Fresh starts…

Last year I moved from a home in farm country to an apartment in the city.

Although the pace of this new place is not quite what I expected, it feels good to be here. As 2020 dawned I found myself fairly well settled in my new digs, with a new office pending and new adventures to look forward to.

What I didn’t expect, was that it would take 6 months and 6 new phone numbers before I had home and business numbers that worked for me. I didn’t expect that getting a spare key cut would take months, emails, phone calls and days of frustration. I didn’t expect to find kind and loving neighbours right across the hall, who would watch out for me and invite me for dinner.

Change never turns out exactly the way we expect it will.  Even when we get everything we asked for, there are always details we didn’t anticipate.  

Whether you’re having a baby or moving house, getting married, or letting go of someone you love. There will be things that will catch you by surprise. Usually a collection of them…  

Life is big.  And Messy.  And usually pretty wonderful.   Except when it isn’t…

Grief Recovery helps make sense of it all.

Recovery time…

Last July I was working diligently to organize my life. To see whether, with enough structure and help, I could keep all the balls in the air. Life, Work, Home, Family, Schtuff…

By Christmas I knew that where and how I was living, was an untenable arrangement. My life was scheduled 24/7 and there was no joy left in the mix.

On March 1st I decided that home ownership was the first piece to let go of. Less than a month passed from deciding to move, to signing the deal. The deal gave me 30 days to purge, pack, find a new place and to move. It was a whirlwind of change.

Once all the boxes were unpacked and the final loads had been taken to the charity store the Office Manager who lives in the back of my brain, thought that I should be at my desk, churning out articles and blog posts in every moment when I wasn’t out in my new city searching for classroom space for upcoming classes.

The Office Manager and I have had words.

I’m pooped. Proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished. And happy to be here. But pooped, all the same.

When someone runs a marathon, we don’t expect them to get up and do it again the next day. Yet it’s easy for us to lose sight of the marathons we run. We see the mountains in the distance and can fall into chivvying ourselves to get on with the next.

I am puttering away at both business and a new social life here. I am meeting new people and getting ready to set up classes. I’m writing some too. But it’s not at a marathon pace right now… I’m still slowing down from the last race I ran.xoxo

Sad, bored and lonely, the unpopular triplets.

We live in a world that is happy to discuss sex and weirdness and all manner of personal things… but not genuine emotions. Particularly not uncomfortable ones.

I will admit that for a while I lived with the fairy tale that said:

“Once I have unpacked every box, I will be able to get to work, start teaching and socializing and having fun.”

Yeah…. It didn’t exactly happen that way.

Cuz once I finished unpacking all the boxes I was exhausted. And it had been Far Too Long since I’d done anything but pack, purge, unpack, sort or organize. I needed FUN but I was too pooped to know what to do… and I was in a new place and didn’t have my usual playmates to call on. Enter BOREDOM. Wanting to Do Stuff but having no idea what to do. Then realizing that there was no one available for me to play with… Enter LONELINESS. Quickly followed by SADNESS that all my fairy tale dreams were Not Coming True as Advertised.

This is Grief. When we feel this confluence of Schtuff without any easy way to resolve it.

We live in a world doesn’t yet have the tools to sit with these things. If we dare to tell anyone that we are sad or scared, bored or lonely they are quick to try to fix the situation, or fix us, or at the very least, hush us up until they can get away. When all we really want, is someone who will listen.

The Grief Recovery method has been teaching people how to listen for more than 40 years.

It starts with listening to ourselves and admitting what’s really going on inside. xox

UnPacking our schtuff…

As I unpack boxes and work to create order and beauty in my new space I have been fascinated to see metaphors unfolding, about stuff and schtuff.

Listening to well-meaning folks advise me on how to hide as-yet-unpacked boxes made me wonder how many folks have boxes (of emotional schtuff) that they hide in the back of their emotional closet and hope Never to unpack.

One friend told me that he’d moved homes 3 times and that there were 5 boxes of stuff that had moved with him each time, never unpacked… I wonder what became of those boxes when he and his wife split?

I had lunch recently, with a friend who told me that she was happy but that feeling happy scared her because she was afraid the happiness would end. Yet, she won’t do the Grief Recovery work because that would mean looking at her painful emotions and she’s afraid that if she lets them out of the closet, they will never end. I wonder who decided that happiness was fragile and unhappiness was strong?

Marie Condo is a tidying and organizing expert who advises that we only keep the things in our homes that spark joy in us. (yet when it comes to emotional schtuff many folks let compliments go and hold onto slights and insults instead).

Marie advises that once we start sorting through our stuff, we keep going until it’s done so that we get through the work and get to enjoy the results. I agree with her. Being half-done any cleaning project feels like chaos… whether it’s physical stuff or emotional schtuff. (yet many folks will only clean up the most painful schtuff and leave the linty-bits to gather dust in the dark)

My boxes of stuff aren’t all unpacked yet but most of them are. I have an open, usable office that is a joy to write in and rooms that I love to live in. I’m sorting through the bits that are left and getting rid of everything that doesn’t bring joy to my new life here. (and I’m watching the emotions that ebb and flow with each piece)

I’m grateful for the Grief Recovery process… xox


One week, two weeks, one month, two months, one year or two… Our hearts seem to keep track of significant days even when our brains forget to. Or more accurately, when our brains try to tell us that these big and small milestones don’t matter.

I moved in to my new digs two weeks ago. Last Tuesday when I woke up I was feeling Capital-A Agitated and I had no idea why. Eventually it dawned on me that my body and emotions were acknowledging that it had been one week since the big moving truck shifted my life. Big changes. Once I clued in and acknowledged all the schtuff that I was feeling the day got better. Today I was a little quicker to recognize that it has been two weeks. Wide Awake at 4:30 this morning I wanted to get up, to go, to finish unpacking and get settled in this new place and I did, sorta. I gave in to what my body and mind wanted and got an early start on the day.

The boxes aren’t all unpacked yet but most of them are. I can see my desk now. I can actually sit at my desk and write. I will be glad when the piles are gone and my space feels clear again. It’s hard when you move into a space one fifth the size of what you had. It can feel chaotic as things find their new space, or get turfed out. My body and soul want some calm. There has been so very much change in the past 6 weeks, so much sifting and sorting, saying goodbye to old routines and learning new ones.

The definition of grief is: “the conflict of emotions that happens whenever an established pattern changes.” I’m grateful to have the Grief Recovery process to help me find my way through this. xo

Rainy day dreaming…

I’m in!

The movers have come and gone, all the paperwork has been exchanged, some boxes have even been unpacked. Now I am dreaming of getting to my desk and doing the work that I moved here to do. All that stands in my way…. is a mountain of boxes.

It seemed perfectly logical when the movers suggested it: To keep clutter to a minimum and keep chaos contained, whatever they didn’t know what to do with, they would put in my office.

Now my office resembles a storage locker and my desk is buried somewhere on the far side of the pile. Sigh…

Even the best bits of life seldom turn out exactly as we expect them to. I’m grateful to have the Grief Recovery process to help me find my way through. xo

A new nest…

I found a new nest.

That means I won’t be living with friends and family this summer. It means instead that I can get started on my new life. It also means saying goodbye to a good number of the things that I have lovingly accumulated these past 15 years as I feathered my nest here.

The new place is small. One third the size of the floorspace I have here to be exact… not counting the workshop and garage spaces and all the tools therein.

I can hear the tsk’ers now saying:

“things don’t matter, people do”.

Which really means: “Don’t feel bad”, “Don’t grieve”

To those tsk’ers I say:


It’s okay to admit that things matter. Things that share our lives become imbued with memories and parting with them can be as bittersweet as parting with the friends and neighbours we have come to know and love.

Grieving is a messy and unpredictable thing. When a loved one dies we can find ourselves dry-eyed and unmoved through the funeral but days later, bawling helplessly over their stinky sock drawer. So it is with moving. The friends who are real and true will remain friends and we will bridge the new distance, so it doesn’t always feel sad to think about moving away from them. But some piece of art or furniture that I hunted for, saved for and now have to leave behind… That part of the packing process can bring feelings of real sadness as I say goodbye to the dreams that I had of living with and enjoying those pieces.

Grief is seldom what we expect it to be. I’m grateful to have the Grief Recovery process to help me find my way through. xo

And now… for the grief that comes with change.

When I launched Grief Recovery Ontario I expected to live and work in Trent Hills and serve the people here.  But launching a new business is a lot like bringing home a new baby.   It takes commitment and stamina and 36 hour days.

Trying to launch the business on my own while living in a big old house on a large property was just more than I could manage. For a year I hired help and juggled schedules and still, exhaustion won out.   Something had to give, so I put my house on the market.  

Quicker than I ever imagined possible, the house sold.  Moments ago I learned that the deal is firm. I will be out of here on April 25th.   That gives me 3 weeks to sort and pack and move.   To where, I don’t know yet. I may well spend the summer bouncing from family to friend while I look.   

I will miss the people that I have come to love here but I’m looking forward to the new and that’s what grief is.  That tangle of old and new, sad and excited, anticipation and dread.  

I’ll keep you posted.  xox

You set out for a day at the beach…

… and you never expected to end up on the rollercoaster…

“Life brings change and change brings grief.”

...all but the most pessimistic of us are surprised by it every time...

You get a diagnosis and your life changes forever.

Your spouse gets a diagnosis… your life changes forever.

Your sibling, your kid or your best friend gets a diagnosis… and your life changes forever.

The people we know and love cause ripples in our lives that bring pain, loss and celebration.

All those things bring grief.  

I hope you’re spending this weekend with people that you love and the loop-dee-loops of life are the fun kind but if they’re not, the Grief Recovery Method can help.

Please be gentle with yourself this weekend. xo

Are you a good listener…?

Most folks like to believe that they are good listeners.

But listening requires more than giving someone half an ear for half a moment.

“Yup, Yup, Me too, Uh Huh, Uh Huh…”

Translation:  “Get to the point, get over it and be gone, I’m busy….”

When we’re hurt, upset, grieving, or distressed by any of the things that life throws at us, the last thing we need is to be dusted off, tidied up and dismissed.   People need to be heard.

The Grief Recovery Method listens.

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