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A few years ago, I channeled my mid-life crisis into a celebration, and I have never turned back. After years of trying to figure out what I wanted to “do” when I grew up, I finally discovered that along the journey I’ve been doing it. I just didn’t know what it was called.

 

Nor was I asking the right question. When I started asking what kind of life I wanted to live, instead of what kind of work I wanted to do, my life purpose became clear. Crystal clear, like the Hope Diamond.

 

So now, after an intensive course of learning, exploring and experimenting—and working with a few life coaches of my own—I am a Life Coach. And I LOVE it!

 

Here’s what I don’t do: I don’t play team sports, or yell at people from the sidelines (unless they happen to be on one of my kids’ teams). I don’t tell people what to do, or how to do it. And I don’t pass judgment.

 

What do I do? I meet people where they are in their lives, and gently but firmly invite them to grow into living the most magnificent lives they can. I help people find their authentic voices, and find the power they deserve to let those voices guide them.

 

I have never enjoyed anything I’ve done professionally as much as I enjoy coaching. The work, for me, is gratifying, positive, and inspiring; the results, for clients, can be quite remarkable, with major and minor shifts leading to continuous life growth and change.

 

Everything I’ve ever done is influencing this new period in my life. My background includes advocacy, social work, program development, political organizing, facilitating, teaching, yoga, learning, fundraising, board development, public health, policy, parenting, crisis counseling, reproductive health education, nutrition and medical management of children. All of these provided a foundation for me to coach people in different stages of their lives.

 

And yet, despite a lifetime of varied experiences, my expertise is in the process, not the details. To coach is to be present with a client and help her clarify what she wants to pursue (or be, or enjoy, etc.), focus and figure what that looks like for her, and then take action toward reaching her goals. It is not about giving advice, or consulting based on my experiences or knowledge base.

 

My life experience guides my questions; my clients have all the answers.

  

Elaine Taylor-Klaus is a Life Coach and a regular columnist for ShareWiK.com. Visit her on the web at touchstonecoaching.com.


 

More Elaine Taylor-Klaus articles, click here.

 


© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009

Nov 16

Flattering as it was, the request to write a humor column came as a surprise. After all, working in corporate communications, I usually write about serious — and often boring — stuff. Oh, and I’m not a comedian.
 
As a working mother of four children, I live a busy, often complicated life, which, apparently, some people find humorous. I get laughs when I retell events that occur on what I consider a “normal day."
 
Humor at my expense, perhaps.
 
Or maybe it’s because I’ve learned I don’t always have to take life so seriously.
 
Coming to that conclusion didn’t come easy. I am a perfectionist and chronic go-getter. As a young wife and mother, I envied the order, success and happiness that seemed to permeate the lives of other women. While I attempted to herd my children — and a few pets — through the landmarks of our everyday family life, chaos, failure and woe frequently took center stage in my home!
 
But I noticed something along the way: other women related well to my admissions of defeat. There was much more interest in how I handled what went wrong than how I managed to do things right.
 
While we all love the idea of a Better Homes & Garden’s existence, it’s a rare woman who can pull that off and still enjoy her life. We shut our front doors, forget trouble and put on a smiley face for the world. But Real Life waits behind that front door: smelly messes, trivial arguments and days that redefine “challenging.”
 
Reality is, life is a little messy. There are experts who can give you an outline on eating healthy, raising successful kids, balancing a career or reducing stress. But they don’t show up to tell you what to do when the kids’ beanbag chair explodes in the backyard, your son shoves a pea up someone else’s nose, or the cat sneaks into the house with live prey.
 
When we’re brave enough to admit that we can’t quite juggle everything, and life may not be as idyllic as it appears, a great camaraderie occurs. And we can laugh.
 
As I share stories from my journey in “Reality Check-up,” I hope you will not only laugh with me, but also view the challenges of your own everyday life with a lighter heart.
 
And, if you’re brave enough, share your stories, too.
 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.


© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009 


Nov 16

Many years ago, when I was healing from child sexual abuse, my therapist proposed what seemed like an outrageous idea at the time.

After I’d described how difficult it had been, dealing with flashbacks and body memories of the abuse, over the past couple weeks, she validated my feelings, as always. Then, easing forward on the couch, she told me, in the softest of voices, that she had an assignment for me. Over the course of the next two weeks, she wanted me to write down five things for which I was grateful, each day.

At first, I was angry. Who did she think she was, suggesting that I be grateful when I was dealing with all these atrocities? What in the world did I have to be grateful for, anyhow?

Though she understood I was struggling, it was important for me to consider the good in my life, in the here and now, rather than focusing all my attention on the past, she said. At the time, I thought her idea was cruel and unusual not to mention the biggest bunch of bunk ever. While I was too polite to say so, I’m sure my facial expressions spoke volumes.

Nonetheless, I started my assignment the very next day, albeit begrudgingly. At first, I struggled to come up with my “five things.” Sure, I had a supportive husband and our house was okay or maybe even pretty good. But what else? We had a sweet dog. Enough money. And as the saying goes, at least I had my health. Big Deal, I thought. Who cares! Needless to say, I didn’t connect with the spirit of the exercise on that very first day.

But what happened over time surprised me. After the first couple days, the exercise became easier, and especially when I allowed myself to FEEL the gratitude instead of disconnecting from the process. When I did, something shifted inside. I felt more hopeful and connected to people and less bitter. I was softening, yielding, coming home to myself.

Why am I telling you all this? Because traveling through life with an attitude of gratitude can make you feel more happy and peaceful. It may even help you have more faith in yourself, and in God (or whatever you call your higher Power).

It’s certainly had that effect on me. Looking back on that day with my therapist, I am so grateful that she had the courage to push me beyond the bounds of my comfort, because that one little exercise transformed my life.

Today, I not only recommend this gratitude exercise to clients who are dealing with job loss or the death of a loved one or caring for a relative with a chronic condition, or overcoming rape or sexual abuse, I do it myself. Religiously. Because when I “forget,” I don’t feel as happy or grounded or connected with people.  

If you’d like to experiment with bringing more gratitude into your life, here are some ideas to get you started:

·      Make a list of the 5 best things that happened to you today and everyday.


·      Write down the names of 3 people in your life for whom you are grateful and list the reasons why for each person.


·      If you are dealing with a difficult situation right now, consider what you’re learning from the situation. For example, if you lost your job, ask yourself what am I learning from this experience?


·      Be on the lookout for reasons to be grateful, whether it’s a beautiful sunset, the person who lets you into traffic or your loved ones who support you by making the morning coffee or walking the dog.


·      Send a thank you note to someone who’s made a difference in your life, describing why you appreciate him or her.


Notice how you feel after trying these strategies, and please let me know what you think. I’d love to hear about your experience.

How has gratitude helped you in your life?

What do you think holds you back from feeling more appreciative?

Are you facing a difficult life transition such as job loss or dealing with the death of a loved one? 

Or would you like to thrive as a survivor of rape or sexual abuse, rather than merely surviving?

If so, I’d be happy to help out. As a certified professional coach, I help clients navigate difficult transitions with hope and grace. 

Visit my website at http://ellen-brown.com/ to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you.
 

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach in Cleveland, Ohio who works with clients, by phone, all over the country, to help them overcome their challenges with courage, hope and optimism. She is also a regular contributor to ShareWIK.com.

 

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.

 

 

©ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009

Dec 14

                                                                                         

Life, as they say, can change in an instant. Today, you have a job, tomorrow you don’t. Today, you’re married with children. Tomorrow you’re married with children AND caring for your father with Alzheimer’s disease.

During these trying times, it’s typical to feel confused and off balance. Unfortunately, it’s also common to deprive ourselves of what we need the most: Time to take care of ourselves, time to do something we love, or better yet time to do nothing at all.

 

In her book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care, bestselling author and coach Cheryl Richardson describes our tendency to fall into familiar patterns when we are faced with life’s challenges. One of these patterns involves depriving ourselves of what we need and enjoy, whether that’s a night out with friends, vigorous exercise or healthy food to nourish our bodies.

The trick, Richardson tells us, is to become aware of that tendency, and feed ourselves, instead, with the stuff we truly need. Because the fact is, if we don’t take care of ourselves and make time for our own lives, we won’t have the energy or enthusiasm to find a new job or take care of our loved ones.

 

By the way, I’m not a guru preaching to you from high on a mountain, I don’t pretend to be perfect. In fact, I recently fell into my own version of the deprivation trap when my beloved father-in-law, John, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In addition to having cancer, John has late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease, and for a whole host of reasons I won’t explain here, we made the difficult decision to place him in a nursing home.

 

When John was first diagnosed with cancer, my husband, Jeff, and I visited him every day, which usually amounted to about four hours at a pop (including travel time). While I’ve always loved John as though he were my own dad, the truth is that spending time with someone who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease is incredibly draining, emotionally.

 

While he still may know who we are on good days, we can no longer communicate with him. Words, apparently sound like gobbledygook to him. So we just sit with him and hold his hand and speak in soothing tones, knowing that he doesn’t know what we’re saying, but hoping he finds comfort in our familiar voices.

 

It is painful to witness his slide into oblivion, to watch a man I love who was once so vital, slipping away. I tell you all this not so you pity me, but to demonstrate the wear and tear … And to show how easy it is to fall into the trap of depriving yourself of self care when you are committed to attending to someone else’s needs.

 

That’s what was happening for me. While I was still keeping up with my exercise routine, many other aspects of my self care were falling away. I wasn’t taking time to get together with friends or carving out time for meditation and yoga. And as a result, I was feeling exhausted, emotionally and physically.

 

Finally, we realized something had to change. So we don’t visit John every day, and don’t always spend as much time with him on each visit. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. I wish I could always be there for John AND take care of myself.

 

But that’s impossible. In the end, I know we need to take care of ourselves, so when we visit John, we’re healthy and present and able to attend to his needs.

 

Tough times like these have taught me a great deal about the importance of practicing extreme self care.  Over the years, I’ve learned a number of strategies (from masters such as Richardson and through trial and error) that have worked well for me and many of my clients.

Listed below are several of those strategies:

 

1.     Remind yourself of why it’s important to take time for yourself. If you’re not sure, ask yourself this: in what way would my life be different if I were more relaxed and less stressed? Or, if I had more energy, how would my life be better?

 

2.     Create an affirmation to remind you of your commitment to self care. Repeat it, periodically, throughout the day.

 

3.     Create a list of activities that appeal to you and help you relax.

 

4.     Block out specific times on your calendar when you’re going to practice extreme self care.

 

5.     If you are caring for a loved one, ask a friend or family member to help out a couple times a week so you can make time for some of the activities you’ve listed above.

 

6.     If it’s helpful, set alarms on your cell phone or computer to remind you of these activities.

 

7.    If you are having trouble honoring your commitment to yourself, hire a coach, who can hold you accountable and help you overcome the limiting beliefs that may be stopping you from taking time for your life.

 

Are you facing a difficult life transition? If so, I’d love to support you on your new life journey. Visit my website at http://ellen-brown.com/ to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach in Cleveland, Ohio who works with clients, by phone, all over the country, to help them overcome their challenges with courage, hope and optimism. She is also a regular contributor to ShareWIK.com.

   

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.

© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009

Feb 14

Our lives are constantly changing. Yet, oddly enough, rather than embracing change, we often resist it. That’s true of my clients, whether they’re dealing with job loss or a serious illness, or any life transition, for that matter. And it’s certainly true of me, sometimes.

Recently, I was reminded of that fact, when I watched, with sadness, as the golden autumn leaves in our backyard twirled their way to the ground.

But why was I so sad? I mean, it’s still autumn. Plenty of leaves remain on the trees, and that crisp autumn scent I love continues to permeate the air. Technically, winter won’t be ushered in for another two months. But with each leaf that falls and every cool night, I’m reminded that the end is near.

As much as I’d like to embrace change, sometimes I cling to the things I love. But when I do, I miss out on the opportunities right in front of me. So, I’m sad that winter is coming, but winter isn’t even here yet.

When I see the words laid out on the page, I realize how silly it sounds to concern myself with a season that hasn’t even arrived yet. Why not enjoy autumn while it’s still here?

Perhaps the great spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, says it best: “All you really need to do is accept this moment fully. You are then at ease in the here and now and at ease with yourself.” His advice isn’t always easy to put into practice. Yet it rings true, whether our goal is to accept the coming of winter, the loss of a job, or a serious illness.

Acceptance, of course, is a process, and I certainly don’t mean to equate the ending of autumn with the loss of a loved one. As a coach, I never hurry acceptance along. Because grieving our losses is SO important.

But the longer we resist accepting what is, the longer we feel the pain and the harder it is to enjoy what we DO have in our lives.

We always have a choice about whether to resist or go with the flow. So I can choose to resist the coming of winter until the first spring flowers sprout from the ground. But if I do, I’ll miss out on autumn and winter, and all the beauty that the seasons have to offer, and I won’t be living in the present moment. Enjoying what is.

The truth is winter is NOT my favorite season. I’m not a fan of the biting cold or bundling up. And driving in the snow? Well, given the choice, I’d rather pass, if you don’t mind!

But I DO enjoy watching the snowflakes gliding their way through the air, on their journey to places unknown.  And when I don’t have to trek across town, I enjoy curling up by the window, with a good book, taking in the glitter of a nice ice storm.

I also like the quiet of winter. The way it invites us to travel inward and be still, like the stately sycamore in our front yard.

But before I get ahead of myself, I’m going to stop thinking about winter and enjoy autumn. Because as I look out my office window, the leaves on the Maple are glowing. And our yard is a gorgeous masterpiece, flecked with gold and orange, crimson and sienna.

Yes, today, I’m going to enjoy what is. Because all I have is the present moment.

How do you deal with change?

What might you be resisting in YOUR life?

How does that resistance affect you?

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Are you recovering from job loss or dealing with the death of a loved one? Or are you struggling with another life transition? If so, I’d love to support on your new life journey. Visit my website at  http://ellen-brown.com/ to sign up for an introductory session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.

Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach in Cleveland, Ohio who works with clients, by phone, all over the country, to help them overcome their challenges with courage, hope and optimism. She is also a regular contributor to ShareWIK.com.

 

More Ellen Brown articles, click here.

 

© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2010

Wait until you hear about the exciting life of a D.C.-area writer.  Four words sum it up!


I’m. Stuck. In. Traffic.


This is life here: You could be going to take your child to the ER, feed the homeless, donate to Goodwill, pick up abandoned animals on the side of the road, run a bake sale for school, take small orphaned children to the park, or negotiate Mideast peace talks as you manage a senatorial campaign. Good karma doesn’t matter. Car+things to do=not moving.


I am coming back to my home office at 1 p.m. from a meeting. (I timed my exit of the city to avoid rush hour traffic, which takes roughly the same time as 40 weeks of pregnancy and 27.1 hours of labor.) I am rolling along, with little tie-up, despite a slight user’s error (merging onto a highway, but ending up in the Pentagon parking lot, which makes me laugh— lost in the Pentagon Parking Lot? But then I remember, Wait! I’m  a reporter! Isn’t this a security issue if you can easily end up next to the Armed Forces of the United States of America with guns and cameras and satellites on you? So I try to take a picture, but fear I might get questioned by Homeland Security for snapping photos, so I figure I’d just report to you about it without a picture.)


When I finally get to the right highway, I move quickly. Then traffic—and my afternoon— comes to a halt.  

  

I cannot figure out why I’m stuck. I’m positive it has nothing to do with all travelers from the entire East Coast who must share a handful of lanes.  I would not want to mention a particular highway, like I-95 or I-66, as never moving, because I’m sure there are lots of people who have sped down these roads, laughing, the sun illuminating their happy faces, the wind flapping through their hair – and their dog’s hair. Just not me. I’m stuck behind an orange barrel on a cloudy day with my hair going nowhere but into a frizz.


I’m puzzled. Construction?  Horrible accident involving a tanker trunk? 


Where were my kids? Anyone have a field trip today?


If I were technologically advanced, I would have used an app on my phone that warns me about this stuff.  Instead, I post to Facebook asking why traffic here is tied up. No one answers. (This could be because my friends are from Ohio.)


I seethe at how much time this takes. I have an article deadline. I have to write more queries for editors. My kids will be getting off the bus. I have a puppy that needs to go out. I need to go out!


After an hour of inching, I see the three lanes and 50 million drivers diverge into one road (and I take the road more traveled. Like an idiot.) And there he is,  all smug: the Mastermind of the Plot against Nice People Who Hope to Someday See Their Children Again.


He is a man planting a tree.


And not just one tree. He was going to plant hundreds. Worse, I witness only one bag of dirt, which means he may run out, stop and get some more at Home Depot or Lowe’s, for another 2.56 hours.


My suggestions spew: why only one man and not, say, 20? Couldn’t 20 workers mean job creation and only five minutes of traffic tie-ups as they could all plant at once? And couldn’t they do this at 4:48 – 4:53 AM perhaps? Or, could they not plant a tree at all? (Tree lovers, I enjoy a good tree. Do not send me emails saying you want to chop my head off and plant it by a tree. Just sayin’.)


So, with nothing but time on my hands, I call VDOT. I get a nice woman named Charlene. Charlene sympathizes with my plight of actually using Virginia’s roads. She tells me of all the mega-projects, how I can get lane closures on the website, call 511 in Virginia, or sign up for mobile text alerts. As a former PR person myself, I am impressed with Charlene and VDOT’s lane closure alert technology, which I apparently never signed up for.  I am so mesmerized with their system that I forget I am now actually in a lane closure.


I ask Charlene, does she know traffic is stopped due to a man planting a tree? She laughs. She says when a certain amount of construction is done, they must do more beautification. These things are written into contracts, she says.


I ask her, if so many projects are planned, when exactly is a good time to go into the city? I’m all ears. I’ll do whatever she says.  11 pm, 3 a.m.? She thinks. Then she warns of “night improvements.”

 

What is a mid-Atlantic driver supposed to do, Charlene?

 

“Try alternate routes?” she offers.

 

There you have it, folks. I think Charlene was giving us a code for survival, one you need to know: Do not try to work or volunteer in a city without learning where the other hidden highways are, the roads less traveled. Or, perhaps learn how to construct a new road for yourself. (There might be an app for that.) 


Kids, I’ll be home by 8.

 

Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in books, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit her at www.KristineMeldrumDenholm.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KristineMeldrumDenholm or Twitter @writerandmom.

  

For more Kristine Meldrum Denholm  columns, click here. 

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 


Looking to lose weight in the New Year? I don't know how to help, except to tell you how I was able to lose .5 pounds last year: my freezer and stove broke and I couldn't eat for a week.  Worse, the warranty man said he couldn't cover it, causing me financial stabs to the heart. This took two weeks off my life, which I don't want to happen to you. So instead of helping you lose weight, I will help you with the secret code of warranties. Then you will be protected from emotional harm and be happier, causing you to safely lose weight.



That new treadmill or gadget you got? No worries, you say, I have a warranty. If it breaks, they will fix it for free!



Do not succumb to this myth.



I can help you break the secret warranty code. "Covers all parts," translated, means "covers all parts, sometimes, between the hours of 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., Indian Ocean time zone, on the Mayan Calendar."



Now, I'm not saying this about all warranties. I’m sure some are good. The ones I’ve had, of course, are not; but I’m sure some are. I once had a boyfriend who worked with warranties, and he assured me warranties were not represented by The Devil. He even went to church with me once, so I believe this. He now owns a pro sports team, so, I’ve learned a lesson here: warranties may be the ticket to you sitting in a team suite with important people and trading players and stuff.



But I digress. Here’s what happened by a company I can’t name, because they actually asked me to NOT WRITE ABOUT THEM. So I am going to write about them and name them Caring Company.



We had just moved into our house last year, and my freezer and my stove were broken.



We will help, Caring Company assured me!



The week before Christmas, when I suppose I needed to fix a non-microwaved dinner for my family, they sent a gentleman to live in my kitchen.



He came. He saw. He did not conquer.



“Ma’am, “ he said. “I’m sorry, but they’re broken.”



“That’s why I called you.”



“I’ve tried to fix them but I can’t. And the parts they need are not under warranty, and will take a while to order. Not to mention the cost of the labor.”



(This happens to everyone. The car warranty does not actually cover the car going forward. But if you need to drive sideways, the warranty is valid.)



And then Man in my Kitchen That I Actually Offered a Diet Coke To tells me that will be $75.



Did you just tell me that’s $75 and you didn’t fix anything?



Yes, he said, and then he uttered something that I swear sounded like, “Please pay up now.”



I didn’t.



The drama then involved a series of harassing phone calls by Caring Company, and my attorney husband read some stupid fine print that wasn't in my favor, and somehow we choked out $75, and nothing was fixed or scheduled to, in fact, work.  This is the very moment that I began my Crusade Against Fake Warranties.



Case in point: my friend Carrie's story. She has a defective yet beautiful $3,000 garden window, which is leaking. With the window still under warranty, man comes over. They agree to pay him $45 for his “service call.”



Guess what happens next?



He cannot repair the gorgeous garden window that lets light into their kitchen. He says they’ve had complaints on those types of windows. But he can sell her an improved and upgraded version. He wants $1,000.



She says no, he will take this back and exchange the window for free. “I told the guy it was not happening,” she says. “I wouldn’t give his company one more dime."



“Am I missing something?” Carrie asks me. “We have a drip and all this guy can tell me is that it isn’t covered because they don’t sell that style anymore?”



Why yes, Carrie, many warranties do not actually COVER the item warrantied. For fun, Carrie now reads aloud to her family the love language of the Lifetime Warranty Text.


Now if you excuse me, I must figure out what to do about my new smartphone that takes pictures that turn out blue. I did not buy the warranty, but I’m sure-- if I'm not doing something wrong by pressing the button with the camera graphic--the manufacturer’s warranty covers this. And I’m sure they will tell me it only covers pictures taken on Tuesdays, on years that the Olympics are held in Liechtenstein.



Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in best-selling anthologies, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit at www.KristineMeldrumDenholm.com, or join her updates at www.facebook.com/KristineMeldrumDenholm or Twitter @writerandmom.  



For more Kristine Meldrum Denholm  columns, click here 



©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

For a species as enlightened as we are, we have some surprisingly closed-minded ways of handling life and death. I mean, we know we’re mortal, we are aware that no one lives forever, and yet we have entire industries founded on postponing the inevitable, prolonging life at all costs. We fight death at every turn, and often consider it a defeat. 


Yet, there is so much life to be found in the dying process. This is not just a pollyanna approach, seeking a silver lining to sadness. In truth, there is opportunity to take advantage of, to appreciate, to find joy and celebrate. 


I called my grandmother “The Mighty Sylvo,” and she called me “gorgeous.” We were a mutual admiration society of two, though we occasionally let my mother and grandfather in to play with us. Let’s just say: we were tight.


I’ll never forget the day my mother called to tell me “The Mighty One,” my other name for that 4’10” master of the Toll House chocolate chip cookie, had been diagnosed with cancer. The news wasn’t good. Her days were measured.


I cried all the way from my office to her apartment, “NO!” screaming loudly inside my head. I wasn’t ready to lose her. I had so much more life I wanted to share with her. It just wasn’t time for her to go.


Of course, all those messages were about me, not her. But that understanding came later.


It turned out, she wasn’t quite ready, either, and we had two more wonderful, intentional years to share with each other. It got harder for her over time. The pain intensified. I still didn’t want her to go, but it was increasingly more difficult to hold onto that position.


It’s crazy the conflict we often feel, wanting to keep our loved ones alive for us, and yet wanting them out of their misery. As the cancer grew, large cell after another taking up residence in her lungs, battling with fresh air for breathing room, the conflict intensified.


That, I believe, is the essence of grief – it is love locked in a tug-of-war with death.


Meanwhile, as the cancer’s foothold became a stronghold, I was busy growing joyfully in a pregnancy I hoped would lead to the birth of my first child. I was anxious – I’d lost a previous pregnancy quite late, an IUFD (intra-uterine fetal death) discovered in a routine ultrasound. It was a pretty harrowing experience for me. Apparently, my grandmother had taken it to heart, as well.


Around the time we prepared to bring in hospice for my grandmother, I was approaching my 20-week ultrasound. The interplay of life and death in my world was palpable. I entered the technician’s theater with a good deal of fear. 


We emerged tearfully, excited and confident in a healthy pregnancy, and drove immediately to my Mighty Grandma, videotape in hand. We wept together, celebrating the potential life that was flourishing.


About 12 hours later, my grandmother died.


Now, all the time I was holding tight to not wanting to lose my grandmother, I am convinced that she was waiting to let go. She wanted to know that all was okay with my pregnancy, and she’d held on until she felt confident she could leave me. I must admit, I have a mixture of gratitude and guilt about that.


When my daughter was born, nearly five months later, I knew from the moment she arrived that she had a guardian angel. Now, 18 years ago today, I am more certain of that than ever before. It’s a good thing, too, cause that kid has definitely needed extra loving, watchful eyes.


When I think back on the loss of my grandmother, and I merge it with more mature experiences when my grandfather died 15 years later, I’ve come to understand a few things about life in the midst of death.


Here’s What I Know Now:

“Losing” people is all about us, about those of us who stay behind. While it is a legitimate perspective, we honor our loved ones when we are aware enough to try to keep the focus on their needs, not ours.

“Letting go” is a job for all parties involved with the dying process. 

           • For those of us who stay behind, we must try not to focus so much on ourselves, and let our loved ones go. 

For the dying, peace comes with the “letting go.”

Our loved ones often need our encouragement, our permission to let go. We don’t have to be afraid to share it clearly, out loud. They know they are dying. It helps them when we acknowledge it and remember that its part of life.

We keep people alive with our memories. It’s not just a saying – it’s true. None of my children ever met The Mighty Sylvo, but you’d never know that to talk to them. As she has been alive in my heart and mind, she has been a presence in my children’s lives. Over time, the pain of her death has absolutely shifted to the joy of knowing … that she would have loved a moment, or a gesture, or even a particular piece of cake.

As such, our relationships with relatives no longer alive take on a new quality, but the relationships remains. Human bonds are, indeed, eternal. 


Elaine Taylor-Klaus is the co-founder of ImpactADHD.com, a virtual coaching community for parents of kids with ADHD. She is a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com and MySpecialNeedsNetwork.com, and writes for “Living Without” magazine. Elaine coaches women and parents from around the country, on the telephone, to live full and empowering lives. She works together with her husband, David Taylor-Klaus, in their company, Touchstone Coaching.


Read more articles by Elaine Taylor-Klaus here.


 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Several friends and I have banded together to fight certain Facebook posts. There was a recent study showing some people were getting depressed when they viewed FB; they erroneously felt other peoples’ lives were better than theirs.  


So we are forming a committee,  “Concerned Facebook Citizens Who Would Like Mr. Zuckerberg to Ban Certain Posts.” (Or perhaps just a flashing button, next to “like” and “share” that says “you’re making your friends ill.”)


In my little poll, here is what we chose as top annoying posts:


1. I married my best friend. (Many do, many do not. Reality check: it is considered illegal in many states to marry your BFF. Your spouse may not be your BFF shopping buddy, golfing buddy, or anyone who actually likes to listen to chatter.)


2. On their spouse’s wall: I love you! I can’t wait to see you tonight! You are so steaming hot!  (Now, I’m sure I’m breaking marriage therapists’ advice here. I have marriage therapist friends who are likely defriending me now, but I believe these PDA’s are best said to each other, not to each other’s combined 742 friends. OF COURSE you like each other, you’re together! If you didn’t, you would change your relationship status as soon as the bum was pulling away in his UHaul! Leave the kissy-poo-poo in the message box of your significant other(s).


3. Any variation of: “My child scored a perfect 1,000,000 on the pre-school readiness test” (‘Nuff said.) Or, “My child scored a perfect 1 million on the 5th grade North Dakota test. “(I do not know anyone in North Dakota, so I’m incapable of rendering a fair judgment.) Or, “My eight-year-old scored perfect on the SAT so they created a separate scoring category for him, Scoring For Those Who Will Graduate Yale at age 14!” (You are reminding us that our kid, when getting three answers right, had SAT officials ask for his ID; and, our kid gets a perfect 1000 on Alien Death Invaders on X-box.)


4. Your 7,000 beach pictures where the extended family is extremely happy and not fighting, while vacationing in a $1 million Bora Bora house for a week. This reminds us that the best pic we have is four of us eating tacos at Cedar Point and not regurgitating. (Also, half of our extended family is dead, the other half doesn’t talk to each other, no one springs for Bora Bora, and our own bikini pics are likely to elicit laughter. BTW, 6,998 of your shots are water. )


5. “Please re-post if you care about fighting cancer/children starving/dogs dying. If you don’t repost, I will know you do not care.”  (Really?)


6. “Liberals/conservatives are idiots.”  Why call intelligent friends every name in the right-wing/leftist/tea party/communist manifesto, when Romney and Obama are completely tied in polls and therefore HALF of your FB friends do not agree? Name-calling overgeneralizations are a no-no. Got that, Mr. Na-na-na-na, Poopy Pants?


7. “YUM.” You know how a picture is worth 1000 words? A picture of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with steam rising makes us salivate, but adding “yum!” does not further culinary development. Also, another friend asks if we can refrain from posting pictures of brown or red sauces. It does not translate well.


8. “I am so busy!”  As if you are not?


9. “Well, THAT sucked,”  "At least I have death to look forward to," or anything that begs commenters to ask further questions. Your imminent demise isn’t something we want. Let us sympathize without having to inquire.


10. “John checked in at Surgery Department.” A check-in at the hospital, with no explanation, is alarming. (If you are about to be cut open or simply visiting for the cafeteria food, please explain.)

 

One further note: those over 40 do not appreciate friend requests when the person doesn’t state how they know you. It causes a rapid brain search of elementary school, college, work, religion, soccer tournaments and 80’s toga parties, only to come up with “Got ‘nuthin.’”

 

Facebook posts should aim to share realities and connect with another.  Because aren’t the statuses: “The dog threw up on the rug/My job interview is in an hour, please pray/The Bachelor is an a$$/I got a speeding ticket/Braces cost 7K?/ and ‘Here’s a picture of all of my laundry that’s been sitting there as I play on Facebook’” the stuff life is made of? 

 

Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in books, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit with her at http://www.kristinemeldrumdenholm.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KristineMeldrumDenholm or Twitter @writerandmom.


 

For more Kristine Meldrum Denholm  columns, click here.


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Aug 20

I took it personally when Ben Bernanke asked if I was happy.  I was on the treadmill at the time, when four TV screens at the front of the gym were covering Bernanke’s question to the American public.  I came home and posed the question to Phang.


Happiness, we decided, is a mix of feelings of well-being and feelings of joy.  A basic level of happiness depended on having the basic needs of life…food, shelter, and clothing.  After that, said Phang, he wanted happiness for our kids and leisure time.  


Not enough to make me happy, I thought.  I’ve got to have a good workout each day, friends who put up with me and love me anyway, a body that never ages, and a book that becomes a best seller.  Not much to want, right?


I’m not needing to win the lottery, own a yacht or take a trip around the world.  But looking good and being loved and appreciated … that’s better than just happiness…that’s joy.


Phang says I have Susisms.  They are my favorite sayings and ways I look at life.  It’s my attempt at planning my own happiness. 


1-It’s not your age that counts…it’s your weight.  I don’t get up in the morning thinking about my next birthday, but I hit the scale daily to check my fluctuating weight.  It’s just a way of keeping score.


2-At this point in life, I want to look good and be fun to be with.  It is no longer my goal to hit the perfect backhand or sink my next hole-in-one.  I just want to be fun to include and look like I belong.


3-Money does not make you special.  Money gives you opportunities you would not otherwise have.


4-Grandchildren make any day happy.  Ask any grandparent.  This is genuine joy.


5-Peace is a gift I give myself.  No one else can help me find inner peace.  It is a quiet moment in the morning, between my dog and my mate.   It is when I say the world will have to wait until I am ready to re-enter.  It is when I express my gratitude for the happiness I feel every day.


So, Ben, I could always be happier.  I could always be wealthier.  If you are granting wishes, make us all healthy, give us all what we need for a good life, and make us all appreciate what we have that makes us happy.  


Help us to struggle less, face fewer challenges, and give us the energy and the ability to solve and resolve.  You could bring down the cost of gas.  And get rid of property taxes on our homes.  And make my next book a best seller.


Thank you.



Susanne Katz is a registered mediator with HYPERLINK "http://www.mtvcounseling.com/"Mt Vernon Counseling, coauthor of A Woman's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce, an arts and living columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.com.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com.


More Susanne Katz here.

  

 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Sep 09

I moved my mom from an assisted living to a nursing home.  At lunch with a friend the next day, I expressed my amazement at how well she adjusted to the new facility and the new routine.  

“I didn’t expect my mom to be with us so long, but she is surprising us all,” I told my friend.  


“Does that change your mind about how you might imagine your end of life?” she asked.


“I used to think I wanted that kind of control,” I answered, “but I wonder if one can really know what they would do if they had control.  You may know how you feel now, but that may change when you are in the moment.”


My father, living for years with Parkinson’s disease, would often tell me it was awful that a good mind like his had to live in a body like his.  If he could, he told me, he would end it.  


So, one day I asked him, “Do you want to end it today?”


“No,” he said, “the baseball game is on TV today.”


“How about on Saturday?” I asked.


“Well,” he said, “I really would hate to miss the ice cream social.”


“Maybe Sunday would be a better day to end it,” I suggested.


“Yes, but your mom comes to play the piano here on Sunday mornings, and I would hate to miss that,” he answered.


And that is when I began to realize that, even when we are facing difficult times, there is always a little joy to look forward to.  And now, when I visit my mom or other folks at the nursing home, I focus on the things that are going right; the friendly faces of the caregivers, a new pair of slippers or a beautiful sunny day.  I remind her that I will be back again and again, because I look forward to seeing her and the smile on her face when she sees me.  And that makes it a good day for me.

When a life ends, there is an end to both the bad things and the good things that make up each day.  And looking for the special moments in any day makes it a good day.


This is a special thank you to the staff of the William Breman Jewish Home.  Because of these special folks, my mom and many other moms, dads, grandmas and granddads, have many happy moments to enjoy.


Susanne Katz is a GODR registered mediator and partner in Atlanta Elder Decisions, LLC. She is co-author of the book, A  Women's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce and writes about divorce and care giving in her Second Life columns on ShareWIK.com.  She co-mediates elder issues with Atlanta Elder Decisions and divorce mediation with Mt Vernon Counseling in Atlanta. A former museum director and curator, Susanne's arts and living columns have appeared in many Atlanta publications.


More Susanne Katz here


 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


My wedding anniversary falls on Election Day this year. You know what this means, people! 


That’s right: we’ll be spending another night in front of the TV! Despite 19 years together (translated:  three parents’ deaths, five moves, two intense careers, three births, a neonatal ICU day, three child hospital stays,  one neighbor stalker, 54,543 baseball/basketball games, nine dead fish, 10 issues that don’t need to be shared, 4,653 arguments and  close to 1 million bills) my husband and I will watch TV, with the kids/country, to find out our nation’s next leader.  


Yes, that’s what marriages need: another night discussing problems! One can never get enough talk of taxes, terrorism, poverty, crime, safety, education, and health care system!


So, we will settle into our La-z-boys to watch the results—and sometime between flipping back and forth in the 600 channels—the conversation will diverge from politics to this:


Me:  How about we go somewhere exciting this weekend for our anniversary, where I can wear something that Michelle Obama or Ann Romney would wear? Like a dress? 


He: Where do you want to go?


Me:  Somewhere I can look like a live woman instead of a mom in mom jeans. Remember that blue dress Michelle Obama wore to the State of the Union?  Like that!


He: Uh-huh. 


Me: You don’t remember the dress, do you? Why is it men don’t remember clothes unless a woman isn’t actually wearing any?


He: C’mon, we went out last week. Remember we picked out that porch light together at Lowe’s? That was exciting because it was under the fear of the homeowners association disapproval.


Me:  Let’s splurge on a show at the Kennedy Center! Or how about a museum event?  A campaign HQ? A vineyard?


He: ...then we went to the kids’ game where that coach got ejected! And afterwards got the oil changed!


And so it goes: as we shovel meatloaf into our mouths, the election results will show us —surprise!-- none of us ever agree. 


We will realize of course, somewhere in talking about the country’s priorities, 19 years ago we were making a bunch of promises, just like the candidates.  Marriage is one giant campaign. You go into it thinking: Health! Home! Happy kids! Love at all hours! Vote for me!


Instead, you get mortgages and illnesses and temper tantrums and things to forgive-- let’s be frank, it’s disillusionment.  And dirty laundry (loads of it.) Yet you also get to see your kids’ eyes and smiles.  You have a heart in these little people that literally grows outside of yourself. They teach you. You forgive them (all the time), you forgive your spouse (sometimes), you even forgive yourself (once in a while.) You put up with a hell of a lot more than you should. Just like a season full of attack ads. 


And as the candidates (spouses) try to fix, remember they’re bombarded by the voting blocks (children). The kids will lobby for what they want, and argue even if it’s not in their best interest. 

Example: Voting block A wants Domino’s; Voting block B wants Pizza Hut. Voting block C throws in that voting block B is your favorite.  You try to form a coalition but it backfires. The rhetoric heats up, until you run out of the house screaming, “I GIVE UP!  Have a freakin’ peanut butter sandwich then! You get what you get!”


Come November, you’re exhausted yet hopeful. You know you’re living on borrowed time, and you only have as many days left as God allows. So you push on, grateful, because life—as messy as it is—is short. And awesome, because tomorrow can be brighter. You’re wiser now. 

Spouses and politicians use the same optimistic canned speeches: I promise you a better life! I know it storms a lot! But stick with me and we will [maybe] fix it! Cue Journey, Don’t Stop Believin’!


Tomorrow’s another day, Scarlett.


I Googled the 19th anniversary and find there’s no associated gift. (Even the anniversary people got bored and ran out of official presents.) But the people inside the Internet suggest bronze for its “healing powers.” So, I should buy a stunning bronze-colored dress for election night, to heal.  It will blend in nicely with the brown recliners, which help him heal.  


And I will listen, as CNN and Fox whisper sweet results in my ear.


Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in books, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit with her hereon Facebookor on Twitter @writerandmom.

 

For more Kristine Meldrum Denholm  columns, click here.


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC



Nov 14

About the time his mother died of Alzheimer’s disease, my stepdad did a stunning and surprising thing. Though Jim was in his 60s and had always loved to participate in sports and dancing, it was interesting that he got up one morning at about 4 a.m. and drove far away to run in a 5K race. And then it was interesting that he did it again the next week. And the next. Mother kept us updated.

Part of the draw of his running the races could have been the “free” stuff – bananas, muffins and other loot he’d take back to my mom. I think he loved more, though, the fact that just a few weeks after he started running in races, he was winning in his age group.


By the age of 65, Jim was ranked one of the top senior runners in Georgia, and he had the medals, trophies, mugs, plaques, and pictures to prove it. The back bedroom of their house glittered like a trophy store.




He was a quiet man. He loved to dance with my mom until she was stricken with Guillian Barre Syndrome – a post-viral infection that attacks nerves and leaves its victims with varying degrees of paralysis. Mother's losses included walking well and the ability to find balance. The horrific pain from neuropathy and the loss of feeling in her feet ended the active couple's days of dancing ‘til they dropped.


So, after his mother died, Jim started running. It was as though he was running to outrun something. And he was.


This past June, Jim died of Alzheimer’s disease. After his death, Mother and I went through some of his papers. The man was meticulous. Every penny he spent was tracked. Every prescription he bought was logged. Every visit to the doctor at the Veteran’s Administration was noted. And there was the note we knew was in there somewhere: He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1998.  It was his greatest secret for many years, and his greatest motivator for almost two decades.


I would have to check this, but I believe it was either the same day of his diagnosis, or shortly thereafter, that he went to Emory University to donate his body to science. I can imagine him getting the feared diagnosis – though I know that because of his mother's death, he knew it was coming – and then resolutely driving up Clairmont Road from the VA to Emory to make life easier on all of us when he could no longer outrun his nemesis.


So from the mid 1980s, all through the 1990s (in 1996 he carried the Olympic Torch through my hometown of Carrollton, GA) and until about 2009 – three years short of his death – he kept going. He kept going in a lot of ways. Ways now, after hearing Dr. Daniel Amen of the famed Amen Clinic speak at an Alzheimer’s Association* luncheon recently, I learned are ways all of us can help ourselves in the battle against Alzheimer’s Disease.




You see, Dr. Amen doesn’t claim he can cure Alzheimer’s disease. But he does say that following his advice can help prevent a lot of the conditions that help cause Alzheimer’s (diabetes, obesity, depression, heart disease). And even though Dr. Amen’s best-selling Use Your Brain to Change Your Age book came out in 2012, it is as though my stepdad lived what Dr. Amen was going to write about. As quirky as Jim could be sometimes, he had done, to an exacting degree, almost everything Dr. Amen recommended.


And I have no doubt that Jim’s excellent care of himself meant a relatively easier go of it all for my mother, his primary caregiver for almost 12 of the 14 years he lived after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.


In trying to outrun Alzheimer’s with every cell of his body, for as long as he possibly could (about two months before he went into a nursing home), Jim:

 

  • Exercised daily – for years it was running; when he couldn’t run anymore, he walked. And walked. And walked.
  • Kept his weight low – at 85, he seemed to have the body of someone at least 20 years younger. He was always at least 10 pounds below the normal weight for someone his height.
  • Avoided sugar – “I don’t eat sweets,” he would repeat when anyone offered. As the years went by, he would repeat that phase three or four times with each offering.
  • Kept a purpose – For as long as he could, Jim drove the Soup Kitchen van for his church, picking up homeless people and others who needed a ride to have a hot, free meal.
  • Maintained a rich spiritual life – Jim was an elder in his beloved Carrollton Presbyterian Church, and was there almost every time the doors were opened.
  • Kept learning – Jim probably wore out his library card. He checked out new books on history, health, politics – anything and everything – for as long as he could. I think he kept trying to read even when he couldn’t. That must have been a huge loss for him, when the letters just didn’t connect and mean anything anymore.
  • Didn’t drink alcohol – Looking back, I think he quit drinking about the time he was diagnosed. I guess he knew he didn’t have any brain cells to spare, and would certainly not knowingly kill any of the precious ones he had left.
  • Tried to stay positive – About four years before he died, his quirkiness increased and started turning into agitation. Medication helped some. But before that, for at least eight years after the diagnosis, it seemed he tried to keep smiling, keep looking for a funny story to hear or tell, keep looking for a way to compliment my mom for her cooking, or shine a light on one of his step grandchildren for anything positive.
  • Did his best to care for himself and his family – When Jim died, the fact that he’d donated his body to Emory meant there was no funeral home to call, no choices to be made. I simply called the ambulance service to pick up his body and that was all that needed to be done.


That 14 years earlier, Jim had arranged to have his body donated was a tremendous blessing, because the same day he passed away from aspiration pneumonia, we discovered Mother was almost dead from anemia.


While it was stunning that they’d almost died on the same day, in a moment of clarity I realized how grateful I was to Jim for doing all he had done to care for himself, even his remains. Had we needed to visit a funeral home and make arrangements, Mother probably have summoned the adrenaline in her tiny body to muscle through all of that, and would have died herself.


Alzheimer’s disease sucks the life out of people, families, relationships. I always say, however, that nothing is wasted in God’s economy, especially when people strive to do God’s will.

 

Jim was not a saint; he had his faults. But he sure didn’t waste his Alzheimer’s experience. In trying to outrun it, he made his inevitable decline a little easier on everyone. The final leg of his race was a big blessing to a lot of people: the people he served at the soup kitchen, the members of his church, the many people he inspired to get fit no matter their age, his friends in Kiwanis, and most of all, his family.


                                                                                 


Notes: *The help we received from the Alzheimer’s Association -- information, advice, referrals to services -- took some of the fear and mystery out of the disease, and also helped us find ways to make life a little easier, and for that my Mother and I are deeply grateful. 

5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Every 68 seconds someone in the U.S. is diagnosed. The Alzheimer's Association, Georgia Chapter, serves more than 200,000 Georgians living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research and promotion of brain health, and to enhance care and support for all individuals, their families and caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death with no cure or treatment to slow its progression. To find out more, visit www.alz.org

As this article was posting, I learned of a 62-year-old Georgian, Jack Fussell, whose father died of Alzheimer's disease, and who has plans to run across the U.S. to raise awareness for the role fitness plays in helping to prevent conditions that help lead to Alzheimer's disease, and to help people realize how devastating Alzheimer's disease is for victims, families, and caregivers.  I believe my stepdad will be running right along side him in spirit, every step of the way. For more information visit http://acrosstheland2013.com/, or contact Andrea Mickelson at amickelson@alz.org or 404-728-6046. In addition to financial assistance, Fussell is in need of supplies, equipment, and state coordinators.

 

 Carey Sipp's first book, The TurnAround Mom – How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family, and How You Can, Too, guides fellow “children of chaos” to create the kind of sane and loving home life that helps prevent next-generation addiction and abuse. Follow her on Twitter @TurnAroundMom.


Read more columns by Carey Sipp here. 

  

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 


Dec 04

It may be due to my age, or most likely the fact that I was diagnosed with a non-curable cancer six years ago, but I now read the obituaries in the newspaper. Not every day, but often. I read the “New York Times” on a daily basis, but it is the Sunday Times that carries the longest list of obituaries.


That came in handy a few weeks ago when I checked to see if there was a listing for the mother of a friend of mine who had died two days earlier. I was going to the memorial for her that afternoon and I knew she was originally from New York and quite prominent. Fortunately, I found it, and was able to cut it out and take it to my friend that afternoon. It was much appreciated. (And his wife noted that it wasn’t surprising that it was me who found it for them.)


Yes, I look over the obits, but primarily to see the cause of death. 


I know that sounds morbid, but bear with me.


Whenever I see a photo of a young woman, I particularly note it. And, as I suspected, the cause of death is often ovarian cancer, my diagnosis. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. And, unlike cervical cancer, which has the PAP smear, there is no diagnostic test for ovarian cancer. Unlike breast cancer, which has the mammogram, ovarian cancer is rarely found in an early stage, when it’s most treatable.


One obit I read recently was for a woman in her 50s who died of ovarian cancer. She was predeceased, according to the article, by two sisters who died of breast cancer. Sounds like a genetic connection to me.


It’s true that cancers, in general, are most often cited for deaths in the obituaries. Sometimes it’s a heart problem, or complications of Alzheimer’s, but usually it is cancer. And I appreciate when the obit just comes right out and says the person died of cancer. I hate the attempts to sugar-coat it when the obit reads: “after a long illness.” Of course, I also don’t like the oft-used phrase, “died after a long battle with cancer.”


I don’t think the recently deceased, at least in many cases, was solely concentrating on fighting cancer; I think he or she was focused on living. And because I feel so strongly about the wording of an obituary, I decided years ago to write my own.


Although I haven’t started it yet, because I don’t feel the imminent need, I want to have it written, just the way I’d like, before I die. This will make it much easier on my family. And, let’s face it, this way I can control, at least somewhat, what it says.


I will write it not about the years I lived with cancer, but who I am and how I lived my life. I am not a cat person so I won’t write that I’ve lived nine, or however many, years. I call the parts of my life, “chapters.” So I talk about the various, sometimes, incongruous, chapters that I’ve lived. 


For instance, there’s the single life I lived in a downtown high-rise in Chicago, working as an international editor for a publication and flying all over the world to give speeches or meet with my foreign correspondents. That was preceded by the life I led with my first husband, much of which I don’t remember. And after Chicago, there was my exciting, challenging life immigrating to, and living in, another country.


Of course, there are threads that hold this diverse life together, such as family and friends, but I don’t want to spoil the suspense of the story. You will just have to wait to read about the other chapters when you read my obituary. And I hope you have a really long time to wait!


Jan Jaben-Eilon is a long-time journalist who has written for The New York Times, Business Week, the International Herald Tribune, the Jerusalem Report and Womenetics. She was a founding reporter for the Atlanta Business Chronicle and was international editor for Advertising Age before she fulfilled a lifelong dream of moving to Israel. Jan and her Jerusalem-born husband have an apartment in that city, but live in Atlanta.

 

In November 2006, she was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer and has kept a blog on her cancer journey since December of that year. 


Read more columns by Jan Jaben Eilon here



©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


 

Many people think about making resolutions in the new year. This is usually a firm determination to do or not do something. Lose weight, exercise more and spend less are but a few examples of resolutions that are more often than not, put to rest by the end of January.


Online, you can find many definitions of resolution.

 

In chemistry, it is the process of separating or reducing something into parts. It is the fineness of detail in images and the picture on our flat screen TV. In medicine, it is when symptoms or abnormal conditions subside or disappear.  In law, it’s a court decision. In music, it’s the progression of a dissonant tone to a consonant one or how a musical phrase ends.

 

In grief work resolution includes adjusting to the loss. Part of adjusting to the loss is making meaning of the changes that have resulted as part of the death. Consider making New Year’s resolutions that will help you find meaning as you adjust to life without your loved one.

 

Here are some questions to ponder:

 

§  What have you lost?

§  What do you have left?

§  What are you going to do now?

§  What is becoming of the person you used to be? Who are you now?

§  What lessons have you learned?

§  What self-discoveries have you made?

§  What was important to you before the loss in comparison to what is important now?

 

As you search to find meaning in loss and revise your life story, you may begin to make some sense of what has happened. You may find a new continuity that bridges the past with the future in a way that makes sense to you.

Wishing you peace in 2013.

 

Additional resources

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2010/01/resolutions-for-new-year.html

http://stories.sharewik.com/blogs/item/new-years-resolutions-for-the-grieving

http://www.friendgrief.com/2012/01/new-years-resolutionsabout-friend-grief.html

Please visit our on-line grief discussions groups at http://www.hospicewr.org/discussions/grief/.


Diane Snyder Cowan is the mother of two grown daughters and a national leader in music therapy and grief counseling, as well as the director of Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center of Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio.   She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. To learn more about Diane, visit her blog.

Read more columns by Diane Snyder Cowan here. 


©2013 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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After divorce, a death, a mid-life crisis, or just growing up and changing, baby boomers are learning to reinvent themselves, have fun and find satisfaction. Look out kids…it’s a new world out there!
Class Notes: Special Needs
Learn from the journey of Jacque Digieso who was given a challenge and a blessing with her son, who has special needs.

What's Eating You?
Dina Zeckhausen, Ph.D. on food, weight, body image and raising resilient kids.

Steve Powell
Steve is an experienced facilitator, practitioner, communicator and proven leader with over 25-years in experience in human factors education and teamwork training.
Living On Purpose
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, teaches how to make life extraordinary.
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Dale Kuehne explores developing a world where relationships come first, and recognizes that individual health and fulfillment is connected to the quality of our relationships.
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School teacher Margaret Anderson will provide insight into what really happens with your child in the classroom.
The Power of Grief
Diane Snyder Cowan specializes in grief therapy to help those in need deal with loss.
Jan Jaben-Eilon Cancer is Not Me and I Am Not My Cancer
My name is Jan Jaben-Eilon and I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I don’t like the expression, battling with cancer. I am living my life as fully and passionately as possible, despite the cancer. Cancer is NOT my identity.

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