Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving.

Today is Thanksgiving.  I know for many it is the beginning of the holiday season, where food, buying presents, being stressed out are some of the headlines.

However I am a big fan of being grateful. For years I have been writing in a gratitude journal, and I am sure it has changed my life. Allow me to explain.
Years ago I was at a personal low point in my life. I was bulimic, felt lonely, constantly tired and just tired of life as I knew it. I really couldn't see a way out. I loved my son, but life with him was very challenging.

Someone told me to start a gratitude journal. I must admit that what I thought of that idea I can't really say here, but a lot of  %@&*$($^#   words were part of my thoughts.  However, I trusted this person so I promised to give it a try.  I did. I was told to write down 5 things a day, I was grateful for. I would lie if I said it was easy.  It wasn't.

But I stuck with it. In the beginning it took me a long time to find 5 things.  There were days when I wasn't even grateful for being alive. I may even have said I was grateful for something I probably wasn't, just to get the 5 things a day.

 I knew I had to find 5 things, so I started looking for them and writing them down and after a while I started feeling differently. I discovered that it was easier to find the 5 things a day I was grateful for and very soon the number 5 was not enough.  I discovered how much I actually had to be grateful for.

Being grateful didn't change the hardship I was facing and lived with, but I changed the way I look at it.  Change your thoughts and you change your life.

I truly believe that the energy you send out will come back to you as a boomerang.  However just because you change the way to look at life, doesn't mean that everything is now going to be great and we all live happily ever after.

It is easy to focus on what is wrong in life, what we don't have and how big out obstacles are . If we are not careful, we loose sight of all the good things we actually do have.  We take our family, friends and health for granted. When we go through a disappointment there are two ways to look at it : Nothing good ever happens to me, or I should have known that this would happen.
Or the more positive way: When one door closes, I know God is going to open up another door. It is all about perspective and how we choose to see a situation.

We all have thing going on in life, that if we focus on them, they can steal our joy and course us to be mad, angry and upset. However, if we are going to be happy, the foundation is to have a grateful spirit.

Seeds of discouragement can not take root in a grateful heart. 

If you are not happy today the quickest way to turn it around is to be more grateful for what you do have, instead of focusing on what you don't have. 
Instead of focusing on how far you have to go, turn around and take a look at how far you have come.
If we complain about where we are, we will never get to where we want to be.

I know that sometimes it is difficult to change your perspective. When my son died, I found it difficult to find something positive and I had days where I just wanted to follow him to where he went.

However when I started looking at Martins life as a time line it occurred to me that I only focused on the last day of his life instead of focusing on the almost 17 years he was here on earth and all the lessons he taught me and all the love he gave me and opened up for.

This year I have so many things to be grateful for.  I have a nice house to live in. I am married to a wonderful man, who sometimes tests my positive outlook. I am grateful that we got our dog Henry. I could focus on how much he sheds, but I focus on the amount of unconditional love he gives and how much joy we have because of him.

I have many good friends here in the US and I live in a very beautiful part of the US.

 The book I wrote about my life with Martin, may not be a best seller, however a lot of people have read it and given me very positive feed back. For that, I am truly grateful.
 But I must admit that one feedback were more powerful than any other I with gratitude have received.

I come from a family where love and praise was never expressed other than through sarcasm and jokes.
I was very nervous giving my parents my book, because there would be something in it, they didn't know about me and I wasn't sure how they would react. But I didn't let it stop me. I had a message to get out.

I have read through my old journals and one of the red threads were, that because I never thought I had my fathers approval. I made some bad choices in life and at other times it kept me from doing things, because i never believed in myself.

After Martin died and  I moved to the US, our relationship changed. I think we all realized what was important. My father told me that he was very proud of me and what I had written and how I handled my life with Martin. I am 48 and yet it moved me to tears. Even if I had learned to live without his praise, I was surprised how I reacted when I got it. It was so unexpected and yet so wonderful and heartfelt.

Without knowing it, it took away so much self doubt. I believed in myself on another level. I took contact to different places to set up workshops. I contacted a bookstore to get a book signing and I got my story in the local paper. All because my father said he believed in me. That is certainly something to be grateful for.

This year I will be spending my Thanksgiving with good friends.  I look forward to it. Thanksgiving has become my new favorite holiday. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Christmas is now hard and emotional to go through without Martin. But it is also a time to remember to be grateful for what you have.

I know there is a lot to be stressed out about this thanks giving. But do yourself a favor. Take a few minutes to write down what you are grateful for.

May all your days be days of thanks giving.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


 My good friend is right now in training to run the Hartford Marathon in October.  She ran 1/2 marathon last year and is now challenging herself to a full. I am so proud of her and I do admire her stamina. She told me that to make it a little easier on herself, she has decided to run for a charity. That way, when it become tough on the course, the thought of that charity will keep her going/running.

Talking with her about running and setting goals made me think about and revisit a list I made for myself. 

 In early spring of 2007, I created a "before-I-turn-50"-list. I did it as a mind came, to keep my mind occupied with something positive, while waiting in a hospital room for my son to die. I gave myself permission to dream and just pretend that everything I wrote on that list would come true. Not really sure if I believed it, but that was my state of mind at the time, so it really didn't matter. I had often made plans, than never emerged.  I spend many countless hours in that hospital room, so I had time to come up with a good list.

I was a good mind game, I played. It helped me get through difficult days of just waiting. Life happened and Martin passed. I forgot about my happy to do list and had to focus on the tough to do list.

It is now 2012, live goes on and I had forgotten all about the list, until recently.  Not long ago, I was going through old files on my computer and I found my list. I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of the things, I had on my list had already come true, and I didn't even plan it. Some of the things on the list, was to finish my book and have it published. I did and I have. Not in Denmark as planned, but here in the US. I am very proud of that book and I know that Martin is looking down and is proud too.
Another item I could check off my list, was my dream of moving to the US. I had made a comment about moving here, not sure how, where or when, but the Universe will figure that out. 
The Universe did. I am here.

  It made me think. I will turn 50 in April of 2014. That is about 1 1/2 year from now. Maybe I should take a closer look at the list and get some things crossed of. and maybe add some new things. I am already working on some of the things, such as a motorcycle ride. A friend of mine has offered me a ride. When I find the courage to do it, I will do it and  I will post pictures. A road trip is also on the list and Mike and I are talking about that. Figuring out where to go, when and more importantly, in what.  There are a few other "smaller" things on the list, which is easy to fulfill. 

To come back to my good friend, the marathon runner. Yesterday I went with her to the Y to do a workout and swim a few laps. She inspired me to add a new thing on my list.

I want to train and run a 1/2 marathon for charity, before I turn 50.

Why not go all the way and do a full marathon? you might ask.  Good and valid question. However, I know myself and I know that if I make a goal too big, I will get overwhelmed. I am aware that in order to reach a big goal, you "chop" it into smaller pieces. But right now a full marathon sounds too overwhelming for someone who is just one stage up from a couch potato.

I remember some years ago, I ran a 5K race. Well, to be perfectly honest, I also walked, but I finished and I ran more than I walked. But the feeling I got from the crowd who was cheering on, kept me going/running. I pretended they were cheering for me and it gave me a boost. I felt very proud when I passed the goal line. I felt, I accomplished something. However, I never ran another race.

I am very good at making goals for myself, but not as good to keeping them.  It is almost as if, I have a voice inside telling me, that I don't deserve it. I am not competitive, but I do want to make a difference in someone's life. It is all a mind game, and this one I intend to win, ( said the non-competitive person)

My point is, that I do want to enter some races. Start with 5K, move up to 10K and so on. I will make each one a charity run. That way I can reach a personal goal and at the same time do some good. If I do this right, I might even get some others to join me in a race or donate in my name.

I know, that when my friend is running her marathon, I will be donating in her name. Paying it forward.

It is easy for me to set a goal. Now the "fun" starts.  Better find my running shoes.

I will keep you posted.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In loving Memory

God saw him getting tired, a cure was not to be,
so He put his arms around him, and whispered,
” Come with me”

It is 8 years ago today, that God took my son back. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like two years.
Any one who has buried a child will know, that you will never get over it. It is said, that time heals everything. I disagree. Time heals nothing. Time is just time and the grief, sadness, anger, can be just as devastating 10 years after a child’s death, than the day after. Time will pass no matter how you feel and what you do.
You have to go through the process of grieving and bereavement, and there are no right or wrong way of grieving. Just your way.
Tell others how you feel, but if they themselves haven’t experienced a loss of a child, don’t expect them to fully understand.
The ultimate determinant in healing the horrendous wound when a child dies is love. As i said earlier time by itself heals nothing, but time plus love fosters healing. Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again and not dwell on the past.
But keep the memory alive. Look at pictures, remember special times and share that memory with friends and family.
I remember, that someone asked me, very soon after he died,” that now that he is dead, that must be a relief, because he was so sick. And now it is your turn to live”
I got really angry, thinking, how the f.... dare he say that?
But I controlled myself and answered, that I had been living all these years. It may not have been the life, I dreamt of, planned for, or hoped for, but I was still living. And as for the relief part, I had to say, that I would do it all again, just to have my son with me.
Secretly, a part of me was somewhat relieved, because it had been hard, heartbreaking and very often I had been close to breaking point, but that thought made me feel guilty, so I quickly thought of something else. A mother is not supposed to think like that...
I have learned so much from Martin. I learned how people are judged by what they look like or act like, more than what they have in their hearts and souls. We often don’t make the time and effort to find out, that we can learn from people who appear to be different.
Martins body may have been broken, but his soul, spirit and love was very much intact, probably more so than mine. He loved, because that was what he was and that is what he gave to the world. He wasn’t able to be influenced by outside sources.
He taught me that there is no greater force in life than love. I believe that it is where we all come from and to where we all return, when our time comes. It may sound like cliche, but love does conquer all. And the time we spend together in love, is never wasted.
He spend many hours in my arms. He even died in my arms.
I carried his coffin out of the church and after he had been cremated, I carried the urn to the grave and I put in in the ground myself. I couldn’t just let anyone else do it.
I carried him in life, I had to carry him in death.
Now my arms feel empty. But I carry him in my heart.
I will never get over his death and there is not a day, where I haven’t thought of him, missed him, cried over him, but I will get through it and come out on the other side.
I will carry on living my best life, just like he thought me.
To me that is the best way to honor his memory.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy mother's day.

Mother's day

Today is mothers’ day. A tribute to all mothers. However this day seems more about the flower shops, jewelers, candy stores making an extra buck, than it is celebrating mothers. Mothers should be celebrated and appreciated every day. Why just one day? I am not saying this because I used to be a mother or because I never got flowers on mother’s day, but simply because mother’s are the most under appreciated people in the entire world and they actually have the most important job of all. It is proven that a stay-at home-mom with 1 child is the equivalent of a full time job. But what if she has 2 children or more and has a full time job? Around this time of year, the mom does get more air time on tv, just to remind us all to remember our mothers. That is good, but there are a certain kind of mother, who is forgotten or just not mentioned. The mother of a special needs child. That is not only a full time job, but that is 24/7. And very often is is a life or death situation. I know. I use to be one.
As I mentioned, I didn’t get flowers or candy on mother’s day, and at times it did make me feel under appreciated. But instead of moaning about it, I started to appreciate myself.
Martin and I made a ritual. It started when he was about 13-14. Forgive me if my memory is not what it used to be.
Every Monday Martin and I would go down to the flower shop. The flower lady knew that we needed some time to ourselves before she came over. I would take a few flowers and let Martin smell them. It always made him smile. I would then ask him which color he wanted for mummy’s flowers. He wasn’t able to verbalize it, but I knew his sign, and with his eyes he always picked orange. No doubt that was his favorite color. So 8 times out of 10 we got a orange flowers, but at times I did ask if he would choose a different color. He did.
We called the flower lady over and she made them in to a beautiful bouquet. I didn’t want to see her do it, because i wanted to be surprised. She wrapped them for me and I put them on Martin’s table, so he could “carry” them back to the flat. Then he would give me the sign, that I could take them and together we would open them. He loved the iihh and ooohhh that followed. So did I.
Unfortunately flowers are quite expensive, so we had to change it to every other week and then to once a month. But it was something that we did together and that made me feel good and appreciated.
So I may not have gotten flowers on the official mother’s day , but every time we went to the flower shop, it felt like mothers day to me.
Maybe there is a lesson to all moms. Don’t wait to get flowers once a year. If you want to change a bad day in to a good day, buy yourself some flowers. You truly deserve it. So until the day comes when mothers are appreciated every day, then I guess that one day out of 365 is a start.
Happy Mother’s day all. But a big special shout out to the special needs mothers out there.
You are truly appreciated, by me. trust me, I used to be one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A new kind of Christmas.

                                          I love you all dearly, now don't shed a tear
                                         because I will be spending my Christmas with Jesus this year. 
                                                              Love Martin

Everywhere I look, listen, smell, proof of Christmas is in the air. I used to love this time of year. I would listen to Christmas music, put lights up, make Christmas decorations. But I would never get stressed out, because I wasn't hosting Christmas dinners. I could take the best of Christmas and enjoy it. And I did.

When I was growing up and living with my parents, I would get up early just to turn on the lights on the Christmas tree and let the light shine on the other ornaments. It sparkled like diamonds.

But unfortunately by the playing with the lights would wake up my mother and I would get caught and put back to bed. But it didn't change the way I felt about Christmas. I never saw the stress my mother and all other mothers felt during the month of December. Shopping for food and presents, making the food, cleaning, getting a tree and so on.

For some reason I believed it all just magically appeared. When I moved out and got my own family, we would still have Christmas evening at my parents.  When we arrived, I could smell, hear, feel and let us not forget, eat Christmas.

I would take Martin to the Christmas tree and we would play with the lights. It made him laugh. We would sing Christmas songs and enjoy each others company.

However Christmas soon lost its' magic.  We no longer sang Christmas songs and it felt like the the only way we communicated was through sarcasm and making fun of each other and I didn't want to participate. But to me Christmas is about family, so knowing how the evening would turn out, I tried to create my own Christmas tradition with Martin. In Denmark the 24th is the "big" day.  We would go to my parents late afternoon, so Martin and I had our celebration during the day.
Actually it started way before the 24th.

The first weekend in December we would go down and buy a small tree and we would decorate it. Well, technically I would do the decorating, as Martin couldn't, but he would be watching and his eyes would light up when I put the ornaments on. He got some on his table, he could touch and he loved it. Sometimes he would utter some sounds as if to tell me, that I should move an ornament. We would listen to Christmas music and just have a good time.

During the day on the 24th, I would take him out of his chair and sit with him. I would read Christmas stories and sing Christmas songs. It was clear to me that he recognized some of them. It was my favorite time of the day and I didn't want it to end. But I had to go to my parents house to celebrate Christmas with my family, knowing that nothing could top what had gone on earlier and knowing that at some point in the evening, some would be fighting.

The last few years of Martin's life, we had to move Christmas eve to my sister's house, because I could no longer carry him up to the 3rd floor in my parents' apartment building. 

Every Christmas Martin and I had our time together, which I enjoyed. But I must admit, I didn't look forward to the evening.

Christmas 2006 Martin and I stayed home. Martin had a fever and slept all evening. At that point I didn't know it was to be his last Christmas.

Martin died in May of 2007 and Christmas that year was tough to get through. I went out to my sister's house.  I don't know if it was for my sake or not, but for some reason, there were no Christmas tree, which made it a little easier, but I kept looking at the space at the dinner table, where his chair used to be.  so the real severity of the day didn't really dawn on me until i got back home. It was and felt very empty and I could hardly look at it.

When I came home that night, I just broke down. I have never really understood why there are so many suicides during Christmas. Now I do.

It is all emotions doubles during Christmas. If you are happy and joyous, you feel more happy and joyous.

If you feel lonely and sad, you feel extra lonely and sad during Christmas.

This year is the 5th Christmas without Martin and you might think, that I should have gotten better at handling it by now.
I haven't. December is emotional  to get through. Even if I don't live in the same country anymore and I have no history with Martin here in the US, I keep thinking when I look at all the lights: Martin would have loved this.  Or what should I get him this year? 

This Christmas will be very special. Mike and i are going to host our first Christmas eve together. This will also be the first time I host it. 

I will try to make it a Danish Christmas, to keep my memories of Martin and my "old" country alive but also incorporating some American customs, as this is where I live now.

I look forward to being with my new American family, but the hole in my heart, that Martin left can not be filled and it shouldn't. I know Martin will be there in spirit, but let's face it, that is just not enough.

But even if i will be missing him and my heart is breaking, I will not let it overshadow the joy I do feel about the magic of Christmas.

One thing I have learned. Be grateful for the things you have instead of focusing on the things you don't have.

So I will promise myself, I want to have a very merry Christmas. I know there may be tears of sadness, because Martin is not here to laugh at the lights and that is ok, but he is still loved and missed. But who knows, he might just be standing right next to me, when I go and play with the Christmas lights.

I wish you and your family will take a few moments away from the Christmas stress and really allow yourself to feel the joy and magic of Christmas and each other.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emotional Hunger: Twelve Types That Make You Break Your Diet

Yesterday I wrote a blog asking if you are an emotional eater. 
I know I am and have been for years. It is like being an addict. 
However, if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, you can "get clean". You can work through your issues and learn to live a life without your drug of choice. It is not as easy if your drug of choice is food.  If you are an alcoholic, you can avoid places that will trigger you, but you can't live without food.
 When it comes to food issues, you can't be cured, but you learn to manage the food intake every single day. Some days are easier than others.
While I was putting this list together I was surprised how many on this list applied to me in the past and sometimes still applies. However, knowledge is power and if you recognize yourself  in one or more of the lists, well, don't despair. There is help out there. Because of my own story and battle with emotional eating, I have become passionate about supporting others through their struggle.
Below are the twelve types of emotional hunger that trigger Emotional Eating. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these apply to you and your life. If you use food in any of the ways listed below, you'll know that Emotional Eating is the real reason you struggle with weight.   Type 1. Food: My Adult Pacifier If you get really hungry when you feel angry, depressed, anxious, bored, or lonely, you use food to dull the pain that these emotions cause.     Type 2. I Stick Up For Myself by Stuffing Myself Up If you react by getting hungry when others talk down to you, take advantage of you, belittle you, or take you for granted, you eat to avoid confrontation.     Type 3. Food: My One Faithful Friend If you crave food when you have tension in your close relationships, you eat to avoid feeling the pain of rejection or anger.   Type 4. When I'm Chewing I Can't Hear My Inner Critic If you tend to become hypercritical of yourself, if you label yourself "stupid," "lazy," or "a loser," you eat to stuff down self-hatred. Type 5. I Don't Have Love but I Have Food If your hunger gets activated because your intimate relationships don't satisfy some basic need like trust or security, you use food to try to fill the gap. Type 6. Food Can't Fill Up the Missing Parts in My Past If you eat to make up for the deprivation you experienced as a child, you eat to forget the past.   Type 7. Don't Tell Me What to Eat If you eat to assert your independence because you don't want anyone telling you what to do, you eat to rebel.   Type 8. I'm Too Busy Eating to Take a Risk If your appetite kicks in when you're faced with new challenges - if you use food to avoid rising to the test, you eat to protect yourself from the fear of failure.   Type 9. Fall in Love? I'd Rather Fall in Chocolate If you stuff your face in order to avoid your sexuality - either to stay overweight so that nobody desires you or to hide from intimate encounters - you eat to protect yourself from getting too close. Type 10. I Use My Body as a Battleground Emotional eaters often eat to pay back those who have hurt them, often in the distant past. They use their bodies as battlegrounds for working out old resentments. If you do this, you eat to get revenge or control anger.   Type 11. I Won't Grow Up If you eat to make yourself feel carefree, like a child, you eat to keep yourself from facing the challenges of growing up. Type 12. I'm Secretly Afraid of Being Thin If you overeat because you fear getting thin, either consciously or unconsciously, you eat to avoid the fear of change. Emotional hunger is real. It's part of life for everyone. If you address the things that make you emotionally hungry, you'll have a chance of having real satisfaction in your life. But if you eat each time you're emotionally hungry, you'll miss the opportunity of satisfaction, and your emotional hunger will continue to grow along with your waistline.