Tuesday, August 17, 2021

This is Life - A Lesson from Nature

 

It's all right here XO
I went out under the moon in the wee hours last night after I'd been working, to take a break before sleep. I often like to go out and clip a few little flowers and sniff the fresh air, so I did. Brought them in and filled my little bunny who lives on my desk, carrying tiny blossoms to make my heart sing.

Today I looked at it and realized that it tells the story of LIFE. There's no escaping it. Like the Dutch Masters' paintings of long, long ago of flower arrangements with fruit, flies, bugs, decay, and spectacular perfection, it's all there, the whole ball of wax. We can edit our "presentation" or representation of ourselves all we want on social media, but underneath it all, we each experience the whole ball of wax, and I for one, won't deny the existence of any of it.

In this image, what I saw was the detritus that has fallen from the beautiful rose that was in full flower when I picked it, but fell, once it was away from its roots. Little tiny flecks of what I had to ask my husband about. He told me that what had fallen was called the "anther" or the vehicle that holds the pollen for the bees and insects to carry away - the pollen that brings life. The shedding of the anther represents to me, our physical bodies that carry our spirits, soaring through life, and when we're done, we drop them.

The little pink bud on my desk tugs at my heart, and represents possibility that doesn't come to fruition. Some of us know that story way too well.

Vulnerability and Strength

As I continued to look at this beautiful little bouquet I noticed that the rose on the right had some scars. Oh it wafts out the most gorgeous spicy fragrance, but one of its petals has been consumed to some degree by some creature who now has been nourished by its offerings. Some might think this mars the perfection of the blossom, but to my mind, it shows that we can continue to shine and be quite glorious, as well as give some of ourselves to others in need. We can rock that, and not be ashamed of it. It's like wrinkles on an Elder's face. So beautiful. Why feel ashamed of our imperfections when we've earned them through our giving and our love?

I love that the little bud sits right next to this ongoing cycle of life, the bud is the promise, the beginning, the innocence.

Secret foundations XO

Then I turned my little glass vial held by the rabbit and discovered a pristine red rose with a little bud sitting next to it. And to me, this represents what underlies everything, beauty, faith, possibility happening, growth, the cycles of life. I feel a sense of constancy from it. It says to me, "You couldn't see me from the other side, but step into a different perspective, and TA DA, Here I am! And I'll always be here on the other side of what you think you can see."

Hm, quite a gift, this little moonlight bouquet.

Keep the faith peeps. And remember to let yourself view things from different perspectives if ever in doubt. The beauty isn't always right up front, but it's there all right. It's there.

In love and light, Namaste
~Jen



Thursday, August 5, 2021

I Don't Know How to Gossip!

I might like it....

The kids gave my husband a lovely book for us to read and digest and discuss called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. It's interesting.

The author writes about many things, one of which is gossiping. His contention is that it is foundational to culture and society and the hub around which all organizations, groups, and institutions revolve, and even thrive.

Welp, I didn't get that memo. Does everyone know how to gossip? Do you know how? Do you do that? Is it a good thing? I've heard so much about the subject, and been the subject "of" it a million times in my life, having moved all over the world about every two years, and sometimes more often than that, so I was always "the new kid on the block." Great fodder for gossip since I was always "different."

The new kid on the block, if she's smart, doesn't talk much, she listens. Well it took me a long time to get smart, so I opened my mouth and spit out what I had been taught: "Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, and great minds discuss ideas," attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. She was quite something if you know anything about her hidden history. And if you knew her history you'd not be able to resist gossiping about her.

Throughout all my working years, my career years, I was taught by my father (early on) to be task oriented. Get the job done. Do an excellent job. Focus. Learn. Teach. Work hard. Don't waste your time. Don't waste anyone else's time.

I'd lived in big cities for much of my life, then moved to a small town when I was in my late 30s. Hm. That was quite different, and peeps got along by talking about other peeps a LOT. I just listened. I think I judged them too, my bad. Leaning into early admonishment about ideas vs. people.

What Harari proposes is interesting. And I would agree that this IS what happens. And now I understand why I wasn't the sunshine kid on the block. Peeps didn't know what to make of me because I didn't know how to join in the gossip.

And I often made the mistake of sticking up for the underdog they were gossiping about, oops. But I still do that every time. If it's nice talk I'm in. If it's throwing people under the bus, welp, that's been done to me so many times you'd think I'd be flat as a pancake, but pasta, bread, cheese, and good wine help me to avoid that. Not flat. But still stickin' up for the underdog.

Because through all the adventures of my life I've learned not to judge, and that every single person has the right to choose to be who and what they are at any given moment. It's not my business to stick my nose in.

I haven't yet decided if this is a good decision on my part. To stick my neck out, to stand with the underdogs, to admit that sometimes I'm the underdog, very loyal, friendly, love those pats and belly rubs, but not a biter, no not for me. My teeth were put there to chomp meat and grind grains and mush up veggies and fruits for nourishment.

And the best nourishment of all, I have found, is LOVE.

Can there be love in gossip? 

Maybe.

It's not a club I miss. I prefer celebration of others. All the happies. Me and my rose-colored glasses.

Your reputation is safe with me XO!

That's all.

Namaste





Thursday, May 20, 2021

Creepy Fun Monkey Tales

THE MONKEY LAMP!
So the theme of my house, in all the rooms, is Nature. And that covers plants, floral and naturey fabrics, all kinds of animals and green men and goddesses and all things fairy tale. A couple of years ago I bought this creepy monkey lamp on ebay, and the quest for the right lampshades began. I bought the classic small red "normal" ones you'd imagine on there but they didn't fit. So he sat in the basement waiting for me to find the right shades for him.

We were out shopping for the kids recently, and I bought another set of shades, again, they didn't fit. So creepy monkey lamp sat in the basement, w a i t i n g. Then ROB was doing some online surfing and he happens to be a really great shopper. He discovered on Zazzle, lampshades with designs that make you drool they're so beautiful. Very old world. Very Phryne Fisher, and if you haven't seen the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, they're absolutely not to be missed. The teardrop gemstone earrings I make are inspired by Phryne Fisher! You can get them at Art a la Carte in Bellefonte : )

So we chose our pattern and ordered them. And they arrived. And they are so weird Rob had to rewire monkey lamp with new special sockets so they'd sit on them (they have a ring inside and require a special socket to "sit" on). I'm so glad he knows how to do this. So NOW creepy monkey lamp is all happy in Rob's Indiana Jones home office, and I LOVE IT! 

I didn't realize how many monkeys I have around the house, and actually it's all Torey and Gaby's fault, because they visited one of the oldest forests in the world down in South America, and sent us photos of the capuchin monkeys in the trees. Oh they're so lovely. I just fell in love with them, and wanted to remind myself of Torey and Gaby's joy, so I went through my "Let's buy monkey stuff for the house" phase, lol.

Monkey in his new place of honor XO!
I love the symmetry of this lamp, and the way the shades allow the light to fall on the monkey so he shows up really well.

Monkey lamp by our bed, we have one on each side.

So during my monkey phase, I bought reading lamps for by our bed, and they amuse me greatly. They're tall enough to shed just the right amount of light when you want to read but someone else might want to sleep. And something about the statement they make, educated apes, hits my funny bone just right. 


Here's a closeup of little educated monkey : )

Doorstop monkey, just the thing!
We have lots of windows in our bedroom and certain times of year the breezes blow through and slam the door shut. I don't want the pups to get stuck in there, so of course I had to buy a doorstop for that door, and guess who, yes, ebay again came through with little monkey doorstop, yay!

Kitchen table educated monkey : )
Well lots of times, if I'm eating and Rob's doing something else, I read my book, whatever I'm reading at the time, and I love to sit at the kitchen table. So I was really on a roll and decided to get this lovely little guy, also on his pile of books, to light my way after sunset.

These little guys started it all!
These tiny capuchin monkeys are the ones that started it all, because they look just like the ones in the kids' photos. They live in my studio next to yep, my Johnny Depp bobblehead pirate. I bought him when the movies came out, and these bobbleheads are really hard to find now. Lots of times I go bobble his chin and he wags his head at me, hilarious. I have a strange sense of humor. Runs from Chevy Chase to George Carlin to sometimes weird and creepy, HA!

The funny thing is that when I was a kid we lived in Malaysia for a year or two, which is where my brother was born. It is a place of thick jungles and hot sun and amazing fireworks and at the time, armed soldiers on every corner. Banana trees in the backyard and a stream that was inhabited by lots of catfish which the natives fished for their dinner. Anacondas so we helped our Aya (caretaker and house helper with all things) put sulfer around the house to keep them from coming in because an anaconda can eat a small child no problem.

We'd drive through the jungles and they stole a part of my heart that will always be there in those lush green forests. Well those forests were filled with monkeys! I wanted a monkey so bad, and I begged my mother but she said NO! No! And NO again! Absolutely NOT!

Then just recently she told me a story that totally cracks me up. She said that she read in the paper when we were back in the U.S. that the pet store had a monkey available and SHE decided SHE wanted it. In New Jersey, you can get anything.... So she drove down there all set to bring that monkey home, and when she went in she had a lovely talk with the proprietor. "Jane," he said, "you don't want this monkey. Monkeys are wild and they can't be tamed and it'll drive you nuts. Just enjoy your children and count your blessings." They talked some more and whatever he said must have hit home with her, because she realized she didn't want that monkey so we came home without it and got a dog.

But the HILARIOUS thing about this is that my Mom is 87 and I NEVER KNEW SHE WANTED A MONKEY TOO! HA!

We learn something new every day. Some of the things I learn about my mother as she tells me her stories teach me what we have in common and it can be very amusing to say the least XO!

So that's the story for tonight folks. We love monkeys but the best ones for the home hold lightbulbs and doors and stuff, not curtains and chandeliers : )

Cheers!
~Jen


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Grief Dreams - Tricks and Tips

 

Ah, togetherness xo!

That's me 'n Jess during one of the happiest times of my life, when we had a vacation in Oregon and went hiking with her. Oh it was so lovely! Redwood forests, her with her camera, me just surrounded by all the nature I love and my child right there with me.

Unfortunately, as we know, she died, and this post is about the dreams that most people grieving a beloved's transition experience. We all have that in common, though the details of the dreams might differ, there are some similarities that are now being studied in the hope that we can be helped to assuage that pain that happens while we sleep.

Our bodies and minds have many physical ways that they use to help us acclimate to the massive change in our lives when our beloved transitions. One of the things that most bereaved people experience is dreams related to their beloved.

There are several different types of "grief dreams." Some are true visitation dreams, where we get to join with our beloved in spirit and we have a conversation or they talk to us or we have some very close association where we KNOW we've connected. I will talk about that in another post.

The dreams I'm going to talk about now come before we're relaxed enough to be able to connect peacefully and in joy with our beloveds.

I'm talking about the dreams where we find ourselves in some activity "with" our beloved but we feel separated. We might be shopping "with them," or attending a music concert, or any number of activities where we know they're there, but we can't get to them. We can sometimes see them, but can't reach them. We sometimes know they're there but we can't find them and the dream feels like an unresolved search. And sometimes we dream of things that belong to them that we want to give them, but we can't reach them and get direct contact so we feel like they're missing something we have to give them. There are so many versions of this "I can't reach you" dream.

And when we wake, our hearts are pounding and we feel soooo bereft. We feel helpless.

But we're not.

There's a trick we can do to teach our bodies and minds that we're on the path to healing and learning to develop that softer, more spiritual relationship with the true essence of our beloved, which goes on after their transition. They've left the physical body, but the animating force, what some call spirit or soul, does not die, it is very much alive and well.

When we experience a dream in which we feel that separation, and we wake, totally unsettled and bereft, we can close our eyes, take several deep breaths, and rewrite the experience by bringing our authenticity into it. It's kind of like declaring "I see where you are now from where I am now and we are still connected." So lovely, but a bit of a trick to get there.

One of the ways to do this is to remember the dream, but with our eyes closed, rewrite the ending so that it feels satisfying. The brain itself cannot distinguish between reality and imagination, so when we rewrite the ending of an uncomfortable dream, we are teaching our bodies and minds that we are stepping firmly onto the path of healing and the body no longer needs to toss these dreams our way to keep reminding us to accept, accept, accept the change in our relationship. 

We can close our eyes and go into a relaxed sort of meditation in which we imagine not just looking for our beloved, but finding them and hugging them. We can imagine that if they are in distress, for example if they're being chased by those who would harm them, the ones chasing them shrink into tiny, disempowered beings whom we can make disappear. If our beloveds are in need of something, anything, during this "rewrite" time, we can give it to them, pure health, vitality, peace, love, serenity in their being. We can rewrite any ending to uncomfortable dreams through a little relaxed meditation.

In that process we are teaching our bodies, "I know you're helping me to acclimate to the massive changes in my life, but these dreams are traumatic to me and I am now adding to them what they need so that you, my sweet body, know that I am able to transcend the trauma and go to the place of connection and peace."

Once we do this a few times, our bodies/brains will stop creating these traumatic dreams because they understand that we are able to realign our thoughts and welcome the higher energies of health, happiness, love, peace, and healing for not only our beloveds but also ourselves. 

There is another level of connection and all we need to do to reach it is relax and use the gifts we were born with, which have a powerful ability to help our healing, one of which is the powerful and empowering use of imagination. Don't make the mistake of discounting it.


Healing happens when we rewrite our story based in love XO



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Chapter 19 The Healing Time

 

 Chapter 19 - THE HEALING TIME

ONE OF THE SIGNS THAT JESS WAS RECOVERING nicely while she was home with us for those four sacred months of healing was that her period returned. I was absolutely thrilled when she quietly let me know she needed some things to take care of it. After I got her all set up, I went down to the fridge we had in the basement and brought up the bottle of champagne left over from the holiday. We popped that cork and toasted to the wonderful recovery of her cycles.

Later, I called the women of my family. My mother. My sister. We all cried on the phone. Hope for Jessie’s healing truly had been ignited. Here’s the part where I invite you to laugh with us. As my daughter gained weight and strength and her menstrual cycles returned, her hormones also kicked in, making her feel the tides of life pushing and pulling. She came to me one day with a question that she whispered into my ear.

“Momma, do you think I can buy a vibrator? I left mine at home and I’m feeling a little sparky!” I knew she was going to be home for several more weeks, away from her boyfriend in Portland, so I thought, Absolutely! My heart was singing with this glorious sign of recovery so I said to her, “Hell YES!” So she went online and ordered again from the discreet site, her own personal vibrator guaranteed to come in a plain brown package just a few days hence.

I was glowing inside. When fertility returned to her ailing body, there was hope. It was A Good Sign of recovery.

So when the plain brown package arrived, she let me know, because inside the plain brown package was a NEON PINK box with lots of PICTURES on it that she didn’t know what to do with. Surreptitiously, she handed the NEON PINK box to me and I hid it under my shirt as I popped into the kitchen to cover it in paper towels and bury it waaaay down deep in the trashcan. This was PRIVATE stuff! 

Mission accomplished.

Then I arranged for Rob and I to walk the dogs and assured Jess that it would be a long, looooooong walk and she’d be home alone for a couple of hours. We walked and we walked and we walked some more, and finally we came home. Jess was smiling a Mona Lisa smile most of the evening and every now and then our eyes would connect and twinkle and our lips would press together in secret laughter. It was private, and the man of the house could not know.

We made a pact together. “When I die, my sweet Jess, would you please be the one to dispose of my vibrator? I keep it in the little drawer beside my bed.” “Of course, Momma, you can count on me,” she said. There are some secrets especially precious and sacred between mothers and daughters, and this was one of ours. It’s one of those things about a relationship that cannot be replaced in any other relationship and after Sweet Jess’s death, I keenly miss that sense of trust and the unique bond between us as women.

When I went to her beautiful home after she died, one of the things I did was go into her bedroom alone and put her sacred vibrators deep down into a big, black trash bag. There were two of them, the one she’d had for years, and the one she’d picked out just a few short months before. I cried. I cried for the beauty and pleasures of life, for the hope that had sprung in our hearts with the recovery of her fertility, and for the finality of the dissolution of her beautiful body.

I was ever so grateful for every single moment of pleasure in my beautiful, sweet Jess’s life. Every. Single. One.

I still have that champagne cork.

* * *

NOTE: This chapter might be considered by some as controversial and it's important to understand that my view of life includes all of it, without shame about the parts that are our inherent gifts as humans (sex). There are about four other chapters that weave in with this one and though each one has a different angle, they're central to the acceptance and celebration of who each individual is and to Jess's life story in particular and how it intertwines with mine. Apologies if you are feeling a little shy about it. Please know that one of the major points of my book is that love is much bigger and more wondrous that we've been taught and we can celebrate it as long as we're not hurting anyone else. You kind of have to read the whole book to really "get" this thread. I hope it doesn't seem exploitative out of context.

Chapter 82 Building New Traditions

 

Sneak peek inside 

COMING ALIVE AFTER DEATH 

by Jennifer Anne Berghage!


Chapter 82 - Building New Traditions

I HAVE LOTS OF RECOMMENDATIONS to share for coming alive after the death of our beloveds. Each one is a “when you’re ready” or “maybe never” choice that you can make. These new traditions and activities in my life have helped me along the precipitous path of recovery from what I surely thought I would never be able to survive.

After the death of my daughter, I fell into a place where the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of myself were all in jeopardy, and either through serendipity or actual seeking, I discovered ways to help strengthen all four aspects.

Some of the following recommendations are more focused on particular aspects of Self, and others target more than one aspect at a time. Each can be customized to fit your particular needs; there is no set way to experience them. Some will appeal to you more than others, and some will appeal more at various periods of time in your life than others. For example, I had been given a very special journal to write in just after my sweet Jess passed, but it was months before I touched it. Some books I would pick up to read, and had to put them down until later, and others I stayed up all night to read. Let’s start with the very basic basics of comfort.

• Brush Your Hair Therapy

Many times when I could not sleep and was feeling anxiety and anguish, I would sit at my desk in my studio and brush my hair one hundred, sometimes 200 strokes. Doesn’t matter if your hair is short or long, just brush and brush and brush. It is very soothing. If you have a partner or significant other, children, (or even beloved pets) you can brush their hair for a good long time, and it is one of the most relaxing things you can do. Or they can brush your hair for you. Let them know what feels good, too soft, too hard, make sure they’re brushing the scalp, not just the ends, since this brings the blood circulating just where it helps the most. And your hair will benefit by being all nice and shiny from the distribution of its natural oils. This very basic activity can help to calm those feelings of anxiety and anguish late at night when you can’t sleep. Brush your hair. It’s love.

If you don’t have hair on your head, you can perform massage, with or without oil, it works the same way to soothe and calm anxious emotions.

• Two Pairs of Socks Therapy

This one is very simple and affordable. When my daughter died, it was January, so very cold. One day I put on a pair of socks and they just weren’t keeping my feet warm, so I pulled out another pair of really thick, fluffy socks with red and white stripes on them. I call them my Dr. Seuss socks. I pulled them on right over the thin socks I was already wearing. When I put my feet down to touch the floor they felt softly cushioned and somehow protected, which lent me more comfort than I’d have imagined possible. I padded around in double socks for many days, loving the comfort of it. Sounds silly, but try it. Believe it or not, fluffy socks make an excellent present for someone who is deeply grieving. I know others who like to sleep in thick fluffy socks for the comfort they bring.

• Velvet Pillow Therapy

When we’re in shock, which many bereaved people feel for several months after the death of a beloved, our sense of safety and security is severely compromised. I found that I felt sort of numb a lot of the time, and at other times, I felt raw and exposed, (especially after dealing with others or out in the world doing things) so I was protective of myself. In between the tasks I absolutely had to complete, I would hunker down in a place where I felt safe, either my little couch in my studio or in my bed at night. I happened to own a couple of velvet pillows. When I found myself alone at night sitting on my little couch or reclining in my bed, I discovered that stroking these velvet pillows brought me a sense of comfort. The pillows were so soft and they required nothing back. They just soothed me and even this tiny type of soothing helped. I knew I could look forward to my safe place of simple softness while I was out doing what I thought I could not do, and I carried the knowledge of my haven and these tiny soothing feelings with me while I had to be away from my safe place. I know it seems very basic, but an excellent present for someone who is deeply grieving is a true velvet pillow or blanket.

* * *

COMING SOON from MindStir Publications!

There are pages and pages and pages more, of new traditions in my book that I find both helpful and loving as we navigate the journey of grief.


Sneak Peek Into Coming Alive After Death!

 It's been awhile since I've posted and that's because I've been busy! For you! I will post the beautiful cover of my book below, PLUS the Table of Contents. 

PLEASE let me know which chapter(s) you are most interested in reading as I can post one or two here to get you started. They're all special and I'm happy to share some prior to publication xo 

You might be most interested in PART THREE - HEALING, as that's where a lot of good tools are. In the beginning of our story, you fall in love with Sweet Jess and maybe me, and if you're going through this journey of grief you will nod your head, thinking, Yep, I know that, I've felt that. In the next section you will feel the turning of the tide, where we begin to understand healing and how that comes about, plus some of the challenges we may face as we traverse the precipitous pathways of grief. In the third section there are wonderful tools and ceremonies and things you can do as you reach out into love and light and life, and the fourth section shares links and resources. My heart is with you XO

Please excuse the spacing as I'm pulling material over from my publisher's file and only have so much control over how it looks on here. 




Coming Alive After Death

Coming Alive After Death

Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer Anne Berghage. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For more information, e-mail all inquiries to info@mindstirmedia.com.

DISCLAIMER

This book does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique or exercise as a form of treatment for emotional or medical problems without the advice of a licensed physician. This book is intended for your emotional and spiritual quest for understanding, meaning, purpose, hope, love, and joy. In the event that you use any of the information in this book for yourself or with others, the author assumes no responsibility for your actions or results.

Published by Mindstir Media, LLC
45 Lafayette Rd | Suite 181| North Hampton, NH 03862 | USA 1.800.767.0531 | www.mindstirmedia.com

Printed in the United States of America ISBN-13: XXX-X-XXXXXXX-X-X

Coming Alive After

Death

Recovery from Grief

JENNIFER ANNE BERGHAGE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JENNIFER ANNE BERGHAGE spent sixteen years as a credentialed professional editor (Graduate School, USA) and instructional designer (UWISC, Madison) with The Pennsylvania State University, which prepared her well for authorship of her own works. Life, colorful life, prepared her to have something to write about. She never imagined it would be this. We write what we know. Jen knows intimately the journey of the death of a dearly, dearly, beloved and how to navigate it such that we can go through the fire and come out the other side, not unscathed, not without scars, but with life and love in our hearts. In Coming Alive After Death she shares resources, exercises, and strengths we can tap as we continue here after the transition of our beloveds.

v DEDICATION

I dedicate this book to all souls brave enough to love greatly. Namaste.

IF THIS BOOK HAS DRAWN YOUR INTEREST, imagine that I am standing next to you and holding your hand. You, or someone you love, are grieving the loss of a dearly, truly beloved. When this happened to me upon the death of my sweet, 26-year-old daughter, I found myself in a very dark place. Climbing out of this darkness and back into light, love, laughter, and pleasure felt not only wrong, but absolutely impossible.

I learned to walk through the fire and out the other side, because I am a beloved child of the Universe. True life and happiness belong to me for all the days and nights I am here on Earth. They also belong to me beyond this Earth life. And to you, Beloved, as well as to our beloveds.

It is possible to go through life, and many people do, experiencing the deaths of people and animals we care very much about without being brought to our knees. I had, by the age of 56, when my beautiful daughter died, experienced the death of about 40 gorgeous people that I cared very much about, and many animals too. I never, with any of these, felt like I did when my daughter died. So have no fear, if you

vii

Coming Alive After Death

have not experienced the level of grief that I describe in our story, you might never experience it, and you need not worry that this or that may happen to you. I write and share the depths of it so that if you do find yourself in this dark place you know that you can come out the other side. If you aren’t experiencing it, but you love someone who is, you may gain some insight in the healing and resource sections of this book as to how to help them through it.

The most important thing that I have found is that there IS life after death, both for me and for my sweet daughter. I hold her in my heart, as I am holding you, Beloved. Keep going. Breathe deeply. Love greatly without reservation. All is well.

viii
TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART ONE - Love and Death

Unintentional Thoughts—Shock and Trauma

Chapter 1 - Doorbell Day...............................................................3 

Chapter 2 - Superstitions and Crossing the Line .............................8 

Chapter 3 - Getting Through the Dark Times ..............................13 

Chapter 4 - Flashbacks ................................................................. 17 

Chapter 5 - Bringing Her Back.....................................................19 

Chapter 6 - Loving Her ................................................................ 21 

Chapter 7 - Undies and Laundry ..................................................24 

Chapter 8 - Magical George.......................................................... 27 

Chapter 9 - George and the Mystery Key......................................30 

Chapter 10 - Wheelchair Etiquette ...............................................34 

Chapter 11 - Mardi Gras Blessings................................................ 37 

Chapter 12 - Wee Hour Interlude.................................................39 

Chapter 13 - Negotiating Handicap Bathrooms............................42 

Chapter 14 - Cruel Universe.........................................................44 

Chapter 15 - Divine Connections.................................................46

Chapter 16 - Becoming Cinderella ............................................... 51

Chapter 17 - Young Love..............................................................57

Chapter 18 - Guidance.................................................................62

Chapter 19 - The Healing Time.................................................... 65

ix

Chapter 20 - Inheriting Freedom..................................................68 

Chapter 21 - Giggles .................................................................... 71 

Chapter 22 - The Forbidden ........................................................73 

Chapter 23 - Stolen Comforts ......................................................76 

Chapter 24 - Violation ................................................................82 

Chapter 25 - The Fight................................................................. 87 

Chapter 26 - Swansong Recovery..................................................95 

Chapter 27 - Ceremony................................................................ 97 

Chapter 28 - Packing Up..............................................................99 

Chapter 29 - Black Jack..............................................................103 

Chapter 30 - Special Delivery ..................................................... 107 

Chapter 31 - Being Apart ...........................................................110 

Chapter 32 - Bus Angels.............................................................115

 Chapter 33 - New Year’s Eve.......................................................118 

Chapter 34 - Mystery .................................................................120 

Chapter 35 - Loving Through Anger ..........................................123 

Chapter 36 - The Cremation ...................................................... 125 

Chapter 37 - The Hike ............................................................... 128

Chapter 38 - Tsunami Week ....................................................... 135 

Chapter 39 - Alice in Wonderland ..............................................140

Chapter 40 - History..................................................................143 

Chapter 41 - Collecting Ashes .................................................... 146 

Chapter 42 - Going Back Home ................................................ 151 

Chapter 43 - Scattering Ashes.....................................................153 

Chapter 44 - Winding Up ..........................................................160

x

PART TWO - Coming Alive

Intentional Thoughts—Acceptance and Recognition

Chapter 45 - Hard Work ............................................................ 167

Chapter 46 - 450 Days of Crying ...............................................169 

Chapter 47 - Sleeping, Waking...................................................173 

Chapter 48 - Wine and Ativan....................................................176 

Chapter 49 - Food......................................................................179

Chapter 50 - Metamorphosis ...................................................... 181 

Chapter 51 - Blended Families....................................................185 

Chapter 52 - He Said She Said ...................................................188 

Chapter 53 - Full Stop. Holiday Time ........................................ 197 

Chapter 54 - Acupuncture for Relief of Grief..............................202 

Chapter 55 - The First Year ........................................................208 

Chapter 56 - Unintentional Thinking vs. Intentional Thinking ...213 

Chapter 57 - What is Love? ........................................................219

Chapter 58 - The Boy and His Gift ............................................ 221 

Chapter 59 - The Big Separation ................................................ 231 

Chapter 60 - What is Mourning?................................................234 

Chapter 61 - Helplessness...........................................................238 

Chapter 62 - Meltdowns.............................................................245 

Chapter 63 - Working or Not, Priorities ..................................... 253 

Chapter 64 - Blame, Judgment, Difficult Relationships ..............259 

Chapter 65 - Forgiveness ............................................................264

Chapter 66 - Emotions...............................................................266 

Chapter 67 - Suicidal Ideation....................................................273

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Chapter 68 - Spiritual Contracts.................................................279 

Chapter 69 - Empowerment Through Meditation ...................... 296 

Chapter 70 - The Purpose of Life ...............................................303 

Chapter 71 - What is Consciousness? .........................................306 

Chapter 72 - The Purpose of Death............................................308 

Chapter 73 - The Purpose of Religion.........................................312 

Chapter 74 - Our Celestial Gifts.................................................316 

Chapter 75 - WOO—What Otherworlds Offer .........................334 

Chapter 76 - Signs—Ask and We Shall Receive .......................... 345 

Chapter 77 - Akasha...................................................................350 

Chapter 78 - Being (Be-In) Ourselves ......................................... 357 

Chapter 79 - Freedom ................................................................359 

Chapter 80 - The Question of Our Own Death..........................362 

PART THREE - Healing


Counting All Blessings—Gratitude and Peace


Chapter 81 - What Not to Do, What to Do ............................... 377 

Chapter 82 - Building New Traditions........................................386

Brush Your Hair Therapy ............. 387 

Two Pairs of Socks Therapy .......... 387 

Velvet Pillow Therapy................... 388 

Teddy Bear Therapy ..................... 389 

Paint Your Nails Therapy.............. 390 

Candles and Tealights...................390 

Fragrance Therapy........................391 

Plant Therapy...............................392 

Music Therapy ............................. 396 

YouTube Therapy ......................... 398 

Pinterest Visual Therapy............... 399 

Animal Therapy ........................... 399

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Professional Therapy .................... 402 

Grief Groups ................................ 404 

Life Coaches.................................407 

Acupuncture ................................ 408 

Reiki ............................................ 408

Yoga ............................................. 409

Massage ........................................ 410

Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards ...... 411

Meditation ................................... 412

Fireside Release and Embrace Ceremony......................421 

Art ............................................... 422

Learning Something New.............427

Looking for the Good .................. 429

Cultivating Brand New Friendships .........................430

Nature and Gardening..................433

Sleeping........................................ 436

Dreaming ..................................... 437

Honoring ..................................... 445

Relaxation - Grief Breaks, Mindfulness ................................. 44

Ritual, Ceremony, and Tradition .. 446

Being Silly....................................447

Countering Pain with Pleasure ..... 448

Laughter....................................... 451

Picnics .......................................... 453

Cooking—Food that Comforts .... 45

Water: Baths, Lakes, Rivers, Ocean, Pools, Waterfalls, Hot Springs ...... 454 

Volunteer Work............................456

Children and/or Elders.................456

Gold Star—Connection with Our Beloved.........................457

Funeral Letter...............................458

Chapter 83 - Why build new traditions? Spiritual Agreements....460 

Chapter 84 - The Dragon...........................................................462

Chapter 85 - The Charts ............................................................464

Chapter 86 - What to Trust .......................................................468

Chapter 87 - Past Life Regression ...............................................469

Chapter 88 - Letters to Your Future Selves..................................480

Chapter 89 - Arms Wide Open ..................................................483

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PART FOUR - Resources

Favorite People ...........................................................................489

Favorite Publications ..................................................................493

Favorite WOO Tools ..................................................................496

Favorite Internet Resources.........................................................499 

Favorite Music Artists.................................................................502

Happy Things To Do..................................................................503 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ......................................................... 505

All the loves coming your way! Contact me at comingaliveafterdeath@gmail.com if you'd like to talk privately by email.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

What Nobody Tells You About Getting Old

Ya gotta laugh!
What nobody tells you about getting old is that there will be things you can't do anymore and more things you won't. I'm so glad I did them all along the way. 

If you met me today, you probably wouldn't guess that I really enjoyed jumping on beds all the way up through my 40s. And you might not know that I was a motorcycle maniac for about 18 years. No, I didn't drive, but I rode on the back for hundreds and hundreds of miles through all kinds of territory. Sometimes I loved it, especially on trail bikes in the woods, taking flight off the rises and always grateful for a successful landing. There were times we went around corners so fast and low that the footpegs scraped the road so hard they made sparks, and times we took long, long trips and got caught in the rain and thunder, on slippery highways dodging huge trucks that kicked up killer watersprays. It's a miracle we survived as long as we did.

When I was 12, I earned a bronze medal and a silver medal in swimming. I wanted to go for the gold but was too young and they wouldn't let me. For that one, one of the things you had to do was swim a mile, so when we got back to the U.S. (I earned them while we lived in England), I made myself swim a mile at the community pool just to see if I could. It about killed me and my sister's friend, who was a lifeguard, got in the pool and swam the last few laps with me. It's one of those "I DID IT" things that sticks with you.

I loved to run and I loved to hike. My rule for hiking in the woods was always No Shoes Allowed. I spent most of my youth without shoes whenever possible. Climbing trees was my number one favorite activity for many years. I came home with pine sap in my hair and on my body all the time. It stayed sticky for days. Couldn't scrub it off, it had to wear off by itself.

I loved to draw and paint and I loved to dance. I drew and I painted and danced my little heart out. I loved to cook and I loved to eat, especially outside. Everything is always so much better outside, though inside can be awfully nice too. 

Lately I've been feeling like Rip Van Winkle, who fell asleep and missed a gap of 100 years. When did this age thing sneak up on me? I was so busy living I didn't even notice! But it's making itself known now. At 61, suddenly I can't climb that highest mountain or walk that longest mile. My sweet little body got a bit ravaged by life and I find that part of me facing the downhill slide. Not sure there's much I can do about that except find a good sled.

The invincibility of youth has been overtaken by arthritis (ouch!) and the vagaries of age and I find myself managing rather than spearheading, who knew? I'm grateful for good management skills, but I think there's a part of me that prefers the all out embrace of possibility as opposed to the more sensible escort of discretion.

What they don't tell you about getting old is that all those things you thought you'd ALWAYS do, welp, they peel off one by one, sometimes without much warning. As they peel off, I've found that one of the best things I can do is salute them with gratitude, holding them dear, and the other best thing is throw myself into the things I can still do, or explore new ones I haven't tried yet. Ah, thank goodness for those.

Isn't life grand?


Salud!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Jen's Heart Attack and Gift February 2020

Hello, it's me!
Hi Lovies,

I have been absent from FB and social sites, even my phone for over a week because I got to go around the moon instead.

On Sunday, February 9th, I had gone to bed late, as usual, after working on my book, actually finishing it except for the acknowledgments. Though I wasn't feeling well, I thought it was yet a touch of the flu I'd been trying to shake off for weeks, I slept well.

At around 1 p.m. I awoke, cuddled in my bed, looking at the beautiful tree outside the window and a tiny bit of blue sky trying to happen. My hands were close together on my chest stroking the soft fur of the warmest blanket and I felt perfectly content except for VERY BAD HOPPIN' CHEST PAINS. They were not going to allow me to stay in bed. I called for Rob, thank goodness he was home.

"BAD chest pains! BAD chest pains!" I announced, and sat up. "Call 911!"

He did not run to call 911. He stayed with me to make sure I would not injure myself. I sat up, swung my legs over the side of the bed, realized my vision was all blurry, and I was soaking wet with sweat pouring off me. I stood up to go get some clothes and change out of pjs, but found the wall instead of the doorway, oops. A little woozy on the balance there.

He stayed next to me while I insisted upon choosing undies, leggings, socks, t-shirt, sweater. I got them on as well as I could which wasn't impressive, and he helped with the rest. Then I told him to get the puppies and lock them in our bedroom and call 911. Hurry, hurry.

He said, "I'll drive you to the hospital." I said, "Can't make it to the car. Hurry, hurry." I felt as if someone had poured liquid fire into my heart and it had filled every chamber. In my mind I could see a brilliant color of copper just radiating out of my heart. At this point I had closed my eyes and was sitting in my chair by my desk in my studio (always my "safe place").

I felt zero fear. I was just breathing one breath after the next, each so short and hard to take like knives stabbing me. Just keep breathing.

Once I sat down he called 911. Felt like it took forever.

They came and brought a bunch of things into my studio. At that point, I think most of my system was shut down and I could hear but not make much sense. One of the guys said my BP was at 16, didn't hear the other number but you can figure out which one that is. Yep, pretty darned close to gone.

They asked Rob questions and me questions but I was just in total trust mode. I loved each paramedic with my whole heart and soul. One of them put a whole handful of chewable aspirin on my desk and said "Eat all of those!" I did and thought they were the best ever tasting candy I'd ever had.

I have no idea what they did to me but they were doing stuff. Got me strapped into a chair and I still had my eyes closed as they took me outside - the chair thing was to get down the stairs outside my studio. It was COLD. I was COLD. And I reeeeeeally didn't want them to make me lie down on my back, wanted to stay sitting up. They said that was fine for now.

Sat outside while they got the ambulance ready and they transferred me from the chair to a bed that they could adjust so that I was sitting up. I felt so embarrassed that the neighbors would see all this kerfuffle.

While the ambulance waited for clearance to arrive at the hospital, which is only about 10 minutes away from where we live, they were already setting up the operating room. Once we were cleared to go, they wheeled me straight into the operating room.

I thought they were just looking and deciding what to do, but as I found out later, they went straight into the operation itself where they put two wonderful friendly stents into my heart where it was blocked, and by 5 p.m. I was in ICU. Because they had gone up through the veins in the groin area to get to my heart, I had to lie flat on my back without moving or raising my legs/knees for FIVE HOURS! Wow that was HARD. There was always a nurse in there grabbing me to hold my legs flat cause healing has to happen in that vein before you can move at all. Also I was allowed no water this whole time and my body was completely dehydrated, my little lips flaking like a desert floor.

Wish I could say I felt better, but each breath was still very short and felt like knife stabs, and I was freezing cold. They said I could get warm soon.

Well I was in very good hands. There were at least three heart docs, many assistants, and I remember at some point (before entering the operating room) they were standing in a circle being introduced to me and they asked me if I could open my eyes so I did for a minute.

Then I went back into total trust mode. Thank you, thank you talented, hardworking, big-hearted medical professionals, for being trustworthy. You were all there and more.

Next few days my body was in quite a bit of distress, and didn't know what to do with water, or anything else. Just nothing came out of it. Hmph. Once I was allowed water I drank gallons of it and it was like manna from Heaven, but didn't come out. There weren't any problems with that it just all got used up inside me.

And once I was through the tough, flat on your back, freezing hours, they covered me with heated blankets. Oh my! That was lovely.

I am not sure when they let my husband come in, but he sat by my side and all I could do was sleep. I apologized for being such a dud date. He said he didn't want to be anywhere else. He spent as much time as possible at the hospital every day and into the nights, disregarding visiting hours - I think the nurses knew he would not be turned out. He came home to feed pups and kitty and himself, then came right back. Came home to sleep and came back first thing in the mornings.

My lovely sweet husband. He'd had this same procedure in 2011, only on the other side of his heart, so he says now we're a complementary pair XO

His heart attack never progressed to the point mine did, so mine was a bit more distressing to my body, but all is well now and I am recovering.

So, I wasn't going to write any of this medical part but seems it slipped out of me. The really important part that I wanted to blog about, which is AMAZING, is how it is the answer to my solemn prayers and a gift of HUGE proportions.

I have had a very close relationship with Spirit and my own spiritual guides for many years, and they keep me strong and help me to understand things. Well when my daughter died in 2015, I went into major retreat, which is not at all uncommon, especially with the death of a beloved child. I am proud of the productivity in my studio, the time spent doing gorgeous beadwork and some good painting and also writing our book, which I dearly hope will be a huge help to others who find themselves deeply grieving a loved one.

But last summer I felt the stirrings of wanting to come out of retreat and join the world a little more strongly, only I wasn't sure how to do it. My schedule was such that I woke at noon and worked most days until 3 a.m. I'd take an hour or a few hours with Rob for dinner in front of the TV, fall asleep after dinner, then whenever I awoke, which was anytime around 8 or 9 p.m. I'd go into my studio and work in one capacity or another. I LOVED the nights. They soothed me. I never put the back blinds down, so the moon sailed across my studio windows and I had either lovely music or old movies or my favorite detective shows on - I just love when they get the bad guys.

I was doing a few things that I'd started when I was about 13 years old, one of which was smoking cigarettes. And after Jess died I will say I didn't much care about quitting and smoked more than was good for me. Smoking was hard on my system, so I had been prescribed an inhaler a few years ago, and was told to use it every four hours as needed for wheezing. So I did. Also my poor little sinuses were overtaxed, so I used nasal spray about as often as well. I knew I was flirting with the idea of quitting smoking but didn't want to do any of the patch things because the side effects are very scary. I was pretty sure I couldn't just do this with willpower.

So I prayed. I told my spirit helpers of my challenges and asked them if they'd please help me, knowing that they would respond. I asked them to be gentle with me.

Welp, they handed me this gift. And the reason it is a HUGE gift is because for the first time since I was 13 years old no tobacco has passed my lips since that Sunday. Not a drop of nose spray has been needed. I do not need the inhaler. Not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips. Some clickover has happened and I can see with my whole spiritual Self that I had been handing my beautiful authority away and then trying to manage the consequences, getting caught in an ever smothering loop. I feel FREE.

When I was young, a teenager, all I wanted was freedom. I thought that in making my own decisions and stepping out of "forced" situations, I was creating freedom, but I realize looking back that I kept setting up the same forceful situations I experienced as a child. I accommodated my first husband, who was not trustworthy, and lost myself in the process. I had the courage to get out of that when it became necessary to get the children safe, and I raised them mostly on my own from the ages of 9 & 11, and worked very hard to do so, but also lost myself in that process. I did a great job, and would have it no other way, but now I realize that every human being is entitled to some joy, some rest, some play, some activity that is not "investment" in earning or learning. Just FUN. I claim it.

I'm happy to have this chance. Doesn't matter how long it lasts or what I deal with along the way, my life will now include joy, fun, exploration, nature, and plenty of love, because those are the peeps I am keeping close. The ones who love.

It has been very clear this week who they are, and I am so grateful for your existence and your presence in my life.

I will still enjoy the occasional glass of champagne on special occasions and even a glass of wine, but am more interested in becoming YOGA MAMA (yoga is part of my pure fun stuff coming up) than dealing with any of that. And you know what? I spent my 47 years figuring out how to live life at top speed, well, yes, I was always pretty much a bit of a lightweight, but for me top speed, so everyone can do whatever they want to and I'm fine with that! I say you're the only one who really knows how to be you, so enjoy it.

Now, I will offer many thanks for your patience in reading this very long blog post. I meant for it to be short, but I'm wordy sometimes.

I will continue to thoroughly enjoy working with you on Malas, earrings, commissioned pieces - we know I do these because I love to do them, and I love the exchanges and meeting you and enjoy the friends I make doing this work. I'm thinking once I get stronger I can see teaching some FUN classes in my future, not sure quite when, will keep you posted.

And I will post when the book is out. Coming soon XO

Namaste,
Jen