Sign

“Do you ever get a sign from Spence?”

Tonight granddaughter Kira dropped by with a Shepherds Pie made by daughter-in-law Tonya. It was the best Shepherds Pie I’ve ever had, every bite flavorful and satisfying. The food equivalent of a warm hug.

Spence never met Tonya, they would have loved each other. Shepherds Pie – if on a menu he’d order it every time. Seriously every time. I sat in his chair while enjoying this meal and thought, “yup this is a sign”

Tonya’s Shepherds Pie

 

Self Care, part nine

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It’s human nature, for women in particular, to be harder on ourselves than others.  With  family and friends, we support their choices and are non-judgmental of their mistakes.  We accept their imperfections because we know their worth, in other words we provide unconditional love.

In contrast, we hold ourselves to higher standards and our inner voice can tear us down if we don’t manage its volume.

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Self care isn’t just about getting through a crisis – it’s an ongoing awareness of our inner critic who makes us feel we’re not meeting every self-imposed expectation.  Call it changing the lens or flipping the script and try to imagine that same internal voice consistently offering up positive affirmations and encouragement instead.

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Fitzgerald’s quote exemplifies that level of self-care that is essential to changing how we view ourselves.

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It includes you believing  in yourself – you’ve got this!

 

 

 

 

Self Care, part eight

There was a moment during my journey that stands out, what Oprah would call an “aha!” moment.

It came from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network.

For months I hadn’t been able to focus on a book, movie or tv show. I had no appetite nor interest in food or cooking which had been passions of mine.

I’d lost my mojo.

Enter The Barefoot Contessa. I’d tuned into her show out of a need to fill the silence with a familiar voice but then found myself engaging. Ina’s on-screen warmth drew me in and whatever she was cooking (though I can’t recall what it was) had my full attention. Her joy of cooking ignited a spark in me and at that moment I felt a shift as my inner foodie began reconnecting with my heart. It was a big step forward. Though she’ll never know, just by being herself, Ina Garten helped me on the path to healing myself.

Self Care, part seven

Making yourself a priority is something everyone can benefit from. Whether dealing with loss, trauma, stress or life in general, it’s important to do something just for you, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Tune into what you need and take a self care break.

None of us knows how long we have, treat every day as a gift, make it count.

Self Care, part six

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Roughly three months after my loss, I was exhausted from thinking about the life that Spence and I had shared and how nothing would ever be the same. I desperately missed our happy life together.  I felt incredibly lonely, angry, resentful and hated the word “widow”.

Then I decided that I was going to be happy again. I wanted to lose the “sad Laura” cloak that I’d wrapped around myself. It was Spring 2017, the weather was warm, my garden was coming back to life and I felt the pull toward being in nature with my hands in the dirt, something that’s always brought me joy.

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I decided to claw my way out of the dark place I’d been.

Not every choice I made was successful or well thought out. At times it felt like I was hurling myself forward in my pursuit of happiness without regards to where I was going to land – which accounted for some mental bruises. But I knew Spence would want me to live a full and happy life and on days that felt like a struggle to do it for me, I did it to honor him.

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I’m not saying it was easy to change my mindset or imply that I didn’t backslide. Grief took pot-shots at me more than a few times however I was determined to outrun it. It’s like the old adage about how many times you have to repeat a behavior before it becomes a habit – so I behaved as though I was happy. Fake it till you make it, right? And as habits go, this is a good one to have.

There’s no clock on this process nor is it a competition. On the road back to embracing life, take one step at a time.

Even if you stumble, you will get there.

The Self Care series is my personal journey over my first year after losing my husband and reflects both my struggles and successes.