Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for August, 2012

Life Transitions

In an interview recently, the talented singer, Melissa Etheridge said, “Life is just a journey you never get it done.” If this is so than learning to enjoy the ride through the changes and challenging life transitions that can disrupt your comfort zone is the path.

Life is simply a series of changes. There is really no such thing as staying ‘status quo.’ These changes may be welcomed or thrust upon us dramatically. They can cause us to feel anxious, fragile or at least a bit uncertain. We wonder, will I be able to get through this one?

The ” what ifs” creep into our thinking. We begin to perseverate on everything that may go wrong. Just remember the rule, 99% of what we worry about never happens. In my book, Just Behind the Door, my son has told me repeatedly, “Mom, everything is as it should be.” Even when talking about his death he repeated that phrase. I finally get it. It took a long time.

Transitions in life give us an opportunity to truly think about who we are, what we want our lives to be about and what legacy we choose to leave this world. The ultimate question seems to be, did I make the world a little better off by being in it? Did I bring joy into the world?

There are people who traverse through life changes more easily than others. They seem to possess specific traits: confidence and a belief in tomorrow, the ability to analyze the past to discover the golden nugget – the life lesson learned – and they listen and follow their inner intuitive voice. As R. Bach said, ” A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction…It feels an impulsion…this is the place to go now.”

We can look at life transitions in one of two ways; as a gift or as a burden. I choose the gift perspective. Why? Life transitions are all about learning our lessons – in other words- the reason we are here. They expand our ability to see, feel and function at a higher level. As we get through one challenge after another in life, we begin to fear less and gain greater self confidence. We are able to accept the world and the people in it with less judgment and more grace. We remember, we have never walked a mile in their shoes.

When you reflect back on your life, can you see how the moments that were the most difficult, the life transitions that were most severe, taught you invaluable lessons? Having lived through them, you now have a deeper knowing about truth, life and the Universe.

Melissa Etheridge is right – life is about the journey- both the challenging, gut wrenching times as well as the exciting and rewarding ones. Each step of the way, each life transition, teaches us that we will survive, we are resilient and that we can make the world a better place.

Make the next few days the best ever!

12 Minute Meditation That Works

Loss, stress, and aging take a toll on our mind and body. We all have moments when we can’t remember something. At first we may dismiss it and think that we have too much on our minds. However, when the frequency of memory lapse seems to be increasing, it is time to get serious and do something about it. Fortunately, there are leading neuroscientists discovering ways that can increase our memory function, attention span, information processing, problem solving and social decision making skills.

A proactive way to increase brain function is explained in the book, How GOD Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg, MD and Mark Waldman. It is called Kirtan Kriya meditation (KKM). A short synopsis of the technique is that it involves 3 things; breathing, sound and movement. The four sounds of sa, ta, na, ma, are chanted or sung out loud to whatever notes you want to give them. While you are singing each sound, touch your index fingers to your thumbs for ‘sa’, middle fingers to thumbs on ‘ta’, ring fingers to thumbs for ‘na’ and little fingers to thumbs for ‘ma.’ The authors recommend doing this daily for 12 minutes before getting out of bed in the morning.

As I started practicing this type of meditation I noticed that it quickly stops that monkey chatter in my mind. You can learn more about this through Newberg’s book, or googling Kirtan Kriya. There is even an 8 minute YouTube video demonstrating the technique.

In addition to all of the other benefits, meditation helps us become more in tune with the Universal Energy source and can further open our channels for hearing, seeing and feeling from our loved ones on the other side. In my book, Just Behind the Door, I have shared a decade of conversations I have had with my son, mother and sister who have passed on. During my book talks people have asked me how they can learn to communicate with their loved ones. I feel that the Kirtan Kriya meditation technique makes sense. I know it works. Give it a try- even for a week- and let me know what you experienced.

Have a great few days!

Finding Your Own Truth

This focus of this blog is on loss and how to move on with life. In addition to death, divorce and separation there are many other types of losses. The loss of self-respect, personal security, and confidence in a better tomorrow are additional areas that can paralyze a person, now or in the future. A traumatic event such as rape can be buried in the psyche and resurface with a vengeance years later. In the meantime, the individual may live with insecurities and fears that don’t even seem reasonable to an outsider.

Statistics show that 90 percent of rapes are NEVER reported. Further, according to an article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology well over 32,000 pregnancies are the result of rape each year. That’s a lot of walking wounded sisters out there – and we remain quiet.

This week when I heard Representative Todd Akin from Missouri say, (pregnancy from rape) ” is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” I thought to myself, surely no one in 2012 could be that ill-informed. Unfortunately, not true. A senator, Chuck Winder from Boise, Idaho added insult to injury recently when he supported adding a mandatory ultrasound procedure prior to an abortion in a piece of proposed legislation. In doing so, he raised the question, ” whether or not women would understand whether they had been raped.” Sounds as ridiculous as the statement by representative Stephen Freind from Pennsylvania who, in 1988 said, ” the odds of a woman who is raped getting pregnant are, “one in millions and millions and millions.” Not accurate.

I understand that the topic of abortion is controversial. Every one should have the right to their own opinion, this is America. However, when misinformation or fear is used in an effort to further a political or religious opinion, it is time to stand up and be counted. I believe that the statement, “the truth shall set us free,” applies to each of us. Our job is to find our OWN truth and be willing to live and speak it.

Have a great few days!

Loss Comes in Many Forms

Many times we think of loss in terms of death or divorce.  However, as we age we experience a loss of physical, mental and emotional capacity. We aren’t quite as fast as we used to be.  What happened?  Just last year I could do…(fill in the blank). What happened was simply life. These changes are difficult for us to accept and difficult for others as well.

As a Hospice volunteer, I see the full range of loss. Regardless of the type of loss, there are predictable human needs. Everyone wants to be appreciated and treated with respect. From time to time we all experience unease about the future. Most importantly, we all need unconditional love and support from our friends and family.

Our journeys – our challenges – are unique, but our human need for meaningful connection is the thread that holds our lives like a beautiful tapestry – together.

An excellent book on the topic of loss in reference to dementia is “I Will Never Forget” by Elaine Pereira. It is a daughter’s story about her mother’s arduous and humorous journey. Please read and/or recommend it to others. You will be helping others – one person at a time.

All is as it should be.  Have a great few days!


A dear friend called to talk about the blog from Wednesday. She said, “I can accept what you are saying in the blog … all, that is, but the last statement, All is as it should be.” She went on to explain that we may have free will but the lack of ownership by others for their life and their lessons have a compounding effect on those of us close to them. I agreed, but once again repeated, what do YOU need to learn from these situations involving others. She made a great point. I know what I mean when I repeat the statement, “All is as it should be,” and those of you who have read my book, Just Behind the Door, understand that this has been THE ongoing statement that my son, from the other side, has communicated for over a decade. It makes so much sense to me but I have lived through this communication with Ronnie for so long that it is natural. So to be clearer about the intent in the phrase let me explain.

I believe each of us agrees, pre-birth, on the lessons we will work on in this lifetime. The themes are numerous, but to list just a few: emotional independence, overcoming feelings of powerlessness or unworthiness, overcoming our fears, forgiveness, gratitude, unconditional love, the list goes on and on. We agree to experience situations in our life that will help us learn the lessons we have chosen to learn. The challenges that are presented in learning these lessons can take us to the brink of denial, anger, rebellion, withdrawal even total helplessness until we finally get it, recognize it and learn from it. Remember no one but YOU agreed to work on the lessons that you are dealing with in your life. It is, as if, first God/Universal Energy whispers, (this is the first time the lesson is presented) then speaks ( a similar, more dramatic experience presented a second time) then shouts with an even more difficult, challenging situation the third (or more) time the lesson surfaces. The experiences just keep adding up, causing us tremendous hurt and challenge until, one day, we GET IT. There is no one to blame, no one to rail at because we chose to work on the particular lesson(s) until we internalize the learning.

I have experienced the death of two husbands, my son, two sisters, mother, father and close friends. In addition, I have experienced divorce – more than once. For each experience, I railed at the Universe. Why me? What have I done wrong? I demanded that the situation be different. I felt I should be able to fix it, if I just tried hard enough. Gradually, as I learned more, an “aha” happened. Now, I realize that my life is about accepting that I cannot control everything, to have greater faith in God/Universal Energy and, along the way, to learn to love myself. I guess I was a remedial learner who needed to experience many losses to finally get it!

So, when I say, “All is as it should be,” it is. When we look back – hindsight is always 20/20 – we have a greater awareness, if not acceptance, as to the why.

What lesson are you working on?

Happiness from the Inside

Last night I was talking to a friend and said, “I am happy from the inside out.” Having lived through many life traumas, most recently the suicide of her husband, she said, “Wow, I never thought about happiness that way.” Those of you who have been following my blogs or who have read my book, Just Behind the Door, understand that I have also experienced many, many losses in my life. I do not talk from theory but from experience.

It may seem strange to talk about happiness on a website dealing with loss but it is something worth considering. Research has found that prosperity, health and physical attractiveness are only MINIMALLY related to one’s overall happiness. True, genetics does play a part in the happiness level of each person but ONLY a part. In fact, researchers have actually written a book on the topic of our “happiness set point.” Their work concludes that beyond circumstance and genetics, each of us has an additional 40% that we control in reference to our happiness index. Just think about that for a moment, 40% control – totally at our discretion – to determine how we will live our life. Amazing, isn’t it? We have the power to determine if we will be happy or sad, kind or offensive, giving or taking. The choice is always up to us.

The loss you may have had in our life will not be made easier by seeing your cup as half-empty for the rest of your life. Please think about how the loved one that you lost would want you to live the rest of your life; in sadness and remorse or ultimate happiness because of what you had the opportunity to experience.

We hear daily about the importance of having an optimistic attitude. Realizing that we CHOSE this life, with these lessons, takes away any possible issue of blame. It simply is what it is because we chose it. Accepting that allows us to forgive ourselves and others for the events of the past. We then can develop a sense of wonder – amazement even – for the people and opportunities in our future.

Make tomorrow a great day and remember, “All is as it should be.”

Cherish the Memories

When someone we love leaves us, whether it is a temporary or permanent loss, often our heart aches, we miss them, and want them back. We may know it is unreasonable in our minds but our hearts keep thinking, “If, only …” In my book, Just Behind the Door, there is a poem I included that I had read in the newspaper years ago. Since the author was anonymous, I took the liberty of making a few changes. While meeting with people recently, I had many people comment about the impact the poem has had on them. Hopefully, it will speak to you as well.

You can shed tears that she is gone or you can smile because she lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she will be back, or you can open your eyes and see all that she left for you.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her or it can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live in the yesterdays or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember only that she is gone or you can cherish the memories and let her live on in your heart.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what she would want you to do, smile, open your eyes, and truly live.
You can grieve that she is gone or you can remember that she will always be with you.

Our loved ones both here and on the other side are just a loving thought away. Unconditional love works that way. It is the Alpha and Omega of the Universe.

If you know of someone who is struggling with a separation or loss please consider passing this poem and website on to them. Your positive thought and energy may help them just when they need it the most.

Until next time, please remember