Vision Board. Phase One

A while back I mentioned that I wanted to take this blog is a slightly different direction. There is so much light, pain, sorrow and joy baked into the words that rolled into stories to dilute it down. Grief will always be a part of who I am. My daughter will always be a part of who I am. Where we go from here is to model for you how I got where I am today.

Next week I will be posting how to create your vision board. There is a little homework that needs to be done before next week. There are several tools and prep work which have been listed below. If you are interested in creating your own vision board, here are the steps to completed phase one:

Obtain once piece of poster board (black or white)

Glue Sticks

Scissors

Tape

Magazine/newspaper clippings (the most time consuming): These will be used to create your vision board. As you browse through magazines or newspapers, focus on words or sentences that resonate with you. Let your creativity flow. Don’t over think it. Go with whatever moves you. Clip them out and keep them handy for the post next week.

I challenge you to think about your vision board as a place to create a goal of something you want to achieve and from there we can begin to build the interventions (clippings) that you will want to follow to complete your goal.

Again, don’t overthink it. When I first started building vision boards, they were superficial and somewhat materialistic. Now I’ve moved into more depth and soul searching. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of material things on my current vision board.

Disclaimer: there is NO wrong way to do this. Just follow your heart and be creative – and most of all – HAVE fun!!

Until next time,

M

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Unexpected Emotions

So, this past weekend I saw Mamma Mia 2 and found myself surprised at how emotional I became towards the end of the movie. For those of you who have not seen it, I’ll try not to give too much away as to not spoil it for you.

In a few of the scenes they were addressing how loss impacted a few of the characters and all the emotions bubbled up to the top quickly and took me by surprise. I found I could not contain my tears and they spilled from my eyes. I had a huge headache from holding it all in. Initially I thought it was odd and was a little annoyed that I couldn’t make it through a movie without losing it.

Then I realized that our past experiences direct our responses to similar “like” experiences, even when the experiences weren’t directly related to us. For example, in the movie the loss of a mother evoked a moment of sadness for me because I too have lost a mom. I was struck by how the daughter’s emotion, the husband’s emotion and the friend’s emotion – all resonated with me. I saw it from all their perspectives. So much pain rolled up into a ball of sadness and tears.

I struggled to keep it together and I wasn’t alone. You could hear the many sniffles throughout the theater, but I focused on my own so that I did not just break out into a full out ugly cry. I thought so many of us truly understood how those characters were feeling and how the actors wanted you, the audience to feel. They did a great job and for me, they were very successful.

I realized that I still, as a daughter, miss my mom every day. While she has been gone for almost 30 years, a girl still needs her mama. I also cried because the character was about to have a baby and something I’d always prayed and hoped for my own daughter, but that was not to happen. We always understood that she would not have a normal life – or as normal as we’d dreamed of. Her death finalized and put to rest any hopes and dreams I had for her. I’ve spent a great deal of time mourning the loss of something. It’s not always a person. Sometimes it’s a dream; a hope; a plan.

The movie was great and in many ways, better than the original so I highly recommend it. Take tissues if you have lost someone or something because it will tug at your broken heart just a little.

Until next time,

M

Mindfulness

One of the ways I have transitioned my grief is through the process of being more mindful about my thoughts. Earlier on my journey I would let grief swallow me up to where I’d end up in a puddle of tears and choking on my grief. I was a mess. All of that crying and sorrow kept me from seeing the light right in front of me. It was like a shroud had engulfed me and I couldn’t see my way out it.

When I began to spend time writing my thoughts down in my journal I found I could sort them out better. From there I found I was able to see my grief, my thoughts, my feelings differently. Being mindful about why I felt a certain way created a space to redirect my grief. To really channel it into something that could be a vessel of change. Sometimes I felt like I was wrestling some of those thoughts and feelings to the ground because they were so big and painful. The beautiful gift that can come from mindfulness is the shift in focus from the pain of my daughter’s death to honor of my daughter’s life. That was profound and life-changing for me. It can be for you too.

If you haven’t ever considered writing in a journal, I’d encourage you to do so. Don’t be afraid of writing perfectly or even spelling correctly. Focus on pouring out the words from your heart and onto the paper. It was hard in the beginning but as I wrote I began to see something unfold before my eyes. I began to feel peace and it allowed light to crack through my broken heart. Mindfulness of your thoughts and feelings through writing can be therapeutic beyond measure.

Creating mindfulness is work. You need space – a comfortable place to land and be free to express your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t have a defined space to do that in your home, you can even take a few items that create a sense of calm in your spirt like – candles, scents, a journal/pen and lighting etc. Creating the ambiance that allows you to stop and take a nice deep breath and focus on the positive energy that is buried deep within you. Yes it’s still there.

Mindfulness is about space, breathing and letting the negative thoughts clear and allow the positive thoughts to remain. When you begin to drift back into the negative, just take a deep breath and refocus on the positive. Focus on something good. Consistency is the key with this practice. Sometimes you may need it daily and sometimes just a few times a week. Regular practice and you will grow into your mindfulness and more positive thoughts will begin to overcome the negative or sad ones.

Additionally, I incorporated the use of essential oils into my mindfulness routine now and love to use various oils and blends to create that special blend that compliments my mindfulness routine. When I feel that its time for me to take a step back and find some time to get quiet – essential oils produce that peaceful calming environment necessary to just be still. I chose Young Living Essential Oils because of the quality and care they take to ensure the safety of their customers. There are many oils to choose from, but Valor, Hope, Gratitude and Peace & Calming are ones I use often in my diffusers at home and when I travel.

As I said in a previous post, the focus of this blog will shift from acknowledging and validating loss to focus the mind and body allowing the pursuit of healing and finding a positive way to channel grief. To shift your focus and your energy into something that honors your loved one who has passed on. Then you’ll begin to see positive changes in how you process your grief. Channeling it into something that will honor your child or loved one is a beautiful thing. I spent many years in the low space and it took a lot of energy to move from that space to where I am now – but I’m here to say it can be done.

None of this will ever replace or forget our loved ones, but rather it creates the beautiful space to honor and celebrate who they were to us and to the world.

Here’s to your mindfulness!

Mal

*disclaimer

I am not a professional mental health counselor and recommend that you seek out professional counseling to help manage your grief.

New Beginnings

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Over the past 11 years I’ve written about the pain and anguish of losing a child. I’ve focused on supporting the concept that when we come together and support each other through our grief, that we are not alone on this journey. We are a community of support for each other and I never want to lose that focus. That said, I want to shift the focus of this blog to be more of how do we support the “new normal” that we find ourselves navigating now.

Over the next few months, the posts are going to incorporate the recognition and validation of loss and measures to honor ourselves and our loved ones through specific changes that can direct your actions and thoughts into a new way of thinking.

Specific topics will cover (in no specific order):

  • Vision Boards
  • Life-style changes
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Health and Wellness

If there are any topics you’d like to see here, please comment below. I hope to have the first post completed by this weekend. There will be a series and maybe, just maybe you’ll see videos too!

I’m excited for this next phase of “Mysoulspeaks” and feel strongly through prayer and much meditation that this is the next step in not only my healing but many of you that follow my blog.

Until next time,

M

Visions of my daughter.

I often post photos of my daughter at or around her death. I’m not sure if there is any significance to that other than it was how I remember her most. The vibrancy of her soul oozes out of each photo. One might even be able to stare into her eyes and see what a beautiful person she was, inside and out.

In the last months of her life she chose different paths than I would have predicted. She became less focused on material things, which for a teenager seemed a bit out of character. When months before it was “mom, I need this movie or I need a new cell phone” – it was always “I need”. Then the summer before her death she changed. She began to ask “Can I go buy a card and balloon for a friend at school?” or “Can I go read to kindergarteners?” – I remember thinking “who is this child?”. It’s as if her old soul knew that her time was near.

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Brittany – one of her senior pictures from 2006

I knew my daughter pretty well, but it was after her death did I understand the beautiful young woman she truly was becoming. Her friends and classmates wrote about her either on her memory board at her Celebration of Life or in cards sent to me in the weeks after. I found out she had a passion to help others who did not feel accepted. She would often come to the “rescue” of student at school and tell people to give them a chance. Perhaps she understood how it felt more than people knew what it was like to be ousted and often times bullied by her peers.

One of her school friends sent me this note and it truly helped me in the weeks and months after Brittany’s death. We had dealt with so much pain and sadness over her school years and I found it touching that perhaps in hindsight people remembered her for who she truly was. Here is a little snippet from that letter:

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From Hannah

At 17, Brittany was wise beyond her years and loved with every fiber of her being. All along I thought I was raising my daughter when in fact, she was here to teach me about life. It took her death and the days and weeks after to realize that. In fact, I’m still learning every day what a gift life is and how God moves in ways to create space for learning those valuable lessons.

Perhaps with the busyness of life, school, work and managing a chronic illness – we all got lost in the day-to-day getting by and may have missed those beautiful moments. I was privileged to have been witness to just a few, but I know for sure there were far more than I ever knew.

The lesson here is to stop and enjoy those moments when they happen. Don’t let life get in the way of experiencing who your children are as people. The gifts they are from God, which are lessons for us all to learn. Sometimes the lessons are not comfortable or it seems like the world is against us, but in reality it’s a life lesson to share with others. So put down the phones, the cameras, the videos, work and go out into the world with your children and experience life as it’s happening. It will be in those moments you will come to understand the awesome human being they are and more importantly who you are.

Until next time,

M

 

Hugs. Memories. Regrets.

I follow a few blogs of parents who have lost a child and I’m always in awe of the raw emotion that is shared by these parents and how their stories help all of us to understand what lies deep within the broken hearts of grieving parents. I see a wide variety of scenarios that occurred in these parents lives and sometimes I am struck by how my own story could have been a little different had I known my daughter was not going to live to see her 18thbirthday. What would I have done differently had I known.

One blog that breaks my heart each time I read a post is written by a grieving father who writes so eloquently and with saw raw emotion about his son Mitchell and their family’s journey of grief and knowing their son would eventually die from his disease. They had many opportunities to chronicle the every day life of caring for their son and provided many experiences that eased his pain and I’m certain theirs. My story, my daughter Brittany’s story is different, but did it have to be. I don’t know. I perhaps was in denial that she could die from epilepsy. I knew life would not be “normal” like others but certainly I never thought she would die after having a seizure. I was wrong.

What would I have done differently? I would have taken more pictures of her. I would have hugged her more often. I would have captured our time together in a way that would have provided a story of her life in a way that I could have shared with you all. I would have tried harder – maybe if had I only known….

That leads me to the next thought… We should live our lives as if we believed it would end any moment. I think if we did, we’d capture those every day moments and make sure we chronicled the story to share with others.  There is a message in these deep and painful questions. What I’m saying here is – hug your kids often, spend more time with them, take pictures and videos of the good times and maybe the not so good times. Journal together about their childhood and teenage years. Teach them that they are the most important thing in your life.

What would I have done differently? I would have danced in the rain with her. I would have gone to Costa Rica with her on her mission trip. I would have allowed her to swing higher and laugh so hard our stomachs would hurt – well we really did that. We certainly would have done more selfies! I am so glad I do have wonderful video and beautiful pictures of her that remind me that she did exist. That she walked this earth as my daughter; I was her mother.  But I crave more. I want more. I long for more.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to make amends with your kids, your loved ones. Make more time to smell, touch, feel life. Write about it. Tuck it away so one day, you can tell them the stories of their childhood from the books and videos you took. Most of all spend time just being with them. Even when they are driving you crazy. I miss those times the most.

I did a lot of wonderful things over the years with my daughter, but it will never be enough to last my lifetime of missing her.

Until next time,

M

Mother’s Day

Well my friends Mother’s Day is again upon us and for those of us who have come to dread this day because our mothers or children have died and left a sad place in their hearts and no desire to celebrate Mother’s Day, I especially hold you up in prayer.

I know all too well how difficult this day can be and go out of my way to bypass the greeting card section, or flower shops where it’s all about Mother’s Day. The pain cuts too deep still for me. But someone I know on social media posted information that I did not know about the origin of Mother’s Day. I searched for a reliable source to confirm what she posted. And I’ve put a link below for you to copy and paste into your browsers should you be interested in reading it.

Reading the article and post by my friend made me pause for just a minute to understand who inspired Mother’s Day – a grieving mother. And while it does not take the sting away from this day, it does provide a different perspective.

I am always reminded by those in my tribe that I am still celebrated as a mother. And I appreciate that gift because I am grateful and honored to have had the chance to be a mother. I was lucky. I got that chance that many do not of giving birth and raising a child. Some never get that chance.

I lost my mom when I was seven months pregnant with my only child. I lost so much too soon. So, while I choose not to celebrate this day it’s not because I don’t honor her memory – it’s just a sad day for me. I don’t have a mother to celebrate nor do I have any living children. So for me it’s another day in May.

For all of you wonderful mothers, please know I’m holding you up in prayer and thankfulness that you are honored and treasured. Especially for my followers or those who read this post who’ve lost a child, I hold you close to my heart and stand with you each Mother’s Day knowing it’s one of the toughest days we have to face.

Much love and admiration,

M

http://time.com/4771354/mothers-day-history-origins/