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Navigating loss, identity, and love in the “Chapter 3” of our lives.

First of all, let’s be grateful that we even made it to the Chapter Three of our lives. Not all of us are granted that status. By this stage of life, my loves, many of us have lost spouses, parents, pets, friends, or have even experienced the loss of a child.

Loss comes in other forms, as well: Loss through divorce, house fire, loss of a job due to covid, retirement, or “restructuring,” a.k.a. being replaced by a younger, less expensive (salary-wise) model. (Not fashion model, no. That’s the spousal department.)

We’re older and hopefully wiser. We’ve been around the block enough times to feel, well, dizzy! And, jumbled in with our various losses is the potential loss of our identity. Who are we, if not the caretaker of our loved ones, be they aging parents, ailing spouses, or terminally ill adult children who need help with the grandchildren?

We ask ourselves, What’s next? How do I begin this new chapter? I don’t know how to handle being in limbo. I’m so used to working a job or being busy serving others and sensing or asking them what they need or want.

I have so little practice taking time for myself and asking, “Hey, rock star! Me? Yes, you! What do you want? What have you set aside all these years? What’s a new idea that’s been waiting in the wings to be given center stage? What makes your heart area warm and fluttery…besides caring for others?”

Be the caretaker of you for five minutes…or longer, if you can stand it! Try this exercise. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to get off the couch…except for pen and paper.) What and who were you surrounded by growing up? What or who in that scenario do you want to keep, work through, or toss?

Make a list of both “good” and “bad.” (I put those words in quotes because once we depart this lovely planet, those qualifications no longer exist, I believe. Those are human determinations that we created. But that’s saved for another chapter, isn’t it?)

Ok, pen and paper ready? List what non-physical traits you inherited or were subconsciously influenced by in your childhood. What values were held by the adults around you? What shortcomings were in play?

Below is my list in no particular order: (names/roles were withheld to protect the not-so-innocent, but you should feel free to embellish your own list as you see fit. No one will read it…unless you post it on social media!)

Teaching/education
Book writing and creative writing
Theater
Love of animals
Love of children
Spirituality/psychic phenomena
Victimhood
Subservience
Strong work ethic
Creativity
Dance
Music (piano playing, singing, songwriting)
Avoidance of conflict
Abundance/money is “bad.”
Abundance/money is success.
Reverence for Nature
Quaker meeting
Atheism
Soft spoken parents
Mental health issues
Divorce

I’m sure there’s more, but making this list will help bring you back to your roots and who you are and how you feel about the influences of your upbringing.

End of Part I.

“Is it ME??” Dealing with a narcissist.

Spirit reminds us that our greatest teachers in life are our enemies, the ones who cause us the most strife. Well, then. There are a few in my life who deserve the Teacher of the Year (or lifetime) award. I’m sure you have them too. None of us get out of this unscathed! But hopefully, in the process of circumnavigating obstacles, we gain wisdom and strength.

Narcissist #1 came into my life when I was 16. Of course, no such label was known by the family about her. No. We all had to figure this out for ourselves. Being an empath, it took me years to unravel the mountains and valleys of deceit, the twists and turns of deciphering the hidden manipulation, gas-lighting lies, and wedge driving that was instigated by this individual. I spent decades thinking it was me that had to change, to rise above, to love unconditionally.

I tried all that. It worked for a while, and then back down the mountain of deceit I fell.

We need to recognize, dear Empaths, when we have been enticed into their sticky web with kindness, generosity, and charm. Narcissists excel at this façade, and save their rage for those to whom we show allegiance outside their circle. They’ll tell outright lies about them to drive a wedge of distrust and keep you for themselves.

“Narcissists present a false self, where they can seem charming and intelligent, and even giving, until you don’t do things their way, and then they get cold, withholding and punishing,” says Judith Orloff, psychiatrist and author of The Empath’s Survival Guide. They’re incapable of feeling empathy, although they will use such language to their advantage.

Narcissists require admiration, attention, and allegiance. Perhaps this was lacking in their childhood. Whatever. Not our fault, Empaths! Not our path. Not ours to fix!

The hidden toxicity of this relationship is dangerous to one’s mental health. Empaths endeavor to create harmony. Narcissists relish in creating chaos. It’s a no-win situation. Keep your distance and recognize the behaviors before they suck the lifeblood out of you. Like mosquitoes, they seek out their prey: Empaths, the bleeding hearts of the world.

Weezie plays Wordle

My favorite time of day to play Wordle is first thing in the morning when I’m still resting in bed. The world is quiet, except for a few birds and sometimes soft rain.

One morning, I picked up my phone to unlock it. The first thing that appeared was an ad for a card game called “OuiSi.” Oh! How cute! I thought. OuiSi = “Yes” in French, “Yes” in Spanish. OuiSi, pronounced Wee See. Oh! Weezie! My mother’s nickname!

Her birthname was Eloise, but everyone called her “Weezie.”

I felt this was a sign from her just like the one on the way back from her memorial several years ago. I was riding in a car with my cousin and sister to my cousin’s house where my sister and I would spend the night before heading home.

Shortly after the memorial, I had asked my mom for a sign that she was still around.

During the long ride downstate, I’d forgotten about it. We chatted for a bit, then rode in silence. Suddenly, I noticed a sign way up in the air on the side of the road: “Weesies Brothers“! I gasped quietly. There it was! My sign!

I decided not to share with the others, nor had I mentioned my request for a sign from my mom as I wasn’t sure they believe as I do that our loved ones who have passed are still around in spirit.

I basked in the feeling that came over me as we continued down the highway.

So, back to Wordle! “Mom,” I said in my mind. “Wanna play Wordle with me?” I swiped the screen, found the blank page, then waited for a starting word to come to me. It came. “ROYAL” I typed it in, hit Enter, and each letter turned green! It was the first time (and so far the only time) that I got Wordle on the first try!

Thanks, Mom! Thanks for playing with me! Let do it again sometime!

A Mother’s Day “card”

My daughter was born at home in the company of her father, two friends, and two midwives. Two cardinals appeared outside the window just as I had my last contraction. I held this amazing, slippery and warm, wide-eyed baby in my arms amid soft candlelight while Billie Holliday crooned in the background.

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day without her. She passed away at age 42 after long battles with cancer.

Mother’s Day is no different from any other day except for the name we’ve assigned it on the calendar. I was aware of its razor-like significance with my new identity: a mother who had lost a child. My only child.

I knew I had a choice. I could spiral downward watching everyone else receive flowers and cards from their dutiful children. Or I could spend the day recalling memories of my daughter and our lives together, and feeling grateful that I got to be her mom.

I believe our spirits live on after death in the other realm that we are blind to with our physical eyes. Shortly after her death, I was showered with signs that she was still around me. I sensed her presence. This Mother’s Day, I requested–without desperation–a sign from my daughter.

Later that morning, while my husband and I watched a recording of American Idol, I felt a deep love for her as one of the contestants sang Bob Dylan’s, “Make You Feel My Love.” It moved me to tears.

Then, while another contestant crooned “Lilac Wine,” my husband suddenly cried: “Pause it! Quick! Come here!” He was staring out the window waving me over. There on the branches of our lilac tree were two cardinals.

The best ever Mother’s Day “card” from my daughter.

Let Your Breath Be Your Pace

I have to fashion a bridge across the deep dark crevice of emotional pain that threatens to swallow me whole. I ask you now Spirit Guides and loved ones who’ve gone beyond to help me thread together this passageway that I may walk it slowly with ease and without incident. Can you help in this difficult path I see before me? Your Love is my Love is Me.

Dear One, fear not. It is your Nature to cling, to hop to the next stone of worry across what you feel is a burning lava at your feet. Allow yourself to let go. This is not yours to control. It must follow its own path and evolve without your input.

Yes, of course, you may indeed take action on your own behalf but no guarantees are given. There is probability, there is potential, there is free Will. You ask if this will be a lengthy process. You seek a Yes or a No. However, the Way of Nature is flow and undulation. Does a wave reach the shore in the same manner each time it is thrown forward? There is no “yes or no” when all the little droplets of water that make up the wave have each a mind of their own.

You feel a tsunami is upon you with all that is happening at the same time, and yet you can only breathe one breath at a time. Let your breath be the pace that you adhere to. Let the forces be at work here. You will come out the other side – renewed, whole, invigorated.

Keep your thoughts on the sea of infinite possibilities and allow, allow, allow the Unknown. These trials are for you, to shape you, to grow, to push against for strength and endurance. Only diamonds become diamonds by the pressure they endure.

You will rise, shining in the Glory of the Love you emit and Spread to the World. Fear not, for the Love of Spirit is within you and around you always.