Send in the Second String

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Sink hole I took on the beach.

I find it so weird that the time that I feel hit the hardest with the loss of my husband is when I’m driving home after substitute teaching. I miss him other times of course, but when I’ve finished my day and am driving home I am hit with enormous emotions.

The other day, after a very tough day of subbing, I could barely make it to my car before I started crying. Wait. Not just crying, but sobbing with those big gulps of breath and squinty eyes as tears streamed down my face. Halfway home, and still in the thralls of this episode, the screaming began. I felt such anger, frustration, and pain that crawled up my throat until I expelled it vocally.

That didn’t end when I reached the safety of my home. Then the real screaming began. I cursed. I yelled. I just…lost it.

Today on the commute home I felt those emotions returning and I thought, why do I keep feeling this so strongly now?

That’s when it hit me.

It’s because this isn’t the life I chose. I didn’t pick this path, it was thrust upon me. And now I feel like I have to take the second string and make it my starting line up. And I resent that.

I mean, I know I have to live and go on and make a new life. I know. I know. But that’s when my grief, loss, and seven other bazillion emotions hit me. Cause I didn’t want this life. I wanted to have a long and happy life with my husband while we both followed our dreams and created amazing books and drums. I wanted to travel with him to Italy and see history, art, and the beauty of the country.  I wanted to grow old together and die together like the couple in The Notebook.

Instead I have to go back out into the world alone. I have to create a new career. I have to take care of things I didn’t really want to deal with. And I have to find a way to be happy.

When I’m driving home from my new endeavor I feel all of this. I know it’s normal to feel things like this. I know I will get through it at some point in my life. I know that some day in the future I will be happy. But right now it all seems so far off and unattainable.

Grief doesn’t make sense. It’s like a ninja jumping out and attacking you when you least expect it.

However, I guess there is something good in knowing the why of my breakdowns every day. It absolutely makes it easier to figure out how to deal with it.

Every day I learn something new about myself. Some things are good. Some are bad. I have learned I am like Wonder Woman strong. I have learned that I am rusty at making decisions for myself. I have learned that being a human being is a constant flux of adaption.

Nietzsche said, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”  Said often and heard all the time, I can tell you that he knew what he was talking about.

Lorena

Those Dang Grief Steps

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I took this picture of a painting at a SF art gallery. This is what grief feels like.

I started going through the grief steps with you in this blog and I thought it would be a one after another kind of thing. But that’s not how this works. Instead, I find myself  jumping around through them all.

The Elizabeth Kublor Ross grief cycle is : denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This cycle is pretty true, however, I don’t think everyone feels it the same way or has all the components involved in their grief.

I never felt the denial. As I stated in my previous post I didn’t have much denial. I mean, how do you deny that someone is gone? I understood why my husband left. So for me denying it wasn’t an issue.

Same with bargaining. I mean, what am I going to bargain for? A Lazarus moment? My husband is dead. He isn’t coming back. No amount of bargaining is going to change that.

But anger, depression, and acceptance have been my go-to buddies. I bounce around through them all. Sometimes they all come to visit in a single day. I feel a bit schizophrenic sometimes as I begin bawling during my cool down at Zumba because the song just struck me so hard. Then when I get home I throw something cause I’m so damn angry. It’s tumultuous and heart-wrenching and most of all, it’s very lonely.

I’m so very blessed to have sensational people loving and supporting me. But I can’t tell them everything. And I can’t call people who are living their life to stop what they’re doing because I’m having a knock-down-drag-out with anger.

There are things in life that if you haven’t experienced them, you just don’t understand. It’s not from lack of trying, but it’s just impossible to understand if you haven’t walked in their shoes.

Everyone’s grief is their own. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot escape the grieving process. It’s a solitary thing. Others can love you and listen to you, but they can’t fix what’s happened and they can’t take away the pain. It’s constant. It’s like a rat gnawing a rope.

I’m moving on. I have to. Curling up in a ball and just ignoring the reality is not anything I’d ever be able to do. I’m a doer. I keep myself busy. I make lists of things to do. I keep moving. Keep busy. Don’t stop.

But that doesn’t always work either.

What strikes at my soul and lays me bare is that my husband, my best friend, my partner in business, my confidant, my lover, and one of the best people I ever knew, is gone. He’s not coming back. I have to learn to live my life without him. And it’s fucking hard.

I can make all the lists I want, but I can’t ask him what he thinks. I can keep busy doing things, but I come home to an empty house. I can wear myself out with details, but I still crawl into bed at night alone. This is the reality.

I know I’m strong. Honestly, I had no idea how strong I was until this happened. I mean, I knew I was a pretty tough chick. I’d endured some struggles and pains and gotten through them. But I never understood the human component for survival until this. This is when your true nature grabs your sad, frightened, worried, nervous persona and drags it by the neck to who you really are. It puts a mirror in front of you and says, “You are this. You are this strong. You can do this and don’t ever forget it.”

This is why I’m still standing. Because my nature demands it. This is why I’ve made plans for the future and am acting on those plans. Because I don’t have any other choice.

Call it what you will, the Elizabeth Kublor Ross grief cycle on steroids or just the true nature of who I am, I don’t know. But I will move forward.

It’s funny but in many of those bad places when I can’t see more than five minutes ahead I hear Terry in my head. He says, “You mean the world to me, I adore you, I love you.” And something in that soothing phrase makes me know that I can’t sit in this place of inaction. He wouldn’t want me to. He wouldn’t want me to lay down and quit. He wants me to live on . To more than live on, to thrive, grow, experience, travel, change, adapt, be happy, love, smile, and absorb the wonderfulness of life.

So I will.

Lorena

Dog days of Summer at the Beach

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Took while strolling on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Summer implies vacation. It inspires eating ice cream. And of course, a part of every summer when I was a kid was going to the beach. Living in Northern California and close to San Francisco, our beach of choice was Santa Cruz.

The day we spent would start early because we’d have to travail through Hwy 17 and traffic was inevitable. Once we made it over the hill and landed in the small town of Santa Cruz, our hearts began to beat with the thrill of the ocean and the rides at the Boardwalk.

If you’ve seen the older movie, The Lost Boys, then you’ll become very familiar with the location. That movie, by the way was our Twilight and introduction to vampires as the boy next door.IMG_1945

During this foray to the beach we’d bake in the sun a little. Eat taffy, corn dogs, and ice cream. Then we’d go on the rides. It was more than just fun, often it was the opportunity to sit close to the boy you liked but couldn’t tell him how much you did. Much young love blossomed in the white wood roller coaster called, The Big Dipper.

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My granddaughter and I on the Ferris wheel.

As I got older we didn’t go to The Boardwalk anymore. In fact, my most recent visit was with my teenage kids, fiancée, and grandkids. But, as soon as I stepped on the Boardwalk I could smell the suntan lotion (okay, it was sunscreen but in my brain smelled like my orange gelee Bain de Soleil with a spf of 4) and my mouth started watering for anything fried.

 

What is a summer memory for you that you will never forget?

Have you returned to the place of your youthful indiscretions in a whole new way?
Let me know…I want to live vicariously.

Lorena Bathey
www.LorenaBBooks.com

Summertime and the Living is Easy?

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Summer on San Francisco Bay

Summer dawns and there is a collective breathing out. The kids are out of school so no more frenzied mornings getting food into children’s mouths, said kids out the door, and yourself to wherever you have to be.

The first morning where kids sleep in is wonderful. You can fill your mug with coffee and sit at the table in thought. Silent thought.

The weather warms. Some go on vacation. The nights stay lighter longer.

Many want to get away and take a breath from their lives. However, they can’t because of commitments. How can you enjoy a recoup without breaking the bank or taking too much time?

Simple. Choose one weekend out of the summertime to do only things you want to do. Block off the weekend. Make no other plans. Black it out.

Then only plan things you want to do. Sleep in. Make pancakes. Talk a walk. Go swimming. Spend time with your kids. Or don’t. Have a bar-b-que. Eat ice cream (or frozen yogurt). Sleep in a tent in your backyard or living room. Make smore’s.

Whatever feels like summer to you. That’s what you do.

You’ll be amazed how a weekend of doing only what you want can decompress. It will boost you up and give you the deep breath you need. The chance to move away from the de rigor and play summertime hooky will fill up your tank and let you coast through summer’s playful time.

Let me know what activities are summer to you.

Lorena Bathey

 

Staying the course.

Life throws curves. Those curve balls really hurt when we get hit with them. But what do you do about it?

Reading about the editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson, that was recently fired I was impressed by her speech at a graduation. She told them to follow advice her father had given her as a young girl, “Show what you’re made of.”

This is a powerful phrase and I think could be an anchor to staying your course. Persevering is the toughest part of obtaining your goals. It’s hard to keep the forward progress when people are being naysayers, issues create stumbling blocks, and well, life is life.

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Bird on the beach.

“Show what you’re made of.”

Do you know what that is? When I read that statement I physically feel myself stand taller. My feet feel rooted and my heart goes, “YES!” It’s empowering to know that I am strong, smart, and no wuss.

I have been pummeled of late with life’s powerful curve balls and I’ve just learned to bob and weave. I am staying my course with vengeance.

Are you? If you need another anchor to keep you solid, don’t look outside of you. Look inside.

“Show what you’re made of.”

Lorena

Visit my website at Lorena B Books

 

Customer Service.

SONY DSCRemember the good ole days? You know when you went into stores and businesses and they stood up and said, “Welcome.” And then offered to help you?

Today it feels more like you have to bring a rope and lasso and hogtie someone to answer any questions you might have. If you happen to find someone, they usually don’t know the answer, and instead of going to find out the answer, they walk away.

This amazes me every day. Even after years of customer service falling by the wayside, it still shocks me when I, the customer, is treated as if I didn’t come in here to spend money but are simply annoying the clerk.

Even more incredulous to me is when I actively seek out businesses, because I might want to hire them to do something for me, and they don’t respond. I can only assume they are so busy and making so much money that they don’t need my business.

When I started my first job at sixteen at Burger King, that was the first thing they taught me. The customer is always right. It was the motto you lived by as you shuffled burgers and fries to the masses. That phrase stuck and I’ve used it throughout my life in the many retail jobs I’ve had during college and as side jobs.

But now, I don’t think anyone hears that phrase anymore. The customer is always right. Is that the truth, of course not. Many customers are insensitive jerks. But, if you choose to be of service to someone, then that phrase should be your mantra.

It isn’t any revelation to anyone reading this that service has fallen. I’m sure it is due to busy lives, stress, too much worrying about problems, etc. But maybe it’s as simple as we have forgotten what courtesy is.

Not just in a customer service situation. The lack of courtesy when someone steps in front of you when you’re walking in a door. Or someone not saying excuse me when they bump into you. Or driving…I think that’s a whole different blog.

We as a culture are slowly slipping into no manners, thoughtlessness, and an abyss that our great grandparents would shudder to see.

So, my challenge is this. What can you do today to be courteous?

Lorena

 

Fear.

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Monster cupcakes my daughter made for my grandson’s birthday!

It’s a dirty word. It’s a self-help tag word. It’s different depending on your age. But fear is a slippery slope that can take you down if you let it.

When I was little I thought that a monster was under my bed at night. If I turned on my side while sleeping during the night, then the monster would come up from under the bed and shoot me. So, for most of my youth I would go to sleep flat on my back, arms to my side, covers pulled up to my nose, and a blanket over the top of my head. Sounds comfy, huh?

I would check every night under my bed before I got in. I KNEW that there really wasn’t a monster under my bed, but when the lights went out all that logic went out, too.

Now, I’m a grown up. And while I’m not afraid of the monster under my bed anymore, I am afraid of grown-up fears. Inadequacy. Financial disaster. Health issues. Losing those you love. These are much bigger monsters.

The question is, am I still lying flat on my back with the covers pulled up and a blanket over my head? And if I was, would that really save me from the monsters?

No. The monsters will come. No matter what you do monsters created from fear always come to us. Not just once, mind you, but over and over again. How we vanquish our fear is how we are best able to reign over the monsters.

For me, I had to really spend time revamping the voices in my head. Because these voices are game changers. They are all the bad things you’ve ever heard or thought about yourself running on a loop 24/7. I had to disengage from that loop. It was constant re-writing and then listening to my heart instead which is so much smarter.

You’ll never vanquish fear. You have to use it to get you where you want to be. Whether it’s to turn fear around and motivate yourself with courage. Or maybe being brave and just diving right in and facing whatever the obstacle is. Whatever way you choose, you will find you come out stronger and much smarter.

This process slowly allows you to take a new attitude towards the monsters hiding in your life. It becomes a “come and get some” attitude that gives you the strength to get over and through whatever life throws at you.

Ready…set…go!

Lorena

 

Hero. Part 1

In today’s fast-paced, gotta have it now, can’t wait more than a minute society it is nice when a hero arises that we can hold up and say, Yeah, Dude!

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Man Drums hand painted flame drum kit! http://www.ManDrums.com

Today that hero is Dave Grohl. Now don’t freak out, he’s a rock star. Yes, my hero right now is a rocker.

Why is Mr. Grohl my hero? Because every time I hear about him, this guy is keeping it real. He’s being kind. He’s talking about music, art, and people.  He comments from his experience of how teaching yourself to play instruments, playing in your garage, and NOT using Autotunes (like how the greats did it) is how music comes from the heart.

I know people disagree with him. I don’t.

I think our society has lost a lot of creativity searching instead for the almighty buck. Instead of creating from your angst, pain, or joy everyone is looking for to make the next 50 Shades of Gray book series or a song where the computers do more work than the singer. With this greed we’ve lost the amazing talent where creativity comes from.

This belief system is slowly undermining our world, it certainly is our children. When they clamor for Miley Cyrus instead of really hearing the beauty of Nina Simone. The quality is disappearing for the quantity.

I recently saw Dave’s documentary, Sound City. (which I highly recommend) This is his journey to save the Neve console where bands created some of the most iconic sounds in music. Bands like Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slipknot…etc., rocked it out without the help of computers and created sounds that are raw, real, and in my opinion, amazing. His reason for buying this board and moving it to his own studio was not as a museum piece, but because he wanted to use it to create that raw sound again.

What makes Mr. Grohl my hero is that he is real.

There is so much fakery today. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian rise in this society for all the wrong reasons. So because I love that Dave Grohl still rocks out with the Foo Fighters in dive bars on random nights, realizes that he’s not a rock star to his kids, and managed to create the first Foo Fighter’s album all by himself to deal with the death of his friend, Kurt Cobain, is why he is my hero.

Check him out. Then tell me if he’s now your hero too!

Lorena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patience. A Dirty Word?

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Patience can often feel like this shot I took driving down the 5 freeway.

Oh my, how I have had to work on this aspect of my life, my WHOLE life. Patience has reared its head so often I feel like I should’ve just taken it as my name.

So how do you master this most exhausting of, what, attributes? Or virtues? Who cares what it’s called. We need it in our lives.

Patience for me has always been trying not to make decisions in a knee-jerk fashion. Anyone else do this? You know you see something, especially something that you’ve been worried about, and then just make a decision quickly? Thinking, at least I’m done with that problem.

My husband suffered a very debilitating disease and I have spent the last year taking care of him. Wanna learn about patience? Be a caregiver. It was frustrating that I couldn’t make him better. That one deliciously made grilled cheese sandwich wasn’t going to heal him. What is making him better is time. Lots of time.

This situation made me change my behaviors. I had to learn to slow down because my health was being affected too. I had to let go of things I couldn’t fix. Had to trust that something bigger than me had a plan.

I think patience and faith go hand in hand. One without the other really doesn’t gel. To have patience you must believe that there is a reason something is happening. And that reason often relies on your faith.

So join me on this journey to having patience in your life.

You can look at my post on the 24 rule to find a tip that might help you raise your level of patience.

Lorena

 

Being in the moment!

People say all the time you gotta be in the moment, but what does that mean?

For me, being in the moment means being fully present. That means turning off the checklist in my brain that I constantly have running.

It means putting the camera, phone, iPad, computer and anything with an electric current away. Remember before you had all these instruments you just did this archaic thing called, remembering.

????????I find that sometimes I am so busy documenting whatever it is I’m doing that I don’t really enjoy or feel what is going on. I have started putting the camera away and just being there. Letting my mind take mental pictures and reliving them later in my memory.

We have the most amazing technological instrument of all time that resides with us constantly. It’s always downloading the newest version. It’s your brain. Your thoughts. Your memory.

Try it for me, just once. Go to an event, performance, wherever and don’t take your phone or camera. Instead, just watch everything. Take it all in with your eyes. Breathe deeply to capture the scent. Feel what’s around you. If there’s food or drink, enjoy it slowly.

Then see how long you remember that moment and how that memory will connect with your heart making it engrained in your soul. This will never leave you and it will never be accidentally erased or lost.

Try it…I think you’ll like it.

Lorena