Grief and Loss/Healing/Life's Stories/A New Voice

Change – Moving Forward

Experiences in life, particularly traumatic ones, can bring up feeling of being overwhelmed, stuck and uncertain. They can also leave us wondering if, or how we could ever move forward. The weightiness of: This is life; my life. Nothing comes easy. Your weren’t there. You don’t know; I can’t keep going . . . can feel looming and finalizing. Being lost in the story of our experiences can make us feel small.
What we are feeling in the moment is real. Yet, our ability to change this is equally as real.

Acknowledging where we are is the beginning of undoing what feels like an unending ending. Ask yourself:

Is it ok for me to be me?
Is it ok that what happened happened?
Is it ok for me to feel the way I do?

For many of us, when we stop fighting with ourselves and our experiences we can begin to see beyond them. There is no right or wrong answers to these questions. If they bring up emotion or mind chatter, write down or draw it out. Then destroy the paper. Another suggestion is to visually see them dissolving or breaking apart until there is nothing left.

Now, what would I like to experience?

Looking back is often easier than looking ahead. What ever things feel like now, life around us is still moving forward and things are still changing. While facing feelings anger, fear, powerlessness or uncertainty there maybe a tendency to swallow our own voice and to forget we still have the power of choice. Yet, most mornings we wake up. We decide to brush or not to brush our teeth. We move on through the routine and experiences of our day. We decide. We choose. We act.

Looking ahead, what are somethings we can do to remind ourselves change is possible? Even if this means going home from work or an appointment a different way. Wearing an outfit that you haven’t worn in a while. Getting a new pair of shoes. Cleaning out a closet or another area of your home or office. Adding a vase of fresh flowers to your desk or the kitchen table. Enjoy the moment and acknowledge you choice in what you are choosing to change.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Changing Lives!

Grief and Loss/Healing/Life's Stories/Strength/Trauma

Story Stop – Story Opt


Who stole the mind’s eye video-recording, auto-looping, playback, stop button? I mean it happened. I know it happened. I was there, but seriously! How many times to I have to relive it? Does it ever end? If it does end, when?

Facing the recurring and seemingly co-occurring images of trauma. The ones vividly streaming on in the mind’s auto-repeating loop, endlessly blaring from somewhere inside our heads. Its constant voice calling us back. Calling us back to relive and re-face the re-repeating images, the emotions and the story of our past.

Initially sharing the events of trauma may have helped us to mentally grasp, clarify or even cognitively process our experiences. Yet, like a favorite pair of jeans, there comes a time when the story becomes old, outdated, worn-out and ultra-faded. So, now what? It doesn’t change the voicing images in my head. It doesn’t change what happened or how it happened. It doesn’t . . .
Thoughts talk. Often, way too much. On the upper side, we get to choose. We get to choose to listen or not. We get to choose to change the story or not. We get to choose to tell the story or not. All the stop, pause and re-record buttons are fully, and only, under our control.

It’s beginning to happen. Mind’s work alcoholic, auto-repeat, playback button has already clocked in at triple overtime. Now what? Stop. Breath. Then ask yourself:

Is this happening now? Answer . . . no, in most cases probably not.

Is this story helping? Answer . . . no.

Now a definite direction and story changer. What is something I gained through this experience?

Hmm . . . I went back to work. I found an even better job. I helped this person.
I stood up for myself. I never knew I could do this. I learned this.
I had the courage and still have the courage to face this. I did it. I am more . . .

Acknowledge and take charge of the stories of our experiences. By changing the story or no longer needing to tell it, we free ourselves from the emotional trauma associated with it. Stop feeling victimized or small in the presence of what has happen or what we think might have happened. Pause and remind ourselves; I am bigger. I am stronger. I am more than the experiences of my life. No matter how traumatic the event was, we are always more than what happened. We are also more than what we think someone else may have wanted us to believe.

For each of us, we are solely in charge and responsible for the story, or the meaning, we attach to the events of our lives. What we choose to do with this or not do with this is also completely up to us.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Changing Lives

Grief and Loss/Healing/Life's Stories/Meaning/Strength/Trauma/A New Voice

Story’s Multi Tale-Talking Reality


Stories speak the multi-cultural, multi-lingual language of planet-dwelling humans. Earth dwellers feverously tune into tales of atmospheric conditions; of epic political sagas; of torrential upheavals; of devastating turns of events and of the freakish, while somehow entertaining, foibles and escapades of our own, human-kind. We live, learn, breathe, slop, slog, thrive and strive in story. Then, by our cosmically engineered, inherent design; we repeatedly tell them. The more we tell, the better they become.

The stories, the stories of our lives, and their fated or ill-fated destinations are real. Story is real. It doesn’t matter if it fiction, nonfiction, noodlehead, legendary or mythological. A story and the story of the story is real. Our words and our intentions become story’s living reality. A story, at its core, is us and about us. In story, as in life, we get to choose. We get to choose, to keep, to deliberate, to hide, to stuff, to revisit, to camouflage, to evacuate, to refurbish, to refresh, to retell or to let go. Stories, the meaning we attach to the events of our lives, as we attempt to process or to make sense out of what happened:

OK it did happen . . . I don’t know how I can keep going . . . It’s not fair . . . I didn’t do anything . . . What right do they have . . . How can people be so happy, don’t they get it? The list goes on.

The responses and the feelings we put behind these stories add life and vitality to the living realism of their humorous, adventurous, off the cliff, disastrous or otherwise impeded or unimpeded journey. They can make it feel as if what happened in the past is still happening in the present. They can make it feel as if we are stuck or held prisoner in the events and repeating images of what already has happened. Moving out of the story may mean stopping the story. It may mean recrafting the story. It may mean taking a minute to ask ourselves; Is this happening right now?”

My guess is the answer is no. At this moment the story, our story, has changed. We are no longer a victim but the decision maker making an impact on the story of our experiences.

It’s our lives. We get to choose the story of our experiences. We get to choose and how often this story is told. We get to choose when and where the story is told. We also get to choose when to change it or when to let it go.

One way to refurbish and retell an old story, especially a painful one, is to briefly revisit the experience. If the story still feels overwhelming, just ask yourself; Right now, in this moment, am I safe? In revisiting the experience of the story, look for and identify things which went well, things which went better than expected, things which prevented a bad situation from getting worse or things which you or someone else never imaged or expected again could do.

Things like:
Remaining calm in the moment.
Supporting the people around us with certainty and clarity when we ourselves were facing indescribable amounts of fear and uncertainty.
Acknowledging our strengths and our courageous actions.

Identifying something we never imaged we could do but we did it anyway such as:
Going back to work the next day.
Reaching out for help.
Standing up in court.
Making a decision that lessened the impact of what was happening or did happen.

So let’s take a moment and give ourselves credit for being the remarkably exceptional and incredibly wonderful individuals we truly are. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge our courageousness, our strengths and our resourcefulness. Herein, lies another amazing story to tell.

Grief and Loss/Healing/Military/Trauma

Not What I Expected


No, this is, definitely, not what I expected.

It isn’t like you got up this morning, or any other morning, with the alarm clock buzzing inside your head. Knocking it off your nightstand, you stagger to your feet. Forcing your eyelids open, you look into the mirror. Looking back at you stands a vacant post-a-note begging you to fill it in with your daily goals and intentions list. The very ones which didn’t include being robbed, shot at or nearly being run over by a car careening through your workplace window. It probably didn’t include anything like what you experienced. Yet it happened. You were there. You didn’t choose it but now you must deal with it; even if dealing with it means ignoring it. Then to choose how you might possibly get through this.

Now what? First; acknowledge what happened. Even that it did happen. Next; give yourself a chance to grieve and to get the support you need; a trip to the gym; a new pair of shoes; a case of tissue paper; an incredible friend; your dog . . . Give yourself permission to be who you are in this moment.

Finally; look at what happened . . . How did you handle it? What did you do to help the situation? How did your choices impact you? What was happening around you? Through answering these questions, you may discover how you might have significantly impacted your own or someone’s life for the better. If the memories feel a bit insurmountable, ask yourself; Is this happening now? Am I safe now?

You already have what you need. You faced the impossible. Now too, you have what you need to move forward. No one knew at the time of the incident how they were going to make it through, but they did. No one knows how they will make it through now, but for most, they will. Take some time to identify and acknowledge the gifts, skills and strengths you already have. By doing so, it expands the path ahead of you and acknowledges the change which has already happened.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Transforming lives.

Grief and Loss/Healing/Life's Stories/Listening

It Hurts . . . What do I say?


Unexpected events happen in life. Banks, stores and people get robbed. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other acts of nature happen. People suddenly, unexpected die. Wars have been and are a part of this world’s reality.

“I wasn’t there . . . this type of thing never happened to me . . . I almost feel guilty that I can’t relate . . .” What do I say? I know they hurt.

You might start with saying: I am so sorry this (say the name the event) happened. I am so sorry that (say the name of the person) died. I am so sorry that your were robbed. I am so sorry that your house is gone . . . Then listen. Don’t worry about what you are going to say. Just be fully present in hearing what they have to say. Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk. Listening involves being fully present and focused on the person who is talking. When we are truly listening to another person, we often intuitively just know what to say to them.

If you have the time, the energy and the desire to offer to help, do so. In offering your assistance it is often most helpful to the other person if you are specific about the kind of help you have to offer:

“I am going to the story tomorrow, what would you like me to get for you?”

“I am going to our meeting Thursday, would you like me to pick you up at three o’clock?”

“I just made an extra big batch of soup, would it be OK to bring some over after six o’clock tonight?”

Just offering to help and your telephone number might be too much for a person in crisis to fully process. Making what you are able to do for them and what might be helpful to this individual makes it easier for them to accept or decline your offer.

If appropriate, give a hug. Always a nice way to let another person know that you care, especially when words just don’t say it all.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing stories – Transforming lives.

Grief and Loss/Healing/Life's Stories/Meaning/Strength/Trauma
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Refocusing Images of the Past


Whose brain did this come from? A favored response from a cherish friend. Really, whose brain did it come from? Imagines comprise the language, the verbiage, the talk and the chatter of the human mind.

The aroma of grandma’s stove-flaming, smoked and scorched pancakes leaves a memorable, sensory impression. One not an easily forgotten on your next trip to grandma’s house.

How about your impending trip across the Bermuda Triangle? Whether it’s you or your friends, story ‘s emotional baggage already exceeds an ocean-bound, freight liner’s storage limits and weight requirements. The worst part is; you haven’t left yet.

Maybe even the new car you have been swooning over. Its picture is now plastered on every micro-chipped device under you control. Seeing it, believing it; then watching it come true. The one you somehow know, just know, will soon be yours.

The images of trauma, the aftermath of an unexpected experience. The sudden realization that life has changed; forever . . . These images are real. What we choose to focus our attention on is just as real. The haunting images of trauma are real. For most people, these images diminish with time. For others, this time frame maybe longer than expected or even anticipated. Replacing these lingering images with newer, fresher ones, moves us in the direction of a new story; a new outlook. An image and a story which will take us into and beyond our next, strength empowering step.

The vivid images of the past are real, but so is our choices in dealing with them. What is something you would like to experience now? What is your next step? Get a visual image of what this looks like for you. Of what it feels like. Briefly write it down on a small card or illustrate it. Throughout the day, look at it. When you do, see and feel the experience of it. Step into the belief of its reality. Believing is seeing; oftentimes before seeing is believing. Through the power of your imagination; change the focus . . . to change the images . . . to change our life’s next step.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives!

Healing/Life's Stories/Meaning/What do I say?

Postcards . . . Correspondance Behind Prison Walls


While this post neither addresses, nor endorses, the intricacies of the prison system, it is the focal point for this post.

The news of our daily lives become the centerpiece of our daily conversations. High ranking favorites often include relationship sagas, financial epics, home improvement conquests, entertainment analogs, health chronicles and personal heroics. Like any of us, we talk and write about the adventures, events and characters filling our lives. Having friends in jail has brought forward a new sense of awareness. An awareness about the value and the impact of simple images; often ones taken for granted. Those images frequently marking the events and the familiar backdrop of our daily lives; such as, trees, roads, ducks, hail, clouds, variety in architectural structures . . . the constantly lost to find salt and pepper shakers . . . the various colors and shapes of personal care products . . . the variety pack of clothing styles and colors . . . The very things strikingly absent in the lives of incarcerated inmates; caged inside metal doors.

Writing to a loved one, a child at camp or a get well card seems easy, often effortless. Yet writing to someone behind prison walls somehow feels different, even daunting. Really, what do you say? How is day going? What’s been happening in your life since we last saw each other? Do you share your latest outdoor outing, vacation plans or updates on the mysterious soap slugging vampire rampaging your bathroom? Knowing too, people are living where no matter where they are.

Growing up I remember the enchanting magic of receiving bright, colorful postcards with images of faraway places. Their fascinating, yet informative, snippets of information peeking out from behind the card. Then too, the daily news of its magnificent sender. Stepping into these images of intrigue, adventure and connectedness, I hit the local stores and truck stops collecting a wide variety and geographically designed postcards. Now filling them with short snippets of the day’s adventures, I package them up, at five or six at a time, and mail them off; either weekly or bi-monthly to friends behind bars.

Letters handwritten on standard, faded white paper now find their way into my mailbox. Paper filled with stories about their interaction and perception of the images on the postcards they received behind bars. Stories about posting them on darkened, blank walls. Stories of others coming around to ask questions about the postcards and the images they contain. Still others sharing stories about their adventures. Then, later learning about how this colorful collage of postcards had become a gathering point of communication and connectedness. A place where people meet people. A place to share stories. A place to see “what’s new” inside a predetermined world. The images, the meaning, the feelings and the stories we attach to them often become the focal point and cornerstones of our daily lives; inside or outside prision walls.

Until Next Time . . . Change a story; Change a life.


Connecting to Emotions Through Writing

[This series of blog entries will be an overview of the workshop given by Gary Young at the 2012 Young Living International Grand Convention.]

Is writing old-fashioned? Not hardly! Gary will teach you how to tap into your emotions so you can reprogram those you wish to change—and the key is writing.

Put your iPads away, put your laptops away, get out the pad and pencil—we’re going to do it the old-fashioned way. Yup, sorry. The old-fashioned way. There’s a very specific reason for it. The mind does not connect to emotion through electronics; it connects to it through energy that is produced from the nimble movement of your fingers wrapped around a pencil shaft. I’m not saying that you can’t put it in your iPod, your laptop, or whatever later; please do so that you can put it in a file, save it, and never look at it again. That’s what we do, isn’t it? But for this class, please, I want you to write, not type; you’ll understand the reason one day if not before class is over.

A lot of you are going to connect with some very deep emotions today, and I really desire for you to experience that, because there’s a reason for it, there’s a need for it. As you do, please just write, write, write. That’s how you get it out, by writing.

Typing on a computer will not allow it to erase out of the mind; only when your hand is in motion with the feeling of the energy and moving and inscribing will it erase. What you are basically doing is reversing the action of the transcriptase enzyme that does the encoding on the MRNA [Memory RNA], so that’s why this is really critical. Many of you have been in my classes when I’ve talked about writing, writing, writing.

Thank you D. Gary Young, Founder of Young Living Essential Oils in D Gary Young Bog.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives!


Reporting for Duty – Military Families


Disruptions, interruptions, delays, roadblocks and uncharted territory comprise living and elements of daily living. Expecting the unidentified unexpected can arrive in a variety of ways, such as; jobs, pregnancy, death, moving, transportation and waking-up. Yet some disruptions to live’s more familiar routines can create revines of separations for military personnel and their families. A place where commitment, service and duty take its members into different worlds of living reality.

One is prepared for what others have told them; activity duty, tours of duty, duties of training and of service relocation. Then it happens. Preparedness fades into life on the front. A place where some call hell. A place where everything you thought you knew growing up is not what you know now. A place where the perception of life exists in unimaginable extremes and unparalleled realities.

Yet civilian life and lives continue on through the seasons of generations; what’s for dinner; where’s grandpa; who used my toothbrush; who let the neighbor out; frantic searches for your kids return to sender labels; and of eccentric uncle Marvins. A place where the perceived routines and reality of daily life once felt normal to everyone now feels normal to only a few.

When a parent or family member leaves for active duty the rest of the family must re-adjust themselves, their roles and their position in the family unit to meet the challenges of the family who has left. Once that initial adjustment is made, the family continues on with daily life, as they too continue to grow and change in their interactions with one another.

Here is where coming home isn’t what anyone expected it to be.

Until next time . . . Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

Bringing Joy to the World/Karin Volo - Inspiring Women/Listening/Trauma

Karin Volo – Bringing Joy to the World!

“Every day I had to make a conscious choice between love and fear.
I chose love and it eventually won—as it always will.”
  Karin Volo

Karin Volo, a nationally and internationally known, acclaimed business developer, success coach, and Mother of two children, ages 6 and 8, entered into the airport in San Diego, CA for a return flight to her home in Sweden. Exactly one week prior to this, some of Karin’s wildest dreams came true. She and her family moved into their dream home. She and her new life partner, after watching the Law of Attraction movie “The Secrete”, were eagerly preparing for the expansion of Karin’s already successful business into two more countries.

Standing in line with the man of her dream and new business partner, waiting to board their flight home. Karin, receiving a tap on her shoulder turned. Her eye met those of a US Marshall in March of 2006. An encounter that would change her life and the life of her family’s forever, as Karin left the airport, not on an air plane, but handcuffed in the back of a police car.

Facing uncertain charges; ones that she was never convicted of or sentenced for, she remained behind bars at the San Diego jail for next 1,342 days, without a chance to say or hug her children good-bye. New new life partner returned to their home in Sweden without her. He then had to tell her children the devastating news of why their Mom was not there and what had happened.

Also and isolated in a jail cell in a country that was not her own, her life stood in ever wavering jeopardy. She faced the terrifying possibly of extradition to Mexico, dehumanizing strip searches and forced pat downs and head counts . . . With feelings of fear and terror threatening to over take her, determined, she put into practice what she had learned in the movie the Secret. Armed with a book entitled “Yoga for Dummy’s” and raw courage, she stepped forward in service to herself, her family and her fellow inmates for the next 1,342 days. During this time she led other imprisoned women in powerful visualizations focusing on specific aspects of their lives beyond iron bars and guarded cement walls. Through these powerful visualizations these women felt the experiences of lovingly transporting their children from one activity to another . . . celebrating their personal educational, career or other life accomplishments as she supported them in their dreams. Through these experiences Karin courageously embraced the knowledge of and belief in the idea that today’s reality will never be tomorrow’s destiny.

Armed once again with various books from the prison’s library, Karin studied meditation and spirituality. During her own daily meditation sessions the image of a young girl by the name of Joy spoke to Karin. In the course of her communication with Joy, Karin authored 27 books relating the deeper spiritual truths that she was studying and translated them into a way that her children could understand. The messages of Joy becoming stronger and stronger with each passing day. Until, one by one, Karin wrote, illustrated and sent this series of Joy books to her children still living in Sweden. It was through Joy that Karin and her family embarked on a life transforming, Spiritual journey together. A journey took them beyond the perimeters of prison walls and geographic boarders.

Karin’s story so immeasurably touched me in several ways. One, by the incredible gift she gave her family during these indescribably personally challenging times. How her books, her words, her presence, her Mothering stood out so incredibly strong and far-reaching. I am too inspired by the strength of Karin’s love and parenting as she continued nourishing and nurturing herself as well as her family and friends through these inspirational stories. While Karin could not be there in person, she was present in so many other ways. I can only catch a glimpse of what it may have been like as her children unexpectedly received these cherished gifts. Then, approximately 3 years and 10 months later, receiving the news that she, their Mother, was finally on her way home.

Thank you Karin and Joy for Bringing Joy to the World!

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives