What Grief Has Taught Me

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Grief has been my best guru. 

After years of searching for my inner truth outside of myself through classes, teachers, and books, I’ve found that life is the best spiritual master. 

One of the hardest parts about life is when we have loss, disappointments, heartbreak, and sadness. We might lose our health, wealth, dreams, pets, friends, and those we love. 

Things don’t turn out the way that we expected or desired. 

Grief hurts our hearts. 

We aren’t sure if we’re strong enough to handle more of the hard feelings. 

Being human isn’t for the faint of heart. 

Yet, somehow, we’re still around as the human race, even with all of our difficult emotional stuff, our imperfections, and inability to love each other unconditionally. 

Life is this way. We can’t avoid change, challenges, or loss at times…even if we are positive, kind, and loving. 

The only thing in our control or domain is how we respond to those things that cause us to suffer on our human path. 

We can choose to close our hearts. We can choose to mistreat others or be angry towards them, even towards life itself. We can choose to hate ourselves. We can bottle everything up inside or try to numb out through various addictions or distractions. We might make ourselves sick by not acknowledging or giving our emotions and feelings space and compassion. 

We feel at times that compassion is reserved for others, but we can give it to ourselves. We can ask, “How can I be gentle with myself today?” We can do it in small ways, even in increments. It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

We can choose to be happy, even though things are not perfect or the way we want them. We can choose to be kind, even though some we encounter or who are in our lives aren’t so loving. We can be patient, even if others around us are rushed. We can smile at others and let them cut in traffic in front of us, even though we have no energy and are running late. We can feel content, even though we’ve lost our best friend or a parent. We can do something small like bake cookies for a friend, even though we’re tired. We can hug that person at the funeral, even though they weren’t nice to us in the past. 

It just feels better to be loving. I myself have used my grief to ask, “How can I be more loving?” 

It’s okay to not be perfect. I myself have my moments of not trusting or having my heart open. They aren’t permanent, even though in the moment, it can feel that way. 

However, there’s some things that my guru grief has taught me over the past four decades of my life so far. In no particular order, here’s some of my learnings:

  1. My grief isn’t special. Everyone has experienced loss or grief. No one person’s grief is worse than another’s. Grief is one of the common threads we have as humans. We can remember this and it can help us be kind to others. 
  2. When you focus on yourself and your pain and hide in your shell, you make things worse. You miss chances to love others and enjoy your life. 
  3. Grief comes in waves. Each wave has a different feel, texture, shape, size, and intensity. Just like the ocean waves, there will be ebb and flow. You don’t have to ride any of the waves, but you can let them pass quietly. Maybe you can ride on one and use it to heal yourself through art, singing, poetry, writing, exercise, meditation, yoga, hugs, or just being in nature? 
  4. When grief is overwhelming, it’s a cry from your spirit to rest. 
  5. When you give to others, you will feel better. Give your time and love to others, even strangers. The less you think about yourself, the better you will feel. 
  6. Help others with their grief. Plant the seeds for your own healing, happiness, and health. Send notes or cards to others for no reason, other than to say, “Hi” or “Been thinking about you.” Smile at strangers. You don’t know what kind of battles they are fighting. Be the light.
  7. The darkness will improve. Just as you think it won’t get better, you will notice a sunset or a rainbow. Maybe a little bird lands near you? Maybe you hear your grandma’s favorite song at the store? There’s always light, but we do have to notice it.
  8. If you can’t get out of bed, please get up. Make yourself get up. Do some stretches. Take a few deep breaths. Let yourself feel your body. You’re alive. Drink some green tea or coffee. Drink some water or make yourself a green juice. If you don’t have energy to do so, have someone do it for you or go to a cafe. Sit with others and just let yourself feel like you’re part of something, whether it’s the cafe or the city or nature. Even if you have to exist on this basic level of just surviving for a while, you can keep going. Talk it out with someone you trust. Tell them how you feel. Don’t let yourself be or feel alone.
  9. Honor those who have passed by continuing to live your life. Yes, take time to heal the sadness and feel it and use it. Don’t ignore it. However, you do have things that are part of your mission that need to be done. Please take small steps each day towards living your life. If you don’t feel you have a purpose, create a small one each day for yourself. It might be something like, “I’m going to hold the door open for each person I meet.” Maybe it could be, “I’m going to write kind things all day on social media, texts, and emails.” Those who have died wouldn’t want you to suffer or put your life on hold for too long.
  10. Let your old dreams die. Yes, it’s sad to let them go. Give yourself permission to have new dreams. You’re human, which means you’re evolving. Let yourself fly.

With love,


(copyrighted by Lisa Selow 2015) 

Let it go!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I’m stealing one from Elsa in the movie, “Frozen,” who sings that song, “Let It Go.” Listen to it once and you’ll never get it out of your head. Thank you, Disney.

As I write this, the holidays are upon me. Everything is festive, decorated, and pretty. Yet, many I’ve encountered in my travels and errands seem to be so rushed, angry, and impatient. 

I’m grateful for my daily yoga practice I’ve had since September 1, 2015. I do notice the rush and impatience of others, but I find I maintain my center. I feel calm and unhurried. I feel better with my health, more able to manage my stress and emotions. 

This year has been one of letting go. I don’t like to do a yearly review like some media outlets or online folks do because I don’t think my life is that interesting or important. I’m just one of billions on the planet. 

I will say though…I’ve let go of a big load this year. 

Last year at this time, I arrived home from living in Graz, Austria for a few months feeling like I wanted to simplify my life, after being able to live out of a suitcase easily. I decluttered a bit. 

Fast forward to late spring 2015, my mom had a complication related to her past cancer and was in and out of the intensive care unit for a month. She had been in remission for a few years. 

During her last visit in the ICU, she didn’t make it. She passed. It was such a shock. She was only 63 years old. 

As we drove home from doing the thank you cards from my mom’s funeral, we received a phone message that my husband JT’s aunt (his mom’s twin sister) was in hospice. She died shortly afterwards. It was very sad. Cancer sucks. 

My good friend’s mom passed this fall too. Ugh. 

Just recently, my great uncle passed too. He was in his 90s, but still, sad for me. (My late, maternal grandma’s brother). 

I have been working really hard to regain my health after a relapse of chronic fatigue. It’s been a couple of years of nutrient intravenous drips, supplements, tests, and being forced to rest. I’ve made some big improvements such as getting my hormones balanced, healing up my adrenals, and a significant weight loss, returning to my own version of normal. 

As I type this, I have a daily yoga and guitar practice. I also have been staying off Facebook until after 5pm daily for a while now. I feel empowered, happier, and more peaceful. 

Over the summer, I had my baseline colonoscopy and it was normal. I feel blessed, given my family history. I’ve lost my two best friends from colon cancer, my mom and her mom. 

Since August, I’ve had massive dental work, including two fillings, two root canals and their crowns. I’m waiting for my crown #2 to arrive before Santa comes, heehee! I’ve had massive dental pain, sinus stuff, allergies, migraines, and an inability to focus. It’s sucked!

Okay, I guess this is a yearly review sort of post, haha! But, it’s not linear or just the glamorous parts, right?

After my mom passed, I decided to do all the stuff I had been putting off. I still need to go for a baseline breast thermascan. I did, however, do a HUGE step with my path as a musician. In the middle of October, I did my first open mic! I sang and played guitar, doing my three songs. It was during a week my teeth didn’t hurt thankfully. Having tooth pain really affected my ability to sing. 

This fall, I had some tests done to figure out why I was losing my hair. Over the past year, I lost 30-40% of the hair on my head. It turns out I had very severe anemia. I’ve been taking iron supplements and thank goodness, I’m getting some growth! 

Losing my hair was really the final straw. It was time to let go! 

At the same time of my hair loss, I had these weird dreams about vampires, ghosts, zombies, and dead bodies, not just because it was close to Halloween. I felt my life force being drained out of me. I felt like the ghosts of my past failures were haunting me. I felt like a zombie, half alive without a morning cup of coffee. I dreamt of zombies trying to grab me. They were my old dreams, trying to remind me to keep pursing them and that gave me additional anxiety during my waking hours. I dreamt of tripping over dead bodies, which were really, my dead dreams. 

Clearly, my subconscious mind was saying, “Hello, girl, you have some letting go to do, don’t you?”

Recently, I had some time to go deeper into my grief over my mom’s passing. Oh man, more to let go of, huh? My approach to grief is to do things to help alleviate others’ suffering. (Yeah, I’m a Buddhist.) I enjoy the planting of good seeds for myself and others. I figure my mom did kind things for others, so I can honor her by doing the same. 

One day, I was sitting with some of my anger over my mom dying so young. Ooh, yes, anger. 

As I sat with my anger, I asked it what it was about, instead of pushing it away. The anger showed me that I was sad that my mom had never let go of her business, not even after a cancer diagnosis years ago. She kept soldiering on, taking care of elderly women in her home-run business of an adult foster care. My mom didn’t even make time for simple things such as eating healthy meals. (She had studied to become certified as a raw chef even.) 

I grew up seeing my mom work so hard in her prior career as a physical therapist. I was really selfishly looking forward to her retiring within a year or two. I wanted to take her places, maybe a girls’ weekend trip like talked about to Miranda Lambert’s bed and breakfast. I wanted to have that mom back who did lunch and shopping. I wanted to sit with tea and giggle with her. It’s all been taken away. 

My anger also showed me my mom’s last year of her life. She had spent quite a bit of time and energy decluttering her late mother-in-law’s home. Of course, she had help from her husband in doing so, but to think about all that work. They had some garage sales too. 

As I sit and embark upon finishing up my decluttering journey, I’m at that place of deciding whether to sell stuff or just donate it and let it go. I really am leaning towards letting it go through donations. That’s what I usually do. I like to trust in the universe to bring me what I need and I get to help others. 

So, all of these things flooded into my mind and being over the past few months especially. In her book and classes, decluttering expert Marie Kondo has you ask, “Does this spark joy?” 

When I thought about my online business, I wasn’t feeling joy. I felt my life force drain when I thought about simple things such as updating my web graphics using cool, fun fonts I bought. That usually sparked joy, but no longer did. Then, thinking about marketing made me feel like vomiting. You gotta market if you’re a coach and author. 

I do enjoy writing, so I created this blog here to continue sharing about my path. I figure if I can help one person, it’s worth it. That’s always been my approach and it might not be the “best” one, but oh well. 

You see, I put my heart out there with my online business, book, and journey as a coach. I shared very honestly and openly. I shared the sad places and my broken down places. Then, I showed them after the cracks were filled with gold, my Kintsugi self to the world…and not many cared. (Side note: Read about Kintsugi pottery in the tradition of Japanese art. It’s so lovely!). I was shocked. I felt “victorious,” as if I really had done something good that could help others. But…nope. 

I could handle the disappointments and feeling of failure with my book stuff. I got over my depression, anxiety, and fatigue. I let go of the heartache of having friends and acquaintances leave my life ‘cause I wasn’t their sparkly, shiny beacon-of-hope thing any longer. I let go of my disappointments over my publisher not supporting me more. Also, folks I had hired to help me were really disappointing me. 

I could continue on, even after loss of special loved ones in my life. I still showed up each day to post on social media and each week to send out email newsletters. I even did a 100 Days of Guitar self-guided challenge to show that I’m human and also, that I walk my talk as a Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach. None of it made me happier. I had zero clients this year. I gave away tons of free service. Again, none of it seemed to matter…to anyone. 

I told my husband it was all a lot like having a full-time job where you work 40-60 hours per week and you don’t get paid…and, folks complain about everything you offer them, even if it’s free…and also, you have to PAY to do this job…and, it makes you sick and unhappy. (Talk about a major truth bomb!).

The letting go also is here as I write about all of this. I figure it doesn’t help me to keep it bottled inside. I also want you to understand where I’ve been and why I’m letting go, since some of you have asked. 

I’m no longer living hidden in the shadows with my pain. I sit with my feelings and give them love. I give them voice. This is some of the work of an artist, a wild and free, creative spirit. 

With peace,


(Copyrighted by Lisa Selow 2015) 

The Bare Minimum Sucks

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Maybe it’s my age starting to become apparent? Maybe it’s a symptom of the Western world being so busy? Maybe I’ve planted seeds to be on the receiving end of this? 

You are wondering what I’m talking about, right?

I’m talking about folks who do the bare minimum. 

I’m not talking about the people who you only hear from when they send you holiday cards. I’m not talking about the ones who are sick, aging, tired, raising children, care-taking, or just trying to survive. 

I’m talking about the folks who you rely on to do their part and maybe even help you a little bit more. 

Sometimes, I get busy too, but I’m able-bodied (most days), along with having a fancy iPhone that can text, call, or send emails or instant messages on Facebook. It’s not at all hard to “keep in touch” these days. Just sayin.’ 

Of course, there’s people I only talk to once or a few times per year and that’s enough. We are “close” in spirit or at a distance and that’s okay.

I’m also talking about people who you give money to and they are just “meh” in doing their jobs. They never ever go the extra mile ‘cause well, it would interfere with them surfing their news feeds or binge watching their television shows or glancing down at their phones. 

I’m lucky because I have some excellent people in my life I pay to do things for me such as my hair, along with my accountant, chiropractor, massage therapist, physician, nutrient intravenous drip tech person, dentist, etc. I also frequent some local indie shops to buy my music gear, audio recordings such as vinyl records and CDs, skincare, soap, vitamins, and health foods. I love to shop local! My husband JT and I eat at some local restaurants that are stellar with wonderful service. 

I love to give my money to those who care about making me happy as a customer. I never expect others to go the extra mile, but it’s nice when they do. I refer others to their work and services. 

Every now and then, I’ll encounter someone who is just doing the bare minimum for me. I know that not everyone can show up 110% and at times, all they have is 25%…or less. Yeah, I get that. I see it as an opportunity to practice compassion and patience for others and myself. 

It’s especially hard when the bare minimum is extended to you from a loved one. Even when my husband is tired from working long hours, he still takes time to listen to me and give me hugs. It’s hard to accept that you’re the one mostly who has to keep in touch or organize getting together with others. It’s also very tiring. 

I’m not sure what it is, but others doing the bare minimum bugs me. I have some work to do on lowering expectations. I need to extend love to those who don’t have much to give. I need to allow things to be what they are, as in that saying, “It is what it is.” Yeah, it’s very cliched, but it works here.

There will be one bare minimum type of person or situation that will stick out like a sore thumb in your life, just as you were thinking, “Oh, yeah, I thought I had learned these lessons.” You’ll know what to do. It will be time to find a different person or situation. 

If you’re reading this, wondering if I’m talking about you, I’ll bet that I’m not. 

With love and peace,


(copyrighted 2015 by Lisa Selow) 

When You Are Handed Your Walking Papers…And You’re Self-Employed

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When you work for yourself, you have the power to make decisions. It goes without saying. 

You work hard when you have your own business. There’s long days. 

You might work on weekends, evenings, and even vacations. 

Yet, you persist because you have a passion. Usually, it’s a passion for helping others or making the world a better place in some ways.

Sometimes, you try everything you know how to do to make things “successful.” I mean, everyone has to put food on the table. 

If you worked so hard for an employer, you might get a raise or promotion of some kind, if you created “results” for the company. 

If you chug along as an employee and don’t get these results, you risk being let go (getting your walking papers).

When you work for yourself, you have to give yourself your own walking papers, especially if you are the only person and are running the show. There’s no one there to fire you or replace you if you are a one woman show. 

If you resist quitting or firing yourself when you know you need to, you might make yourself physically ill. There can be anxiety and/or depression. There can be sadness, exhaustion, and hopelessness or worse. (Yeah, there’s worse.)

I owned an online business for almost a decade. I taught myself a lot of things, along with working my little tail off. I gave and gave, often giving my services away for free. I had some bright spots, such as getting my book published by a major publishing house. I traveled a bit. I spoke to large audiences. I hugged many people. Stuff like that. 

I didn’t earn much money during this time. I continued on because I had a financial cushion. I also wanted to help others. 

Eventually, I became sick. First, a relapse of old adrenal fatigue. Then, everything went haywire in my body, mind, and spirit. I had insomnia, anxiety, and depression. I wasn’t sure I wanted to live any more. 

Luckily, I was able to get my health back on track. I healed the fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and yes, I do wan to live. I found my way back to my true self, a creative soul who likes to make art and music and help animals. 

Part of me felt lost once I was well. My mom passed away this year too, along with some other family members. Next came tons of dental work and a medical test or two in the mix. 

Through all these challenges and loss, I still felt happy. I thought that was interesting. I had lots of stress, challenges, and changes, but yet, I felt HAPPY.

During this time, I let go of my business slowly, partly consciously and partly unconsciously. The less I did, the happier I felt. I mean, imagine if you had a job and you weren’t paid money or any other non-monetary rewards. Imagine working and working and working, trying everything you know how to do. Imagine learning and studying to be a better professional and business owner in your so-called spare time. Imagine if you had to work so hard for so little return. Imagine if you even had to pay to do this job that earned you no money or rewards or satisfaction. Then, imagine if you gave and gave freely and some people started to complain. Yes, complain. 

No fun, right?

I didn’t want to quit my business for a long time. I didn’t want to give up or fail at one more thing. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I had worked so hard for so long. I didn’t want to give up hope that one day things might work out. I felt sad, deflated, and defeated. 

Then, everything started to happen. Deaths. Grief. Dental pain. Medical tests. Complaining people. Exhaustion. A minor fender bender where no one and no cars were harmed, but that still left me shaken. 

Oh, I get it. All those things were my walking papers. Some might say they came from the Universe or some higher power. Okay, whatever you wanna call the source. 

As I sit here, I’m a bit saddened. Yet, I know it’s the right thing to do. I need to surrender. I recently read a post on author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook about the difference between quitting and surrendering. I’m not quitting. I’m surrendering. 

After watching some folks I’ve loved be on life support, I think that is how my little business has been for while, for at least the past three years. When someone you love is on life support, you have a big decision to make…to pull the plug or not. Before you decide though, you take care of the person. You clean their face, hands, and feet, those little things. You might sit and pray. You might go get a cup of coffee or take a walk. You don’t want the person to suffer any longer. Part of you is selfish. You want the person to still be around physically. You will miss them. Your heart breaks. You think about that small 1-2% chance that the person might miraculously recover. Even if they did, you know they’d not be the same person. You know in your heart that pulling the plug is right thing to do.

As my business has been on life support, I’ve done similarly. I’ve brainstormed ideas of how to do things differently. I thought about Facebook ads. Maybe I should have group coaching? Maybe I should do more video blogging? Maybe if I changed up my graphics again, I’d feel good? Maybe I need another class on marketing? Maybe I need to change my hair color to blonde? I wondered how many more years I could take a loss in my taxes. Stuff like that was in my head, over and over again…as I worked diligently every day to try to build a tribe, a business, and a life outside of it. 

My walking papers came fairly obviously. It wasn’t subtle. Recently, the one medical test showed I had pretty extreme anemia. I’ve been taking iron supplements, but I came close to needing infusions. My hair has fallen out in handfuls. At times, I’ve had migraines that made me want to pass out. When my adrenals were in their weakest state, I’d have episodes of throwing up. I’ve had immune system challenges such as getting sick every 3-4 weeks with an upper respiratory infection. I can’t write about the digestive stuff, hahaha! 

Yet, I kept on showing up each day for my business, my tribe, and my life. As I type this, I have 90 some days in a row of yoga. I have logged into MyFitnessPal 530 or more days. I’ve been playing guitar daily for 135 days or more. I show up. Yet, all of this isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to get clients. It isn’t enough to get folks to follow me on social media to increase my platform size. It isn’t enough to save my business, myself, or the world. And..that’s okay. 

I can handle change. I know that I’m strong. One of my mantras has been, “I can do very brave things,” paraphrased from a Brave Girls’ Club meme. Over the summer as my mom was in the hospital dying, I had Elizabeth Cook’s song, “Sometimes It Takes Balls to be a Woman” as my theme song. I’m okay with having to do things differently. 

I guess what somewhat sucks and hurts is just the feeling of deflation thinking about how some won’t even care or notice that my online business is gone. I’m just another person in their inbox or newsfeed. They can hit “delete” or “unsubscribe,” just like we all do when we feel done. 

I suppose by now, I should be used to folks deleting me from their lives, both in person and online. I’ve had to do tons of forgiveness and compassion work for myself and others. I know that I tried my best in some cases. I also gave my all to help some people. I would do it again…it’s just how I roll. 

As I sit here, I think about the haters I’ve had to manage in my online life, especially after my book came out. I used to think to myself, “I can’t let them win,” and I’d persist, doing my best to be a “success.” Now, I just don’t care about all that stuff such as being someone, being internet famous, earning a certain amount of money, or having a certain level of platform as an author. 

I think about all those who let me down during my journey. I made a list recently of each person and I sent them big hugs and love. I really did. I actually thanked them for not being there for me because it showed me the places I needed to become stronger. It showed me who and what mattered the most in my life.

I’m pretty sure I’d do some things differently if I could go back in time. Of course, all I can do is create a better future. So, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Walking papers can be a blessing in disguise. I think about how many people I’ve admired in my life and how they turned endings into new beginnings. I plan on going downstream next, allowing the winds of change to turn me into something good. 

Rock on,


(copyrighted 2015 by Lisa Selow) 

She Set Her Heart Free

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

She was tired. 

Her heart had hurt for some years. 

She was told by some to toughen up, to stop wearing her heart on her sleeve. She knew that she was built that way, to wear her heart so proudly that way. Her heart had never steered her wrong…when she listened to it. 

After taking some time to heal her heart, she realized it was time. It was time to listen and to set her heart free.

She wasn’t sure what it would look like when she decided to follow her heart, but she did know what she needed to leave behind to be happy. 

As she disassembled her life that had taken decades to build, she still felt the tinges of heartbreak there. Yet, she still heard her heart whisper to her, “Follow what brings you the most joy.”

“The most joy?,” she asked her heart, “Isn’t that selfish?”

She had to let go of feeling selfish, so she could be healthy and peaceful and feel alive again. She held onto the people, things, and beliefs that felt good in her heart.

Setting your heart free is never easy, but it’s necessary. 

Here’s to freedom,


(copyrighted 2015 by Lisa Selow) 
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground