Monday, July 17, 2017

Podcast: Social and relational changes in the face of grief (aka my interest in fellow humans is very different now!)

The topic covered in today's podcast is one from the series I called "Grief Truths" which were difficult truths to deal with in the face of grief. In this particular truth, I was wrestling with something like, "For them to like me, I have to like them, but I'm not really interested anymore." It was a space of realizing that grief was having an impact on my social and relational experiences, and in that realization, acknowledging that creative curiosity could be a very helpful tool. Ideas explored include:

  • Grief shifted lots of things after our son died, including our social experiences and connections that suddenly felt like alien territories.
  • Platitudes or anything close to them were not going to meet my needs in social and relational ways in the face of grief. Some people could go beyond platitudes with us. But some could not. Relationships changed. 
  • I share a few specific examples of how we began noticing social and relational needs were no longer being met for us, how social trusts were being broken, and how even faith can be shaken post-grief.
  • And then I share a few specific examples of how we can creatively explore what we want to save in various relationships, where we want to discover new relationships and social connections, and how we can begin purposely seeking social and relational spaces that more readily meet our post-grief needs.
  • Tending social and relational connections are both self care AND community care.
  • Not every relationship is going to meet every need. Be gentle with yourself and others as you explore what each relationship can be and can't be in your post-grief life.
  • The re-definition of social and relational aspects of life just do shift post-grief. That's okay.

To stream this podcast, click here.

Thanks as always for listening!
From my radical grandma heart to yours,

If you like what you hear, 
please click the tip jar to support
our grief+creativity efforts.

[Originally published as written article at Radical Creativity, March 23, 2012]

Monday, July 10, 2017

10 Ways To Handle Life When Struck With Grief-Incommunicado

Do you ever have those grief experience days where you should just be incommunicado? I sure do. There should just be no speaking or writing allowed.

But the phone rings, the emails come, the meetings are set, the events are happening. And so I go forth and speak or write and oooooooooooooooooooooh, what a bad idea that is. The day usually ends with me having a slight implosion before planting myself in the tree swing if it's summer or in my blanket house if it isn't summer!

So in an effort to start getting creative in the face of those grief-incommunicado spells, I thought to try and come up with 10 things for how to practice handling life when this strikes! Here's what I've come up with so far:

  1. ... [oh damn. THIS is one of those days.]

What about you? Your best tip on handling grief-incommunicado spells?

Sending you Reiki and supportive vibes for whatever spell you find yourself in at the moment! From my radical grandma heart to your heart...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Podcast: Resiliency + Grief (aka I got out of bed because I had to pee)

In today's podcast, the focus is on resiliency during grief experiences. The biggest find in terms of resiliency, for me personally, came creatively. And the definition of creativity expanded beyond mere art-making, leading me to discover the heARTmaking of my still living, breathing body, even in the face of a grief I thought would break me.

Join me and explore:

  • You don't have to be an artist to engage with creativity in the face of grief experiences.
  • Even in the face of a grief I thought could kill me, the auto-functioning of my body (thirst, need to pee, etc) kept creating reasons for me to get out of bed. It was so surprising. 
  • Sometimes a lot of sleep was just required by my body, heart, and mind in the face of grief. And often the dreamscapes of that sleep time informed my creativity later.
  • The exhaustion of grief tested my doing-nature (wanting to DO something) and taught me to not discount even the smallest of movements. I learned to celebrate any choice, however small, because that was a reconnection to my sense of agency.
  • Doing tiny things, making small choices, all added to my practice of creativity, and this practice was a direct counter to guilt and shame that was popping up in my grief experience.
  • The grief experience just is a very human and messy experience, and creativity can give us permission to find our way.
  • I didn't stop being his mother after he died. I am still his mother. And grief was going to practice me and have it's way. But likewise, having a creative relationship to grief and this different kind of parenting, really allowed me to keep committing creative acts in the name of tending.
  • A lot of tending and healing can happen in a blanket house, too!
  • Why do you get out of bed the day after your kid has died? Why do you get out of bed the day after a major loss? Sometimes it is just that the blood in your own body keeps flowing. Allow that auto-functioning of your heart guide you creatively.

To stream this podcast, click here.

Thanks as always for listening!
From my radical grandma heart to yours,

If you like what you hear, 
please click the tip jar to support
our grief+creativity efforts.

[Originally published as written article at Radical Creativity, March 25, 2012]

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Collaborative Post: community thoughts on concept of invitation


When I (Kara) put out the call for community contributors to share their thoughts on the concept of "invitation," I didn't know what to expect in return. In this collaborative post today, I'm so thrilled to share with you all the pieces of writing and heART that came in response to the call. You'll see as you read through the various works that, for some, invitation came as part of grief experience. For others, grief experience reminded them of the original invitations. For still others, the invitation that came was not necessarily one that was wanted. We humans are so ... fabulous ... in our range of motions and emotion and meaning making!!

For me, the concept of invitation has become an important theme in my life and work because I find it takes a stand against white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy. So much of our modern western competitive, money-driven, racist construct of a world tells us that being worthy means being an expert to the exclusion of the layperson. Being successful means doing whatever is needed to "win" even if that means violence like "stepping over" the "weaker" of the "others." Individualism means never working together, being self-made. Being in business means you have to be "better" than "others" which means we are literally "othering" people and holding ourselves superior.

Wow. The constructs in which we find ourselves certainly were built to colonize our minds, and hearts, and bodies. Noticing them, naming them and trying to find alternative ways to engage is a tall order. Let alone the on-going-ness of doing it over and over and over again, because this isn't something that you become "perfect" at and "done." Rather this is a creative practice, moment by moment, staying aware, and making choices, to stay with what you value instead of what the constructs of our world deem to be "right" or "successful" or "the proper way."

Invitation has meant for me that I want to do my grief + creativity work and life with mindfulness. I don't want to mindlessly "sell sell sell" to "make it" or to force others to see me or buy my way into this or that. I aim to do this life and this work and keep invitation open open open so that anyone out there can see my own manifestations of creativity. So that they might then think, "Hey I can do that, too!" and then do it. So that they might then think, "Oh how could I collaborate together with her, coz that seems like a heARTfull thing I'd like to do."

I didn't like competing for grades in school or accolades in sports. I didn't like competing for spots and $s in higher education. I didn't like seeing what others could do that was denied me AND I didn't like seeing what I could do that was denied others. I didn't like competing for jobs and housing -- literally trying to find a place to rent that one can afford is a game of chance, a game of who gets there first. Housing. It's sick. It's sick that we as a society do not want to invite each other into having a basic like HOUSING??!!!!!!! We have literally become so okay with the neglect of homelessness that we don't even consciously see housing as the competitive capitalist abuse that it is.

My intention is to stand against things like this and any other manifestations of it. I'm not perfect. I fuck up a lot. There are areas in which I don't even realize my own mind is playing the games. But I am aiming to live a life and offer works that are opening, that invite me, you, anyone to be a part in whatever ways you are able or desire. Keeping this as a practice for life and work, I hope that it will reflect out and be reflected back for me, too. I love feeling invited. I don't want to "hustle" for gigs or do outlandish things to "get noticed." Rather I want to offer the heARTwork I offer, and when you feel invited, I hope you will return the experience with an invitation to me if/when such a time or experience comes up for that kind of exchange. Not required. Invited.

While this may not change the world (this wacky absurdidiculous world), I do know it is something I can do in every present moment with an aim that is very, very different than what white supremacist, imperialist, colonial, capitalist, patriarchy offers. I hope. I hope you feel some sense of:


when you visit here or interact with any of my works. Please know you are most welcome. From my radical grandma heart to yours!

And now, here are our collaborators for this topic:

Our collaborators

Yvonne Lucia on "My Life, Interrupted"

Excerpt: "When asked what the secret to her long life and happiness was, a wise elder woman is reported to have said, “I have always tried to cherish my interruptions.” (in SoulCollage© by Seena B, Frost, p. 100) This challenging advice has been percolating in my mind and heart all week. What does it mean to “cherish” one’s interruptions, and just how does one go about doing that?

How do parents cherish the interruption of giving birth to a child with a genetic abnormality that will consign them to a lifetime of daunting responsibility?   How does anyone cherish the interruption of the death of a spouse, a friend, a sibling, a beloved companion animal? How does a committed partner cherish the devastating news that they have been cheated on? How would any of us cherish the interruption of a cancer diagnosis?"

Click here to read Yvonne's full post on her blog.


Deb Pierce McCabe on "Invitation, Inclusion, and Sugar Pills"

Excerpt: "When I was a teenager I was part of a youth group that was all about inclusion and trust.  The group was unique in its cohesiveness and depth, so that even after 40 years many of us who were part of that group remember how significant it felt for us to learn to listen to each other, and how frustrating and lonely it felt, later on, in the “real” world without a core group of people we could rely on and trust.

"...In a recent conversation with two friends from this group, however, the phrase “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s ALL small stuff” came up, and one of them had the idea that this phrase was something we had learned in that group..."

Click here to read Deb's guest post.


Swaneagle on "Attending a Lovely Memorial Yesterday Was An Invitation to Grieve"

Excerpt: "...the spirit of Nina's diverse concerns with justice as well her musical inspirations were captured uniquely and very powerfully. It was all concluded in the Memorial Garden where we talked with each other before many ended up eating and socializing celebrating Nina's life at the home she shared with her husband Bob for so many decades.

"...Oh i am so grateful i was able to spend time with her. She was genuinely deeply devoted to human rights. The stories she told me were profoundly inspiring...I could talk to her about anything to do with human rights. It was a very precious relationship for me and i shed tears as i write because it has been such a lonely path to care as intensely as i do for those, especially women and children, who suffer the most under policies of ecocide, feminicide and genocide."

Click here to read Swaneagle's guest post.


Sherene Zolno on "Invitation to mentor (and be mentored)"

Excerpt: "Only a recent conversation led to my realizing that someone might not even be conscious of their need for coaching or mentoring, yet still very much need an invitation to it.

"My grief at 14 concerned feeling an outcast from my peers, my shame of our poor and overcrowded living situation, and embarrassment at the violent outbursts of parental and sibling anger that occurred when a friend was visiting."

Click here to read Sherene's guest post.


Thanks for being with us today exploring the topic of invitation. All our guest contributors came to us through a call we put out via our Grief + Creativity Sparks eZine. We will do more of these collaborative community posts on other topics in the future. In fact, when the zine went out to share this post, we included another call for a future collaboration on the topic of heARTmaking. If you are already subscribed to that zine, you'll find it in your inbox. If you aren't a subscriber, don't miss the next one. Click here to subscribe.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Stillness and motion in grief experiences...

What metaphors out in the natural world do you find speak to your grief experiences?

Coming out of the grocery one day, this bird just seemed to sit still on the wire, on display for me. He stayed put while I stared, while the thought came to take a photo, while I dug out my phone and opened my camera app, while I focused and all the way through snapping several shots. And in equal quiet and grace, he leapt and opened his wings flying off. He made me acutely aware that in my own grief experience, I often have trouble being still and an equal amount of difficulty transitioning to movement. Even transitioning in and out of meditation each day, I'm clumsy and often uncomfortable and question why I keep practicing.

So I pondered for a bit standing in the parking lot. And as I tuned in, I saw other birds. Ones making a mess splashing water all about as they bathed in a puddle left over from the previous day's rain. A couple squawking at each other. Others flying, landing, and flying again. A little one rather awkwardly getting the hang of this "being out of the nest" thing. Made me ponder how awkwardly we humans can also be as we move into or away from our grief experiences. Sometimes the broken heart seems too jagged to touch, and yet other times we lean into the broken open spaces and nestle there. It's a process, not a product...a practice, not a perfect. Even when the moments of grace appear as perfections, it is helpful to be reminded that no one and nothing is perfection, end all be all, perfection. We all stumble and squawk and splash around.

In the end, I came home and starting with the image of the bird as one layer, I played around with digital collage until I ended up with the piece you see here. In my mind, I held the thought of the natural world as a metaphor for our grief experiences. The splashes, the colors, the black that streaks across everything sometimes, the counting of things (number of days since you died and the like), the attempts to re-order our lives (the backwards library card there). And, well, what you see in the image here is what surfaced.

Got any stories to share about how the natural world has provided metaphors for you in your grief experiences? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments here <3

From my radical grandmas heart to your heart,