Widow Fog: A Breakdown – What You Need To Know #WidowHacks

First: Understand It

I: Know This

  • You are normal.
  • WF can vary in duration and intensity among individuals.
  • WF is not permanent. You can function normally again.
  • Understanding what’s going on will help you to begin the process of moving out of the fog.

II: Symptoms

  • Feeling disconnected
  • Having many thoughts but lack the ability to organize and focus on one
  • Compromised ability to recall, reason, and plan
  • breakdown in train of thought, simple tasks seem overwhelming.
  • Grief makes the EB work overtime, trying to make sense of the magnitude of emotions through rational thinking
  • Just when you think you’re settled, an assault of feelings and thoughts blasts everything back up into the EB, and now it has to try to sort everything out all over again.
  • Meanwhile, you’re on autopilot – only able to perform the routine tasks—if you can even remember to do them.

III: What’s Going On:

  • Your brain has an area called your Prefrontal Cortex or your “Executive Brain”, (EB). Its main functions are to:
  • Understand, Decide, Recall, Memorize, Inhibit
  • Your Executive Brain can only process one thing at a time.
  • Your EB uses up energy and exhausts quickly.
  • Normally your body naturally avoids using your EB too much, saving energy by performing Routine activities (laundry)  instead of complex activities (planning).
  • Widow Fog is your EB, flooded and exhausted.
  • Widow Fog keeps overloading the EB by forcing it to process too much information- so it fails trying to think rationally and make sense of emotion.
  • This hurts your ability to understand, decide, recall, memorize and inhibit.

IV. How We’re Making It Worse…

  • DON’T Ignore your feelings!! You might think “feeling less” would solve the problem – it doesn’t. This makes it worse! Expressing emotion is a natural reflex. Suppressing emotions weakens your ability to pay attention, solve problems, and it actually makes you feel worse emotionally and physically. When you suppress emotions, your brain can’t make sense of these signals, so you will begin experience frequent and intense threat signals. (ANXIETY ATTACKS!) Most of them are false alarms, but threats trump positive signals!
  • DON’T Overthink things. I know it sounds almost belittling, be hear me out. You aren’t crippled or less smart. You are using your executive function for OTHER THINGS right now. So you simply don’t have the bandwidth for over complicating things. Overthinking complex problems gets you stuck in ambiguity. Feeling stuck can make you feel anxious.

Here’s what you can DO to FIGHT BACK:

I. Emotional Labeling – Choose Your WORDS

Emotional Labeling reduces emotional suppression and means to define an emotional experience in a word or two. Choose one or two words to best describe your experience. That way you prevents yourself from repressing or bursting with emotions at not-so-great times.

Define your experience, not your story. Telling yourself or another the story often makes you feel worse and muddies the essence of your primary experience. First get clear on defining your initial emotion in one or two carefully chosen words.

  • Equip yourself with an expansive emotional vocabulary by using lists or charts of words that cover the full range of emotions.
  • use these words every day in your thinking and communication, including your own journal.  
  • understand then decide on the word or two that best fits your experience. Then you choose to file your experience in your memory with the clarity of one or two excellent descriptors. Emotional Labeling reduces the noise.

(SO that’s why therapists are always saying “How does that make you feeeeel”! Or “Use your words!” )

II. Re-framing

  • Re-framing is changing your interpretation of an event to create opportunity for you. Employing this strategy is absolutely necessary for resolving strong negative emotional events. People who learn to quickly re-frame their experience enjoy more optimism, positive relationships, mastery of their environment and overall life satisfaction.

Remember when raw emotional information is sent to your PFC for interpretation, threat signals dominate your attention. The challenge is to keep your PFC from being hijacked by telling a different story. ( not a FALSE story – you’re not stupid. A DIFFERENT, HIGHLY POSSIBLE angle of the story.)

Stories are not facts. Stories are how you interpret and explain events. Consider that facts make up 5% of the story, and the other 95% is your interpretation. Really understanding this is essential to learning the art of you telling yourself a much more beneficial story. The key is applying what Tony Schwartz at Harvard Business Review calls “Realistic Optimism”. He explains, “That doesn’t mean putting a happy face on every situation, which is just blind optimism. Rather it means intentionally telling the most hopeful and empowering story in any given situation, without subverting the facts.”

Successful reframing requires suspending judgment and creating alternative explanations for exploration.

  • look for multiple ways to view it as if there is no right or wrong way to see things.
  • When you’re stuck believing your initial negative reaction, you actually believe your story is true and you are powerless to improve your experience.
  • If you generate two interpretations of the event, you can’t suspend judgement. It will be either right or wrong and that just creates a mental conflict. You want more than two perspectives from which to choose.

As a simple example:

a stranger honking his horn

You’re taking offense

consider the facts.

you heard someone honk a horn.

consider possibilities such as “The honk was accidental” or “It was another car” or “There was a dog in the road” or “That was an old friend in a new car saying hi to me”.

choose the perspective that feels most beneficial

Emotional Labeling helps you choose how you are going to express and feel about each emotion that comes to you, and helps you beat widow fog by freeing up your mind ( your Executive Function) for more important things.

Re-framing helps you beat the effects of widow fog (depressing, self sabotaging “self talk”) by allowing you to let go of the distress, distraction and defensiveness to put your attention where you choose.

Lastly – Find A Support System

You have a new array of social threats to navigate on this journey. You’ve got gatherings, labels, work, public places, paperwork and information processing to change your on-paper life to match your physical one, etc.

Being widowed left you isolated in so many ways. In addition to losing your spouse, you lost other relationships. You lost your sounding board, and you’re left with others’ misunderstanding and unsolicited advice. People try to change you, or “make you feel better” by pushing you to suppress your feelings, which triggers threat signals, and you respond by avoiding those and possibly other people. You spend more time in your head, and tend to get stuck in mental self-defeating loops. Due to this, you need a support system. Enrolling others in your growth plan is necessary for progress.  

Facebook Support Groups for Widows I love:

Be patient with yourself. Growth is a life-long process, not a destination. Widow Fog is VERY COMMON. Knowing what it is, what it does to you, and how to cope – helps you grow, heal, and move through the fog FASTER. <3

Young Widows With Children

Young Widowed & Dating

The Grief Toolbox

Finding #NextYou Widow Community & Sister Circle << My group! ❤

Here’s to THAT,

Research on Widow Fog summarized with author’s permission. Further Reading: Understanding Widow Fog by Corey Stanford

End Of John: It Is Finished.

Of the last sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more important or more poignant than, “It is finished.” Found only in the Gospel of John, the Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full.”


Today is 10 years. 10 years since Jason passed away. Yesterday I was reading the end of the book of John… and the passage that stuck out to me most was “It Is Finished”. The Last words of Jesus before he died. Not at all comparing myself or my journey to Jesus’. It just led me to think more about what really transpired here – not just the passing of my husband, which was traumatic in itself- but more the turning point in my life. The moment that changed my life. That moment has come full circle. And its moving me to the next moments. This moment – this feeling that I’ve completed my first 10 year lap as a widow, its something I just wanted to take a moment and expand on.

July 26 2003

It’s more emotional than I’d expected! I guess life is just funny that way. I remember everything from that day. And I remember the following days, feeling numb and hopeless, praying for THIS time in my life to “hurry up and come”. Praying to be “over it”. For the pain to stop. For my “comeback”. For my happiness- if there was going to be such a thing, to just hurry UP!

Thankfully… it DIDN’T. It took its time. It made me LIVE, CRY, SCREAM, SHARE, LOVE, and PUSH thru all 10 of those years so that I could HEAL properly.

In those years it took to get here, I became MORE than just a widow. In my years of single parenthood I became an Author, a Speaker, Home Owner, a Landlord, and Entrepreneur, Life Coach, Happiness Engineer lol… that last one I gave myself. I’m in a wonderful place right now of new beginnings, joy and growth in my life!!
But there is a touch of bittersweet-ness. Because there is a part of me that even though it was not always the BEST part of this journey – it is still a part of what makes me who I am now.

“… even though it was not always the BEST part of this journey – it is still a part of what makes me who I am now. “

That part was Hopelessness. Its gone now. It is finished. It made me sad. Took my control. Drove me to anger. Anger and frustration enough to say, ENOUGH. It pushed me. Mocked my usually cheerful disposition. Exhausted me. Reminded me I had no were else to go but FORWARD. And so forward I went. And I found SO much on the other side. I am so grateful hopelessness is gone – but so grateful it made me who I am today.

Danny, our new baby Aria, and the boys 🙂

I have more growing and sharing and crying etc. to do!! I have more to give!! My journey is still ongoing!! But the hopelessness part – the part where I didn’t know how to “bounceback” from life’s body slams — It is finished. And I am thankful. Shot out to my partner, my Next chapter, my love, and my best friend for loving my crazy tail, and being there no matter what. Love you. Danny Hunter

RIP Jason Tyler I pray you are celebrating up there – your 10 year Heaven-iversary. <3We miss you and love you. But we’re OK. <3 <3

John 14 – My Assignment? What MORE Could God Want From Me?

Among many other tasks, Jesus’ main assignment was to be “the way” to bring people to God for man. Along with his goodness, his teachings, his struggles with a world who mocked him, his miracles on earth, and his unwavering faith – he was STILL literally going to have to go through Hell and high water to fulfill His purpose.

What is YOUR Assignment? My assignment?!? What MORE is there for me to endure, God? I get it. I understand the overwhelm. I get the fear, the PTSD of it all. Like maybe a fear of what MORE pain or struggle your future could hold. Or maybe the feelings of skepticism when you think about a God that would ask you to carry on through this pain and suffering- and then STILL carry out some mission– after all this? It’s a lot to consider. That God is not done with you YET. That your service to Him, your faithfulness, and the ups and downs of your life BEFORE your spouse passed, feel in all in vain now- now that you’ve been asked to do THIS too. Kinda scary, to be honest. To know that God, even through the hardest trial of your life so far – is STILL not done with you.

And our assignments don’t have labels on them, to warn us in advance which ones are the HUGE life changing ones and which ones are small and stay small. We really only see in hindsight – if we ever see at all – what ripple effect God intended our assignment to create in his grandiose plan. Being a widow, I thought, was going to be my biggest, most insurmountable assignment. Only in hindsight did I see that losing my husband was actually not the hardest part of this assignment – and it was HARD. But raising children in his absence, having to keep alive the memory and details of Jason, which broke my heart to have to do on command— for young children that didn’t remember and NEEDED HIM SO MUCH —THAT was my hardest battle. My assignment was to make the difference in these kids’ lives. To be the bridge between them and their departed father. To make sure THEY didn’t break or grow up broken. And guess what – I did. Still am. It worked out. Still is. All for our good. I became better – for THEM. They are strong, intelligent, and beautiful now! I would have NEVER imagined things would have bent and twisted and cleared from our paths to create such a fortunate and positive future. I would have never believed my pain had such a worthy cause. I was afraid. But it turned out alright. My sons clearly have important assignments as well- the world needs them. And the ripple that created their futures, started with my assignment.

Of course I have other assignments, as I’m sure widowhood has given you all as well. I guess my message here is to help you realize that no matter how crazy, unsuccessful, overwhelming, or even insignificant your assignment might sound – Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid! Do it scared if you have to! God has plans for all of us, and as ‘cliche’ as that sounds, ALL of our missions are immensely important. It is ALL for our good!! The success of the mission; size, scope, and impact – are HIS responsibility. Our job is simply to be obedient and carry them out.

Meditation: Where has widowhood brought you? Do you see a mission in this new identity? Is there someone who you might follow your example, be comforted by your empathy, or motivated by your perseverance? God does not deal in coincidences. Jesus said that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s notice (Matthew 10:29) You are where you are – on purpose.  Think about what is going on in your life now, and where you may be being called upon – your specific circumstance and position –  to serve in His Divine Plan. Don’t give up. THIS- as unbelievable as it might sound – is all for your good. You gon be aight!

Matthew 10:29

Keep Going,


Widow Hacks : BEATING Anxiety Disorder

Dealing with anxiety disorder can be hard enough unprovoked; but when dealing with them in conjunction with lack of sleep, grief, or constant stress, it can be much, much worse. Enter: Widowhood. In my case, I was dealing with physical and mental stress, leading me to a prescription dependency, and upon my husband’s death, it got 10x worse. I had to somehow get myself back together, and be able to function enough to raise two kids and work full time. Since the prescription antidepressants and ‘calming’ meds weren’t allowing me to be alert or independent…I could not focus on work, handle the pressures of single parenting, drive for long stretches, or even simply be alone! I was so afraid I was going to die from the symptoms of each attack – and doctors couldn’t do much for me other than give me more meds!

I had to somehow get myself back together, and be able to function enough to raise two kids and work full time. …I was so afraid I was going to die from the symptoms of each attack – and doctors couldn’t do much for me other than give me more meds!

When I’d finally decided enough was enough ( 10 months later ) and since meds were not helping proactively, only as a band aid fix in dire situations; I had to wean myself off of them, go thru withdrawal, and then learn how to naturally cope with anxiety attacks without meds. It took some time, therapy, and a LOT of patience, but once I got a routine down, and my coping mechanisms became second nature- things got a LOT better.  I got my life back.
Finally now, and for the past 6 years, I’m back at work full time, I can live alone, be fully present for my kids, relationships and even get thru my loneliness being a widow. Because so many other women go through this silent agony, with no visible symptoms and usually have no one close to them who can really relate,  I wanted to share  some of the techniques I was taught -that actually worked.

First, Know Your Symptoms

  Anxiety disorder is so hard to diagnose properly because it is the “phantom” symptom king. My symptoms could at any given time range from shortness of breath, sudden heart palpitations, numbness and tingling in my fingers and/or left arm ( and yes, thinking it could be a heart attack only made the symptoms WORSE! ) to sudden fatigue, chest paints, dry moth or heartburn. I really was feeling like a HOT mess! BUT – once I explained all these wide ranging symptoms to my therapist, it helped to know that she was familiar with them all – and they were NOT life threatening. They are “false alarm” reactions that your brain has “learned” at some point for whatever reason during some event that you’ve encountered as a natural reaction to mental or physical stress. The good news is, you can UN-learn that sequence of reactions with practice, patience and coping mechanisms. 
For your own peace of mind here is a link I found a while back, listing all the many symptoms of anxiety. It made me feel less freakish, less alone, and less afraid that my symptoms were unique enough to be some undiscovered life threatening alien disease. 🙂

Figure Your Triggers

Allergies, over the counter medications ( NSAIDs) , auto immune diseases, food intolerance and stress can all cause temporary chemical imbalances in the body that can trigger anxiety attacks. After quite a bit of nutrition research, some guidance from my therapist, allergist, and OBGYN (I know right!) I realized there were several factors that could play in throwing the body off balance and alerts your nervous system that something may be wrong. Thats when anxiety finds the loop hole and attacks –  while you’re weak.
 Getting my allergies in check was the first thing i had to do, as a “sensitive” so i could stop sabotaging myself.  Then came the meds… which to take? NSAIDS – Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs are known to mess with your system there are warnings on them about taking with anti-depression or anti-anxiety drugs. And then there’s decongestants – which before I had anxiety attacks I typically used at least one dose of those DAILY. Oral decongestants may cause anxiety, restlessness, problems with sleeping, and being aware of a fast or fluttering heartbeat. So there’s that. Here’s a list of things to think about when the goal is to eliminate things your body may be taking in every day- but silently sensitive to:

  • Allergy Meds with the -D in the name
  • Decongestants (use saline sprays and humidifiers instead, much more effective!) 
  • NSAIDS (Tylenol, aspirin… here’s a list! )
  • Foods with common (SILENT) Allergic/Gastrointestinal reactions (Which, is a process of elimination, unfortunately, but – usually the culprits are Dairy products, wheat, eggs, peanuts, some processed foods like chips/candy, white refined SUGAR, or white flour products.
  • CHOCOLATE and other CAFFEINE products ( I know, just shoot me, right? Caffeine is my MAIN sensitivity. Feel sorry for me, collectively please!) 


A deficiency in B vitamins such as folic acid and B12 can trigger depression and anxiety in some people.  Vitamin D supplements were also the FIRST thing my allergist prescribed for me after being diagnosed with anxiety. You can take a vitamin supplements or eat foods (< — LINK! ) that are rich in B and D vitamins to ward off anxiety.  Foods with tryptophan, omega 3s, and herbal teas can help you fight back! These include:

You can ALSO cause POSITIVE chemical reactions on your own, with simple safe tricks that calm and can protect your system from those “false alarm” alerts.

Breathing Exercises :
The 4-7-8 method WORKS BEST for me! In times of high stress ( Driving! that’s mine) swear by it! 

  1. Breathe in thru nose 4 seconds ( I double my count (8) just in case my 7 is not REAL Mississippi seconds lol ) 
  2. HOLD 7 seconds (14 for me! )
  3. BLOW out thru mouth, forcefully but slowly like a rushed whistle. 8 seconds. ( 16 for me!) 

Click for more Breathing Exercises!

  • Yoga before bed <—- Here’s a video! 
  • Exercising at LEAST twice a week  – I know with me if I don’t get that “extra energy” out, I’m in for an Anxiety attack at some point in the next week or so! I MUST do some cardio ( usually Zumba)  for at least 25-30 min 3X a week. I know. But try not think of it as a chore – Think of it as your way to FINALLY fight back!!! This is REAL solid prevention! 
  • Sun light – for a boost of Vitamin D

Quick Fix HacksMLXLS

Finally, you can do your best but you cant ALWAYS control everything. Here’s what I do when I have an attack even if I did follow my prevention steps – or if I snuck a piece of chocolate. 🙁 I have a bad habit!! My faves are the ones that work fastest for me!

  • Hot showers – Normally I can reset myself if I cant sleep or have let the attack escalate. 
  • Rooibos of Peppermint Tea
  • Tart Cherry Pills ( For sleeping) 
  • A glass of very warm milk (Cow Milk has a natural enzyme that relaxes you. )
  • Homemade EASY Tumeric Tea ( warm milk (cow, almond or soy is fine) , turmeric powder, ginger, cinnamon). Mix with a whisk for better taste. Works WONDERS for instant relaxation. Be prepared to SLEEP. 
  • Eating Peppermints – Altoids, something with real peppermint oil, not candy. This helps if I’m driving for long distances. #trigger Note: The Altoids minis do not contain peppermint. Get the originals!
  • Run Hot Water over hands in bathroom
  • Lay on left side ( Quick heartburn and gas relief) 
  • Lavender (Natural) Oil or Body Spray –  After that hot shower I spray this on and I go Night night! You hear? You ever go night night ?  lol 🙂
  • Walk around
  • Call someone on the phone and talk

All in all – these methods are not brain surgery – they really follow the same premise as getting healthy! Being healthier IS a side effect – and I’ll be the first to admit; it HELPS TREMENDOUSLY. 
I hope this helps someone! 



More Links for Help






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⠀
https://buff.ly/2TAMoPF )⠀

Photo credit: Disco babe by Thomas Sailot⠀
#ThreshingFloorThursdays w/BWWE