Life Without Judgment

Whack-a-Mole, gratitude edition

Thanksgiving has become, for me, a loaded holiday. Not just loaded with food. Loaded with memories of past Thanksgivings. Loaded with expectation of how the time will be spent with loved ones, expectation that may or may not turn out to match reality. It wasn’t always this way. Throughout my life until the year I was diagnosed with cancer, I flat-out loved Thanksgiving, no matter where we spent it or with whom. With family on my father’s side (cornbread stuffing – Southern heritage) or my mother’s (sausage stuffing – Italian heritage), with many generations or few, being children or chasing our own children, staffing the kitchen or languishing with whiskey sours, eating out or spending da

Forget balance. Strive for recognition. And, down the road, acceptance.

A couple of days ago I read a posting by Elizabeth Gilbert about the word “balance,” which she says “haunts and punishes modern women more and more every day.” Much of what she says here resonates with me. I would say this word haunts and punishes more than just women. It sets all of us on a course toward an impossible goal – a maintainable state of equilibrium. Change being the only constant, our stay at any one point will always be temporary. Even Balanced Rock in Colorado will succumb someday to the forces of nature – gravity, temperature shifts, human interaction with the rock, erosion. We travel through endless changes, arriving at countless u

Grief is a spaghetti bowl

The more I read and talk about grief, the more I hear the word “nonlinear,” and the more applicable that word becomes. From my experience so far, there is nothing predictable, orderly, or step-by-step about the grief process. At times I spend several days in one state – perhaps wound up with anxiety over every tiny setback (a broken egg yolk), or having to drag myself even to do the most minor task (put my shoes away), or so raw that random issues (a child’s lost glasses) will send me into the emotional stratosphere. Often I will spend only part of a day in one of those states, or an hour, or even a few minutes. Sometimes a day will be spent largely in one state with random moments or hour

For support in a crisis: Presence and patience, hold the judgment.

So many times in my life when someone I loved was in crisis, I asked myself, the person, and anyone else who would listen: What can I do to help? Then when I had cancer, and again now in my current state of shock over the sudden loss of my brother, the question has come back my way, from so many caring people around me: What can I do? How can I help you? I don’t know what you need but if you think of it, please tell me… At the moment, I’ve distilled the answer down to this recipe: Presence and patience, hold the judgment. Presence, because I need you there. But what “there” means is all over the map. I wish I could tell you definitively what it means myself, but it changes daily, even h


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