Thursday, September 22, 2016

Missing you on the day you left

I doubt these 30 days in August/September will ever become 'easy'. I miss him. However, as our August 23rd wedding anniversary started that final countdown this year, I can say my heart hasn't hurt as deeply as it did early on. It's no longer a constant physical pain, but rather one that visits from time to time. And I honor it when it visits. I give myself grace.  Today ... the anniversary of the day Vern died is one of those days.

Six years.

It just does not seem possible that six years have passed. I can easily forget where I've placed my keys or hidden the titles to our cars, but I can transport back to 'that day' in a heartbeat and recall every single precious second. The words, the sounds, the peace, the love. And the silence.

My soul knows ... even after six years have passed, I still wake up around 3:30am each day - regardless of what time I crawled into bed. That was the time I had to get up each morning to give Vern his meds before heading out the door at 4:30 for dialysis. That didn't happen this morning. Instead, I awoke at 5am ... the time he died. Six years ago. My heart knows.

My previous blog post mentioned the conversation I had with Mary-Anne Wagner. What a precious gift that has been during these 30 days. I have felt wrapped up in the comfort of the words and visuals she shared with me. I'm not alone, Vern is right by my side. Forever and always. And I must say that the little 'heart' surprises have been plentiful lately.

This has been a busy week. Prepping for our Toronto Camp Widow, working on a class for Brave Girl University, trying to finish up my new web site, working on all of the fabulous details to include in my first soul restoration retreat, staying on top of the activity in Widowed Village, posting my regional group events. I say 'yes' too often, I know, but these are all things that are very important to me. Oh - and I'm also taking an online course through UCBerkeley on 'The Science of Happiness" and doing the "Uninvited" online Bible study with Proverbs31.

I'm 65 ... I have a limited time to do all of the things I need to do to 'become all that I am". So I will pack as much into my days as I possibly can doing good things, being of service, learning, teaching, sharing, giving, listening, caring, loving ... because I know Vern is watching ... and enjoying ... it all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Soul Knows ....

This time of year always seems to bring memories and triggers. Our wedding anniversary is in August and September holds the end days. I've learned what I need to do is just ride the wave and give myself some grace whenever it's needed.

So far this year these months have brought the death of a friend (with the funeral at the same mortuary Vern was at), followed later that same day by a widow friend entering the hospital (and being in the exact same room Vern was in the last time he was there), coming face to face with a couple of my moon people (this is a Brave Girl reference), sitting on a jury looking at spinal MRIs and listening to doctors (words not heard since caring for Vern) and yet another widow friend is in the hospital. Instead of these things bringing me to my knees I found the memories they triggered to be almost comforting ... reminders of the amazing love and soul connection Vern & I shared for 41 years.

Perhaps these were tests to see just how well I'm doing as the 6 year death anniversary date approaches. And I can honestly say that I'm doing ok. Really. That doesn't mean that I don't still have days that I must sit with my grief. I miss him. I will always miss him. This life I'm living now is not at all what I expected it to be. Not at all what I wish it could be. But wishing will not bring my beloved back. So I will live my life for both of us. And I will be quiet and sit with my grief when I must. There is room for both.

My life is filled with many good things. Unexpected things. Friends - in-person and online - that I would never have met without my loss. Creativity and art and retreats and learning and writing that I am quite sure I would not have experienced if we were still 'Vern & Dianne'. I'd give it all up in an instance if it would bring him back, but I know that cannot happen. So instead I choose to be very grateful for the blessings of these unexpected gifts.

Mary-Anne Wagner was one of the speakers at the Brave Girl Symposium. Her soul counseling presentation really spoke to me so I contacted her to schedule a session and it landed just two days after my anniversary. It was an amazing conversation that validated several things in my life and will stay with me forever. One was the beautiful connection that Vern and I have ... even now ... which reinforces why I have no desire or need to seek a new partner. Hearing that he is enjoying watching me have this time in my life was a truly wonderful gift.

And then there's my unexpected gift at WalMart. Her name is Donna. I was in the paint aisle when a woman commented that she liked my haircut and color. I shared my stylist's contact info and we started chatting and didn't stop for over two hours! We just couldn't believe all of the things we have in common. Kindred souls.

I guess the take-away from this post is that I hope you will be open to all of the possibilities that life presents to you. Try new things. Listen to your gut. Hear those whispers. Act on them. You just never know what lovely things they may bring to you.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Our 47th Wedding Anniversary Remembrance

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do this year to honor our wedding anniversary. I loved that first year so much (45 Random Acts of Kindness) but found last year to be difficult. The 5 year mark hit me really hard, so instead of doing something that required me to physically interact with others I just slipped my love notes in public places for unknown people to find (It's all about the LOVE).  So here I was facing my 6th wedding anniversary without Vern and wanting to continue to do something special to honor the love we shared.

And then I recalled Lisa Palmer's presentation about the homeless at the Brave Girl Symposium and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I created these little packages with a love note, encouraging words, a little heart token and $5 tucked inside and distributed them to the homeless people I encountered.

It took me a few days and I still had some envelopes to give out - but as luck would have it, I was selected for jury duty and spent a full week downtown. Sadly, I saw many homeless on my walk from the parking garage to the courthouse. Some were curled up sleeping in a shaded spot by a building, so I just slipped my little package along side them as they slept. Others were sitting on benches or on the curb under the shade of a tree. Handing them these little love notes and having them look right at me and say 'thank you' confirmed that I had made the right choice in how to share my anniversary love this year. In fact, it's been such a good thing that I've made extras that I carry with me so I can continue to give them out.

Sharing love is a gift to yourself. Try it. I guarantee it will fill your heart. And, for me, each time I have handed out one of my little notes I actually feel Vern whispering his love for me.

Monday, July 11, 2016

On being BRAVE ...

I attended BRAVE Girl Symposium last week and it was amazing. Fabulous speakers sharing such incredible messages. Truths revealed. Intentions identified. Important conversations for this scary world we're living in. Meeting people I had only known on-line. So much love and sistering in one place. Those three days filled my soul with love.

I was amazed at the number of Symposium attendees who came alone, not knowing anyone else, not really knowing anything about Brave Girls. Some came just because they receive the Daily Truth emails, some because they've taken a class in Brave Girl University, some because they're fans of one of the speakers. I was able to meet several of these new BRAVE Girls - a couple of them were widowed and I was able to share important widowed resource information with them. And one lovely gal approached me in the hallway after the Soul Restoration Certified Instructors were asked to come on stage. She wanted to know when and where I would be holding my Soul Restoration Retreats because she had noticed me and my 'energy'. Wow - that really made my day.

One of the group art projects was a paint stick quilt. Each attendee was given two paint sticks to write their "She Did It Anyway" words which were glued onto a wall. Really powerful to read all of the words. I was late turning my sticks in, so I think mine are mixed in with those on the floor.

I'll share one of mine with you: "She felt invisible, but she walked into the room with a smile anyway."  That may surprise some who know me - or who know of me - but I really struggle with this and felt it much of Symposium. Never feel quite 'enough' ... even in the midst of lovely old and new friends. I didn't get a photo opp with Melody or Kathy or any of the speakers or 'high profile Brave Girls' and was only asked to be in a couple of group photos. So this is me being BRAVE and speaking my truth for those other gals who were there and felt the same. I'm rather sure I'm not the only one and sometimes just knowing that is enough to help us work on those feelings.

My Symposium experience was tempered by a deep sadness in my heart. Just before leaving for Boise I received word that a dear friend was nearing the end of her cancer battle. Robbie has set such a loving example of kindness and bravery through all of her life's struggles. I debated whether to cancel going to Symposium and instead fly up to Reno that day to see her. But after many discussions and lots of prayer, I decided to head to Boise to fill my empty cup so I would be better able to lovingly say goodbye to my sweet friend. I left Boise for Reno early Saturday morning and returned home Sunday evening. That short time with Robbie was hard. So many triggers taking me back to my time with Vern in hospice. But I am so very grateful I was able to say goodbye, tell her how much she means to me and reassure her that I will be there to support her husband through the coming hard months. Robbie is the BRAVEST woman I know.

Note:  Please see that I've placed links in this blog post that will take you to registering for next year's Symposium, signing up for the Daily Truth emails, checking out Brave Girl University, seeing the list of Certified Instructors and linking to my 'under construction' website about the Soul Restoration Retreat I've scheduled. Some of these are affiliated links for me.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Brave Girl Adventure

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I recently spent 12 days in Idaho for some amazing Brave Girl training. Beautiful location, beautiful women, beautiful souls.

I honestly don't have the words to convey all that I received from my time in the mountains. Unconditional love, for sure. But so much more. Women supporting and encouraging one another. No comparisons. No judgment. No gossip. No complaints. Just lovely women openly sharing their talents, their knowledge, their hearts, their stories. What a precious gift.

The Brave Girl University (BGU) Teacher Retreat took place first. I was rather intimidated going in because these women are already well known for their work and have existing classes and websites. But it didn't take very long for me to be able to put away my "less than" feelings. Serendipitous moments. Kind comments spoken just when I needed them. Offers to help me where I'm struggling. And then there's Melody and Kathy and each member of the Brave Girl team. I know that my life would be very different if I hadn't found them back in July 2012. I am forever grateful.

I'm now working on a BGU class that I would never have thought to do if I hadn't been at this retreat. Lynette listened to my story and immediately said I should prepare a class on it. Of course, I pushed back - but she didn't budge. She recognized that I'm willing to do things for others that I won't do for myself and used that insight to convince me that there are others out there who need to hear this and learn that they are not alone in their struggles. So I will share my little secret and work alongside my students as we each climb our mountain.

While the retreat had a more laid-back schedule, the Soul Restoration Certification Training was very intense. So much really important material to get through, so we started early and finished up late each day.  This course has already changed so many lives and I'm honored to be entrusted to teach it. I'm not sure yet how or where I'll be sharing this course ... whether in women's or teen shelters, a 6-week long weekly class or at a retreat. Lots to figure out with business licenses and insurance and possible venues. Not to mention coming up with a name for my business. I'm working on it and believe that the answers will come.

On that final evening at the lodge in McCall, after all of the hard work had been completed, we stepped outside to view the night sky in all its glory. So breathtakingly beautiful. Countless stars in the dark night. And then we found ourselves in a circle in the middle of the road, embracing one another and softly singing "this little light of mine".  No photo could have captured the exquisite beauty, peace and sisterhood of that precious moment that will forever remain in my heart.

Would you like to learn more about all things Brave Girls? Just ask me and I'd love to share - or click on the links below:

  • Brave Girl Symposium?  Click HERE
  • Brave Girl University (BGU)?   Click HERE
  • 30-day FREE trial for BGU?  Click HERE & use my coupon code:  diannewest
  • Sign up for Daily Truth emails?  Click HERE