Looking Back Has Merit – My Sixties

Talking about my birthday is not something I normally do, but this year, it has a purpose I couldn’t ignore.

A New Decade Birthday

Some people celebrate their birthday with a cake. I celebrate with fresh flowers that I buy and arrange. It’s like a double gift to myself. This quilt has many layers of meaning, but most importantly, almost all the material was in my fabric stash. I donated it to Mom’s friend, Lola, who made tied quilts for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Monte Vista, Colorado. Lola then pieced it into my favorite design, Log Cabin. Mom bought it for her guest bedroom, but now it is mine.

Looking back over ten years

As I lay awake at the end of the day before my 70th birthday, I naturally played the timeline of my 60s in my mind. It was both scary and hopeful.

Ten years ago, I considered signing up for psychic medium Kim Moore’s ten-month course “Psychic and Personal Development.” The only way I could consider it was to drop the first word, psychic. On the last day, I sent her an email asking to be her student. The nine women met every third Saturday. The classes were mostly at her business on South Wadsworth in Denver, Colorado. But we also gathered for a couple of excursions.

As I grew in understanding an alternative way of looking at life, my husband, Pablo, was sinking deeper and deeper into despair, which resulted in his suicide. Kim and my fellow students came to my home eight days later, and we cleared the energy together.

Perhaps I thought that would solve everything. So, I put it all behind me and sought a replacement relationship. Yes, I really did.

Please avoid my mistakes

My life before I turned 60 was filled with pleasing others and looking for someone to complete my life. At the time of Pablo’s suicide nine years ago, I had no idea how to grieve because I didn’t know who I was. It took almost nine years and the deaths of three more loved ones for me to start to discover answers.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Rule 1 – It’s important to make time to grieve.

What does it mean to make time to grieve? When I finally allowed the emotions of grief to emerge fully, I took time after starting my day to revisit the feelings I had immediately after my losses. Before this, I was afraid to delve deep. It helped when I prayed for the strength to let go of control and the courage to start the process.

Each time, my deep crying was short-lived, perhaps a minute. But the relief and calmness afterward have never left me.

Since I was alone, there was no choice but to go through this alone. You may find that too scary. If you choose to have someone with you, let them know you want them there for moral support but to keep their distance unless you motion them to come to you. Alternatively, you may seek a therapist who specializes in grief or a grief coach.

Follow the path that feels right for you.

Rule 2 – Grief is a normal reaction to loss

Your friends might not know how to comfort you. This is also very common. If you want to be completely alone, that’s okay. If you have someone to run interference, that is ideal; a pastor or best friend comes to mind.

Final Thoughts

Give yourself time to work through all your feelings. But also permit yourself to find joy in beautiful memories, the kiss of a loving pet, or random acts of kindness that come your way. It’s okay to allow unexpected moments of joy to embrace you.

Aha Moment About Self-Care

This past week I had an aha moment about self-care. Part of my revelation came as I looked at the scene from my dining room table. The world felt skewed when I noticed the messiness in my backyard. As I played with the photo, this version appeared. It seemed some self-care was needed.

My Previous Understanding

I’ve written several blogs about self-care, including my feature, Five Tips Toward More Self-Care. In reading my tips, I still feel they are valid. But now it seems just part of the story about self-care.

Before my aha moment about self-care, I thought it was about

  • booking manicures and pedicures
  • buying myself flowers
  • taking a walk in nature

Understand me. Self-care includes my shortlist. But it also includes taking care of yourself by

  • updating your resume
  • calling a friend
  • preparing and eating tasty food

What’s the Difference?

The first list seems like out-of-the-ordinary actions, while the second is more mundane. Does that open the door to more understanding about self-care for you?

Simply Stated

Self-care is taking care of yourself while not harming anyone else.

If it’s so simple, why do we often fall short?

From My Experience

From as far back as I can remember, my self-esteem was so low; putting my needs first was impossible. I couldn’t conceive what that meant.

My first memory of the term came from a woman’s magazine in the 1980s. I would pick one up as I waited at the grocery store check-out. The articles were talking to young mothers like me. My reaction was typical for the times.

“How can I take time for a bubble bath when caring for my home and family is a full-time job!”

Forty years later, I’m much wiser and know that taking time for self-care would have prevented so many problems in my mental state and relationships.

It’s More About Thinking than Doing

Generally, thinking leads us to a lot of stress. But if you can use self-talk to soothe yourself, it’s one of the best self-care modes.

When we start judging ourselves, it’s beneficial to turn it around with self-compassion. For instance, when someone says an unkind word, start acknowledging what you feel is a universal human experience. Others have felt the same way. The more you can see these experiences with self-compassion, the easier it will be to steer yourself away from focusing on self-sabotaging emotions and begin opening alternate thinking patterns.

My aha moment about self-care led to the acknowledgment of my personal growth over the last six months and an appreciation for everyone who has helped me along the way.

And thank you for reading my thoughts.

Filling Up Your Self-love Tank

How are you filling up your self-love tank?

Taking a month off from writing my blog was about self-love through inaction. But how can you actively fill up your self-love tank?

The last month has been a time of reflection, healing, and slow integration into my local community. So it was a perfect time to focus on self-care.

Since February is referred to as the month of love, I wanted to start this blog with how I spent my afternoon on Valentine’s Day.

First, I visited the Coast to Coast Impressionism Exhibit in the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum. For at least a year, I’ve wanted to see it. What do you think stopped me? Conversely, why do you think I went on a holiday about love? How did you spend Valentine’s Day?


I felt connected to the locations as I slowly wandered through this exhibit. The western scenes brought me back to my years in Colorado, including the many weekend trips to visit my parents, who had moved to La Garita, Colorado, from Polk County, Florida.

The eastern scenes are closely related to my current area in North Carolina. And the still life paintings transported me to fond memories of painting in oils during my thirties in West Orange County, Florida.

My heart expanded throughout my wanderings, including the history exhibit and photography winners on the second floor. There wasn’t a bit of sadness. Instead, I felt gratitude and appreciation for my decision to feed my soul. I thought, “This is one way of filling up your self-love tank.”

Looking at all the beautiful art made me thirsty and hungry. Since it was a little after 4 pm on Valentine’s Day, my options were limited. I had noticed a neon ‘OPEN’ sign at Six Pence Pub just as I turned the corner off Main Street toward my favorite parking area. The thought of authentically British Fish and Chips had been on my mind for weeks.

The staff was attentive and helpful before their busy time ahead. My Guinness Black and Tan was fantastic, and the array of Royal Doulton Toby mugs before me kept me busy trying to identify them. Of course, I recognized Churchill but had no idea it was explicitly the #9 Churchill Bulldog jug of the year for 1992.

But it was King Henry VIII and his six wives that required opening up a Google search. I only missed two.

Which Toby Mug caught your attention first?


I’m the queen of self-discovery through online personality tests. Besides being entertaining, the results explain why I like them so much! I digress.

When I took Strengths Finder 2.0 in 2009, I discovered my strengths: Learner, Harmony, Input, Connectedness, and Relator.

  • Yes, I love learning new things, including reading all the texts in the museum. (Learner)
  • Looking at the Toby mugs lined up before me, I smiled. (Harmony)
  • Researching facts about the Toby mugs makes my day! (Input)
  •  Please let me know your thoughts on this blog in the comments or signup for my newsletter. (Connectedness)
  • Socializing is important to me, even if social media is currently my primary method. Follow me, and I’ll follow you! (Relator)

Therefore, it’s not surprising that I signed up for three online courses last month. The first one I’m delving into is The Complete Guide to Smartphone Photography. Once before, I signed up for a similar approach that was deeply into social media sharing. However, I quit within a few weeks. Why? Because I kept comparing my results to the other 10,000 people in the course!

Using Portrait and Noir

One of the assignments involved using each of the possibilities of my iPhone native camera application. I found the Noir filter while using the Portrait mode. Do you ever use filters on your Smartphone?

I can’t end with a colorless photo. Spring bulbs are blooming everywhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sunny daffodils catch my attention as I drive on familiar roads. Their cheerfulness is welcome after a dreary, wet winter. And almost no snow at my elevation.

But the Iris reticulata I planted last fall have popped up, releasing their cheerful colors. Although they are small and not so easy to spot, I imagine the bulbs multiplying over the next few years to offer a field of blue and purple on the hillside beside my driveway.

How are you filling up your self-love tank? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

With love and compassion,