maribeth wilder doerr

Shades of Healing ~ Creating a Wholehearted Life

Gratitude Month 2011 – Week 1

It is November already and that means it’s gratitude month. For the last two years, I’ve publicly announced a daily gratitude during November. To be honest, I really really don’t want to do it this year. My plate is full, and I’m emotionally spent; adding one more thing to my day just doesn’t appeal to me. And that’s why I know it’s even more important that I do it.
Here goes . . .

November 1, 2011 – My Support Team

I absolutely have to start my gratitude with my support team. My mom died July 30 and we’ve moved my 87 year old dad in with us. He has some dementia and was born with a grumpy egocentric attitude that hasn’t mellowed with age. My life has changed dramatically in the last three months, and I would not be doing as well as I am (and trust me, I still have moments of utter darkness) without my support team.

At the top of the list is my husband who is the one who suggested my dad move in with us. He helps as much as he can, he listens to me when I need a shoulder, and he holds me when I think I can’t go on. My sons are also incredibly helpful whether it’s helping out with Dad or making dinner – or especially making me laugh. The four of us were a very tight family when Dad moved in and we’re taking good care of each other through this experience. I wish everyone could have three such men in their lives!

I need to add my brother-in-law to the list because he’s the one who listens to my husband when he needs to vent!

My Halos711 soul family and Inner Child soul family have also all been there for me, without judgment, and with so much love. Wow!! I love you all!

For those of you who have called, sent cards, notes, and emails – thank you! It helps to know I’m not alone.

It’s such a gift to know that when I need something (or someone), I just have to ask. It’s such a gift and a blessing to have a support team. I know that I’ll get through these challenging experiences because I have you all there to help and cheer me on. THANK YOU ALL!

What are you grateful for today and this month? ♥

November 2, 2011 – A Roof Over My Head

Not speaking for anyone here but myself, I have a tendency to take some things for granted such as having a safe and warm place to live. For anyone who lives in Reno (or any other place hit hard by the economy), a short drive around town will show you how many people don’t have a safe place to call home. For today, I vow to think about all those things, big and small, that I take for granted and having a roof over my head is a big one. I don’t have a fancy schmancy, spotless house, but I have a place to hang my hat that keeps us safe, warm and is filled with a lot of love. That is much to be thankful for!

Hope your November gratitude list is filled to the brim already! Mine is. ♥

November 3, 2011 – Police and Hospital Support

On Wednesday, November 2, my dad left to go to the grocery store at 3:30pm and never came home. Two hours later, I was getting frantic and by 7:30, when my family had gone everywhere Dad would normally go, we called the police and the hospitals. By 11:00pm, we filed a missing person’s report with an officer who was beyond kind and took us seriously. It was a LONG night. Early in the morning, a woman from Reno PD called and got all the information needed to put a flyer together for the news media. She gave me her private number. I called the hospitals again, and one hospital was over-the-top fabulous, encouraging me to call every hour until he was found while another hospital hung up on me.

The lady from Reno PD kept in touch (and I hate that I don’t remember her name) and finally, she called closed to 1pm saying he’d been found by the California Highway Patrol nearly 100 miles away. She was beyond kind, giving me the information needed. My husband called the contact with CHP and he was beyond kind. My dad had crashed his truck and rolled it down a 50′ ravine into a creek and was semi-conscious. Once the had him extracted from the truck and out of the ravine, CHP called again to tell us Dad was being careflighted to the trauma center in Reno. Reno PD also called to tell us.

As soon as the helicopter landed at the hospital, a social worker from the hospital called and everyone there has been fabulous. This kindness and going the extra mile for us has made a very frightening experience bearable. I am so very grateful for all of them and of course, to God as well because it’s a miracle Dad was even found in the remote location he was in – and with no broken bones or serious injuries! He has hypothermia from being in the truck overnight in freezing temperatures and water (core temperature was 84 upon arriving at the hospital).

Thank you Reno PD, California Highway Patrol, Nevada Highway Patrol and Renown Medical Center for being so incredible at your jobs!

November 4, 2011 ~ My Sons, the Chefs

I’ve spent a very long very difficult day at the hospital with my dad. My husband and I are spent. We just came home and my sons have cooked dinner for us. Shopped (paid for it themselves) and cooked! What a gift! Yes, the kitchen is wrecked but I could use the clean up time to decompress. I have the best sons in the world! Thank you Eric and Chad!

November 5, 2011 ~ Nurses at Renown Medical Center

Today was another difficult day at the hospital. The nurses taking care of my dad, both RNs and CNAs, are incredible. He is nasty to them and very difficult to take care of and they handle him with dignity. They take the time to answer my questions, reassure me that I’m doing the right thing (even when I got upset with dad), and I just rest easy when I’m not there that Dad is in good hands. They take a huge load off my mind and that is absolutely something to be grateful for right now.

November 6, 2011 ~ Fresh Air

This might sound like a nutty one but I feel half nuts at the moment. 🙂 After being stuck in a hospital most of the day, it’s a joy to go outside and breathe in the fresh crispy Fall air. It smells good, it feels good, and after a long stressful day, it felt wonderful to experience this change in perspective. Thank you Mother Nature for this gift.

November 7, 2011 ~ Dogs Who Know

Today, I came home from the hospital absolutely spent. I crawled into my bed with all my clothes on and started to sob. Within a minute or two, my 21 month old German Shepherd jumped up on the bed and laid against me – spine to spine. He let out a great big sigh that made me giggle. He knew I needed comfort and he was there, giving it in the best way he knew how. All we really need when things get challenging is to know that we are loved and he reminded me. He didn’t fix anything, but he helped me shift my perspective and that’s how we keep putting one foot in front of the other through these challenges. Thank you Rolf! ♥

First Week of Gratitude Month Recap

What a week – certainly one I didn’t expect. I’m very grateful for all of your prayers and well-wishes. My dad has a long tough road ahead and I don’t know how this will turn out, but I am very grateful that I don’t have to walk it alone. Thank you all so much!


Mind-blowing Contrast

According to Wikipedia, “The Holmes and Rahe stress scale is a list of 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness.” In the last year, my husband and I have racked up quite a score. It’s almost frightening to think about – ALMOST. It’s true that the last year has been a wild ride, but it’s also been a most precious year in some ways. Through this turbulence, my husband and I have become much closer and our little family of four is closer as a result. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. In fact, I would have said on July 29 that I was as happy as I’d ever been despite the serious financial stress we’re under. I was absolutely confident that that situation would be resolved and resolved soon; I was content in a way I hadn’t ever been before.

On July 30 I was sitting on the couch working through a lesson in Andrea Schroeder’s Creative Journal Magic course (BTW, I HIGHLY recommend this course!). I had broken through a big block and was really rocking the class. I was getting to know myself and loving the possibilities before me. All that was shattered with the news that my mom had died. Within minutes, I had to call people, make snap decisions, plan a funeral, make decisions for my dad who has early dementia and unable to do any of the things people do when there’s a death . . . including moving him into my home while emptying out his and disposing of my mother’s things. I now have the responsibility for an 87 year old man with early dementia; it’s like having a spoiled preschooler with ADHD and my life has changed so drastically, I almost don’t recognize it. I’m trying to figure out a work schedule and coming up short. I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” girl and my dad has had the same rigid schedule for years that my mom catered to. At 87, changing that schedule causes tantrums. It’s a lot harder to cope with your elderly parent’s tantrums than it is your toddler’s! This role reversal has thrown me for a loop and yet I often feel like that little girl with knots in her stomach because Daddy isn’t happy.

Is this the worst thing that’s ever happened to me? No . . . but it’s certainly thrown a monkey wrench into that delicious peace and contentment I was feeling on the morning of July 30. The contrast is seriously mind blowing.

My emotions have been all over the place today and that really is typical of the grief experience (as well as a woman in perimenopause!). I’m experienced enough with this process to know that the best thing to do is roll with it, acknowledge the feelings at the time and let them go. I’m so much better at “letting go and letting God” now than I was as a younger adult, and this is such a blessing. There can be joy in these challenges if we open up to the possibilities. This is when my gratitude journal keeps me grounded and reminds me that this new tsunami is temporary and doesn’t define me or my life (even though it feels like it quite often!).

Today’s gratitude journal entry will be about Eric (my 24 year old son) trying to recreate a fabulous grilled cheese sandwich that he purchased from some kind of food truck over the weekend. As the smoke was billowing through my kitchen, we laughed ourselves silly and I thanked God for the gift of this child in my life. There is ALWAYS a blessing if you just look for it. ♥


Happy birthday to me and thank you to you!

Here’s a sappy but heartfelt video celebrating my birthday. My German shepherd is the best part of it 🙂

[vimeo w=500&h=375]

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Gratitude Month – Day 30 – Brotherly Love

Mark, Mari, Michael

Today is my brother Michael’s birthday.  He died four years ago, and I still miss him so very much.

Michael was 11 1/2 years older than me, and for a good chunk of my life, he was a surrogate parent.  When he was sent to Vietnam, he told people he was going to make sure his little sister didn’t grow up in a communism country.  A lovely, if idealistic, sentiment.

As I got older, he was my buddy and I felt as though he was really the only one in the world that accepted me just as I am.  I’m so grateful I had someone in my life like that, especially during my teen years.

I miss having someone tell me that he’s always there even if he doesn’t call often, that I’m always in his thoughts, that we didn’t HAVE to say the words because the love and emotion was always, always there.

…I miss you Bro! I miss your laugh, and I miss the way you’d change around words accidentally (remember Casey Steach instead of Stacy Keach?).  I seem to have inherited this strange phenomenon from you!   I miss the crazy Thanksgivings we had together, staying up late working 3D puzzles and listening to Sean regale us with idiotic 7/11 stories that had us in stitches and tears.  I miss the shopping trips where we talked about everything and anything.  When I get lost driving somewhere, I can hear your wild laughter since neither of us could navigate our way out of a tea cup.  We were always taking the scenic tour!  I miss you but I’m so very grateful you were in my life for 48 years.

PS – the above picture is me with my brothers.  Both have passed on.  I love this picture because we were young and silly – and frankly, my brothers were both so hammered that I was holding them up 🙂  Check out those “stashes” and that pepsi bottle!  Hello 1985!

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Gratitude Month – Day 29 – Family Dinners

I know—this topic seems so cliché, but I’m going for it anyway.  Over the years, we’ve tried our best to have as many evening meals together as possible.  As athletes, this can be difficult to do when many games and events take place after school hours.  As high school athletes, it was even harder.  My boys are now 21 and 23 and still living at home but their schedules are even crazier.  And yet, we still manage to eat together 3 or 4 nights a week.

For us, mealtime is when we come together for conversation.  We say grace, we eat, and we talk.  Our manners would probably disgust a lot of people; I won’t lie!  The point is, everyone talks and we find out what’s going on with each other.  We might talk about the news or the weather, frequently it’s about sports.  We connect, we relate, we laugh, and we share our busy lives with each other.   Sometimes we solve problems or at least get them out in the open, and there have been a few debates between the two Type A personalities.  🙂

I’m grateful that my sons still enjoy sitting down with their parents and sharing a meal and some conversation.  We all really do like each other!  What a gift!

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Gratitude Month – Day 28 –Say What?

At 51, I am losing my hearing.  I have some nerve deafness in both ears, which can’t be fixed and will continue to deteriorate.  I also have constant tinnitus in both ears (and sometimes my ears play two different discordant tunes—UGH!).  I’ve even woken up in the night from the noise in my ears.

Before my situation gets worse and I throw another pity party, I want to express wholeheartedly how grateful I am that I’ve had “good enough” hearing most of life.  I heard my boys’ first cries and first giggles.  I’ve heard my husband’s beautiful voice say, “I love you, and I do.”  I’ve heard ocean waves and breezes blowing through my backyard trees.

Music – I’ve been able to experience the pleasure of playing instruments and participating with musical groups.  Simply listening to music is a divine gift.  It touches my soul in incredible ways, and I’m grateful for each and every experience.

Before tinnitus entered my life, I heard silence—pure beautiful silence.

When my oldest son laughs, he sounds exactly like my brother Mark who died in 1999.  It makes me smile, and it’s such a gift!

All the things we hear that we take for granted . . . I’m remembering them today with gratitude.  Take a minute with me and thank those ears.  They provide an amazing service for us!

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Gratitude Month – Day 27 – Working at Home

I had planned on being a career woman (if I ever figured out what my career should be), but that changed when I finally brought my first healthy baby home from the hospital after a NICU stay plus losing my first four babies.  How could I ever leave this precious little baby with a stranger?

It was vital for my mental health to spend that first year at home with Eric.  I was a nervous mommy with a hypersensitive baby who would scream for hours at the slightest irritation.  With that unexpected NICU stay, we missed out on that precious recovery room bonding.  We needed time to be together and learn how to be a mommy/baby team; it certainly didn’t come naturally to me.  I needed to trust that Eric was here to stay because I was so sure we were going to lose him too.  Staying home with him enabled us to learn and grow together, for me to gain confidence, and for us to fall in love—and it definitely happened!

By the time Eric was a year old, I had started Pen-Parents (for bereaved parents) and I was pregnant again.  This pregnancy was more complicated, I lost one of the twins and I was on bedrest for most of the pregnancy.   Eric was 19 months when Chad came into our lives and with two under two and a non-profit organization to manage, I didn’t have the time or the desire to work outside the home.  Luckily, I didn’t have to at that time.  I was able to be with my little men and see every one of their milestones.

As the boys got older, I was thankful I had Pen-Parents to manage.  It gave my brain a challenge, and I knew in my heart that the boys were on loan to me.  Someday they’d grow up, and I didn’t want to be like my mom and mother-in-law who had absolutely nothing to do once their kids left the nest.  I needed something to call my own whether it was a career or a pet project.  I was a volunteer at the boys’ school but that’s still something that revolved around them, rather than me.

As our finances changed, it became necessary for me to find paid work rather than my volunteer work for Pen-Parents.  Luckily, I was hired by Prodigy to write a Grief, Loss and Recovery webpage which lead to a job as their medical support bb leader and the health bb leader.  This lead to other online jobs and finally to going off on my own as Prodigy Classic followed by Prodigy Internet closed.

I am so grateful that when it was necessary for me to go back to work, I was able to do so from my home and work my schedule around my boys.  It takes discipline to be a work at home mom and I’ve never been particularly disciplined but somehow over the years, we’ve made it work.  I was always home when they got out of school and we ended up being the house that my boys and their friends congregated at.  Sometimes I was working into the wee hours of the morning because of the boys’ schedules.  But it balanced out and honestly, I’m better suited to a different schedule everyday than an 8-5 Monday through Friday kind of thing.  I know my path wouldn’t suit a lot of women, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed – a stimulus for my brain, something to call my own, and still be at home with my boys.

The way I “fell” into the Prodigy job which led to this and that and then starting StorkNet still surprises and delights me.   I’m so grateful to Prodigy and to Nancy Eggleston for recommending me.

Here’s to work-at-home moms!  It’s an adventure but for me, it has been a privilege, and I’m so grateful!

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Gratitude Month – Day 26 –The Love More Project

Over the summer, I was looking through the shows on Blog Talk Radio and found one on eating intuitively.  I clicked it on and was so impressed with honesty of the hosts.  When the show was over, I looked at the host information and discovered The Love More Project.  This simple discovery was Angel-sent . . .

Several years ago when I was the director for Pen-Parents (a support network for bereaved parents), it was common for members to send me gifts of angel statues, ornaments and books.  I started reading a lot about angels and was fascinated with books by Joan Wester Anderson and Terry Lynn Taylor.  When I moved on from Pen-Parents, the angel gifts stopped and as I got busy as a work at home mom and StorkNet, I moved away from the fascination with angels.

I’m certain now that my angels have been trying to get my attention for years, and it was their guidance that brought me to that radio show on a hot summer morning when I was procrastinating something I needed to do.  That show wasn’t even about angels although the hosts—Megan Gala and Gabe Hanson—certainly mentioned angels.    When the show was over, I noticed that it was produced by The Love More Project and that they hosted several shows throughout the week.  I had to know more.

The Love More Project was founded by Megan Gala who is an Angel Therapy Practitioner® certified by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.   The Love More Project radio channel on Blog Talk Radio is just one aspect of The Love More Project.  Check out their website and read their monthly magazine.  They have a page on Facebook, and other offerings.  It’s all truly beautiful, and wouldn’t you agree the world needs more love?  LMP is working on just that by helping us love ourselves more so we can spread that love around.

The early morning show Monday through Friday is called Angel Awakenings, and we are blessed for 30 minutes with Tana Newberry.  My husband calls her the Angel Lady and if I oversleep, he brings me my laptop so we can listen to her show.  We’ve gotten into the habit of dedicating our day together as Tana instructs her listeners and the end of the show.  It’s amazing what a difference dedicating your day makes, and it’s become something special and even intimate for my husband and me. ♥

At 11am, Megan hosts a variety of shows, (currently The Healing Perspective with Sunita Newberry, Everyday Wisdom, Updates from the Realms and The Angel Hour with co-host Tana Newberry).  I have learned so much from these shows and I’m so grateful to be back in the warm embrace of my angels, this time with my husband sharing that embrace.  I could go on and on about what a difference this has made in my life!

And I have to give a big shout out to the LMP radio channel chatters.  It is THE best chat room on Blog Talk Radio with warm, compassionate, funny and amazing listeners.  There is truly nothing like it on the internet!

Thank you Megan, Tana, all the other LMP radio channel co-hosts, and the amazing chat room chatters.  Your love and compassion is making the world a kinder, gentler place. ♥

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Gratitude Month – Day 25 – Thanksgiving

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  Food and family—what’s better than that?  It can also be a pain in the ass with all that cooking, cleaning, being nice, being chatty, shopping, blah blah blah.  Mostly, it’s a lovely tradition in which we sit at the dining room table for the first time in a year with family and a delicious meal.

This year was no exception.  The eight of us laughed as much as we ate and remembered why we love and even like each other.  We expressed our gratitude for each other and the delicious meal (if I do say so myself since I cooked it).

I love traditions, and I love changing it up and doing something different.  As long as I’m with my family, the way we celebrate is not important.  My sons are 21 and 23—who knows how many more Thanksgivings they’ll be with their parents before going off to do their own thing.  My own parents are 82 and 86, and again, who knows how many more Thanksgivings we’ll have with them.  So we enjoyed the day without thinking about the future, without worrying about when my husband will get work . . . we were grateful for being together and that joyful laughter we shared.  Priceless!

Living in the moment . . . it’s the unrealized gift of Thanksgiving!

And thanks Mom for saying I make the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten.  ♥

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Gratitude Month – Day 24 – They Call Me the Rolfster

Rolf Augustus von Doerr

My husband and I are both dog lovers. For several years, we had the Homeward Bound crew with the old wise dog, the sassy cat, and the young whippersnapper dog.  In August 2009, we lost the last member of the crew, and we were petless for the first time in 19 years.  We had big plans for this time but none of them materialized, and we came to realize we’re meant to have animals around us; it’s a part of who we are.

I “put in an order” with our German shepherd who died 8 years ago, and asked her to send us a sweet shepherd who wasn’t high energy and who would be perfect for us.  Four months later, after being without a dog for eight months, Rolf came into our lives on May 2, 2010.  He was nearly 15 weeks, and while we had wanted a female, Steffi sent us a male sable colored GSD.  As most shepherd puppies are, he has been quite the handful.  Chaos has reigned and now at 10 months—with a bit of teenage angst going on—I can say the whole family has settled in.

In looking back over the last nearly seven months, I can see the positive changes Rolf has brought to us.  We brought him home on May 2 so we had a beautiful Spring and Summer in which to work on housebreaking.  This meant I spent a lot of time outside with him.  I had truly forgotten how much I enjoy being in nature.  I was able to breathe in the fresh air and get some exercise throwing balls around the backyard and running through the sprinkler with Rolf.  What a gift he gave me, even though it took a few months to realize it.

My work schedule was seriously interrupted.  I had the morning duty with Rolf and my husband had the afternoon.  This meant I had to really crank during my afternoon work time in order to get everything done.  Most of the time, I didn’t get it all done because I was too tired from my morning duty with Rolf.  However, I learned how much time I waste in mundane tasks.  I discovered things that were just busy work and weren’t really contributing to my business—and cut them out!  I’ve become more efficient in the time I have available for work.  YES!

I also feel safe again when no one is home with me.  Being somewhat hearing impaired, I often don’t hear the doorbell or even the door opening.  No one is going to get into my house without Rolf’s knowledge which means I’ll definitely know!

However, the biggest reason I’m grateful for this puppy (and he is a PITA quite often!) is that my husband has fallen head over heels for this boy.   Greg has been without a contract for three months, trying to put some things together and the stress is awful for him.  Having Rolf has made him happier than he’s been in a year.  He gets up early to walk him, and he’s worked hard on obedience training.  They’ve forged a wonderful relationship, and it’s great to see them romping around, forgetting about everything but being in the moment.

Thank you Rolf (aka the Rolfster) for bringing light and love (and yes, chaos) into our lives.

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