Loss

Since I last posted my world was turned upside down. My universe slowed. And the stars paled in the sky.

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Terry Whitington doing what he loved!

I lost my husband who was my soul mate (in all the right ways), best friend, partner, and great love.

It is very hard to stand up straight when you lose someone so significant. It is impossible to breathe. All that is real is the raw feeling of your heart. It feels as if it has gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. It’s bruised, cracked, crushed, and as if a part is missing.

When someone choses to die it is very hard to take. Why? Why? Why? Why? Is what you say. But when you know the why, it still doesn’t make it any easier.

Loss is all-consuming. But not in the way you might think. At least that’s what I found. It seemed impossible to believe that I would ever smile or laugh again. Days after the loss I did just that. I laughed. And I felt horrible.

I thought, “How dare I feel joy. How dare I laugh. How can I do that when I am so devastated.” I felt like a horrible person. Like I was trivializing what had just happened to someone I adored and loved. I was taken aback by the feelings.

I thought about this situation and spoke about it others. People said, “he’d want you to be happy” and “he’d want you to feel joy.” And I know all that, he would. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be happy. I wanted to be writhing on the floor in tears, keening in corners, tearing my hair out. I wanted to be wailing. Because that’s how I really felt. But I couldn’t. Something stopped me.

What was it? I don’t know for certain. But my belief tells me it is a lot of things. It is our love. It was buoying my spirit. It was allowing me to see joy even through all the pain. It is him. He was here in my heart, in my head, in my world. I felt him. I heard him. I KNOW he is here helping me get through this.

I know everyone has their belief systems and those systems have different takes on what happens when someone dies. But what I know, what I’ve experienced in the past, tells me that those we love don’t leave us right away, if ever. And that gives me peace. That allows me to laugh.

I talk to him all the time. I tell him when I’m mad at him. I tell him how much I miss him. I tell him what I’m going to do for the future. I wait for his response. I talk to him before I go to sleep. I talk to him when I wake up. All through the day I tell him that I love him. That he changed me. That our love was singularly wonderful. That everything that we went through made me the person I am today. That my strength comes from the fact that I loved him and he loved me.

That’s how I get through my loss. Some may say it’s wrong. I don’t care. Every loss is different and everyone goes through their loss in their own way.

Why? I’ll still ask this over and over. But what I chose to really work at is remembering. The way he said my name. How he loved to tease me and drive me nuts. His smile. The way it felt when he hugged me. The moments we bore our souls to each other. The joy we shared in laughter. The moments with our family. The day I married him.

Every night when I go to bed I turn off the light in my family room. As I reach for the switch I see our wedding picture. I see our faces and how we were looking at each other with just complete adoration, hope, truth, and love. That’s my last image of my day.

Loss. It’s a word that is inadequate in my book. But loss exists and we must get through it. I will get through it. He knew this about me. But how I get through it will be my own way and in my own time.

Lorena

Why Robin Williams Death Hits Us So Hard

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San Francisco, the city Robin Williams loved!

When I heard that Robin Williams had died I stopped breathing, moving, and even thinking for a moment. Everything stopped.

I felt tears welling up and my heart hurt. I couldn’t believe the news I was hearing. Instantly, I turned on the television where news stations were filled with talking about his death, who he was, his work, his life, and mostly his grace.

There on the screen was his wonderful smile with the crinkly eyes that made you know he had mischief brewing. I remained stunned.

That whole day I was so sad. I felt like a good friend had died. Not a man I’d watched on television and movies, but a friend I had meals with and talked on the phone to. I couldn’t do anything but watch clips of his standup and performances on You Tube.

I know I’m not alone. I know that countless individuals felt the same. I know because for two or more days, his death was the leading story on almost all the news shows.

I spent the next few nights watching his movies. Of course, Mrs. Doubtfire was first. Not since Tootsie has a man so perfectly encapsulated a role as a woman. And don’t we all want a Mrs. Doubtfire in our life?

I was stunned as his poor daughter was harassed by people thinking not of her loss, but of their wants. This poor girl had one of the biggest loves of her life ripped from her and everyone should understand and give her love, support, and prayer.

It is only now a week later that I am beginning to come to grips that this wonderfully caring and giving man is gone and won’t be gracing the screen with his unimaginable talent. Think about it, not only was he a comedic genius, but he nailed some truly stupendous dramatic roles. Two of my favorites, Dead Poet’s Society and Good Will Hunting show his immense and all-encompassing talent as you are awed by his believability and honesty in his roles.

I recall being in New York City many years ago and walking down a street and Robin Williams walked toward me. As he neared, my heart pounded. I didn’t say anything to him, really too shy and awed to bother him. But now I wish I had. I know it might have been an inconvenience to him, but I’m sure he would’ve taken the time to smile that smile at me and make me feel like in that moment I meant the world to him. Oh, that I had been braver when I was younger. I certainly didn’t take his advice and Carpe Diem. Had I done that, I might have a wonderful memory to assuage my sadness.

I send prayers to his family. I hope they can feel the huge outpouring of love that people had for this amazing person who shared their private world. We loved him too, maybe from afar or in dark theatres, but the love was true.

As a last thought. Remember that life is fragile. It is beautiful, wondrous, and can be so fleeting. Make the most of your life. Carpe Diem a little more and laugh as much as possible. I think Robin Williams would find that a good motto to live by.

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

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Hello friends,

I have been pulled into a wonderful aspect of the internet, the blog tour. I’ve done one before, but this one is dedicated to writing so of course I figured this was the best way to try it out.

First, I want to thank Barbara Ehrentreu from Barbara’s Musings for inviting me to this tour. Here’s more about her. Just click her blog name above to visit her blog.

Barbara E at Muse's book signing_ copyBarbara lives with her family in Stamford, CT. She is the author of a young adult novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and has another novel, After, also young adult, coming this fall. She has contributed to Prompted: An International Collection of Poetry and Beyond the Dark Room. Several of her poems are published in various magazines online. Poetry comes to her when she needs to express what she is feeling.

So here’s a secret look into my writing process:

What am I currently working on?

I am doing double right now. I’m finishing the very last fine tuning on my book, Meeting Ms. Monroe. It’s a novel about Marilyn Monroe, with a twist. I’ve also begun work on another novel about a police officer that can handle anything on the job and his only fear is losing his wife. This fear becomes real when she gets sick and he has to be her caregiver. Here he learns that all his skills haven’t prepared him for the battle against illness and the travails of taking care of someone you love.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, the biggest thing is I don’t stick with one genre. My first book was a memoir called Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy  Godmother. My next two books, Beatrice Munson and House on Plunkett Street, would probably be chick lit. My third and fourth novels, The X and Coaster, were thrillers laced with whodunnits. My next book is kinda a historical fiction about Marilyn Monroe. I guess that’s what makes me different. I don’t stay in one genre.

Why do I write/create what I do?

Well because the stories want to be written. I get an idea and I write it down as soon as I can. I write whatever I think or see about characters, situations, or plot. I don’t worry about anything but getting the words onto paper. Then I save it. When the time is right the book tells me it’s ready to be written.

    How does my writing/creating process work?

Usually I get an idea. And that idea can have been in my head for a while working its way to the surface or I can go somewhere and something can get triggered. But once I’ve done the initial purge of characters and such then I wait. When the story is ready I start writing. I don’t really outline other than the one page quick synopsis. That’s because a lot of time the characters take me in different directions. Then I just start writing. I don’t worry about the way it looks but what the work is saying.  I just write down what I see in my mind. After each time I’ve written I start at the beginning and read up to the point I’ve gotten. During this part I clean things up and streamline. That’s why I write every day so that I don’t lose the voice of the characters and writing.

It’s been fun to share a bit about how I work. I’d like to introduce you to a wonderful new voice on the writing scene, Peggy Nolan. Please go visit her and her take on her writing process.

peggy picPeggy Nolan is a self proclaimed vanquisher of fear, slayer of self-doubt and she’s determined to be courageously creative. Peggy recently published her award winning flash fiction piece, The Hunger, to Kindle. You can keep up with Peggy on her website, PeggyNolan.com, where she sprinkles love and magic into everything she writes. Peggy lives in Derry, NH with her husband, Richard.

 

 

 

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