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!

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

 

Everyone Looks for Happiness, But What Really Gets You There?

getPart-4Whenever a microphone is placed in front of someone and the question is asked, “What are you looking for in life?”, I am willing to lay down a lot of chips that the answer is usually… HAPPINESS. When you drill down, money, jobs, and things don’t seem to be the solution. These are cushions, diversions and momentary flashes, but they are not the big score. Looking at the facts, how may of the huge lottery winners in recent history have grabbed that ticket and found happiness right along with it? Often what scrambles along behind that winning is something scary, complicated and temporary. Being happy is what we all want right; so are you happy? Does your happy come in an envelope with numbers attached to it, a bank statement, a shiny vehicle, a corner office? Are you waiting for someone to appear at your front door and deliver Happy to you?

I know what makes me happy now. It is defined by and for ME only. And what a hard and terrible lesson this was, as it turns out. When my son Drew took his own life, he had a handsome bank statement, a shiny vehicle and a corner office. It clearly did not bring Happy with it or Drew would still be on earth making me laugh. Are you struggling with trying to attain happiness in the middle of wealth or sadness or fear? If so, maybe I have some thoughts that will help you on your journey toward the real thing.

In my book, Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, I introduce the first, and probably the most substantial of the tools for healing from loss. Intention. An Intention is a simple statement that captures in words what you would like to have, become, achieve or be, in any given situation or condition that you find yourself. It surrounds a positive desire that you are working on and have not yet worked out. It involves your thoughts, emotional input and mindset, not your muscles. To set your Intention, you have to ask yourself some truly serious questions and then accept the honest answers your heart provides.

If you said, “I would like to have a true life partner that desires the same environment and surroundings that I do, and loves me unconditionally”, you are basically setting a standard for your personal happiness. It doesn’t require glossing it up, making it shiny with stuff or positioning of any kind. With this simple statement, you declare what you want to have, become, achieve or be. Most crucial to Intention is this; you are making a commitment, a contract with yourself to settle for nothing less than what you desire. You put your eyes on the outcome and believe in the pure achievement of it. Believe. Unshakable belief. The Universe hears you and that brings you the Happy.

It is no different when reaching for the heights of Happy in the face of tragic loss. In my life, I had to make small positive Intentions following the loss of Drew. Because perceived guilt was my first and most difficult challenge, I set the Intention of becoming happy by being guilt-free for life, but I began with one day at a time. Often it narrowed to hours at a time, but when I achieved hours, I stretched them into days, weeks, months. Every positive score made me a winner. I only made those choices that lighted my path toward Happy. Positive Intention, Vision, Belief, Achieve, Celebrate. Then repeat.

Here are some simple steps to setting an Intention for yourself:

  1. Identify an issue that you see as a trigger and want to change for the positive. Let’s use the life-partner issue from earlier. (example: I have not met anyone who loves me unconditionally and shares my life choices. I am stuck.)
  2. Verbalize your feelings around this issue and state clearly how it relates to you.  (example: I run in the same people circles and activities without expanding my associations with people. I never seem to meet anyone new and different.)
  3. Formulate the response exactly as you would like it to be.  (example: I am going to change how I conduct my activities and explore the possibility of meeting new people in my life.)
  4. Follow through your ideas with actual change. See yourself making the change with conviction and decision-making. (example: I will make appointments and plans surrounding new and different activities and locations that only I enjoy. I will put aside worries and fears involving the unknown. I will follow my intuition.)
  5. Celebrate your success. Any success, no matter how small. (example: I met 3 new people who enjoyed being with me. We shared common ideas and philosophies. It feels different than anything I have done so far, but I feel good about my progress!)

Intention can get you through the next challenging moment or challenging year. It is your lighted pathway; small steps will always lead to bigger ones. Identifying the triggers that make you UN-happy and setting a positive goal for rising above them will inevitably bring the thing you want the most. Now that’s something you can take to the bank.

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

Personal Loss Should Never Have A Pain Rating

lotusLast September, 2015, when my book Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook was published, I was a little unprepared for one of the prominent comments regarding Loss as it related to my book, where suicide loss was the predominant topic. Mind you, it was a positive and enlightening barrage, but surprising in that it was not something I had ever considered. It was this: Loss is loss, and no matter what the origin of the loss, the book’s tools worked for anyone who had sustained personal tragedy of any kind.

My audience had expanded exponentially right before my eyes, and I didn’t even realize it was taking place.

From that moment on, I found a whole new set of terms to be used when I spoke to people and groups about Survivors of Suicide Loss and other losses as well. What are some of these other losses?

  • loss of self-esteem,
  • loss of a friendship or partner you thought would last a lifetime,
  • loss of job or livelihood,
  • loss of health, both acute or chronic,
  • loss of domicile or home,
  • loss of stable mental health,
  • loss of a loved one through accidental death or illness,
  • loss of mobility,
  • loss of independence,
  • loss of youth,
  • loss of memory, on and on.

Who is competent or knowledgeable enough to even think about putting a measuring stick to any pain that someone experiences? My loss is worse than yours? Your tragedy is more intense than mine? I would never do it. I once met a man whose entire world consisted of his job and his two German shepherd dogs. He had no other family near him, or family who included him in their lives. When both beloved dogs died within a short period of time from each other, he was so depressed and lonely, he lost the will to live.

After digesting much of these post-publication discussions, I truly felt the connection between the loss of my son and the many forms of loss that thousands of other people traverse through. As an example, I had one member of the audience come up to me after I finished speaking and say, “I know my loss cannot compare to you losing your son to suicide, but….” I took her hands in mine, looked into her eyes and said that “every loss is personal and deeply internalized to the person experiencing it – there is no measuring stick capable of indicating whose is more painful. It is all tragic.”.  Thus; Personal loss should never have a Pain Rating.

Another measuring stick that is often imposed on the grieving person is: How long is the right amount of time that they should grieve? At my last speaking engagement, an older gentleman asked a question for the group to hear. It followed a discussion surrounding when I decided to write about my experience as a survivor of suicide loss. The question was, “how long was it before you decided to step up and use the tools that would help bring you out of the dark hole of sadness?”. This was a little tricky and my pause was a little longer than usual, but here is (paraphrasing) what I said. The timeline for sadness will probably never end. It is when sadness inhibits you from re-entering and participating in the world of your functioning life that you need to be aware and alert. Sadness is not a bad thing – we are human and we are alive with emotion. Frankly, I will experience sadness with my loss until my last breath. My personal measuring stick for each bout of sadness is that it doesn’t last any longer than it takes to have a happy memory move right up into its place. Setting a timer for how long the sadness hangs in there is something that each one of us can set for ourselves, but I do believe we should set it. The big kahuna is when sadness interferes with getting up, getting out and getting on. My actual answer to this gentleman’s question was somewhere about a year and a half. Interestingly, he and his wife were at the 1 1/2 year mark. He was ready, his wife not quite so much. There is no marker that is good for all.

Finally, please do not let anyone tell you when it is time to get on with “things”. Those that do are probably wanting to make their life more comfortable around you. The critical point to make is that if you are concerned about your mental and physical situation, you should consult your primary care provider and ask them how you are doing? Paralysis or depression in the place of daily life is not a good spot to stay in. A healthy life includes smiling, laughing, socializing, loving, sleeping, creating, adjusting, and yes, being sad. It is not so much about how many weeks and months that it takes to get there, but rather that you are indeed taking steps and making change to get there. THAT is what you measure.

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

Can You Hear Yourself??

male-cardinalWho are you listening to? Is it everyone, but you?

I try not to watch the television very much. Yes, I need to catch up on the weather, driving conditions, traffic patterns, etc.; the rest of it I can pretty much do without – but that’s me. However, not too long ago I crossed into a channel that had a bride trying to buy her wedding dress. She had all 9 brides maids with her, her future mother-in-law and her own mom in attendance while she tried on dress after dress after dress. (You already see the outcome here, right?) This bride-to-be came home empty handed at the end of the day. Every single person had an opinion and not one of them coincided with someone else’s opinion, especially not hers.  What happened to what she wanted, I ask? It was obviously filed somewhere deep where she couldn’t get her hands on it. The bride seemed to have lost her own choices and now feels rather powerless.  How many of us are doing that every time we have a decision facing us that really truly belongs to only one person – ourselves? Don’t we consider that we have enough information about us to make the correct and perfect choice?

I am not suggesting for one moment that the thoughts and opinions of others are not needed or helpful. Often the expertise we seek can be clearly provided by someone who has the training; however, as our own best resource, we should take the data we arm ourselves with, overlay it on our own good knowledge about who we are and what we want and then go with it. Sincerely – who is the person that will be wearing the wedding dress on the most significant day of her life?

How do we hear ourselves? Do we listen with our physical ears or our heart-voice? One of the best ways I know is to find the quiet time and opportunity to listen to the heart. For those who are unfamiliar with “heart-voice or heart-knowledge” and how it can readily be available to us, clearly it begins by giving the heart knowledge highest  importance. The heart knowledge carries all of the information that matters to you as a being and a soul, and links it with what you desire. Sure, much data exists and is stored in the head, but the heart gives that information relevant to how you want or already do live your life. I, for one, am not ready to give my soul-searching decisions over to someone else’s data points. The heart separates the data from the general collection  and delivers it to you as personal and vital. What will bring you joy? Joy that resonates with you, comes squarely from the heart!

The heart speaks personally, and because it’s language can be somewhat symbolic in nature (the heart vocabulary can be quite different than everyday chit-chat), it requires that you give it time and space to deliver the message. Meditation or still-mind is a perfect opportunity to create an environment for a heart chat. Silence on your part, and the space around you is pretty important for the conversation. Take the time to set up your own space of silence – it is worth every effort. Once you have the degree of silence you need, be clear of other thoughts. Declare to yourself that you are worthy and accomplished in your decision-making skills, then list quietly what you would like to have as an outcome. This is what you Intend. Now wait in anticipation for your heart to give you the answers on how to make it happen.

Let’s briefly return to our TV bride; if she has taken the effort and time to think about her desires and decision-making, her excursion into the bridal shop may have looked very different.

  1. She wants a dress that looks beautiful on her, has all of the details she loves and imagined it would have. (Her Intention).
  2. She will know it when she sees it. It will bring her immediate joy, independent of other opinions of what JOY looks like. (Her Heart-Knowledge).
  3. The final choice will be hers, because her heart tells her what is the right choice. (Her Decision)

When we experience loss of any kind, we are faced with a clear example of who to listen to. In the throes of  loss, our mind, body and emotions can appear to be out of our control. Sadness, fear, and anger all surface in the face of what we are currently without -a person, a precious item, peace – something that seems to have disappeared from our life and perhaps our earth.  We are not helpless.  We have tools to use to get us through to the other side of fear, sadness and indecision. Our healing is just within our reach. We can quiet our environment, our mind, our body and listen to the heart-voice within.  This is not saying we can’t be sad or confused in our loss, which can be extreme in its presence. When I lost my son Drew to suicide several years ago, my loss seemed insurmountable and without end. I still experience days when my loss and sadness at not having him with me, closes around me like a shroud.  When I face the fear of life without Drew, I recognize the hole in my body, acknowledge it, then quiet my world and let my heart speak. It gives me full control of where my emotions go from that moment on, what I decide for my healing and how to return to joy. My heart knowledge will never ever steer me wrong – it has only one priority – my well-being.

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

The Monster In The Closet

Monster Closet Door“Secrecy involves a tension which at the moment of revelation, finds its release.”

Georg Simmel (German sociologist, philosopher and critic, 1858 – 1918)

 

Just recently I finished reading a very good novel: The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde. One of the angles in the story line deals with a cranky woman (Clem) who has lost her daughter to suicide. Among all of the many issues Clem must deal with in her own personality, one of the paralyzing conditions surrounds the inability for her to enter the space where her daughter died. The description the author uses to help you understand what this poor woman faces daily on her own property is so accurate, it brought me to tears. The paragraphs in this section of Ms. Hyde’s book touched me deeply and profoundly. Clem had a monster in her closet, as many of us do. I know what this feels like firsthand – I am a survivor of suicide loss.

Perhaps you are wondering about the quote at the beginning of this blog. Secrecy – really? The facts are that the things and memories that reside in our subconscious mind are quite secret. We don’t bring them out easily and generally can’t get them to stir without some kind of help to do so, especially if they are painful. These secrets just sort of sit there, often for a very long time, years even. At the time they occur, we attach an emotion to them, usually intense in nature, and we seldom predict when the effects of their existence deep within will make themselves known again. If the secret is not one that we would consider desirable or acceptable, we probably chose to leave it alone at all costs, and want to forget it even has residence in there. It often becomes the monster in the closet.

Hidden issues that are associated with intense emotion want to be healed. Meditation is one method that allows for you to re-experience, observe and let go of what you no longer need. If we don’t make time and opportunity to release what is not healthy, it will discover another way to annoy you, or worse, hurt you. Generally, that manifests as something physical or mental. This old emotional junk isn’t doing you and your body any good anyway, so there is virtually no reason to hold on to it. In order to move more smoothly through the process of Release, my good advice is, to let it come before you let it go.

Practicing meditation calms the mind, body and spirit, this is true, but it also does a little stirring and fermenting of the hidden emotional secrets we have suppressed. Often we need a certain amount of guidance to comprehend why emotional reactions are surfacing, and what we should do to make our way through it effectively. This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but it often feels that way when your meditation suddenly makes you feel angry, restless or unhappy. Your inner being knows these feelings need to surface, but your outer being can be quite surprised and confused by it. This is Release just waiting to happen. It’s a good thing actually, a Very good thing.

As survivors, Release is frequently a prescription for deep healing and success. Generally, Release is letting go of that which does not produce positive energy for you any longer.  Releasing can be spontaneous or consciously done.  When it is spontaneous, your inner emotional state of mind just does it for you.  It knows that you need to release and you can feel it happen in your body or heart.  In the instance of spontaneous, it is almost shocking since you really didn’t know it was coming.  Sometimes you actually don’t realize it has come and gone – you simply feel better or even great.  Some people will state that it feels like a huge weight has just been lifted off of their shoulders and mind.  Other folks may feel purged and feather-light.  You have experienced that, we all have.  It’s generally un-named, but appreciated. When you release consciously, you have identified an emotional turmoil, bad feeling or event that is blocking you, and you simply work at some level to LET IT GO.

Examples of this might be a long-associated painful relationship that has plagued you, parental blame, personal blame, things you have done that you regret, hate issues, food issues, money worries and others.  One method is to state it out loud to yourself – “I release this (thing), including all of the energies and feelings that are associated with it!”  At the end of your meditation, before you say thank you, “see” this block as being no longer in your secret hoard of buried stuff.  Set an Intention that you will no longer require the need to hold onto whatever it is.  Visualize your body free of the negative energy.  It is not hard to release, but you have to want to and then believe it gone.  Don’t fret if it takes a couple of times to get it all. Sometimes the monster in the closet becomes nothing more than a vapor when confronted.  The fear you had of it was greater than the actual course of events that set it into secrecy in the first place.

My Confrontation and Release taught me that my monster was really bad and really big, but it lost its power when I took my power back.  It was a place, a piece of real estate, not a cause.  It is nowhere I wish to visit in the future, but I am not afraid of it anymore. There are many wonderful organizations and groups that are established to assist us with our monsters, as we all know. One special program that I found as I researched my book, utilized an intense and unique process called Exposure Therapy.   According to the American Psychological Association, Society of Clinical Psychology, Exposure Therapy can be an effective treatment to help people confront their worst fears. Individuals experiencing long-term grief have a tendency to avoid activities, situations, objects and places associated with the grief itself.

Click here to view article on Exposure Therapy

As survivors of suicide loss, we either are aware of or can imagine much of what would be our greatest fear. With Exposure Therapy a psychologist will create a safe environment where they can gradually expose the client to the things or situations that traumatized them in the first place. The therapy is complex and tailored to the client’s current mental status and the extension of the fear they have been facing. There are many pathways to choose in conducting the therapy appropriately.

Important to note: To avoid unwanted outcomes, this therapy should always be conducted with a therapist who is trained and experienced in all areas of the treatment and the exercises, to prevent the client from being re-traumatized. This is simply good medicine.

Having a monster in the closet does not indicate imperfection or weakness. However, keeping a monster buried deep within is unnecessary and unhealthy, especially when we can take positive steps to let them go. Find your personal way of opening up the doors to hidden secrets and getting them out into the light. Oh, what a relief it is!

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, published by CreateSpace, $12.87, paperback and e-book available 09/2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

A Mindfulness Moment means: BE HERE!

 

Mary Fontes Gemma Day 2 285            “Forever is

composed of nows.”

—Emily Dickinson

There is a type of meditation called Mindfulness, where you are being very present in what you are thinking and feeling, using absolutely no energy whatsoever toward judgment.  Mindfulness should not entertain any thoughts surrounding what has taken place in the past or what might happen in the future.  In this state, we do not worry about how we will feel in 30 minutes, or what we felt emotionally ten days ago.  Mindfulness is one great meditational way to be in the Now Moment. During this experience, we recognize the  feelings and sensations we are having, and we are looking at them as they are occurring in our life, but we accept their existence without reacting.  Most importantly, the Now Moment is not judged as being good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.  It just is.  I am sure you have heard the term, “Being“; well, that is what you are doing when in the Now Moment.

I found a wonderful article by Erin Lanahan, about being fully present in the moment, entitled “Freedom is Where my Feet Are”.  Click here for article.

The enduring message she describes is that if we feel chaotic or overwhelmed, we can simply focus on our feet.  By doing this simple task, we can start again to be in the present.  I love this!  As my mind churns away with what I have done or left undone, or what I have waiting for me and is looming on the horizon; by seeing my feet, I can return to home base.  My feet are on the grass, they are in my favorite shoes, they are touching warm sand, my toenails are painted bright happy red, my feet are tanned from the sun.  You get it – I am right here, right now and paying attention to my feet.  It stops me from awful-izing, it keeps me on solid ground and rests my crazy chaotic thoughts; it allows me to breathe properly simply from awareness.  It is very, very alive!

We need mindfulness to slow us down from worry, anger, fear, frustration and stress. If you are not into your feet, simply find a nice place to sit and experience what is around you, indoors or out.  Perhaps a blue bird is singing in the tree near you, the sun is setting in front of you and filling the horizon with oranges and hues of red and yellow, your hands or fingers may be touching a stone wall, wooden bench or overstuffed chair and you can feel the roughness, softness and temperature of each surface.  Perhaps there is a book on your lap and you can determine its weight and edges as it rests on your legs without looking at it.  You can’t think back or forward if you are here.

Practice: Feel the Stone, Click the Shutter

Here are some opportunities for being in the Now Moment that you can try as practice.  Don’t be deceived at how simple they may seem.  Only “seeing” what is immediately in front and around you does require some behavior changes, nothing more.

  1. Doing your exercise routine: change to walking outside and do not wear an i-pod or ear buds or cell phone. As you walk, experience what the surface of the path or road feels like and describe it in your mind. Deep Breathe in some air through your nose. What does it smell like? Is someone burning wood or can you pick up on floral, moss or other greenery? Feel the movement of your hips and breath, and get a sense of the rhythm that is created. Look to the left and right of you, what colors are most prominent as you move forward? Look ahead of you and decide if what you see is worthy of a photo; if you see something that you like, click the shutter in your head and put it in your memory. Pick up a chestnut or stone and hold it in your hand. Where are the ridges on it, the smooth sides, what size is it, what hand does it fit best in?
  2. Go to the beach and remove your shoes. Push your feet deep into the sand and feel it squish up between your toes. Is it wet? Is it cool or very warm? Where is the sun in relation to where you are sitting or standing and how is it making contact with your skin? What about the sound of the waves, big, small, loud, quiet? Walk on the part of sand that almost touches the water. Feel the step-push, step-push as you make your way along. Count how many steps it takes to get from one stone marker to the next? Pick up a stone.  See something memorable? Click the shutter.
  3. If you are riding on a train or bus or other transportation, look at people around you. Take this time to put down your phone or tablet and simply be in the same space as those you see. What do you notice? Are they all swaying in the same direction as the car moves? How many are smiling? Describe to yourself the people waiting on the platforms of the stops along the way.  What are the colors they are wearing as you pass by?  Is that last train stop a perfect image of ones that you have often seen in a magazine? Click the shutter.
  4. Start or enter a conversation with someone. Notice their eyes; what color and shape are they? How expressive is this person when they talk to you? Are you close together or far apart? Where are you most relaxed when standing in their presence? What is the topic you are discussing; is it something you know about or are you learning new information? Perhaps you would like to think about it more later; click the shutter. How are you listening, are you listening? Are they listening to you? Where is your focus? Does this interaction feel comfortable like a stone in your palm? Where are the smooth or rough surfaces?

Being mindful is relatively easy, but it does require your full attention.  Once you commit to giving it a try, you pretty much can do it anywhere if you are willing to set the time aside for 10 – 15 minutes.  The hard part is leaving the soothing and stress-less mindfulness time, and returning to the busy-ness that takes up the majority of our lives.

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, published by CreateSpace, $12.87, paperback and e-book available 09/2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

 

What Is It You Really Need?

July31-07 017When you wake up and begin your day, do you ever just lay there quietly and think to yourself, “What do I need today? ” or “Am I getting what I need?”.  Perhaps this is one of those tough days during a loss or any type of recovery that you don’t feel is going well or your coping skills have taken a flush.  Who is in charge of getting what you need?  Of course you know the answer to that – You Are!

First step is always the same – ask the question of yourself.  WHAT DO I NEED RIGHT NOW?  AND WHO CAN HELP ME TO GET WHAT I NEED, (IF IT IS GOING TO TAKE MORE THAN JUST ME?)  One of the hardest coping skills toward Letting Go is learning to identify your resources and then use them; not easy for the self-reliant, and I-can-do-it-all-myself people.  Trust me when I tell you, not admitting when you can’t do it alone and trying it anyway, is a crash and burn set-up waiting to happen.  Part of the best recoveries involve using trusted “others” who are waiting to support us, just as we are able, at times, to support them.  There will surely come the day(s) when it is time to cash in and lean on someone else for a little while.  It involves trust and honesty – with them and with ourselves.  Here are some steps to doing it:

1. Recognize when you are getting into water over your head for even the most simple of tasks.  Please don’t say to yourself, “it is too small to burden someone else with”, or “I can just do it faster alone”.  Give it over for just a few minutes or a few hours – everyone benefits, especially you.  And if you require some peaceful time on your own, ask another to hold the fort while you breathe somewhere else for a little reprieve.  The benefits of returning to life with a clearer more balanced outlook is immeasurable.

2. Ask someone to not make your decisions for you.  In the course of healing, many good-minded friends and family sort of take over in some situations.  If it doesn’t matter at the time, fine.  But if you feel like you are loosing your grip on the daily process, request kindly that they stand back and give you head room.  This can be done gently, but firmly.

3. Confusing day or tough plan?  Ask someone you trust to come sit and have some tea with you.  Run your thoughts and worries by them and ask for their opinion.  Notice, I didn’t say provide your solution.  What might they do in your situation that would help you make a better choice?  The quiet session, the tea and the trusted conversation will always help.

4. If a conflict is looming, bring it to the table with the individual(s) involved, with kindness and love.  You needn’t ever bury your right to a free voice just because it’s easier to avoid it.  On any given day it might be necessary for you to clear the air in order to maintain your independence and healing, but remember to maintain the bridge if it is an important one.  Buried anger is harmful to our body and spirit, not to mention our emotional well-being.

5. When you find what it is you are needing at any point, when you act on that need by supplying yourself with the resources to accomplish it, when you see how successful you are at keeping your balance and spirit in the situation you would like to resolve…..congratulate yourself for putting yourself first and staying healthy.  One success leads to many more on our journey and they are worth celebrating.

So, when you wake up in the morning, plan your day around what you need, then set about getting there.

Happiness.  Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, published by CreateSpace, $12.87, paperback and e-book available 09/2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Embracing Silence

SilenceFor some, silence is more of a curse than a gift. Many of us have to have some form of stimulation, auditory or otherwise, bombarding us all of the time – we simply cannot exist in a silent world. We jog with ear-buds, walk with cell phones (sometimes with a child in the stroller), communicate incessantly without taking a breath and run the flat screens without interruption. Where is the break? Where are the intercessions?

Most recently I had a gentleman stop at my curbside and decide to pick up a lawn sweeper that I was setting out free to anyone who wanted it – I wasn’t using it anymore. Since I was standing in my driveway managing another task, I observed him pulling up next to the item, so I introduced myself. He said to me that he knew who I was from others who have seen the gardens on my property and since he took my street frequently, he had always wanted to see them. Being in the now moment, I offered to take him in the back to look around. He asked me what it meant to have “peaceful gardens”, and I told him that I designed spaces for people to meditate and quiet their minds. Now I wish to say that this man, at first glance did not appear to be a meditator straight off, but to my surprise he said that in his line of work he often had to deal with individuals that could be very difficult to get along with. He went on to say, that to put his mind in a position of calm, he had established an empty room in his house that only had a chair in it. He would go and sit in that chair with the door closed and bring healthy, peaceful and positive thoughts to his mind for 15 – 20 minutes each day. Wow, who knew? Is that using silence?….absolutely.

I love the synonyms of silence: quietness, quiet, quietude, stillness, hush, tranquility, noiselessness, soundlessness, peace, peacefulness……. Honestly, when and where do we use these anymore? What are we teaching ourselves, our children, when it comes to silence?

During the post-suicide grieving period, our mind often struggles with the non-stop bombardment of Things and Thoughts. Things that we are doing, have done, must do; an endless list perpetuated out of daily necessity. At times it involves Things that others are doing and how it affects us from the standpoint of good and not-so-good. And then the Thoughts of how to accomplish it all, moves in and takes over the prioritizing, categorizing and organization. Just like beautifully thin tracing paper, we overlay this Doing-ness over the ever-present emotional connection to loss. Recovery and survivorship is often and easily pushed down and buried under tons of Things and Thoughts’ To-Do Lists. And being honest, it’s sometimes just easier than coping with grief.  Let’s consider interrupting the Doing-ness and embrace the Being-ness that comes with silence.

Most of us do not put silence anywhere in our daily routine.  We will declare that we don’t really know how to quiet our minds and environment, it’s complicated, and frankly, we don’t have the time.  But, let’s be honest – we are not shooting for Nirvana here.  What we really want to do is give our minds and bodies a chance to have a voice – from the inside out.  Most of the voices we receive are bombarding us from the outside in.  Let’s change that and start listening to ourselves and our inner guidance, instead of simply reacting to all the noise from everywhere else.

For those of you who work in stressful situations, ones that can be a trigger for your anxiety, PTSB, sadness or other symptoms – Stop, shut your door (any door), and get silent.  Everyone gets a break somewhere in their working hours, and you can find a spot that allows you to exercise your right to be still.  Lean back, close your eyes, deep breathe and welcome the stillness.  If your thoughts intrude, gently put them aside for consultation later.  Take a walk without any electronics of any kind, not even a music playlist. Give your brain 20 minutes off.

Just choose silence as one of your treatments to health and you will always find the WHEN and the WHERE.

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, published by CreateSpace, $12.87, paperback and e-book available 09/2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet gabrielle@survivorhealing.com