Monthly Archives: October 2011

Yes, Charlie Brown, there is good grief.

Several people I love are grieving. No one has died; they’ve severed parts of themselves. Two have lost their well-earned public identities through job changes. One is losing a spouse due to an ugly separation, opening a trashcan stuffed with abandonment issues. Another lost once-visible body parts to cancer.

Grief is good. Use it as a time to grow.

Grief from such losses can be surprising. We’ve come to learn that losing a loved one in death brings grieving, but from leaving a job? What if you quit or retire? There is still a loss of self. If you’ve been doing something for a very long time and get to know the people, the routine, that life and what the money brings then leaving or losing that life can be devastating.

When Sears sold off its parts in the mid-’90s, I was no longer needed. For the first time in 30 years, I wasn’t working. “They didn’t need me.” No longer my title, or in need of my corporate wardrobe or first class upgrades, or invited to great meals in major cities or to stay in wonderful hotels, I remember saying through a weak smile, “Guess the party’s over.” It turned out to be a good thing over time, getting real, but it wasn’t easy reinventing myself, finding my new normal.

We knew for months our company was going to be acquired, so I should have had time to prepare, right? But the grieving didn’t begin until I’d been home a few weeks. Catching up on sleep and cleaning closets stopped suddenly with the onset of a terrible cold. Depression set it and months later a girlfriend told me I was grieving. I was stunned. “Really? Grieving?”

Worse was the loss of life through divorce. True, the marriage was no longer a happy place for either of us but suddenly the life I lived and had come to enjoy was gone. It turned out to be a good thing over time, learning to thrive alone, but it wasn’t easy finding my new normal. Even worse was losing my parents.

Fortunately grieving can bring a useful depression. Reading the October issue of something I was reminded that depression causes us to withdraw from the day-to-day. If we’re able to do the hard work, dig deep, deal with real feelings to find a new normal, it’s a good place to be. I used to call it going into the tunnel. At first I hated it, but now I see the tunnel as a good place to go when I need it, especially since I’ve learned the light on the other side is definitely not a train.

Good grief helps us come to grips with a new normal.

Let your friends know you're grieving. Give them the chance to help you through the tunnel, or the pumpkin patch.

If we’re diligent we’ll be even better after the struggle. More real. If you’re grieving now, ask yourself what part of your ego has been severed due to your loss.

In 2000, I lost my home, my husband and my mother, had a year-long cold and a horrible backache. We all go through these things. Having been there helps us know what loved ones are going through. We can’t make it easy for them – they have to do the work. But we can support them in the best way we know how.

Golden Morning Muffins

This week I wrote about Anna-banana’s carrot muffins. Her mom found this recipe at allrecipes.com (View website)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrots
1 apple – peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup raisins
1 egg
2 egg whites
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly oil 18 muffin cups, or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, apple butter, oil and vanilla.
In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in carrots, apples and raisins. Stir in apple butter mixture until just moistened. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
In a small bowl, combine walnuts and wheat germ; sprinkle over the muffin tops.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and spring back when lightly pressed.
Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving Calories: 194 | Total Fat: 4.2g | Cholesterol: 12mg Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database

Anna-banana grows carrots!

This is meant to be shared.

Overflowing with natural goodness!

My great-niece Anna (not really Anna Banana but that’s what her grandmother calls her) helped her mom, dad and brother Nate, plant and maintain a garden this summer. Not the first time for this family but the first time Anna got to pick her own carrots and help mom make “golden morning” muffins. What fun for a kinder-gardener.

What a gift to give a child – getting involved in gardening. What a great lesson.

“Here’s a packet of seeds. See how small each seed is? This little seed is going to grow up to be a big orange and purple carrot! But first we have to make sure the soil is just right, then we plant the seed just so, water it, keep away the weeds and hope it gets plenty of sunshine. In a few months – voila! Carrots galore.”

How cool is that. What a gift. Teach a child to plant carrot and watch them both grow.

If you’re crabby and you know it

I’m waiting for my new house to show up and I’m not particularly patient with the process.

When I read about hermit crabs this summer, I was reminded they line up for new shells. Nature lets them know a larger crab is moving on – to a bigger shell or to that cosmic, starlit beach on Vega. Successive hermits line up, I imagine it’s not a formal line-up-for-communion line but some crabby sort of conga line, locate the next empty shell and crawl in. Oh yeah, life goes on.

I’m in line for my new shell but – sigh – I’m a bit pickier than the average crab. The next larger shell is not for me. I’m looking for a smaller space than Calais Avenue house in Las Cruces, New Mexico. But it’s got to feel just right with more windows, an open floor plan, set in or near nature. And wouldn’t it be nice if it sat on the beach and had pine trees on three sides.

Holly, my realtor, is patiently working with me to find the right shell. We’ve driven the Valparaiso and Chesterton, Indiana markets – about 25 miles east on Highway 30 from where I sit in my sister’s house. This afternoon we’re looking around Crown Point, Indiana, which is action central for my family. I know I’ll find the perfect place at the perfect time and at the perfect price.

Note to Universe: Now would be a perfect time if you ask me.

It’s been about five weeks since Aw’gy and I left New Mexico. I have no regrets about leaving Las Cruces. In fact, it couldn’t have been better – for so many reasons: living in the Land of Enchantment, making great friends, discovering new talents, eating the best Mexican food – bar none. But, but, but … while Holly is patient with me, I’m impatient with the process that I set in place!

And I’m starting to get crabby. I know it’s my issue and I know this is all part of my journey and I know I uprooted myself but I want to be settled in my new space and I want it now. So will the next crab kindly move on, because it’s all about me, right?