Life Without Judgment

Looking for a message in a dream

The symbol in the dream has more the value of a parable. It does not conceal, it teaches. ~ Carl Jung For years, I have heard about the concept of a “visitation dream,” in which the sleeper encounters a known person, often a deceased loved one, in a particularly vivid way during a dream. A Google search of the phrase produces over 700,000 hits. I have never had a visitation dream, and until recently I had no thought of wanting one. To be honest, since I became a parent I sleep so heavily that I rarely remember a dream. After I lost my brother I was given a copy of Surviving the Death of a Sibling by T.J. Wray. I read it cover to cover. The chapter entitled Dreams raises the topic of the vi

The alone you want, and the alone you don't

Those of you who know me personally know how energized I am by my interactions with other people in any type of situation, professional or personal. I’m constantly being dragged out of a gathering by my children as I try to finish up several dangling conversations. Even when I’m alone, my brain is often humming with thoughts of people I want to check in with. I am a card-carrying “people person.” Funny how a crisis can change how a person functions and what a person needs. Starting when I received my cancer diagnosis, I found I needed more quiet alone time than usual. Often I didn’t realize I needed time to myself until I wasn’t getting much of it. Sometimes when I was home recovering from

You don't have to get grief right.

Perhaps we humans are getting a little closer to the understanding that grief is nonlinear, unpredictable, and unique to each individual person and situation. Witness this article in the New York Times last week. Reading the article I was struck by particular words and phrases (italics mine): …trying to get her grief right …the so-called stages of grief She expected to be able to put it behind her… mask…carefully constructed …exhausted from acting better than she felt… …wondered if she was appropriately angry …grieving incorrectly …behind in her grieving …self-criticism …well-meaning judgment of the surrounding community …fast track to closure These words paint a picture of unrealistic expec

Two inspiring stories and a confession

First, two true stories. One is about my great-grandmother, my father’s paternal grandmother, who lived with my father and his parents throughout my dad’s childhood. Although she died about eight years before I was born, I know a lot about her through family recollections and documents as well as her own writings. My great-grandparents When she was 9 years old, her father died of peritonitis. Among her siblings she had two sisters with whom she was close; both sisters died in their 20s, one of typhoid. She married and gave birth to a son, a daughter, and a younger son (my grandfather). On a winter night in 1922 her oldest son, then 17, went to the movies with a friend at the Knickerbocker

The S-word, the F-word, the B-word, and the C-word

No, it’s likely not what you are thinking. But maybe I’ve gotten your attention. I barely ever cursed when I was young, perhaps largely because my parents never cursed in my presence during my childhood. In fact it’s quite possible my mother has never uttered a curse word in her life. However, some way or other I acquired knowledge of raw language, because the diaries I kept in my early teens are full of it. One memorable entry from eighth grade features two facing pages containing nothing but repeated strings of curse words (with different grammatical forms for variety). It’s not clear from the surrounding diary entries what prompted this extreme reaction, but bile built up somehow, and

What I hope for you.

Every December and January, I tack up long strands of clear packing tape (sticky side out) alongside the kitchen windows and entryways and then fill each strand with a vertical row of holiday cards. It spruces things up, since although we’ve lived in this house for ten years we have yet to put up curtains or blinds in the kitchen (oh well). The cards stay up well past the holiday season, and even when I take them down I leave a few special family ones up on the bulletin board. A couple of weeks after my brother was killed in June, I happened to glance at his family’s holiday card, with its beautiful photos and cheerful words. My heart sank into my gut. An image flashed in my mind of all of

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