My Top 5 Tips for Holiday Holes

Loss is something many of us endure, belonging to a club none of us wanted to join. It is felt most poignantly during holiday gatherings. As a matter of fact, most of us feel conflicted over the annual gratitude feast and dreaded festive merriment. As much as we want to celebrate our living children, we find the hole of a missing loved one hard to bear.An Attitde of Gratitude (3)

I’m a relative newbie when it comes to loss. Our second son died just a year and a half ago. This will be our second Thanksgiving and Christmas without him. Here’s what I’ve learned about not just getting through the holidays, but savoring them.

  • First of all, establish some new traditions. Building new memories without holes helps ease the angst.
  • Secondly, honor or miss a loved one quietly. Siblings, children and everyone gathered are aware of the gaping hole left by the loss of a loved one. There’s no need to draw attention to it.
  • Third, be a blessing. We have new neighbor, and one set is celebrating Thanksgiving alone. Of course we invited them, and will call to reassure they’re welcome. When you focus on the needs of others, your own grief takes a backseat.
  • Fourth, have your own remembrance celebration before the family gathers. My husband and I like to talk relive our favorite memories right after the turkey goes into the oven.
  • And last but not least, fix favorite foods. Everyone in the family has favorite dishes, and we honor our missing son quietly by serving his favorites. Everyone thinks of him and it’s never awkward.

Get up and dress up and paste on a smile. Your bravery will not go unnoticed, and you will bless the entire family when you incorporate these tips into your holiday celebration. The hole in your heart lives there because you loved so deeply, and I never want it filled with a second-rate imitation of the love we shared with our son. In the journey of loss, I’ve come to welcome the hole as the place where our son’s memory still dwells as vibrantly as ever.

Why Join the Chamber of Commerce?

After living out in the country for forty years, not that far removed from the proverbial 40 years in the wilderness, the experience of living in town wafts in like fresh spring breezes. Before my only community was my church and my neighborhood, but now I find myself part of a city, and I enjoy actually being part of the Chamber.

I joined the Chamber last month and attended my first luncheon today. First impressions: a sea of people representing businesses from every facet of the community, professionals who take time for the welfare of others, potential friends. Many of the attendees sat with friends and colleagues, so I was just a bit of a country mouse, but I thoroughly enjoyed meeting a few people and listening to discussions.

How do you make the most of the experience? If you own a business or work in a business or love the idea of a business, join. Go to meetings. (I am ordering business cards tonight, since for my writing, everything is online. Big mistake, lol. Take lots of business cards.) Initiate conversations. Ask questions. Find a way to be useful. The local Chamber is networking at its best and most basic level. You will find no other gathering with as much business experience, friendly sharing of information, and encouragement than this. constitutional convention

Most importantly, find a way to give back. One very primary goal of any local chamber is service to the community. Americans have grown accustomed to tax dollars paying for everything from education to road repair, and lost the compulsion to dig in to make things happen…but the lifeblood of the community runs on volunteerism. The chamber thrives on finding ways to enhance the well being of each and every citizen in the community. They need you to be part of that calling. Take some civic pride in being part of a community dating back to good old George Washington and the framers of Constitution, who might very well represent the first Chamber of Commerce in these United States.

Think of your membership in the Chamber of Commerce as your initiation into the inner workings of your community. Be a part of the heart. Be an arm or leg, helping or transporting. Be some rapid firing neurons, training others. I find no shortage of opportunities for service, so seeking the best niche is important. It is okay to take your time and find your place…but you’ll never find it if you never join. I encourage you to take that first step. Invest in yourself and in your community.

When Loss Is Life

when loss is lifeNo one expects loss. We live as if life, the precious commodity, belongs to us. Yet loss is a part of life, and when it tragically and irrevocably attacks, it changes you forever. And I mean forever. Life is not the absence of loss, rather loss exists as a part of life.

March 11 dawned as an ordinary Sunday morning. We prepared for church and when word came that Brenda was calling an ambulance and would I help with the kids, I seriously thought it was nothing. Our son hadn’t been feeling well, but doctors were talking seizure disorders, not death! As I fed the kiddos, Bill took me aside and said the medics were working to revive him and in that moment, my life spun out of control.

We hustled the kids into the car and raced…and I mean, raced to the hospital. I literally ran into a cubicle filled with family, and Brenda teared up when she told me, “We lost him.” I tried to hold it together for her sake, but when Bill and the boys and I went to see his lifeless body, I sobbed. Literally sobbed over his body. It was like an out of body experience. I had no idea it would hit me like that. But it did.

Since I blog, I kept a record of the adjustments throughout this first year of life without Alma. I knew the stages of grief, but I learned a new set of mile markers. My grief skyrocketed through all the Kubler-Ross stages in days and hours, only to repeat their eccentric gyrations again and again. In reviewing the chronology of my dance with grief, I realized it hit me hardest as months progressed after the support of services and cards passed.

Throughout this year my mind felt numb. I virtually went through the motions. I did the next thing in front of me, but thoughts were intangible wisps and hard to connect. Prior joys like sewing, knitting, and playing the piano fell by the wayside. I not only couldn’t concentrate, trying to made my heart overflow with sorrow. My chest often felt like it might explode with pain. Was I having a heart attack?  When I was still alive after a few days I realized it had to be stress, painful nonetheless. What helped me the most was talking about him, about what I was experiencing, about my pain to friends who would listen. Blogging brought healing.

Ten months to the day after Alma’s death, however, I woke up. I could focus again. I could knit and keep track of a pattern. I sat down to finish a quilt and had to relearn how to thread my sewing machine, but I was able to actually accomplish a goal! Like a mother grizzly coming out of hibernation, I felt awake. Alive.

This chronicle of my year of life with loss is meant to be a path for you as well. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time. Blessings…

*Note: This chronicle of my year of grief is available on Amazon. It is meant to be a solace for others who wonder, “Is this normal?” “Am I dying?” “What’s wrong with me?” I’ve made it 99 cents, affordable and public. I hope you can share it with others who find themselves lost in the fog of grief.

 

Narnia or Snowpocalypse? It all depends.

Winter’s death grip on the midwest remains strong. I took a 2-3 week hiatus from blogging during the holidays and our remembrance of Alma’s birthday. I didn’t have a lot of uplifting thoughts, anyway.

Then storms struck and we lived on generator power for a couple days. We saved the freezer. We heat with wood, so we stayed warm. But life between the haves and have-nots bore a strong distinction between those who loved the snow and those  who felt otherwise. I kept my computer at arm’s length awaiting our re-entry into civilized society.

Now I vacillate between pleasure over earthly comforts, ready to write, and at the same time I peer timidly into the future, with more ice/snow coming our way by week’s end. I see both sides of the perspective continuum.

Here’s the thing: Your perspective on winter landscapes depends on your creature comforts. In the throes of having no power, heating with wood and trying to keep a generator running, the snow became my enemy. When power was restored and our porch shoveled and the drive bladed by my good man, we headed to town and marveled over a magical landscape. It looked like we were traveling through Narnia.Image result for images narnia children crossing ice

Let’s remember, though, that the characters in Narnia didn’t enjoy the cold or the ice or the scenery as they struggled to survive. Spectators enjoy the scenery. Survivors not so much. We love our heritage as being rugged individualists and survivors, but we have been coddled into a generation of spectators. We need to be prepared for every eventuality and strong in the face of adversity. Civilization’s thin veneer is more easily punctured than you might imagine. We exist one disaster away from once again struggling to survive. Look up the FEMA recommendations for surviving a natural disaster and be the hardy pioneer stock we claim to be!

Change is In the Air

Happy 2019!  I took a couple weeks off through the holidays.  It was a difficult Christmas with one less at the table, and Alma’s birthday January 1st came as a double whammy.  We gathered to share his favorite foods and tell stories in remembrance of him…it was a good day.

alma's handsThis is one of my favorite stories, Alma describing how he built a breakfast bar for their home.  “OK, so you start with a pile of scrap 2x6s from building the house. You put them through the table saw twice to make them more square, then through the planer twice, then through the drum sander several times per side. Then you cut both ends off to make the ends square, then you put them in your homemade Taylor press with some glue and a few screws. At this point you have a plank, that you now have to run through the planer 4 times, then through the drum sander 6 times. Cut it to size and shape, add some trim, some stain and lots of lacquer an, Wammo, you have a butcher block breakfast

I am beyond thankful to friends and family who have gotten us this far, and look forward to a year of adaptation, change and joy!  Yes, change is in the air.  Blessings to all.  I’m back!

How To Save Time & Money with the Q.O.D. Meal Plan

As adults, certain chores get repetitive, don’t they?  Chores like meal planning and cooking 3 squares a day just burn my grits..  Eating occurs a little too predictably at our house, but I learned a secret.  The Q.O.D. meal plan saves me time and money, so it’s a win/win.

What is it you ask?  You didn’t take Greek or Latin in high school?  I did, but darned if I can give it to you in any particular language, just medical-ese.  Any nurse will tell you it refers to a medication administered every other day.  Yes, Q.O.D. means every other day.

When applied to my kitchen, it’s a prescription I find quite appealing.

  • Cook Monday, enough for two meals.
  • Cook Tuesday, enough for two meals.
  • Wednesday eat Monday leftovers.
  • Thursday eat Tuesday leftovers.
  • Friday date night go out for a bite.
  • Saturday eat light while prepping Sunday dinner

Bgrey and black pen on calendar bookoom! I cooked three times, stretched my meat, and saved money on my grocery bill in the process.  Adapt my Q.O.D. meal plan to any variance of days in the week and it still works.  Cook Sunday/Monday, reheat Tuesday/Wednesday, cook Thursday, date night Friday, reheat Saturday…it adapts to any schedule.

I know, I’m fortunate my husband likes leftovers.  As a matter of fact, he thinks they taste better the second time around. (His momma trained him well.)  I live in the fast lane on a fixed income.  Saving time and money ranks right up there with winning the lottery.  Remember: Q.O.D. and score big!

Would You Vote for a 28th Amendment?

I know, we only find 27 amendments to our Constitution, a tribute to the foresight and wisdom of our founding fathers.  I think we need a 28th, however.  You see, I think government has gotten out of hand, and I see no inclination by those in power to reign it in.  Yup.  We need a 28th amendment on term limits.

Our founding fathers evolved into statesmen from a variety of occupations:  They worked as farmers, soldiers, shop keepers, journalists.  They served under penalty of death at the hands of the British, not for a lifetime stipend beyond the imaginations of the citizens, but for their love of country.  Their labor was a sacrifice of time, money, and in some cases, life itself.

Fast forward 200 years and we now see men and women who consider themselves career politicians with the bank rolls to prove it.  I mean no disrespect.  I merely state the obvious.  The best get the same pay and benefits as the worst scoundrels, and have you taken the time to count how many voted against their last pay hike?

I wonder how many would covet the office if they had to turn in expense receipts for reimbursement and served at the same wage we citizens earn as a standing jurist, $6 a day.  That’s right.  If the expenses were met for airfare and staples, but their only compensation was $6 a day, whose love of country would flame so passionately that he/she would serve at a sacrifice for the good of the country?

Of course, I can’t prevent money flowing under the table.  Evil will seek its own.  But I can lessen the damage done by giving each one less time and a better reason to serve.  Our two-party system may be so fatally flawed that not even a Constitutional amendment can fix it…but we owe it to our children to try.

term 1I was honored with the opportunity to meet Vice President Pence, Josh Hawley, and Roy Blunt when they flew into Kansas City last week.  I long admired our Vice President, and he was just what I expected.  Integrity gleamed from his eyes.  I loved meeting Josh Hawley.  His shy smile and honest eyes won my vote.  I already knew Senator Blunt, and I appreciated seeing him as well.  Why do I bring this up?  Do you know what goes into a visit like this?term 2

Airplanes the size of Nebraska (just kidding) fly in their armored cars.  Oceans of suits with ear buds scan the perimeter.  It’s a pretty big deal, and I realized how BIG our government has grown to require such measures.  We were but one stop…I can’t fathom what it costs to ferry around all these candidates spouting the same rhetoric we see on every commercial on TV.  I know.  It’s part of the process.  I respect that…but not what a huge thing it’s become.term 3

Will a 28th Amendment solve every problem?  No, I freely admit it won’t.  But would it be a reasonable first step?  Yes, I believe it would be.  I firmly support term limits.  I’d love to see a few million people agree with me.

When Machines Fail You

Facebook.  I doubt any of us missed the picture of a rich boy sitting on a booster seat testifying on the Hill.  It makes me wonder how our words cam to be regulated by such a curious phenomenon.

We love it.  We hate it.  We find it a fact of life.  But what happens when Facebook suddenly stops printing your blog?  You turn to customer support, of course!  This is a test piece to see if we have fixed the problem.

How Long Does My Body Butter Last?

My littles love riddles.  Set five around a lunch table and get them started–you may find a few funny lines, but every little will laugh at every non-joke told.  The development of a sense of humor comes slowly.

Me?  I seldom remember a riddle.  This is the only riddle I know.  Honestly.  “When is a cook mean?’  Think a minute.  Pause.  Pause.

“When she cracks the eggs and whips the cream!”  Ha.  Ha.  I’ve know that, and only that riddle for 30+ years.

I share it now because it highlights one of my favorite Posh products, Fresh Creamy Milk body butter.  It’s whipped!  This Shea butter based butter soaks into my skin and makes it feel luxuriant.  The coconut oil is a gentle scent, not at all overbearing.

One tub lasts me about 8 months.  I know this because we release new lines every 6 months.  And my old product is never gone.  Never.  As eager as I am to try new things, it takes me about 2 or 3 extra months to make way for the luscious new scents.  So how long does your tub of body butter last?  You can find this on my site at http://www.madaboutposh.com  Click on COLLECTIONS, click on BODY.

An Antidote for Depression

 

Everyone feels sad sometimes, but there exists a level beyond sad.  I’m not talking about the normal feelings that accompany a tear-jerker movie, a friend’s bad news, or a loss.  Depression presents in many guises.  Clinical manifestations include fluctuations in weight, changes in sleep patterns, inability to concentrate, reports of fatigue, and noticeable changes in activity level.  Estimates place 15-20% of people over the age of 65 as depressed–staggering figures.

It comes as no surprise.  The neurotransmitters which keep the brain healthy get out of whack as a person ages.  A host of situations exacerbate the situation.  Isolation, poor eating habits, and a loss of purpose affect many.  It is true that low doses of medication can reverse this condition, but fear of complications and contraindications make choosing a pill an uneasy remedy.

One way to combat the problem lies in forming new associations.  Bridge, reading groups, and senior centers are traditional forms of socialization; but I’ve found a retirement business to be the best antidote.  It actually brings in needed income.  It gives purpose and excitement, it opens the door to a host of new friendships.  Millennials have trouble assimilating into the workplace, while seniors have a strong work ethic and are welcomed into the fold.

Perfectly Posh, has been a lifesaver for me.  I have a cadre of associates, daily Facebook interaction, and the exhilaration that comes with success.  Our QuickStart program is second to none, and no matter where you  live, I can mentor you.  Join me!  Check out the free website you receive by going to http://wwwmadaboutposh.com and if you’d like to join me, it’s easy peasy.  Just click on JOIN.  I’ll connect with you and we’ll be like two peas in a pod!