Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Four Agreements

Photo of the Month
Ringling Grounds, August 2015

Surprise!!! It's been a while! A LONG while!

A recent conversation with a friend inspired me to post this. Much of this post had been in draft for a long time. How regular this becomes remains to be seen. 

Some of the following information is from the website:

Don Miguel Ruiz is the author of The Four Agreements. He is from the Toltec tradition, which is a ancient group of scientists and artists, formed to explore and preserve the practices and spiritual knowledge of their ancestors. It is not a religion, but a way of life.... simple, but profound. The practice of the The Four Agreements can help to create love, happiness and most importantly (for me) the experience of personal freedom!

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word:
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of the word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't take anything personally:
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality or what the author calls their own "dream." When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't make assumptions:
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. Remember, that just as others do not know what you are thinking, you also do not know what they are thinking. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always do your best:
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment and regret.

Each of these could be a post in and of themselves, but today I will focus on Agreements #2 and #3. These two go together well and have helped me countless times in my life, especially when it comes to the actions of others. We often make assumptions about what other people are thinking - - and then we take these assumptions personally.

Starting with #3 - Don't make assumptions

We assume first, THAT other people are thinking about us and second, we assume WHAT other people are thinking about us! We often assume that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think and feel the way we feel.

The TRUTH is that most of the time other people are not thinking about us at all. Most of the time, most people are thinking about themselves.

Freedom comes from understanding this.

- Be aware of unconscious assumptions - Assumptions are made so fast and unconsciously most of the time that we don't even realize we are doing it.
- Discern the Truth - We make an assumptions, next we we believe that it is the Truth. 
- Assume Nothing - We often assume that others know what we think and we don't have to say what we want. We assume they are going to do what we want because they know us so well. If they don't, we feel hurt. Try to remember that just as others do not know what you are thinking.... you also do not know what they are thinking.

How does this apply to daily life? 

Let's use a simple example... a friend says they will meet you for lunch. That morning the friend texts you to say that they cannot make it... but does not give you a reason. This is the second time this has happened with this particular friend, so you begin to feel annoyed. What is going on? Why is this person canceling - - again? And last minute!

What are you thinking? What are you assuming? Do you think the person is trying to get out of being with you? Do you think the person just doesn't like you? What else? You are probably able to add a few others.
Let's move on....

#2 - Don't take anything personally

I have seen this quote attributed to:Wayne Dyer
Anthony Hopkins and
Michael J. Fox.
So I am not sure who said it initially...
but it was so good that many have repeated it! 
My suggestion is to pretty much disregard the opinions of others. Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don't take it personally. Other people are going to have their own opinion according to their upbringing and their belief system. Whatever they think about you is NOT about YOU. It is about THEM! If someone says, "I like your blue dress." That doesn't say anything about you. It could say that they like the color blue or that they like that style of clothing.... or that they are trying to be nice today! (Or any number of other things... but I don't want to make assumptions.) Just know that it does not have anything to do with you.

- Everyone lives in their own "dream" as the author calls it - They are in their own mind... and that can be a completely different world from the one that you live in.
- Be immune to others' opinions - what others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their lives (or their "dream" as Don Miguel Ruiz calls it.) When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

Let's go back to our example of the friend canceling lunch. What happens after you make the assumption that your friend doesn't like you? You take it personally! You start to question why doesn't your friend like you.... and ask what is wrong with you? What happens next..? 

You start to feel bad.    

Whenever you see yourself doing any of the above...
- Simply STOP and remind yourself that most of the time people are not thinking about you, they are thinking about themselves. 
- It's ok to ask questions if you need to. It is always better to ask questions than to make assumptions. Once you hear the answer to a question, you won't have to make assumptions because you will know the truth.
- Relinquish our own self importance. When we take things personally, we are thinking of ourselves as so important that the other person is also thinking about us. This is an expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is all about "me!"

As always, there is the need to clarify. If someone is offering an opinion to you, I am not suggesting that you be rude or unkind to anyone. It is ok to listen and hear them. It's just it is not necessary to accept their opinions as Truth.   

Let's revisit our example one more time. You run into your friend the next day. She tells you that her grandmother has not been well. She has come to stay with her and she was not able to be alone. Your friend asks if next time maybe you could get take out and come by the house because she has been very tired from care-taking! Was she thinking about you at all? Of course there are nearly infinite explanations....  Even if your friend eventually says something like they don't really see the friendship going anywhere, that is ok too! It is a gift of honesty. Love and respect yourself. You are never responsible for the actions of others, but you are responsible for you. If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. You may hurt for a while, but your heart will heal, eventually... and their decision is still about them! Not you!

Until next month,
Keep it simple!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Life as a Marathon

Photo of the month:
March 2001, Calle Ocho 5k, Miami

Quote of the month:
A journey of a thousand miles 
begins with a single step.
- Lao-tzu

For those of you who have been with me for a while, this is a re-run from quite a while ago.  A friend recently referred to this post in an e-mail, so I went back to re-read it and was amazed at how much it applied, even more today, than it did when I wrote it.  I thought it might be a good reminder for some of you out there too! Enjoy!

Usually I like to take beautiful or inspiring photos to use as the photo of the month. This one may not be beautiful, but hopefully by the end of this post, it will be inspiring. I am using this photo this month because it is me, crossing the finish of my first run. It wasn't pretty.... but I completed the race. Thank you to my friend, Israel, for taking this photo of me back in 2001! I am just to the left of the orange cone wearing a white t-shirt. After this came other runs and longer runs.... but this was the first!

Although I had done some running when I was younger, it was never more than a few miles at a time. During a difficult and challenging time in my life, I took up long distance running, starting with a few 5k's, then a 7 mile and then a half marathon. The running became a metaphor for my life in that.... I could not always see the finish line, but I could always take one more step. All I needed to focus my attention on, was the step I was taking right here, right now, and trust that the finish line was still out there.  It couldn't be seen and I certainly did not know what it would look like.... but I knew that it was there.... at about mile 11 of the half marathon, that became really important!! 

I'll share with you what I learned.... see if any of it might apply to challenges you might face in your own life!

Life is like a marathon!

1 - There may come a time that we decide to do, or have to do something we never thought we would do.... or could do.

I never thought I could run 13.1 miles without stopping! That's for sure! I also never thought I would move across the country one time.... let alone 3 times in 5 1/2 years! Now, I've done both!  2014 update - it is now 4 long distance moves in 8 years!

The lesson here - Don't decide you cannot do something until you at least try!   

2 - You may not be able to see the finish line but you can always take one more step.

As the quote above says, the journey starts with a single step. In a run, it begins with the crack of the gun going off to signal the start of the race. An average person takes 2000 steps/mile - so that would be at least 6200 steps for a 5k!

With a long distance move, there are a lot of steps - showing the house, selling the house, inspections, repairs, signing papers, packing boxes, saying goodbye to dear friends, driving across country with kids and crying cats, buying a house, signing more papers, more inspections, unpacking boxes, changing the car registration, first day at a new school/job, setting up new doctors..... and on and on.... whew... I am getting tired all over again just thinking about it. Looking at all of these steps together may seem overwhelming. Piled on top of each other, it seems like a mountain. It may seem insurmountable. Much as the finish line seems VERY far away in a marathon (or even a half marathon.) Breaking things down into bite size pieces and dealing with them one by one makes it more manageable.

Once you get started, there may come times when you feel like you may not be able to make it to the end. This happened both in life and in running - but I could always take one more step. At step 5124, all you need to do is take step 5125! Don't think about the distance remaining!

The lesson here - As the quote above says, even something that seems insurmountable cannot be completed without starting! No matter how long and complicated an endeavor may be, simply start with the first step and keep taking whatever step you are on.... which leads to #3. 

3 - Be Present in the step you are taking - only this step.

I have written before about being Present or Mindful. In Taking Stock/Mindfulness, from July 2009, I wrote, being mindful simply means that we are paying attention. I used the example of a tight rope walker and how when walking on a high wire, one's attention can be no where else. The walker's full attention is on the step they are taking at that moment, the placement of the foot and where the weight is placed in the foot. In running, I focused on my foot hitting the pavement and stretching my leg for the next step. In moving - I knew I was getting too far ahead of myself when I started to get anxious about what teachers the kids might have or would there be a Target nearby or where would I get my laundry washed? (You know who you are!)  I knew it was time to bring my attention back to where I currently was.

The lesson here - I suggest Presence as often as possible in all aspects of life, challenge or not! 

4 - Even though you can't see the finish line - that is ok - Trust that it is out there.

At the beginning of a 13 mile run, the finish line is no where in sight, nor at the beginning of 1063 mile drive or the packing of the first box. It is natural to want to see it... but accept that you cannot.  Trust! Trust! Trust!  Even if things do not go as planned, Trust that you will find a way to fix it or work it out.  There are few things in life that cannot be fixed.  

The lesson here - It is ok not to know how everything will turn out! Things usually do work out. I often ask.... "What is the alternative? That they won't work out?"  Usually not!  Since the initial writing of this post, there have been things that did not "work out" at least according to my "life plan."   Even when things don't work out in a way that we would have liked, envisioned or anticipated... there are still many positives and knowledge to be gained from these experiences. 

Until next month....
Keep it simple!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

50th Birthday/First World Problems

Running in the Water, Orlando, FL, 2001
My younger son has started using the phrase, "Sounds like a first world problem!" I love it! So when I am complaining about my coffee being too cold (or too hot) or the battery on my cell phone going dead, I hear, "Sounds like a first world problem, Mom!" Of course turnabout is fair play, so when he complains about his new video game being too hard or that the Internet went out, I get to say, "Sounds like a first world problem, Son!" : )

In January of this year, there was a chemical spill in West Virginia that contaminated the water source for Elk River, WV for days. Anyone who has been under a boil water order, knows how difficult it is to get along without clean water. We go to the tap and expect it to work, to work correctly and to be clean and sanitary! When something as simple as brushing your teeth becomes a chore, we are less likely to do it regularly and forget about washing dishes... and we might as well just go out to eat!

In short, 
we take clean water 
for granted!!!!!

Same thing when the power goes out. Have you ever walked into a dark bathroom in a power outage, knowing the power was out, but still habitually flipping the light switch only to remain in the dark... "Oh that's right, the power is out!" Reminding myself that this, too, is a first world problem, helps to keep things in perspective.

There are people around the world that do not have this same easy access to clean water or electricity. I recently learned that millions of kids around the world don't live to see their fifth birthday because they don't have access to clean, safe drinking water. We can help change that.

I am turning 50 later this year. I'm not usually overly excited about getting older, but this year I'm really thankful to have spent another "365 days circling the sun," as a good friend says! To mark the 50th anniversary of this occasion I am sponsoring a campaign run by Charity Water ( to help provide clean water to a community. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but Julian Lennon did it last year for his 50th birthday, so I have to give him credit for the idea.

I'm asking that instead of sending me a birthday card or gift, that you contribute that money to this fund. Even if you were to just buy a birthday card and mail it, I would request that this year, you donate the $3-5 to fund this project instead. You have the option to put your name or not. If you do put your name, I will consider that my birthday card/gift! : ) A celebration of my 50th!  As an extra added bonus... This is also the 100th post on Simply Spirituality!!!! : )

I looked into the charity and there are a number of things I really like about it.
1 --> 100% of the money raised will go directly to the PROJECT that WE fund. This is almost unheard of in the charity world! To find out more click here...
2 -->The charity will follow the project through and provide updates with how the money is spent and how many people it helps. That means we'll know the locations and names of the communities we helped.  If you are interested, you can see more about completed projects here....
3 --> They also provide their charity status and financials here....

Our campaign runs until 
June 18
Our goal is to raise 

If you would like to contribute, here is the link.....

Help me reach my goal. Please donate to my birthday campaign!
Thank you!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Resolutions vs. Gratitude Jar aka 99th post!!!!

      Photo of the Month:  
      Gratitude Jar 2014
Quote of the Month:

Yesterday ended last night.  
Every day is 
a new beginning.  
Learn the skill of forgetting 
and move on.

- Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

It is February 2nd as I am writing this. How many of you made New Year's resolutions?  Are they still in place?  I stopped making New Year's resolutions several years ago... and simply implement things along the way, as needed, no matter the day.  If you have abandoned yours, follow the advice in the quote above and move on!

I'd like to give all of us something to feel good about next New Year's Day!   Like anything in life, it is a choice of what to focus on or put our attention on that makes all the difference. Instead of feeling badly about our weight, our finances, our job, our work out schedule, eating habits or any other potential resolution topics - at the end of the year, let's focus on all of the good things that happened during 2014.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it is not mine.  See the photo above .... starting on the first of the year, or whenever you read this, write good things that happen to you on little pieces of paper.  Above, they suggest surprise gifts, accomplished goals, good memories or the appreciating the beauty of nature.  Then, at the end of the year, maybe on New Year's Eve, read and re-visit all of the wonderful things that happened in 2014. (Yes, the photo is from last year!)  

It doesn't have to be a jar and doesn't have to be fancy.  It could be box or file folder. For me, I need to see it to remember to do it, but if that isn't you, a file on your computer would work too!  I am putting mine in a prominent place where I will see it every day, near my grocery list!

Here are some of my examples....
Jan. 1 - I woke up on New Year's Day at one of my best friend's home with this beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean! 

Jan. 3 - A good friend took the boys and I out to dinner.  I tried sea bass for the first time and now have a new favorite! 

Jan. 31 - Treated to lunch by my aunt! 

Feb. 2 - My neighbor brought me a unexpected, tasty homemade meal! 

Please post a few of your own examples in the comments

And if you want to make resolutions... that is fine too!  Just remember you get to choose what to focus attention on.  And if you don't end up keeping them, follow Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's advice above and learn the skill of forgetting! : )

Keep it Simple!

PS - Yes!  It really is my 99th post! : )

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Are The Chances Of You Being You?

Quote of the Month:
Have the courage to be exactly who you are without apology. Admit your mistakes without beating yourself up. Release all shame! Release all guilt! You cannot live if you are hiding behind what was. Focus on what is, right now, and that is you!
-Iyanla Vanzant

November is usually the month this blog focuses on Gratitude.  
This year, I came across another video that I love and want to share with you for this month's Thanksgiving post!

If you are unable to view the video below, you can access it on You Tube at:

Take a minute to watch the video and reflect on just how unique and special you really are!

Until next time,
Happy Thanksgiving!
And keep it Simple!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

5 years! 5 Lessons!

Simply Spirituality is turning 5 years old!!!!

Wow!  Can you believe it?  When I started this blog five years ago, I thought there would be 6 or 7 posts!  Here is it 60 months and about that many posts later...... hard to believe!  A special thank you to those who have both been with me on this journey and to those who have joined us along the way!  

To celebrate this birthday - I wanted to re-run a post from the 2nd birthday where I shared some of the things I have learned from writing this blog over the years.  Though each of these could be a post in themselves.... here they are briefly:

1- Release the outcome - applied to the blog - never click the "post" button until I have no attachment to how people react to the post.  This is an internal shift ..... it is NOT about not caring.... because I care deeply about this blog.  Non-attachment means more that no matter how someone reacts to what I have written, it is OK!  That is because I know I have written a post that is "true" for me and coming from the best place I can today.... then it  does not matter if someone does not like it.  It just is not true for them, today.... and that is OK too!  (But comments are still great!!)  ; )  
A simple way you can apply this in your own life - don't attach to what someone else thinks about your clothes, your house, or car.  You can take it further by not attaching to what someone else thinks about you personally.  Try it with something small..... feel the freedom in it... and then try it with something bigger.  Remember that if someone does not like your car, that is a statement about them and their preferences, not about you.

Taking this idea one step further, and possibly more challenging, it also means not attaching to it when someone DOES like what I've written.  If someone likes my shoes, again it is a statement about their particular shoe preference, not about me.  Maybe you can try not attaching to even the positive comments.   

2 - Trust - in the beginning I thought I would share a few ideas ... maybe covering 6 or 7 posts.  My intuition  has always said.... post a solid, useful, post about once a month.  I have stayed in trust about that and it has always happened as it was meant to happen!  

A simple way you can apply this in your life - trust your own internal feeling about something.  Don't look to or wait for confirmation from someone else.  The post titled Road Maps of Life touches on this a bit more.  

3 - Take ACTION!  Or MOVE when the spirit moves me! The moment I get inspiration for a post, I WRITE!  I used to think that I would be able to remember it... but not so!  At least not with the same initial intensity and energy.  If I don't have either a computer or paper, anything I can write on will do.... I've used napkins in a restaurant before and the back of a picture. 
A simple way you can apply this in your life - how many times have you had a flash of insight or some sort of inspiration only to allow your brain to discount it or talk you out of it.  Usually in a matter of 2 or 3 seconds.  At the very least, write the idea down and consider doing it over the next day.  Is there some small action you can take towards doing it?

4 - Speak and act from the truest place you can in the moment.  I only post those things I know as Truth for me.  I do not ask them to be truth for you.  If something resonates with you, great!  Try it out in your own life... if not, that is fine too.  Explore what is true for you! 
A simple way to begin applying this in your own life - check out, internally, what you are about to say.  How does it feel?  Does it feel congruent with your internal beliefs?  Also, don't say something is "ok' if it is not.  If someone asks you to do a favor, like babysit their kids, and it is not convenient..... don't say, "OK."

5 - Take time for stillness!  Stillness is like "magic" that opens up creativity.  Not just in writing or arts.... but in practical every day life.  It helps solve problems, comes up with something fun for the kids to do.....  a new method of washing the dishes.... or a new route to the store!  Here is a link to a  simple stillness exercise you can try yourself!  See if you too can be, "Constantly amazed by the blades of the fan on the ceiling..." as the Jimmy Buffet song says!  Enjoy!

Click here for the Stillness Exercise.

Until next month...
Keep it simple!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stop and Smell the Roses, Bougainvillea... and the Violins

Photo of the month
Bougainvillea, Florida, 2003
Quote of the month:

Go mindless. Breathe. Let go. 
And remind yourself 
that this very moment is 
 the only one you know you have for sure.

This is not a new story - maybe it will be for some of you - either way I came across it again recently and think it is worth revisiting!  It is a true story.  I've double checked on  The story was covered in the Washington Post.  I also love that I briefly worked in this building, though not in 2007.

It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, 2007, the middle of the morning rush hour.   A man emerged from the Metro at the L'Enfant Plaza station and positioned himself against a wall beside the trash can.  By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

In the next 43 minutes, a violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job. L'Enfant Plaza is at the nucleus of federal Washington, and these were mostly mid-level bureaucrats.  

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?

Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.

A half-minute later, the first donation came. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.

Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that he played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look. 

A couple of minutes into it, something revealing happens. A woman and her 3 year old son emerge from the escalator. The woman is walking briskly and, therefore, so is the child. She's got his hand.  He keeps twisting around to look at the musician, as he is being propelled toward the door.

"There was a musician," the mother says, "and my son was intrigued. He wanted to pull over and listen, but I was rushed for time."  So the mother does what she has to do. She deftly moves her body between her son's and the musician's  cutting off her son's line of sight. As they exit, the young boy can still be seen craning to look. 

There is a man who lingers and then stops to listen.  He doesn't know about classical music.... but says, "Whatever it was, it made me feel at peace."  So, for the first time in his life, this man lingers to listen to a street musician. He stays three minutes as 94 more people pass briskly by. When he leaves to help plan contingency budgets for the Department of Energy, there's another first. For the first time in his life, not quite knowing what had just happened but sensing it was special, he gives a street musician money. 

What is the "punch line" in all of this....??  

No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment.  

A one time child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston's stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements. But on that Friday in January, Joshua Bell was just another street musician, competing for the attention of busy people on their way to work.

As always, I am not here to tell anyone what they "should" do.  This month, I am Simply pointing out that beauty is all around us and we often rush past.  An unidentified author poses the question, "If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?" 

If you would like to read the entire story as published in the Washington Post, here is the link...

Here is a video of the experiment.
Or you can also view the video at this link....

Until next month,
Keep it Simple!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Life After Loss... Learn to Live Again

Photo of the Month:
Baby Mourning Dove, Maryland, April 2013
Photo credit:  Mary Pokluda, Bumblebee Personal Assistants

Quote(s) of the Month:
It's been written 
in the scars on our hearts
That we're not broken - just bent
And we can learn to "live" again.
- Pink and nowMy universe will never be the sameI'm glad you came.- The Wanted

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson In Memoriam:27
A mama bird built her nest in the planter right outside my office window.  She and I kept an eye on each other throughout the day.... for several weeks.  I hated to water the plant, as she flew away when I did, but always returned.  One time, I took the planter down to check.... and sure enough, there was one tiny egg in the nest.  Days went by and I started to get worried about the egg... how long did it take for an egg to hatch?  What kind of bird was it anyway?  
One day, a good friend of mine was visiting.  She went to look at the nest and told me it was a "morning" dove.  That day I went to the Internet and searched "morning" dove.  What came up instead was "mourning" dove.  Oooooh... "mourning" not "morning" because of the sound it makes.  How ironic is that?  That a mourning dove perched just outside my window 16 months after my family suffered a great loss?  More time went by.  One day my friend thought the mama bird looked like she was sitting differently in the nest.  My (tall) friend was able to get a photo of Mama and baby without disturbing the planter.  Remarkably, Mama even moved over so we could get the nice photo of her baby (above)!  
We all experience and mourn many losses over our life times.  Hopefully most are not so dramatic as the loss my family suffered in January 2012, but when we think back over the course of our lives and think about times when we felt a sense of loss, there may be more than we realize.  Dr. H. Norman Wright recommends writing a "loss history" to help identify and work through past losses. He suggests including any instances where you might have felt a sense of loss, no matter how unimportant the circumstances seem now.  
He suggests that we broaden our concept of "loss" to include any situation that created emotional turmoil over the loss.  Think of situations beyond death, such as:
  • missed promotions, 
  • friends moving away, 
  • the end of relationship and friendships, 
  • end of marriages, 
  • the death of pets, 
  • job losses, 
  • children leaving home and 
  • lost opportunities. 

You may be able to add a few more to the list.  I think we all, in the USA, suffered the loss of a sense of security on 9/11, which we were recently reminded of after the events at the Boston Marathon.  Each of these situations creates a sense of loss and each must be grieved to a certain extent and released, unless we choose to carry the pain with us forever.
Dr. Wright suggests that one come to the point at which they can say, of each loss, "Yes, that happened to me, but now I'm going on with my life," compared to "Boy, that happened to me, and I'm still stuck in the pain." 
To help express what you are feeling, it may help to share your story with others.  Dr. Wright suggests to follow these steps:
  1. Identify your loss. What did you lose?
  2. Determine your specific feelings about that loss. 
  3. Tell someone: "I'm feeling ---- because of this loss."
Dr. H. Norman Wright suggests that public affirmation and recognition of what one goes through helps legitimize the loss.  A Simple way to do this is through a support group of some type.      
Volunteering or assisting others may also help ease the pain of loss.  I recently attended a memorial service for fallen law enforcement officers.  One of the speakers talked about how she was in her mid 20's when she married and had only been married for 6 weeks when her husband was killed on the job.  Suddenly she was a widow at a time when the day before her life appeared full of opportunity.  She said that he didn't have a choice, but she did..... and "to waste her life would be a sin!"  She went on to become the president of an organization that assists families of fallen law enforcement officers.  The organization is COPS - Concerns of Police Survivors  
The day I took my friend from the baby bird experience to the airport, on the return trip, 2 different songs played 3 times on the radio on my way home.  (Different stations, but still rather ironic given it was only a 40 minute drive!)  By the 3rd time I started to pay attention to the lyrics.... they are in the quotes above.  I adapted Pink's lyrics just a bit... hopefully she won't mind too much!  : )   When we are grieving a loss, it feels like we are "broken."  Pink's reminder is that we are not broken, we are still here... we are just "bent."  Much as the woman whose husband was killed after 6 weeks of marriage... not living - or believing we are broken - would be a waste of our lives.  
My interpretation of the next song and quote is that I am incredibly grateful to have known the people that have been lost.... (I'm glad you came, I will never be the same!) and it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all according to Tennyson.  In one of the sympathy cards I received, a friend, who had been widowed wrote that "One day the pain of grief will be replaced with joy of having known the person."  Honestly, I am not there all of the time.... not every day... but I see that as a possibility one day!  If your loss is fresh, give yourself time but remember and trust the words that were written in that card.... as I do.  
Most of all.... it is also OK to learn to live again. This little baby bird didn't even know I was keeping an eye on him.... but somehow this new life inspired me to find new life and new energy in my own situation. Two days later, when I went to show someone else the bird... Mama and baby were gone.  She had taught him how to fly!  
My Simple suggestion this month is to consider the losses in your own life as Dr. Wright suggests.  See if there are any losses you might be carrying around with you.... that might be holding you back.  If so, find a good friend and talk about it, write out what you are feeling in a journal or try some of the other suggestions listed here.  Try to get the emotional piece out, so you can become "un-bent."  Appreciate the person or situation for what you gained from going through it or knowing them.  Also know that when it is time.... find new energy in your own life, learn to fly like the baby bird did and learn to live again! 
Until next month,Keep it Simple!