Friday, April 24, 2009

Room for Change: Lighting The Way

Walking a new path may bring with it hesitation and trepidation of the unknown or excitement and illumination in the possibilities on the horizon. Grief often presents us with both , forming a path that appears to widen and be bright then narrow and dim with possibilities.

Darkness cannot exist in the presence of  light.  Physical light can "lighten" our spirits and energy. In grief there may be even more reasons to consider the sources of light you have surrounding you.

How can you let the light shine in your space to help you
move forward?

  • Slide aside.  Is it possible for you to change out the heavy drapes or curtains on your windows and replace them with sheers or an airy pleated shade that can still provide insulation for your windows?  Would you consider moving the sheers to the side in the morning to let more sunlight shine through and bring more sights of nature in?  Simply removing the screens from windows where they are not needed can brighten your room.   
  • Reflecting beauty.  Nothing is easier than a mirror to double the pleasure of something beautiful or bright.  Mirrors are inexpensive items to enhance the feeling of space as well as the feeling of lightness.  Use mirrors to reflect something beautiful like the outdoors , a chandelier or your face upon entry into the home. Mirrors are effective in moving energy as well according to the study of feng shui.  Moreover, mirrors just feel good. Just keep them clean!                                                                                                                                                   
  • Shine on through. Glass table tops on coffee tables or side tables will also reflect interior lighting  that you may have close by or light from outside. Glass also creates a feeling of greater space .  Add to a tabletop serving dishes of crystal or colored glass.  Grab a recycled jar and fill it with marbles, stones or sand.  Add a votive candle to it and another source of brightness can fill your room.  Using the same idea with coffee beans in the kitchen is practical and easy as well.  When the candle warms up , so do the beans!                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Triangle pose.  The tripod is a steady and firm foundation.  When lighting your room think of the triangle as well.  Try to incorporate at least three sources of light in your room.  These sources could be floor lamps, table top lamps, overhead lighting, accent lamps or low voltage ambient lighting.  Using a floor lamp with a full spectrum bulb is an extra bonus as you can get the health benefits of  sunshine while indoors. Placing the sources into a "triangle" in the room helps to eliminate unwanted dark areas of the room.                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Great timing.  Consider timers for many of the lights you use regularly.  In the winter it is especially comforting to have the way lit ahead of time. Using energy saving bulbs is helpful as well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Bright ideas.  If others are asking how they may help consider the following.  Ask them to wash a few of your windows inside and out, especially the ones you use the most.  Suggest to them some of your favorite scented candles and maybe they could purchase you one or two. The newer soy candles on the market are a healthy alternative to your space.  If you like the idea of candles but are concerned with the flame, suggest to them the battery powered candles that flicker and cast a warm glow.
Let that light shine!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Room for Change: One Step at a Time Through Grief

Often in daily life we tend to get ahead of ourselves with the "to do" list or "should" list or "what if" list that may accompany our decisions. In and through grief these lists often magnify and may appear never to shrink. Remember your uniqueness , your innate creativity and your ultimate need to traverse this new uncharted time the way it feels best for you.
I started writing with inspiration from a group of unique and beautiful people attending a bereavement group sponsored by High Peaks Hospice. They inspired me with their stories of perseverance. In my exuberance to share "Room for Change" ideas with others, I neglected to preface this blog's intention: Creating change in your home by re-arranging items and thereby changing outlook.

Change in grief may be the last thing you want to do. Perhaps you did not want it and you may have not asked for it, but it is here. Your home with all its memories, its textures, its quirkiness and its aromas may seem like the only essence you have left of your loved one. Navigating through your home may feel daunting. Ask yourself the following questions.
  • What is the hardest part of being in the house?
  • When is the hardest time?
  • What brings you comfort? Anything at all?
  • Where do you tend to spend most of your time when you are home?
  • Why there? Does it feel secure? Feel warm? Is it place you always land?
  • Is this comfortable place a new place recently created or a place you have always retreated to bring solace?
Previous blogs on "Room for Change" have addressed the bedroom, the bathroom and the front door and ways in which small changes to the above can assist moving through grief. I will be exploring other areas of the home . What areas of your home can use a "tweaking" to help you take an additional step in moving forward and in healing? Please let me know so we can address them. Inspire yourself and replace the "have to " lists with the "want to " lists.
Blessings to you in each unique step.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Room For Change: Meditative Motion In Grief

Some people transition through the changes that grief presents them with daily routine.  
The rhythm of the routine helps to keep their momentum moving forward in this time of adaptation to many different events and activities in their lives.
Some people take greater moments in this time of grief to be quiet, still and reflective.  They may find personal introspection the insight they need to move forward.  
In our individual manners of traversing this new road, all ways and rhythms are good, fine and timely.
In our home environment simple additions to rooms or windows can assist participating in the rhythm of life, either passively, actively or both.
  • Get closer to nature.   Set a comfortable chair next to the window and watch the birds' flight to an outside bird feeder or birdbath.  The sweeping flights and their effortless dance can be soothing.    
  • Let the windows sparkle.  A crystal , separating morning sun into rainbows, will be an easy way to cast color and movement on your walls.  Other sun catchers of an object or inspiration are also beautiful and require no maintenance! 
  • Wind at work.  I have placed a group of butterflies dangling on a fishing line in front of my window and above the heat or cooling duct.  When the air starts to move, so do they in small rhythmic patterns of their own.  When the windows are open they twist and turn to nature's own pattern. 
  • Water within.  Fish tanks or water fountains in the home are always ways to bring movement and a rhythmic sense to the moment.   Fish have been considered lucky to many cultures and their movement meditative. They can require little care and bring a feeling of contentment and peace in watching.  The water fountain, placed either inside or outside the home, creates a soothing sound without a continual drone.  Each splish and splash is unique unto the other.  
  • Warm the hearth and heart.  A fire , whether "faux" or wood burning, can be mesmerizing and soothing as well.  There are some very inexpensive freestanding fireplaces or wood stoves that provide the aesthetics of a real fire and also cast heat to the room on demand. The flames with their unique patterns and lightness can also quiet our thoughts for a few seconds or minutes, bringing comfort visually or physically.
  • Your soothing touch.  You may have other ways to bring meditative motion into your home or outside of it. It may be seasonal or may be daily.  My hammock in the backyard, which may cradle me for only minutes on an occasional afternoon is meditative in its movement and requires nothing of me, but to rest.      What is yours?      


fish in tank                        
crystals in windows           
bird feeders
wind chimes

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Room For Change: Your Grand Entrance Through Grief

In grief sometimes people go into hiding and avoid social contact, while others have family and friends through the threshold constantly. Sprucing up the front door can say " yes world, come on in" or it can say " I'm needing private time now."

Your grand entrance into your home, may be the front door, may be the the side garage door or may be the hallway from the main foyer. In all circumstances your entry into it sets the stage for you and speaks to others whom may visit. This is spot where your individual creativity and special uniqueness may abound.

What small changes can you make to your front door to bring pleasure to you and give a hint to others of what you love?

  • Hang and herald a statement. This can be as simple as a welcome sign or a plaque with your name or nickname on it. It may be a wreath adorned with flowers or birds expressing your love of nature. Two years ago a mother bird found my wreath on the front door and made her nest. She also made her mess, but the cleanup was well worth it! If you do woodworking or have fabric art skills perhaps a piece of your artwork may be hung upon the door or adjacent to it. These items are easily changed from season to season and can cost very little.

  • Light the way. In the evening it is comforting to know upon your arrival home that a light is already on outside and inside your entrance. A motion sensor exterior light can provide exterior light as well as safety. A small lamp in your entry on a timer can bring a welcoming evening warmth. Exterior lights that flush the yard with ambient light are comforting as well. Inexpensive solar light styles abound and often require no wiring to cast that evening glow outside your door or pathway.

  • Make it noteworthy. There may be unexpected deliveries or visitors to your doorstep. Friends may send flowers or want to leave you a meal. Others may want to see you and know how they can help. You may be away or perhaps unable to talk at that moment. Leaving a notepad and pencil undercover by the door can facilitate logistics for you and others. It also provides another welcome form of communication other than phone or email.

  • Make your grand entrance with pride. Show them "your stuff ". Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Room for Change: Sleep or Slumber?

While traveling the walk of grief, the days and nights frequently meld into one.
At night it is hard to sleep, during the day it is hard to focus.  A good night's sleep is at a premium.  Allowing small changes to occur in your bedroom may help you to achieve the slumber that is paramount to your health.  Refreshing your physical space can help to transition your sleep time to restorative slumber.

The bedroom, often have served as a full service care center for many days, may linger with memories that keep one from moving forward.

What changes can you make to your bedroom to keep you moving forward?

  • Take a look at your bed. Is it possible to place it in a different position within your bedroom? Can you put it on an angle? Can you change out the headboard to another one in your home? Could you imagine downsizing your bed from a King to a Queen? Maybe the mattress is ready for an upgrade. Remember your mattress is one of those items you use every day. Make certain it gives you the support you need for the rest you need. This may be the perfect time to sleep on something new.
  • Buy yourself a new set of sheets. You may want to switch to some flannel sheets to keep you warmer. You may consider a bright pattern or your favorite color on a new set. Try switching out the bedspread to a comforter. If you have lost weight and are feeling colder at night a down comforter cuddles and cradles you may be in order. A silly stuffed animal or your own pet may be another welcome addition to the bed.
  • Set the stage for sleep. A simple vase or glass jar with a single fresh flower and a battery operated candle next to your bed along with an inspirational book can be helpful to settle in. It is comforting to gaze at something beautiful and awake to the same
  • Let the light in. Heavy curtains do not let the light in. Maybe sheers could replace them. Seeing nature and light is powerful in healing your body and mind. A birdfeeder placed outside your window allows one to glimpse the simplest of pleasures and motion.
  • Follow the fragrance. Lavender essential oil in a diffuser , lavender scented candles or dried lavender bedside can sweetly assists slumber.
  • Put your worries down. Place a notepad and pencil bedside for those nightime inspirations or worries and cast them aside while you sleep.
  • Sweet Dreams!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Room for Change:Reflections on the Bathroom Mirror

Having experienced grief with the loss of my spouse at age 49 years old, I happened upon small changes that moved me forward.  Not knowing what changes were worth the effort was exhausting, all I knew was that change was here .  Pursuing redesign  as a career, which involved relocation of objects, furniture and  color consulting, helped me to change my outlook and find hope in change.

Each day we rise, often before the sun itself, and the first place we frequent is the bathroom. It is surely one of the most personal and private spaces in our home. We look at ourselves in the mirror, reflecting upon our physical image as well as our reflections for the upcoming day. If we have cared for our loved one at home, the bathroom may house remnants of caretaking along with  many personal items of our loved one.
What changes might one do to brighten this room?
  • Remove the toiletries, medical supplies and/or assistive devices of your loved one. 
  • Donate any unused medication to an organization such as "Doctors Without Borders" or a local hospice organization.  Pharmacies will readily dispose of medication for you  and it is safer for the environment than putting it down the drain .
  • Many churches or charities are grateful for donations of assistive devices and will come to collect them.  If it is difficult for you to do, ask a friend. Friends are always looking for a "job" that is truly needed and appreciated.
  • Bandages, IV supplies, etc. placed into ziplock bags can also be dropped off to nursing homes, or community action organizations.  It can be comforting to know someone else is going to benefit from your donation.
  • Place a small flower or plant by your sink and mirror.  Seeing their growth and natural beauty is uplifting as you pass by or brush your teeth. 
  • Add a new and comforting fragrance to your bathroom to pleasantly greet you. 
  • A silly picture of you and your loved one taped to the mirror may help you find a smile and bring gratitude for all that was and is!
  • A new set of towels in your favorite color is a great morning greeting or splurge on a new soft luxurious towel.  It need to be only one.  
  • Last but not least, shine the mirror to see the beauty in you! 

Friday, April 3, 2009


There have been many promises I have made to myself and to others that I have not fulfilled.
It is with great regret that I often look back and criticize myself or try to make others the scapegoat of my unwillingness to fulfill those promises.  The sadness lingers and self doubt abounds.
God's promise for us is that He will always be with us. HIs promise for a life of eternal beauty and forgiveness rests in His gift of His son in our lives.  When we cannot believe in ourselves and blame each other for promises broken, it is comforting to remember how God in his goodness and forgiveness believes in us and receives us again and again when we fail and fall.
May we grant ourselves this comfort and be kind to ourselves and others. Promises made with love are the best we can do.
Love to you.  S

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Rhythms are everywhere..
 from the bass speakers of the young guy next to you in the jacked up car
 to the dishwasher humming away in the kitchen,
 from the fish tank gurgling in the corner of the room
 to your  own heartbeat  when you are silent.
I become frazzled with an out of sync rhythm when I do not listen to my body  for the  balance in my life that creates such a comforting feeling and ease.
When you feel yourself pushing too hard forward, pause a minute, see where the rhythm takes you, and get into step again. It may place you in that sweet spot. Remind yourself that there is a push and a pull and it all makes up the rhythm. We need not stay out of step for long.
Blessings to you