I Am The Girl Who Was Always Behind

July 12, 2019

I look for signs of my destiny in my childhood sometimes.  I can’t find any.  Not even a small tiny memory that could indicate the future.  “You must have always been a writer,” people say to me.   And the answer is always, no.  Not only was I not a writer, I didn’t even learn to write and speak English until I was a young adult.  The chances of me getting published were close to zero.  I grew up in a small town in Greece.  My aunt had a small school close to my home where she taught English as a second language.  I went there after school.  As a teen I took my first important English as a second language exam and failed it.  Then my aunt Toula, spent nearly every afternoon for weeks with me, teaching me grammar.  My parents sent me to England when I turned 18, and I remember arriving there and feeling like my English was so basic that I could not even understand people when they spoke to me. I was so afraid to go out and about and ask for things in English.  I lived in the Northern part of England, a place called Newcastle.  I had two aunts who lived there.  They were my grandmother’s half sisters.  I stayed in their homes.  They took care of me as if I was their own daughter.  I spent 2 years failing all of my exams to get into college.  Fail. And fail. The third year was my last chance.  I had this professor who used to laugh at me for even trying.  I worked so hard that year (just to prove him wrong) that I didn’t just get in one of the best Universities in the UK, I got the highest grade in his class.  I then spent 5 years at Durham University.  I was 21 in my first year.  Three years older than all of my friends.  Always older. Always behind everyone.  Never ever believing that I could one day be published.  That even the UK book stores where I used to go to, would have my books.  No trace yet of that destiny.  After I graduated from Durham, we moved to the US.  Where I had no work visa, just a spouse visa.  I was not allowed to work here. I had my girls during those early years.  I was a stay at home mom.  And then he died.  My agony. My desperation. My brutal life.  Gave birth to what was hiding all along. I remember sitting in a cubicle in my corporate job.  I looked around me one day and I knew in that moment, there was something else I am here to do.  This was early 2010. Bjarne had passed away in 2006.  It was as if I could see further.  I started with nothing.  Not knowing I was a writer I began quoting words of ‘real’ writers shared every day on my facebook page and slowly a few words written by me.  I would spend hours on one paragraph before posting.  Then it started to happen.  More and more people would comment on my paragraphs.  The facebook page grew. And grew.  This weekly letter was created in 2010.  Not knowing that this was the best thing I could have ever done.  One day completely unexpectedly I asked someone if they knew a book agent.  I had no idea where that came from.  Weeks went by. I had forgotten I even asked.  Then this friend said I may know someone who knows someone.  I was then invited for tea at an author’s house.  We chatted for a bit, it was nice but I didn’t think anything would come from it.  By the time I drove home, there was an email waiting for me.  An introduction to my current book agent, Stephanie Tade.  Surprisingly she said ‘put a book proposal together, I want to be a part of this adventure.’  Around early November in 2011 the proposal was complete.  It was sent out. And we had a few interested parties.  Two publishing houses specifically. One of them, Hay House.  I said yes.  Writing my first book Second Firsts was a scary experience.  It was hard for me to see myself as a ‘real’ writer.  I wrote my way to 70,000 words. Many rounds of edits later.  My first book was published in November 2013.  And I went out to meet my readers. Always pinching myself.  Always thinking they must have it wrong.  I am the girl who was always behind.  Not speaking the language.  I knew then that there were definitely higher powers involved.  This was not just me. It was something bigger than me.  It was a dance between this dimension and the universe beyond.  We partner with the higher powers but nothing is given to us without us reaching, acting, doing, and somewhere deep down, believing it’s possible.  When I wrote my second book Where Did You Go? I had to once again reach outside of the bubble of what I had already created.  I may even be bold and say, I was even more scared than when I was writing Second Firsts. This time I was truly dancing with the powers beyond. I had to go outside of not only my comfort zone, but outside of this physical reality to write about The Temple world.  One day these letters right here, will be a book too.  I am also on my way to completing my first work of fiction.  I share my journey with you today so you know that if I was able to do this, you certainly can. I am now fully aware of our powers to make anything possible and I just want to make sure I use them not only to help others but to create the life I want for myself.  Once you find out that you can co-create with the force beyond, you must also find your way to the responsibility of that power. (Click to tweet!) There is one thing I keep in mind daily.  Death could be here any day and I am going to make every moment of this reality count until that happens.  With many more words to write, Christina  P.S. Here are some resources for you if you want to be published traditionally: Proposal templates for non fiction books here: https://www.twliterary.com/bookproposal/ Stephanie Gunning helped me put together the proposal for Second Firsts. She was also my book editor for the first draft of the book to be delivered to Hay House. Here is her website: https://stephaniegunning.com Kelly Malone helped me put together the proposal of Where Did You Go? She was also my editor for the first draft of the book to be delivered to Harper One. Here is her website: https://wordsup.press Don’t forget, it has always been up to you. (Photo taken in 2009, just a few months before the writing began.)

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Find A Way To Write From The Moon

July 5, 2019

I know this letter matters.  To the person who reads it while sitting alone on the floor.  In bed.  Standing in front of the kitchen sink.  Feeling brutally unseen.  Stuck in a timeless non-validating nature of their life.  I write this for you.  I don’t really care for the person who has been loved by many.  Who lives comfortably and laughs out loud while on the phone with their best friend.  I never wrote for them.  I wrote for the invisible face.  The unheard heart.  The person who has lived an unfair life, for real.  The one who never had it all.  For the one who lost it all.  The one who knows what it means to live within mountains of suffering.  Where there is no valley. Ever.  This is for the person who has learned to live well without hope.  Oh you brave soul.  You have found a way to see yourself in the midst of poisonous loneliness.  In the center of multiple moments of pain.  Never really one event of loss, but millions of them clustering around you.  What is the definition of life when everything is made of loss?  I know you are searching for meaning.  You think, there must be something monumental hiding behind the mountains you have climbed.  I searched for that myself.  But maybe the meaning is more about not caring of the elucid monument but the seeing of ourselves as the only mountain torch.  The glue of all the clusters.  I talk to you the most because it is you who knows how to light up the mountain with your haunting upward steps, regardless of the heartless nature of your path.  You are the only one I respect.  I share my life with.  Especially the darkness.  Everything else, is just small talk.  These letters have always been personal.  Otherwise what is the point of writing to a warrior kneeling on the side of the mountain, hovering between giving up and taking another step.  The only voice you would listen to is the one who knows that just because you don’t look like you are in imminent danger, it doesn’t mean that you are not afraid. Please know that the meaning of your life lives within you, away from the confines of a clean cut life story.  The road is long and dark but it becomes bearable and livable when you find your own meaning about your loss clusters.  Even though I don’t believe there is a reason for everything.  I believe that we can write out our own personal vantage point of view.  I started to write mine for the first time after he died.  Even though this was not my first loss, it was the first time I took over the pen and wrote the next chapters of my life.  I could not write a fairy tale, a happy ending. But I could write myself inside a hero.  I could find a way to the brave words of her life.  Because of that, I know you can too. (Click to tweet!) It’s not about a better, easier fate.  It has never been about that.  It’s about knowing that death is coming.  Loss in plural is inevitable.  And yet you find a way to write a chapter that still has pain but with a view of the stars, the galaxies above you.  You find a way to go and write from the moon.  And you find the meaning.  You see yourself on the side of that mountain, lighting up the way for us all.  And for the first time you feel that it was not all for nothing.  It was for the light in you, you could only see from the moon.  With a moon landing,  Christina P.S. SEE YOU ALL AT OMEGA. Register here:  https://www.eomega.org/workshops/life-reentry-after-loss

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A Glass Of Malbec And A Piece Of Cheese In My Hand

June 28, 2019

Last night I cooked a meal with my girls. We did the whole recipe.  You know, found a recipe, went to the grocery store, got all the ingredients and then spent hours cooking and baking.  I also got myself a glass of wine while I was cooking.  Had a piece of cheese.  And it hit me.  Of course I knew what I am about to tell you for some time now, but last night it hit me differently.  Grief took the simple pleasures of life away from me.  The things I did just for the fun of it.  For the pleasure of it.  They are hardly ever here.  I do know why.  It is exhausting to live fully and to do it just for fun.  Depression, anxiety, grief, pain of the heart are all so tiring that putting effort in pleasure is too much for us.  After a day of surviving the last thing you want to do is find a recipe and cook a new dish while you are having wine from a brand new bottle of Malbec you found at the store.  But isn’t it amazing to make a life that looks like that?  As I poured the Malbec I had a piece of cheese in my hand with the opened recipe book. The pot ready to cook.  The hustle of the kitchen.  The creative mess of the counters.  I took it all in. I lived that moment.  Knowing how I had starved myself from living for the sake of pleasure.  That wine was the best wine I have ever had, somehow.  I swear, time stopped.  It was a moment of reentry.  A moment of living purely for pleasure and enjoyment.  I went to bed last night tired in a different kind of way.  I felt full, not because I made this amazing chicken dish, and my daughters did this incredible lava cake.  I was full of life.  All in all it took about 5 hours of my day from the beginning to the end.  I am behind on work, ahead in life.  Ahead in my relationships.  Ahead in my connection with my girls.  Ahead in feeling pleasure.  Ahead from grief.  And in the midst of living fully yesterday we booked an indoor rock climbing class session for Saturday. Sure, I don’t want to go.  I have been living so much more lately that my body is tired but I can’t stop now my dear friend.  I can’t stop.  I have to keep living.  Here’s to food making, wine drinking, rock climbing, house moving, daily hiking and above all choosing yourself instead of your to do list.  Choosing pleasure instead of work.  Because work is grief in disguise.  Relentless work is anxiety in heels.  Go barefoot, with some cheese in one hand and a Malbec in another and see how that feels. You may cry at first. I know. Life tasting after loss can be bitter sweet.  But we can’t die while we are still alive.  Cheers to us.  With an exhausted body but a full heart, Christina PS. I hope you listened to this week’s podcast episode with my dear friend Michelle Steinke-Baumgard: http://www.dearlifepodcast.com/episodes/ep5

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The Three Green Buckets

June 21, 2019

It is one of the hardest things to do. It took me three years to do it. If it wasn’t for my moving from my house at the time, it may have taken me a lot longer or maybe never. How do we let go of all the personal belongings and clothing of our loved ones who are no longer in this physical world. For the first few weeks I would go in the closet and smell his clothes. After a while they didn’t smell like him at all. It was as if he had never worn them. His shoes particularly used to make me sad. I wanted them to start walking towards me. I know it sounds weird to say. But they just didn’t move. His wallet with our pictures in it always left behind at home. He always had it with him. The toothbrush stayed on the sink for a long time too. Then it was time to move and I had to make decisions. What do I keep? What do I let go? What would the girls want to have when they grow up. And I started going through everything. I bought these green plastic buckets to put in the things I was keeping. And I went through everything with two things in mind. What did he love wearing? And what would the girls want to have one day? I kept his diaries and wallet with my personal belongings, the rest inside the green buckets. He loved to ski and he had this very bright purple ski suit. I kept that. And his favorite jeans and shirts. The rest I gave to goodwill. Since that day I moved three more times, including this last move to Austin. The buckets have traveled with us every time. And I have never thought about all the things that I didn’t keep. I don’t even remember what I gave away now. Selling his car was very hard. He used to drive this little black vw golf. He would tell me that even if we ever won the lottery he would still buy the same car. I cried for a long time before I drove it to the dealership. And when we sold the house we bought when he got diagnosed was painful but looking back at this now I should have sold it as soon as he passed. It was so hard living there for another 3 years. It was almost as if the house created this emotional darkness that I could never escape from. So my dear friend if you are wondering what to let go of, or how long is normal to wait to go through the closet of your husband, wife, partner, child, mother, father, sister or brother. Here are a few things I learned along the way. Wait for as long as you need to. There is absolutely no right or wrong time to go through your loved ones belongings. When it feels it’s time you will know it. And for some people that time never comes. And that’s ok too. You make the rule book. Alone or with a friend When the time comes, ask yourself if you want to do this on your own? Or are you someone who feels ok crying with a best friend or family member. If that’s you, invite someone you trust to do this with you. The questions to ask What are your questions to ask while you are going through all of the belongings. Mine as mentioned were "What did he love?" and "Would the girls want it when they are older?" So write yours down. And go from there. What to do with the things you are letting go of Some people make quilts with the clothing. Others donate them to goodwill. Do what feels good for you. I am going to tell my kids to give everything away but to keep my paintings, the books I write and to take care of the ideas I left behind in this world. Anything else can go. As I moved into my new house in Austin, TX this last week and saw the big truck with all of our belongings arrive I got sad. We have so many things we don’t need. Things that mean nothing at all and yet we carry them along with us as if they are an extension of our arms and legs. It is strange to me that Bjarne and I never talked about what to give away and what to keep, we knew he was dying for quite some time and yet we never had the courage to talk about his belongings. But something tells me that he is pleased that I only kept these 3 green buckets. And memories. And stories about him. And photos for the girls. The diaries too, he knew I was going to read them one day. He left them for us. So, find what has meaning for you and hold on to it, and let the rest go. Life is meant to be simple, light and full of experiences anything else is just noise.  (Click to tweet!)  With less and less, Christina PS. I hope you are enjoying my conversations at the www.dearlifepodcast.com

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