The Bag Carrier

February 21, 2020

They will grab your arm as you are walking down the street minding your own business.  They will yank it a little, not too much at first.  When you don’t stop walking, they will jump in front of you loudly speaking.  Forcing you to stop and listen to their expectations of you.  You see, they are used to you carrying their bags.  Taking on some of their responsibilities on top of yours.  After all, you have carried their bags before.  You told them it was ok to do so. Didn’t you?  You even smiled while they yanked your arm.  And told them not to worry. You got this. You are that strong, that capable.  But today, this time around you won’t pick up the bags they dropped at your feet.  You go around them so you can keep walking.  You don’t need to prove yourself anymore.  They try to drop them off again, stopping you from that walk of yours.  You see them. You wave. And once again, you move on.  Without their bags.  Without their drama and certainly without their responsibilities.  The other day, I got an email from someone pointing out how he expected me to ‘carry more of their bags than I was already carrying.’  This person went on to tell me that because I did not carry their bags they are feeling the heat.  They then said, that they were grateful I was such a good bag carrier, but they expected 4 more bags being carried by me.  I stayed with that for a while.  My normal response would have been apologetic, friendly even.  Feeling that I have failed them.  I would have been desperately trying to find a way to add their bags on top of mine so I don’t disappoint them.  Look, I can carry 4 more bags. Let me show you. Let me prove it to you.  Let me convince you that I am a strong bag carrier so you can invite me again to carry your heavy bags. So you are not mad at me.  So you can still think I am that special.  Well, I decided to keep going without their extra 4 bags.  I carried what I thought was mine to carry and left the rest.  I thanked them for letting me know that there were 4 more bags I should have picked up and went my merry way.  Of course when you stop saying yes to other people’s expectations of you, they won't go down without a fight.  Without sulking. Without the silent treatment.  The list is long.  But you are worth the fight.  You are worth the respect.  Enough is enough. (Click to tweet!) You no longer need to prove to anyone else how very special you are.  With less bags and more self respect, Christina P.S. We will be getting closer to heaven on March 20th, come away with me.  Register here: https://www.1440.org/programs/faculty-led-programs/personal-growth/self-discovery/temple-journey

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The Deep Sound of Life After Loss

February 14, 2020

I wish I could play the piano.  If I did I would find a special key for rejection.  And it would sound like a drumming sound.  Piercing through every layer of my heart.  It would be probing.  And lengthy.  It would allow the ears to also know how it feels to be turned down.  I would then look for the key to depression.  Slightly more discerning.  Thin, sharp like a knife.  Searching to find a place to land within, and stay.  In hiding. Until the key for rejection is used again.  And that space depression has sat on, gets bigger and bigger.  The music begins to sound like you are being dragged to the left and then to the right.  Drumming at first then probing.  The sound of torture.  But wait. Just wait.  We are missing a key.  Grief.  This piano key is like an open window in the cold of winter.  It’s sound has air to it but the kind that hurts.  It resembles a melody but it certainly isn’t. (Click to tweet!) It can be confusing because of its romantic nature to it.  But it's the kind of romance that has just ended. When you bring all three keys together you get a symphony that draws out tears in the dryest eyes.  The overwhelm of these three together can make someone want to end all the sounds forever.  One may want to kill that piano forgetting the existence of the other 85 keys because rejection, depression and grief have monopolized the piano player.  But that open window, that grief forgot to close brings in a new sound.  This key from the neighbor's piano is about hope and it sounds almost like OM.  Yes that’s right, like the OM you find in meditation.  Can you hear it? OM OM  Wait. Wait, there is another sound coming in just after the OM key.  This one sounds like someone is singing la la la.  But no voice can mimic this sound.  Only a key on the piano.  This one is the key of joy.  The kind of joy that comes from a child. Innocent.  And just like that the key of joy goes right after the key of hope.  OM la la la OM la la.  And the sounds of depression, grief and rejection are being altered, forever.  Their loud probing makes a background that amplifies OM enough to make it sound deeper. Possibly the sound of life.  Drumming and probing still, but with the keys of life sounding la la la ommmmm. That my friend is the sound of a new chapter for someone who experienced a devastating loss.  In case you ever wondered how it would all sound.  Now you know.  Can you hear it?  With lots of la la la las, Christina P.S. A few more days left to register for our weekend together. You can register here: https://www.1440.org/programs/faculty-led-programs/personal-growth/self-discovery/temple-journey

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The Imperfect Self During And After Loss

February 7, 2020

Who you become while you suffer a loss, is imperfect.  The personality that comes through when you are grieving will make plenty of mistakes.  It will have an ego.  A brutality in your words. A mean streak in your exchanges.  A hatred of your circumstances.  A self dance that hurts in every move.  It is a cruel timeline.  During the time the loss is taking place, the years of caregiving, the immediate weeks and months of the initial shock of what has happened, you will live in an imperfect way.  Grief brings along feelings of hatred, anger and ego but even these words fail to describe the anguish of our choices throughout.  The choices we have to make in the midst of pain.  Who we get to be during loss and the immediate after, is someone we have never been before.  Someone who’s pain turns our identity into an angry beast.  While loss is happening it is like an avalanche without end and we are running away from it while screaming for mercy.  And during that run we make mistakes, we say wrong things.  We become someone we don’t like.  When I look back in my years of caregiving, I see a woman who felt alone in the dawn of her husband’s silence and horror of his own terminal diagnosis.  She made mistakes trying to save herself from the pain. She was not patient even in the midst of the many years of patience.  She was not selfless even in the years of giving to him.  She created an inner narrator to protect herself from the hurt and that inner narrator was mean sometimes.  Making everyone an enemy.  To keep her from hurting more.  The complexity of our persona during loss has never really been understood enough.  By anyone.  And we are left in the darkness of ourselves, surviving the loss while its falling on us like an unending avalanche.  Surviving it, rarely happens with kindness.  We survive it by making wrong moves, mistakes and saying words that would have been hard to imagine coming from us.  But you can’t care for the world while you are saving yourself from catastrophic loss.  You will be imperfect, selfish, insane even and that is the only way to make it during the moments of impact. (Click to tweet!) In time, we have to find our way to self forgiveness. We have to understand the imperfect self that got us down the mountain. Believe that without it, we would not have made it.  The loss would have taken us all with it.  So, if you feel guilt, shame and regret for some of the choices you made during the chaos, don’t.  These selfish acts saved your life.  As far as I am concerned, there was no other way to outrun the avalanche.  This was the only version of you that could make it through.  Now that you know this, you can understand the past better.  You are a good and kind person who found yourself on the inside of insanity and had to survive it.  Don’t you ever forget it.  With a very imperfect life, Christina P.S. This week’s Dear Life Podcast was about friendships after any kind of loss. I hope you listen in: http://www.dearlifepodcast.com/episodes/ep34 PPS. A few more days left to register for our weekend together: https://www.1440.org/programs/faculty-led-programs/personal-growth/self-discovery/temple-journey

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Let’s Make Up A Brand New Life

January 31, 2020

Sometimes, witnessing everyone else’s life can confuse the witnessing of our own.   It can distort our view of our wants and needs.  Observing someone else’s ways can influence ours.  This can be rather alarming, especially when we are not even aware that we have grandfathered someone else’s choices.  How did that happen?  Here is how.  We don’t live in isolation.  We are immersed in other people’s lives.  Everyone you meet holds a whole world inside their head.  They walk around with it.  And they try to make their world right.  More right than ours.  More relevant than everyone else’s.  Their way is the way.  Guess what happens to us? Their version of reality becomes more attractive the more we witness it.  It is almost like hypnosis after a while.  We are in a better vantage point to witness someone else’s life instead of our own.  So, we want what we see and not what we have.  It is easier to say I want this too than to ask what is it that I do want?  Copying is faster and easier than creating from scratch.  So we begin new chapters and lives mimicking someone else’s. (Click to tweet!) Pretending it is our own.  Thinking it's our own.  Believing it is.  It is as if everyone is walking around with a flat screen tv broadcasting their show hoping for an audience.  And we become that audience.  We become the passive broadcaster of someone else’s channel.  And the years go by and we wonder what is wrong with our life.  The thing is, this is not the life that we created, it is the life we were shown that we could have. And so we went ahead and had it.  The closer we got with others, the easier it was for our life to be replaced.  Replaced with someone else’s version.  But it doesn’t have to stay this way.  You see, when we go through loss we have an opportunity to broadcast our own show, and live the life we want.  When loss happens all of the close by TVs on top of people’s heads turn off for a few seconds.  The loss is so devastating that we stop broadcasting anyone else’s world.  The pain takes our eyes off the others.  There is a short window of opportunity while our eyes are off everyone else’s screens to witness our own broadcast even though it is so painful.  When my life changed in 2006 and I tried to go back to broadcasting everyone else’s version of my life it felt as if I was betraying myself.  And I kept interrupting their streaming.  I kept pushing them away.  Until I could see what I could create on my own.  From scratch. From my own head.  My own identity. This letter is for you if you feel like it is time to make it all up yourself.  Because to be honest with you, that is all everyone else is doing.  They are making it up and we go and follow their made up worlds around.  I have stopped doing this for quite a few years now.  I am not going to lie to you, creating an original life is not easy.  But living inside someone else’s version of reality is even worse.  With buckets of original content, Christina P.S. This week’s podcast was with Amy Ahlers, and we talked about our inner critic, our inner mean voice, especially after loss.  PPS. We have Temple Weekend registrations from all over the US, I hope you too come be with me in March. And yes it will be original. Yes it will be unlike anything you have ever experienced. Because this is the only way to live life after a loss.

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