Many Stories, Many Homes.

March 6, 2020

You start out with one small home.  There, you put the toughest memory of your life.   Your saddest story.  The one thing you cry about in bed at night.  You visit it daily.  You bring it out when you can.  You share it with others.  And then one day, something else happens in your life.  Something harder than that first story.  You take the new story in your arms, you welcome it in that same home. At first, you try to visit them both. But as soon as you walk in, the two sad stories of your life overwhelm you.  You attempt to heal them together, and it feels really tough to do.  You try to take them out of the house and tell a friend about them both, and it's too much. On your way back from your visit with your friend, you decide to build a second home for your new painful story.  You know this is the best thing for everyone.  You will of course visit both stories equally.  But as you grow older you experience many new painful stories. You now have at least 12 homes. One for each story.  And let’s be honest, lately you barely get the chance to visit most of them.  The most painful stories hardly see you anymore.  You don’t even wave as you pass by each one of their homes.  It is too much for you to even glance at them, never mind take them out and share them with your family and friends, especially with the new people in your life.  As more time goes by these new people don’t even know your most painful moments.  They may have heard about two or three of them the most.  But they certainly could not imagine there are that many others.  They have never been discussed.  I remember a few months ago, I told someone relatively new in my life one of my sad stories. One that was quite important but was never shared before.  There was not even a prior hint of its existence.  I saw my friend’s eyes widen with surprise.  You see, most people have many painful memories.  Airing them all at the same time can be traumatic.  Compartmentalizing them can save our lives.  Dear friend, I know you have built many beautiful homes for your most painful memories.  And you had to restrict visitations to some of them so you could go on.  But now and again, we meet a person who can help us carry them all out for a visit.  It is rare. Of course it is.  But when that person, possibly a multiple home builder themselves, comes into your life and together you share all of your stories, you can save not just yourselves but all the generations ahead of you.  With many untold stories, Christina P.S. SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS at 1440 Multiversity. A few more spots left. Register here: https://www.1440.org/programs/faculty-led-programs/personal-growth/self-discovery/temple-journey

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Hanging Upside Down in The Middle of Nowhere

February 28, 2020

What if I told you that the journey you are on is so long that you can’t see the end of the tunnel.  That every day will feel like eternity, and every step is so small that you can’t tell if you are healing or not.  Then what if I said to you that some days you will feel as if you are going backwards.  Other days you will be stuck and won’t be able to move at all.  You see, this is the absolute truth of life after loss.  Anyone who tries to sugar coat it, is lying.  Anyone who puts a timer on it is a fool.  Here is what I discovered on this long road.  Grief is grief at first. Relentless. Gut wrenching.  And sure you go through the stages during that time.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  But you are not done. Not done at all.  A couple of years or more down the road you find yourself somewhere nobody told you about. This place is nowhere.  A town without a name.  It almost feels like you go blind and deaf as soon as you enter. Nobody said that after these stages of grief you will still not be done.  It will almost feel like vertigo.  The up is down. And the down is up.  You will be inside a loop. Like a broken record.  Remember the record players we used to have?  When there was a scratch on the record the dial would keep jumping to the same two second track. That's what life after the stages of grief is like.  This is also why I have spent 10 years of my life trying to fix the record so we can experience Life Reentry. The gap. The scratch. The loop.  Maybe small. Almost invisible. But don’t be fooled.  It holds millions of us.  The hidden stage of grief is what I have coined the Waiting Room.  The tough thing though is, that it is not a stage.  Or a phase.  Or anything that makes you believe it is a passing thing.  The Waiting Room is a loop. A broken record. A prison.  A place without an end or a beginning.  This is what truly happens to millions of people after loss. (Click to tweet!) The reason why I have been talking about this for a whole decade is so that you know where you are when you are lost.  So you can see. And hear again.  When I am no longer here, Life Reentry will be in all Academia.  Therapists, doctors and scientists will still be able to hear my voice yelling.  “Get out of the Waiting Room.” I will teach this forever because I want you out of the city of Nowhere.  I want you to find a new chapter to go to.  You see now, you are homeless.  Hanging upside down in the middle of nowhere.  You think you are home. You think this is the aftermath of loss.  You think you are going somewhere.  You are, but not if the stuckness part of this long journey lasts forever.  You and I will die there. And I can’t have that happen.  So here’s what you need to do.  Go get the book Second Firsts. Even if you have not lost a spouse.  This is for every loss.  And start doing the work of unstuckenss.  It will save your life.  Do you know what the first step is?  I call it Invisible losses.  The scratch on the record.  The loop on the track. The blindness.  They all come from the losses you can’t see.  Not secondary losses. I know so many people confuse my Invisible Loss work with the word secondary.  The losses I am talking about are invisible.  Hard to track down.  And unless we figure out what we have really lost we can’t get unstuck.  The work of Life Reentry is not easy, but it is your only way out.  Promise you will get the book. Not for me. But for you.  Promise you will say yes to seeing all the things that hurt you.  No matter how hard it is to look at them.  And I promise you that one day your community church, your school, your local therapists will all be trained on this so you can get all the help you need to get pulled out of that Nowhere place. I am working on this behind the scenes for you all.  Hold on tight.  And start the work on your own until I can get to you.  With many blind spots and invisible losses,  Christina P.S. A few days left to register for my weekend workshop.  PPS. And I hope you have listened to this week’s Dear Life Podcast about money after a loss.

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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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