Falling in Love

Unexpected Transitions: When Life Throws Us a Curve Ball

Happy Birthday Whispers of Wisdom®. Today is your third anniversary of being launched! Wow… the time has gone quickly. When I wrote my first post in 2014, I was approaching the third anniversary of Roy’s death and thought I had “come through the grief” – which in a certain way I had. However, adding on another three years has taught me that this journey never truly ends. When we lose our life partner, we are faced with a choice: Stay paralyzed by the grief or become the author of our new life, which is what I chose to do. In my marriage, I had a different relationship with myself. My late husband and I shared responsibilities for one another – we had each other’s backs, we supported each other’s dreams, and we immersed ourselves in attaining our dreams. I was not 100% responsible for all the tasks of daily life – I could talk things over with Roy and get a great second opinion. We shared the joys and sorrows of life – we watched the world events and discussed them. We faced the world with two hearts, four eyes, and an incredible bond of loyalty to one another.

What do I know now that I didn’t know three years ago? Being single at 64 years of age is hard, often lonely, and yet as I become more and more accustomed to the aloneness, I find freedom. I have recognized that overcoming this horrible trauma and pain has led me to a new awareness of freedom. There is not much else that can stop me now that I have “digested” the reality of Roy’s death. In the aftermath of that life changing event, I was forced to fight for my life, to create new dreams, and in the process have cultivated a new sense of myself that unfolds regularly. I have become more compassionate, more understanding, I speak out against injustice, and support those who are suffering. I don’t tolerate a great deal of BS yet I am learning to widen the aperture of accepting others’ mishigas. I have created a very powerful relationship with myself and I have grown to like my company.

During the past three years, I have enjoyed dating some wonderful men. Each of them has been a valuable contribution to my life. Not too surprisingly, as I got “close” to them, I also pulled back – maintaining a comfortable distance and protecting myself from getting too close and being too vulnerable. The fear of grief has kept me from following the call of love for another man – instead I have been pulled towards self-love. Without knowing, loving and caring for myself in the aftermath of what was traumatic for me, how can I truly let someone get close to me – who is the “me” that is being experienced by others? And now I recognize that this has been the work of the past three years – grappling with becoming the author of my life without the additional responsibility of creating a serious connection with a man.

So as 2017 meanders along, I continue to stay busy with teaching, being of service, meeting men, spending time with my friends, and hanging out with myself and my cats. When I first began grief therapy soon after Roy’s death, I told my grief counselor that it would take seven years for me to heal. I will enter the seventh year in July 2017. I believe this is the year that I may meet someone. I realize that to hold back from loving and being loved because of the reality of grief would be similar to preventing a child from learning to walk because of the risk of falling. We do fall and we do get up again. That is my hope! I’ll keep you posted.

Wonder

crow planetIn her book Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness, author Lyanda Lynn Haupt defines wonder as “an attitude of mind and heart, a graced completion of a circle between observer and observed. Wonder is not a given; it is contingent on the habit of being that allows it to arise”. I have written about wonder ever since attending a Landmark workshop in Quebec last summer. I have attempted to create a practice of wonder for the past several months. Ms. Haupt’s definition brings me to a new level of awareness of a “wonder practice”.

There is something about looking out at the ocean from my terrace that encourages a practice of wonder and a way of being is cultivated that is open to wonder. The experience of being with the ocean lends itself to wondrous inquiry. Gazing at the horizon, I am often freed from the mundane thoughts that shape my day in the form of to do lists. Instead I drift and float with the movement of the waves. My listening is narrowed to the sounds of the rhythm of the waves as they move in and out from the shore. My senses are engaged and I am present to my breath and to the breathing of the universe. My mind is quieted and my imagination is freed from the cage of rational thinking. There are no enemies in this wondrous realm – I am just being with the cumulative forces of life.

These moments of wonder allow me respite from the daily wear and tear of my life: burdensome thoughts that create fearful internal states. The thoughts sound like: will I get cancer, will I have enough money to live on until I die, will I meet another wonderful man with whom I can co-create a lasting loving relationship, will we as a species find a way to honor diversity and do no harm to others, who will win the elections in November, and what will happen to our environment. In a practice of wonder, there is a freeing up, a liberation within intrapsychic spaces which brings forth creativity, energy, and possibilities. No longer are the questions fear driven, instead they are cast in lightness and generativity: the quality of the wondering shifts to themes such as what contribution will I make in my remaining days, who can I share my wisdom with today, what if I just surrender to a sense of faith that I will form a lasting relationship with a wonderful man and that he will arrive when he arrives, in what ways am I here on this planet to be of service, how can I help in the ways that I can, I wonder what can I do today to bring beauty and grace to those I meet.

I hope to leave you with a sense of wonder in your own lives. Is it possible that we can cultivate a habit of wonder at the drop of a hat – not only when alone with the ocean, but also when in the middle of a crowded grocery store when pandemonium engulfs us. This is I think at the heart of Haupt’s query into wonder as an attitude of mind and heart working together. My motto for this week is “think less, wonder more!”

 

Caution: slippery slope ahead

Tstickmabnhe thoughts that the mind produces can be a slippery slope. Since my last blog post about ghosting in relationships, I have received valuable feedback from so many readers, colleagues, and friends. Most have had similar experiences and have asked me for an update. It has been over five weeks since I last heard from him. Two weeks ago I mailed his belongings to him and asked that he return things to me and I have yet to hear anything back. From time to time I attempt to analyze, and thus perhaps understand, how someone could make this kind of choice. My 21st century mind has been trained to analyze and look for clues. Our minds eventually create a scenario that says something must be deficient in us because why else could this, that or the other happen? It must be about US. Here is the slippery slope: if the shortcoming or deficiency resides in us, then there is an illusion that we can do something about it, and thus possibly change the current state of affairs. In other words, we are often deluded into believing that we are omnipotent and everything is under our control.

The truth of the matter is we have no control over what others do. We have no control over what will happen in a given day. However, we do have control over how we choose to respond to the situations that we confront in our lives. We have the choice to build the mental muscle that can help us challenge these learn-to-surfdelusions of control. So yes, we can choose to be okay with all the feelings that we experience as human beings. We can also avail ourselves of new possibilities and create opportunities for fun and growth. We can also choose to remember all the great contributions that individuals bring to our lives, even when they make us angry and sad. In other words, the mind can do more than one thing at a time. We can get closure with ourselves and perhaps not ever know what caused people to act the way that they do.

lets-make-a-deal

The late writer Helen Keller stated that when one door of happiness closes, another will open; but we frequently look at the closed door for so long we do not see the ones that are opening around us. Getting through sadness does involve spending time looking at closed doors. When we are ready to open the new doors, we are free to do so. I am curious about many doors that are appearing on my path and wonder what lies behind them. I am reminded of the old television show “Let’s Make A Deal” where contestants were able to choose one of three doors. They were told that behind one of the doors there was a fabulous prize, like an all-expense trip for two to Paris. The task was to guess behind which door that wonderful prize might be awaiting them. In life there are typically more than three doors that we need to choose among when we are making decisions and changes. We are often asked to take risks with very little to inform our decisions. We often take a chance on what may or may not be a good thing for us in the end. It’s having the confidence and wherewithal to know that we will handle whatever comes our way.

Life is risky. Getting up in the morning is risky. Yet I truly believe that there can be enough greatness in a given day that makes those risks worth the effort. My late husband found great solace in a quote by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire:

“Come to the edge,” he said.holding back the waves
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t. We will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

 

I will continue to go to the edge despite the risks and uncertainties. I will jump and fully experience life. What the heck – there might be a really great something awaiting me over that edge!

Peace,

Kathleen

Life is an inside job: What is it we need from ourselves to be successful in a relationship?

Facts, nothing but the facts ma’am. This is what has happened: I was suddenly widowed 4 years ago after 23 years in a wonderful marriage. I went through a very severe depression for 2 years. I gained 40 lbs. I began to come out of the fog about 2 years ago. I started working out and lost 25 of those pounds. I started online dating a year and a half ago at the age of 61. I have been dating a nice man for the past six months. I met him through a friend. It has been a lovely, fun, and overall delightful experience. I fell in love with him. https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--5Wuz4_0l--/dstp0ntdwdz8lurndrhy.gifThe relationship began to unravel several weeks ago. We were dialoguing about the relationship. About 3 weeks ago, I detected he was pulling away subtlety. This felt painful to me and I suggested that we begin the process of saying goodbye. I have not heard one word from him since, despite my numerous attempts to reach out to him. I have felt hurt, angry, frustrated, confused, incredulous, and just plain disgusted. Like, “Really? At this stage of life people act like teenagers?” Duh … They do! Fortunately the NY Times recently published an article “Ghosting: the ultimate silent treatment” that speaks to this strange silence. Bottom line: when a relationship turns, silence says everything.

esherSo now what? First of all, I realize that it is not my responsibility to try to figure out what he is thinking. That is his job. Instead, I need to look within and get clear about what I truly need at this stage of life. The ideas and questions I am beginning to explore are:

1. What am I learning about me from the different types of men I have met?

2. What do I need to do to make myself happy?

3. What do I want in future relationships?

4. My destination point is ultimately to arrive at the belief that I am full and complete without a man in my life.

5. I am waiting to arrive at this place and will only find it within myself. Life is an inside job.

6. Once I know what I need and who I am NOW, then I can be clear in my expectations of myself AND others.

7. I believe the right person will show up rather unexpectedly when I am feeling whole and complete and standing on my own two feet.

So I ask you, dear readers, to consider: What is the inside job you are currently exploring in your life?

Meanwhile, let’s enjoy our freedoms. Happy 4th of July!

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You Betch-em Red Rider!

I have looked life in the face with open eyes. I have learned that it takes courage to keep both feet in the game of life. I have learned since being on my own that I need to say NO to so many urges and impulses. Saying NO to the impulse is putting off short term gratification. This NO in facts transforms into a YES for long term satisfaction.

I recently interviewed for a full time teaching position. I learned yesterday that I was not chosen for the job. How do I feel? Sad, disappointed, relieved, and angry. What do I want to do in the wake of being told NO? I want to indulge myself with anything and everything: clothes, food, alcohol, a massage, a trip, perfume, etc. Buy, eat, indulge – a very different message than EAT, PRAY, LOVE! My financial reality tells me NO. My commitment to losing 20 lbs this year says NO. I cannot say yes to these impulses in order to mask my feelings for the short term relief. Instead, I am swallowing the multi-layers of reality: I was told no about the job. I am telling myself no to the impulses in order to stay aligned with my goals. Paradoxically, IN THE LONG RUN, I am saying YES to financial integrity, physical health, mental wellness, and prosperity. The meaning of the word prosperity is frequently intertwined with wealth and money. In fact, the word prosperity is actually rooted in a sense of well being NOT how much wealth and money one has, but more so how well one is doing in life.

Lightbulb benny copyIn her book The Energy of Money, Author Maria Nemeth states that money can be the source of great joy and creativity or it can bring frustration and misery. “Everything we do and dream of is affected by our relationship with this powerful form of ENERGY”. I am creating a new relationship with money – treating it as a friend rather than an unwanted guest who takes up residence in my life. When I go for short term gratification, I disempower myself and don’t acquire the wisdom that comes with waiting for the feelings to be embraced and digested and for the impulse to pass. I sabotage the opportunity to acquire the power I need to live a meaningful and successful life. Because money is energy, the impulses we experience to spend it are actually an effect of an energetic movement, like when the wind moves through our hair.

Maria Nemeth shares a great equation: Knowledge (like establishing goals) plus Wisdom (for example riding out the need to respond to the impulse) Equals POWER (being accountable, staying on track, reaching the goal). So rather than hiding out under my covers today, I went for a 4 mile walk along the ocean. Just say NO to the easy fix and say YES to the possibility of being accountable. Just say YES … you betch’em Red Rider!

Peace out,

Kathleen

Finding Home In 2015

Happy New Year! Although I have not written a post since Thanksgiving, I have done a great deal of thinking during the past few weeks about where to go with my posts. I recently recognized that I am ready to move onto topics other than grief. Grief finally found its proper place within my psyche – it is no longer front and center, but instead has settled into a space of compelling awareness. I did not choose this path of learning – it was thrust upon me and took me totally by surprise. As I approach the 4 year anniversary of Roy’s death, I am aware that grief was a bitter learning experience and yet the experience of bitterness allowed me to see how fragile I am and also how strong I am in the fragility.

I have actively engaged in many bodies of work to reach these insights: thrice weekly psychoanalysis, bi-monthly spiritual direction, 5 days a week of intense cardiovascular exercise, daily contemplative prayer and meditation, regular participation in Landmark Education courses, and quarterly readings with an intuitive. I learned last week from my intuitive that Roy has finally arrived “home” after 3 1/2 years of journeying through multi-dimensional fields of space and time – this makes sense because Roy was a rocket scientist after all. Roy is happy in this “promised land” where he has found rest, peace, intellectual companionship, and cosmic aliveness. Since learning of Roy’s arrival to his home destination, I feel free to fully focus with new eyes on my life. Knowing Roy is safe and happy has freed my soul to move onto what is next for me in this incarnation. This liberation has allowed me to move away from grief and to move towards my work with Whispers of Wisdom® in the areas of falling in love as a mature adult, aging, physical fitness, health and sexuality, money, spirituality, and family. In the coming weeks I will be writing about these topics.

The concept of Whispers of Wisdom was born roughly 14 years ago after I attended an 8 hour Live Your Best Life Seminar with Oprah Winfrey in San Francisco. I was exulted by this experience because I had the opportunity to speak to Oprah in front of 2000 people. I acknowledged her work with women and shared that she had inspired me to create more opportunities in my work as a psychotherapist to support women in finding the call of their life. When I later talked to Roy about it, he asked me probing questions as only an intellectual property attorney could do about my passion and Oprah’s inspiration. He was curious about what was being evoked within me about following the call of vocation. I responded that through my work with clients, as well as in my personal life, I was learning that at certain times of an individual’s journey, they are very clear about what needs to be done. Yet at other times it’s hard to hear what our heart and minds or perhaps a higher source of intelligence is trying to tell us to do. I said it’s almost like a whisper at times, difficult to hear and understand, but is filled with so much awareness and wisdom. Then it hit me that we often are listening to inner ‘whispers of wisdom’. He and I both liked the sound of that phrase and Roy began the trademark application process for me. After much contemplation, thinking through, researching, and studying, The Certificate of Registration for Whispers of Wisdom was issued on January 6, 2006.HotPink-Flowers_hearts

I have designated 2015 as The Year of Integration. I will be pulling together the threads of the whispers I have heard during the past several years about vocation, being of service, living a full and happy life, and accepting responsibility for designing that kind of life. The topics I mentioned earlier are the crux of life and play a big part in how we create a meaningful life. It is imperative that we learn to decipher and hear the whispers of wisdom that come at the most unusual times and in a variety of different ways. In the weeks ahead I will share how you too can learn to decipher these ‘whispers of wisdom’.

Namaste and Thank You for taking the time to read my posts.

Project 01-15-15

Inner-life-water-erika-craig

Painting by the fabulous Erika Craig

This post reflects the beginning of a new chapter in my life. One of the primary side effects of grief has a somatic nature and can be experienced as weight gain or loss. In my case, I gained a significant amount of weight as a result of the medications I took for severe depression, anxiety, deep emotional churning and distress. I used eating as a way of coping with the abject sadness that weighed on me.

On January 1 of this year I commenced Project 7-11-14 which was focused on weight loss and health, and a commitment to my professional development and goals. I also put my toe into the dating pool. So on July 11, I was in San Francisco with a good woman friend and officially toasted the successful completion of this project. I have released 12 pounds, all my health tests came back superb, my website and blog were launched, and I taught a course at a local university. Moreover, I have had approximately 2 dozen dates. I have been on fire!

So now I am beginning a new phase which I have entitled Project 1-15-15. This project continues my weight loss efforts, as well as my ongoing inner work. I am connecting with new parts of myself – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I became a widow, I was no longer a wife. I find myself re-imagining who I am now that my primary identity as Roy’s wife is gone. The late feminist psychoanalyst Karen Horney describes the importance of unlocking a woman’s inner life – one that is not defined by what the external patriarchal world provides her. Horney encouraged women to work from the inside out, not from the outside in. What I know about my inner world is that it has been shaped by the demands of patriarchal standards – questioning whether I am thin enough, pretty enough, and smart enough to live successfully in a man’s world. What I am driven to design for myself at this stage of my life is an inner framework that challenges the patriarchal domination of my psyche. I am moving towards becoming a woman with a life of her own and with questions of her own.

Managing the Early Days of Grief

I have been asked since starting my blog of how I managed to get through the early days of grief.

In-the-tunnel

During the first 12 months, I depended greatly on a poem by the late Irish poet, John O’Donohue, entitled “On Grief” from To Bless the Space Between Us, which I have included below.  A colleague sent me this poem perhaps three days following Roy’s death.  I read it at Roy’s memorial service.  I knew the minute I received it that it would be a critical part of my learning to understand what had happened to me and what was to come.  I referenced it frequently during the first year – attempting to understand exactly where I was intrapsychically – within myself, not necessarily in the world.  What I know from my journey is critical for those of us left behind to get reoriented to a very different world.  It begins by going inward and then outward, in a slow and uncomfortable oscillating dance.  Poetry took me inward and participating in a widows’ group took me outward.  I also logged my dreams on a regular basis.  I no longer see the gap in the air that O’Donohue references at the end of his poem.  Roy is a fully embodied presence within my intrapsychic world.  Yes I visit his grave and leave flowers.  But most of all I dialogue with him regularly by having dedicated a permanent seat for him at the table of my inner life.  We feast together and celebrate our love – he from afar and me right here on Mother Earth.  Meanwhile I also stay busy with becoming my own person – a woman with a life of her own.

“On Grief “– John O’Donohue  from To Bless the Space Between Us

When you lose someone you love, your life becomes strange.  The ground beneath you becomes fragile.  Your thoughts make your eyes unsure; and some dead echo drags your voice down where words have no confidence.  Your heart has grown heavy with loss; and though this loss has wounded others too, no one knows what has been taken from you when the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret for all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy; again inside the fullness of life.  Until the moment breaks and you are thrown back onto the black tide of loss.  Days when you have your heart back, you are able to function well, until in the middle of work or encounter, suddenly with no warning, you are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.  All you can depend on now is that sorrow will remain faithful to itself.  More than you, it knows its way and will find the right time to pull and pull the rope of grief until that coiled hill of tears has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance with the invisible form of your departed; and when the work of grief is done, the wound of loss will heal and you will have learned to wean your eyes from that gap in the air and be able to enter the hearth in your soul where your loved one has awaited your return.   All the time.