Grief and Healing

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS THE WAY YOU WANT TO

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I’m listening to the radio and the host mentioned how excited she is for Thanksgiving to be coming up next week. I didn’t even realize how quickly it came up.

Before, I would have had my Thanksgiving Day reservation made at Boulevard Five72 and a complete menu for the day after Thanksgiving all prepared by November 1st!

Now, the holidays approach like a regular day for me and I can almost slip through it unnoticed – until the invites come flooding in from friends asking for me to celebrate with them.

Of course I am always grateful, but the holidays after a loss is hard.

Even when you are surrounded by loving family and friends, sometimes it’s still not the same.

Through the smiles and laughter, there are times when a deep sadness peeps through and I wish I was home surrounded by what was familiar.

So, all of this is to say that I know that for some, the holidays may not be easy to navigate. In fact it may be downright hard.

I’ve come to realize that while the holidays will not be the same – some years will be good, some passable and some not so good – I had to give myself permission to do the holidays my way.

I focus on one day at a time and allow myself to do what makes me feel good, even if it means not following the expectations of what others may want me to do.

Every year, Derek and I engaged in our own holiday traditions. One of those would be to go to Bethlehem, PA to look at the Christmas lights and watch Santa ride through town on his Clydesdale-drawn sleigh.

I had a need to continue the tradition even though he was not physically here – so one morning, I just got into the car and drove to PA. The experience was different as it wasn’t during the night as I was used to doing. I also didn’t see Santa, but funnily enough I ended up having a good time exploring the Christmas shops and museums. I let go of expectations and gave myself permission to experience the tradition in a different way.

There are no expectations for you to be able to get through every day smiling and happy and that is ok even if others do not understand.

SO GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO WHATEVER  YOU NEED TO DO TO GET THROUGH THE COMING WEEKS.

If you want to stay in and create a voice message that says you are “Out of the Office”–
do it.

Book a trip for the holidays or indulge in something that makes you happy.

Leave a party early or not attend at all.

Or cry.

Give yourself permission to let the energy flow however you need it to.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO PLEASE EVERYONE
AND KNOW THAT EACH YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.

I used to go to South Carolina to spend the holidays with my best friend and her family. The warm weather and running after my nieces would help me to reset.

This Thanksgiving is a toss-up of spending it with friends or taking an impromptu trip up north. Or I may make lavender and white chocolate cocoa, put on my favorite sweats and binge watch movies.

For Christmas, I always hold an annual Cookie Swap party in early December. However, this year, I have not given a single thought to the actual day and that is ok. Whatever I decide on, I know it will be what I want to do to make me happy. It will be what my soul needs.

SO YOUR MISSION – IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT – IS TO DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT TO DO,  WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY OR CONTENT. THAT’S ALL THAT YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT. ♥

Sending love and light always.

Val

 

RECIPE FOR LAVENDER & WHITE CHOCOLATE COCOA
Combine all of these ingredients into a small container to use whenever you want this indulgent treat.

¼ cup powdered milk
½ cup vanilla pudding mix
1 cup white chocolate, shaved
2 tbsp lavender

In a small saucepan, add ¼ cup of the Hot Chocolate Mixture into 1 ¼ cups of milk. Stir until heated through and the chocolate has melted.

Strain to remove the lavender and Enjoy!

Image by © Andreaobzerova
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A Story On Synchronicity

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A story about synchronicity and how the universe has our back even
when we are not aware of it…Along the Hudson.jpg

I used to drive up I87 to college and would ponder what it would be like to live on the water along the Hudson…

Fast-forward to last year… I’m content living in the rental Derek and I shared and the memories that came with it. In truth, I was holding onto those memories for dear life. As the apartment was one of the last pieces I felt I had of who I was when I was with him.

One day, I walk into the office Derek and I used to share. I had not touched anything in it for four years… a crumbled piece of paper laid on the floor next to his chair. I threw it in the garbage can… I didn’t know why I needed to do it, but the purging began…

A few weeks later I see an alert that the house of a favorite TV actress who had inspired me to join the company I work, had gone down in price significantly. Again, buying property wasn’t even on my radar but there was a drive, a needed to see this place. So without giving it a second thought, I hit the button to have a realtor contact me…

The realtor who was randomly picked, shared a similar spiritual path and became a kindred soul. I found myself looking at places.

The 1st place I looked at was at the complex on the water I used to admire during my drives to school. The apartment faced the highway, I wasn’t interested but as we left the building, the selling realtor said “a new apartment just went up today.”

We went to look at it and it immediately felt like home. I exhaled. For the first time in five years I felt a new energy. I could see myself living in a new space and I didn’t feel like I was abandoning my relationship with Derek but was building the foundation for “Chapter 2.” As, I walked out the building, a woman sitting out front looked at me and said “welcome home.”

The seller’s name was Betty Ann, the same as my mother’s. And they both grew up in the Bronx.

Instinctively, I knew everything was going to work out. I had been preparing for this without even being aware…and the universe was setting events in motion to support me. I hadn’t even looked at my credit score when I applied for my loan! But a few things happened in the weeks leading up to me putting in an offer (at the time I didn’t  think anything of it) that afforded the best deal.

The loan officer, realtor, insurance agent, my landlord at the time, seller’s agent, my attorney –all worked together seamlessly.

The list of “little miracles” went on.

At the closing, while we’re all eating donuts and laughing (something I learned later  doesn’t usually happen) a comment was made that this was the most enjoyable and smoothest process they had ever experienced.

In that moment I was made aware that the universe helped everything to “fall” into place from the moment I decided to purge the office at my old place to the moment I signed the papers that ushered in a new chapter of my life.

It is now one year later I look out the window onto the Tappan Zee bridge and take note of the deep gratitude I have for how everything fell into place. I was no longer living in a building by myself secluded from others but now was living community with others that heals my spirit and supports me.

The moral of this story is that sometimes it’s hard to see where our journey will lead us.
And sometimes the path that we think we are headed towards takes a detour and leads us into a direction that leads to a higher good we were not even aware that we needed. But it is important to listen to the nudges and intuitive thoughts. And when coincidences happen and things seem to fall into place, then we know we are on the right path.

 

The Lion and The Phoenix

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I’m always amazed by the power of synchronicity.

IMG-20150701-01952 I just arrived home from class and upon walking towards my door, noticed that someone chalked on my building an image of a lion and phoenix. Both are significant as the lion was Derek’s power animal and the phoenix was mine.

Of all of the buildings and of all evenings when I think of you most, synchronicity always finds a way to tap me on the shoulder to let me know that we’re not alone.

The Chaos of Grief

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In grief, we create distractions — working harder, drinking, writing, drugs, traveling, volunteering, gambling. Whether or not they serve the highest good for us, the distractions wrap us up like a warm blanket, creating a white noise around our screaming hearts.

I have several distractions shared between work, classes, my meditation and Reiki practice, writing my book, Sunday drives, volunteering and meeting up with numerous friends. For the last two years, just about every day/night has been filled with an activity. But there have been moments, when a pocket of free time finds its way to me.

And that is when I feel the “chaos.”

The physics meaning of “chaos” is “behavior so unpredictable as to appear random owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.” But the chaos of grief is that it was the result of a MASSIVE change in our lives. And the “unpredictable behavior” is a response to quelling the pain so that we do not fully lose ourselves. For myself I quell the noise by going to the casino.

When Derek was alive, we used to go to the casino only when my hand “itched” or when Derek had a dream of our number 123. And just as sure as we were of our intuition, we would head to AC to Empire and win a handsome amount. We would then treat ourselves to a celebratory dinner or brunch (if we stayed up all night) and would tuck the rest away for safe-keeping. Sometimes we would go to AC just to walk the boardwalk just enjoying the lights, music and energy of the place.

After he passed, when I hand would itch I would go to the casino and hear Derek direct me to the slots — I would play and stop just when telepathically he would say that the machines were done. While I was winning money, being at the casino felt empty  and yet I also felt anchored to a memory that had implanted memories of me and Derek deeply into myself. For me, the money did not matter as long as I was able to pretend for a moment that Derek was alive and with me. And so my “chaos” became driving to Empire Casino regardless of if my hand itched or not. Sometimes I would just sit and not play listening to the ringing of the Slot machines around me watching people win and lose. And sometimes I would play and lose big. Last night was one of those nights.  But as I drove the solitary road back over the Tappan Zee bridge, I heard my voice tell me that I was trading one pain for another.

I woke up with those words still ringing in my ears along with the song “Breathe Me” by Sia.

Just as portrayed in the video below, grief pulls all the “sides” of us out that are hurting and depressed — the child, the playful joker, the mother, the friend, or the lover. And in those moments when we feel like we’re falling we find support in outlets that do not serve our highest good. However, it is also important to embrace and celebrate those moments because in them we find our greatest strength. And we also realize that the work that we do for ourselves is not just for us but for all others who feel like falling.

So in the realization of being aware of my “crutch” I do not judge myself but lovingly know that every day is a new day to listen to our inner experience and reassure myself that whatever I have experienced in “that past moment” will not become my “NOW moment.” There will be many times when I will fall but I am now aware that each one makes me wiser and more graceful in navigating my choices. There are no mistakes in life as each event brings us into an opportunity to unconditionally love and accept ourselves and others.

 

Sia – Breathe me from PK on Vimeo.

Lyrics: “Breathe Me” – Sia

Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I’ve lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Reflections: One Day Back

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During my Sunday drive, I stopped for coffee and saw a black Subaru with the license plate — “One Day Back.” What was special about this instance is that the first time I saw the plate, it was 1 year ago to the day I saw its return. And the question in my head was the same…”What I would give to hav1 Day Backe 1 day back with Derek.”

Today, marks the 2 year anniversary that Derek has passed through the veil. I had no idea that morning I would leave for work with him walking me  to the bus stop, that it would have been the last time I would ever see my best friend again. And while I have resolved within myself the guilt that I felt for leaving him I still wonder “what would today look like if he were here?”

I imagine that I would be walking to the bus stop that morning for work with Derek and our year-old daughter – Graecyn kissing me to have a good day. During the day, he would be running his marketing company, Mark Collateral while taking our daughter out for a walk through Hook Mountain — his favorite hiking spot. Throughout the day he would take selfies and then send them to me to show me what great of a day they were having. I would come home and we would spend the rest of the day together…happy…

That is only 1 scenario of the many ways I have seen June 11th play out if he were here…

This morning I woke up looking at the empty side of the bed and his ashes that rest on the mantle…and I come to the realization that that “one day back” will reside only in my dreams. And with that thought I cry hard resigning to spend this June 11th in bed. It was in that exact moment that I received a text from my best friend, Rachael it said:

It’s hiding but the sun still rose again today, keep breathing, keep living, keep shining your light. Derek is always smiling on you. So happy to see you today. BREATHE! xoxoxo

And I got up and booked a massage…

When I think of “One Day Back” I think of all of the amazing days that I “lost” when Derek passed. But then am reminded in moments like these of all of the AMAZING days that have I have “gained” and have manifested into my life in celebration of his life.

Because of Derek, I bravely look into the deepest parts of myself and move into a path of healing, grace and acceptance of all of me. My heart is fuller, more open and allows me to demonstrate forgiveness, compassion, understanding, generosity, kindness, cheerfulness, positivity, and love. I am more aware of my divinity and of the universe and how we are always held and supported. Magic exists in this world and I see it manifested every day

Because of Derek, I am a Energy Healer and Grief Counselor helping others navigate through the deepest and darkest parts of themselves.P1000637

Because of Derek, I have discovered the treasure of deep and satisfying friendships with amazing men and women who either through their own loss and grief or challenges have inspired me to keep getting up and bravely live life. It is my deepest honor to call you my family.

My heart is still broken and the pain is sometimes unbearable but I will not jump on the “anniversary train.” For June 11th not only represents an incredible physical loss but the start of an eternal life with Derek that that inspires and keeps me helping others.

When I finally got out of bed I found a card on the floor from Derek in which he wrote “I love you with the deepest part of my soul now and through eternity…We’re on a Journey Together…”

We certainly are on a journey and have been even before I met you…thank you for always reminding me that love never dies.

 

 

What I’m Watching: “Mr. G and Jellybean”

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A BEAUTIFUL story that shows how the pathways of grief is felt energetically and physically — but that deep emotions and love never ends.

I’ll Love You For A Thousand Years

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Over thirty years ago, a little boy from Connecticut dreamed of being friends with a brown-eyed girl with red suspenders and pig tails. In the Bronx, that little girl knew that she would be with a boy with sparkling blue eyes. And when she finally met him for the first time, she told him ‘she was going to marry him’ to which he replied ‘thank God, I thought you would have found me crazy had I said it first.’

That night I was blessed with the gift of my twin soul connection – the other half of my soul. P100018000

Through Derek I learned that no matter how many people I’ve lost in my life, I had an enormous love to share with the world.

I learned that fear was a choice as I explored the world and the deepest and best parts of myself with wonder and enthusiasm. Derek learned how unconditional love can transform the deepest part of a being (no matter how hurt or damaged) into an illuminated being of love. I also learned how to drive really, really fast. J

It has been a year, since my illuminated twin soul has left this physical world. And not a day passes that I do not wish to look upon those sparkling blue eyes. But, as he promised, Derek has never left my side and in the last year, I have been blessed and have learned more than I ever could imagine.

 I’ve learned that:

Love Never Fails.” This was on the cross that I received from an anonymous sender the day Derek passed, but it speaks to the truth that true love, unconditional love lasts beyond this physical world and radiates forever. Derek supports me every day in the mundane and magical sense and my life has been forever changed.

I’ve learned that we are divine beings having a human experience. And we can make our choices in life either based on FEAR or LOVE. I may have experienced death more than most but I always strive to operate out of love and compassion.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, I have learned that I am LOVE and am LOVED. I thank God for my family especially at NBC and my core group who hold my hand every day, make sure that I am breathing when I forget how to and know when I say that “I’m Ok” that sometimes I am Ok but most of the times I’m not just trying to be strong and that’s “OK.” I am also blessed that Derek has guided me to meet “angels” who like myself have lost their soul mates and through the journey have taught me incredible strength, love and compassion. I love you all.

I’m only mid-way in my journey and have so much more to learn and be inspired by. The pain is still ever-present and I acknowledge that it will be a part of me today, tomorrow, 5 years from now or until the day I pass into the next realm. But the one lesson that I’ll never forget is that “I have loved Derek for a thousand years; I’ll love him for a thousand more.”

Signs and Messages: Dragonfly

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They that love beyond the world
cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies| William Penn

I had originally intended to make tonight’s posting about two books I have been reading — Heaven and Earth by James VanPraagh and Psychic Intuition by Terry and Linda Jamison. However as I started to type, I felt the need for some background noise and decided to look for a movie to watch. So, it wasn’t just a coincidence that I would open the video cabinet and see the movie title, Dragonfly staring right at me.

Since Derek’s passing, I’ve been graced with the presence of dragonflies. An insect that I may have seen only a couple of times in my lifetime, has been appearing everywhere — in front of my home, darting around the car as I commute to work; I’ve even seen them in the city.

Dragonfly at Bear Mountain

Their presence has been so noticeable I had to look up their symbolism: Dragonflies are a symbol of spiritual awakening, rebirth and immortality. When mating, dragonflies form a heart shape so they are also a symbol of love. The spirit of love is evident in this film.

In the movie, Kevin Costner plays, Joe Darrow, an Emergency Room doctor mourning the death of his wife in a bus accident in South America. Overcome with grief, he begins seeing signs of his wife trying to reach to him from beyond the grave — some of it revolving around a dragonfly which was representative of a birthmark on his wife’s shoulder and was her totem.

As  Joe, who is an atheist, tries frantically to make sense of it all , his colleagues and friends begin to worry that he is losing his mind. In a pivotal scene in which Joe is tying to make sense of everything, his close friend, Miriam (played by Kathy Bates) tells him, “You gotta do the hard stuff, like I did. Like everyone does. You gotta clean out the closets, empty the drawers… and take down the vacancy sign that says “Emily’s ghost is welcome here”…and get on with your life without her.”

Even when others tried to stop him, he persisted in the belief that Emily was reaching out to him.  As he began “opening his mind and heart to faith”, he was led to a small village in Columbia where he discovered that his wife had given birth to a child before she passed. When he sees his daughter he realizes that she too has a dragonfly birthmark. Had Joe listened to the ego instead of his intuition, we would have missed his miracle. “What she (Emily) taught me in life, she taught me in death…to trust, to have faith. Because as a friend of mine once said, “It’s belief that gets us there.””

Our loved ones are always around to support us with their love and guidance. However it is only when we put ego aside and believe that we are able to see their signs.

Derek used to tell me that we were a “power-soul” couple. While it is suggested that we have multiple soul mates in life, he knew that it has always been just the two of us through all of our lifetimes and that our love in this lifetime would be so strong that it would radiate beyond death.

Since, the moment of Derek’s passing he has been giving me messages of love and has been guiding me towards a journey of spiritual awakening. While the sadness and pain of his loss is very real, the last three months have been a miracle. I am blessed to have a guardian angel who has never left my side and who blesses me with signs and messages that re-affirms that love never dies. He is helping me to find my life’s purpose and to live life as authentically as possible. Had I listened to others and just moved on I would have missed this miracle. Because of the strength of our love I never faltered in faith, and because of that I see life differently — I feel life differently. I see and feel how our paths and its actions and inactions are all interconnected.

Even in spirit, Derek always has his arms wrapped around me and I welcome it with extreme gratitude. I feel his physical loss everyday, but I’ve learned that in death a new life comes into the world. In Derek’s passing, a new life of love has been born through me that continues to amaze me. “Love Never Fails” whether in this life or in the next and it is belief in the power of that love that gets us there.

Reflections: Elephants Mourn the Death of “The Elephant Whisperer”

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I just wanted to take an opportunity to share this beautiful and inspiring story that a friend just emailed to me.

Lawrence Anthony, a renowned conservationist passed away on March 7th. Two days later, his family witnessed the solemn procession of formerly violent and rogue elephants that traveled 12 hours to pay their respects to their rescuer.

Wild Elephants travel 12 hours to pay tribute to Lawrence Anthony. Photo courtesy of the Anthony Family.

 

 

While most mammals show only a passing interest in the passing of their own, elephants are spiritually recognizant of those who’ve passed over (even over long distances) and congregate to mourn those they love.

To read more about Lawrence Anthony and on this amazing story click here.

Hanging By A Thread

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In need of getting some fresh air to clear my mind, I went down the block to Nyack Beach. This weekend has been a difficult one for me as I feel Derek’s physical absence more than I have within the last 2 months. Someone once described the loss of a husband/partner with the loss of a limb. You can’t see it — but you feel the limb as well as the incompleteness of it being missing. It’s a terrible mental and emotional pain that doesn’t go away.

The “beach” which is really more of a hiking/bike trail with picnic benches lies next to Hook Mountain and is adjacent to the Hudson River. It’s always been a favorite Sunday ritual for Derek and myself to walk along the paths snapping pictures and enjoying each other’s company.

I picked a quiet picnic table to sit and read my new book — The Afterlife Connection, which examines a psychotherapists’ experience with afterlife communication and how our bond with loved ones is not just psychological. I was on a chapter that discussed how our loved ones are always around to provide signs so as long as we are open to the connection and can recognize their signs when sent. As I began reading a case study on a young woman reaching out to her father in spirit about a career decision, a bee landed on the book and started moving side to side as if it were reading the page with me. Not looking to get stung, I gently tilted the book down for the bee to move away. Instead of flying off it moved up and started walking up my arm — my instant reaction was to stand up which prompted the bee to fly away. If Derek were with me he would have instructed me to have my Off fan with me; with the reminder of him not being there to tell me this I began cry instantly. “I can’t do this anymore…I’m hanging by a thread, Derek. I need you.”

As I start wiping the tears away I noticed a few autumn leaves falling to the ground. I looked up and saw what appeared as a branch hanging in mid-air below a tree. Upon, closer inspection, the branch was hanging on some type of string. Maybe it was a fishing line that somehow became tangled with the branch and the tree or maybe someone put it there (although I don’t see what the purpose of doing that would have achieved). Whatever the reason, this branch remained as part of the whole tree and moved ever so slowly and gracefully even as the leaves were blowing against the strong morning wind. “Hanging by a thread”, the branch wasn’t in danger of falling. And I wouldn’t be in danger of falling as long as I held onto Derek’s hand. I smiled and whispered, “Thank you for keeping me from falling.”