January 26, 2021
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A New Year A New You

January 16th, 2021 by judytalks

I rang in the New Year early (11:15 PM) in Calgary, CA, with my daughter and son-in-law, and woke Jan.1, 2021 to cold but blue skies.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do some soul searching, so, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been making notes of changes I want to put in place. This usually includes personal habits, along with necessary changes for my writing and websites.

A PLAN

This year, both my personal and business changes coincide. I will always be committed to the grief and loss community, with articles and blog posts, plus ebooks on bereavement and moving forward. www.survive-strong.com

At the same time, I’m devoting my second website www.judystrong.com to the process of rebuilding your life as you heal and recover from loss, or simply want to make a change.

If you’re thinking of making changes, or ringing in a whole brand New You, take a look at an outline I have for getting a plan up and running. Jot down ideas and questions for yourself, and see what evolves. 

It certainly isn’t a slam dunk project. But neither is it rocket science. Here’s what it’ll take.

I like to be organized and focused, so my routine is to make a plan. I prefer a simple and workable plan that motivates me to get going, and leads to a sound and sustainable result. When my head is fuzzy, I have to remind myself that jumping into something unprepared is not going to work. The times I’ve done this, it results in half-baked changes and defeat. Awhile back, I decided to start a blog for retirees and a website for senior women and money, because it seemed interesting and beneficial. However, I didn’t take enough time to research material and finally had to admit that change for its own sake is short-lived.

New Life Plan  

If you’re thinking of making changes, or ringing in a whole brand New You, take a look at an outline I have for getting a plan up and running. Jot down ideas and questions for yourself, and see what evolves. 

It certainly isn’t a slam dunk project. But neither is it rocket science. Here’s what it’ll take.

  •   Commitment
  •   Focus
  •   Patience

This is you moving forward. You know best what you want and need, to give yourself the New Life you’ll love. I’m happy to share my Table of Contents outline for New Life Plans, with general explanations for doing your own plan. Give some thought to what needs to change, and what you really want going forward.

 Table Of Contents 

  1. Evaluate your current life, focusing on reasons for change.

     What do you need to keep?

     What is missing and needs replacing?

    How would you like a new life to look? Concentrate here.

 2. Explore and gather options for your new life.

    Start with the most pressing needs – job/money, relocate, education.

   Add ideas/wishful options to consider – those back burner dreams.

   A vision board or categorized list helps to get a good picture of what you’re thinking.

3.  Sort and choose the best options for your life plan.

     Take your time here, but strike a balance. Need – Wishful – Want

     Figure what it will take, financially and personally, for this change.

     Do research, visit locations, determine costs and imagine your new life. Make choices when you’re completely sure.

4.  Make your plan to move forward.

    Write it down, flesh it out, list the details, determine the how’s, what’s and when’s.

    Make the contacts you’ll need to carry it out – for jobs, housing, socializing, health,         whatever.

    Share your life plan with those close to you. Friends and family may be happy for you, or think you’re nuts. Oh well.

5.  Commit to your plan every day.

Start Here

Start with a good evaluation of what your life looks like now. As you follow along, you may not be able to implement some of the items, but spend time every day working on your plan. You can always edit and make changes, make a plan for 6 months or a year or more, knowing that you’re in the driver’s seat.

The Benefits Of Change

  1. A sense of control over your own life. You’re in the driver’s seat.
  2. A true evaluation of the status quo. Seeing assets alongside liabilities.
  3. A feeling of energy to head out and make it happen. 
  4. A positive attitude that fuels your endeavor.
  5. A sense of accomplishment for carving out a new life.

You’re in the Driver’s Seat.  Good Luck!

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Grief And The Holidays

December 17th, 2020 by judytalks

A Plan For Expressing Joy When You’re Dealing With Grief

How will you celebrate in the face of a deadly virus, a real threat to our lives and our livelihood?

It’s the season of celebration, the time of year when national/religious holidays are honored and enjoyed by millions of people everywhere. 

Traditionally, families gather, friends give parties, and homes are often decorated to hail the season. This time of year fills us with a sense of both peace and excitement. We wouldn’t miss it for the world. 

But what do you do when you’re traumatized by a deep loss? A loved one has died, you’ve lost your job, or your home, and you’re in deep grief?

Loss and mourning bring deep pain and a sense of loneliness that is indescribable. The company of friends and family can bring comfort, as I learned when I lost my husband, but the holidays can also be particularly heart-rending. 

And today, if you are one of those people who has recently experienced a deep loss, here are a few things you can do to make your enjoyment of the holidays uplifting, instead of feeling sad and empty.

Make a plan and start it with memories. Savor each tradition, the fun ones and some more serious, and carefully choose the ones that put a smile on your face.

As you remember past holidays, how have you celebrated? Traditionally, everyone’s in a good mood, music plays continually, certain foods and drink are offered, and other activities are set aside to make room for the fun things. How did you ever get it all done? So many parties, pot lucks, lunches, craft workshops, relative visiting, and shopping.

You might think “I’m going to sit this one out. I can’t manage, it’s too painful and I have nothing to celebrate.”

A plan will relieve the anguish of grief and loss.

How can you express your traditions simply  and quietly, while everyone else is dashing around and making merry?

First, know that you can enjoy your holiday while in mourning. Things are not the same when you have suffered a deep loss. Your plan will reflect those traditions that bring you a sense of peace and wellbeing. They can be expressed, though perhaps altered somewhat. We did this the year my husband died.

When I lost my husband, the Holidays were upon us. My husband entered the hospital a week after Thanksgiving for knee surgery, but instead had angioplasty to remove the blockage in two coronary arteries. That was followed by emergency neurosurgery, a series of strokes, brain damage and death on January 8. 

Christmas that year was very different, and difficult, as we made daily trips to the hospital. Three of my four children were living at home – a daughter in community college and two teenaged boys. My oldest daughter was living and working in another state. She returned home for Christmas vacation. 

We approached the Holidays as a time to celebrate what was most dear to us, while a family member struggled with insurmountable health issues. We decorated the tree, made cookies, and bought presents for one another. We also kept friends and other family members informed of the situation. Our plan was simple, and easily carried out. It allowed us to express traditions while coping with our difficult situation. Nearly every day at the hospital brought a new crisis to deal with.

 The Plan

Today, as you think about the up and coming holiday you cherish, make a plan that serves your situation. Recognize the pain you’re still experiencing, and what aspects of celebration will bring you a sense of calm and peace.

Fun and merriment may be out of the question this year. Though friends and family may send you best holiday wishes, connecting will be difficult. Make a clear plan of what you want – and are up to. A plan will give you parameters for celebrating a holiday you love. 

What has always been your favorite part? Is there a religious aspect to your regular celebrations and, if so, how will you express that this year? Are you up to any festivities at all? 

Importantly, what soothes you? Is it music? The communication with friends? Choosing gifts for family and close friends? For how many days will you be celebrating before the actual day that you’re remembering?

Time honored traditions help keep us balanced. Setting aside time for habits and beliefs brings a sense of security and wellbeing. As the company of friends and family bring comfort and solace, so do we feel a part of a larger group of persons who share those traditions. 

Today, it is possible to recreate much of those traditions on the internet. Activities of every kind may be found with some research, from religious, to social, to crafting ornaments for the tree. Start early to set up calls that involve several people. In my family, if we wait ’til the last minute, there’s always someone who “can’t make it that day, or that time”. Firm it up.

Lastly, what brings you real joy? Whether it’s the spiritual aspect, music of the season, foods you “always have”, or secret Santa gifts, choose a few and make a plan.

Your plan should be written down, fixed in your mind and firm. It doesn’t have to be lengthy and detailed, just a reminder of what matters to you this year. This is part of what I call “putting the ball in your court”. The emotional upheaval that accompanies mourning will hit when you least expect it.

You may feel overwhelmed by your grief, swallowed in isolation and unable to participate in some favored traditions. You, and only you can decide what you do, and for how long. Your plan should be based on the following considerations:

Interacting with people, digitally or in the flesh. Just smile and say “goodbye” when you’ve had enough.

Outside activities and shopping trips. Your energy levels will fluctuate. Sit down or head for the car.

Music and movies. Switch the channel, turn it off or take a walk.

                     Put The Ball In Your Court

It’s your choice to make major changes to your holiday events.

  •  You may buy a gift or a tree ornament for a deceased loved one. 
  • Isolation may prompt you to set up extra digital visits with family members and friends.
  •  Donating to a charity in someone’s name may start a new tradition for you. 
  •  Sharing homemade items are perfect ways of managing the ups and downs of mourning. These may include baked goods, crafted pinwheels or stars for the tree (crayons and glitter), or needlework items. Some people write poems for the occasion. 

Concentrating on creativity eases the emotional and mental pain you are experiencing.

Comfort comes from an inner sense of understanding, supported by the warmth of friends, family, and the remembrance of those things we hold dear.

At this joyous time of year, I wish you the happiest of Holidays. I am familiar with celebrating while in mourning, and I assure you, with some thought and planning, it can be a time of peace and joy. This year is like no other, but a cherished celebration is a permanent fixture in our hearts and minds.

If you are planning specific ways to celebrate this year, please consider sharing them. Ideas and goodwill inspire more joy and affirm that some bonds are never broken.

I wish you well,

Judy

Grief Shared

May 15th, 2015 by judytalks

In the immediate aftermath of grief, friends and family may surround you with comfort and support. Everyone calls, many visit, and you walk the necessary steps through this awfulness that has happened. Cards and phone calls are sent to notify people, services are planned, legal issues are addressed for follow-up, and financial settlements have been discussed. A few weeks have gone by, and now is when most of those people begin to withdraw. There doesn’t seem to be much more for anyone to do, except to stay in touch and wish you well.

It’s at this point that grievers may wonder if sharing their grief with others in mourning would help ease the pain. Everyone’s heard about grief groups. Whereas years ago, they were few and far between, today they abound. They may be held in community centers, churches, offices, or even homes. Some are basically open-ended with a general plan and a facilitator, while others use a printed program that focuses on one specific issue each week. These issues may include emotions, such as fear, sadness, or anger, or they may include practical problems, such as handling the money, finding legal counsel, or getting your car fixed. The question is, “How will this really help me?”.

Looking for an appropriate group can be daunting. At a time when your emotions are unpredictable and you often feel fatigued, checking out numerous groups may seem overwhelming. Here’s where asking for help comes in. People who have been in a group can give you insight as to the format and also the benefits they derived. Plus any drawbacks. The funeral director, clergy, and community centers will probably also have pertinent information about several groups for you to consider.

If you wish to find a group, take a minute to jot down what you hope to gain from your relationship with others who gather regularly to express their loss. Decide what kind of openness and comfort would be acceptable, and what you would not like to experience. Then call the leader and ask questions. The leader should be non-intrusive and should maintain a non-judgmental atmosphere. Ground rules are discussed and agreed upon. Leaders may be psychologists, therapists, facilitators, or grief counselors. Some groups are led by non-professionals and can be very beneficial, but it’s important that confidentiality be enforced and trust understood.

What can you expect in the way of benefits from a grief group?

1.   First of all, you can say anything (within reason) without alarming anyone. Sometimes you can’t do this with friends and family.

2.  You will have a place to go and a specific time to meet on a regular basis. Looking forward to certain things helps to regulate your life.

3. The leader will be a resource person for you if you need to address other issues.

4. You will probably connect with 1 or 2 other people, maybe more, and have friends you can count on after your group work is finished.

5.  A person who has suffered a loss can go to a group anytime. It doesn’t have to be immediate. People have been known to seek a group months or years after losing someone.

It’s said that shared grief helps ease the pain and anguish of losing a loved one. For each person, their grief is unique and is borne individually. You may derive great comfort, learn something beneficial, or simply enjoy not being alone all the time. Give yourself every opportunity to explore the options available.

I wish you well,

Judy

Men and Grief

April 3rd, 2014 by judytalks

Grief has many faces, each one presenting unique problems to those mourning a loss. Though there are common threads that affect survivors, it’s the specific differences that clarify how best to deal with your loss.

In my article, Men and Grief, just posted on Kindle, I’ve addressed some of the particular issues that men face when suffering a major loss. The responsibilities are enormous-managing pain, handling legal and financial issues, and running a household. Altogether, it takes its toll on an already overwhelmed survivor. How do we help such a person?

Men are less likely to ask for help, to join a grief group, or to talk about their loss to friends and family members. Someone providing comfort and practical help needs to understand the basic attitudes, and how to give genuine support.

It’s likely that everyone will face loss-their own or others-throughout their lives. Death education is an ongoing learning process. The more you know going in, the better the help and the outcome.

The Kindle article may be found on Amazon .com,  Kindle e-book and put Judy Strong in the search bar.

Kindest regards,

Judy

Tips for Connecting with Kids

June 15th, 2013 by judytalks

Kids love to connect with adults. Adults sometimes have no idea how to connect with kids, even though they once were a kid. Whether this child is your own, a member of the extended family, or is in your life in some other capacity, connecting isn’t rocket science.

Tell the child something about yourself. Kids really want to get to know you.Then ask a question. And listen to the child’s response carefully. How they answer often says more than what they say. Is there enthusiasm in their voice, do they sound persuasive, are you being asked for an opinion?

Getting to know how a child expresses him/herself reaps rewards down the road. If this child should encounter a problem, or suffer a loss, you’ll be more in tune with the child’s emotions, and better able to give support. Children can’t always articulate what they feel, but they show it in their tone of voice and their physical demeanor.

If you want to remain in this child’s life – and reap all the benefits of being their friend – just spend time and listen. They’ll tell you everything about themselves eventually, and being a child’s friend is a special privilege.

Take a child on a nature walk and collect some bugs. It’s great fun!

Judy

A Lightbulb moment

March 3rd, 2012 by judytalks

I’ve been writing books, articles, and my blog for several years now, and it occurred to me that I’ve acquired an abundance of information on grief, loss, and living alone. Much of the information came from my own experiences, but many great ideas have been passed along from others who are in the same boat – living alone and trying to solve everyday problems.

Believing that sharing what you know is the best way to connect and comfort one another, I decided to start a group in the community where I live called Flying Solo. This wealth of problem-solving ideas and experience was meant to be passed along to the many individuals who struggle daily with all kinds of problems, from making a budget, fixing the plumbing, or just coping with loneliness.

I see the ripples my work has produced in print and on the internet, and I am pleased and eager to make ideas and support available in person. All kinds of connections are equally important, and will help grow the seed I planted – to bring awareness to the need for healing and new life following loss.

Check my blog for progress on this endeavor, and please continue to read my articles on www.ezinearticles.com, www.scribd.com, and www.article-niche.com. You can also fine me on www.authorsden.com to purchase a signed book.

Thank you to the many readers who leave kind, insightful comments and seek information on my website, www.survive-strong.com.

I wish you well,
Judy

The Gathering

December 22nd, 2011 by judytalks

Home for the Holidays is a familiar tradition that brings family members together to celebrate the holidays they hold dear. My family gathering begins today, as a couple of my grown children and spouse arrive for a few days of reconnecting and sharing memories, and catching up on the news. It’s amazing that conversations seem to pick up where they left off, and everyone takes comfort in being welcomed and appreciated.

The best family tradition is that of being together and keeping the activities simple. It’s a time to relax, laugh, and exchange the gift of mutual appreciation.

I hope your family gathering is joyous and satisfying.

A very happy holiday to you all,

Judy

The Lessons of Loss

May 18th, 2011 by judytalks

The past few years have made loss a household word. The pain of losing homes, jobs, funds, along with our self esteem and sense of place in the world is grievous. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been a victim. When everyone is struggling just to maintain basic necessities, it’s hard to find anyone who can help.

The truth is, though, that when everyone is experiencing the same calamity, there is support that yields hope and a sense of connecting.

It’s pointless to ask who did this to us. The real question is, “What will rise out of the ashes?”

Within my own family, friends and neighbors I see despair, anger, sadness, but also a determined drive not to be defeated. A new set of values is emerging, a fresh look at the word “career”, and a relaxed attitude toward self concept and who decides what and where our place is in the world.

I have a renewed sense of confidence that younger people will reinvent this socioeconomic construct in which we live, and it will be inclusive, open ended, and fluid. Though I’m a grandmother, I have every intention of sticking around to see it happen, if it takes a hundred years.

As always,
Judy

The Year of Magical Planning

March 12th, 2011 by judytalks

A Child’s Grief was published in January, 2010. Even before the manuscript was edited, I began putting together a marketing plan that would inform and encourage grievers and those who help them to become educated about death, grief and loss.

To date, I have reached many, many people. Groups, organizations, in-person discussions, and online social networking has spread the notion that death education doesn’t have to come after the fact in our society. We can learn how to help ourselves and others.

I am gratified to see more openness on this subject, more willingness to talk and listen, more groups and centers that address all the aspects of recovery and healing.

My recent 1st place book award from Reader Views 2010 Book Award contest has given me pleasure and encouragement that I am living my passion. Keeping you informed about bereavement is my heart’s desire, motivated first because I am a survivor, then, as an educator and writer. My most recent endeavor, to become a grief facilitator for grieving children and families strengthens my resolve to forge ahead.

Please avail yourself of the resources on these personal and important subjects on my website, www.survive-strong.com. When trauma strikes, the more you know before hand, the better you will emerge from the awfulness that is mourning. I wish you well.

Judy

Opportunity to Connect

January 18th, 2011 by judytalks

I’m always looking for ways to connect with people of all and any ages to share grief experiences. A few months ago I discovered a wonderful opportunity to work with children who are mourning the death of a loved one.

New Song Center for Grieving Children offers a training program to become a grief facilitator, and I will begin training this Saturday. I am eagerly anticipating this new venture in my life. Working with young children has been a source of great joy for me, as a preschool teacher and as a volunteer in a variety of organizations. I am looking forward to this opportunity to again connect with youngsters.

The subject of grief is ongoing in our society. Though the immediate impact of the violence in Tucson has begun to subside, the pain, grief, and adjustment have just begun. No one is ever the same after such trauma. We can learn how to help one another, whether friend, family or stranger.

Listen, really listen when someone expresses feelings or ideas.
Comfort by acknowledging their situation.
Support by helping with simple, everyday things.

Follow my new venture with New Song. I’ll post often.

I wish you well.
Judy

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