Surviving Flo

Its been a while my friends. I started a new position at my job and it has been an adjustment. I really am loving it it though.

I was driving to work this morning and on the radio they were talking about the Hurricane that hit us exactly 6 months ago today. I said to myself, WOW that went by fast! Of course it made me think of everything that went on the week leading up to the storm and the weeks after.  I thought about all the emotions I had during this time. The anxiousness, the sadness, the not knowing, the what if, The fuck, my house may not be here when we get back…..  What an experience!  The Hurricane.

I learned so much from this event, I hurt the people I love because of the feelings I had.  I was selfish and stubborn, I secluded myself. It was nothing I have ever felt before. Through all the counseling I have been through, you would have thought something from that would have helped me. It was like the whole situation consumed me and there was no going back. I thought the worst even though I preach being positive.  This Storm (Florence) made me a better person. It made me realize that everything we have can be replaced, family and my loved ones cant. I wish I handled the storm better, I wish I just took an extra minute or two and just thought about what was in front of me.  Although FLO knocked me out in the beginning, I’m a better man today because of her. I know now what I was like and I will never want to go back there.

Memories of being a child

My youngest daughter asked the other night at dinner.

“Mama, Daddy”Do you like being an adult? It made us both think. Of course we both answered yes, but deep down I miss being a kid. My daughter then said, I don’t want to be an adult, cause you have to work and pay bills and can’t play much…. My wife and I just giggled, and said yup!

One question for you to ask/ answer. Can an adult grieve being a kid? I sure think so. It may sound funny but I miss it most when it snows in other places that we either lived in or know people that live there. Growing up in Jersey we had a lot of snow. I would get all excited to shovel and make the mounds of snow. The snow ball fights, the snow angels. I also didn’t mind driving in it. Sounds crazy I know, maybe it has something to do with my interest in weather overall. When I was a kid I wanted to go to school and study meteorology. You know that blogging from paradise guy right? My cousin Ryan. He actually studied it in college. He interned at a NJ news station. Maybe that was what interested me in it more.

It snowed here in NC last year, we got 4 in over night. It was something my oldest daughter dreamt of and it happened. She was overjoyed and wanted to play in it all day. I lived vigorously through her since I couldn’t play with them cause of work. Missing being a kid is something some adults grieve. Keeping the memories of being a kid just makes me smile. Reminiscing over stories with our kids helps me bring me back to those days. Running around playing games, getting called home when the street light comes on is what I did as a kid.

Good grievings- taking not only the memories of your loved ones with you, but also taking the memories you have made from being a kid and growing up with you to make your heart and soul happy.

Grief comes in MANY different ways

I have connected with so many cool, happy, positive, hip people over past 2 years.  There are few that I have been in contact with on a normal basis.  I thought it would be cool to ask them to write a blog for me to share on here.  I asked them to write about how they dealt or deal with Grief in their world.  Here is what they had to say.

This first post is from the one and only Jazz  She is an awesome soul, who I have got to know through Ash   Jazz tells it like it is, and is a great person to talk to.  In this post Jazz talks about the 3 ways she has dealt with grief after her Grandfather passed away.

Title: 3 Self-Care Strategies To Heal During Grief

When my grandfather passed away in December 2016, I felt that type of anxiety of having to drop everything and rush back home to New York. I dreaded the cold blistering air and dealing with respiratory issues didn’t make the situation any easier. Besides the weather, was the impending depressing feeling of witnessing an open casket. All of these emotions mounted as I felt my body and spirit slip into a state of numbness, seclusion, and sadness.

Grief has a way of impacting our physical health. Everything from appetite loss to emotional eating habits to anxiety, grief can cause an individual to avoid feeling the bittersweet emotions and the grief that comes with; doing so, can put a toll on one’s health in the long-term.

But even with that awareness, there is no way to avoid grief. Whether we like it or not, it is a part of this journey we call Life. I’ll admit, having to come to this conclusion took some time to understand. It served as the basis for me to seek solutions towards overcoming the grief in healthier ways.

I do believe that we can incorporate helpful self-care practices that can promote well-being so we can live our lives to the fullest. It can help to ease the grief as we recount and honor the beloved ones who have departed.

Below are three self-care practices that can help to foster self-healing in simple ways:

  • Welcome Feelings and Watch Them Go

Rather than running away from the emotions of grief, face and fell into it. Keeping them bottled up will only allow it to come back again and ruin your day. Sometimes, those very same feelings can come back with intensity. So embrace those feelings of heartache, depression, sadness, shock, and loss and acknowledge their presence.  Allow the tears to flow and the emotions to purge. In addition, give yourself a reasonable time and space to go through this process.

  • Get Out in Nature

One of the best things about meditating outdoors is feeling the warmth of the Sun. When my grandfather past away, I felt so much peace being in solitude outside in nature especially near the avocado tree he planted. It should come as no surprise that getting outside in nature to take in the fresh air is comforting and can be helpful during the grieving process. You can connect with the Earth in many ways using most of your senses: walk barefoot on the grass, breathe in the fresh air, watch the calming waters of a lake or stream, and listen to the birds’ songs. This connection allows you to centered yourself and find immense comfort.

  • Keep On Moving

The act of movement can help to release underlying grief while making your body stronger. Dancing, for example, is a fun way to channel out built-up stress and negative emotions. If dancing is not your forte, consider yoga, tai chi, pilates or some other mind-body exercises to help let go of the physical stress behind your emotions. Alternatively, even going to the gym for weightlifting can work just as well.

Grief is inevitable. However, by redirecting the low energy and choosing to foster a healthy practice is important and beneficial to our well-being. Our restoration with grief lies in the choices we make for ourselves. Be sure to make it a healthy one.

Warmest regards,

Jazz

The Second post was written by my man Bryan Taylor. I met him for the first time through a podcast I did with Soul Gab with Ash and Jazz. He is a real cool dude with a lot of great stuff, be sure to check him out.   In this post Bryan writes about grief and how it pertains to him through work and relationships. He gives a different perspective, that you don’t just grieve a lost loved one.

    I was asked a couple of weeks ago to write a blog about grieving. When thinking about this, there are many ways of thinking of or looking at grieving. There’s losing someone close to you. There’s being forced to remove people from your life & the hurt that may come from releasing that person. The list goes on & on. I think writing this about the willingness to ignore grieving since I experienced this nearly a year ago, what happens when you lose a job (or are let go) & you are supposed to take time to get through that loss of being employed until finding another job. 

I’m actually going to break down ignoring the grieving from two different perspectives. The first is what I mentioned in the previous section regarding being fired & not really taking time to deal with the fact that you’re unemployed. The second direction of ignoring grieving is one that I have told numerous times regarding how hard it is for us to just enjoy being single and alone (NOT LONELY, because that’s something I’ve seen get people in trouble without knowing it). I’m gonna do my best to slow-walk these pieces & find a way to make them relatable to real life. So, without further ado, here we go.

As I briefly mentioned, nearly a year ago, I experienced a blind side form of grief. I went to work on a regular day. I was brought in for a discussion with my then-manager & noticed another manager was there (for witnessing), & I wasn’t really putting the pieces together. The main way to put it was that I had errors that caught up to me, which caused me to be let go. I was and still am accountable for that portion. When it happened, I didn’t take any days or time to myself and just feel hurt by being out of work. I started going online looking for a job, applying for unemployment, & going through the process. I had to realize that regardless, the chapter is still being written, even if I’m sitting and stopping. Luckily, I was able to bounce back within a couple of months, & despite that not working out, I got back to my drawing board & returned somewhere that always felt like & was considered home. I think that this stage of not grieving helped me to push and press forward. You may not see it as grief, but it was definitely a point of not grieving and being forced to get me in the right place for my future.

The other side of the grieving coin (that I still regret to this day) is how I never gave my heart time to heal. I was calling myself being in love. I even talked about this on my podcast. I shared how it was mostly me dating someone, getting involved, and when it was or wasn’t going right, we would call it quits. Instead of giving my mind, heart, and SPIRIT time to heal, I was basically on to the next one. One of the relationships shouldn’t have happened whatsoever. The final one was the one that caused me to be extremely patient with myself. I think that we sometimes are put in situations that cause us to wonder what we did wrong, & once we find out that reasoning and factor, then it all comes into place. I am constantly humbled by life, but I think this humbling is what caused me to really remember that it’s not all about me. I had dated once after that lack of grieving, & coincidentally, I took a HUGE break. It’s a VERY selfish break. I am glad that I did. This is the true point of learning how to grieve. Being single does consist of trying to be lonely. That’s what I pointed out earlier…the difference between being alone & being lonely. You choose to be lonely if you’re not willing to witness that there are people around you who are in your corner. That’s just the best way to see it. Anyways, I hope everyone enjoyed this blog. I will definitely be working harder on improving me & everything around me. Until next time, this is BT signing out.

Grief can go kick rocks

Grief really cant kick rocks, but if you don’t take care of yourself it can kick your butt….

A friend from High school past away last week. It was a shock to me even though I knew he was ill, but not ill to the point of him passing on.  The first thing I said to myself was “here we go again”  How am I going to deal with this?  Although, we haven’t spoke much since HS, we stayed in contact through FB.  I wasn’t able to attend the services since I live three states away and all the the other logistics of it. I’m stilling asking myself, how can I deal?  My anxiety was greatly elevated.  One of the ways I was able to make myself better and make my presence felt was by sending flowers.  It was nothing to big, but it was something.  I also reached out to one of his best friends in a message.  I always feel drawn to comfort others in time of grief,  In a way it comforts me….. Interesting huh?

The day of the service, I wasn’t myself.  Whenever someone dies that I either know or I am close to it brings up old feelings. Its like I played the service in my mind. I analyze things sometimes way to much. I can remember my mothers funeral from beginning to end.  Its sucks, I know but it makes me stronger. We all know you cant suppress grief, you have to let it takes it course. I was able to deal with the loss of my friend by focusing myself on helping his closer friends deal with grief. It makes my soul happy knowing that they  know they aren’t dealing with his loss alone.

He was loved by many and was a kind soul.  He will be greatly missed, but the memories I have will always make me smile.   Take the memories of your lost loved ones with you where ever you go.

 

Counseling, The best choice I made

After my mom died I was so distracted by many things.  Work, helping my dad, school, then my dad having surgery and a bit after becoming handicapped. It wasn’t till  3 years later when I realized I needed help.  Fortunately through my job I had an EAP contact (Employee Assistance Program)  If you aren’t familiar with this, its a 24 hour service some companies provide where you can not only receive free sessions of counseling, but they also help with other things. They also give you lists of counselors who are contracted under the EAP, which is great bonus. I’m grateful for this program since I really haven’t had to pay for much counseling over the past 16 years.  I, like many people was skeptical about going to counseling. After the first couple sessions, I knew I needed to be there.   This counselor I had was outstanding.  She was very understanding and got me through the most troubling times.  She is one of those people in life that you just wont forget.  I was going to see her at least 2-3 times a week and than it was scaled back based on 1.insurance and 2. How I was responding to the service.

I went to her for about 6 years in person. Years 2-3 was really when I  felt like I needed to go often. Each time I went I felt like a new person. As you know by now if you have been following along. I moved out of New Jersey and onto AZ. I kept in touch with the same counselor and we did our sessions over the phone, which after a while started not working out,  It just wasn’t the same.  After about a year I found another person to go speak with.  That didn’t last to long. I’m big on first impressions and we weren’t on the same page. Its one thing to get someone you like, but you also have to work well together to get anything out of the sessions.

Through all this counseling, I would always tell myself I didn’t want to go to counseling for the rest of my life. After so many appointments I thought I can just get through it myself, turns out I really cant.   I wound up finding another counselor through EAP and he really brought the light to why I couldn’t handle it all myself.   There seemed to be an underlying issue that wasn’t being dealt with and when something bigger happened that underlying fire was lit. It wasn’t until then I realized I needed to deal with the underlying issue. More on that underlying issue at a later time…. I’m forever grateful to this counselor, for he called me out on my shit and was absolutely right about it.   Some people need that, Don’t they?  Now I’m here in this great City Of Wilmington, still going to counseling periodically and trying my hardest to deal with the issues at hand. I have come a long way, and I truly believe that without the counseling I have had and will have I wouldn’t be who I am now.

The main reason I chose to write about this today is because I know there are plenty of people out there contemplating counseling.  I know there a people on my twitter feed that are on the fence about going also.  You can’t force someone to go, but if you are reading this and you are one of these people I would strongly consider it.  It could be a life changer, as it was for me.

If you have gone to counseling and or going to a counselor, I would love to hear about your experience it doesn’t have be personal. I love to hear about how others are bettering themselves.   Thank you for the continued support, I’m off to my counseling session =)

 

 

Good Grievings is support in extra innings

I found a blog online earlier that really hit home.  He wrote about how when someone passes, the influx of support is insane. The phone calls, messages,visitors etc are in abundance.  Then after a couple weeks, poof its gone besides a selected few.

The day I found out my mom died I was at school. I received the page on my beeper (that was a thing 19yrs ago) I called the number back and my dad said he was at the hospital and that he needed me there, but didn’t tell me what was going on. Since I had taken the bus to school his friend who was a security guard had someone pick me up.  The guy who picked me up didn’t say a word, which made the drive even longer. It wasn’t like the driver could tell me, Even if he did know what happened. We arrive at the hospital and there stands My Dad, my sister, my sisters godmother and godfather, The security guard and a nurse who was another friend of the family.  I get out of the van and my Dad says Tom, your Mother had an episode and she didn’t make it. What does an 18 year old feel after hearing those words. Everyone grabbed me not knowing if I was gonna run or what. I wound up punching the brick wall outside the emergency room. This caused me to have a dislocated knuckle and the doctors wanting me to get a tetanus shot.  I’m like what else could go wrong…..

We were at the hospital for a while, I don’t remember much after that. What I do remember vividly after leaving the hospital  is us getting home and the people that were already at the house.  My mom was a 911 dispatcher and she knew people (anyone from New Jersey knows people)  #igottaguy #iknowaguy lol.  I had friends already waiting for us. My godfather was already at the house in the kitchen. My godmothers brother is a cop in the town that we used to live in, that’s how I’m assuming he found out.  That day my mom died was so surreal. The amount of people coming and going was a gift that you never expect to happen. We had endless food, endless hugs, endless support.

The funeral was set for a Sunday, two hours in the afternoon and two hours at night.  The stream of people that came to pay their respects seemed to take forever. It just shows how much my mom was well respected, and how many people wanted  to be there not only for us but for themselves.  The next day was the service at the church. We get to the funeral home and a lot of the people returned to pay their final respects. We had a little service and on to the church, it was with a police escort of course.  As we walk into the church my Dad and I looked at each other and said WOW.  The amount of people that were at the church was jaw dropping.  The church had 4 sections to it, and it was packed.  The main seating area was packed full with everyone we know. It felt like half of the high school that my Sister, Mom and I went to was there.

After the church service we proceeded to the cemetery and then on to the re-pass, which is where most people would come to eat and decompress and talk.  We had whoever wanted to go to the  re-pass come back to our house to eat.  I don’t even remember who helped set that up, but I’m still grateful.  As the Re-pass started to wind down, and people starting leaving. Real life started to set in, the house felt empty, even though we still had some friends there. There was No MOM to be called anymore.  This is when we just wished people wold stay and never leave.  They had to leave though, Others had to get on with their lives and get back on track.  As John Pavlovitz says and I quote

Which is so true,  I’m not saying no one was there for us after the dust settled. You do  really learn who your true friends and family are after the fact.  There were some people who fell off the face of earth.  They either didn’t know how deal with my mom not being here or didn’t know how to communicate with us like they used to.   Its OK, I know it happens all the time.  People act strange when people die. Its apart of their process.   The weeks and months and years after was interesting to say the least…. I’ll leave that for another session.  Until next time.

‘‘Twas the night before Christmas”

As I sit here and reminisce on the past as a kid at Christmas, I remember all the great things we did and I smile. Of course it’s not the same now having 2 beautiful girls of my own. Traditions change, new memories are made. Although one tradition I have kept is reading the same book “The night before Christmas” that my parents read to me on my first Christmas. The rule was, when I have my first kid I read it to him or her. When my oldest has her first boy or girl. She will do the same.

I love reading “the book” (as we called it growing up) to them. I hope every year that I don’t start tearing up when I read it, and every year I don’t. My girls either ask a question about it or talk about Santa… it’s always something that gets me distracted. Quick story: My mom always read the book to us, so the first year after she passed we were like, ” man reading the book this year is gonna be hard” We get to Christmas Eve in 2000. My dad started to read and he messes up reading the book so bad that we were hysterically laughing. Like laughing so hard we were crying. We eventually got through it but my dad took forever. He couldn’t even keep reading cause we were laughing so hard. I wound up finishing it.

My mom was so animated when she read it, that it must have been so awkward for my dad. But what a great story to always remember. These are the stories that help me get through. These are the goodgrievings that help me get through the sad times. So on this Christmas Eve if you are sad and your heart hurts like mine has a few times today, think of a happy times that you had with the loved one that passed. I hope that it makes you smile and maybe laugh. Remember that they are with you, even if you aren’t open to it.

Merry Christmas my friends. Thank you for being who you are!

My soul is happy

I just wanted to say thank you for all the support I have received over the past year and half. I have met so many cool people on social media and that continues to grow.

Quick story: This lady came to my store last week, she was wanting to print some Christmas cards. She was asking me how it works so I started to help her. She picked a design and then I helped her add a photo to the card. The picture was of her dog, that I found out she adopted 8 years ago. She said this is the first year my husband and I aren’t on a Christmas card. You see her husband had passed away in September while they were evacuated from the hurricane. I continued to help as she started talking about him and how they were together for a long time. I don’t know what is it about my being, but others seem to know I’m a great listener when it comes to taking about grief and loved ones passing on. And these people don’t even know me 🤔. We kept chatting as I was helping her and I mentioned my mom passed away and she says “O so, you know” I responded, yes I do know, and I’m sorry that you have to deal with this now. I could see her day was a little brighter just by talking to me and of course because her Christmas cards came out so well. We finished our convo and she was ever so grateful for my help. She kept saying “thank you”. I gave her cards and shook her hand. I told her have a Merry Christmas and enjoy as much as you can.

I was meant to start doing all of this. The blog, the twitter, the podcast, thank you @soulgabashjazz. My first interview, thank you @chriswick_. So Grateful!

Faith and grieving

I was on Twitter this morning.  I read a tweet that asked,  If you have  stronger faith, does that make the grieving process easier?   I’m sure this question will get plenty of different responses. The answer for me though is No. It didn’t make it easier for me because even though I had been involved in the church growing up, I felt GOD had let me down by taking my Mom away from me. Even after all I did and believed in.  Some people think of faith as not only in God, but faith in themselves to do things with their life. Or faith that they can do crazy things like move cross-country twice =)

I grew up going to church every Sunday at 9am.  My sister and I  went to the same catholic school from kindergarten to 8th grade. We also both went to same catholic high school our mom went to.  My parents were a big part of the church, As they went on retreats and volunteered for almost everything. My sister and I did all the sacraments, and Sunday school. My families faith in God was real and it seemed like nothing could break it. When we got older and I went into High School we stopped going to church all the time. This didn’t mean our faith in the church, God and each other wasn’t still there.  We grew away from the every Sunday mass. I still used to go by myself, since the church that was apart of my HS was down the block from our old house.

My first ever job was working in the church on Sunday mornings. I used to set up for all 4 services. I made sure the priest’s garments were out and all the things were lined up. Even though I got paid for it, I felt there was more, I even thought about becoming a priest while working there. I was 17 and had no clue what I wanted to do with my life yet.  I was going to school, playing basketball, working on Sundays and doing homework.   I kept working in the church until I graduated from high school.  8 months after that is when my MOM died.  My faith hit rock bottom.  I was obviously angry at first, I was angry at GOD for taking my Mom from me.  Maybe it was because I was young when it happened and I didn’t know any better. Maybe my faith wasn’t as strong as I thought it was. You are probably asking yourself, Why be mad at God?  He is the one you should turn to in times like this, and not be mad at him.  It took me a long time to understand that you can’t be mad at God for taking a loved one from you, even though that is what makes most sense at that time. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some days I have anger about this. In those times I remind myself that I might not be where I am today if my mom was still here. I might not be the man I am today if it wasn’t for this tragedy. Had I been older when my mom passed, maybe my answer to the question above would have been yes. I still do have faith in God, even though I haven’t been in a catholic church since my sister passed almost 10 yrs ago.

I would love to hear what your answer would be to the question above and why. Send me a message and let me know. I want to thank  @maryanne_pope  her site is thepinkgazelle.com  for the inspiration on this post.  I absolutely love what she posts to her feed and love her site.

 

Finding Your Inner Spark After Trauma With Tom Biddulph

Here’s is an interview I did yesterday. I thought I would share it again. It’s very insightful. It actually took me longer than I thought to answer. Chris has some great questions that he came up with. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. I’m looking to do this more in the near future.

Hi, Tom. It’s a pleasure to get a chance to interview you after all of these months of interacting with each other! I’m glad we finally have a chance to&nbsp
— Read on www.chriswickinnovation.com/single-post/2018/11/23/Finding-Your-Inner-Spark-After-Trauma-With-Tom-Biddulph