Archives for October 2022

Book of Boundaries (a book response)

I recently had a Net Galley reading of the Book of Boundaries by Melissa Urban.

Like “It starts with Food” Melissa has written an easy-to-read practical guide.

I really appreciate the sample scripts that make it easy to visualize how to use boundaries in different contexts.

Even better I love that Melissa has included qualifiers for when setting a boundary might not be appropriate. ie. in the case of a friend bailing frequently – when they may – in fact be experiencing some difficulties like depression or some physical health challenges. I personally live with chronic pain and do find myself either cancelling or not making firm commitments to plans because of the uncertainty of how I’d be feeling. I really appreciate that when I use my clear and kind boundaries about staying home that my friends understand and still extend invitations again the next time.

Or how someone not respecting your boundaries could be red flags (i.e. in intimate relationships).

This book is a great tool for people who have difficulty establishing

healthy boundaries in a variety of settings.

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Connecting with grief after loss

When mom died, I spent the first several months helping dad take care of things, taking care of my girls, and otherwise going through the motions. I did not spend time or energy connecting with my grief. As we approached a year after her death, I found myself with an opportunity to spend some time alone. I knew that I hadn’t really allowed myself to process my loss. I also knew that I needed to experience and live through my grief if I wanted to live a life being present in the moment, feeling all the feelings.

Live through the grief

Since losing mom, I’ve had more than one occasion to offer solace to a friend. The most important thing I could offer, next to acknowledging their hurt, is to allow yourself to live through the grief. It cannot be avoided, but by allowing yourself to connect with your grief and experience the pain you can move through it.

One thing I know is that we cannot numb feelings selectively. If we numb the tough feelings, we also numb the joyful ones. So, if we want to have the full experience of life, and of joy specifically, then we must allow ourselves to experience the full extent of the heartache too.

Be intentional

So, on this date back in 2012, I sat myself down on the floor of my living room, with family photo albums from my childhood, and my girls’. And I intentionally relived the memories captured in those photos.

As I allowed the memories of family gatherings like movie nights at the corporal’s mess at Canadian Forces Station – Inuvik; Christmases with my Grampy (mom’s dad); family reunions at our home in Arcadia – like when all of the immediate McCourt Family came together for a couple of weeks one summer; and watching from the sidelines as my little brother performed in his Christmas concerts… I found myself sobbing. I sobbed until my head physically pained me. I cried for the loss of future memories with mom. I cried with gratitude for the life we had together. I cried for my children who would never know the joy of sharing their next milestones with their Nanny.

It was a purge of sorts. Not that it took the memories away, but it took away a cloud that had obscured them from me as I had been blindly walking through the days, weeks and months following mom’s death.

The pain of loss doesn’t ever go away entirely, and sometimes revisits us suddenly. But as time passes the pain becomes less intense. The human experience means that everyone one of us will experience loss of a loved one, if we are fortunate to live long enough.

Preserve their stories

Anderson Cooper has a new podcast, “All There Is”, about grief and loss. Interestingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about many of the same things he talks about. In his first episode he speaks of the importance of sharing the stories of his family with his children, so that the stories will live on. By sharing stories of our departed loved ones, we keep them alive within us. These stories shared with lost loves are also a part of us, and the only way to preserve them is to share them with those we care about and who care for us.

That’s a project I’ve been working on since before my children were even born. I have been gathering family tree research, photographs and other mementos. But the part that I’m still missing is recording a lot of the stories. Many of those stories have now been lost with my mother and grandparents’ passing. I’m trying to document some of them now.

There is no winning against grief

In the second episode of “All There Is”, Anderson Cooper speaks with late night talk show host Stephen Colbert. One of the most profound things Colbert says is that “…grief is a doorway … to another you.” He is so right. It is impossible to experience grief and not be changed by it.

One thing that those of us who have lost loved ones all eventually learn is that there is no holding grief off. There is only pausing it, until it rears its head again. And it will continue to do so, until we live through the experience of it. Colbert said “…we think we can win against grief. We think we can fix it. But you can’t. You can only experience it. And to fully experience it you have to accept that it’s real. The loss is real.” … “Grief is not a bad thing. Grief is a reaction to a bad thing. Grief itself is a natural process that has to be experienced.”

Accept support

If you have experienced a loss and not allowed yourself the grace of connecting with grief, be gentle with yourself. But don’t let yourself off the hook, it will only sneak up on you when you least expect it. Rather, allow yourself the space and accept support when it is offered, by talking about your loss with people who care. Talking is a form of acceptance and will help you to come out on the other side of grief. As Colbert says, you will arrive at a place where you can enjoy the beauty of life and the world, in spite of its grief.

One of the most profound ways that we can live an authentically connected life, is to have the courage to suffer. And with suffering, eventually comes healing and growth.

Have you been trying to win against grief? Has some offered help that you can accept and talk through your grief with? Making the space to connect with your grief will help to connect with joy as well.

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Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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Introverts need social connection too

When I think back to grade school I realize that I always thought of myself as an extravert. The truth is that even with my experiences of being bullied I really was just self-confident enough to step outside of my introvert natural state and speak up, reaching out for social connection and as a result, I appeared to be outgoing. I loved trying new things and meeting new people. But I also loved doing solo activities like reading.

Self Portrait, Reading, Book, Difference

Strike a balance

During my happiest times – I realize now – I had found a way to strike a balance between time connecting with other humans, and time alone to restore my batteries. I found connection with people exhilarating and – at the same time – energy draining. Yet too much time alone left me feeling disconnected and restless. It was not unusual to find me at school dances, or on-stage during theatre productions, or even fluttering from one group of friends to another. I was indeed a bit of a social butterfly. But I also could be found curled up with a good novel, writing poetry, or walking my dog.

Introverts need social connection too

There have been times in my adult life when I felt lonely. When I withdrew and turned inward and found I was beginning to feed an unhealthy mindset that sounded a lot like “friends? Who needs them?” Fortunately, something always happened to force me to look outside of my cocoon and acknowledge what I was missing out on, introverts need social connection too. In nearly every case, what I needed most was to reach out to at least one person.

Social connection for introverts

As my marriage began to fall apart for the final time, I found myself reaching out to a friend who I could connect with and focus my time and attention on something that had once brought me a lot of joy and helped me to ground myself – literally – in nature. Christina and I started running together. And when it came time to move on from my marriage, and physically move away from our home, and my friend – I could fall back on running to ground myself and at the same time continue to feel connected to Christina and my other running friends, even across the miles.

Introverts need social connection too

It wasn’t easy to walk away from my marriage, but during some of the toughest days I could lace up a pair of running shoes, get out on the trail and breath in the fresh air. And I would feel whole again. I came to appreciate those runs as a kind of therapy. In fact it also served as a mindfulness practise of sorts. And my friend and I could cheer one another from afar and still feel the support that we’d given each other while side by side in our early days of running together.

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Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

I invite you to follow me using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my Facebook page, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it.