4 Ideas for Writing a Grief Journal

I read the C.S. Lewis book, A Grief Observed (aff) many years ago. I remember wondering how one could write through their grief. It seemed such a foreign concept to me.

I have been fortunate to have suffered little loss thus far in my life. However, I have come to understand how verbalizing grief can help the healing process.

Here is a short list of prompts to help you write when you experience loss:

Keep writing. Writing may uncover emotions surrounding the event that you didn’t think you were feeling. You may find yourself getting angry or crying as you write. This is natural… allow yourself to feel the emotion. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. While it may not make sense, letting go all of those bottled up emotions helps you through the grieving process.

Examine your emotions. Give yourself time and space. Make a list of everything you feel regarding what happened and then write out, at length, how and why you feel each feeling. Don’t be afraid to go in-depth.

Be creative. Draw or collage your grief. When it’s too hard to write or you feel that words don’t convey the exact thoughts you feel, turn to art. Draw out your emotions… scribble out the anger or tears. Cry on the page. Collage images that show how you feel or the best times you had with the one you lost. I found a few images I had of mo and me and I turned them into a digital remembrance collage of him.

Write unsent letters. Write letters that no one else will see, except for you, the page, and the spirit of who you lost. I know many people who have dealt with their grief this way. They say it’s therapeutic and helps them feel connected to who they lost.

Remember the memories. Write down happy events. Keep a record of who you lost and what they looked like. Keep a list of the things they loved (music, books, movies, chew toys, etc.) and allow yourself to remember the love you had for them.

10 Tips for Effective Listening

Whether it’s our spouse, our children, or with a sales prospect or our boss, one of life’s great challenges is to listen well. Often, we are tempted to think about our response rather than listen. Or, we believe we already know what the other person is going to say, so we simply interrupt or wait impatiently for our turn. Listening, really listening, with our whole being, is a skill and one of the most important compliments we can give another human being. The following 10 “rules” can help.

1. Stop Talking! It is difficult to listen and speak at the same time.

2. Put the other person at ease. Give them space and time and “permission” to speak their peace. How we look at them, how we stand or sit, makes a big difference. Relax, and let them relax as well.

3. Show the other person that you want to hear them. Look at them. Nod when you can agree, ask them to explain further if you don’t understand. Listen to understand them and their words, rather than just for your turn.

4. Remove distractions. Good listening means being willing to turn off the TV, close a door, or stop reading your mail. Give the speaker your full attention and let them know they are getting your full attention.

5. Empathize with the other person. Especially if they are telling you something personal or painful, or something you intensely disagree with, take a moment to stand in their shoes, to look at the situation from their point of view.

6. Be patient. Some people take longer to find the right word, to make a point or clarify an issue. Give the speaker time to get it all out before you jump in with your reply.

7. Watch your own emotions. If what they are saying creates an emotional response in you, be extra careful to listen carefully, with attention to the intent and full meaning of their words. When we are angry, frightened, or upset, we often miss critical parts of what is being said to us.

8. Be very slow to disagree, criticize or argue. Even if you disagree, let them have their point of view. If you respond in a way that makes the other person defensive, even if you “win” the argument, you may lose something far more valuable!

9. Ask lots of questions. Ask the speaker to clarify, to say more, give an example, or explain further. It will help them speak more precisely and it will help you hear and understand them more accurately.

10. STOP TALKING! This is both the first and the last point, because all other tools depend on it. Nature gave us two ears and only one tongue, which is a gentle hint that we should listen twice as much as we talk.

Give Away Your Positive Attitude

Gurdeep Pandher is an exemplar of positivity. He says, “Joy is more than having fun. Joy means your nerves are calm, your anxieties are elsewhere. Your heart (not just lips) is smiling; your breathing is soothing like a breeze; your world is perfect in the mess of imperfections around you. Joy could be an ideal meditation. If all emotions are valuable, then even tears of joy can make us get up and dance. One thing more about joy; we need it, just like we need food to survive. Go find your joy! Start by searching within yourself or going out in nature.”

We create what we think about. A positive attitude helps us focus on achieving our goals, rather than wallowing in disappointment about things that have not gone exactly to plan. Focusing on the positive provides more energy, motivation, and commitment.

One of the best ways to build a positive attitude is to share it with someone else. Here are some uncomplicated ways to give your positive attitude away.

  1. Share my knowledge with others.
  2. Help others in their growth.
  3. Visit friends who are having trouble with their attitudes.
  4. Notice the good in others.
  5. Be more positive around those with whom I have daily contact.
  6. Transmit my positive attitude to others whenever I use the telephone.
  7. Send token items such as cards or flowers to those I care about.
  8. Say thank you to someone who did something nice for me.
  9. Share my sense of humor.
  10. Be more sensitive as a listener so others can regain their positive focus.
  11. Laugh more so my attitude will be infectious.
  12. Communicate my positive attitude through upbeat conversations, paying compliments to others, etc.
  13. Giving my attitude to others by setting a better example as a positive person.

As you implement your choices, remind yourself, the more you give your attitude away, the more positive it will remain.

How about it readers, what are some other ways to share your positive attitude with others?

10 Easy Ways to Go Green

Today is Earth Day.

Sometimes we look at environmental issues as being too big for just one person to solve; on the global scale, they are. That doesn’t mean that each of us can’t do our part to improve the environment.

Here is a quick list of 10 easy ways for anyone to start going green.

  1. Change your driving habits
    • Walk
    • Ride a bike
    • Use Public Transport
    • Move closer to work
    • Carpool
  2. Check out used before buying new
    • Garage sales
    • Flea markets
    • Classified ads
    • craigslist
    • Kijiji
  3. Buy or use local
    • Farmer’s Markets
    • Market farms
    • Greenhouses
    • Crafters and artisans
  4. Set back your thermostats
    • Furnace
    • Hot water tank
    • Air conditioner
  5. Recycle
    • Household
    • Compost
    • Office
    • Thift Stores
    • Consignment shops
  6. Conserve water
    • Low-flow shower head
    • Shorter showers
    • Low-flush toilets
    • Give up bottled water
  7. Change your light bulbs
    • Use compact fluorescent
    • Use LED holiday lights
    • Turn off lights as your leave rooms
    • Use lower wattage bulbs, where possible
  8. Use energy efficient appliances
    • Energy star rated
    • Mid or high-efficiency furnace
    • Clothesline
  9. Reduce chemical use
    • Natural pesticides
    • Natural fertilizers
    • Biodegradable household cleaners
    • Phosphate free products
  10. Extend the life of your electronics
    • Don’t upgrade to every new gadget
    • Extend the life of entertainment equipment by one year
    • Buy used instead of new

Quotes and Questions – Decisiveness

Quotes:

  • “Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days… What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “People begin to become successful the minute they decide to be.” —Harvey Mackay
  • “Choice determines direction… Decision determines destiny…” —Doug Firebaugh
  • “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by traffic from both sides.” —Margaret Thatcher

Questions:

  1. What decisions will you make, even when you’re uncertain about them, to help you take control of your own life?
  2. What goals are you working towards? Do your decisions align with these goals?
  3. Have you ever missed an opportunity because you waited too long before making a decision? 

6 Secrets of Stress Management

As the weather begins to warm-up, we’re making our summer vacation plans. The past two years of restrictions and lock-downs put something of a crimp in our usual vacation travel.

Instead of sitting around moaning about our circumstances, we took advantage of the break. We engaged in a few more hobby activities than normal. We tackled a few jobs around the house and went out for more nieghbourhood walks than usual.

This year we have plans. We’re looking forward to visiting family and getting our camping in our trailer.

Right now, I’m sitting here, enjoying a coffee and taking it easy, I’m thinking about stress. We all have stress; there’s no way to avoid it. In fact, some degree of stress is a good thing. Just as the stress of weights during exercise can help build muscle, so life-stress can build emotional, psychological or mental “muscle”.

Stress becomes a problem when it controls us. If you want to remain balanced, you need to manage the stress in your life.

How do you do that? Here are six secrets of stress management:

  1. Know yourself: If you don’t have a clear sense of who you are and what you stand for, people and circumstances will try to shape you. Trying to be someone or something you are not is stressful.
  2. Set clear goals: Define what you want or need to do. If there’s a big, undefined task looming in your subconscious, you’re going to be stressed about not getting it accomplished. Setting clear goals allows you to see the end and set the steps toward reaching the goal. Just meeting each of the milestones leading to a completed task can go a long way to reducing stress.
  3. Set your priorities: You can’t do everything all at once. You can set your goals and know the steps to reach those goals, but if you don’t know where to begin, you’re going to build stress. Figure out the priorities and you’ll know where to begin.
  4. Set your focus: Once you know where to begin, focus on that task. If you try and focus on more than one thing at a time, all things will suffer.
  5. Delegate: You can’t do it all yourself. You can plan a major project, set all the steps, plan dates for the deliverables and then stress over all that needs doing. Get the team involved. Even Jesus enlisted 12 disciples.
  6. Relax: Take a break. Successful weight-trainers know constant stress on the muscles will soon become counter-productive and even damaging. They know their muscles need to have periods of relaxation to get the best benefit from training. Stress can compound. You need to take breaks to relax and refresh, thereby coming back stronger.

Stress is never eliminated, but it can be managed and controlled. A few simple steps and you can make stress work to your advantage.

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