Where to Find Deep Gratitude

Turning your grief into gratitude is not something that happens overnight. It takes mindfulness to find the gratitude in the grieving.
Those first few weeks were an experience I would not like to relive anytime time soon. My days consisted of getting up, getting the kids ready for school/daycare, dropping them off and then going back to bed till about Noon. I was off work and had no focus or direction other than the kids.  When the kids were home, my world revolved around them, and I honestly have no idea what we really did each day… though likely it was extremely boring. 
I was given as much time as I needed for bereavement leave (which was a blessing on its own) though after about 3 weeks, I was starting to go a little stir crazy at home.  I realized that I needed to find my focus again. But how?  Going back to work was a start. This is also when I started a gratitude journal.  The 1st page in the journal was so simple and basic though at the time, these were BIG things in my life.

I was grateful that I got up and got my kids to school/daycare on time that day. The dog was well behaved and everyone went to bed nicely.
Those are the things that I was grateful for on that very day in late September 2011. Finding gratitude for the small and simple things is necessary in beginning of loss and they are still necessary now. There are still days like yesterday when I made 5 round-trips about 3 hours from my home to various kid’s events in town. On days like this, I am still exceptionally grateful for the little things including that everyone got dinner at a reasonable time.  
As I moved through my journal in review for this piece I could see how my evolution of gratitude changed greatly over the months following Mike’s death. I started to notice I was grateful for larger and larger things in my life. I even found my entry from December 4th which was the 2nd/3rd date with the man who is now my second husband. 
My #1 thing that I was grateful for on that day was to have spent time with a man who wanted to know me, know my story, know my hopes and dreams and allowed me to be the woman I was and was becoming with him. 
I was also grateful that my kids went to bed without a fuss that night too though as you can see my gratitude evolved as I grew into the woman I was meant to become following my loss. Now my journal still consists of the simple things though it also focuses on the amazing beautiful things that I have been blessed with in this life including my MWC sisters. I would not have met the amazing women I host in my home each month had it not been for my loss. It was not something I could see then, though now I can see how I treasure those friendships, relationships and the deep understand more than ever now.
Harnessing my energy to focus on those seemingly small things made it easier for me to put energy into the big things in life. When we start to focus our energy on what we have and what we are grateful for it is much harder to put energy and mindfulness into the things we don’t have or what we are missing at that time. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t miss Mike or that I didn’t long for him to be back in our lives though I knew in my soul that he was gone and that my life had to move forward; becoming as beautiful and wonderful as it should be.
Grief and gratitude is like a river, ever flowing and ever changing. I encourage you as we move through this holiday season, to face your life and the world around you with a grateful heart. It truly will change your life if you allow yourself to find gratitude in the small and big.

Blessings,

 
Lyn

My Tribe

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I sat around a table full of women in February and on my way home I recalled a time when I sat in my home office in the week after Mike had passed; all of the family and friends had gone home it was just me and the kids. I recalled the feeling of intense loneliness; I felt as if I was the only 33 year old widow in the world and I was so alone. The tears almost overwhelm me now thinking about those feelings and how alone I felt during that time. I was not alone really, I had tons of friends, family and people who were circling around to help and support us; though none of them could really understand what young widowhood looked like. I am grateful for a friend who reached out to a widow they knew who then had that widow reach out to me – we live hundreds of miles away from each other but she was the beginning of the expansion of my tribe.

Over that first year my tribe began to slowly grow by connecting with other widows on-line which now seems obvious though in 2011 it wasn’t the 1st place to look for support. In my searching for other widows I found Modern Widows Club and Carolyn Moor. She is my friend and mentor and has helped me personally reach some of my goals which included starting my own MWC Chapter in Waconia; I am watching my tribe grow and grow each month.  This is the tribe of women that sit around my dining room table each month; we connect, grow, love and support each other. They remind me that I need them as much now as I did all those years ago sitting in my home office. Yesterday as I sat around that table with those beautiful women it reminded me why I keep reaching out to widows within our community and reaching out to organizations that can help support widows.

e688121c396f24b9f722b7727da697f5My tribe now consists of widows and non-widows who support and love widows; my life is fuller because of each of them. Expanding and growing your tribe is one of the first steps in leaning into life in widowhood.

Blessings,

Lyn

Red Thread

An invisible red thread connects those that are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.”   ~ Chinese Proverb
 
  I believe we are all connected to each other. Love brought you here; and LOVE will be what helps you continue to grow and lean into life.
 
Love for self, Love for others, Love for life!
My first husband Mike died in 2011, beyond the obvious missing of him I missed what he helped make me into. I wasn’t sure if I could love myself enough to be the woman he knew I was and could be, though I knew I had to try to find that woman. I have learned over the years of putting myself first occasionally that I LOVE me! Finding me again helped me love my new life in a wonderful and beautiful way so that I could live the life that I had dreamed even if Mike wasn’t here for it.

Now I am purposeful in my time focused on me. I found what works for me is going to a yoga class, reading, spending time at the lake, vacations focused on relaxing and Modern Widows Club. Every one of us has things we can do to mindfully heal ourselves and love ourselves, though it takes
time and purpose to find what works for you.
I encourage you to lean into that love that brought you here and to the love that will help you create and grow into this life that is before you.
Blessings,

Lyn 

Real Life Widow

Hunting Widow

Sports Widow

Work Widow

Fishing Widow

Harvest Widow

The list goes on and on of how women use the word widow all over the place to explain how their spouse is off doing something they enjoy and they are left behind for…”gasp”…a few days.

Please don’t confuse your “widowhood” that includes shopping, sales and spas with my real life widowhood!”

I am no saint for sure and I likely used the word nonchalantly prior to being a real Widow. I realized though real life loss that I would take Mike back in a heartbeat even if it meant I didn’t see him much on the weekends in the fall and spring as I was a “Farm Widow”.

I pray for the women that sound like they are complaining about their “widow” status that they never experience real widowhood.

If you are reading this you know at least 1 Widow in your life – ME. If you have ever used this word and you are not truly a widow please consider how it might make the Widow in your life feel; when you try to compare your weekend without your spouse to her lifetime without her spouse.

Ponder that for a while and while many here in Minnesota get closer to what is referred to “hunting widows weekend” think about what you could do for a Widow that you know and how you could possibly make her full-time Widow status easier. On a side note that just because your friend is dating/remarried or has been widowed for many years doesn’t mean she “Revokes her Widow Card“.

Here are a few ideas from my friend and mentor Carolyn Moor, Founder of Modern Widows Club.

  • Donate to Modern Widows Club – We serve to empower widows to lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society. We do so on-line and within 15 cities hosting social hours each month.
  • Offer to babysit her kids so she can run errands in peace, get a massage or grab a coffee uninterrupted.
  • Bring her a meal
  • If you’re a handyman offer to fix that broken door handle, tune up her snow blower, put away her patio furniture – the list here could go on and on….
  • My personal favorite is offer to spend Friday or Saturday night with her! Bring a bottle of wine, a great movie, snacks and enjoy her company.

Widows are the busiest and loneliest women that I know.

Much love,

Lyn

 

Duality of Loss

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Today the weather fits my mood or maybe the weather dictated my mood for today. Either way I am 100% completely sad and want to curl up under the covers, binge watch Netflix and mope. So I am going to do just that for a while; I am granting myself permission to grieve; to honor these emotions and feelings today. Then I am going to step back outside my “waiting room” and focus on the great things in my life. Mike wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

It is hard to believe that Mike has been gone for 5 years…157,784,760 seconds. That is a lot of time that has gone by since I last held his hand or heard his voice tell me that he loved me. That is also a long time for life to move forward in amazing ways. The kids are thriving and I am blessed to love and be loved by an amazing man. This is the “duality of loss”. Grief and loss never goes away, we learn to live and move forward in amazing ways when we can see and honor both sides of loss.

life

I am beyond grateful for this beautiful life that I have right in front of me and the man I get to love every day, though today I am honoring and remembering the life that I originally had planned and the man that I love every day but lost.

Blessings,

Lyn

Remarried Widow

    

  
I would not be on this plane enjoying Gods beauty or a free margarita if my husband had not died. Who knows where I would be but that isn’t for me to ever know because that wasn’t my journey. This is my path; God created me for this purpose. 

I flew home from Sedona last Sunday after a beautifully inspiring weekend with my “soul sisters”, the other Chapter Leaders for Modern Widows Club. 

Spending 4 glorious days with these amazing women helps me to remember: 

  • Mike is so proud of me and how I am living. This is what he wanted for me and he told me before he died, I just didn’t know what it looked like till now. 
  • Life is short – live loudly and boldly for what you believe. 
  • Every journey is different, but beautiful in its own right. 
  • The only person I ever have to be is ME!

I am connected with my “soul sisters”. We have a connection and a bond that can never be broken. No matter how many miles separate us we will always have each other’s backs. These “sisters” include the widows that come to my home every month for our social hour. I am grateful and thankful for each of these women because they hold a very special place in my heart❤️. I am especially thankful for my dear friend Carolyn Moor. She founded Modern Widows Club and had allowed me the opportunity to flourish after my loss. 

Enjoy this beautiful long weekend with lose you love and remember to be grateful for all that you have! 

Blessings,

Lyn

Demolition Day

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As I celebrated my middle son “graduating” today from 4th grade and heading to middle school; I am also just a little sad about what memory this day will always hold too. I have had a few demolition days in my life, but this is the anniversary of a very memorable demolition day. Today 6 years ago Mike was diagnosed with a brain tumor and everything in my life that I knew fell down around me. I have heard before everyone is just a moment away from their knees and believe me that is the day that I hit my knees like I had never till then.

Music connects my heart and soul to what rings true in my head so today when I heard Nicole Nordeman’s song  The Unmaking it rang true with my how I have turned this life changing day into a beautiful and amazing life but it took a lot of work to get here. There have been many days that I been unmade and life has fallen apart around me…all that was planned had to be changed. There is beauty in the breaking of the life that once was because now I can find the life that God had planned for me. Mike’s diagnoses was just the beginning of how God had to help me lose myself to draw closer to him. I was also reminded as her words rang true “Before each beginning there must be an ending” and my life as I knew then and even Mike’s life had to end before I could begin again. It was all God’s plan which is hard to understand when you are in the thick of it. As I look back now on this “anniversary” I can see the beauty in the story and the history.

May you find a song or two or even 100 that hold you up, help you find strength and courage to keep moving forward no matter where you are at within your journey in life. I would love to hear what song makes you sing at the top of your lungs in the car and even though it might make you cry does it bring you peace too?

Here is the link for Nicole’s music video – Enjoy!  https://youtu.be/VQkHD15J7HI

One of the things that has come out of remaking of this life for me is writing a book about what it is like to be on the other side of the cancer journey as the spouse. Below is a quick excerpt out of my book, I hope to publish it someday, but right now it is for me and the kids and small pieces that I share with you.

The door slowly opened and a sweet, soft-spoken nurse came out and told us that the phone on the table next to us was going to ring and on the other end would be Mike’s oncologist from the Mayo Clinic. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think about the next thing that was going to happen and how our world was going to be demolished in just seconds. The phone rang and Dr. Hubbards voice was on the other end and then clear as day she said “I hate to do this over the phone, but Mike you have a brain tumor”. I think I might throw up, I think I might throw up. God help me!!!

What are your demolition days and how have you turned the rubble into something beautiful?

Blessings,

Lyn