Tag Archives: writing

Releasing the Year


This year I’m finding rituals to be quite comforting and helpful. They are an important part of the grief process and have allowed me to let go. Each day that I kept track of Brian’s medication, dosed out his pills, helped him bathe and dress, fed him, and loved him allowed me to let go of him knowing I’d given my best and my all. Watching his body be prepared and taken from this house enabled me to release him a little more, Feeling the weight of the box of ashes showed me that life is not permanent and we have to release our attachment to it when the time comes. Celebrating his life during his memorial service gave me the means to let him loose, so to speak, into the world of memories and moments that are shared by all who knew him.

Throughout each step in grieving, I’ve experienced glorious and excruciating emotions. I’ve fought some and invited others, but each one is essential in completing the process of surrendering a loved one and releasing our tight grip on them. That certainly doesn’t mean I have thrown away what we shared. No, quite the opposite. I’m learning to put our past together in its proper place, holding it dear.

Along the road to wholeness, I’m finding the significance of releasing the past to make way for the future. So I’m preparing during December to leave 2012 behind, not forgetting it, but letting it stand as a milestone of learning in this crazy and beautiful thing called life. My sister in-law (also my friend and kindred spirit) gifted me with a tangible way to move from this year to the one that is right around the corner. My project the other night was to create a page of gratitude. I broke out my markers and set to work, filling the blank white space with words. That turned into the Wordle you see above. Funny thing… once you start writing down all you’re grateful for, you think of new things to add. I keep revisiting that page and adding to it. Gratitude grows the more you acknowledge it.

My word for October was Promise. When November rolled around I turned to Renewal. In thinking ahead to December, the first word I thought of was Release, so it is fitting that I have been focusing on saying good-bye to what has been a devastating and delightful year. It has brought challenges and I’ve somehow managed to overcome each one. I’ll never forget 2012; it will no doubt stand out as a turning point, the place where I had to stand and look behind me and then press on to what was ahead with courage and curiosity. I’m finding a sweet satisfaction in reflection and release as I slowly and fondly bid farewell to the year. The next question in my Incredible Year Workbook is “Are you ready?” I can say with enthusiasm (and a few jitters): Yes! I will check that box with a brightly colored flourish!

Releasing the Past to Make Way for the Future = Joy

Pen & Paper Therapy


Wow and thank you. The responses I have received to Waiting for Normal have made a big difference in my week. Not only did you leave nice comments, but I got text messages and emails that also encouraged me to “just keep swimming” and know that normalcy will return, albeit in a new form! I even had a spark of normal when I woke up feeling rested and refreshed this morning.

The longer I navigate the waters of grief, the more I come to deeply appreciate that there are common experiences (oh, the joy of knowing you are not alone), but there is freedom in moving through those sometimes treacherous seas in your own way. One of the most trying emotions to work through, for me, is anger. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a peacemaker and avoid anger and negativity if at all possible, or if there is some guilt associated with being angry at someone who is dead. The reality, however, is that I’ve had moments of being truly angry and I’ve had to find my own way to deal with the madness of being mad!

Paper and pen are where I find my outlet. I have said before and I’ll say it again, that keeping a journal is incredibly therapeutic and I can’t recommend it highly enough. When I toss and turn it sometimes helps to write down what I’m wrestling with. When I’m really sad I just put the pen to the paper and usually I work through the sadness. If I’m angry, it helps to write as though I’m speaking to the one “causing” the anger. I’ve written letters to Brian telling him that I’m mad at him for dying and leaving me alone and talking about how he is missing out on what was supposed to be our next big adventure. There have also been times I’ve been so angry with people who have hurt me that I’ve written down all the horrible things I’d like to say… and then I tear those pages up. It moves me to a place of forgiveness. My journals also help me when I talk to others about what I’m going through. I’ve typically processed so many feelings that I’m able to string my words together and really communicate what’s going on. And when those conversations leave me with questions, I head back to the blank page and seek answers. Last, but certainly not least, I write about the good, the joy, the happy tines, and the love I feel. Those are moments I don’t want to forget, moments I want to be able to look back on and say, “Aha! I am loved and cared for. I do have reason to keep going and find my joy.”

I’m certainly not going to say that you must start a journal. I’m simply saying that this has been working for me on my worst and best days, and all the ones in between. We all have things inside us that can boil over and explode, sometimes as destructive bombs and other times as awesome fireworks. Avoiding the destructive explosions is my personal goal. There is enough of that in the world already. So I diffuse those by purging my mind of negativity and hurt on the pages of my journal. I’m all for shooting off beautiful fireworks of positivity, but I don’t want to forget those flashes of goodness, so I record those in my journal so I can hang on to the memories.

Joyful on Purpose is where I share with you and write just a small portion of my heartaches and also my happiness. I hope it’s been a place for you to come for refuge when you are feeling clobbered by your circumstances and need to know you are not alone. I hope it’s also been a place for you to celebrate your joy as you read how I’m able to find mine. Thanks for being part of my journal and my joy.

Pen & Paper Therapy = Joy

Playing Favorites


Today is a good day for thinking warm thoughts and reflecting on things that make me happy. Part of being Joyful on Purpose is looking around and noticing the little things that make your everyday more delightful, the tiny details that make you smile. I have a lot of favorite things. Now, I will warn you that this list is not going to be nearly as impressive as Oprah’s and not a single one of you will be receiving these things as part of my virtual studio audience, but perhaps looking at them will cause you to look around your own room or house, or even your office, and notice the joyful things that surround you. Without further ado…

Purple is one of my favorite colors lately. It’s kind of funny because I loved purple as a child, but fell out of love with it as I grew older. Now it shows up everywhere for me. Hmm, could it be because it’s the color of royalty? 😉 Maybe. These pillows are on my bed and I love the colors and textures of them. They make great seating and good lap desks and, well, they are just pretty.

I love wine corks! I don’t care much for the new ones… the corks not made of cork. This is a love I cannot explain.

My modest collection of malas bring me joy. Each one has a different meaning and no matter what religious tradition you come from, you can find a purpose for malas. Count your blessings, repeat your mantras or affirmations, say your prayers, find your sense of calm. I’m especially fond of the one in the center because of the meaning of the beads and also because I appreciate and admire the person who gave it to me.

This is a small stone I picked up on a trip to the mountains. It’s a tiny reminder to me that I need to trust others and myself. It reminds me that things are going to be okay and I can trust my intuition.

I love my “not a bookshelf” and it’s ever-changing collection of books and treasures. I have things up there that remind me of trips I’ve taken, places I’ve lived, the losses and gains I’ve experienced, some simply wonderful reading material that makes me laugh, cry, and teaches me about myself and others, and my very favorite book of all time, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s also a great place for my sock monkeys to hang out. Maybe I talk to them… maybe they talk back!

Sharpies. Where do I begin in my declaration of love for Sharpies? I love everything about them from the array of colors to the fine point that grows fatter the more the marker is used. I like to write notes, draw pictures, sign cards and letters. Sigh… yes, I love you, Sharpies.

I also have a love for mini legal pads (which are technically not legal pads I guess). I love them so much I buy them in bulk. I think I like them because they are small, but look important! I also love Pilot G-2 pens. I go through two or three a month… yeah, I’m a little weird in my love for paper and writing instruments! Those little pens are the only ones allowed to grace the pages of my journals unless tragedy strikes and I’m outta ink.

This picture doesn’t mean I love clothes. I like them. I’m a supporter of wearing them. But what I do love is a closet that’s organized by color. Yeah, it’s pretty practical and that would be a word that describes me. But, to be honest, it just makes me smile when I open the closet and see that everything is where it should be, all the colors in order.

Finally, on this chilly Colorado day that began with a blanket of fresh snow on the ground, I absolutely love my apothecary jar filled with souvenirs from the sea. I love my tiny, perfect sand dollar, my pieces of coral, the shells I’ve collected and one or two I’ve purchased because they are too hard to find, and my little stone stingray that brings back memories of beaches, sand, salty water, and fresh tropical air. I’m content where I am right now, but I can’t help smiling when I recall the beautiful Florida coast and my beloved sea.

Look around you today and find the pieces of your world that bring you joy and happiness.

Favorites = Joy

The Missing Words


It used to be that you had to clear out closets and boxes and such after someone died. Now you have to add cleaning out email accounts and computer files. Tonight I was clearing out folders, decluttering mentally and otherwise. Tucked away in one of Brian’s files on the computer was a letter he started to me almost a year ago, September 30, 2011. He had written “The Life of Brian” across the top of the letter, but it began with his pet name for me. I’m not sure how I missed it all this time, except that I didn’t know to go looking for it. It was an apology for the way things had been going and a peek into our world at that time from his point of view. He’d been trying to look at life from 10,000 feet instead of just 20, to get a glimpse of things from a greater vantage point and find perspective. It leaves me with more questions than answers… it was never finished and, unfortunately, I cannot go ask him what else he wanted to say. I can’t ask what he needed to say.

Last week I posted a picture that I found somewhere. It is suddenly even more apropos now than it was then. So, tonight, I leave you with that picture.

Please read the words carefully and take them to heart. Don’t take the chance on leaving behind a partial letter, missing words that can never be found and filled in, thoughts that can never be shared. Tell people what they mean to you, tell them you are sorry, tell them you love them, tell them you need them, tell them you care, tell them everything they need to know – no matter how insignificant it may seem – before time slips away…

I’m grateful for the sentences that made it onto the page, but I can’t quite get over what was left unsaid.

Never Leaving Things Unspoken = Joy

Facing Fears and Letting the Rebel Win


“Write a book!” they said. “Okay, I think I will!” I said. [insert sound of laughter] So, here the pages sit before me. 49,895 words that need to be edited and revised before the really serious writing begins.

I have been putting the project off for a while, not because I’m afraid to start or afraid to fail. Wait, that’s not true. That’s actually a whopper of a lie. I’m very afraid to start and exceedingly afraid of failing. But that’s not why I haven’t started. It’s because I’m about to relive 112 days that I never in my wildest imagination thought I’d experience. I’m about to put in all the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and words that I wasn’t able to say at the time and also the new revelations I’ve had since May 28th.

There are probably some rules written somewhere on the proper way to write a book: how to organize, schedule, write, edit, revise, edit again, etc. There are no doubt things I should do and things I shouldn’t do. And I’m one of those who would follow all the rules…normally. I adore a good schedule! I love a list of dos and don’ts! But this week I’ve been encouraged and dared to stop being practical, to challenge the way I think things should be done and follow my own way. So I sat down and had a conversation with myself (Practical Jacque and Rebel Jacque have interesting talks… Practical Jacque wins a lot; Rebel Jacque pouts a lot) about how I need to approach my project, my new baby. It began with Practical Jacque saying, “You’ve already got a blog. You don’t need to write a book, and what if no one buys it? What if you don’t even finish it? It’s going to take a lot of time and energy that could be spent elsewhere.” It ended with Rebel Jacque saying, “Shut up and write…” So, here it goes!

Today, do something impractical. Break your own rules (but not any laws, please… wink, wink). Follow your own dreams. Take a chance in even a little way. Face your fear of starting something by starting something! Face your fear of failure by failing and then starting over again!

Starts, Stops, and Failures = Joy