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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Create A New Chosen Reality For Yourself

June 14, 2019

I am not going to lie, I am tired. Moving from one reality to another requires your brain to be going into manual gear 24/7. Nothing is familiar. Everything is new. Even when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night you have to really wake yourself up to find it. No turn inside or outside the house is on default. Everything has to be thought through. Everything is a conscious experience. The brain has to be alert all the time. No wonder we don’t like to change. We miss steps. We spill coffees. We hurt our toes in unseen corners. And that’s the least of our problems. It’s as if the old reality is trying hard to stay with us. But it can’t. In a few days though the brain will start to get used to the new life and memorize all the new people, corners, bathrooms, names, places. And before we know it, it will feel as if we have been here forever. I have to tell you, it feels as if I walked inside a different universe. It’s tiring but so exciting to see who I get to be here. I am holding on to all the newness however hard it feels. I want new habits, new likes and dislikes. I want to be someone else. I know it sounds weird to say this. It’s not because I didn’t like the old Christina, but because I want to choose who I am instead of who I was born to be genetically and circumstantially. Maybe I like to jog every day. Maybe I like fruits and vegetables haha. All I know is that for the first time I changed my life not because it was forced upon me due to a loss. This one was just because. Just because I wanted another reality. (Click to tweet!) I have received so many emails from people who followed along with my move to tell me they are also moving. Or that they just moved. That it was hard but they did it. I am so proud of us. We are the ones who can do this because of what we have been through. And as you know, I always say you can do the impossible because you have been through the unthinkable. If we can’t move from one place to another, from one reality to a chosen new one. Then, who can? We are the superheroes of our world. And if you haven’t been able to see yourself this way, you should start today. You are special because of what you have been through. Here’s to many new lives inside this one. Where you get to choose who you are and where you want to make a home for yourself.   With a brand new life, Christina P.S. JOIN ME FOR THE TEMPLE JOURNEY: A LIFE AFTER DEATH. REGISTER HERE: https://www.1440.org/programs/faculty-led-programs/personal-growth/self-discovery/temple-journey PPS. And listen to the new podcast here: www.dearlifepodcast.com

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On My Way

June 7, 2019

I have been planning for this day for months and it is here. We are on our way from California to Austin, Texas with our dogs, kids and a couple of pillows for the road. We said goodbye to our home and I have to tell you it felt like I was saying goodbye to a person. A person who always provided for me. The house had this unselfish relationship with me. It always gave. And I took it all. I took the stars above it. Prayers from the nights. The sun rising from its deck. Peace from the back yard. Comfort inside the kitchen. Love and acceptance all around it. Now I know it’s already giving it all to the strangers who moved into our home. And that’s the way it is. My bags are packed and I am about to get in the car with the girls, Eric and our dogs Gracie and Zoe. Look for us driving across America. While I am on the road I hope you spend some time listening to the Dear Life Podcast and know that I am always with you.   Episode 1 is here: http://www.dearlifepodcast.com/episodes/ep1 Episode 2 is here: http://www.dearlifepodcast.com/episodes/ep2 Sometimes I feel like I need to make sure you are all taken care of if I have to go somewhere. I love you all. With adventure and new beginnings, Christina

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