Readers? Bifocals? Progressives? In my latest YouTube post, I discuss what a pain it has been trying to correct my vision in my 50's!
In my latest YouTube post, I share my experience with Botox and why I decided to give facial acupuncture a try instead.
Twenty years ago today, I lost my daughter Sydney to leukemia. The night before she died, she had slept between her dad and me, and the memory of waking the next morning to discover she was gone will forever be etched in my mind. While many interactions and events from that time in my life remain blurry, I can so easily revisit the pain and heartache of that moment. It was almost as if I had died with her because when I bring that scene to mind, I see it as a spectator, like I was floating outside my body, as we often hear in descriptions of near death experiences.
It seems unreal that twenty years have passed since that morning. For some time I couldn’t conceive how I would ever be happy again after losing her. It just didn’t seem possible. Or even right.
But one day - I don’t remember exactly when it happened - I realized I was happy. And it was okay to be happy.
My family is no stranger to tragic loss. Last summer we lost my dad to suicide. After Sydney died, I knew in my heart that it didn’t exempt us from further tragedy. Life is full of grief. It’s just part of it, and I am still working out the grief from the loss of my dad, as I know is my mom, my husband, and my kids. There is no moving past grief or getting over it. Ever. You just have to move through it, and until you do, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
I once listened to a podcast with author Elizabeth Gilbert, who lost her partner to cancer. Elizabeth was her partner’s care giver up until her death, and she described the experience as excruciating, heart wrenching, but also beautiful in its own way. She said she wouldn’t have had it any other way because things happened just as they should have.
Elizabeth is far more evolved than me. I don’t find loss beautiful. I agree that it has a way of making you more appreciative and more aware of all that’s good in this world, but I would much rather have seen Sydney grow into adulthood and have a long and fulfilling life. And while we all know the odds are good that our parents will go before us, I would have preferred that my dad left this earth in a far less traumatic way.
But we don’t get to choose. Shit happens. Life happens.
Twenty years ago, if someone had told me I would find happiness again, I would have nodded appreciatively while silently spewing a few choice words their way. But they would have been right. I have a husband of thirty years I love dearly, who has been my rock through good times and bad. I have two thoughtful, smart, and funny kids who have grown into amazing adults and make me proud every day. And more recently, a sweet and sassy future daughter-in-law, and a grandbaby who brings me more joy than I can express. I will miss and grieve my daughter and my father the rest of my days, but my life is good.
So, I guess this post is for those who are grieving and wondering if they can ever be happy again. I’m here to say that you most certainly can. I know that right now it seems out of the realm of possibility. I’ve been in that deep, dark pit you’re convinced you will never escape. At times you will believe the pain is more than you can physically bear.
But one day – you won’t remember exactly when it happened – you will realize you are happy. And it is okay to be happy.
Happy heavenly birthday, my sweet Sydney Bean.
Remote instruction has created challenges for teachers, parents, and students alike, which leads us to ask... what will education look like post Covid-19? As of now, we can't know if some form of social distancing will still be needed by the time the 2020-2021 school year begins (I hope not!), but if so, what are some approaches we can take to make that scenario more effective than what we are currently doing? In my latest YouTube post, I'm asking all of you to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
Feeling a little stressed, are we? In my latest post, I share the ways in which I'm trying to keep a healthy mindset (not that I'm an expert by any means), and talk about some of the simple pleasures we can look forward to when we're on the other side of coronavirus.
I've recently been hurled into empty nesthood, and in my latest vlog I share how I've been trying to adjust. If you have your own empty nest experience, please share on the YouTube page!
**If you are viewing this post in an email, you may have to navigate to my website to access YouTube video.
Back pain kept me home from work this past week, and it's not an uncommon occurrence. According to the American Chiropractic Association, "back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in one year." Yikes!
Anyway, in my latest YouTube post I share some of the back pain remedies that are lying around the Hickman home. Maybe you could share some of your own.
**If you're reading this in the newsletter, you may have to navigate to the webpage to access the YouTube video.
It's been four years since I published my last book, and I've come to the conclusion that another one's probably not in the cards. At least for now. I've been telling myself I really ought to get in front of the computer and start typing away at something new, but the motivation just hasn't been there. It may be because the past couple of years I've been spending a lot of time learning new content in my teaching career, and I just don't have the mental energy to devote to an entire book these days. Looking back now, I'm not sure how I did it.
However, I am the type of person who needs a creative outlet, an interest outside of my job. So, I thought I'd give the YouTube thing a go. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing with it just yet, but I'd like to create a channel aimed at people in midlife, particularly women.
I've already created three videos, and realized I never used the blog to let people know! So this is me doing that now. (Better late than never.)
I know I have a lot to learn about YouTube, branding, making eye catching thumbnails, etc., etc., but I'm excited and look forward to exploring this new interest, and hope people will find the videos engaging.
Have a peek, and if you think my channel might be up your alley, please subscribe!
It has been just over two months since my dad died, and I’ve been trying to find ways to navigate through my grief.
In the days immediately following his death, I had several experiences that made me believe he was communicating with me. This is an experience many people claim to have had, and I have always wondered if such occurrences are something we create in our minds because we need them so desperately, or if they are indeed real. Ultimately, my opinion has always been that it doesn’t really matter. If it brings us comfort to believe that they’re real, then they’re real. End of story.
I made up my mind to stay open to signs from him. The manner of his death was so unexpected, so painful, I felt that if I could just receive a sign (or better yet, signs) that he wasn’t really gone, I could make my way through this horrendous loss.
The first few signs were songs that caught my attention while in public places, two with lyrics I didn’t already know. That alone made me feel as if maybe it wasn’t all in my mind. Then another tune came along one day at work. The school where I teach plays music over the loudspeakers each morning before the bell, and this particular morning Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” was the selection. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but the following morning I woke with the song in my head. Aside from the chorus, I didn’t know any of the words so figured I’d better look them up.
After having a listen, it was hard not to believe that was Dad telling me he is more than okay.
As I mentioned in my last post, Dad was an avid reader of history, philosophy, and religion and had quite the collection of books. A few days after he passed, I randomly chose a few from his shelves to read at home. Then several days later, Mom found some notes he had left me. I would have been around ten years old at the time he wrote them, and in them he recommended six books for me to read as an adult, thinking I would find them useful. He listed them in the order he felt they should be read, Bhagavad Gita being first on the list.
Bhagavad Gita was one of the five books I plucked from his shelves only days before, shelves that hold well over two hundred titles, maybe more, and it was the first book I had already started reading.
But here is the downside. What happens when you think you’re receiving all these communications from your dearly departed, and then they stop? What then?
Well, if you’re me, you question whether those previous “signs” were real. After all, if that was really Dad, why would he suddenly stop speaking to me? Especially when I keep asking him where the hell he went?
It’s been nothing but damn crickets. Or have I just stopped paying attention already?
I’ve been doing a lot of self-help reading, listening to podcasts, which I guess is what some of us tend to do when we’re in crisis. At least that’s always been my MO. I did the same when my daughter was going through chemo, and for some time after she died. When things are going smoothly, why do I need to read such stuff? Life is too busy, after all. But when life gets rocky, I seem to find the time.
One idea I can’t seem to shake is that each time something tragic happens in my life – or even if it isn’t tragic but simply a rough patch - it’s a push for me to grow as a person. But recently, I saw a meme that stated, “I don’t want to go through things that don’t kill me but make me stronger anymore!!” This is exactly where my mind goes on days when my little philosophy of “growth” isn’t quite cutting it for me.
But back to my reading. A theme I’ve come across time and again – one that’s also the main gist of Bhagavad Gita – is that we humans are horrible at accepting the impermanence of the things of this world. And the minute we can truly know that what makes us… us, never really dies, we will find peace. Unfortunately, the majority of us will never really know this until we die ourselves, so what do we do in the meantime?
I miss hearing, “Hey Shel, it’s Dad,” through the telephone line. I miss his corny jokes I’ve heard a million times. I miss his laughter when he was enjoying a good comedy. I miss watching him savor a good meal and say how it was “to die for.” I miss catching him wander a few steps off his path to hand the homeless person a couple bucks.
How do we get to that place where we stop clinging to all those impermanent experiences and know - not just believe - that our loved one is still with us?
Whenever we’d have family discussions about events happening in this world that made us frustrated, angry, or just sad and hopeless, Dad would sometimes say, “You gotta be stoic about these things.”
Don’t get me wrong. Dad had a quick temper and wasn’t always the best at being stoic about matters over which he had no control, but despite being unable to follow his own advice, he said this because he knew it was the best way to endure life’s heartaches. I think it was a reminder to himself as much as it was to the rest of us.
So Dad, I’m doing my very best to be stoic about your absence. Instead of dwelling on what I’ve lost, I’m working each day to be grateful for the years we had. I’ll keep reading your books, paying special attention to your notes in the margins, in hopes of receiving some of the lessons you learned during your life on this planet, and maybe even some of the lessons you’re learning now.
Update 8/2/19: When my daughter Sydney died, I was in such unbearable grief that I don't think I was able to receive signs that she was still with me. After conversations with a dear friend (Cissy), I decided I'm going to be open to messages from Dad, and I am convinced he has been talking to me these past couple of days. I will continue to watch and listen for him, and hopefully share some of those messages in a future post. :)
Writing about the everyday, wishing to give you a smile in the end.