Monday, January 2, 2012

Opening another door. Helen Keller's simple message

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." -Helen Keller, 1880-1968.

Sometimes it is the simplest of thoughts that have the most power to pull us forward, to carry us out of sadness and depression and the most power to motivate us to embrace the world we have, not the one we've lost. Looking back five years to the year of my deepest grief when I became 60 and single, I now see how beautifully in tune I was with the world around me. Every flower, every shadow, every loving look from my Black Labrador dog, every meeting with a friend meant something and presented an opportunity to be loved and more importantly to love. Every quiet evening alone offered opportunity to think about where I was in the world and where I wanted to go.
Being lonely as it one time to ponder profound truths, embrace your most creative self and to give love in the moment to all whom you encounter...including yourself.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to reconsider the universe and our place in it. Each new year offers an opportunity to learn something new, broaden our experience, express ourselves and to find satisfaction in the relationships with family, friends and work colleagues.
Becoming 60 and single opened my heart to a new life with new experiences, new relationships and provided a profound way to help other women in my age group cope with the challenges of modern American life. More than anything, I've learned that those who embrace the moment are most likely to see the door opening that Helen Keller speaks about. We walk through this door with a full heart...a heart filled with both sadness at our losses but also with hope. And hope, as my older son reminds me, will always beat hate.
The letter
Early in 2011, a woman contacted me by e-mail after reading my posts at She was (and still is) in the midst of the painful break-up of her long-time marriage and was shocked by how much it hurt, how devastated she felt. I recently checked in with her to find out how things are going.
Below is part of her response:
"I am not really all over the place but it is weird to be so immersed in my feelings. It seems as if I was so stuck before in the marriage that I am so raw in the world. Everything is new and so often it feels like I’m not ‘good’ at anything, when I used to be excellent at so much. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the work of BrenĂ© Brown, but I’m working on accepting the gifts of imperfection and cultivating vulnerability.
I used your email (query) as a opportunity to pause and consider where and how I am now.
Thank you for asking. You have occasionally floated through my mind over the past months like a guiding star. A bit ago I had breakfast with a couple of gals that I hadn’t seen in some time, one of whom has been divorced for some time and in her mid 50’s. She is only now starting to see the possibility of her worth, of maybe there being a future of love with someone."
--- And, "I am almost divorced, it seems like we have almost reached a settlement, though now there is some debate over the values of retirements, as if he hasn’t been earning more than me from the beginning. It is so hard not to take personal these sorts of debates and having to continually provide proof and stand up for the black and white objective truth. It is just draining and also maybe this impacts the struggle to feel worthy in the fight with someone who I loved for so long."
---- "I have been so surprised to realize that I can imagine a future with someone else, that I hold that as a possibility and a desired one. I don’t know where my life will go, but I know that I want that even though I struggle to feel worthy of that. I have a place of pain and shame perhaps from being rejected, yet I don’t believe it owns all of me." Thank you for thinking of me.
Take care, Carol (not her real name).
Making the most of ourselves
In her ten guideposts, Brene Brown, author of "The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who We Think We Should Be and Embracing Who We Are" (Hazelden, 2010) explores "how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough," and to go to bed at night thinking, "Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging."
Here at, our goal is to change the way women think about retirement and give women information and tools for managing their financial lives and their retirement on their own. I also spend time commenting on singleness, how it feels and why we must embrace life in the moment with courage, emotion and enthusiasm.
I've discovered that retirement for most women is not about sitting on a beach with a good book. It's about coping with loss, dealing with change on all fronts, wrestling with financial issues, managing new relationships and trying to help the people closest to us by giving love and sharing wisdom. As the New Year begins here are a few good quotes to get us on our way.
Quotes for the new year:
- "Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are," Brene Brown, in "The Gifts of Imperfection."
- "It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not. -- James Gordon
- "You have to get to the point where going for it is more important than winning or losing," -- Arthur Ashe
- "The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are," -- J. Pierpont Morgan
- "When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another." – Helen Keller.
- "If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it." – Erma Bombeck.
- "I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back." – Maya Angelou.
"The most effective way to do it, is to do it." - Amelia Earhart.
"If you don’t like being a doormat then get off the floor." – Al Anon.
- "Anything you want to ask a teacher, ask yourself, and wait for the answer in silence." – Byron Katie.
- "It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on Earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had." - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
- "When you forgive, you heal your own anger and hurt and are able to let love lead again. It’s like spring cleaning for your heart." – Marci Shimoff.
- "Forget about the fast lane. If you really want to fly, just harness your power to your passion." -- Oprah Winfrey.
- "Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience." - Sonia Choquette.
- "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." -- Maya Angelou.
- "I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains." -- Anne Frank.
- "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming….. WOO HOO…. What a RIDE!”
Happy New Year,

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