in the past. If it means I need to stop, breathe, and make a concerted effort to remembering the GOOD, doing something positive in response, or resolving to just make new goals from the broken pieces of the last goals… so be it.  What is also helpful is to stop using ONLY the bad parts of my situation of widowhood… and every “down” I experience hereafter to define ME. I define me. The GOOD stuff – the wins, the triumphs, the times things DIDN’T go all to hell – they happened too! It took ALL of the things, good and bad, to make up my story. ALL of them helped me see what defines me.

What is also helpful is to stop using my situation of widowhood… and every “up and down” I experience hereafter to define ME. …
It took ALL of the things, good and bad, to make up my story. ALL of them helped me see what defines me.

And then there’s the worrying and the imagining of horrible outcomes being a survivor of death. The worst use of imagination is worry. Worrying is for people with time to waste. Because that’s all it is. A waste of time. Its hard to enjoy anything anymore because you worry its going to be taken away, like your husband was. You don’t want to love anyone else or start anything new because whats the point?! I get it. You’re worried that rug is going to get pulled out from under you again. And that’s understandable.

When Jason died I blamed myself for not being outside playing with him and the kids at the time. If I’d been out there ….. you know the rest. When my son got a D on his report card, I labeled myself an inattentive mom and got angry at myself. When my other son got pneumonia I felt helpless and worried incessantly… maybe I wasn’t giving him meds enough or using the humidifier. Why do I have HAVE children – one day they are just gonna go – just like everything else… and on and on…

But….even though THOSE are the parts that replay in your head and keep you up at night – that’s not all there is to the narrative!

Faith is an interesting thing. We use it for everything. We have faith that if we flap our arms we wont fly. Faith that pain hurts and bad things happen. Faith that tragedy and mayhem are real and we cant control them. Faith that things live and then die. Because we have proof.

If that’s the case, what about when things go right? What about the countless amount of evidence we have that MOST of the things we worried so hard about yesterday – didn’t happen? And the day before that… and the year before that…. Why do we never use that as ammo for our anxiety? Regardless of if we worried or not – we still had to wait and see didn’t we? And sometimes, it does turn out OK. Probably just as many times if not more – than when it doesn’t, right? Where is our faith in the God that provides the GOOD times, too? Its like when the kids are mad at you for saying “no”. And you’re the worst mom ever. What about ALL the 50-eleven times you said yes!!! Dont you wish they remembered that? God wants you to remember THOSE things too.

You just cant live life getting rolled by “what ifs” and “maybes” and “what’s the points”. You are not made of your fears, your worries, or your current marital circumstance. You are MORE than that. Life is not only pain and suffering. You KNOW that. Play the GOOD times in that narrative too. Remember that YOU control who you are and what you do in response to all the things good or bad. You can decide what defines you, and how you get through ANY thing life throws at you. And regaining control of the narrative – THAT is the best weapon against anxiety.

Hang in there, dear widow. Keep pushing. We got this.

John 10 – Widow Walkin’ Into Higher Purpose : Servant Leadership

As I read of the miracles Jesus performed, in John’s account, I see there’s a pattern. Jesus puts emphasis at the very end, before he dies, on being a “servant leader” and gives his disciples the task of loving each other as He loved them. The devotional portion after the chapters goes on to talk about the meaning of servant leader and how Jesus implicated this in his teachings. The questions after  ask me – How have I been called to be a servant leader? The “servant” part is pretty easy for me; I know I’ve been called to help other widows. I understood what I’m doing and building wasn’t going to be easy. I knew there would be long working hours, a ton of writing, and a lot of time in front of people, being an example, and being way outside my comfort zone. I knew I’d have to spend a lot of time and energy in mental spaces and among emotions I’d purposely removed myself from, to help others find their way out, too. This all still, sounded better to me, than working a 9-5 job building something I didn’t care about. Wasting my life on someone else’s dream, collecting a check to pay for a home I’m never in. Starting my own business doing what I love –  I jump out of bed everyday with the conviction that I’m doing what I supposed to be doing; learning new things, helping people, using talents I’ve always had, for a purpose I was given.

What I didn’t expect was the leadership portion. I’ve never wanted to be a “leader”, per se. I’ve always steered clear! Being a leader at work was the LAST thing I wanted – because of what I expect of a leader.  When I meet GOOD leaders I respect them deeply, because GOOD ones are hard to come by. A good leader knows EVERYONE’s job, and can do it at moments notice, just in case they need to. A leader plans the beginning, middle and end steps of the whole project – and makes contingency plans just in case. A leader knows they don’t know all the answers – but knows exactly where to find them and how to say so without fumbling or seeming incapable. A leader is responsible for being an effective communicator, speaking clearly and expertly so that the team knows exactly what is expected of them and is able to perform without issue. A leader makes the team feel as if each person has equal importance in their roles. A leader motivates others with her own real life experiences, empathizes using the golden rule, and energizes with the idea that anything is possible if a positive “we” attitude is applied.

That’s a BIG role to fill. Bigger than being queen of IG, bigger than being an awesome blogger, and bigger than having followers in a facebook group. Bigger than playing small, staying safe inside my own sandbox. And I will admit – that scares me. But.. in the same token I feel like I’ve always known this role would be required of me. The fact that I even know what it takes, ( from having some not-so-good leaders as well as excellent examples) makes me suspect I might have this knowledge for a reason. I know I could be a great leader. I just know its a LOT of work!

Being a widow forced me to take point in my own home, and in ways I didn’t even realize my husband was leading – I had to l learn to fill in. I had take over, and do well in order to lead my children in the right direction going forward, and earn their respect and obedience performing both parental roles. My own mother, devoted her life to education and really helping people (and she’s one of those “in the trenches”, whatever-it-takes, I’m-not-gonna-let-you-fail type of leader)  – and because of her I know exactly what “servant leader” means, all that it entails, and how to employ it. I’ve already become some thing of a “thought leader” in writing my book and spreading a message of hope and renewal for widows after loss.

But am I ready, to apply this to BIGGER work? Is my walk with widowhood a doorway to leadership? Is Jesus’ example a guide?

After Thought…

Has being a widow  pushed you to become a leader? In your home, or at work? Did you adapt quickly or did it take you a while? Do you feel like lessons learned in this arena could be used elsewhere in your life, perhaps even as part of your purpose? Are you employing a servant mentality in your leadership?

Sometimes…@#!#$!!! (Its Ok. Breathe Mama.) #MotivationMondays

I hate ants. Its not that they are the most terrifying species, or the creepy crawl-iest. Spider-crickets, black widows and flying roaches are by far more heinous, especially the latter. But ants, in the house, for some reason really gets under my skin. It feels like a personal failure; to see one merrily marching along the bathroom floor. Some sort of shortcoming in my ability to be a “good” mother despite my daily efforts toward an occasionally spotless home. Somehow worse than actual dirt, the ants imply an invisible dirtiness. As if only unimaginable amounts of sticky food-borne filth crammed into every crevice of every corner could result in the three to five busy ants I see and kill every single day for a month, as soon as the spring comes, every single year. And of course seeing one, in my mind, means there are thousands. A covert infestation teeming inside the walls, waiting to emerge from the cracks and flood your children’s ears in the night time. I’d imagine a plea bargain with the head ant queen to spare my babies. Please don’t flood their brains and make them suffer, they are innocent. I promise I wont kill anymore of yours from now on. Just don’t go after my kids… and then I’d sit up at night, spooked. Thinking of the terribly creepy things that probably weren’t happening to my kids right under my nose.

Sooo Yeah. All that from ants. My point in telling this story is : This isn’t “crazy”. Its wildly imaginative, and improbable. But not crazy. I’m willing to bet there are millions of moms across the world who have had thoughts like these. Moms have so much stress to deal with, are usually fatigued, overworked, and by nature, tend to be more passionate after having children. It stands to reason that at some point, deprivation of sleep, water, proper diet and exercise will begin to affect her mind a little. And that’s not “crazy”.. Why is it deemed normal for us to be sleep deprived and malnourished, yet abnormal to suffer the consequences? Why do we allow the world to tell us we need medication to fix what is obviously not a disease? It is not a disease of the mind to be tired or iron deficient. It is not a mental disorder to need a break. What IS a disease of the mind is to believe as a mother one must be willing to provide for everyone else except oneself. That’s crazy.

I say this to say, at some point, I started noticing the “crazy” for what it was. I stepped away from the GOOGLE, and started taking the REAL steps needed for taking inventory of myself.

I went to the doctor for a physical. I addressed all the ailments that gave me constant self consciousness and anxiety. Restless legs, fear of blood clots, anemia, joint pain, self diagnosed diseases from google, sinus migraines, sleep deprivation, excessive worry (i.e. the spring ants) etc. She checked me out,  listened carefully, and said something I didn’t expect.

“You had a baby.”

I blinked. I waited. “I know… “ I said weakly, “but… —

“No.” she said again. “You birthed 7 pounds of flesh, that from your own organs and fluid that is only supposed to support YOU, you created, shared, sustained, and brought to life, a thinking breathing, functioning, being – whose functions and complex systems often took precedence over YOUR OWN. And now that she is outside your body you are still nourishing her with your fluids, energy, and vitamins. Not only is this noble, incredible, selfless and amazing… it’s also exhausting to your system’s resources, hormones and emergency reserves. Not to mention impossible to do without compensating with some countermeasures…”

In other words – QUIT beating yourself up.

No you’re not crazy because you had a mental conversation with the queen ants. You’re tired and feeling guilty about not eradicating the ants and saving your children’s brains from invasion, and simultaneously guilty about mercilessly snuffing out life after ant life.. when all you REALLY want is to be a good mom AND get a good nights sleep. That’s not crazy. Whats crazy is that you can really make yourself sick worrying (And googling) instead of treating the symptoms.

Stop popping pills with every pain you get. Stop drinking weight loss shakes and starving yourself. Start thinking of how you can incorporate a healthy BREAK in your routine every now and then. And make a point to take care of YOU. Drink more water. DO the damn night time relaxation yoga routine once in a while. Yes, in the middle of the living room. SO what. Wear the hot pink tights too. We’ll be twinsieeeees. 🙂



Searching For Faith After Loss: What’s Wrong With Me?

I read and read. Like literally, as soon as I got home this morning, after dropping off the kids – I stayed in my car, sat in the garage, and opened my mobile bible app. I knew I had this post to do today – and it keeps me accountable for reading the bible, as I said I would. I read John 2, then 3, and kept reading because I was looking for something to jump out and move me. Honestly I kept thinking- OK these chapters are about Jesus’ works, but all his works have a hint of coincidence, like him being able to guess a woman wanting more than just water at a well. Or a boy being healed at the same time that he said he would. The way Jesus spoke ( in the CEV version anyway) it was almost as if he said a lot of things that could have been perceived in different ways. Like when he says destroy this temple, and it will be rebuilt in 3 days – but he was talking about himself, not the temple he was standing in front of. I notice my unbelief creeping up in me – the part of me that wants to be logical and debate everything I read here. I ignore it… and keep reading…looking for something that will resonate with me. And then I get to this.

“You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me, but you refuse to come to me for eternal life.”

John 5:39-40

OH For real? That’s what we’re doing, God? Just gonna call me out? Wow.

He’s right. I sat back and thought about why I’m even reading the bible in the first place. I thought about how I wanted to know more, I wanted a deeper relationship, I wanted to be reassured after losing my husband that there was an afterlife so I wouldn’t have to be so scarred by death. I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I was (and still am at times) skeptical, but definitely don’t want to be left out if all this is real because death scares me so much. Watching someone die has given me a real, tangible anxiety about death and the fragility of life that I battle with daily. I think about how I DO believe in God – or at least I was sure I did before he died. Now I just fear being wrong. Terribly. Unshakably. And my way of trying to shake the fear was to look for some fear-obliterating, doubt shattering message in this here bible. I’m looking for eternal life in this book – and I’m reading about the messiah that will save me. I’m literally reading about the miracles he performed – and I’m picking them apart!! I’m refusing to believe the SOURCE. I haven’t just “come to Jesus” and said, look… I need you. I’m looking in the book for logical answers, for applicable guidance, some back door code into heaven and peace… And I feel like God just plucked me in the head. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get this? Why does my unbelief persist? I am creative! I can think outside logic. I am intelligent! I should be able to figure this out!

I suppose it’s because I’m tangible, and belief is not. I’m looking for a touchable answer to a question that is not.  I guess what I got from this is that sometimes the answer is there – whether you want to believe it or not. Not believing it or accepting it or trying to verify it with logic because it doesn’t make sense – doesn’t make it make more sense. It just IS.  It’s a lot like love. When you love someone you know they will die. You don’t have a solid answer of why or when or where they will go. You just know they’ll be gone. Yet you love them anyway, and trust they will be with you somehow, forever (which defies all logic) . That’s just the way we work. It just is. Maybe God is the same. And accepting that God “just IS” could be the stepping stone to belief that I’m missing. Peaceful Acceptance. Not the stubborn kind that makes you feel angry and helpless- but willingly accepting that some things I don’t have control over, and some things wont always make sense. Things like death, faith, and eternal life. Accepting that some things just ARE, and that can’t be proven with logic or creatively avoided, or cleverly figured out with research and brain power- maybe that is just another part of this widow journey.  

How did becoming a widow affect your acceptance of inexplicable things?  Did it affect your acceptance of faith, Jesus and/or the premise of eternal life?

Are You A Light Bearer?

So I usually post earlier in the day, but the video of what I just spent my morning doing, (a rather valiant attempt at yoga while my 16 month old terrorized the room and I) will not be posted for various reasons. ?. So now that she is tucked away and snoring, I finally have a chance to write what I got from the next bible chapter for my weekly Widow Bible Study, the 1st book of John. Please enjoy!

John was a tough read for me. I told you I’m no bible thumper, and it actually took me 3 translations, one sermon, and several “what is the message of ___” google attempts to really get what John has to do with ME. ?Because I know for a fact, that even though these stories have meaning in themselves, when we are led to read something, God usually has a reason for it. So I went on to my trusty devotional and that’s where the epiphany hit me. In the prologue of John’s testimony it talks of him not being the one true light, but coming to share his testimony of it (John 1:8). He talks of all the things God is, and how even though people know of the Word, this Word has now become a person. Talk about shock and awe! He’s saying these completely unbelievable things, wonderful things, kinda scary things – to people who didn’t believe in God, and people who kinda believed but doubted.

Again – what does that have to do with me – as a widow? Well after the death of my husband and even recently, I have fallen in and out of the category of people who kinda believed but had some doubts. Which is interesting that I would (VERY) randomly decide to start with John in the first place. I really had no idea where to go after Ruth. So I picked a name from memory. “John” it is. Coincidence? I think not! My next epiphany came with the idea that John was like a prism. In the sermons of the book “Desiring God” by John Piper, he wrote “We are made to be prisms refracting the light of God’s glory into all of life”. A prism. A light bearer. I have felt that in widowhood, as well as in my life as a coach and mentor to other widows, I have had to be a light bearer. The devotional book says:

“To reflect the light of God’s presence in a dark and damaged world we have to stay close to the source: The Son. The more we let his light shine and reflect into the eyes of others, the more we become like Him.”

New Women’s Devotional Bible – 2010

I have had to try to reflect God’s light when I wasn’t even sure I believed it – for my children who lost their father, and at times believed they had no reason to love or want to know God at all. I have had to reflect the light for other widows who fell out of love with life itself, and did not see how they could go on without their spouses. I have had to find the light for myself – when in my darkest moments I felt cursed, discarded, and completely alone, like I was just doomed to sadness, never love, or ever feel normal again. Especially in those times, I’ve learned, it only takes a small beacon of light to drive out even the darkest darkness. John was only one person with this bold, crazy sounding testimony of the Word of God becoming a person, and all the amazing things that person was going to be. John was not the Christ, the Prophet, or anyone of very high stature. He was just a voice in the desert. Baptizing people with water. (John 1:20-26) Just one prism reflecting incredible, wonderful things to those who had lost their belief, or struggled with doubts and darkness, so that they could see the light too. That’s pretty amazing. And it gives me a really good feeling about my tiny, one-person beacon of light; and my journey responding to my calling as a light bearer, too.

Are you a light bearer????

In The Face Of Death: Blame God, Retreat, Or Begin Anew?

I’m supposed to be done with Ruth, but something made me want more. The story seems so cut off, and short! So I decided to read a devotional on Ruth, to study a little closer.⠀

The study discussed how as widows we seem to face the same plight, since we all “left” our families to be with our partners. We joined lives, became one unit – and never thought twice about what would happen if we ever had to pick up where their lives ended. A lot of us are left broken, empty and restless.. Wondering – What do you do in the face of death? What does God expect us to do now?

Ruth, Orpah and Naomi all had the same dilemma, and each looked at it differently. Naomi blamed God, and decided she was just cursed, miserable and sad. Orpah retreated back to her family and her old Gods, staying in Moab in her own comfort zone. Ruth decided to let God weave her grief into a new story, following her mother in law out of empathy and love.⠀

None of these reactions are strange to me. I probably did them all, actually. I was angry with God. I did retreat back to my parents’ home. But at some point, eventually, I got tired. I was sick of blaming a God who continued to bless me in other ways. It got me nowhere and I felt like a child, throwing a tantrum. I wanted a resolution, not to stay angry. I realized at some point, the only way out of anger was going to be change.⠀

I was going to have to let go of my anger by letting go of my fears; that it would happen again, that God had cursed me, that I would never get back what I lost, being alone and bitter for the rest of my life…. I was going to have to believe in what

God said “I am making everything New”.

Revelations 21:5

I felt guilty about wanting anything new – at first. How could I betray the life I’d vowed to live? Would I even have the energy, the space in my heart, for anything ( or any ONE ) new? So I stepped out on faith, and hope, and did my best to make room for God to weave me a new story.⠀
PS – He gave me back EVERYTHING. My life is almost UN-recognizable now! 

<3 (My testimony HERE⠀ )⠀

Photo credit: Disco babe by Thomas Sailot⠀
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