Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Twistin' the Night Away

I’m a very light sleeper.  I toss and turn all night and the littlest noise wakes me up.  It gets very frustrating some nights as I also can’t turn off my brain.

I’m currently reading Geneen Roth’s book Women, Food, and God.  It’s a really good book and as I read it before I go to sleep I tend to ruminate on what I’ve read and turn it over and over in my mind as I drift off.  The title of the chapter I have been reading is “It’s Not About the Weight but It’s Not Not About the Weight”.  It delves into the why’s we eat and how we might be upset about our weight but that it's really a deeper issue that's going on and that it's not really about our weight.  She states we use food to fill a void in our life.  Just like alcohol, sex, and drugs or whatever other choice of self-sabotage you might use to cause problems in your life. 

Roth also talks about how we have to learn to put the past in the past.  One very interesting concept that had me thinking a lot was when she wrote about adults who have problems with their parents or upbringing and feel that their parents owe them something, whether an apology for how they were raised, or some other unfinished business from their childhood.  How they blame their current issues on whatever happened to them as a child. Her contention is that you are now an adult and as an adult have to realize that your parents are older too and that the dynamics are now different and the apology or changes you needed as a child isn’t the same as what you need, or don't need, from your parent’s now.

It’s funny that I read that last night and how appropriate it was for a situation I had at work today.  I always post the current month’s birthdays on a readerboard in the office.  One of my co-workers came in and asked me to remove his name.  He said that when he was 13 he was so excited that he was becoming a teenager and couldn't wait for his birthday.  But he went on to say that it was also the first of many times that his parents forgot his birthday.  He told me he doesn’t like to celebrate it because of that and asked me to remove his name which I did.  He said that he lets his wife and daughter celebrate it but otherwise wants it to be just a normal day because he has bitter feelings towards his parents due to these past experiences.  

What popped into my head first of all was why are you still allowing your parents to define how you celebrate your birthday?  This is not a young man.  He is in his 50’s.   There is no way that his parents can now go back and ever make up to him the fact that they missed several of his special days.  But he can and should now move forward and have the most rockin’, outrageous birthdays he can.  He needs to make himself feel special and to celebrate himself the best he knows how and not look back.  

It also made me realize I need to fill the empty spaces of missed birthdays (metaphor here), low self esteem, self doubt, longing for a relationship, etc. with joy instead of food for whatever I feel is lacking in my life.  There is no blaming our history or our parents.  There is only the present and how we treat ourselves now and how we regard the future.  I want to follow Louise Hay’s advice and look at myself in the mirror each morning and say, “I love you”.  And I want to have a rockin' good time doing it!  That would definitely be Joylicious!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dream a Little Dream of Me~

This is an excellent article by David Kessler titled "In Your Dreams".  It is from the Oprah.com website and I thought it was worth sharing.  Joylicious!!!

In Your Dreams - Dreams and Grief

Dreams come in many forms and provide insight into your greatest hopes and fears. But David Kessler explains that your subconscious could also be the key to helping you through your grief about the loss of a loved one.
Here's one woman's story.

Catherine and her husband, John, sat at dinner. John pulled back from the table with sudden pain in his chest. His wife immediately said they needed to go to the emergency room.

John disagreed. He jokingly told Catherine it was probably indigestion, with no negative reflection on her cooking. John was determined to wait it out, hoping the pain would go away. After a half hour, his loving wife had had enough. Catherine practically pushed him in the car and took him to the hospital.

They arrived to a packed waiting room. John, still convinced he was suffering from indigestion, started nagging Catherine about returning home. Though the ER was chaotic and crowded, a nurse tended to John immediately, as patients with chest pains are brought straight to the back for observation and testing. Catherine was left alone in the waiting room, unable to follow John into the back.

Catherine sat patiently outside as she saw the ER grow even busier, one ambulance arriving after another. Then she heard someone yell, "We have a gunshot here," as they brought a patient back. She reluctantly went up to the busy nurse at the desk and said: "It has been 20 minutes. Can I go see my husband now?" The nurse looked up with a puzzled look and said no one was allowed into the back until the ER calmed down.

Almost two hours after arriving, after many visits to the front desk, a social worker stood before Catherine, explaining that John had a massive heart attack and died. She apologized for the chaos and busyness of the night and told her that not only could she not see John, but they were so in need of beds that he had already been taken to the morgue downstairs.

Catherine, in shock, drove home to find friends and family already gathering in response to the news. Catherine sat very still in a chair while family members cleared the dinner plates from earlier.

The phone was ringing nonstop with friends who'd heard the news. An unexpected call then came in from the social worker at the hospital. She told Catherine that she had made a horrible mistake, possibly the worst of her career. She had mistakenly told Catherine that John had died, when in fact it was another patient who had died. Catherine held the phone to her ear with more tears flowing down her face. The social worker went on to say that John was quite upset that Catherine left, as his chest pains turned out to be nothing more than indigestion.

Catherine, of course, said she was on her way back to the hospital. The social worker stopped her mid-sentence to say that an ambulance driver who heard about the incident was already bringing John home.

Catherine put down the phone, trying to comprehend what had just happened. John, on the other hand, was sitting in the front seat of an ambulance, listening to the kind driver telling him that mistakes are often made in medicine, but at least this mistake had a happy ending. As they turned the corner to his home, the driver, for fun, reached down and turned on the lights and siren.

John stepped out of the ambulance like a rock star with sirens blaring. He walked toward the overjoyed Catherine, who jumped into his arms. The family engulfed the couple as Catherine and John seemed to hug for an eternity. After a few minutes so, Catherine began to feel annoyed with the noise and looked to the ambulance driver to have him turn off the sirens. But then she realized the siren was the sound of her alarm clock. It was time to wake up for work. It had all been a dream. John was gone from the living and her life was forever changed.

Dreams often make promises they can't keep, an aspect of our psyches that brings with it a fleeting feeling of reconnection. Many people say that regardless of the outcome of the dream, they are grateful for even a few more moments with a deceased loved one.

Dreams sometimes give us glimpses of other worlds. We may never know how real they are. Some dreams are crazy, others hard to figure out, and some may turn out to be real. We do know that dreams are a natural part of sleep. They symbolize everything from our hopes to our deepest fears.

Dreams can provide us with information about what is really going on inside us. Our dreams can demonstrate the inevitable lack of control we feel when we are grieving. Dreams may serve many purposes, including a distraction from pain or our soul grappling with the reality of loss.

Dreams help us deal with overwhelming feelings while we sleep, an aid to the grief process, as the unconscious mind cannot distinguish between a wish and reality. We may not realize how much we work out psychologically in our dream state. All of us dream every night, but only a small percentage of us are aware of our dreams after we wake. Dreams can become a meeting place between the world of the living and the realm of the deceased.

During grief, our dreams often change. Messages are usually much more to the point and contain signs of reassurance, continued existence and emotional support. When our deceased loved ones appear in the dream world, it provides a respite from the current world of pain and loss.

When people dream of a loved one, they often report feeling a sense of peace afterward, a reassurance beyond words. Some have pangs of pain when they realize it was only a dream, but eventually, the dreams will begin to subside and become less frequent. While they are still happening, they often represent a form of communication, reassurance and emotional support.

The dream vision of a loved one can also represent unfinished business, giving us the chance to complete something that ended all too soon.

Our dreams show us that our loved ones are not, in essence, the sick people we tearfully said goodbye to in the hospital. Neither are our loved ones the bodies we saw at the funeral homes. Our loved ones are healthy and intact, the people we knew and now long to see again.

Who and what are you dreaming about? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

David Kessler is the author of Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms (May 2010), as well as the co-author with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross of On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons. Visit his website for more help and resources.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 1 - And So It Begins

Today is the first day of my new diet. I went to the hour long meeting last night and we were given an info packet that was about 10 pages thick plus a zip drive with 300 more pages that include the diet founder's book, recipes, and instructions.  Yikes!  Lots of reading.  But what was fabulous was the instructions for days 1 and 2.

The instructions read verbatim, "You MUST gorge yourself and eat as much food as you can throught the day. (This overeating will only be done for the fist two days.)"  And the food list for the two "loading days" as they are called include some of the following:  chocolate, pastries with whip cream, sugar, fried meats (particularly pork), eggs, bacon, mayonnaise, bread, thick butter, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut milk and oil, olives, cakes, cookies, custards, creams, pastries, cream and cheese.

This is the first diet I've ever been on where I could order a pizza with all the works, cheesy bread,  AND dessert and tell the waiter it was because I am on a diet!  They would look at you crazy!  But believe it or not, I'm only into 1/2 of the first day and I already feel yucky!  I'll be glad to get to the cleansing, low cal part of the diet after these two days are over.  This should be every woman's dream.  Who knew eating so much junk and fat would make you feel so cruddy! 

I'm hoping that this diet works for me.  It is based on my giving myself shots of a hormone each morning that will reset my metabolism.  And, yes, I actually did it this morning.  The shot didn't hurt at all but the alcohol swab stung like a son-of-a-gun!

I'll probably gain 3-5 pounds in this two-day loading period but hopefully it will come off quickly and I will feel fabulous in the process.  I'm on my way to a new start of another joylicious adventure in my life!!  Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

All You Need is Love

I received this quote in my email today from Mama Gena, “Love yourself first, foremost, and always.” 

Why do women find this simple statement to be so hard to follow?  Me included?  Women put their children first.  Their husbands, lovers, and friends first.  We give and give until there is nothing left.  And, in addition to neglecting ourselves and not nourishing our souls, we can be our own worst critics.  Thinking we are a bad mother, a bad friend, etc.  What kind of role model does this show our children?  We love too hard and too much.  We give so much to others we empty ourselves out.  We can lose self respect for ourselves.  We get depressed.  Especially when that love isn’t returned the way we want it to be returned.

I am guilty of loving someone too much.  Of putting my daughter, family, or friends first.  Of taking care of others while neglecting myself.  But, and I’ve talked about this before, how can we adequately take care of others when we don’t take care of ourselves?

I was in a relationship a couple of years ago where I gave so much to someone who didn’t appreciate it.  And they didn’t respect me for it either.  I was always feeling lonely even when I was with him.  I needed to learn to love myself first before I could love him back and do it in a healthy, mature manner.
Of course the relationship ended badly.  And my heart was broken.  And I thought, I’ll just change myself into this great person and he will want me back!  And he did…for a minute.  But the old patterns started again and I realized in the end that I needed to change for myself not him. 

I needed to learn to love myself first to understand and set proper boundaries to have someone love me in return. And now I want to find someone who will appreciate that I feel good about myself and live joyliciously so he will want to be part of that joy and love!  It’s still a work in progress but I’m getting better every day.  I’m finding that I am starting to like myself again.  And to be able to look in the mirror each morning and say, “You are ok.  I love you. You matter to me.”

A few years ago I got a tattoo of a heart on my shoulder to remind myself of just that.  Maybe I’ll show you someday!  Joyliciously fun!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Charlie

Last night I was flipping through reading random blogs when I came across one that made me stop and read. It wasn’t all fancy with tons of pictures or a colorful background. All it had was a date and then the author starting writing. What caught my eye were the first two sentences. They read, “I’m in agony. I hope I did the right thing.”

The blog then proceeded to talk about dealing with advanced diabetes, medical procedures, medicines, and trips to health facilities. As I read my heart went out to this woman. But as I read I began to realize what she was talking about was that she had put her beloved pet cat down the previous day. She talked about lying with him for hours crying at what she knew was the impending end. Of him sleeping between her and her husband each night and the love she felt for him. She talked of her sadness at knowing it was the right time to put him down but the hardest decision she ever made. And the self-doubt as she drove to the vet with him beside her in the car that one last time.

I had tears running down my face. But what really got me was as I scrolled down the page a picture of her wonderful cat appeared. It was the twin of my dear kitty Charlie. And I had just experienced a similar loss only 8 months before. Oh how I could identify with her emotions. I still have a hard time talking about Charlie. I want to someday write about his personality and antics but for now the loss is still too fresh. Even after all of these months.

How is it that we become so attached to our furry little friends? They are our other children. Their constant and unconditional love for us. Their need for us and us for them. They provide companionship in good times and bad. I originally got Charlie to help me with empty nest syndrome when my daughter went away to college. I had him for 15 years. He was my buddy, my baby, my angel kitty.

My heart goes out to the woman whose blog I read. I wish I had saved it and sent her an email. But I was so shocked when I saw the picture and crying so much I had to close my computer and go to bed for the night.

Cherish your pets. They are here for us when we need them. To comfort us and make us laugh. To fill us with exasperation and amazement. Enjoy them while you can.

To my furry angel kitty – Charlie! Love you always. Joyliciously~

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Vision and Mission Statements

As most of you know, I was one of 7 finalists in Dr. Pat's Holistic Makeover (http://transformationtalkradio.com/).  I feel very privileged and blessed to be part of this process and sharing my stories with you.  In winning this makeover we were each challenged to come up with a Pay-It-Forward project.  Thus began my blog on learning to have a joylicious life after suffering loss and grief.

Recently Dr. Pat asked all of us to write our vision and mission statements for our Pay-It-Forward projects.  She also asked us to post them on our blogs.  Here are mine.  I would love any feedback or suggestions on how I can make my blog better or future items or stories you would like me to share or discuss.  Thanks so much!  Have a joylicious day~

Vision Statement: I envision women reaching their full potential by learning to embrace loss and grief as opening a path to a new hopeful, peaceful and joylicious life.

Mission Statement: Using my writings, blog, and speaking engagements I will inspire, coach, and enable women to see that they are special and that their stories matter.  That all women can experience a joylicious life after suffering adversity.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aloha~

In a recent issue of AARP magazine (yes, I’m a member), I read the following: “When Vacation Isn’t 62% of those 45-54 have used their paid leave for caregiving.”

At the time my stepmother became ill with ALS I had over 1000 hours of sick leave available to me as well as 4 weeks of vacation a year and 8 furlough days. And I used all of them to help my father take care of her and then to take care of him when he was in the hospital. I would do it again if called for but I now know, looking back, that it wasn’t healthy for me to spend all of those hours as a caregiver and not take care of myself in the process. And that is why I struggle with good health now.

I think too often women, in particular, give so much of their time and energy in service of others that they can damage their health. Our kids need us, our parents need us, we feel a commitment to our job, our church, our friends. And it is hard for us to say no.

We love our family and friends. We don’t want to disappoint them or feel we are letting them down. But I think we better serve them and ourselves if we set boundaries and expectations and then hold ourselves accountable to those very things. I constantly have to ask myself, “what good am I if I’m so tired or not feeling well that I’m not taking proper care of myself or my father”? If I can’t give 100% to whatever task at hand, no matter how lovingly or willingly we do it, I think we need to ask for help.

And that opens up a whole other issue. Asking for help. I’m the worst. I think I’m superwoman. I can do it all. And I want to do it all. But I have to know my own limitations and not let my pride get in my way. I have to look at is as I’m giving a gift to the people who want to help too. I’m making them feel better by letting them know they are needed and wanted too. That they can contribute as much as me and as well as me. It’s a validation of their worth too.

Let’s all try and take some time off. A true vacation. Even if it is only one day to cherish and pamper yourself. Nurture yourself. It will make you feel better. Then you can pass on those good feelings to everyone around you and it’s taking better care of you and your loved ones in the long run. Joylicious!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Challenge

Some people are wondering why I’ve named my blog Kat’s Joylicious Life and I’ve been asked to define the word Joylicious and what it means to me.

I think of Joylicious as a combination of several words that evoke strong emotional feelings. Those words would include joyful, delightful, delicious, luscious, scrumptious, enchanting,  peaceful, hopeful and hope filled.

Finding a life for yourself that goes beyond happy and encompasses your current and future situations.

It means taking your loss and grief and trusting in the process that the universe is not testing you.  But that it is opening up space for new and better experiences to come to you.

I also want the word to be used as a reminder to women not to lose themselves in care giving or relationships.  To love themselves and cherish themselves even during the hard times so that they don’t neglect their health and well-being.  If you don’t take care of yourself first it’s very hard to have anything left to give to others.

It’s a reminder to live your life with passion and pleasure.  You only have one life so why spend it being negative and depressed.  Look for the Joylicious moments in your life every day.

More to come…Kisses!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Weight-y Issue

When I was a sophomore in high school we had to take Physical Education as a required class. I was never very good at it as I have always been uncoordinated and have never really enjoyed or understood why people willingly want to exercise.

One day we were told to suit up and head to the gym. We wore these horrible short navy blue jumpsuits. When we got there we were assembled in a line and one at a time asked to step on a scale and get weighed in front of the entire class. It was and still is one of the most humiliating experiences and memories of my life. I got on the scale and weighed 135. I was the 2nd to heaviest girl in the class and the heaviest girl was truly heavy! My self-esteem had never really been good but this was terrible!

The whispers and snickering of the other girls. The sideways looks of pity. I was devastated. I had always been self-conscious when shopping with my friends anyway as they all wore sizes 2, 4, 6. I was very curvy and, at 5’5”, wore a size 11 and had to shop in the women’s department while they all chose clothes from the junior department! What I would give to weigh 135 now! And I haven’t seen that size since I was 20 years old!

I think it was so cruel of my school to do that to us girls. Even some of the thin girls were humiliated. I had always felt not good enough anyway as my mother was beautiful and a petite size 7 and 5’2”. I can still hear those whispers and laughter in my head to this day.

When I was 21 I gave birth to my daughter. I gained 70 lbs during my pregnancy that I have never taken off. But how long can you claim, “it’s the baby weight” when your daughter is 35?

Next week I’m going to start a new diet. I really hate that word. Think about it. The first three letters are D-I-E. That can’t be good. I’m so tired of feeling like I’m depriving myself all the time and see my weight creep up and up. I will be working with my naturopath and I want to call it a new lifestyle. Changing my metabolism. I’m reading the new book Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. I’m trying to change what’s in my head too. The negative self-talk messages that make me fat. That voice that tells me I’m not good enough to be thin and beautiful. I know I can do this. I want to take off this weight for the last time in my life and be healthy so that I can live to a ripe old age.

I will be exploring some of these feelings in the coming weeks. I know that there is a beautiful, joylicious woman in there! And I’m going to find her!! I hope you join my journey!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Amazing Grace

My daughter was laid off from her position with a company that did a huge downsizing a little over two years ago. With the flagging economy and working at a company that owed millions in loans they had to learn to be a leaner, more efficient company.

At the time she was devastated. She was angry, resentful, and a little lost, as she had no idea what her next steps would be. She applied for jobs but the reality was that so many companies were downsizing that there weren’t many jobs to apply for. She was looking for Admin, PR, Marketing jobs and finding nothing. Even with a bachelor’s degree. And the jobs that were hiring weren’t paying anywhere near what she had previously earned.

She floundered around for approximately a year swimming in her resentment. And after much soul searching came to the realization that she really didn’t want to work in an office environment any longer. 10 years earlier in college she had always toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher. But had decided she enjoyed writing much more and so got her degree in journalism/public relations instead.

She made the brave decision to go back to school and get a degree in Early Elementary Education with the intent of getting her teaching certificate. She was excited about life again. She felt like she was on the right path and doing what she was meant to do.

Starting school again was a challenge. Things had changed in the academic world. Everything was online now. Lots of reading and emailing. She felt somewhat overwhelmed but took it all in stride as she knew she had found her calling.

During this time her grandmother, my stepmom, passed away. They had always been close so this hurt her very badly. Then bam, life came knocking again! Her fiancĂ© decided three months before their wedding to call it off after 10 years together. Here she was living on student loans, working hard to change her life, and now she was going to do another 180-degree turn in a different path.

She moved to a new apartment, found a Para-educator job teaching kindergarten to supplement her income, and started a path to a new life. Yes, she was depressed. Yes, her life ended up so completely different from the map she had made for herself. But it’s funny about life. Just as things could have been at their lowest for her the best things happened. She had to open up space in her life for the new good things to come.

She started her new direction. Her new life. She is currently waiting to enter UW Bothell to continue her quest for her Post-Bach Certificate in Teaching. She has many options open to her in her future. A bright shiny new life. I admire her beyond words. She has a plan. She has a path. She understands that through suffering loss she found a greater joy. She has the whole world open to her and she has done it with grace and perseverance. I am so proud of my beautiful courageous daughter.  She is joyliciously my heart!

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's a White Wedding

I heard on the news the other day that it is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  I can’t believe how time flies.

I had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans 3 years ago to attend my cousin’s wedding.  My aunt and I took the red-eye flight out on a Friday night and spent a whirlwind weekend site seeing, eating, and visiting with family in this gorgeous amazing city.  I have never visited a city that felt so vibrant.  It’s very nature assaults all of your senses like no other place I’ve ever been.  The smells of delicious food wafting from the restaurants or the flowers in the garden district.  The sights of the architecture, cemeteries, gardens, waterways, people.  Amazing.  And the sounds of the music coming from the clubs in the French Quarter or the different languages or accents spoken by both residents and visitors alike.

The wedding was amazing.  One of the prettiest and most interesting times that I’ve ever had at a wedding.  The guests were wonderful, the bride beautiful in her wedding dress, good food, good music.  It was so much fun.  Dancing and good times.

But outside of the home where the wedding was held there was an eerie feeling to the neighborhood.  It had been two years since the levy broke on that fateful day of August 28, 2005.  There were still watermarks on the sides of the buildings that showed how far the water had risen.  You could see where they had written body counts in chalk against the siding of the homes.  Stores were closed.  Street cars not running.  Abandoned homes everywhere.  FEMA trailers parked in front of decimated homes.  It was really sad.

The people we met spoke of their experiences during the weeks in the aftermath of the hurricane.  How come things were being rebuilt so slowly?  Where was all of the government aid and money that was supposed to be provided?  There was talk that Brad Pitt was filming a movie in the area and had put millions of his own money into revitalizing the 9th Ward.  But the frustration and anger at the disconnect between the action and help that was supposed to be and the reality of the rebuild was incredible.  I felt helpless and angry.

Something else I felt that weekend though was the energy and optimism of the residents of New Orleans.  Their ability to see past the decaying buildings and empty lots and to a future filled with possibilities.  They knew it would all work out ok.  That they would come back stronger than ever.  Be as beautiful of a city as ever.  And 5 years later a lot of things have changed.

Yet now the city is hit yet again with the huge BP oil spill.  They just can’t seem to get a break as they see their waters polluted with the sticky oily substance.  Their shrimp harvesting season a mess.  The fishermen losing millions of dollars and our ecosystem in disarray.   But I get the feeling that their indomitable spirit and hopeful optimism will prevail and that they will rebuild and renew once again.  For the city of New Orleans truly understands the term joylicious!  In every sense, smell, touch, and taste of the word.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Procrastination

Why is it that when we are feeling the most overwhelmed, frustrated, or scared, instead of tackling the problem head on we choose to shut down? I am overwhelmed at work. Hardly a minute to breathe I’m so busy. I come home and I have 2 new magazines in the mailbox (although one of them is Oprah’s and it’s her makeover edition so I’m excited about that) but it means lots of reading and I stick them on the pile of already waiting magazines. I have a part of last Sunday’s paper on the table with an article I’m really interested in closely reading as it pertains to big changes in my neighborhood. I have at least 5 books on my nightstand begging for attention including Geneen Roth’s new book on weight and God. Cats wanting to be fed, a blog to write, emails to answer, bills to pay, laundry, etc. and all I want to do is sit down and watch television. Or play computer games.

But even sitting down to watch the TV is stressing me out.  I just got a new dvr and I am already overwhelmed with the amount of shows I have waiting to watch as days go by and I don’t have time to even sit down and enjoy them. And I think to myself that all of these stressors are self-inflicted. I don’t really have to do any of these things. But I want to do all of them! I want to spend a week reading, writing, organizing, and just being still. But instead I just go, go, go.

As I write this I am looking out the window at the beautiful pink, purple and red sunset and thinking I should walk down to the river that is at the end of my driveway. Find some peace and solitude. Enjoy the tranquility of the warm night as the water lazily flows downstream. I take a deep breath and calm my mind and myself and I know everything will get done when it’s supposed to and not a minute sooner. There is peace in procrastination. Joylicious!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Modern Day Psalm

My daughter sent me this from her church.  I love it!


A Modern Day Psalm by Rev. Kathianne Lewis


O Divine Spirit, wake me up to what is True, Eternal and Good.

Keep me steady while the world shifts and changes and rearranges itself.

Don't let me stumble or fall in any way.

Keep me cheerful when all those around me are pessimistic and whiney.

Let my Love and Joy lift them up and soothe their fears.

Keep me focused when the multitude of distractions cry out for me to partake of their pleasures.

Don't let me trade a short-term thrill for the long-term rewards of discipline and commitment.

Keep me positive about the future even though what makes it on the news is the latest crisis or example of human failings.

Let me be the one to share the Good news that all people are created by Goodness and together we can create beautiful solutions for what ails the world.

Keep me faithful to the highest truths I know, even when my doubts loom large.

Let the Faith within me grow and dissolve the last vestiges of disease, debt, distress, loneliness, poverty or ignorance within me.

Let the Light of my Faith ignite the Faith of others so that all can know:

God is the Ultimate Source of all Good things.

With these words my life is shaped.

Glory to God in All!


Blessings,

Rev. Kathianne Lewis
Center for Spiritual Living Seattle

My Own Private Summer

One word strikes fear into the hearts of middle-aged women everywhere. Menopause!

In my late 40’s I started forgetting people’s names or places I had been. It was, “you know, that lady with the red hair”… Or, “C’mon, we’ve been to that restaurant a million times, you know, the place with the fish tank in it”. My family would look at me like I was crazy because I had always had a mind like a steel trap. I started having insomnia around the age of 50. It developed into panic attacks and night sweats. Suddenly it was like an alien inhabited my body. Or that movie where the girl’s head spins around and the devil’s voice comes out of her. And I didn’t take any stuff from anyone anymore!

I had no idea who this woman was that I had become. One minute I would be laughing and the next minute so mad I could spit and the next minute crying. I tried to maintain a sense of calm and a sense of humor as I worked with almost 100 men at the time and it was, to say the least, not fun. Especially when they would try to be “helpful” and tell me all the stories of experiences they had with their wives going through “the change”. Embarrassing to hear and deal with at work to say the least! And it was also the first time I had ever been called the B word to my face at work. Not behind my back but actually to my face!

And suddenly I had a muffin top when I wasn’t wearing tight jeans! Where in the heck did my waist go? I had always been a large woman but had always had an hourglass figure. My girlfriends and I started calling the hot flashes “our own private summer”. Heater on, fan on, heater on, fan on, jacket on, sweater off, jacket on, sweater off, blankets on, blankets off, blankets on, blankets off. I was turning schizophrenic.

It was also hard because I lost my libido. I just didn’t care anymore. Part of it was probably due to being a caregiver and giving so much of myself that I had nothing left to give in the bedroom and part of it was probably depression due to the breakup of my relationship. But it was gone and I didn’t know where to find it! I tried some pills the doctor gave me and promptly put on 12 pounds of what she termed water weight. I term it, oh great not again!

But I made it through all the drama and uneasiness of the process and guess what? My libido came back, the hot flashes stopped, my moods evened out, and I can even sleep through most of the night and with most of the blankets!

But the best part of going through menopause was that I found a voice for myself. I didn’t care what people thought of me anymore. I felt more at ease with myself. I still don’t like the extra weight and have a plan to tackle that issue later this month. But I learned to speak up and defend my opinions and myself. And I’m hoping through this holistic makeover that I will be able to get stronger and verbalize even clearer my experiences and pass that message on to other women. It is actually a freeing experience! And with the right vitamins and taking care of yourself can be a relatively painless one too. I just hope you don’t work with lots of men!! By the way, they all survived too. One guy told me near the end of the experience, “Hey Kat, you’re on the downhill side!” I said, “Yes but on the uphill side of life”!! Joylicious!!~

Monday, August 9, 2010

To Write or Not To Write

I got up this morning with the intention of posting a blog that I had written yesterday about my ex. But after several conversations over the weekend regarding writing a blog and it being such a public forum I reread what I had written and just couldn't do it today.

Why is it that when we start to feel healthy or that we are on a path to happiness and well-being we start to doubt ourselves? We second-guess our decisions, statements, and actions? Even in my blog about my father I found myself editing what I had written and deleting several paragraphs. Deciding there were things I couldn't share so publicly. I know I need to purge my past to move forward into the future but is there a better way to do it?

I think all of us have good days and bad days. I'm already dreading today and this week at work and it's only 8am on Monday morning! With no managers during the day, an FMLA day with my father tomorrow, filling in for an assistant who is on vacation this week, and dealing with an executive who is very challenging, I'm already stressed and overwhelmed before I've begun. Deep breathing, stretching, meditating, letting the gold dust fall over the room. All techniques that have always worked for me. But today they don’t seem to be helping.

A comment was also made to me this weekend that the things I’ve shared on this blog aren’t normally things I talk about to anyone. Ever. So the fact I’m trying to be open and honest and really learn and grow from this experience and how uncomfortable I am today really tells me that something is happening.

I will plaster a smile on my face and greet the day and week as optimistically as possible. I will overcome the butterflies in my stomach. I am a strong, vibrant woman. As Louise Hay says, “Out of this situation only good will come”.

Everyone have a joylicious Monday! I know I will!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fathers and Daughters

For the past year my sister and I have helped our father through a very difficult time in his life. First with the grief of losing his wife of 40 years and then with his health issues including spending an entire month in the hospital last year and almost dying. My sister takes him grocery shopping ever Friday and does his laundry and odd chores. I spend every Sunday with him mostly just cooking him dinner and completing any odd chores he doesn’t give to her. Both of us shuttle him to doctors’ appointments as needed. And it seems he needs a lot of them!

My relationship with my father hasn’t always been easy. He and my mother divorced when I was 12. Preteen is a very hard time in a young girl’s life. A time when she should be developing her first real relationship with a man that will shape her future relationships with partners. After he moved out it became even more difficult to bond with him than it had been when he lived with us. I pulled away and became shy and closed off around him. I always felt I could never live up to his high expectations and that I always fell short as a daughter and the eldest sibling.

When I was 15 he met and married my stepmother. They had a wonderful relationship and were each other’s best friends. They started a business together and were very successful. It made it even harder to bond with him as I felt like a 3rd wheel around them. They didn’t seem to need any of us. They seemed so happy together that I, at least, felt very shut out. I felt not important to him and that I caused him nothing but problems.

I felt like every time I really needed a dad, a father, all he did was throw some money at me and figure he did his job. A lot of the time I didn’t want money. I just wanted a hug or to feel validated that my life was worth something. He was a hard taskmaster and set very high standards for all of us kids. I couldn’t talk to him about what was important to me or what was going on in my life. I became very good at hiding emotions and my real life with him.

Funny how time changes things. When my stepmother was diagnosed with ALS in November 2007 so began one of the hardest years in my life and absolutely in my father’s life. He was the primary caregiver as she began to lose the use of her body. First her ability to smell and taste. She soon had a feeding tube and we both learned how to feed her. We also had to give her meds through the tube. She then lost her ability to breathe properly and was fitted with a breathing machine. Slowly she lost the ability to move, talk, and walk and was using cards to point to what she wanted. We purchased a white board for her to communicate. It was sad and hard on all of us. She died at home in February 2009.

Through it all my father’s devotion and care of her was amazing. He wouldn’t leave the house for weeks at a time because she was afraid to be without him. But, just as it happened with me, his health suffered. Every ounce of energy and time was consumed with taking care of her. The three of us would spend long days talking about the future and planning for after she passed. I learned more about my parents and their relationship in that year than I did in all of the 40 years they were together.

And I have to tell you, when you change a parent’s bedpan, feed them through a tube, caress them as you rub lotion on them, and learn more about their bodies and bodily functions then you ever ever imagined, it changes a relationship. As you start to trade places with them and they become the children and you the parent it changes your perspective.

Now when I call my dad on the phone his voice lights up when he hears that it’s me. That makes me feel good. He gets so excited about planning the Sunday dinners and is always anxious that there are leftovers for one night during the week. Especially now that he has mastered the art of the microwave. We can talk about anything. There are really no barriers any longer. Yes, he still drives me crazy. He can’t hear out of one ear so if you try to talk to him while he is walking he makes you wait until he sits down so that he can understand what you say. Or when you ask him a question he always responds with “I don’t know?” Or the fact that I will never live up to the way my stepmom did things. It is always, “Shirley always made that decision.” Or when you cook he is grateful but there is always the comment, “Well, it’s not exactly like Shirley’s…”. But I do the best I can and try to remain as calm and cheerful as possible.

But I also wonder, what happened to the decisive businessman who always had his views firmly planted in his Republican righteousness? What happened to my tall handsome father who now walks with a cane or walker (that is, if no one is watching because he doesn’t want anyone to realize he is old)? And when did his hair get so white? He is still a big flirt but if a woman looked at him seriously he would run for cover! And all he wants is another wife to cook for him, watch Wheel of Fortune with him, and snuggle with him at night. Is that so much to ask?

I’m so grateful for the past two years with him and the last year with my stepmother even though it was so difficult. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the life they had together and a new bond with my father. It helped clarify for me what kind of partner I would like to meet and spend the rest of my days with. Out of tragedy came great respect and love. And I think that goes both ways with us. Joylicious~

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Last Woman Standing

As of yesterday I’m the last woman left in our department at work. I work in a blue collar union shop with approximately 40 press operators.

Our department has had almost 100% turnover in management in the past 3 years. My boss passed away from cancer in 2008. That was a very difficult time for all of us watching as he went through chemo and radiation and we saw the transformation the horrible drugs caused. And it was hard for me to talk to him before he passed as this was the time when I was dealing with the issues of caring for my step-mother who was dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

During the time of my boss’s illness one of the women managers made the choice with her husband to retire and move to Winthrop. I am so happy for her and to this day she remains one of my dearest friends. It was so hard to lose her. Hard on the department and hard on me. I spent one entire counseling session crying about the loss of her leaving. Hail to the purple pen!

In September of 2009 another manager and dear friend made the choice to also retire after 37 years with the company. He and his wife moved to Enumclaw and are very happy. They live right next door to their grandchildren’s school and life is good. I see them occasionally but it isn’t the same. He was like a second father to me when I needed it the most.

In May of 2010 a rather controversial dayside manager accepted a position in Phoenix and left the company. It was actually somewhat of a relief. Now the remaining managers could bring calm and order back to the room. Or so I thought…

In June of 2010 the 2nd dayside manager decided to resign to take time to care for his dying father. So commendable. But very hard to lose him. I’m so happy he has the opportunity and means to be able to spend quality time in the last days of his father’s life. Miss his quirky sense of humor.

Yesterday was the last day of the remaining woman manager. She was very valuable to our department and had become a great friend. And, she was the only other woman working in the department besides me. She has decided to move back to New York to be with her family. I wish her great success and happiness and hope she has all her wishes come true. I will miss our talks and jokes. Especially about the craziness of working with all the union men.

But this brings me to women friends both in the workplace and at home. My friends are very valuable to me. There used to be a time when I had many friends. My daughter used to complain that we couldn’t go anywhere without running into people I knew. Even on vacation in another city! But they weren’t deep friendships. They were acquaintances.

I now have very few friends but the friends I do have mean the world to me. I can honestly say I love all of them. I feel they are true friends. Some of them are relatives, some ex-coworkers, and some from as far back as high school. I feel like I can trust them with my deepest darkest secrets and I hope they feel the same about me. They know more about me than anyone and it’s ok. It’s not scary. I used to really be afraid that if any of my “friends” knew the real me they would not like me. I don’t feel that way anymore and I hold each one of them in my heart and will do so forever. When friends are in trouble you circle the wagons and protect them. You are there when they need help, support, celebrating joy, or just a shoulder to cry on. No judging and no back stabbing. Just love. As my one friend so beautifully puts.. “from my heart to yours”.

So through the loss of people I work with I have found joy in true friends. Joylicious!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ode to Joy

The holidays. Love them. Hate them. No one has any money but spends too much. People are crabby and stressed but expected to attend holiday parties and smile and be gay. Deck the halls with bows of holly. With the economy many people I knew were out of work and wondering what kind of Christmas it would be this year. It’s cold outside. We eat too much and drink too much. Love Christmas music but if you listen to the words of some of the songs they really don’t reflect the holidays. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas (no one I know is jolly during that time). I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas (yikes please no - it brings the city to a halt). And work is crazy as it’s the busiest time of year for newspapers so it’s a blessing and a frustration.

My point is, I already have a hard time during the holidays and 2009 was even worse than usual. I was more than broke. Furlough days at work were really creating havoc with my finances. I had to put my angel kitty Charlie down on December 8th after much agony and the urging of my family. We were all missing my step-mother and having to make decisions on the family dinner, traditions, and decorations that she, as our matriarch, had always taken care of. I guess it was time to grow up!

I tried to reflect on this time as a glorious rebirth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I prayed for guidance and meditated for serenity. I do love Christmas hymns that praise the joy of the holiday and the birth of Jesus. I played them often on the stereo. I did some shopping, mostly for my daughter. And I put up a tree hoping it would put me in the spirit.

But I kept wondering, where is my joy? Where is my happy ending? When do things start turning around for me? Another Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve as a single woman. And so depleted of any sense of self that I almost didn’t care and was in some respects relieved I didn’t have to be happy and upbeat for a mate.

How do you get past this period of your life and move into the joyous, happiness that once was? The excitement of Christmas morning and opening your Santa presents that were really from mom and dad? The wonderful smells of turkey and ham cooking. The sounds of family laughing and great conversations? Caroling, snow ball fights, Secret Santa gifts, gloriously decorated houses with lights twinkling in the windows. I wanted it all again but was so far away from it I didn’t know how to find it again.

I really, really prayed that 2010 would be the start of a new, fresh, fun, joylicious year! Just gotta figure out how to get there!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The First Step


In October 2009 my wonderful friend Chris let me know that Dr Pat Baccili had posted a Holistic Makeover contest on her website.  Chris was a winner in last year’s contest and really wanted me to enter for a chance to change my life this year. 

The problem was that it was one of the worst periods of my life.  My father had spent the entire month of July in the hospital and even though he was home, most of August and September were spent either at his doctor appointments or in physical therapy.

I also had some medical issues of my own in August that the doctors could not diagnose.  Dizzy spells that caused me to fall down at odd times combined with a  fear of driving and of having to drive anyway to get to and from work and my father’s home.  And living in a 3rd floor walk-up that had very steep stairs and made me afraid to leave my house. 

In addition, my beloved cat Charlie (more about him in the future) had developed a tumor in his spine and lost the use of his back legs.  He wasn’t in pain but I did have him in diapers as he could no longer get in and out of his litter box.

A lot to deal with!  And now Chris wanted me to enter a contest and tell why I deserved a holistic makeover!  On top of that it involved writing a 500 word essay including how I would pay it forward.  The thought of completing an essay was daunting enough but to pay it forward too?  I was already stretched as far as I could see and beyond.  How would I possibly find time to complete a pay it forward project?

I finally just sat down one day and wrote.  I was so depressed that day.  One of my dear friends retired from our department at work.  My kitty wasn’t doing well.  My family was needing me.  How could I express paying anything forward?  But I wrote.  And I read it and thought…oh my goodness this is ridiculous and the most depressing story.  But I figured whatever the universe has in store for me I will accept.  I will just send it and then I can honestly tell Chris I did it.  The essay was my blog titled “My Story” from yesterday.  I figured that would be the end of it.  I copy and pasted into Dr Pat’s website.  I pressed the button thinking I would have a chance to proofread and a message would pop up asking, “are you sure?”  But it didn’t!  I thought, OMG it went as is. 

So I sent a little prayer up to God and forgot about it.  Little realizing I had started a change in myself and my life!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Story

The last two years have been a time of loss for me. Loss of a 7+ year relationship, loss of a parent to ALS, loss of personal time due to the illness and caretaking of the surviving parent, loss of several close co-workers due to company downsizing or retirements, loss of a home I loved due to the economy, loss of my boss to cancer, loss of my health for a time and loss of libido due to menopause. And even the loss of 50 lbs due to stringent dieting! But through all of this I also feel like I lost my identity, sexuality and the essence of who I am or who I thought I was. Everything I thought was true about my life, family and lover wasn’t. My reality or perception of it was changed and I felt like I was kicked in the gut and forced to see that I needed to look at my life completely different.


In becoming caretaker for my parents I didn’t taken care of myself. I have turned inward and begun intensive meditating, prayer and self examination. I’ve also been battling depression and lack of joy in my life for these two years and I’ve become more reclusive and lonely as my circle of friends and co-workers have become narrower through this process. And I have gained back most of the weight I had lost. I don’t like this about myself because I’ve always considered myself happy, joyful, powerful and with lots of loving friends. I am continually asking myself “where did I or the reality of me go"?

In writing this blog I want to explore dealing with loss, grief, and coming out the other side a whole person.  A better person.  Someone who is strong, vibrant, healthy in mind and body.  I want to explore holistic weight loss, possibly dating again, dealing with life and learning how to have that JOYLICIOUS LIFE we all want!