The Cook Awakening

Archive for the ‘Grief’ Category


Being Human

April 6, 2020
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

Welcome to the realities of COVID-19.

Living in times of crisis can cause a variety of reactions. What are you noticing?

If you’re in quarantine or sheltering-in-place with access to the news, anxiety is likely no stranger to you. You may be on the front lines in health care or other essential service. You may be one of the many who have suddenly lost your livelihood. We are powerless over these events that are affecting the whole world.

I was just texting with my brother — “This seems to have really cured me of any daddy complex I might have had that someone in charge would save me if ‘things got bad’.”

Tangled


If you’ve read anything I’ve put out over the years, you know spirituality is my jam. What I mean by spirituality is pretty broad. My main interest is in what works for YOU. What is your edge that needs leaning into? Spiritual practices needs to be attuned to your personality.

Spirituality may sound like some lofty term that refers to something outside our everyday life. Maybe not particularly useful or accessible when there’s a damn pandemic going on! This is real life!

Can we redefine the term, please? Maybe call it “Embodied Spirituality”? “Human Spirituality”?

A life of Spirit that honors our Humanness so completely that there’s no separation between the two.

One of our tasks now, in order to remain as calm as possible and carry on, is nervous system regulation. That means calming down when we’re scared or angry. Waking up if we feel frozen or confused. Connecting if we feel lonely and sad.
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What If My Inner Critic is Right?

October 13, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I led a group recently focusing on the Inner Critic. You know, the part of your psyche that picks apart everything you do, everything you are, and tells you you’re not good enough? I wrote about that last January. It’s a painful, pernicious voice in your head. We all have an Inner Critic, shaped by the culture and experiences we grew up with.

That voice in your head can sound like the Voice of God, All Knowing, Absolutely Correct About All Things.

I had a client once who would say, “But, what if my critic is right?”

It can be a subtle thing to discern in working with this part of yourself. The fact is, your Critic may indeed be right about the things it attacks you with. You may, in fact, be… fat/skinny, shy/loud, “too old”, mistaken about things, not very “beautiful” (by media standards), not a perfect parent, etc.

It is true, he is not good at ballet.

How do you find the part of you that knows that these “awful things”, that may or may not be true, are not as important as your Critic makes them out to be?
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Changing Identity

August 18, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges

My family just arrived back from a 2400 mile road trip down through California to visit dear friends and family from the north to the south of the state. And, we swung through Yosemite on our way home, just for fun.

Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park.


I used to identify as someone who LOVED road trips. I traveled solo from California to Colorado more than once. From California to Wisconsin with my ex-husband. I made it from California to New York in 2 days with a crazy group of roommates once, driving straight through. (Something, by the way, I do not recommend. I’m grateful to be alive.)

Youth is a time of natural resilience. It’s one of the reasons that many chronic illnesses aren’t diagnosed until a bit later in life. The signs might be there, but the fact of being young often makes it possible to miss them.

I’m not young anymore. Being in my later 50s brings a number of differences in my capacity to manage a changing environment. Different beds every few days. Hours in the confined space of the car. No routines to rest into. I end up grumpy, overwhelmed… and my body hurts.
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The Complex of Mother’s Day

May 12, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Spiritual Practice

It’s Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who celebrate! I hope you are surrounded by love and appreciation for all you have done as a mother, and/or are celebrating all your mother has done for you.

And, I want to acknowledge that Mother’s Day is not happy for everyone. Your mother may no longer be alive. You may not have a good relationship with your mother. She may even have been overtly abusive. You may be a mother, but you’re estranged from your kid(s). You may be a mother, and your child died. You may be a mother with living and loving kids, but you had one child die, perhaps as a baby, perhaps as a miscarriage or still birth, and you still grieve that loss. You may have always wanted to be a mother, and for some reason are not. You may be a mother, and for your own very good reasons, really never wanted to be. There are so many permutations of why this day might be hard. Relationships with family can be fraught.

Cherry blossoms in the full moon’s light


Any of these situations can leave us with less than joyful feelings when one of these Hallmark holidays comes around. We have these tricky minds that compare our lives to other folks lives. If you’re on social media it can be compounded, there are so many heartfelt wishes and photos of happy connected families. All the shoulds come crashing in, “I should be loved differently” or “I should feel differently” or “my mom should still be alive”, — basically, my life should be different than it is, because other people’s lives look different. At least from the outside.

The hardest part of this, really, is that the comparison actually prevents us from simply feeling what’s true. What’s true gets twisted into an even bigger, more painful story than it already is.
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Comparison

March 3, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I hear some version of this statement a lot from clients. “Life feels hard, but so many people have it worse than me. I should be able to manage my life better. It’s my fault that I’m suffering, I should just be able to get over it.”

Last year I had the good fortune to be able to sit with and participate in a discussion with Lama Rod Owens, co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. An excellent book, highly recommended. Lama Rod is a self described Black, queer male. He is recognized as a teacher in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism after receiving his teaching authorization from his root teacher the Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche.

Emerging Buddha


A question was asked by a white participant about how to deal with the guilt of realizing how much Black folks had suffered at the hands of white people.

Lama Rod was very clear. “You can’t talk to me about my lineage and suffering until you really know your own lineage and the suffering there.”
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Stillness

February 7, 2019
Posted in: Grief, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Spiritual Practice

I hear it often. “I want to do more in my life. I want to go deeper. But, when I try, I end up feeling overwhelmed and I can’t do anything!”

Whether you have a diagnosis or not, often our expectations and desires are more than our bodies can live up to. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!” (Originally from the film Top Gun.)

When you live with a health challenge, or are grieving a loss, things are different than for most of the people you know who have busy lives and seem to keep up just fine. Yes, acceptance of that fact is a good thing to aspire to. But, “acceptance” often ends up looking like a kind of dreary resignation when it’s on the ground running. Where’s the joy in that?

Nuitie Sweetie a few minutes after death


Our beloved Nuit, a 15 year old kitty, died a couple of weeks ago. She was not a flashy, smart, energetic cat. She was sweet, compliant, sometimes grumpy, and full of purrs when she was snuggled. And, she had a few chronic health conditions. Her thyroid was over active, she had arthritis in her shoulders, she had high blood pressure (probably related to her thyroid condition). And, more recently, something was putting pressure on her lungs, probably either a mass or fluid build up around her heart. In the end, her breathing pattern was more like panting than anything.
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