Reality Reflection: The Process of Grief

Today is one of those days that makes you really think about life and how special it is.  Here in the US we’re taking time to honor those who lost their lives in 9/11. There have been ceremonies and memorials throughout the past week and into this coming week that encourage us to not only honor those who died and support their families, but also encourage us to be stronger as a nation.  Seeing and hearing the number of tributes and events this weekend is encouraging and hopeful for our future as a united nation.

This weekend also brings up a complicated topic: loss and death.  Loss isn’t something we enjoy dealing with and many of us stink at dealing with it.  Some of us pretend it doesn’t affect us, some ignore it, some deal terribly with it, some never get over it, and how others process it (because they do actually process it) varies from person to person.  Aside from intentionally hurting yourself and others during your grief process and not dealing with it, there are few wrong ways of working through loss, and you shouldn’t judge others for how they go through their grief processes.

Taking time to grieve and let go of things and people that were important to you is healthy.  While it may not be a big ‘loss’ to move houses or cities for you, others need time to process the move and changes in their life.  You may prefer to do a traditional funeral for someone as part of your grief process, while others prefer a celebration of life.  The best thing you can do for someone who is grieving is to support them in whatever way they need, but not to judge them over what they need.  Maybe they need someone to look at old pictures and remember things with them, maybe they need someone to get out and have fun with, maybe they need someone to go shopping with, maybe they want to finally see a therapist or counselor and make positive changes in their life, or maybe they just need some things to remain normal in their life and not do anything different together and be allowed to grieve in their own way when they’re alone.

How do you remember and honor people who died during events like 9/11, as well as those individuals in your life who have passed on in other ways?

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Reality Reflection: Time for Healing

It’s been a busy week for me, I’ve been doing lots of thinking and discovering.  Of course with that typically comes up a lot of the feelings, thoughts, and memories that you wish could stay buried forever.  While some can be reburied immediately (or as soon as possible), others need to be considered and dealt with, typically because they haven’t been dealt with in the past.  It’s not bad to have these things come back up, and honestly, the sooner they do, the better.  Because it’s not until you’ve dealt with them truly that you can really move forward.  Even if you didn’t remember the pain, fear, anger, frustration, hurt or other painful emotions from the past and the memories that they’re connected to, they could be holding you back.  While I’m not a big believer in digging up as much dirt and the past as possible over and over, sometimes it’s necessary to work through what happened and how you felt in the past because it will help you navigate the current change you’re going through in a better way and free you to see the world in a new light.

Whether you’re reinventing yourself, bringing things back to life, looking at things from a new perspective, creating something new, or making changes, you will have to deal with some challenging emotions, including those of failure.  While I don’t expect that you will fail in your process (I hope you don’t!) many people do experience some failures when they’re working through the change process.  Why? Because when things change we typically run into things we haven’t experienced before, or we’ll hit our personal stumbling blocks (including those we haven’t dealt with from the past) and we’ll trip and fall or not get it right on the first try because it’s new to us.   And again, while it’s not fun to fail, no one is perfect and few of us get things right on the first try.

So if you’re going through a time of transition like me, don’t hide or run from the past or the emotions and challenges that you face as you transition, change, think, grow, create or discover.  Know that they are part of the journey and could teach you valuable lessons to apply to your future.  And even if they don’t apply to your future, finally working through them can free you from baggage you didn’t even know you had holding you down.

Remembering The Liberator

July 18th was the birthday of one of the great men of the world: Nelson Mandela (celebrated as “Mandela Day”). No one is perfect (Mandela included), but he’s someone who showed throughout his life that he was a true leader. A 2013 article on Mandela called him a “Dissident, Liberator and Statesman.” Those are 3 big titles that all say something important about who he was, but the one I wanted to focus on today is “liberator.”

Mandela knew what it was to be not free, he spent 27 years in prison for his efforts to make South Africa a better place for people. Some people, having had his experience, would throw in the towel and spend the rest of their years quietly, thankful to be free. But Mandela never gave up on his dreams of and plans for a better life for himself and the people he loved, and people around the world too.

We take time each year to remember people like Nelson Mandela and the dreams they had for a reason, a reason that seems more important than ever with the violence over the past few weeks and months around the world. People like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, and countless other men and women who have passed on would not be proud of the people some of us have become. I think they would be happy to see that some thing have changed and are changing for the better, but sad that we are fighting on many of the same things that should have already been addressed, and creating issues that shouldn’t be issues and haven’t been in the past.

What it comes down to is that the world is always in need of more people like Nelson Mandela. You don’t have to be in a traditional position of power to make a difference, you have to decide that you’re going to give your best effort to fixing or alleviating the problem(s) you see in the world. Whether you make that effort in jail, on the street, in your office, in a school, or as a president doesn’t matter. What matters is that you choose to step up and let people know that they too can be liberated and choose what they want to make out of life.

Reality Reflection: The Setting Sun

This week I’ve been thinking about changes and happened to see a beautiful setting sun.  We all have seasons where the sun sets on parts of our lives.  Sometimes it’s the death of a family member or close friend, sometimes it’s a job or career change, sometimes it’s a new place to live and other times it’s smaller like the end of a brand or product we loved.  The transition time isn’t something we do well with or enjoy all the time.  Endings and partings aren’t things we always enjoy either, and they can be difficult and painful, and sometimes confusing especially if you weren’t expecting it.

Some of us get stuck in the change and transition process, others of us can’t let go of the past, and some of us are so busy moving forward that we don’t grieve and let go of the past.  I think in most cases it’s important to take time to remember the past, work through the transition and move forward.  I don’t think we should skip any of these steps, whether our past was bad or good.  Learning from a bad past is helpful, but it’s also important to take time to cement the memories of the good things you have had or experienced.  Yes, life is about moving forward and living to the fullest, but part of that fullness is the past that has brought you to this point.

This weekend, this summer, I encourage you to take time to enjoy the setting sun as well as the rising sun.  With the late summer nights and early summer mornings there are lots of opportunities to see the sun and remember it as part of your life.  I remember lots of trips as a child where we would watch the rising or setting sun while driving and a few thunderstorms too.  Those are treasured memories from my childhood and I am thankful for them.  Choose to find the beauty in the endings in your life this summer, not just the joy in the future or relief of leaving the past.

Reality Reflection: What do you Want?

There’s something that most of us do but don’t really have the right things in mind when doing it.  What am I talking about? Wanting.  Do you really want that jelly doughnut, or do you want something sweet in general (could be healthy like summer raspberries) but the doughnut happens to be handy, are you trying to procrastinate or avoid something by eating it, or are you ignoring what your body really wants to eat by having the doughnut?  I know, it’s a really simple example, but food is one of the areas that we’re most confused in about our real wants.

Every day we use the word “want” countless times.  ‘I want to do this.’ ‘I want that one.’ ‘I want this more than you.’ ‘I want you to do it.’ The list could go on.  And on the surface the question I bring up today is about whether or not you really want what you think you want.  But it’s also about something so much bigger and deeper.

Last Friday was the Brexit vote, something that’s still being talked about and debated, and will be for some time.  And coming up on Monday in the US we’ve got Independence Day, the day we remember when in 1776 the people of the US signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain.  My point? It would be easy for people in pre-Brexit UK or Pre-Independence Day US to say ‘I want a better job’ or ‘I want a better house’ or ‘I want to make things work better between our countries.’  And none of those things are wrong.  But the people of the UK and US in 1776 made some really big choices that they don’t want to just work on improving in the current (or what was current) situation, they want a new set of rules, new set of opportunities and future that doesn’t line up with how things are (were) going in the present.

As I said, it’s not wrong to want to improve within the confines of your current situation.  But if you have the ability to want for something more, something bigger, something different, something new, something better for not just you but many people, why wouldn’t you want that?  As we look towards the 4th in the US and the future of the UK, I encourage you to consider your life.  What do you really want from and in your life?

Reality Reflection: Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th. Did you know it’s the only Friday the 13th in 2016? I know there are only 12 months so there’s not a really great chance of having it happen often anyway, but to just have one is pretty unique, and a good thing some people would say. Friday the 13th has to do with two things that we all consider at one point in time or another: luck and superstitions.

I can’t say I really put a lot of stock into all of them, but I have seen enough coincidences and connections in my life that I do give things like Friday the 13th, curses, planets, horoscopes and luck some degree of respect. Karma is something that in some ways I categorize in this group as well, but I believe more in Karma than in curses or superstitions.

Some people will say that life is what you make of it and the luck you have is based largely on what you’ve done in the past and a chain of events that have lead up to it. Sometimes there is no evident connection and things just seem to go wrong (which some people would say is because of something in a past life).  It’s also been shown that if you give things like luck and superstitions a lot of credit you will have plenty to attribute to it.

I do my best to be thankful for the good things and stay away from the bad. When a little luck or good karma comes my way I do my best to pass it on. The reality is that much of life is about what we do with what we’ve been handed. If you’re in a bit of bad luck you can choose to change it (unless of course you think you need punishing for something). What are your thoughts on luck and superstitions?

Reality Reflection: April Fools

By nature I’m not a humorous person.  I don’t look for ways to make people laugh, watch lots of comedies on TV, pranks on YouTube, or funny movies.  While I do see the point of laughter and enjoy the occasional lighter TV show, video or movie, I generally prefer the more serious, creative and curious side of life.  If you enjoy more humorous things I fully support you and have no issue with that, it’s more than OK to like different things.

It’s unfortunate that much of our humor and jokes have to do with making fun of people.  I can remember as a kid making fun of or picking on other kids, it’s something we all do on occasion.  Some people even manage to make a good living out of it.  Sometimes it is beneficial to take a lighter perspective on the challenges of life because life can get to be too much.  But sometimes it goes too far.

I’ve never been a fan of April Fool’s Day.   I think it ends up hurting people more often than not.  Sure, there are some harmless jokes that can be shared, like Explore’s Dino Cam, but often they backfire on you or have longer lasting ramifications.  I don’t see the point in spending a whole day tricking each other, no matter how valuable it is to lighten up in life.  The world would benefit more from a day celebrating cute baby animal videos and doing acts of kindness.

Sometimes we use humor to hide our own pain or make ourselves feel better about our lives vs. those that others live.  There’s no logical way that would make any kind of good impact on the world.  So why do we keep doing it?  The next time you think about playing a practical joke, making fun of someone or picking on someone, think again about how it feels when you’re on the receiving end.