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Sunday, September 29, 2013

SoulCollage for Hope

What a wonderful day we had yesterday!!  Our facilitator, MJ Abell, created a hope-filled altar space for us, supplied a wide variety of images from which to choose, and a gentle presence so we could create from our soul. The Worthington Hills Country Club offered a peaceful environment with attentive staff.   God provided a beautiful blue sky and warm temperatures for our journey to and from.  What more could we have asked for?

There were 14 of us cutting and gluing after an extended time of collecting more images than we could ever fit on our three cards!  Many took images home to continue this wonderful practice in our own time and space.

It was a meaningful and fun day.  AWBA  looks forward to offering this again in the future.   

Monday, September 16, 2013

What to say (and not to say) when you don't know what to say.

When I have been in places of anxiety, fear, grief,  loss, etc. due to the impact of a chronic diagnosis, it feels that almost everyone trying to support me says or does the "wrong" thing, or is so fearful of entering into my world that they become non-existent until the storm stabilizes.  At the time when we most need support, we can feel most isolated.  I know that people cannot read  my mind to know what I need.  At the same time, it is hard to find words to express what is needed.  It can be a vicious cycle.  

I have one perfect example of everything coming together in just the right way at the right time ...  

My father passed away about five years ago in the midst of one of the coldest and harshest winters in recent history.  It had been a painful season of life with a cancer diagnosis that moved quickly through my previously healthy, energetic father.  After the funeral, my husband, son and myself would be traveling about three hours from the cemetery to a restaurant near my parent's home where we would gather with a few family members that evening.  My husband and I had bought a small, weekend cottage in an area near my parents and we planned to spend the night there after dinner.  The thought of returning to our darkened cottage that had been closed up for two weeks because of the weather was almost more than I could bear.  I knew that snow would cover the walkway, no lights would be on and the temperature would be set at 50 degrees. It was either that or return to our home an hour away late at night.  Neither seemed ideal.

Having very little energy to ask for anything from anyone by that time, God gave me the words for an "ask" of a close friend who lived very near to our cottage.  I almost choked back the request because it felt too large to me at the time.  I asked if she would be willing to drive to our cottage and trudge through the snow to turn on a light and turn up the heat.  She said "yes" without a second thought. 

At the end of a very painful day, we arrived at our our cottage in the woods with its lights shining brightly.  A pathway had been cleared in the snow and the heat embraced us as we opened the front door. On the kitchen table was a beautifully wrapped basket of surprises for us -- nothing expensive, but everything that was needed in that moment.  I had not seen my friend for quite some time and, I don't believe I saw her for what a while after that.  But she and her husband were with us in Spirit.   We were deeply embraced in that moment and not alone.  I felt safe.

A friend of mine recently shared this blog link.  It is another person's response to this question.  This writer offers her perspective as one grieving the death of a parent, but I find her wisdom applicable to those living with a chronic diagnosis.  All of these resonate with me.  How could she know??  #9 is what has brought me the most pain over the years.  How about you?  Is there something you might add to this list?  If you find some or all of this helpful, you might want to adapt if for your own story and give it to those who are part of your support network.  They will likely appreciate your honesty and clarity.

One important note - Although I have traveled many journeys through this land of chronic diagnosis and grief, I know there are times I still say and do the "wrong" thing for someone else who is struggling.  Each of our stories and needs are different.  We do not know how another feels -- ever.  What worked for me will likely not work for you and I may trip over myself in my attempts at compassion.  So, offering grace to one another and to ourselves is critical.  For the many times someone's support felt wrong and anything but helpful, I have always been grateful that they tried.  Likewise, I trust that others are grateful for my sometimes misguided attempts at support. 

It seems that carrying an awareness, continuing to learn, and listening with the ear of the heart is the most important piece.  When we do that, the rest seems to fall into place and the sense of abandonment and isolation are not so heavy.

If you are in need of support, take the risk of a seemingly big ask as I did.  If there is someone who might need your support, meet their need as best you know how and go one step further.  It need not be complicated and certainly not expensive.

Prayer is vital and sometimes we need God with skin on as well ...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First PayPal, Now Facebook ...

For those who receive our monthly newsletters, you know that we recently began accepting charge payments and donations through our website utilizing PayPal.  Today, we launched our presence on Facebook.  I rely on our readers to let me know what is working for them and what is not working for them.  So, please, if you have difficulty accessing anything we do with technology, send me an email at director@myawba.org.  We are always learning and always in process.  Someone shared with me recently that one of the pages on our website could not be opened because I mistakenly attached it in "pages" format, only accessible to Mac users.  Yikes.  This page was posted last November!  I have to wonder how many people tried to open that page in the past year and could not do so. So, don't be shy about offering suggestions to make this site more user friendly and helpful.

If you are on Facebook, be sure to "like us."  We will get this button on our website in the near future.  As we see how this is being utilized, we will increase our posting activity.  I recognize that not everyone is on Facebook, so rest assured that we will continue to make full use of this blog, our website and our monthly newsletters to keep you informed.