Grief

Leaning into the Low Points of Life

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a day filled with gratitude and sharing, whether you were with friends, family, or a combination of both. Now, on to a more vulnerable post.

If you happen to think that as a Life Coach, my life is fabulously happy all the time and that I’ve got it all figured out, you’d be dead wrong.

I have the same thing in common with you. I’m incredibly human.

As many of you know, I said goodbye 2 months ago to my dog child Kona with whom I had the privilege of spending 12 amazing years. Not only has it been one of the hardest losses of my life, the effects still linger.

I realized not long ago that I have been functionally depressed. Sort of like a functioning alcoholic where that person makes it through their day just fine but drinks themselves into oblivion at night only to get up the next day and do it all over again. Depressed-woman-window

For me, minus the alcohol, I’ve been getting up every day and doing the things that need to get done, like laundry, making meals, going to work, walking my other dog, etc… But there’s no excitement, motivation, enjoyment, drive, or desire. I don't feel helpless or hopeless like someone with a diagnosis of depression would feel; I’ve just felt kind of empty and dead inside. Looking at me from the outside, you’d never know.

This has been a new experience for me. One I’ve never felt before.

But instead of trying to push this feeling away or pretend it didn’t exist, I did what my mentor Martha Beck would call Leaning into the Ring of Fire. My Ring of Fire being my grief. My deadness.

What did that look like?

Well, I actually gave myself permission to just feel dead. I noticed what dead felt like in my body. It felt like a huge gaping hole of emptiness and nothingness in my chest. I also had several emotions that went with it. Sadness, anger, not caring, and a go with the flow attitude (because nothing felt important anyway).

I sat with that feeling of deadness for weeks. Going about my normal day, just without any oomph. I didn’t know how long it would last. I actually didn’t care.

Then something very interesting happened.

Things in my life started shifting. The universe started giving my signs that it was time to wake up again and start moving in a new direction. A new coaching client found me, I began to notice that I felt a little excitement around parts of my day, new opportunities have presented themselves to me (without my doing a thing), and, AND, I didn’t feel quite so dead.

This is why leaning into the crap of life can be so fruitful. It’s part of life. In the winter, there is a dormant period (at least in the natural world). That period is so so so important for new life to come forth in the spring. It’s the same with people. We sometimes need to go dormant or “dead” in order for the growth to happen, to store up the energy we’ll need when we come out of that quiet period.

And here I am coming out of my dormant period right before winter hits. New beginnings can happen anytime of the seasonal year!

Does my life feel amazing right now? No. I’m in the process.

But instead of fighting it or trying to hurry it along, I’m riding it like a wave. Flowing with the current of my own life, and trusting that all will work out perfectly.

As I pay attention to the process, I notice more and more how I operate in the world both internally and externally.

What’s fascinating is that I’m not trying to let go of the grief over my dog; my grief is letting go of me. And I’m pretty sure it’s because (and I share this with all of my clients) I’ve given myself the permission and allowed myself to lean into that grief. To really be in it, with it, to feel it, viscerally, emotionally, all of it. I’ve trusted the process. I’ve trusted myself to go through that process. And know that in the end, all would be well. And it is.

If you are experiencing anything even remotely close to this, in any area of your life, I invite you to lean in. I know it’s hard and not pretty, I really do.

But you’ll come out the other side with more insight and feeling clearer, stronger, and healthier than when you went in.

And if you need some help, I know a Life Coach… :)

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

When moving forward is hard (and you don't really want to)

A few years back, a good friend of mine lost her entire house, basically everything she owned, and one of her dogs, in a house fire. Recently she shared with me a little bit about that time in her life. She said, “moving forward seemed impossible, but going back was impossible.” This is how I’ve felt in the last month since losing my dog child Kona. I want so much to turn the clock back and have my happy, healthy, furry kid again. Since I can’t do that, I’m trying to move forward. Albeit reluctantly. Let life happen to you. Life is in the

Maybe you’ve been here before. Something major, even earth shattering, happened in your life that you didn’t see coming. Your new normal A- doesn’t feel normal at all, and B- feels really sucky. Then C- you wonder if your life will ever feel great again. You hope it will but you aren’t really sure.

I decided to share the experience I’m going through at this time in hopes that something might resonate for you either now, or in the future.

I’m in the middle of this grief journey. It’s H-A-R-D.

I’m a life coach. That means I have a ton of tools in my toolbox to help both me and my clients with all sorts of situations in life. You don’t often hear how life coaches deal with the really hard times. I’ve found that the best tool I have in my toolbox right now is straight up surrender.

Surrender to what’s happening. Surrender to my new reality. Surrender to the process of grieving and all its stages. Surrender to the hard and sad parts. It ebbs and flows through me during the day. I just let it do its thing. This means I cry. In the grocery store, while walking my other dog, at home, in the car, in front of people, by myself…

I’m melting really. Kind of like the Wicked Witch of the West when she gets trapped under the house in the Wizard of Oz and melts away. That’s what’s happening to me. But what’s melting away is my ego. That part of me that plans and plans and plans. That part that makes decisions about what’s coming up in my life and how it’s going to look down the road. That part that’s trying to keep it all together.

It shattered.

Into a million pieces.

When the rug gets pulled out from underneath you, you can hit the floor pretty hard. I did.

How losing a dog could create such havoc in my inner world is beyond comprehension. But I get it because it goes beyond the intellectual. It’s just pure love. There are no words for that and it needs no explanation.

There’s that quote that says “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It’s almost a bad thing in our culture to not know where you’re going, have big goals, or have a plan to get you to those goals. I’m completely questioning that. It’s we humans who feel the need to have a plan. But life happens when you’re making other plans. So I’ve decided to not plan, to just let the wind blow me around and see what shows up.

It doesn’t mean I sit around and do nothing all day. I’ve found I worry less, I don’t care about things as much, and I let go of expectations of others and myself. It’s kind of freeing actually.

I’ve known all along the universe is more in charge of my life than I am. I just think I’m in control. Ha! But looking back, it has supported me fully, my entire life. With or without my input.

It’s really nice to let the universe show me where to go for a change. It takes the pressure off. So I’ll follow its lead. I actually think I’ll have an even more interesting and fun life moving forward by allowing it to take me towards new adventures I might never have planned on my own.

So when life throws you lemons and you don’t feel like making lemonade, don’t. Try surrendering to, and allowing the process you’re in, to unfold naturally.

You might just find the universe will make you some really yummy lemonade, all without your help.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

A Love Letter to My Sweet Dog

Monday 09/29/14 You filled my days with SO much joy. Just being in the same room with you made me (and I think you) extremely happy. Your sweet, gentle face melted everyone’s heart that you met. Your fierce wagging tail, that could knock a drinking glass off a table and blow candles out, was a sign of how thrilled you were to be with anyone who showed you attention.

It always made me smile as I watched you run down the trail with your yellow tail, slightly curved up at the end, swaying back and forth with your stride. I’d call your name and you’d turn to look at me with that sparkle in your eye and know that home base was near. And off running you’d go.

You loved being rubbed from the top of your head to the tip of your tail, and even in-between your toe pads. I loved running my fingers over all your furry parts. Your ears were as soft as velvet. As I massaged them with my hands your eyes would roll back in your head. I knew how good it felt. You pawed at me when I would stop because you wanted more. I always obliged.

After you ate meals you would lie on your side on the floor rubbing your nose in the carpet making little pig-like grunting sounds. You LOVED food. You could clean out any sink strainer with your tongue by standing up on those long back legs of yours. And you were a master of stealing food from others. So quick, they didn’t see it coming.

You had some bad habits, but you never made me mad. I would just laugh at you.

When I’d walk in the door after being gone just a few hours, you’d practically fly over to greet me and whine like I’d been gone for days. Then I’d put my face right in front of your nose and you’d sniff my scent to make sure we were connected again.

If you happened to be sleeping when I walked into the room and you heard me, your eyes would open and you’d thump your tail so hard I thought it might break. I would call you by one of your nicknames and watch your head pop up off the floor, one ear up and one down, in full anticipation of what I would say next. I’m pretty sure you were always hoping I’d ask if you wanted to go for a car ride.

You are the only dog I’ve ever known that would sleep on the couch belly up, with your back legs spread eagle, and your right front leg lifted straight up into the air like you had a question to ask.

Then one Monday morning, out of the blue, you woke up and something wasn’t quite right with your back and your hind legs. I somehow “knew” something was very wrong, but I didn’t want to believe it.

I chose from the various options the vet gave to help you and me get back on the trails together. You were so patient with me as I took you back and forth to the vet for injections for what we thought was arthritis. After a while, you hated going there.

I hope you know how much I prayed and hoped, and did everything I could to get you back outside to run and sniff, and eat animal carcasses in the woods. I even bargained with God. Take something away from me, anything, so that you could have your life back. I pleaded. Don’t let this be it. It’s just too soon.

You had better days and not so good days. But the one thing I could count on was that you would eat every last morsel of food at every meal. You never lost your amazing appetite. I know food became a highlight of your days. As well as all the times I lay with you on the floor stroking your fur.

In the end, I did the kindest thing I could. I freed your amazingly happy spirit from your malfunctioning body and said goodbye. I asked my mom, who has already passed and was awesome with animals, to look after you until I could be with you again.

I know the hole in my heart is so huge because I loved you so much. I never missed an opportunity to show you what you meant to me. If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing. I know I did it right.

You’ve been gone 7 hours Kona and the house is SO quiet without your thumping tail on the floor and your bright eyes looking at me. I miss you so very much already. I knew this day would be tremendously hard, but the reality is, it’s more excruciatingly painful than I’d ever imagined it could be.

I’m already thinking about your soft fur, your breathing in and out, the sound of your eyelids when they blinked, that happy whine, and so much more. I know my life will never be the same without you in it. I can’t even begin to imagine it. I really don’t want to. It hurts too much.

So now that you can, enjoy the trails. I’ll picture you running all around just like you used to do. As well as the sparkle in your eye when I’d call your name and you’d look over at me. I so look forward to being out there with you again someday.

 

Play in Peace Kona.

IMG_2119IMG_1658IMG_0245Susan&Chad_W_437

Kona, AKA, Big Boy, Boo Bear, Yellow Kid, Sweet Boy, and Sweet Pea

August 2002-September 2014

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me, coachwithsusan@hotmail.com.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life