Thoughts on Grief

Thoughts on Grief

This article was made possible by the wonderful people at Heart in Diamond. Heart in Diamond is a company that turns tragedy into beauty. They can be found here.

Grief seems like such a simple concept, but the truth is, it isn’t. It isn’t simple at all. Many of us think of grief as something that happens only when a loved one dies. While it is true that grief occurs when a loved one passes away, grief can also occur for other events.

Grief can occur at the end of a relationship or friendship. It is similar to death, though not as final; it is the loss of the presence of someone deeply loved. It is the loss of the way things were when that person was around. Suddenly, one cannot turn to that person anymore, in good times or in bad. They have exited one’s life, sometimes never to return.

Grief can occur at any major life change. This can include a move, graduation, a job change, etc. The reality about grief is, it can occur when anything monumental happens in one’s life. This could be a happy event, like moving to a new city for a dream job, or it could be a much sadder event, such as the death of a loved one.

I believe there are two key ideas to keep in mind when speaking about grief, or when grieving. The first is this: the ending of one thing is also the beginning of another. The end of an era in one’s life is the beginning of a new one. The ending of a relationship or friendship is the beginning of freedom and openness to new people and experiences. In some religious traditions, the end of a life on earth is the beginning of eternal life in another state.

The second idea I have about grief is that you don’t have to forget. You don’t have to forget the good things. In fact, I encourage you to remember them. It is important to respect the memory of a person, a friendship, an era, by remembering them. The key is to let go enough that you can move on, but to hold onto the good. Our pasts make us who we are. We never lose who we once were – who we were when that person was alive, or was our best friend, or when we attended that school. We respect who we were by remembering. We carry those memories with us as we continue through life.

I’d like to recommend Heart in Diamond to anyone grieving the passing of a loved one. Heart in Diamond is a company that specializes in cremation jewelry. They use the ashes or hair of your loved one to create gorgeous diamond jewelry for you to wear, so you can carry with you the person you love. Heart in Diamond’s cremation jewelry makes it possible to keep some of the closeness of your loved one with you at all times. It commemorates their memory in the most beautiful way possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with grief, please feel free to explore the links below.

Mental Health America

Mayo Clinic

National Institutes of Health

For those of you who are grieving anything at all, I love you and I am thinking of you.

Advertisements

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

For those of you who didn’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. In honor of the last day of that month, I have written this post.

My name is Grace. I am a friend, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a dog lover, a kind person. I also have seven mental illnesses.

That sounds like a lot. On the one hand, it is. Seven is a lot of mental illnesses. One is a lot of mental illnesses. On the other hand, it is important to remember that mental illnesses are very much related to one another. Sometimes one causes another; sometimes they just go hand-in-hand. I don’t think of my mental illnesses as separate entities, but rather as roots of a tree that spring from each other and cross paths and come from the same basic source.

I live a happy life. I live with the parents who support me, am almost done with college, have a loving boyfriend, work two jobs, maintain friendships all over the country, and have the best ESA in the entire world. Things have been worse for me, many times over the course of my life. I don’t feel like rehashing all my trauma, and I don’t have to do so. Even if I didn’t have suffering and trauma in my past, my mental illnesses would still be valid. Brain chemistry doesn’t care how happy you “should” be.

If there is anything I have learned over the course of my short twenty-three years on this planet, it is these: mental illness is not like a cold. It will most likely be with me my whole life, hopefully with me spending the rest of it in remission. The best I can do is the best anyone can do; I handle it as best I can. Everyone has their cross to bear, and this is mine, so all I can do is carry it with as much grace as possible – and maybe with a bit of good humor.

I have also learned that while there is pain and suffering in the world, much of it senseless, there is so much more that is beautiful and good. We are more attuned to the negative, not because it is more prevalent, but because it is the exception. It affects us so deeply because our innate and automatic assumption is that this world is beautiful, and people are basically good.

So, if you are silently – or even not-so-silently – suffering from mental illness(es), I leave you with this: yes, there is pain and suffering in the world. No, it isn’t fair. But no one ever promised life would be fair. But more important than that is the fact that love is infinite. It does not end, or run out – not true love, anyway. Love is the root of all that is good – the flowers love the sun, which loves them in return. The mother and the offspring love each other. It is true; it is unconditional; it is infinite.

So, love. If you cannot love yourself, try loving others. Try loving the puddle you splash in on a rainy day. Try loving the friend that makes you feel secure. Loving and being loved by others can teach us how to love ourselves. There is always, always, always a reason to love.

Most important of all, remember that you are not alone. You are not alone. You are never, ever alone.

I love you.

Tampa

Tampa

Well, my travels continued this Memorial Day weekend. On Sunday morning, I flew from DCA to Tampa, Florida, to meet the boyfriend. I arrived a little after noon, and he arrived soon after that. I had to wait in the hotel lobby for almost an hour, but I had a good book and some Starbucks, so I wasn’t upset about it. I was too excited to be upset.

A brief interlude: I am so grateful to him for paying for my flights, and for the job he does that makes all this travel possible. Plus, he is doing what he loves, which is the best part of it all. It stinks that we’re apart so much, but I know he is happy, and I get to travel, so there are perks.

But I digress. Tampa was hot as Hades on Sunday. It was so hot and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky or even the slightest hint of a breeze, we abandoned our plans of walking the Riverwalk and touring Ybor City. We got lunch, and dinner, and hung out in the relative cool of the hotel suite in between.

Monday was our beach day. Love is not a strong enough word for the constant longing I feel for the sea. Maybe it’s based in the heritage I received from my mother’s family, who came from Naples in the 1920s. We picked up the rental car and drove about an hour to Pass-A-Grille Beach.

Pass-A-Grille Beach is south of St. Pete Beach, in the larger St. Petersburg area. If you drive there, drive down the coast until you can’t anymore. Right where the Tampa Bay meets the Gulf, you’ll find the spot where we set up camp. The parking is pay, but there was still a spot for us on the last day of Memorial Day Weekend. There is more parking down at that end, and less people.

There was a pier to our left, where the Bay met the Gulf. Just some hundred yards down the beach, people were packed next to each other, but we found a spot on our more sparsely populated stretch of beach to ourselves, with no one between the water and us. It was hot and sunny again, but there was a breeze that day. The water felt a little like bathwater – I would’ve liked it touch colder, but it wasn’t hot. The water was clear and turquoise, the waves largely gentle. We talked and played in the water, baked in the sun, and started the cycle over again.

We dined early at a seafood restaurant on the bay side, then headed back to the hotel, where we flipped between the last Lord of the Rings movie and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My flight was early the next morning – and delayed two hours, which I was notified of after arriving at the airport (you were supposed to text me, American!). I was still home by one, and went on my merry way to work half-past four.

Tampa was fun. We didn’t take as many excursions as we did in Portland, but I’m just so happy being with him that it didn’t matter to me what we did – with the exception of the beach. The beach is of paramount importance. Still, it feels glamorous and fun to jet off on little notice, even for two days at a time.

Portland, Oregon: Also, 100th Post!

Portland, Oregon: Also, 100th Post!

As stated in my April goals post, in the last week of April I flew to Portland, OR, to visit the boyfriend on his days off. It was his birthday present to me (my birthday is the 22nd.). It was a wonderful trip, though my second flight there was a less than ideal.

Honestly I had forgotten all about that flight until now. As usual, the night before my travel day, I could not sleep for excitement. I had been at work for eight hours that day, and my flight was just before six in the morning, but I couldn’t sleep. It always happens, so I don’t know why I’m always surprised and frustrated. I was in an aisle seat, which I hate, but can deal with, as flights are only a few hours long and the aisle won’t kill me. But the man in the middle seat was a manspreader, and also snored disgustingly the entire flight, so I couldn’t sleep at all. It was physically painful. Another thing was that the man in the window seat had closed the blind and fallen asleep. He stayed asleep the entire flight, and I missed the bird’s eye view of Mount Hood. But I lived.

I forgot all that as I got in the car with my driver, who made my morning much better. The weather was gorgeous, and it was projected to continue my entire trip. At the hotel and famished, I ordered food and waited for Ben to show. He did, and I saw him first. He joined me, and we shared my flatbread and discovered that he hates figs.

We went upstairs to nap, then walked to a coffee shop, where we sat and talked and drank before walking to Powell’s. DSC_0334Powell’s was a labyrinth of books, some new, some used. I bought the new book composed of a collection of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s inspirational tweets, a used copy of one of my new very-favorite books, The Sun Is Also A Star, and a copy of a book I had begun in another bookstore but never bought, Bittersweet, by the author of one of my other favorites, June. DSC_0341We had a snack at a pizza place catty-corner from Powell’s (Sizzle Pie) and decided to go to the Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden.

The Portland Japanese Garden was stunning! I couldn’t help laughing aloud sometimes because I could not contain my joy. It was a perfect storm; I love to be outside, to travel, in nice weather, with my love. We climbed up many flights of stairs set in the side of a steep hill, which had some pretty plants along it as well. It was the perfect time of year to visit, and the perfect time of day: golden hour. There was even a vista where we could see Mount Hood, finally. The International Rose Test Garden was much less impressive, as the roses are not yet even budding, but still delightful.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We dined at Kell’s Irish Pub. I had a barley risotto with pesto and butternut squash, which was delicious. Dessert was at a Salt and Straw.

The next day, we picked up a rental car and some Voodoo Doughnuts for our ninety-minute car ride to Cannon Beach.

Upon our arrival, we drove the Pacific Coast Highway for a short time, then walked on the beach for awhile. I found a shark tooth.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We walked through some stores, and lunched at a pub on the main street. I got some candy at a candy store, and we headed back to Portland, where we dined outside at a German place called Prost. My flight was a redeye that night, and I arrived at Reagan National before noon the next day.

Thank you, love. It was my best birthday yet.us japanese garden

Give Your Space a Spring Facelift

Give Your Space a Spring Facelift

As the spring sun warms the air, it is past time to put away the heavy colors and textures of winter. It’s brighter outside, so it should be brighter inside too. Here are a few tips to bring spring beauty into whatever space you want.

Clean up!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Spring cleaning is essential! While it’s important to disinfect and tidy things, another necessary part of spring cleaning is paring down. Get rid of those gifts you didn’t really want, or that sweater you haven’t worn since 2016, or those tchotchkes you don’t even see anymore but constantly have to dust. My rules of thumb are these: Either you love it, or you need it, or both, or it goes; and, if you haven’t worn/used/read/played with/listened to/watched it in six months, you never will, so out it goes. It’s freeing to get rid of things you don’t love, need, or use. This freedom mimics the freedom you gain in the spring to go outside and enjoy yourself.

Use lighter colors and textures.

I’ll admit it, I love the dark colors of winter, especially maroon and emerald. But when it’s bright and sunny outside, those colors tend to look too heavy and darken a room. Another thing that darkens a room is the textures you use. Velvet and cable knits are some of my favorites, but they are thick and heavy. Try lace, or cotton, or linen, or just lighter weaves, when it comes to pillows and blankets and other things.

Add plants.

Flowers and plants bring life and color to a space. Depending on your resources and allergies (or lack thereof), you may choose fresh or silk flowers. Adding some form of plants or flowers makes your indoor space mimic the outdoors, which brings the outdoors inside.

Open windows.

Finally, it’s lovely enough outside to open the windows, so if you are stuck inside, you can still enjoy the fresh air. Feel the warmth of the sun-filled air, the coolness of the breeze. Smell the flowers giving up their sweetness. Listen to the birds and the dogs and the wind in the trees. Opening your space to these things is another way to bring the outdoors inside. Even just opening the blinds can help, by letting in more sunlight.

It’s Spring – Get Outside!

It’s Spring – Get Outside!

As you may have noticed from my post on Monday, spring is here, and I’m very excited about it! My favorite thing about spring (besides the flowers, of course) is the lovely weather. The wonderful thing about spring is that all Tiggers’ bottoms are made out of them – no, wait. The wonderful thing about spring is that it’s so warm outside, but there is still a wintery nip in the air that makes the heat bearable. I’ve put together some ideas for you to enjoy the lovely weather outside. Enjoy!

Go for a walk.

As I said before, one of my very favorite things about spring is the flowers. Why not go outside and enjoy the sight and smell of them on a walk in the sunshine? You can take pictures of them, pick a few to brighten your house, or just stop and smell the roses – literally.

Take up gardening.

If you’re like me – a hands-on lover of nature and of flowers and fruits and vegetables – you may (and this includes me) want to take up gardening. Gardening is true, white magic. You care for and love these tiny seeds, and hopefully, with attention and water and sunlight, they become something bigger and beautiful and beneficial. You get the benefit of being outside, exercise, and communing with the earth. Plus, there is a real, tangible reward for your efforts – something many of us don’t necessarily see with our daily accomplishments.

Go strawberry-picking.

There are so many benefits to this! For one, can you say healthy and delicious snack? For another, you earn your food, which is, depending on the farm you choose, organic and untreated. You literally get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and it’s yummy.

Have a picnic.

In my mind there is nothing more romantic than a big, plush outdoor blanket under a tree, in dappled sunlight, with a delectable spread of food and drink to enjoy with family, friends, and/or a significant other. Bring an instrument and have a sing along. If you’re by a body of water, wear your bathing suit and take a dip when it’s too hot in the sun. Or, if you’re alone, bring a book, or take a nap. The possibilities are endless.

Play.

Before you balk at this suggestion, I would like to remind you that all human beings, regardless of age, need to and do play. As adults we typically no longer play make-believe (except for DnD), but we still play. It’s good for us, and actually essential. Grab a frisbee or a ball and toss it around. Play pickup soccer, basketball, volleyball, or softball. Get out your cornhole set, or play water pong (it’s much more sanitary than traditional beer pong). Don’t be afraid of the word “play” – just do it.

The New Falls Church Staple

The New Falls Church Staple

Since its establishment in 1950, the Frozen Dairy Bar was always a Falls Church staple. Originally housed in a small Art Deco building on a lot near Route 50, the Frozen Dairy Bar fought against the development of the lot, but eventually became a part of the new shopping center. In 2015 the Frozen Dairy Bar got a makeover and was renamed the FDB Eatery. Instead of being the local frozen custard place that happened to serve food, the FDB Eatery tried to become a nicer restaurant that happened to serve frozen custard. The frozen custard counter was closed off from the rest of the restaurant, and the decor was dark and uninviting.

Sunday night my mother and I were happy to discover that the FDB Eatery has since come into the ownership of married couple Usman Batti and Lilly Kaur, the owners of the popular food truck, DC Steakholders. The Frozen Dairy Bar, now DC Steakholders, opened April 6, 2019. As avid lovers of the original establishment, we were eager to try the frozen custard at DC Steakholders.

We were not disappointed. We both got chocolate custard, and it was great. Frozen custard is by its very nature richer than ice cream, but the frozen custard at DC Steakholders was richer than what I remember from the Frozen Dairy Bar. Just as smooth as the original, the DC Steakholders frozen custard tastes more luxurious, and the chocolate flavor was excellent.

Another lovely change was the decor. DC Steakholders’ decor harks back to that of the original. There are prints of diners, traditional American food, and other memorabilia Americana decorating the walls. The paint is a cheery, gentle light yellow, much better than the dark red of the FDB Eatery. In true diner fashion, there is a neon light running near the ceiling.

DC Steakholders does not put on airs, and also respects the history of the original Frozen Dairy Bar. It’s pretty to look at, and the custard is delicious. We will definitely return to try the cheesesteaks – and wrap up with more custard.