The Roads We Travel

A few days in a life journey.

Archive for March 2017

Good Grief

Are there days when you just wake up sad?

I have those days sometimes where things just seem a bit melancholy. There’s no one thing to point a finger at — it could be the weather, a bad dream, no coffee, a late start. Any number of things may add to that feeling.

I think some days it’s a culmination of grief. Grief over loss especially — and not necessarily a dramatic loss, like a death in the family, although that certainly adds to it. I’m thinking more about the loss of small things, like time as your mind wanders over how big your kids are getting, or the loss of opportunity when I think about ideas that I have that I’ve done nothing to advance. Even the loss of money can make me experience moments of micro-grief (I made that up, I think, lol) — wasted money, unearned money, unexpected bills!

My daughter experienced loss-of-money grief the other day. She had saved up enough money to buy a toy she wanted and it was really hard for her to save the money since she wanted to buy so many other things, but I told her that if she bought those other items then it would take longer to save up for this toy she wanted.

After losing her two front teeth, she finally had enough money for the toy and when we got to the store to buy it, they were sold out. She was bummed, but we went online to look for it, she was going to be even more patient and wait for it to ship, but she didn’t like the versions of the toy that were available online. She decided to go back to the store the next day to see if it was restocked and if not she would buy an alternate toy.

Her first choice wasn’t in stock yet, so she found an alternate that she was happy with and made the purchase. We had a playdate with a friend right after and she was happy that she got to debut the new toy with a friend.

However, on the car ride home from the playdate, she burst into tears, “This toy is so boring. Why did I spend my money on this? I want my money back!”

Buyer’s remorse. Oh boy, did I feel sad for her, but I knew it was an important lesson to learn. Sometimes, we just want a shiny new thing to distract us, even when it’s not our first choice, we just want to spend money and have something new. Usually, in the end, those purchases never feel good. Why did we buy it? We certainly didn’t need it. It wasn’t even what we really wanted.

I could have let her take the toy back to the store, even though it was already out of its packaging and played with, but I thought the lesson about making wise choices with money was more important.

That brings me back to grief…

Sometimes we lose things even more valuable than money. Sometimes we lose friends. Not necessarily to death, but sometimes a friendship just comes to an end. You know the saying that people are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Sometimes you meet a reason or season person, and when the friendship ends you feel so sad because maybe you thought it would be a lifetime friendship.

I had friendships end like that in high school, then another really close friendship in my late 20s, they were all sad experiences and I suppose that I grieved in my own way at the time — even without knowing that’s what was going on. After the experience in my 20s though, I did a lot more thinking and reading about friendships and relationships in general. I realized that I tried so desperately to hold onto relationships because ending them reminded me of the lost relationship with my dad, which I didn’t have any control over. That didn’t stop me nevertheless from blaming myself for that lost relationship and the others that would follow. So, in an effort to control the outcome, I tried holding on to friendships and relationships wherever I could without realizing that I was only one factor in a myriad of reasons why a relationship comes to an end.

Earlier this year, my daughter kept coming home from school and sharing that she had a sad day because a friend “broke up” with her. We talked about these situations a lot and it always seemed to be the same friend. I suggested that maybe things were meant to be with this friend and maybe not, but all she could do was to keep trying to be a good friend and let the chips fall where they may. I also suggested that she work on trying to have a good day despite the status of their friendship. I urged her to look to some of the other things that were going well in her day and focus on those things, even though there may be moments of sadness about losing a friend.

Don’t you know, earlier this week, while making dinner, my daughter shared with me that this same friend “broke up” with her again. She then shared, “But I didn’t let that ruin my day. I had a great day…” and she proceeded to tell me about all of the other things that happened at school.

Friends, I can’t tell you how much joy that brought me. Is it possible that my daughter has learned something at age 7 that took me 20-30 years to understand?

I mean, I know that she’ll experience greater friendship losses than a fickle classmate who’s in some days and out on others, but the framework is there for understanding that one, someone deciding not to be your friend is out of your control, and two, it will feel sad, but it won’t ruin your entire day or life.

After the recent presidential election, I lost some friends — some closer than others. It makes me sad to think about losing those friendships, and I still have to consciously have the conversation with myself about the life cycle of friendships. It’s grief or micro-grief for sure, but it’s good grief. If you can work through the sadness and understand that it’s all for a purpose — in most cases, to teach us life lessons that help us to grow and help others along their path of learning.

Today, while driving, I was reflecting on this good grief. It’s important to feel the sadness of a loss, that makes us human, but it’s also important to understand that loss is an integral part of life — we cannot escape it. We must embrace it and learn the lessons that come along with it.

My prayer today is for God to comfort anyone experience grief, any level of grief — big or small, and that God sends an angel your way to hold your hand through the experience.

Light and love.

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Written by Shara

March 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm

My First Town Hall, CA-25

Being a newsie, as I’ve shared before, I look forward to the Sunday morning news shows and the arrival of my Sunday paper. It is a lot of information to take in, but I love to hear other people’s stories and learn about what’s going on in our country and in the world.

During the week, I don’t get to watch as much television news, but I do read news alerts and updates regularly. The weekend presents a great opportunity to get caught up and reconcile what I’m hearing nationally with what I’m seeing locally.

Since the presidential election, I’ve challenged myself to make more time to become involved in issues that deeply and directly impact the community in which I live. This local hyper-focus may come from a feeling of not having much of a voice at the national level. As it stands, I don’t feel that the current incumbent of the oval office has my family’s best interest in mind, nor do we have the level of representation that we need to better balance this out in either the House or the Senate. All I can say is thank God for the judicial branch.

Last week, I attended a public hearing to determine whether or not Los Angeles county would approve the massive expansion of a local landfill. Every person who showed up to testify in support of the expansion had received some monetary benefit — employees who earn a salary for working at the landfill, public officials who received campaign donations, non-profits and trade groups who receive donations and membership fees from the landfill, citizens whose families received scholarships from the landfill. They all showed up with glowing reviews and green-colored t-shirts and caps. The other side of the story was shared by residents living within the community directly impacted by the landfill. They shared stories of health concerns, air quality concerns, water contamination concerns, and corporate bullying and intimidation. I couldn’t believe that this was unfolding right in front of me — in my own small community.

The good news from the fallout of the presidential election is that more people, like me, are starting to become aware of what’s happening in their communities. I think, in the past, I was guilty of thinking that my civic duties ended after the vote, but not anymore.

There were so many people at the public hearing that it was standing room only in a junior high auditorium. Since the meeting had a hard stop at 9:30 p.m. and there were still more than 50 people waiting to testify, the committee has decided to hold a second hearing in April. It’s a really important issue and residents should have the opportunity to voice their concerns for consideration.

I hope the regional planning commission will take the residents concerns seriously. I understand the desire for a business to want to expand and grow, I’m a business owner myself. I just don’t think that growth should happen at the expense of anyone’s health and safety, and certainly not the least among us. Those in the community where the landfill is located aren’t wealthy, so they can’t speak with dollars, just words and visibility. If there are other options to bring about a win-win (like moving the landfill to a more remote, less populated location — I hear there is one already setup and ready), then those options should be fully explored.

Following that experience, my daughter and I got up early on Saturday and trekked about an hour out of town to attend a town hall put on by our congressman, Steve Knight. In my opinion, the congressman did everything possible to minimize the turnout. He picked a remote venue (one not centrally located in the district). He chose to hold the event at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday, doors opening at 7:45 a.m. and only the first 275 were allowed in with id. Not only does this discourage turnout, but it sends a message to the people he represents all over the district that he is not accessible and doesn’t care about their views.

The town hall was streamed live by the local television channel, so hopefully, lots of people got to watch, BUT it’s important for his constituents to have easy access to VOICE their concerns and ASK questions and GET answers. That doesn’t happen when all you can do is watch it online or on tv.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get into the town hall, but we were one of the hundreds who stood outside to share our concerns and rally support for another more centrally located town hall so that Rep. Knight could respond to why he says one thing to appease his constituents in person and then votes another way.

We’ll continue to stay engaged. We’re learning a lot. I encourage parents to get children involved in this process to learn how your local and state government work firsthand and to show them how to let their voice be heard on issues of great concern. This IS what democracy looks like.

CA 25 Town Hall in Palmdale, CA.

CA 25 Town Hall in Palmdale, CA.

Written by Shara

March 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm