So it looks like spring may finally be on its way. We've had a cold and wet winter this year which was welcome to many but was also possibly a bit trying to those who enjoy the usual mild and sunny Southern California winters. Weather can so often have an impact on our emotions, our spirits and our energy. There is something about the coming of spring, the budding of flowers, songs of the myriad of birds that serenade us throughout the day. It's uplifting and spiritually can be a time of change and growth. If the past few months have been difficult, maybe now is the time to get out into the sunshine, enjoy the blue skies and soak in the beauty of spring. Throughout the southland there are flowers galore, with super bloom locations just a short drive away. Head to the coast for a warm walk on the sand and simply watch the sun sparkle off the water. Find a park to smell the grass, sit in the shade and watch people enjoying the outdoors. Guaranteed, it will bring a spring to your step and a feeling of re-birth and new direction.
Thanksgiving, or even Halloween if you have children in your life, begins a long stretch of holidays that can be very time consuming, emotionally and even physically as we move back and forth for visits, family dinners, business gatherings, volunteer activities and holiday celebrations of all types. Christmas, New Years, a stream of government holidays with trips planned, it doesn't see to stop. However, once Valentine's Day comes and goes things seem to take a breather, a calming of social commitments and pressures from the intensity of the past months. So why not make this time a holiday for you? Use the quieter calendar to plan some ways to de-stress and celebrate calm. This is especially important for people who have come through this time mourning the loss of someone who is usually a part of the season. The best gift you can give yourself is time to recover. Here are some things you can do to help:
1. Say no to social engagements that you really don't want to attend. Sometimes a little alone time can be a good thing.
2. Consider taking 10 - 20 minutes each day for meditation or reflection.
3. Cut down on exposures to electronics - unless it is some quiet calming music.
4. Make sure you get your sleep - maybe even sleep-in on a weekend or two.
5. Reflect on the past few months and survey what you might want to eliminate from your holiday schedule next year or things you didn't do, that would would make the season more enjoyable for you.
Most importantly, use your days for reflection and relaxation. This way you'll emerge from these hectic, crazy months with a serenity and calmness that will guide you through the rest of the year.
Valentine's Day Can Be Difficult For Those Who Have Lost a Partner or Spouse
Holidays mark the calendar throughout the year. When grieving, some of these holidays are more difficult to manage through than others. Valentine's Day can be especially hard for those who have lost a partner or spouse as this is the holiday that speaks to romantic love. We can't make these days just disappear, so finding ways to get through them with the least amount of sorrow will be of great benefit.
In an article written by Glen Lord on the Grief Toolbox website, he provided some very sound suggestions that we would like to share to help those who may be anticipating a difficult Valentine's Day. Here are a few:
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government body. His or her purpose is to compose or choose poems to recite at special events and occasions for the community in which they have been named. The Italians were the first to use poet laureates and in Britain the poet is also paid for his/her service. In 2018, for the first time in its history, Anaheim has appointed a Poet Laureate, Grant Hier. Grant and his wife Laura are long time residents of Anaheim. Hier is a creative writing professor at Laguna College of Art + Design in Laguna Beach and has published several collections including his book "Untended Garden", about Southern California history and culture, which won him the Prize Americana award. His latest publication, Similitude, a poetry collection, was launched in late 2018. Poetry can often reach into places in our hearts and minds and bring peace in times of sorrow and joy. To take advantage of the postings and work Grant is doing as our City's first poet laureate, you can visit ghier.com or follow him on Facebook(Grant Hier) or Instagram (anaheim_poet).
Since its January, we can't get the word resolution out of our mind. We hear it every year at this time and in fact, usually about this time of month we find out just how many of those resolutions we can't keep. Maybe one of the reasons is that January 1st brings around a long to-do list of things we find really hard or just plain don't want to do. Goals and resolutions may be good for us, but they aren't always easy. That's a lot of pressure. In our last blog, we mentioned some resolutions that that may help if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, we hope these may give you comfort. But as we were contemplating resolutions, we looked up the definition - the firm decision to do or NOT DO something. That second part is often left out. Curious. Can you think of things that you do that if you stopped doing them, you would feel a bit better? Maybe a family tradition that only makes you sad, or a friend that really isn't a friend or a task that doesn't need to be done, but you've just always done it. Take some time and think about it. What can you resolve NOT to do that will change your life for the better? We don't mean just NOT eating sweets, but something that speaks to your soul that lets you release a burden that will make life in 2019 just that much better.
If you have lost a loved one this year, especially in the recent past, the start of the New Year may be the perfect beginning to make some changes that will help you manage your grief as the months progress. Here are a dozen suggestions for New Year's Resolutions that may bring you comfort as you move forward with your life and your memories.
1. Be honest with how you feel, not only with others, but with yourself.
2. Speak freely, your loved one's name.
3. Live in a way that your loved one would have wanted you to.
4. Support someone else.
5. Seek professional help and learn about the process of grief.
6. Be open to happiness and let go of guilt when you feel joyful or are enjoying life (this one is hard).
7. Give away belongings that only increase your grief.
8. Journal on a regular basis or blog if you feel like sharing your thoughts with others.
9. Donate your time or financial support to a cause that was important to your loved one.
10. Read more, find a hobby, walk more, learn something new.
11. Get more sleep
12. Speak your mind and don't feel like you have to be strong. Don't be afraid to reach out to someone else.
It's a New Year, a new beginning, resolve to make it the best it can be.
The holidays and grief are an unwelcome pairing. There is no time that is easy to grieve, but for a season filled with reunions of family and friends, songs of joy and celebration, remembering our loved ones and the fact that they are not here to share these times with us, can be unbearable. There are plenty of good resources to help you through these weeks, however, one suggestion in all we've read stands out as a very good idea that has the potential of healing for more than just the season. The idea is to start a new tradition in honor of those we have lost. Traditions are about family, and friends. They are reoccurring events or deeds that bind us together with purpose and memories. By changing the focus of the way you celebrate the season, you can move in a new direction based on what may have been important to your loved one. You can still enjoy the meaning of the season and join it with the loving memories you have of those who have passed. So think hard about what they might want as a new tradition for celebration. Will it be something to make you laugh, a generous gift to a favorite charity, time spent on a cause that was important to them? Consider something that will allow you to spend time with the people you love, something that will make you feel connected. Sharing your talents and time can lift your spirit and bring your family together. The options are endless and can be inspiring and will give your tradition a new sense of meaning. The focus placed on something new that blends memories of the past can be healing in itself. This season, try not to hold in your grief, but shout out the love and joy you had with the loved one you lost - for all to remember and treasure this holiday season and for many to come.
When you are feeling blue or mourning the loss of someone dear in your life, happiness can be hard to come by during a season that focuses on being merry. Turning to your family as a support system to get you through the upcoming weeks can be the best answer. Consider reaching out to your family to assist you in making decisions regarding the traditions and tasks that you usually take on during the holidays. Make a list of all the things that you traditionally do such as buying gifts, decorating your tree and/or house, sending Christmas Cards, reaching out to old friends, volunteering your time at church or a local organization, going to parties. Have a good look at the list and see what is still important to you or what you might be able to forego this year. Then have an honest and upfront conversation with your family seeking their assistance with these tasks before the stresses of the holiday season get everyone out of balance. Taking these steps early on will bring back some of the joy that has gone missing while the memories of a loved one lost weighs heavy on your mind.
A few Thanksgiving holidays ago, I received a small card in the mail from a friend. The message was short and quite simple. It read "Thank you for being in my life. I am grateful for you everyday." Wow! That made an impact on me. During this season everywhere we look we see messages wishing us "Happy Thanksgiving"; from advertisers hoping for huge Black Friday sales, on social media with cute dancing turkey GIFs and with decorations in stores, businesses and homes. There is so much focus on the day, the dinner, the pies, the relatives flying in from out of town, so much to take our minds off what is the very simple message of this wonderful holiday....to give thanks. Maybe this year, if you have time before the day when loved ones gather, think about a few special people, maybe those who may be alone on Thanksgiving. Is there a way you can say thank you to them, for being a special part of your life?
You may have heard of the Mexican holiday, Diá de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and thought that it was simply a Mexican version of Halloween. The holiday is actually a multi-day celebration, coinciding with Halloween, the American holiday on October 31, All Saints' Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. Diá de los Muertos is rich in Mexican culture and is an important holiday to honor and remember those who have passed away. Up until recently, many people were not aware of the true meaning of Diá de los Muertos, which includes celebrations filled with colorful painted skeletons known as Calavera Catrinas. But recently, the Disney animated movie "Coco" gave a glimpse into the rich traditions of this holiday. If you have not seen the movie, it is a wonderful, colorful, loving look at the way families and friends gather together to remember those who have died and help them through their spiritual journey. The holiday includes celebrating by setting up altars, visiting and tending grave sites, writing poetry and decorating with calaveras. Traces of this celebration can be found back as far as the Aztec culture. How can you join in Diá de los Muertos? Find a community near you that is celebrating or simply take time to reflect on loved ones lost to you and wish them well on their journey home.