Grief’s Tomorrowland

January 17, 2020

It is the future that we are afraid of the most, when someone we love dies.  We are afraid of tomorrow.  Tomorrow becomes the most scary monster of all.  You see, grief owns a big mansion inside your tomorrow.  She has three pool houses.  A few gardeners, boats and fancy cars. And is sending you invitations to her big house every day.  She has this smirk on her face while she is inviting you.  Knowing that you have no choice but to visit her on her tomorrowland.  And you tremble and crumble.  You weaken and perish.  The big mansion feels like the house of horrors.  You try everything you can to not visit, but it is impossible.  Tomorrow comes and there you are standing in front of the big door.  You don’t even have to ring the bell.  Grief opens the door and rolls out a big red carpet for you.  “Welcome to your tomorrow.” she says.  Showing her ultra white front teeth.  “Come on now, don’t just stand there.  Come on in and let me show you around.” she continues and puts her arm around you seemingly gently pushing you in.  The door closes and you are being ushered to the kitchen.  “Here, why don’t you sit here all day long?” Grief says and points at an old chair next to the table facing the window.  “Don’t worry about the dishes and the empty fridge, you won’t need much here.” she says and is on her way to the other side of the table, pulling up a chair for herself.  “Tomorrow will be here before you know it, and maybe we can spend it in the bedroom.” she says and smiles with a frozen smile.  As soon as she says the word tomorrow, you feel nauseous.  You wish you could lie down.  “Yes, don’t worry.” Grief says as if she could read your mind.  “The bedroom windows have blinds so you won’t have to see the light at all. We can head up there now if you want.”  At that moment you remember all the many yesterdays you had in this kitchen and in that bedroom buried under the sheets.  And this is what you do next that surprises her. And you.  You leave the kitchen and walk outside. She gets up and runs behind you. Yelling.  “But this is not what normally happens when you get here in the morning. We stay in the kitchen then go to the bedroom.” she says. She is losing her words a little.  “Yes I know.” You respond surprised with yourself a little.  “I just felt like I needed some fresh air today. I haven’t tended to the garden since he died. I miss it.” you say and walk towards the part of the garden that has roses.  You used to take care of them.  You would put the big rocking chair right next to them and read your book.  You missed it.  Yes, you are crying.  Yes, grief is yelling at you.  Yes, the bedroom is calling your name from upstairs.  But tomorrow just became today and you chose to change it, from a scary monster to a rose garden. (Click to tweet!) And for the first time when grief mentions tomorrow to you again, there is a moment where you don’t feel as scared anymore.  You may even drive the big car that’s been waiting to take you for a ride all this time.  And of course you know grief will try to drive you, but let’s worry about that then.  For now, the rose garden is waiting for you for some love and care.  And as you can tell grief is besides herself trying to find a way to sit next to those roses, but the sun is blinding so she turns around and walks back in.  Watching you from that window.  Counting the minutes for your return.  Thinking that tomorrow will be scary enough to keep you inside the house. Once again.  But for now, well for now you don’t have to worry about that.  You won your today.  The sun chased grief away.  And the rose bush garden is blooming again.  And did I mention the car outside of tomorrowland is a bright red?  Grief doesn’t like colors, so you do have a shot at driving.  With many reclaimed tomorrows. And cars with all the colors of the rainbow,  Christina P.S. I hope you are listening to the Dear Life Podcast.  PPS. And you have registered for the Temple World Weekend event.

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How To Cross The Street In 2020 And Other Lessons

January 1, 2020

I know you want to believe in a better decade.  One that won’t break your heart.  One that will only bring you joy and love.  One that will redefine you.  Bring you good people who understand you.  Possibly a new love or two.  Money. Luck. And less grief.  I want all of this too.  But what if there was a different way to look at the new decade or the new year.  What if there was another way to expect a new chapter for yourself.  I don’t think we should be looking for more, for better, for other.  But for knowing. For understanding.  For feeling love regardless of how much love we have lost.  This year let’s look back and see the war zones we have been a part of and how we braved ourselves through them.  We are not here to be comfortable.  Sail through life as if we have already died.  We are here to be thrown in the midst of a big wave.  And swim our way out.  Here are my personal waves and lessons I learned from new invisible losses while navigating life reentry from the loss of my first husband.  *These lessons apply to every kind of loss.  **These are my personal experiences and may not apply to all.    A NEW MARRIAGE  In these last 10 years I fell in love with a new soul mate.  But it has been so different to anything I expected.  It is a different kind of love.  One that is grounded in partnership.  One that needed time to grow to be what it is.  A second love may need a lot more time to grow than a first love.  We come into it without innocence, without dreamy eyes.  We bring tears within the first 24 hours.  We have fear. Anxiety.  We walk in to a new relationship, already tainted.  So it starts from a different place and it requires a longer runway.  Be open to experiencing a different kind of love and you will be pleasantly surprised.    BLENDING A FAMILY  Blending families and raising children that are not your own is not easy.  For the first time in your life you see someone wishing you away.  And this someone lives inside your home and you can’t run and hide.  And this someone is a child you can’t be angry towards.  And you think about your old life and feel like you will never be a whole family again.  You try to parent the kids you were given and you fail every day for years.  It doesn’t matter what you do and what you say, the way they see you without love is something you will always remember.  My lesson from this last decade has been one of unconditional care.  Not love. But care. That you keep caring for your step children even if they wished you were not in their life. You do what is right for your soul and your beliefs.  You stay true to you.  This lesson was tough.  I couldn’t run away from it. I couldn’t change it.  I couldn’t reenter from it. I had to let go of what I thought we could have together.  And that letting go gave me peace.  For those of you with blended families.  Some of you will feel incredible love and rewards. And some of you will never have love reciprocated or see those rewards and we need to be ok with that.  We really can’t make our second life be inside the containers our first life was in.    A NEW IDENTITY  I became someone new in the last ten years.  I made impossible dreams come true.  And I realized that no matter the success, the accolades and the impossible quests ultimately they are not your life.  The identity that is still trying to emerge after loss has nothing to do with your conquests but with how you learn to love, live and laugh again.  That is the only reentry that matters.  And yes, create. Yes succeed. Yes become.  But don’t confuse it for who you are.  I am not my books. My work. My creations.  I am not even this letter that I have been writing since 2010.  I am a simple woman who is struggling to love deeply without fear.  I am a pedestrian always working on learning how to cross the street without getting hit by a car. Loss for me has been the biggest lesson.  Losing love has been incredibly hard.  But finally I am learning to let go and cross the street.  I am learning to love myself again and all the people in my life for who they are and for however long they are here to stay.    We are here to lose everything and everyone we love and still stand on our feet.  And maybe we are also here to find a way to make not lemonade with lemons but calm inside the tsunami that is called life.  Life may be an acronym for LEARN IT FOR ETERNITY.  We are only supposed to keep the love and the lessons. Everything else is passing.  The perfect weight. The great car.  The big home. The success. The money. The jobs.  Don’t work too hard.  Don’t stop dancing.  Sing even if you don’t sound good.  Be curious about people’s lives.  Talk to strangers.  They are on the same trip you are on.  They too lose everything and everyone.  They cry at night like you do.  And they all have a last day.  It’s the exact same trip just different lessons for their eternity.  Everyone is grieving. Everyone is hurting.  2020 is going to be a year made of both sadness and joy.  It is what it is.  The sooner we realize that LIFE means LESSONS,  the less loss we will experience. (Click to tweet!) With crossing many more streets in 2020, Christina

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My Evening With Robert Redford

December 27, 2019

The ice-cold evening froze my feet as I was making my way to my 7:00pm appointment.  The grass was stiffened with snow bursts on it.  It was chilly.  A December night that sounded quiet as I walked from my hotel room to the spa within the property.  We had never been to Santa Fe New Mexico before.  The hotel was situated just 20 minutes outside the city.  The glacial like air I was breathing in my short walk to the spa nearly made me want to turn around and go back to my room. I persisted with my head down walking up to the main desk to check in.  Two smiles greeted me as if they were happy to see me.  I smiled not baring my teeth.  Making small talk about the weather.  And how dark the night seemed away from all the city lights.  They walked me to the changing room and showed me where I should go and sit after I changed.  They pointed me towards a warm lit room with a golden fireplace, and medium size chairs all around it.  I thanked them and proceeded to put all of my belongings inside the locker, including my phone.  I grabbed my key and put it inside my robe pocket.  And started to make my way towards the fireplace room to wait until someone would come and get me for the massage.  I gently opened the door and as I looked up I saw one man sitting there. It took me less than a second to recognize who he was.  Robert Redford himself.  He looked up to see me, and I think he knew, I knew.  He was the only person in the room.  I made a split second decision and walked towards him and sat on the chair right next to him.  Leaving all the many chairs around us empty.  I sat there sinking into my big robe. No makeup, no eye shadow and my uncombed hair in a ponytail.  Unprepared, underdressed to say the least.  It was the most loud silence I ever heard.   This was not like running into a famous person in the streets and asking for a photograph. This was something else.  What forces could have orchestrated such a meeting. We must have sat there in silence next to each other for possibly 5 to 10 min.  Towards the end I started to doubt the experience.  Maybe this is not Robert Redford I told myself.  Maybe a lookalike.  In that moment of doubt the door opened and two women walked in.  One stood in front of me and the other infront of him.  One said Ms Rasmussen and the other said Mr Redford.  We both got up together.  I followed the woman who said my name and he followed his.  We turned left, they turned right.  And that was it. I was back in my own life.  I learned something that day.  You can be inside an ordinary day, feeling as if the whole world is on your shoulders and something deeply extraordinary can happen. (Click to tweet!) Something you could have never expected or imagined.  The moments I spent sitting in silence next to Robert Redford felt like someone else’s life.  But yet I knew it was my own.  Incredibly unlikely, impossibly true.  As we are traveling towards a new decade I want to remind you that at any point, and at any moment in time you can walk inside an extraordinary experience.  As I got back to the changing room picked up my belongings and made my way out into the icy night, somehow I could no longer feel the cold.  My feet did not stumble upon the frozen grass but instead a dark night full of stars.  Smiling by myself walking back to my room, excited to tell my girls about what had just happened.  And when I did the girls responded with “Mommy who is Robert Redford?”  And I just laughed out loud, knowing this was the perfect ending to an evening I was never going to forget.  I know you too have had a moment that defied the odds.  Don’t you forget it.  You live inside a universe that makes no sense, for both unexpected tragedies and miracles.  But we spend so much time focusing on all that we lost that we forget our evening in front of the fireplace with Robert Redford.  With a few unforgettable moments, Christina P.S. See you March 20th at 1440 Multiversity for an extraordinary weekend together. Register here: https://www.1440.org/programs/faculty-led-programs/personal-growth/self-discovery/temple-journey

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The Visit on December 25th

December 20, 2019

I am afraid of a thousand things.  Afraid of losing love.  More people.  Moments that will never come back.  Experiences that I will never have again.  I grieve a thousand things every day.  My wiser self wants to go back in time and witness everything from this self.  The me that is here now.  I even want to go back to my very first Holidays in deep grief.  I want to visit with myself and just follow me around the house.  Run next to me when I was chasing down the mailman.  Cry with me.  Open the door to the friends who came over and brought gifts for my girls.  Drink coffee with me, as I was sitting alone on December 25th, 2006.  Feel his presence at the house, especially then.  He was there with us the first couple of years.  We had put a gift under the tree for him, and somehow it moved on its own.  We all gasped.  I wish I could see that again.  I wish I could witness my grief without all the pain.  I wonder what I no longer remember because the grief got in the way of me staying present.  I want to visit with myself just to see my youth in the midst of all the grief.  I didn’t really know how very young I was then.  Thirty four seemed old to me, if only I knew how young she really was. I wish I could see her physical strength.  She worked all day and took care of the kids after work until late at night.  She was healthy then.  In the beginning of the grief journey her body was ready for the fight, I wish I could go back to celebrate that with her.  I want to see when it was that she started to get tired.  When was it that grief took over? When did she become afraid? I want to remind her of her daughters’ joy in the midst of grieving.  They played. They had fun in the snow.  They giggled at their gifts.  I want to visit with you too.  But most of all I wish for you to have a chance to visit with yourself.  I wish you can marvel at yourself. I hope you will be able to see the courage in your breath while you are drinking that cup of coffee alone on December 25th.  I wish that you can sit by your side and hold your own hand as if you are a wise old friend.  And even though this day is very hard, gaze at yourself getting through each moment however much you lose each second that goes by.  I have built a home around each memory I never want to lose.  And that includes the moments I lost to grief, I have reclaimed them.  By going back to visit with myself, each time I remember a new thing that the pain of grief took away.  May you find the strength to sit back from the loneliness of December 25th, 2019 and marvel at yourself.  And in many ways I am there with you too, keeping you company.  Not letting you forget your courage.  It takes a lot for a grieving heart to get through the Holidays.  It takes a miracle. (Click to tweet!) With many visits, Christina P.S. Listen in to the Holiday episodes on the podcast. PPS. This week marks the one year anniversary of our Where Did You Go? book. Thank you for all your journeys.

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