Grief

Decisions, Cross Roads, Challenges and Me

askvilleEvery now and then I find myself at a crossroad in life.  A time and place where you know you need to choose a direction, make a decision and that the choice you make will affect the rest of your life. 

I’ve sat at this crossroad wondering how I got there, trying to look at it objectively and thinking that once I saw the decisions I needed to make in the clear light of day, there was no debating, no wondering, no hesitation at all, the choices are simple.

You see, when I moved away from my ex husband my self-confidence was gone, my self-esteem was non-existent, and my self-worth was hiding in a dark corner somewhere.  The verbal and emotional abuse had taken its toll and it has taken a long time to get back to…me.

So, after going through a very rough holiday season where I spent a lot of time alone, grieving and generally feeling sorry for myself, I suddenly realized that I was choosing to feel alone, choosing to grieve, choosing to feel sorry for myself.  I had to stop and think about that awhile.  What else have I been choosing either by doing nothing, trying to ignore things, or just not dealing with things I knew I needed to own up too?

The answers have astounded.  How did I find them?  By truly looking at where I was and thinking about how I want to be remembered when I’m gone.  If I were to die 3 years from now, what would the people in my life say about me?  I didn’t like the answers my mind came up with.  I have a lot of work to do.  There’s nothing like visualization to get your goals clearly back in focus. 

One thing I’ve learned is that it takes far more energy to sit down and put up with things, force yourself to accept things, and look the other way, than it does to stand up, take responsibility, own up to your mistakes and take charge of your life. 

When you find yourself feeling bored, unhappy, depressed, or just down, ask yourself why?  Are you choosing to feel that way?  Or are there things you are allowing to go on in your life that are not in sync with who you are and what you believe as a person?  Either way you have choices, you have options and possibilities.  Stand up and take action!  It will change your perspective and your life.

Cherry Coley (c)

Touched By An Angel

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Tonight I watched “Touched By An Angel.”  I haven’t watched that show in years, but it caught my eye while flipping channels for a moment. 

It was a show about a drug addict that had a baby and Monica and Andrew worked to help her get clean.  Being television it all worked out just in time and just fine on screen.  It really was a good story.  I miss the gentle kindness of the show and inviting it into our lives each night.

I remember so well watching “Touched By An Angel” and “Highway To Heaven” with my mom and dad.  They loved the storyline with angels walking among us, helping and interacting, directing our paths when needed.  My mom thoroughly enjoyed the shows for years.  We would talk about the episode and then how it related to the bible and real life.  Sure, a lot of it was fiction, but it was a good clean show with a heart and you don’t see many of those anymore. 

So tonight, just for a moment, I was touched by another angel.  I felt the presence of my mom come and sit down on the couch beside me and share in a memory.  It was just a moment, but I am thankful for it just the same.  It made me smile and I love memories that do that. 

Take a moment today to remember some of the good memories you’ve shared.  It’s good to appreciate where we come from, it’s better to then live in the moment and enjoy the things we have and the people in our lives.  Life a gift, don’t take it for granted, enjoy every bit of it.

Cherry Coley (c)

Grief as a Teacher

photo by Casey Keal

photo by Casey Keal

Grief can play with your mind and your perception of the way events happened.  The tricks of the mind can lead to feelings of regret and guilt, hurt and betrayal, and leave you with a feeling of loss that can drive you to your knees at times.

All week the residual feelings of the grief felt earlier this week have been with me.  I finally got to the point I was asking “what is it I’m supposed to see or learn here?” “What am I missing, and why am I feeling this way?”

By asking these type of questions the feeling of distress is lifted a bit so that I can see what I need see instead of lingering on thoughts of how I wish things had been.  My girls are teenagers and the oldest is getting ready to move on with her life.  She is trying to find her way, changing her mind, debating what she wants, and taking her first steps forward.

Through the other milestones with my kids, my mom has been here.  She was my voice of encouragement, my voice of reason, the person that would laugh at my worrying and say, “karma works.” 

I think of all the times I was out too late at night, talking on the phone and tying up the line (before the age of personal cell phones), trying to find my way and changing my mind, and often driving my mom crazy with my ideas and dreams.

There are days when I feel lost without mom, yet I know her words, her wisdom and her love live on in me.  I will not forget, Mom, I will remember and we will go forward.

Cherry Coley (c)

I Want My Mommy!

Today I miss my mom.  It’s not that I don’t miss her every day, but today the gaping hole in my chest where my parents used to be was hurting more. 

I had been doing so much better, I was moving forward, getting things done and looking forward to the future and SLAM, grief strikes again.  I hate that. 

Grief has a way of popping up at times and turning the world upside down when you least expect it.  It’s just the way it works unfortunately.  The name of this round of grief is called – “things I wish I’d done differently.”  The worst part of this round was not thinking of the things I would have done differently with my parents, (I went thru that part last year). 

This was about things I wish I’d done differently in other areas of my life, with my ex-husband, my kids, my school days, and all the time I wasted doing stuff that didn’t really matter or turn out the way I wanted in the end. 

My kids are growing up so fast and I still have questions, but no more answers.  There are things that they bring up and do that I don’t know how to approach, so I make suggestions and do research.  I feel inadequate at times, though I know it’s not true. 

If my mom were here she would listen to my worries and insecurities and tell me to “suck it up,” and “karma works,” then smile and even laugh at me because I put her through many of the same issues and how well I remember that. 

The things we thought were so fun as kids – like staying out too late, and talking on the phone all night, are not so funny as a parent.  Life is a circle, that’s for sure.

I am thankful for the time I had with my mom and my dad.  I’m thankful they always had my best interests at heart, even though they didn’t always understand me. 

I am thankful I have two daughters, that remind me that life goes on and sometimes you have to look back to appreciate where you came from before you can go forward. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Facing Fears

Dark forest

Dark forest

I faced another fear today.  You see, I used to have a major fear of getting up in front of people.  When I was growing up I was forced to sing solo many times in church.  I hated that.  I have the kind of singing voice that goes well with a duet or choir, but solo’s are not my thing.

I was also in drama growing up which didn’t go that well either.  I had some mishaps on stage and most of the time I couldn’t make myself speak loud enough to be heard.  Yet, after I had my kids something changed.  Suddenly I was “mom” and mom’s can’t cower in corners from monsters under the bed, or spiders on the wall, they have to face fears and protect their children.

When my kids were still little I did a Christmas play, I only had a small speaking part, and just as I was about to get that familiar stage fright, I remembered that I had to speak to classrooms of kids regularly, referee, and protect my kids from bullies so why should I be afraid of saying a few words in front of people?

Still, today was a big step for me.  I have felt like I should tell my story to others.  After all when you’ve been through so much in life, you should share your experiences, maybe it will help someone else.  I have gained some confidence in sharing things on blogs and social media, but that’s not the same as truly putting yourself in front of other people.

Today I shared part of my life’s journey in church.  I feel like I did ramble a bit, but over all it went pretty well.  When I stepped up I felt the old familiar fear, and all week I almost talked myself out of it, but there was a part of me that refused. I need to face my fears, they are self-made obstacles that have held me back for far too long.

A funny happens when you face fears, they dissipate just like that, they are gone.  I was nervous going up to the podium, then suddenly I wasn’t afraid anymore.  One fear down, many more to go.  One big step forward to what might be a very interesting future.

Take time this year to look at the things that have held you back in your life.  Are they real fears or are they self-made obstacles?  Take a chance and find out, false fears can’t hold their ground when you stand up to them.  Realize that the only limits you have are the one’s you’re placing on yourself.  Choose to make this year count!

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Putting the Past in its Place

IMG_0097Don’t give your strength and focus to the things that you want to be rid of in your life.  There’s no such thing as living in the past.  What you are actually doing is spending your time now thinking about things you cannot relive or change.

It’s human nature to reflect on situations and experiences.  We look back wishing we could experience an event again, or be with a person one more time, or maybe go back and change something, not say something, or do more for someone than we did at the time.

The most useful thing about the past is that if we let it, the past can guide us to live a better future, to pay more attention to details and what matters, to spend our time more wisely.  Life is a journey and the path behind us reminds us of where we’ve been, what we’ve been through can encourage us to keep going and can remind us that we will be able to handle whatever comes our way.

However, unresolved issues, grievances and hurts can make a person think too much on what once was, how they wish it were different or long for those that have moved on.

There are a lot of people hurting and feeling alone.  You are not alone.  You are not the only one hurting.  You are remembered and loved.  You are not forgotten.  It’s amazing what these words do and how they can make you feel. 

If you are hurting, reach out and talk to the people you care about and that care about you.  You aren’t imposing, even though you might feel like you are.  When someone truly cares they are happy to know they can help.  Let them help, let them have the blessing and the loving feeling that comes when you allow someone to help you.   Someday you will be in a position to help someone else that needs it and the blessing will be yours.

Today center your heart and mind on where you are and where you want to go.  Greet the day with the spirit of gratefulness for the blessings in your life.  You still have things you enjoy, people you love, opportunities yet to be realized and exciting new things to experience.  There is much to be grateful for each day.

 Train your brain and heart to be both grateful and aware of the things and people around you.  You will start to notice a change in your outlook and it will make a difference in your life and the people around you.  Like ripples on the water, the attitude of one affects others around them.

 Start today putting the past in its place so you can embrace your future dreams and live in the present. 

 Cherry Coley ©

I Don’t Feel So Merry

christmas1It’s Christmas time.  Yesterday we had snow, just a light dusting, and it was beautiful.  There is a chill in the wind today, it makes me want to stay home by the fire and drink hot cocoa

I have been looking at Christmas decorations, but they don’t seem quiet as sparkly as they used too.  I have been avoiding Christmas music for the most part.  I simply cannot listen to much of the Christmas music yet.

I am trying, but the truth is I just don’t feel the Christmas spirit much this year.  I try to remember last year, but all I can think of is that my days with my mom were running out and I didn’t know it.  Instead she and I stayed up late talking on Dec. 11th.  We were talking about  how everything was going to be different without dad, and we should try to make new Christmas  traditions. 

We had a long conversation that night about past Christmas’, about new plans, about the Bible and our beliefs, about my kids and our family.  Mom and I talked late into the night enjoying each others company.  I missed her,  I had not seen her in a week or two since Casey was working and using my car more.

Now, the song that best describes how I feel is “Where Are You Christmas?”  The answer is, I am not sure.  I think Christmas is the same, the spirit is the same, it is me that has changed.  I am still healing, still searching for answers that don’t exist and longing for conversations I will not get to finish until I see my mom and dad again someday.

This Christmas is a little better than last year, but it still hurts, aches.  Yet I know that time, faith, and hope will eventually heal the hurts, though they won’t fill the gaping hole left in my heart where my parents once lived.  I miss them. 

If you’re parents are still here, take the time to go see them.  If they need you, listen, and be there for them as they were for you.  If you have family you haven’t talked to in awhile, here’s your chance, your excuse, break the ice, heal the rift and share the love while you still can.  Christmas is about love and that is the greatest gift of all, don’t miss out on this free and wonderful gift.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Cloudy With a Chance Of……

Today I am thankful for storms.  Storms have a purpose in life, especially thunderstorms.  The thunder and lightning combine to shake things up, and make things grow.  If we didn’t have storms we wouldn’t have produce, or flowers, or water to drink. 

While I don’t like the big storms like hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunami‘s, they too must have some purpose, though it is hard to see when you are looking at the damages.  Still they do bring communities together, remind us to pray, and allow people who would help to meet others they might not meet otherwise.

I remember growing up, almost every time there was a thunderstorm we would lose power at our house.  We had a lot of flashlights, hurricane lamps and brass candlestick holders on hand for such occasions.  In the dark, often gathered in one room we would tell stories, listen to the rain, or even play monopoly by candle light.

Life brings many storms both physical one’s, emotional and spiritual one’s.  I’ve found that no matter what kind of storm comes, the thought of a candle and the warmth it brings is the calm that gets me through.  It in the storms that we find our strength, our inner light, a light we can share with others when they are going through a storm.

I don’t particularly like all the different kinds of storms, but I am thankful for them because there is a reason for everything.

Cherry Coley (c) 

 

October is Here

The spider lilies are in bloom.  It both thrills me that they are there and breaks my heart because I know who planted them.  They are lasting evidence that my mom was there and they are not alone.  There have been flowers and plants coming up all year in the different seasons, carefully placed and planted in the yard.  My mom loved to garden. 

I love the lilies, I remember going to the different garden shops each year and buying seeds and bulbs for planting.  Then just as winter was ending she would dig up a large spot in the backyard to plant tomatoes, squash, green beans, mustard greens, and various other plants.  She loved fresh vegetables out of the garden.  She said there was just something so rewarding about planting things in the ground, and watching God make them grow.

mom’s flowers

The flowers are beautiful, just as the red bud tree’s have been this year.  I wish she was here to see and enjoy them one more time. 

There is a joy and a sadness as I look at the backyard with no one there to make sure the weeds don’t take over, and the garden patch sitting abandoned and empty.

 

I can’t help but wonder if the plants notice, isn’t that silly?  Do they know that no one is pampering them, or do they simply do what plants do and depend on God, stretch out their roots and reach up to feel the sunlight?

I miss my parents more now than ever.  A year ago my dad passed away on September 21st, and I can’t help but be silent and remember the weeks that followed, weeks where I wish I could go back and do a little more, be there a little more for my mom.  I did what I could, but IF I could go back I would do so much more.  Hindsight is really worthless. 

It is a good reminder though that we should really not take anything or anyone that we love for granted.  None of us are promised another day and knowing that, we should take the time to get to know those we care about, reach out to those we love, do things to show appreciation and to help without being asked or expecting anything in return. 

We all have our own issues, our own struggles daily.  How much better, more fulfilling would life be if we shared openly, loved without expectation, and left pride and judgement out of the picture?  Sure, I know that’s probably not realistic, but still it is something to think about.

Cherry Coley (c)

Musicals, My Dad and Me

My parents had a love for the musicals.  My brother performed in several musicals in high school like “Music Man,” “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific.”  It was when I was working at the bookstore and musicals were first available on video that we all acquired a nice appreciation and greater love for them.

 My dad and I loved “Singing in the Rain” the most, I think.  We would pop some popcorn and watch that movie on nights when it was raining outside and he would go off to bed, singing either “Singing in the Rain” or “Good Morning.”  His other favorite musical of all time was “Anchor’s Aweigh.”  Since he was in the Navy he recognized and sang along with many of the songs, and of course, he loved Gene Kelly.

 I set about collecting all the musicals and Disney movies that B. Dalton Bookseller would let me order.  They were better than just about anything on television even back then.  We both teared up watching Bambi and laughed at memories of Pinocchio.  Pinocchio was my first movie at the movie theatre and it was also the first time I successfully dumped a large coke all over my lap then spilled the popcorn trying to get up, (I was about 4 yrs. old I think).

 I got to watch musicals like “American in Paris,” “Oklahoma,” “Music Man,” “Show Boat,” “South Pacific,” Unsinkable Molly Brown,” “The King and I,” “Carousel,” “The Sound of Music,” “State Fair,” “Mary Poppins,” and of course the holiday classics like “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas.”   We watched them, sang with them, and later I shared them with my kids and clapped as they twirled around the room singing and dancing the steps while the music played. 

 My dad loved cartoons too, we spent many hours watching classic cartoons like “Casper”, “Mighty Mouse,” “Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes,” as well as the new musical animation like “Little Mermaid” and “Lion King.”  He was always really happy to babysit the kids because they brought the latest animated movies with them.  He even liked “Jimmy Neutron.”

 I loved watching movies with my dad, he was always so sentimental.  He would tear up like me on the mushy parts and then clear his throat a few times to cover it up.  Yes, he loved the action movies, westerns, and war movies too and watched those quiet often as well, but he had a tender side too and I’m very thankful to have had a dad that was not hesitant to show that.

 Cherry Coley ©