A Mental Body Scan

On most Sunday evenings, you will find me, along with 6 other friends sitting quietly in my Spirit Room having a meditation gathering. For many who lead meditation groups, a meditation session can look like a dozen different things. There is no set process, at least there shouldn’t be. What we have in common should seek quiet space, uninterrupted by phone, noise, media or other distractions. It should be welcoming, comfortable and spiritually focused. In our meditation group we are very safe and open with each other and have been for quite a few years. Our mantra about what we say and hear is simple, and not unlike another well-known statement: what is said in meditation, stays in meditation. We are completely in-trust with each other and never share information to the outside.

Every so often, I will suggest we participate in a new exercise surrounding the self and promoting good breathing and relaxation, in addition to the guided imagery we usually experience. This past week, I asked the group if they would be willing to do a guided internal body scan. I was looking forward to leading them verbally through the journey, while still participating myself. Always a little tricky – doing the talking AND doing the doing.

There are good and healthy reasons for trying and repeating a body scan meditation. Being part of the medical community has grounded me in healing practices of all types; foods, exercises, social activities, preventive medicine, homeopathic lifestyles and stress reduction. Taking a journey “visually” and mentally through your body in a quiet state of mind sounds a little out there for many. The greatest push-back we are likely to receive is that, without a scanning tool (technology type) we cannot possibly see what might be going on inside of us. Technology is fabulous. Technology saves lives. Technology is not all there is. Today technology is all about computers; my most miraculous computer is directly behind my eyes and above my neck. The brain is running all the functions of my body already, 24/7. So why not tap into it, add to the meditation recipe an intention of self-healing, deep breathing, heightened awareness, knowledge of the physical system and pure mindfulness?

If you read about mental body scans, you will learn that the purpose is several-fold; you are quieting your mind and then slowly focusing on every system and space between the top of your head and the bottom of your feet. Take a little 10-minute trip and see the inside of your physical self. Visualize the cells, observe the organs, be sensitive to the temperature, pressure and feelings surrounding each location. You stop at each point, place your attention there, gather the information, log it and move along. Did you hear anything? Was there vibration, heat, cold, tightness or aching, heaviness, normalness or neutrality? Being mindful, providing no judgement, sending it healing energy, if you wish, on the spot is fully allowed.

Who in the world knows your body better than you do?? Have you ever said to your health care provider, “I can’t put my finger on it, but I just don’t feel right. Something is off….I am not myself, but I don’t know what it is.” Trust your internal brain/computer/Intuition.

Here are some tips on conducting your own Internal Body Scan:

  1. Find a quiet and very comfortable place to rest. You can lie down or recline or sit in a comfortable chair. During the meditation, if you fall asleep, do not fret. When you wake up, you may wish to find a different position or simply continue scanning where you left off.
  2. Always, always begin by belly breathing. If you find your shoulders are moving during the breathing exercise, bring your breath to your belly and feel each inspiration and expiration move your diaphragm/abdomen in and out. Stay there for awhile until you are sure that you will not return to shallow breathing. Clear your mind fully with each breath. Blow out any stress you discover in your neck, shoulders and belly. Feel the relaxation come over you and eliminate the tension.
  3. Begin at the top of your head or the bottom of your feet. It doesn’t matter what you chose, simply be consistent from session to session. It serves as a learning tool to visualize your body the same way each time.
  4. See the inside of your head at the crown and slowly move down. What feelings surface associated with that location? Any hidden discomforts or pressure that you have not experienced or noted before? Feel the inside of the forehead, the eyes, nose, ears, stopping at each organ long enough to gather information. Is it ok? Not ok? Log it in. If you feel that there is something not quite right, you may decide to send a special color healing energy. (You will not necessarily read this step within other scan descriptions. But, if I detect something out of the ordinary or uncomfortable, I chose a specific healing energy with a unique color, and move it to the location, gently surrounding the area, then move along on my scan).
  5. Try not to skip the major organs and spaces within the body as you know them. Neck, throat, arms, hands, heart, lungs, digestive system, blood circulation, reproductive system, lower belly, legs, joints, top and bottom of feet.
  6. Finish with belly breathing, releasing tension with each expiration. Feel the body free of discomfort and dis-ease and end the meditation with your body in a healthy state.

Meditation of all types are a wonderful tool for healthy daily living. It doesn’t cost anything in the way of monetary value, and only requires a few minutes of personal time.  The benefits of stress release and improved body function are immeasurable. Basically, it is priceless in its advantages. Have fun with being a spectacular camera inside your own body!

For additional information on body scan, try visiting these sites:
Body Scan Meditation | verywellmind.com
The Body Scan Practice | mindful.org

Blessings, Gabrielle

Loss is So Like a Garden

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Some of my blog followers (and all of my friends) know I am a committed gardener. I became a Master Gardener a fair number of years ago. While I don’t give my time volunteering much anymore, I have 15 gardens of my own to maintain, as well as occasionally doing some design work by request.

Garden behavior is a true reflection of life. The Japanese were known for creating microcosms in their garden displays. The greater world reflected in the miniature. For instance, a dwarf planting or rock inside a graded rippled sand enclosure often represented an island of earth surrounded by the moving sea. These thoughtful creations mimic true nature and the human emotions, all in one compact space.

When loss comes into our lives, there are times when we see it coming, but often we don’t have any idea what is moving at us in the form of a freight train. Here are some examples:

The company we have worked forever for has been sold and there are murmurs of job cuts, salary reductions, layoffs and suddenly we lose our livelihood; we, or a loved one has been diagnosed with a disease that is threatening life or quality of life; there are serious rifts in our relationship with others which escalate until we find ourselves alone; we have addiction-type behaviors that impair activities from morning to night; a tragic injury or accident has left us or someone we love in despair. This is loss. I have known tragic loss myself and it rocked my world, forever. When this happens, what do we do?

When I wrote my book, Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of (Suicide) Loss Healing Handbook, I taught 7 tools for dealing with tragic loss. I found myself at the end of the careening freight train, and yet the tools gave me a way to find my future in the face of unwanted frightening change. I will never forget the loss, but my mind and heart have moved in positive and fruitful ways since. Allow me to list the 7 steps to healing here for your reference.

  1. Intention
  2. Deep Breathing
  3. Gratitude
  4. Silence and Release
  5. Allowing without judgement
  6. What you say and think is what you get
  7. Being in the now moment

Lest you think I am making gentle fun of my experiences from my back yard and comparing it to true human loss, understand this; the lessons from Mother Nature differ very little from the lessons of daily life, including the tragic losses we face. The tools to being or becoming productive people within any society are the same as what I can easily observe in my gardens. These very principles clearly work in nature, and they ultimately work to bring us back into balance. So, what does a garden teach us about loss?

1. Change is inevitable. The garden you loved, loved, loved last year, will not be exactly the same this time around. This past winter in New England left many of us soil worshipers in a sad quandary. Hardy perennials perished for no reason. I lost some of my most cherished plants without explanation or warning. I simply wept at the foot of my crocosmia which no longer existed, and which in the past 6 years had grown to 5 feet high and 4 feet wide.

Tool #2 Deep Breathing and #3 Gratitude. I exercised deep breathing and felt gratitude for how glorious it looked last year. I planted a new one right in the same place and waited for it to bloom just the same as before, albeit smaller. And there she was, only 18 inches tall with just one bloom!

We can observe the change, embrace its impact on us and create a direction that will provide us sure footing with concrete results. Not all at once, mind you, but one great lighted stone at a time. Breathe through your loss and anxiety. Keep your head and heart clear of turmoil. Appreciate and be grateful for what you had before the loss struck, and create a path for having peace again. The alternative is simply staying stuck in the past with nothing to move you.

2. You may never see it (the loss) coming. On July 15, several years ago, I awoke to an impending storm that produced hail the size of golf balls for 12 minutes in a microburst over my yard. At the time I had 54 hostas, multiple rose bushes, Japanese maples and each and every one of them were shredded, de-leafed and collapsed beyond saving. The next week I had several garden clubs coming to my gardens to tour. There was nothing to be done, but wait for spring next year.

Tool #5, Allowing without judgement and #7, Be in the Now Moment and Experience it. There was Mother Nature in all of her glory. I was not in charge here, She was. And She had her reasons for making the climate and the atmosphere respond to the needs of the earth to keep it in balance by sending hail. Believe me when I tell you it was spectacular to watch. My backyard gardens do not take precedence over the balance of the earth, so if I could, (and did) see that by allowing nature to take its course, I might just have some greater understanding at the other end that will keep ME in balance. Your loss is part of the plan, as unwanted as it is. We need to allow that experiences in tragedy have a reason. We are not in charge here, but we can respond in a way that keeps our balance assured. We experience the moment and recognize that it will always be a lesson that makes us better in some way.

3. Thinking negatively produces more negativity. I have an arrangement with the deer in my environment. There are a lot of them and only 1 of me. They love certain things in the garden and sometimes it just happens to be the same things that I love. Roses, arborvitaes, hostas. So my arrangement with them is that if they leave my valuable inventory alone, I will give them all of the apples they want. PLUS, they can meditate in my labyrinth as much as they care to. This year they ate 3 hostas. OK, I have about 60+ hostas. So the first thing I did was assume they would devastate my plants everywhere, and begin a new era of munching that would leave my gardens in tatters. When I saw where my thinking was going, I turned it around by acknowledging that 3 small hostas were a tiny percent of the gorgeous ones that were left un-nibbled. I accepted the loss and mentally allowed them the snack.

Tool #6, What you think and say is what you get. The moment I started agonizing over what could happen to the rest of my plants, vis a vis the deer, is the moment that I created my own negative territory. The dark cloud of what might happen becomes the reality of what you bring to yourself through negative thought and words. By viewing your loss, no matter how devastating it may be, as a way to view a path forward – changes everything. New doors will open. Hunger for happiness will be appeased. Need for fulfillment will emerge as success. Within the sadness of loss, lies the seed for joy. We must say the words to support that, and think the thoughts that make it happen within. Negativity breeds negativity. Positive thinking produces positive change.

4. The need to grow and produce is just below the surface. The photo at the beginning of this article is a Chaste Tree. In colder zones such as mine, the bush will die back all the way to the root system. What is left above the ground is dead wood that resembles a plant that is no longer living. Each spring I stare at this not-live-looking thing and I am sure it will never emerge again to grace my yard. I am almost convinced that I must dig up these dead roots and put in another plant that will not succumb to winters fierceness. Then somewhere late in June, a couple of small leaves form at the base of the soil, and so it begins again to reach for the water and sun. In the end, it is 5 feet tall, full of butterfly and hummingbird attracting blossoms, fragrant and each bloom almost 8 inches long.

Tool #1, Intention. Within each one of us exists all of the elements for new growth and beauty, no matter how we look or what is going on around us. It is in our DNA – it is part of our very nature. Through Intention, we acknowledge the internal desire to reach around and through pain and loss to move in the direction of positivity and joy. By stating the desire to move forward, to heal, however small the step, we are following and nurturing the seed that was planted to do it in the first place.

When loss comes down the tracks and sets our world careening outward, we have choices. First, we grieve. Then, we can stay in a small dark place or get moving. I am forever changed by losing my son Drew, but I also have all the tools that assist me to embrace his life as he lived it and my life to come.

Blessings, Gabrielle Doucet
gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

How To Provide Compassion and Support Following Tragic Loss

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Can you remember the last time you went through a reception line at a wake or funeral? Did your heart beat a little faster? As you approached the grieving family, were you nervous about this encounter? Did you have a clue about what you would say and how it would be received? Well, join the human race; this is not something we wake up wanting to do on any given day. It is sad, it hurts and we are often completely at a loss on how to handle any conversation with the grieving.

To complicate things, let’s consider that the loss of a loved one is surrounded by controversy, tragedy or even stigma. What do I mean by stigma? Here are some examples: alcoholism, suicide, drugs or any addictions that can result in overdose or death, obesity, other eating disorders, mental health issues, even homelessness and violence. Death is loss. We all participate at some point in a funeral event; illness, the elderly, the infirm, but some losses today, more than ever before, can be surrounded with questions and whispers. Who can possibly know what to say to people that are experiencing such devastation that oftentimes sits under a dark cloud? If you are nervous simply approaching the reception line, imagine what the family is feeling being in the reception line.

Being a prominent family member in the grieving line for my son Drew is one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Everyone knew the cause of Drew’s death, which was suicide, and yet here we all were in this civilized dance in the form of a never-ending string of guests avoiding the obvious. The guests from my perspective had one goal – getting through it as quickly as possible. I watched people shudder and balk when they came to rest in front of me, knowing that they would rather be anywhere but there. Often what I observed was how they looked around me or past me instead of at me. They usually voiced something that sounded like it came directly from a script, repetitive and oftentimes with such speed it was practically non-comprehensible. Then they moved on, and said it again and again in the progression. I never judged this; the line kept moving, but I learned something very important. This incredible lack of connection didn’t help me at all. It didn’t give me hope or comfort; it didn’t bring me closer to possible healing. The line at the funeral home eventually ends, but the discomfort continues at the local post office, the next birthday party, the grocery store, town meeting, etc.

A funeral is not the only gathering that can bring on a verbal paralysis from one human being to another when it concerns tragic loss. Let’s consider the physician at the hospital when a loved one has succumbed to death from drugs, self-harm, violent injury or mental incapacity. Nurses, first responders such as fire and rescue, EMT’s and police are often at the scene and must encounter the family in some way with the tragedy that took place. They can often be jaded by repeat offenders, morbidity on a daily basis, exhaustive measures that fail and simply because of repetitive stress. I can safely say that my experience with the onsite investigative team at Drew’s death still cause me to shudder. I was treated akin to being a criminal.

What I came to understand is this; in spite of the mountainous helplessness that we can all feel under these circumstances, there were some humane, benevolent friends and even some people I hardly knew, that overcame their discomfort and fear, did or said something so incredibly vital to me, that they personally moved me along the healing process just by being present. They made a difference. They made an amazing impact to my soul within moments. Unless you experience this situation yourself, you cannot imagine the change you just might make in a person’s life by being genuinely engaged with them at the moment they need it most.

The following tips suggest how you can make a difference when being in the presence of a grieving person, especially when the loss is of a tragic or stigmatic nature. Not one of these tips will ever let you down, even if you don’t carry it off perfectly. The fact that you use each one with your eyes forward and say them from the heart, you will bring comfort to the individual you face.

  1. Always look the survivor directly in the eyes, no matter how hard this is for you. Everything you say from this moment on is going directly to the heart of the person you are talking to. If you look somewhere else, the survivor really won’t believe what you say.
  2. Tell the survivors that you love them, and that you loved their loved one. There is nothing more comforting to a survivor than knowing that the loved one was cherished, no matter what the cause of death. A family member wants to remember how important the life of their lost one was to others.
  3. If you don’t know what to say, tell the survivor that you are without words, but you possess honest presence and support for them no matter what. The survivor gains their strength from your honesty and directness.
  4. If speaking fails you, touch. Hold hands, hug from the heart, stand with them, stand behind them, touch shoulder to shoulder. Touch from one person to another still remains the most effective communication tool known to the human race.
  5. Remember, this is not now, or ever will be, about you; if you have history, feel the need to vent, have an axe to grind about anything, you must choose someone other than the survivor to spill any angry and hurting thoughts, as righteous as they may seem to you. And do it at another time and place. This tip has no exceptions.
  6. If the survivor wants to talk, be quiet and listen. Speak when asked to speak – your silence is not a bad thing. For the survivor, there has been a plethora of noise up until now, and their concerns or words have been lost or ignored. Never, ever interrupt if at all possible.
  7. Reflect when invited to do so. Walk down memory lane when a survivor says they are ready and wants to take you there. Don’t be the one to decide that old scenarios, events and occasions are ready to be introduced.
  8. Please don’t be curious and ask questions everyone will regret. Now re-read Number 8 at least 10 more times. Do not, under any circumstances break this tip rule. It will only have a painful and damaging outcome. AND, you can never take the words back.
  9. Accept humor from the survivor – don’t be shocked by it. Humor on the part of survivors is not a bad or irreverent response. It is very healing. And humor can be the invitation for you and everyone else to relax into what can seem endless stress. Always be appropriate with the humor. You will know when a story will bring a smile to a family member who has been so sad.
  10. Remember the survivor, long after everyone has gone home. Their pain and isolation remains, often for years. It doesn’t have to mean weekly check-ins or visits. It can simply be a card a couple of months after the loss, a bunch of flowers left on a doorstep, a casserole of their favorite food, or a message left on an answering machine. Suggest a quick lunch and make an appointment to drop in.

I have 4 female friends who I consider “life-ers”. Every single one of them taught me these 10 tips first-hand, long, long before I knew how bad I needed them. I thank them for their intuitive insight, their loving ways, and their undying devotion to our friendship. Ladies, you know who you are. I love you.

Sharing Your Wisdom

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Authors, without a doubt, are writing junkies. We cannot help ourselves – there is pen, there is paper, there is Us holding pen over paper.

However, when I first began my journey to being an author, I wondered about sharing some of my work through such media as blogs, articles and newsletters. I welcomed and acquired a great deal of advice from the experts on writing-do’s-&-don’ts, grammar, organizing of thoughts, outlines, marketing and ways to reach my chosen audience. I hungered for instructions, connections, tutorials (I am NOT good with these!) and finally for the elusive TIME to do it all. Always running below the surface was the most important consideration ……What is my story? what is it that I must say to fulfill my reason for writing in the first place?

I knew from the bottom of my soul that I needed to share my wisdom on a topic that had little to no voice. Surviving tragic loss. I had managed to do it, but many had not. THAT was my story. The problem arises when we have a wisdom, and we are reluctant or afraid to share it with others without being asked to. We are polite, and unsure how it would be received or even if it is wanted. This is scary to many of us, and we often find that if we don’t act on our intuition, share our wisdom, our opportunity could easily pass us by. Then, no-one benefits.

Now someone out there might want to say, “What makes any of us think that we are ‘wise’ enough to share anything? Are we an expert, an intellectual genius?” Saying, “I want to share my wisdom with you”, could sound a little egotistical, self-righteous, even pompous? Do we all know folks who spend a portion of their day letting others know how much they know, about everything? It happens. But “Sharing wisdom” to me means something quite different. If I have a knowledge that could save another human from pain, fear, anguish, loss, danger or poor health, I instantly feel what I would have to call The Need. The Need is compelling, vital, possibly life-altering. It is definitely not egotistical or self-serving. It is not promoting one’s opinion over someone else’s just because one can. Rather, it is humane, loving and compassionate. It is one reason why we exist  –  to do for others without selfishness, requirement for recognition, self-importance or personal compensation. We are truly knowledgeable about a great many things – what can we do with it to help others?

I am convinced that you have also felt The Need at various times of your life. Did you lose an opportunity or did you take it? If you had another chance in the same situation, would you have done it differently? Did you share your wisdom?

One fantastic suggestion that I learned early on from advisor, author and speaker Sandra Beckwith, (www.buildbookbuzz.com), was to create something called Tip Sheets. While tip sheets are generally used for publicity purposes, I found that the format of bulleting or numbering important items of information are profoundly helpful when I am giving thoughtful, positive suggestions to readers on how to tackle a challenging topic. Last month I used the tip sheet idea for my readers to consider 14 Random Acts of Kindness during the holidays and all year round. I have used it a number of times in my website blog (www.survivorhealing.com): Deep Breathing, What Is It You Really Need?, Everyone Looks For Happiness, But What Really Gets You There?, and Are Your Feelings of Loss Preventing You From Having a Healthy and Fully Satisfying Life?. Tip sheets for me are just one way to share my wisdom with others. They can read it and find nuggets for themselves or not. But the feedback I get from my writings is always positive, and I have learned that there is a great deal of appreciation out there when a reader takes that nugget and tries it out. Then, if the reader finds that some movement forward is made, I have shared my wisdom on a subject successfully.

For me, this technique allowed me to share without stopping someone on the street and saying, “Do you happen to need some sage advice today??” Laughable situation, but obviously we don’t intrude or force our thoughts on someone else without the proper and fortuitous conditions existing. So how do you share your wisdom? This becomes something I see as simply being in the right place at the right time, hearing the right question or observing the right situation. Perhaps a good example might assist here.

In my book on surviving loss, Let Go and Let Love, the sixth tool I talk about is, You Manifest What You Think. Basically, we are speaking about the law of attraction. A simple example of this might be: you say, “I will never find a life partner for myself”. You may think this every day and say it out loud to yourself every night before you sleep. If you constantly think and reinforce this to yourself, you are driving away all the opportunities to manifest your perfect partnership. Why? Because when that individual steps into the ideal circumstance in your life, you will never “see” them because you are already convinced that it won’t happen. Some time ago I was having a conversation with an acquaintance who had spent several years looking for the right house to acquire; in our discussion, they used every word in our language that framed the negative.

  • I can’t decide on the town to buy in because the school systems are so different.
  • I will never find the house I want because my priority list is long and specific.
  • We don’t earn enough money to find everything I want in a home.
  • I am afraid to move and then be disappointed in my choice.
  • What if the bank thinks we are a poor risk and they will not grant us a loan?
  • I envision that we find a house, then remove a wall to find hidden issues everywhere!

In 5 minutes of listening, I heard, “can’t, so different, will never, don’t earn enough, I am afraid, disappointed, poor risk, no loan, hidden issues”. Here I sat with my personal wisdom regarding law of attraction. It was an opportunity to share with this friend a way to turn their thinking around to the positive. I took the chance, shared what I know and ultimately gave my acquaintance some information by which to look at their house search in a new way. We talked over techniques for positive thinking. She decided to give her search another try utilizing a new line of attack – positive thinking! She is happy in her new home, with the right schools and a decent mortgage.

In many situations you will be well aware when sharing your wisdom is warranted. One of today’s phrases in our world is, “if you see something, say something”. These words can save lives. Toward sharing your wisdom we might say, “if you notice something, you might want to offer something that will enlighten”. Do it lovingly with no ulterior motive. Offer. Suggest. Respond. People will ultimately be drawn to you and the wisdom you possess, because this is just how the law of attraction works. Someone needs your knowledge, and there you are in the right place at the right time. Take the chance and take a step. You just may be saving someone a long walk in the wrong direction.

Blessings, Gabrielle Doucet
gabrielle@survivorhealing.com
www.survivorhealing.com

Random Acts of Kindness

smile-pexels-photo-264196As we approach the end of December, many of us are anticipating Christmas, celebrating Hanukkah, perhaps participating in other religious events, or may not have any spiritual affiliation of any kind. It often occurs to me that if we are truly observant, it doesn’t take much to be reminded of how many people have less than what they need. Some of us are experiencing more sadness than we think we can bear, stress that sincerely battles the body and emotions, or we are desperately missing loved ones that are no longer in our midst. For many folks this holiday can be difficult and lonely. As a result, we see tempers flaring, patience running short and nerves being stepped on. Watch the crowds and citizens around you – it can sometimes be a little hard to determine, but see if you can guess, who might be struggling?

Since we could never enter the hearts and minds of our fellow passengers in this life, let’s just assume from the start that everyone could use a leg up on any given day. Even you, even me.

I was standing in one of my favorite coffee shops last month, one person ahead of me. As he waited for his order we began chatting about nothing in particular, but something he said made us both laugh. I quipped, he retorted and it was all funny. He collected his coffee and pastry, said something to the clerk, turned to leave and said goodbye to me, wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. As I received my fancy latte-something-or-other and started to pay, the clerk said, “no need, the customer ahead of you paid for it already”. He was gone, no thank-you required as far as he was concerned. A perfectly executed Pay-It-Forward. It is always such a surprise.

I couldn’t help thinking about it all morning. Why does it generally take someone else sweetly blindsiding us to get us thinking about a random act of kindness? Why not do it regularly, without a reminder, without need for a thank-you or hearty recognition? As a famous footwear company once said… “Just Do It”. I say, “Do it, and Quietly Disappear”.

Here are some suggestions for how you can willingly participate in Random Acts all year long, not just during the Holidays. But beware of side effects: if you are sad and depressed, it may make you smile, even more so on the inside; if you are lonely, you just made a friend; if you are angry, it will change your attitude; if you are afraid, you get to escape before you are caught; and if you are already feeling good, you have just managed to spread the jolly germs. (Never worry, the CDC won’t care!)

  1. Smile at someone on the street and wish them a Merry Christmas. Don’t concern yourself with political correctness. They may wish you Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa! Perfect, wish them the same right back!
  2. Say thank you to someone and shake their hand, for any reason.
  3. Thank a fireman, policeman, military or veteran for their service. Wave as they drive by in their vehicles. They give us or have given us so much.
  4. Go out of your way to hold open a door for someone with a cane, walker or other disability. Do it for persons pushing child carriages, carrying a lot of packages or otherwise overloaded. Don’t forget the outside and inside doors. Stop traffic around them if necessary. Be in charge of assisting them in getting there safely.
  5. Stick American flag stickers on your mail, bill payments and other correspondence.
  6. Pick up trash or discarded litter that isn’t just on your own property.
  7. If you can afford to, give an extra gratuity to someone who has provided exceptional or hard-worked service to you. Waiters and waitresses really hustle and spread themselves thin at this time of year, often with folks who can be quite demanding.
  8. Go through those closets and remove gently used clothing that you can dispense with. Pay attention especially to warm jackets that are no longer being used. Bring them to collection points. Many organizations are gathering at this time.
  9. Volunteer for something/anything. Bring food from the pantries to shut-ins. Distribute gifts, call Wreaths Across America and find out where near you they require help in placing or removing wreaths on the stones of our fallen heroes.  wreathsacrossamerica.org
  10. Retire a loved and cared for tree ornament by sending it to a friend. Write a note that tells them how much they mean to you. Send them love and a piece of your family history.
  11. Sit and paint with a child or grandchild. Cover the table, don’t worry about the mess. Give them your time, your attention and your wisdom. Play!
  12. Buy a coffee or hot chocolate for a Salvation Army bell-ringer, a volunteer standing in the elements collecting donations of any kind or that person in the coffee line or drive-through.
  13. Send blessings and love to the person who cut you off on the highway or parking lot; anyone who is driving dangerously or speeding. Wish them safety on their journey. Smile and give them a wide berth, not a swear word.
  14. Stop during your hectic shopping or errands, relax and have a cup of tea. People watch and send good wishes and loving energy to anyone who looks like they need it.

This is the time (actually anytime is a good time!) to change our attitude through gratitude. I assure you it is a much better thing we do when we randomly give help, love, a hand or a thought to someone else without being asked or rewarded. Best sleeping aid in the cabinet!

Love and Blessings,

Gabrielle Doucet

Out of the Fast Lane

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Just recently, I went on a 3 week resting vacation with the hope that much of that time would be available to work on my new book coming out in 2018 entitled, “The Message”. This time away would allow me to be ensconced in a cozy cottage, directly on the beach, tide rolling in and out day and night, hour by mesmerizing hour. What could be better to create and to think? Dream and invent. Feet in the sand, sunrise on the left, sunset on the right. Wow, count me in!

Within hours of arriving and unpacking, I checked out all the nooks and crannies of the cabin, the deck, the porch; then I took in my surroundings and said, “Ok, now what??”

What was a busy, New England extrovert thinking when she booked 21 days in one fairly isolated place? Was I really going to sit at a table, albeit on a lovely screened-in porch overlooking the ocean, and do the author-thing??? I had to move! Walk. I had to see stuff. I had to get in my rental car and drive somewhere, grocery shop, check the sheets for cleanliness, put on make-up, wash the salt out of my hair, vacuum the sand out of the carpet that was continuously clinging to my bare feet, plan dinner, plan lunch, plan breakfast, find a really really good breakfast place to eat the day’s first meal that I might not have properly planned for yesterday.

Next, I unpacked my laptop, plugged it into the wall, found my way into the Wi-Fi network with password provided and, and, and …..?

Uh-oh, I was already in trouble. This required patience and stillness, and clearly, I was not in a patient and still place. I know that I was supposed to be, but instead, I was restless, expectant, feeling totally out of my normal environment. What was happening here? I seemed to have prepared for the escape, and I had all the props, but my head and body were doing something else.

I stood flabbergasted. Why wasn’t I teeming with thoughts and concepts, inspiration and pounding the keyboard? The clock was ticking! Ticking. TICKING!

It finally occurred to me; the answer came in a stunning question to myself:  Exactly where was this magic creativity going to come from with nearly all of my adrenaline pumped into hyper-drive from being in 3 different airports, a significant amount of air turbulence, a car rental station with waiting line and walking with tons of luggage to another parking lot, completely unfamiliar highways and roads in an unfamiliar car and a GPS not conducive to supporting my travels to some sleepy little island town in North Carolina?

I was now cut off; my knees had been clipped from beneath me, and I was left to my own devices. I had nose-dived from the fast lane of a large New England metropolis to the 2-tire track of quiet civilization in a completely different part of the country. I was unprepared for the speed bump, that was in reality a full-bore stone wall.

Example: I needed provisions, so into my trusty rental to the “bustling” grocery store with 3 check-out lanes. With my cart of “12 items or less” I moved into what should have been a quick-out, where everyone put their potential purchases onto the belt and moved like lightning to the finish line. Ahead of me was a woman with 2 things and ahead of her, capturing the soul of the cash register person, was a gentleman of about 80 plus years with absolutely nothing else on his mind but smiling and thinking of what he needed at that moment, but was not yet on the conveyor belt. Ah, a bag of ice…..over by the cooler next to the exit door. “Do you think someone could go over there and get one of those for me?” AND, cigarettes, special brand located 2 registers over. And let’s not forget to find exactly where on his person was the cash to pay for all of this. Left pocket? Um, no, not there. Shirt sleeve hidden pouch…wrong again. “By the way”, he asked the cashier, “did you happen to give me a pack of matches with those cigarettes?” “I know I left my loose cash here somewhere, just give me a minute”. Big smile.

By this time, the only other two regular check-out lanes were moving faster than we were. The woman in front of me, appeared totally unaffected by the whole scenario, since she quickly included herself into the conversation with the elderly gentleman and the cashier, and everyone was having a grand time being in the same space. My eyelids were starting to twitch.

What in the world was wrong with me? Was I the only one not seeing how long, long, long this was taking? Did I have all day??

Ok, the crazy thing is…I DID have all day. I had no-where I had to go, no-one that I had to meet, no life or death situation that required my experienced skill set. I was not negotiating paralyzing traffic or late for some meeting somewhere. I sincerely needed to rethink what was going on in my brain and body. This gentle pace I was observing was exactly what I had asked for, prayed for and specifically begged for on my journey as an author. I was bucking the system at this very moment in my first encounter with the slow-lane. I needed to remove myself from my man-made fast lane immediately, because it was obvious I was missing a major point on my personal compass. I was facing a life-lesson.

Message: I needed to S – L – O – W    D – O – W – N.  It was now my opportunity and my duty to listen to my mind (in overdrive), my body (heart and blood racing), and my emotional status (impatient, anxious and unobserving).

Wherever you are and wherever you reside, the “fast lane” can follow you in your thoughts, actions and environment. How often do we create our own busy-ness, critical activities, deadlines, worry, criticisms and fretting? We rush through the “12-or-less”, jump in our vehicle, look at our phone calls, check the time, scream into the fast lane – and hit the traffic stall. The Universe conspires to hold us back one way or another, and direct us toward a healthier pathway, but first we must listen and observe.

Some time constraints do exist in our daily routines, but how we manage through them can mean the difference between fast-lane anxiety and slow-lane relaxation and healing. When we encounter the slower pace, it is our chance to embrace it’s contribution to mindfulness. We all know about mindfulness – being in the now moment. Fast-lane solutions can frequently derail us into missing the slower-paced ideas that will enlighten, inspire and heal. We must ask ourselves, is the fast-lane process the only guidance I am following? When and where will I take the time to bring mindful thought into my day? How can I capture an observation and turn it into a healthy solution?

I left the grocery mart, smiling at my elderly gentleman friend from the cashier line, and embraced a new thought. I will start each day on my vacation with mindfulness. Then I will give gratitude for the creativity that flows from the time spent in observation and see what that delivers to my writing. Honestly, it was an eureka moment that I needed to recognize myself and share with others. One that reminds me that we needn’t be on holiday to slow the pace, be quiet and mindful. The results are irrefutable and significant. I was content to sit on the porch, laptop in front of me, waves crashing the shore and a tasty beverage by my side. No clocks for me, no ticking heard somewhere in the background or in my mind.

After three weeks on the beach, I accomplished more that I could have imaged, and still found unlimited time to explore.

What an amazing vacation!

Advance Peek At My New Book – “The Message”

letter-handwritAs many of you may know, in 2015 I published Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, presenting 7 tools for dealing with the tragic loss experienced when a loved one takes their own life. The books’ sole mission was to assist and guide the survivors of suicide loss on their difficult journey back to joy. Suicide: a topic loaded with guilt, grief, unanswered questions and the unending stigma associated with death by one’s own hand. This is a difficult journey I have traversed myself and understand firsthand.

As I spoke with many groups about recovery from suicide loss, I discovered some very important things. There are all kinds of loss that people are trying to overcome; surviving suicide loss is just one of them. Every loss is personal and tragic to the individual experiencing it. There are no measuring sticks deciding that any one loss is less or more tragic than another. Depth and impact of loss cannot be calculated; mine is not worse or more crippling than yours, and vice versa.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to speak to countless support groups about having lost a loved one to suicide. It has been an honor and a privilege to do this work. However, intensely related losses such as being an alienated grandparent who is denied the connection and interaction with their grandchildren, individuals who have lost their freedoms, people without personal self-esteem, self-image and self-worth, folks having lost loved ones from illness, accident and addictions – these are life-altering events as well. My conclusions are that Loss is Loss.

Now it appears that my pen desires to write again. As I begin this historical fiction about loss and recovery, I am choosing to utilize all of the tools that support and propel me each day in my own journey to tell the story of one women’s struggle with self-image and self-esteem. In The Message, (while a preliminary title, it feels quite close to what it will actually be), I will take you down the road within Aubrey Cole’s deeply tragic personal loss to a place of despair and despondency and back again. This will all take place through the visitation and guidance of her long-departed great-great grandmother, born four generations prior in 1868. It will touch upon the resilience of the heart and soul in us all. Follow the heroine Aubrey as she falls from the pinnacle of achievement in her young life, then forges a monumental battle between self-destruction and true life purpose.

WATCH FOR THE MESSAGE IN 2018

More advanced teasers to come!

We welcome your comments.

Are your feelings of loss preventing you from having a healthy and fully satisfying life?

A Self-Assessment Tip Sheet

TipSheet_ThumbnailHow do we know when loss is taking over our ability to live a full life? Sometimes, WE don’t see it, but I am quite confident in saying that others usually do see it. Shouldn’t we know ourselves better than anyone else? Let’s turn on that little bulb and shine some light on the topic.

We have the face we project outward; then there is that persona that only we can see that generally resides beneath. In simple terms, that “inside person” brings with it a lot of non-verbal language, movement and facial expression that we may be completely unaware of. Are you surprised to hear this? How many times has someone you know well, or even not so well, said to you….”what’s wrong today? is something wrong? you don’t seem yourself”. Can we really hide our inner emotions and turmoil as cleverly as we think? And to take that a step further, what if tragic or significant loss is limiting our daily experience simply because we are not facing it’s impact. Even if the loss is affecting 1 day in our life, it is affecting that very day from being a day in full.

Loss that is at the heart of our discontent can do just that – show in our physical movements, our non-verbal language and our facial expressions. Actually, this is the body’s second line of defense. When we are in turmoil, sadness, confusion, anger, worry and fear, our outer bodies will begin to give clear messages as to what is going on inside. That means there is a first line of response somewhere else. That “somewhere else” would be inside the body; the heart, the blood, the lungs, the stomach and the brain. Sometimes long before we are showing our struggle on the surface where people can notice, our bodies have been doing their best to cope and put us in better balance from within, often without success. Humm, I don’t think I want that to happen, do you?

Loss happens to everyone. Loss of some kind is unavoidable for all of us. Life is imperfect. Sometimes, however, we are determined that the loss will minimally affect our daily life, regardless of the severity. Instead, we will bluster through whatever the tragedy is, bury the worry and the affect it is having, and simply carry on. As many of you may already know, my loss centers around the suicidal death of my son Drew 6 years ago. Other losses can be just as tragic and life-changing: loss of home, mobility, self-image, self-esteem, work, livelihood, job, relationship, mental stability, even personal freedom.

Having said all of that, allow me to provide some self-assessment tips for those who are suffering loss, and the journey toward recovery seems laden with speed-bumps. These tips are coming directly from my book Let Go and Let Love: Survival of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, a book that targets ways to address the desire to live each day toward a full life.

  1. Take a good look in your bathroom mirror. Try to look beyond the traditional definition of perfection, beauty, flawlessness blah. What you should look for is some radiance from within; the eyes, the corners of your mouth, your expression of softness. Are they there or are they missing? Do you look worried? Do you look unmotivated? Do you look exhausted?
  2. Consider what is rolling around your head for the days’ events or targets. Are you expectant or doubtful? Is there anticipation on your mind or avoidance and fatigue? Do you have a plan, however small, or are you avoiding the thought of moving forward?
  3. Do you engage with others willingly? Is there interest in what is going on around you or do you find that your thoughts perpetually stray to what is going on inside your own head? Is loss consuming a lot of what you think about; how it bothers you, how it seems to hurt or change your direction?
  4. Can you be happy for others’ success? Are you genuinely delighted when someone else has found or achieved something for themselves? Or do you resent what they have gained, what you do not have, and feel cheated for yourself?
  5. Are you often ill, feel “unwell”, and unwilling to push for activity? When you look in that mirror, do you see someone in good health or do you see something else?

If you are being targeted by inquiries from friends asking “what is wrong” and you actually are surprised by this; or, you suspect that those inquiries made early on have actually stopped after a reasonable period of time, try answering these 5 questions honestly. We can all feel down and out every once in a while, but it should not be a daily occurrence nor should it fully color the waking hours we face, day in and day out.  If you think that loss and the sadness that comes with it are stopping your journey to a full life, please seek the advice of a medical professional. Follow through with all that you need to do to be and feel healthy. Our losses should not be dictating how we live, nor should it interfere with finding happiness in each day. It is our God-given right to experience peace and joy. Let us never give it away to loss.

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available now at Amazon or purchase direct from Survivor Healing.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet
gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Are We Losing Sight of the Power of “law of attraction”?

joyful-quoteDoes anyone still believe that what we say and think is what we bring to ourselves? The basic philosophy of the law of attraction is just that.

If I repeatedly say and think I am a failure, will I become one?? Wow. In my world, I don’t believe in failure to begin with.  I believe in learning, and lessons and hidden opportunities behind what appears to be closed portals. So by telling myself that this action or that action will bring failure descending upon me, and I say it over and over again, I am indicating that I believe it. For me, belief brings the real things, whether I want it or not.

How does this work, you ask? Do I pull badness to myself? In Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, I installed an entire chapter to “You Manifest What You Think”, or otherwise  known as, what you think and say is what you get. But to explain it is not quite as simple as that statement, so allow me to deliver a better understanding of the law of attraction (LOA).

Much has been written in the last decades about the LOA, but actually the principle has existed for centuries, even millennia. In ancient times, often in the teachings of Eastern philosophy, there is reference to this law. The “law” referred to here is the name given to the belief that “like attracts like”, and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results. If you accept that all things and thoughts have a vibration associated with them, then matching vibrations are pulled together. Within that theory is the understanding that people and their thoughts and words both come from pure energy, and that “like energy” attracts “like energy”. So if you think positively about something important to you, (and some people do this all day long), they always seem to have a positive aura around them and good things happen frequently. We all know someone with that positive, or others with a sometimes negative, atmosphere in their personal space.

Over my front door a few years ago there was this very small bird that chose to build a nest of mud up against the brick. Every day she would haul the mud up and try to connect it to the rough brick, and as it dried it would fall off. Over and over again, day after day, I watched almost in agony, as she tirelessly made her attempt only to have it land on my porch. It seems no one told her that this could not be done, because one rainy afternoon, somewhere between a miniscule piece of grout and a section of scrappy edge, it held. Within no time she had her mud nest, and it balanced out into the air as if it was weightless. It seemed magical. I looked at it with such wonder and appreciation and felt I had learned a lesson from that tiny creature — the seemingly impossible can be done simply because you believe it will and expect it to.

Our thoughts and words have such power! I live every day as if there are no truer words than the ones I use. I chose to initiate positive thoughts and then believe those thoughts; finally I select the words to express those same thoughts. I manifest what I say because I believe it will come and I say so. And if it comes with a stiffer lesson, so be it – what I want is still on it’s way to me. Nothing’s changed. Has much of society lost it’s powerful, manifesting connection with what they think and say? I listen to the words that folks use and estimate that much of it describes lack, rather than bounty. They describe themselves, (and often point to someone else as well), too old in age to get a particular job, old enough to be managing their lives better than they are, not having enough money to obtain what they want, unhappy with their body image, missing out on a promotion, on and on. Is the negativity in our world growing? Well, if it is, then we can do something about that starting now, today.

Begin with you, the most important person in the world. Shun and discard the power you give others to make you feel inadequate about yourself and your ideas. Surround yourself with people with the same positive posture and slant on their lives that you want to have or are attempting to achieve. Today, you will pay attention to the words you use, especially about yourself and what you are doing or saying. Replace “can’t, don’t-have, never, missing, lacking, won’t” with “I can!, I have!, always!, I will!, do!”. Listen to you and make all that you describe favor the positive vision. When you hear the negative rolling around in your head, express it in the positive form. If there is something you desire, describe it fully as if it were in your hands right now. The color, size, form, happiness and emotion that it brings with it. See it coming into your world in whatever manner it takes to get it there. You have nothing to loose, except the opportunity to watch it really happen.

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available September 2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet

gabrielle@survivorhealing.com