On Dealing With Another ‘Blow’



This image of an ocean at sunset always promotes a thoughtful mood for me. Even better, when I get to go out on the Gulf Coast beach nearby and revel in a real-moment experience. It’s been hard for me to get back on this blog in the past three weeks. Our family had to bid goodbye to yet another family member, my neice. If we’re keeping score, that makes four children my sisters and I have outlived, for one reason or another. I lost my oldest son four years ago to cancer. Enough said.

The post ‘The Grief Never Leaves You’ resonated with me so much that I reblogged it to share a couple of months back. I spoke with my sister whose daughter had just passed away, leaving four children behind. All I could offer was a quiet understanding, because we are no strangers to grief and loss. It is an undeniable fact of life. What we hold onto is the belief that we will see them all again, all those loved and lost.

We call these set-backs  a blow in our culture, because it is very much like being stunned by a violent punch. Experience enough of them and you become numb to the impacts. I have learned, the hard way, to care deeply without engaging in too much of the “could have, should have or would have dones” simply because I firmly believe that:

  1. Dealing with loss in the here and now is best and
  2. It is good to remember the good in the person,
  3. It is even better to love them as they were and forgive them for what they weren’t,
  4. So that you can embrace those left behind with you and
  5. Be in the present moment, ready to lift them up and continue to care about their welfare.

So, it’s undeniably true: the grief never leaves you. You have to find the strength to live on and do the best you can at any given point. After all, you must move on, keeping your people close to your heart and gleaning what strength you can for the rest of this journey of life.

Always, Sue


History Alive - Storytelling

It is so exciting to become a published author (at last!!)

Life Song: An Irish Odyssey is the result of nearly six years’ research, and multiple rewrites. I chose the pen name of Susan O’Neill to honor my parents. Becoming a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association is an especially exciting experience, too. Acting on the maxim that it’s never too late (to do anything, really, as long as we’re still breathing) I feel more alive than ever. Sounds weird except this is coming from a ‘junior Senior’ citizen. Writing and storytelling have been a part of the fabric of my life.

As the oldest sibling in a large family, one of my favorite activities at the close of the day was to gather my brothers and sisters around me and tell bedtime stories. We loved Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson and an obscure book of tales entitled The…

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On Dealing with the ‘Gerbil in a wheel syndrome’

Causeway Ft. Myers-SanibelAhh, sunny Florida! Vacation paradise extraordinaire! Oh, yes, it’s quite true.  It has been my fortune these past few years to be a full-time resident.  This is not the equivalent of ‘lady of leisure’, however. If not working for a health care agency here, my computer and files and research materials mutely demand what time and brain power I can spare.  

Oh, yes, there remains the question of the title of this missive. Recall if you will a visit to a pet shop where you observed small pets in cages: hamsters, mice, and my favorite – the gerbil. This little creature takes his time on the wheel very seriously. Nothing else will do but to jump onto the wheel, there to run an exhaustive race, day in and day out. Perhaps nature has encoded a necessity for this. To a human being, the little guy is just running in place. Except for the time spent nestled in the cedar shavings or nibbling on a seed or sipping water from its tube, our intrepid gerbil never takes a break from its routine. People are like that too. I am.

It IS a tough proposition to take yourself away from the routine. Any routine! It’s not a good thing to push beyond exhaustion in the name of duty or progress.  Exhaustion of body and mind send us to medical offices because we can’t seem to extricate ourselves from a mindset that punishes us mentally and physically. Gratefully, I recall the individuals who have been sent my way to help me review my activities and prioritize. These same people have been down this type of path. They have suffered the consequences of misplaced guilt and other imperatives that create physical disorders. What I am most grateful for is the realization that people can help people. Each encounter helps the healer and the one seeking restored health. Recall the phrase “it takes one to know one?”  It’s like the biblical phrase “..apples of gold in pitchers of silver..” those heartfelt talks. Words have power when interpreted to your benefit. So can the kind touch or look.

This week, I stared at boxes and piles that had to be dealt with or risk become labeled a hoarder. Personally, I would not care to experience such chaos. Traffic is enough to contend with, without losing my sense of harmony and balance to unneeded rubbish! So, the point is this: take a time out when you find yourself overwhelmed. It’s amazing how much a rested body and mind can accomplish when you give yourself time to restore!

All for now. And, do believe me, I make myself do so. I’m going out to sit on the “lanai” (Floridian for patio) and watch the clouds scud by. Oh, yeah, it’s rainy season.  Blessings! Sue

Life’s Storms: Internal or Otherwise


Dealing with the storms of life can either wear you down or reinforce your resolve to go through them and learn what you can.The photo above evokes the spirit of Chapter 17, The Second Voyage from my novel, Life Song: An Irish Odyssey. In this chapter, Owyn and his companion, Brother Ignatius are on a voyage up the eastern coast of Ireland. The Viking ship is commanded by Lord Aarvald, the earl and one of war chiefs of the ruler of 10th century Dublin. Owyn’s initial misgivings in accepting this transport are further complicated as ship and passengers deal with a sudden squall on the Irish Sea.

In this passage, I am reminded of just how often the circumstances of a day can force us into situations that we would ordinarily have passed up. I’m sure you have been presented with choices that make you uneasy. As the events unfold, you’re sure you should have declined and sought out some other, more comfortable solution. Take for example an argument with a family member. You sense that the subject matter will not become a reasonable or friendly discussion. Desiring to avoid the confrontation you try to make an exit only to find the way out blocked. Our defenses become useless as the tensions mount. Later you can look back and try to figure out the who, what, why of it. But when you are in the situation all you can do is defend. If that doesn’t work, a few well placed punches (fist or nasty remark) are all you can pull out of your ‘bag of tricks.’

The next day, embattled from the previous encounter, you may find yourself at work. Work’s a haven from thinking about family stuff, right? Oh no. Today is performance review day. So that day’s treat is a litany of your shortcomings, accompanied with the dreaded ‘verbal warning.’

It’s terribly difficult to keep your sense of self-worth intact as these types of encounters mar your life.  Some things you can’t avoid. Some things you should avoid. When you can not do so you are forced to evaluate a few things:

  • What have I been doing that brought [the encounter] on?
  • Was it deserved?
  • How should I handle this?
  • Is it [relationship or job] worth making amends?
  • Do I have to work things out?
  • Do I want to change?

The challenges – to our integrity, or being understood – need to be weighed carefully. Our decisions to stay the course or change direction is ultimately our own.

Thanks for stopping by! Warm regards, Sue




Random thoughts…but there is a point!

Tonight finds me weary but I want to share a really nice recent experience.  Saturday our writer’s group (Gulf Coast Writers Association of Fort Myers) had an exceptional speaker who gave us invaluable advice. Her name is Bobbie Christmas. Ms. Christmas gave us all some real succinct advice. Don’t you just love people who ‘cut to the chase'( which is an old Hollywood term derived from Westerns of the 1930’s.)

The high  points were:

  • Sometimes adverbs can be your friend.Warning: not always, though.
  • Write freely – don’t edit yourself until you’re done.
  • If you’re in the creative process hoping for a comfy passive income, by all means do dream on!
  • Don’t write in the same speech pattern that you speak conversationally. The reader may not get it.
  • Describe something so that the word picture equals what you meant when you wrote.

There were other things but overall those stood out for me. Essentially, always subscribe the KISS principle. Thoreau advised us all to ‘simplify, simplify.’ So did Bobbie Christmas.

So writers, artists, take heart! Keep your dreams alive. Just keep on keeping on. Warm regards, Sue

Never lose your sense of wonder

The Grief Never Leaves You

Master of Something I'm Yet To Discover

Woven grief

The grief never leaves you, you know. It lingers on, hidden from view but an eternal presence woven into the fabric of your being.

You move on. You accept that this is how life has to be from now on. Joy returns, new life grows and living can be good again.

But the grief never leaves you.

You realise this at times both obvious and unexpected. Anniversaries, holidays, significant family events… How could that absence not be noted?

It’s the unexpected ones that catch you, though. That bring forth the pain so suddenly it seems impossible that you could have moved on, that your life didn’t stop the moment they left you.

A song on the radio, a photograph, a name in a book. Reminders of a life taken too soon, of memories you shared and of memories you have had to create without them.

Giving away something that once belonged…

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