Reality Check: Soooo…There are many things to be thankful for, but even good change can be stressful, bringing with it new responsibilities and challenges. I don’t always handle it well. Often, I just buckle down and work harder and de-stress, lately, with something sweet because my schedule has been so intense I’ve not had time to exercise.
Yesterday was particularly long as we finish up unpacking and setting up our new 180 Your Life office space. (Can’t wait to share the pics!) Picked up my kids from school and went to Whole Foods and bought gluten free, soy free, flax-based chocolate chip cookies and thought, “I deserve this,” and ate them.
I’m allergic to chocolate. I often think, “This can’t be real, who’s justifiably allergic to chocolate? No wine and No chocolate? What kind of cruel twist of fate is this?” (I have alcoholism in my family line, so I almost always choose not to unwind with a glass of wine.) Yesterday, I’ll spare the details, I was OH, SO reminded…NO chocolate for me.
I don’t often say this, but I’m a Daddy’s girl. My dad has been my rock, especially after I became a widowed mom. It’s at his encouragement that I started exercising with widows, which eventually became 180 Your Life. The mountain of this grief empowerment dream has sometimes been a steep climb and I wanted to quit many, many times. It’s my father who stands strong behind me and quietly urges me on.
It’s our swan song. Together, we have done many projects and gone on many adventures over my lifetime. Now, as his body gets really thinner and I hear him coughing in the early morning hours, I quietly grieve. He doesn’t want to talk about his health, so we just continue to work this project together. This is his way and I respect it.
But it’s not easy.
Having been through loss, I’ve learned a few things, namely not to be caught off guard by grief, if possible. Make plans so when things hit, you don’t have to make decisions from an emotional place.
I bought a granite family memorial bench a few months ago. It’s unusual, having room for 6 cremains, with big granite wagon wheels for arms. I opted to not have the skull of a long horn steer emblazend on the back, as the sample bench featured.
I thought the wagon wheels were a nice nod to my love of the pioneer spirit, adventure, and, yes, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House. It made me laugh, and I thought laughing in that space would be a good thing. My dad laughed too when he saw a picture of it and added his epitaph, “Smile and Keep on Rollin'”. I venture to say it will be the kitchy-est memorial bench and the only one of its kind at the lovely Arlington Cemetery.
So, when it gets too much, I need another plan outside of chocolate. I know this path and even wrote books about the other plan: getting together to exercise and connect with those who understand the journey. I just didn’t expect to have this long, fresh grief journey after widowhood. I want to do it well with my dad, but often I’m scared. But I know that, if we let it, grief can transform us into our kindest selves. It can also hurt along the way.
I’m walking and talking with some friends this morning. Much better choice than chocolate, though it was delectable for 5 minutes with a nasty 5 hour afterbite.
When life gets tough, connect. Connect in prayer and with friends. Once we get settled, I’m thinking of offering a more regular “walk and talk” for women going through grief. It’s as much for me as for others. PM me if interested. Blessings, Mishael