Pop-up Computer Surprise – Interview by Lizbeth Meredith

I am technologically-challenged/impaired and don’t always understand why something will pop up on my computer screen or disappear without warning.

Today was one of those pop-up days and I was delighted to be reminded of this interview of me by Lizbeth Meredith, the talented author of the excellent Memoir, Pieces of Me.

Below is the interview about my relationship with my mother, being her caregiver, and The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life.  My hope, when you read this is that if your parents are still alive, you will be inspired, and if they’re gone, you will both forgive and congratulate yourself. 

http://www.drvirginiasimpson.com/interview-with-dr-virginia-simpson-lizbeth-meredith/

 

Be sure and pick up your copy of The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life http://amzn.to/2jt2msD 

Finalist 5th Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Author Receives National Recognition

El Dorado Hills, CA: The FIFTH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL Beverly Hills Book Awards® recognized The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life by Virginia A. Simpson as a FINALIST in the category of memoir.

Experts from all aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters, judge the thousands of entries. They select award winners and finalists based on overall excellence.

The Space Between: As a bereavement care specialist, Dr. Virginia A. Simpson has devoted her career to counseling individuals and families grappling with illness, death, and grieving. But when her own mother, Ruth, is diagnosed in 1999 with a life-threatening condition, Virginia arranges for Ruth to move in with her—and is caught off guard by the storm of emotions she experiences when she is forced to inhabit the role of caregiver.

In The Space Between, Simpson takes readers along for the journey as she struggles to bridge the invisible, often prickly space that sits between so many mothers and daughters, and to give voice to the challenges, emotions, and thoughts many caregivers experience but are too ashamed to admit.

Described as a stunning, honest must-read, The Space Between offers hope to us all that even the most contentious relationship can end with nothing between us but love.

“We are so proud to announce the winners in this, our fifth year,” said awards sponsor Ellen Reid.

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Thoughts on Coping With Grief During the Holidays

Some Thoughts on
Getting Through Holidays & Other Special Days
(and maybe even learning to enjoy them again)

Holidays are a difficult time for individuals and families after the death of a loved one, and that’s probably especially true when the death has been within the last year or two. While other people and families are looking forward to the holidays with happy anticipation, those of us who know someone will be missing anticipate the holidays with dread and apprehension.

I’ve noticed that each year, the announcement of an upcoming holiday starts earlier and earlier. By September the Christmas items have appeared at Costco. Months before Thanksgiving, porcelain and paper turkeys, and other Thanksgiving themed items are already in the stores. We haven’t taken the first bite of the Thanksgiving turkey before the Christmas music starts. Hearing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” being sung over and over again can feel like a knife twisting in our hearts. One grief facilitator I supervised used to sing, “It’s the most miserable time of the year,” and we would all knowingly smile and nod.

It’s not just Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or any other holiday, anniversary, birthday or event your family celebrated that will never be the same now that your special person is gone.

My experience and that of others is that the weeks and days leading up to the special day are often worse than the actual day. You don’t even have to consciously be thinking about the event for it to have an affect on your mood. Many people don’t understand why they are on edge, sad, or weepy until they look at the calendar and realize an important day is close.

Following are some suggestions to help you through the holidays and other important annual events. I wish I could promise my words will magically make any pain disappear. I can’t make that promise, but I hope some of these thoughts will help you feel less alone and better able to face the day.

 Cry. Give yourself permission to cry. Crying is not mandatory and may not be your way, but if they start, just let the tears flow. Tears are nature’s way of helping us heal. They are not a sign of weakness or “falling apart.” I think that when we “fall apart,” we are, in reality, beginning to “fall together” again and have started on the path of healing and growth.

Needs Let others know what you need. You don’t have to do anything or go anywhere or be anything that forces you to pretend you are feeling better than you do. Some people will understand and some won’t. Cherish those who do understand and forgive those who can’t because they simply don’t know better.

Plan. Talk to your family and decide what you will do and what the day will look like. Will you have the usual dinner? Will you go out instead? Who will take care of what tasks? By talking to each other, you are bringing the family together and strengthening a sense of family unity. You may decide to go on just as you always have or to travel some place where there are no reminders. The important thing is that you and your family communicate. Together, you can make this day special in innovative ways as you establish or renew family rituals.

Remember. Allow time to remember the person who is gone. You can plan a memorial or create your own special way to celebrate his or her life. Light a candle, choose inspirational readings, plant a tree, and share memories. There are books on rituals or you can create your own meaningful way to remember the person you love.

Give. Consider purchasing a gift that you would have given to the person who has died and give it to a needy person or to a charity. The best tribute to your loved one is to share with others the love you would have given to your loved one. This is one important way in which you can give meaning to the life of the special person who’s gone.

Nurture yourself. Rest and eat balanced meals. Avoid sugar and alcohol because they tend to exacerbate emotions by throwing our brain and body chemistry off balance. You may want to take a walk in nature, ride your bike, participate in a sport you enjoy, allow yourself extra time in bed, take a long leisurely bath or shower—do whatever you find healing.

I want to remind you to be very gentle with yourself and with your family. Holidays and anniversaries may be anticipated with dread, but if planned and time allowed for the grief and sharing of memories, you might find some of your tears turning into joy and laughter.

The holidays and other special days will be different, but you do have an opportunity to create new rituals and memories that can eventually turn those days into something you might actually look forward to and celebrate once again.

Mom and I celebrating our last Christmas together

You Must Be A Baby Boomer If You Remember When…

You Must Be A Baby Boomer If You Remember When…

 

 

Helms Bakery Truck

  • helms-bakery-truckYou couldn’t shop on Sundays.  Everything was closed (markets, gas stations, stores, pharmacies, etc.) so that you could spend the day with your family or simply have a day to just relax and/or play
  • Trucks would come down the street playing tunes and delivering baked goods or ice cream.  If you grew up in L.A., like I did, you’ll remember the delictable aroma that permeated the air when Helms Bakery was baking.
  • Movies cost a quarter for children, 50 cents for adults, and the butter on the popcorn was real
  • You could walk down the street with no fear that anyone would try to harm you
  • You left your back door unlocked
  • Milk, eggs, cottage cheese, and the mail were delivered directly into a slot in your house
  • Clothes were air-dried on a line outside
  • You walked to and from school, even if it was miles away from your home
  • There were only three channels on TV, but there was always something good to watch
  • You remember when the first rocket into space was launched and watched when a man walked on the moon for the first time
  • All TVs were black & white, and you had to actually walk up to the TV to change the channel
  • You could make an appointment for an exact time with the phone company and they would show up on time.  There was only one phone company and you rented their phone for $5 a month — and that was the full bill
  • Stamps were 5 cents
  • People were polite
  • When you said “Thank you,” people responded, “You’re welcome,” and meant it
  • Gas was 25 cents a gallon and it was pumped by an attendant who also cleaned your windows, and checked your oil and tire pressure
  • There were no tip jars
  • Newscasters reported the news, not their opinions.  I still miss Walter Concrite (I had no idea what his political beliefs were until he retired).
  • News opinions were saved for the opinion page of the newspaper
  • There was no war — NO, WAIT… I’ve been singing “Let Their Be Peace On Earth,” since I was a little girl, and I’ve yet to know a time when the United States wasn’t at war with someone 🙁
  • Schools had a dress code
  • You sang Christmas songs with great joy in celebration of the holidays whether you were Christian or not, while never feeling you were somehow being excluded
  • Doctors knew your whole family and made house calls.
  • You didn’t need medical insurance to get good medical care
  • Medical insurance companies actually insured you — their deductibles meant something (I remember, when I was in my early 20s, going to the hospital and paying nothing for surgery and a two-day stay)
  • You actually believed what politicians were telling you
  • You remember when John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy were killed and where you were when you heard
  • You remember the first time you heard The Beatles or The Doors
  • Your phone was black and the cord tethered you into a confined space
  • No one had a computer
  • Everyone left home without a cell phone because — wait, can it be true? — there was no such thing as a cell phone.  You could actually be out of contact with everyone for hours on end
  • When you went to a ball game, you stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, hand over your heart, and sang with everyone else.  You didn’t have to stand silently listening to someone else sing it for you
  • “Made in America” meant it was the best quality in the world
  • No one cared who designed and manufactured your clothes
  • People dressed up to travel on airplanes and even those not in first class were served a meal
  • You remember Sid Caesar, Ed Sullivan, Ozzie & Harriet, and if you were a girl, you probably had a crush on Ricky Nelson
  • Your first bikini was probably a two-piece hip hugger bathing suit
  • You played outside with friends on your block
  • You thought the world was a safe place

I wrote this post because life has been a little rough lately for many of us and I wanted to think of simpler times.

Feel free to add more things you remember and please share

 

 

 

 

If you have read my book, The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life or are planning to read it I’d greatly appreciative it if you’d write an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or Barnes & Noble when you’ve finished reading.  Your review doesn’t need to be any longer than a few sentences and it’s easy to do if you go to my listing on those sites. Writers need the help of their readers in getting the word out. Thank you in advance!

Thanksgiving Gratitudes

 

Thanksgiving plays an important role in my book, The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life. It is my favorite holiday despite my father dying the Monday before Thanksgiving when I was 12 years old. With our world and lives as we had known them ripped from us, that Thanksgiving gave us nothing to be thankful for and nothing to celebrate. Mom and I were too wounded and lost to realize having each other offered a thread of gratitude we could have held onto.

Despite the pain of that Thanksgiving, it became the one holiday we continued to celebrate throughout the years.

Forty-three years after Dad died, on a Thanksgiving I knew would be my mother’s last, I made sure to celebrate by preparing her favorite foods and sharing the dinner with our friends. Somehow I managed to smile and my breaking heart was grateful that I could prepare the special celebration and fill it with love for my mother. I was thankful my mother and I had time—decades my dad and I never knew—time to share, learn about each other, and become best friends.thanksgiving-2004

This Thanksgiving, my husband and I will share with new friends who have graciously opened their lives and home to us. I am grateful we get to be in a home filled with fun, friendship, and love.

2016 has been a year filled with challenges, and yet somehow, every single day, not just Thanksgiving, I have chosen to focus on all I am grateful for. Here are a few:

  • A body that works although at times I feel like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz needing oil to get everything moving;
  • A home and food to eat;
  • The accomplishment of my lifelong wish to write a book and seeing its publication in April. Writing and publishing would have been enough, but this week I learned my book was a Finalist in the Beverly Hills International Book Awards. finalist_bhba
  • My Golden Retriever Shelby, who gives me reasons to laugh and smile every day;
  • Special friends who have loved me and given so much to me for two, three, four, five, and even six decades;
  • And last, but certainly not least, I am grateful for my husband Bob, who came into my life and stayed. Every day we are together, I am thankful to have a husband who cooks for me, makes sure I take care of myself, cheers me on, makes me laugh, and is the reason I end each day hearing the words, I love you, as I drift off to sleep with a smile.

I wish for all of you a Thanksgiving with enough good food, friendship and love. I hope these will fill you and you’ll want to spread those feelings as you go through your days so that others will be thankful they know you and will want to pass it on.

 

 

 

 

If you have read my book, The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life or are planning to read it I’d greatly appreciative it if you’d write an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or Barnes & Noble when you’ve finished reading. Your review doesn’t need to be any longer than a few sentences and it’s easy to do if you go to my listing on those sites. Writers need the help of their readers in getting the word out. Thank you in advance!

 

 

 

 

 

Loneliness Is An Inside Job

Lonely Is An Inside Job

My friend, frail and exhausted after months—no years of escalating pain—grief for the loss of her mother; grief for the loss of her physical abilities; grief for the loss of a young, pain-free body; grief for not being able to do things with her husband they once loved and shared; and grief for conversations made frustrating and difficult because her hearing-impaired husband refuses to be fitted with a hearing aid.

“I’m lonely,” she says.

I hear myself respond, “Lonely is an inside job.” Write it down, I tell myself, and I do.

 

Long before that day, I was in my twenties, living alone and feeling as though nobody in the world loved me. I was alone and I was lonely. With no one to talk to but myself, I had time to ponder loneliness.

There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. When you are alone, you are by yourself, the sole person in a room. When you are lonely, it is as though even you have left the room and all that remains is your empty body, heart and soul—you’re no longer there to comfort and love yourself.

 

“I’ve learned through the years the importance of self-soothing,” I say to my friend, thinking offering advice is the same as showing compassion.

“I am self-soothing,” my friend quickly responds. “I’m eating too much.”

“That’s not self-soothing.”

“Yes, that’s what I do to feel better—I eat.”

“I know, but that’s not self-soothing. Self-soothing comes from the inside and has nothing to do with what we eat or don’t eat. Self-soothing is about hanging around with the discomfort until we can make ourselves feel okay within whatever circumstances we must face.”

Self-soothing is an inside job.

What areas of your life are causing you pain? Are you looking outside yourself for an answer? Are you relying on another person to make you feel better or food or alcohol to elevate those feel-good hormones? Do you think you can exercise your way out of your emotions?

Sure, those things will make you feel good for a while, but when another AFGE (Another F’n Growth Experience) comes along, you will not have expanded the internal skills to get you through the next challenge. You cannot always rely on food, exercise, or your family and friends. You may be physically debilitated and unable to exercise and/or eat. And sometimes friends stay away. During those times, you can only rely on yourself.

 

What do you do in those darkest hours to soothe yourself so that you know you will never be alone?