Courage To Grieve, Part 2

I am grieving. The impact of three deaths in six weeks – my brother, my long-time yoga teacher and friend, and our beloved Women on Fire member Jane – has left me exhausted and sad.

Your wonderful notes, gifts and words of support during this time have meant the world to me. Thank you.

*This Week’s Pinspiration*

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So, when my husband cheerily asked me what I was going to write about today, I drew a blank.  Nothing. Was. Coming.

And, I wanted to bop him on the head for even bugging me about it.

That’s how it is sometimes during grief.  I am not myself.  I’d never bop my husband on the head for being supportive! Except clearly when I’m grieving.

And to make things even harder, I can’t easily grab on – to plans, to thoughts, to what to do next.  Slights or perceived injustices that normally escape my attention can pierce my heart.

Having survived heartbreak from losing loved ones in the past, I know my current condition is temporary.  Yet I want these feelings to be gone now and my “normal” self to return.

If you, too, are experiencing the effects from losing someone you love or are expecting to lose, you know the struggle.  Sleepless nights, loss of concentration and perspective, fear, anxiety, physical and emotional exhaustion.

I want to think my way through – to make sense of the losses — but I can’t. And I know the only way around this sadness is to feel my way through it. Lean into my grief, which means to scream, cry, sob, whimper, whatever I need to do to express this hurt.  And, I want to dedicate myself to tripling my self-care.

It’s not even one day at a time for the grieving soul. It’s one moment at a time.

The French philosopher La Rochefoucauld said, “Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye.”

Last week I took note of what gave me relief when I glanced away from death and stopped ruminating.  Even if relief only lasted a minute, an hour, or an evening, it was enough to keep me moving and let me know I will get through this. Grief has no timetable. It takes as long as it takes.

Here are seven things I want to share that brought me comfort. If you’re grieving, my wish for you is to find what might bring you some relief, too. So, here’s my list:

Thank you for the fun, sweet Chloe!

* Playing with an adorable, cuddly, giggling, 9-month-old baby girl for an entire evening.

* Lunch with a friend whose mother is dying. From our touching time together, she crafted this beautiful video.  If you have someone terminally ill in your life, make sure they know what their life meant to you. It will be your greatest final gift.

* Joining the Women on Fire Fall Cleanse group – having the support of holistic health coach Amy Marzluff and Women on Fire members to eat healthy and take care of myself is extra powerful and helpful during this tender time.

* Reading a short, inspiring, uplifting book.  Stay tuned for this month’s Book To Live By. I loved this book so much I’ve chosen it as our November selection.

Homemade pumpkin cookies 🙂

* Baking pumpkin cookies (recipe when you click!) from scratch. As a little girl, I loved to bake more than anything. Even though I’m on the cleanse and not currently eating sweets, it gave me so much joy to bake cookies and give them away!

* A two-hour nap, a walk and a romantic dinner with my husband (the same husband I had the audacity to want to bop today!) at our favorite restaurant the night before I started the cleanse.

* Cleaning out my closet! Clutter bogs me down and makes me even more tired when I’m grieving.  So I took to my closet and am happy to report two boxes full of gently used clothing, purses and jewelry are headed to Dress For Success in Columbus, Ohio.

(Thank you to Women on Fire book co-author Marilyn Brown for introducing me to this wonderful organization, which recycles clothes for women in need.)

* And, you.  You give me comfort by being here week after week. Thank you for walking through life together.  I cannot imagine it without you.  The way you are with me. The care and support you give to each other is truly inspiring.

Now, that is something I can grab on to.

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!

Ask Debbie Anything: How do I maintain balance between work and home?

Do you feel like your struggling to make a difference at both work and home? Are you frustrated trying to juggle all of your roles at once? And looking for the secret to truly “having it all”?


  • The myth of ‘balance’ and why it’s not doing you any good.
  • A necessary mindset that will transform the way you think about ‘having it all’.
  • The #1 secret to feeling good about work and home.

all in under 3 min.

Share with your friends who might be on overload, email to your daughter who just started school, or bookmark this for when you feel like life is all out of whack. Check out some of Debbie’s tips on self care here!

Do you have any strategies that you use when approaching balance at work and home? What’s one tip that you can share?

Want to ask Debbie anything? Email your questions to meredith(at)womenonfire(dot)com.
p.s. Do you want to strengthen your relationship with your partner? Check out last week’s Ask Debbie Anything!

Ask Debbie Anything: “How can I manage the craziness of the morning, and start my day more smoothly?”

Does your morning routine drive you crazy? Is it a nightmare trying to get out of the house without feeling flustered? How do you make sure everyone is dressed, fed, and ready for the day without going nuts!?

Discover how to:

  • Create a family routine that will calm the crazy mornings
  • Inject more peace into your morning rituals
  • Carve time for yourself in the early hours
  • Alleviate the stress surrounding the rush to get out the door

In less than 3 min.

What do you do to keep your morning calm, cool, and collected?

Want to ask Debbie anything? Email your questions to meredith(at)

A defining moment of self-care

My theme for 2012 is daily self-care.

My promise to myself is that each day for 366 days, regardless of what is going on, I will take 30 minutes or more to do something to promote my well-being.

And, even though self-care is a topic I’ve worked on personally and advised hundreds of coaching clients on since 1995, this is the first time self-care has been my annual theme.

And, if these past 21 days are any indication, it’s proving to be a subject with many dimensions and new questions to explore.

Every year for more than 20 years, I have used a theme – a powerful word or sentence — as a guide toward being happier, healthier, more at peace and closer to the success I dream of.

In the past, I’ve had themes such as The Year of Simplicity (that year I sold my house in the suburbs, furnishings and car in Ohio and moved to a 500-square- foot jewel-box of an apartment on the harbor in Boston and walked or took the subway).

I checked every major decision against the question: ‘does this action lead to living with more simplicity?’, and a whole new world opened up for me – including meeting the delicious man I’m married to today!

Having a theme can make it much easier to make daily choices, which then add up over 365 days — 366 in a Leap Year! — to get you to your bigger goals or dreams.

So say your theme is Year of Financial Fitness. It’s pretty much a no-brainer to make a decision when you run through the “financial fitness filter” a $1,500 Marc Jacobs bag on your credit card, if you know you can’t easily pay it off.  Follow your theme, and you will stay on track with your Year of Financial Fitness.

(And, if your theme is Year To Express My Perfect Style, then that Jacobs bag may be just the ticket! )


But this year, 21 days in, I have scribbled every day in my well-worn Woman on Fire journal what I’ve done for self-care,  and a big question is forming for me.

Just what exactly is self-care? I started off the year thinking I knew.

Is it taking a walk (9 times in 21 days)?  Going on vacation (4 days in Key West)? Getting a massage (twice)?  Manicure (once)? Eating totally healthy and gluten-free (3 in 21)? Getting enough rest (I failed to take note)?

The activities above made me feel pretty good and some even terrific in the moment, but none made me feel as wonderful and fulfilled as I wished for so far in my Year of Self-Care.

Even though I know my annual theme sometimes doesn’t give me results until the year is well under way or even finished, I guess I expected instant gratification in feeling bliss from daily self-care.

And, then something happened the other night …

It was about 8PM and I was tired after a very full day and I was home alone.

Rob was in Washington, DC, visiting our ailing, beloved MOTUS, his mother.

Before the clock struck midnight, I knew I had to find 30 minutes of self-care to keep my promise to myself for my Year of Daily Self-Care.

Should I go over to the gym for 30 minutes on the treadmill?  Read?  Watch my Jane Goodall documentary? Take a long bath?  As much as I would enjoy those things I viewed as self-care, nothing appealed to me.


I picked up the phone.

And called my mother.  I am aware how very lucky at age 56 that I am to have my mother.  At 77, she can be so bright and sunny and positive and funny, still running the entrepreneurial business she and my father started nearly 30 years ago.

It is impossible to have a phone call with her without laughing – about something. That’s just how she is.  Big-hearted, great sense of humor, self-deprecating and often hilarious when she doesn’t even know it!  (Can you tell from the picture above…for which she is going to spank me for posting!)

We laughed and chitchatted about all kinds of things, none that I even really remember.  Except I was fully aware how delightful it was to be able to have this easy, casual conversation with the woman I love from the bottom of my heart.

After 30 minutes or so, I got off the phone feeling uplifted, encouraged, grateful and deeply satisfied.  I felt energized, my heart and soul comforted.  Hmmmm, no exercising, eating right, eight hours of sleep, taking my vitamins required.

Just 30 minutes basking in an exchange of love and laughs.

And, that is when the realization hit me over the head: there is no better self-care than love.

What about you?

Have you selected a theme for the year?

Please know that you are invited to take this journey this year with me and with us.

For those of you in our Women on Fire Membership program, How To Use A  Theme — For Your Best Year Ever will be the topic of our next member’s Live Chat on Tuesday night.

A number of Women on Fire, and those in Jamie Eslinger’s You Can Do Anything In A Year coaching group, have embarked upon a year-long journey and exploration around a theme.

A few are keeping daily journals online.

You can follow these Women on Fire members every day as they transform their own lives and inspire ours:

Enjoy your week ahead and keep me posted on how you’re doing!