Missing grandma, understanding loss

Sharing this blog from 6 years ago as I am clearing my draft folder.  I found it just in time for grandma’s birthday next week.  I had a few losses after grandma passed and thought it would push my missing her aside.  It didn’t.  It merely reminded me that her spirit must be with me all the time.  Here is my blog:

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“I cannot sleep.  I keep thinking of grandma and how quickly she passed.  There really was never a right time for her to go, I am sure of it.  Even though I am 34 years old, I seriously never once got friendly with an idea that eventually people we love will die.

I am sure someone will read this blog and think how immature I am on the subject.  It’s probably surprising to so many that I am a queen of creating and manifesting things in life and that I am so deeply shaken by this loss.  And, I am.  I am shocked, shaken, heart broken and forever changed.

We become prisoners of guilt, perhaps, way too fast to really be able to be face to face with a raw feeling underneath.  So long as we feel guilty, we truly don’t take any responsibility for that we are killing ourselves along with the person we just lost.

It took me days to figure out that I wasn’t willing to forgive myself for that I didn’t speak with grandma the day before she passed.  I learned a lesson long ago about how to forgive myself.  It worked then so I asked my husband to go find my note to him when I shared it.  And there it was, simply put: “my actions were completely correlate with the way the world occured to me….(I simply didn’t know that that was the last time I would ever get to speak with grandma, else I would get off my call and spend time with her)…why punish myself for that?”

And I did forgive myself for not knowing.  There truly isn’t anything new I would say to grandma at that time. I kept her really well updated throughout the years and often time it was all “too much information.”  Years ago when she was in New York, I made sure I shared how much I appreciated her and why and she was able to share her love with me.  So, there isn’t anything else I would say, or anything other than “I LOVE YOU” that I could repeat an infinite amount of times. And now that the guilt is gone, I truly am dealing only with a loss.

This isn’t anyone’s fault. This isn’t good or bad.  It just is.  I am facing the reality of life for what it is. I remind myself over and over again to be grateful for what I had.  I remember grandma.  I think of her all the time.  She is even more present now that I know that she is gone because I can see all of her in me.

There isn’t a better advice in life than the one we learn because someone did it not told it.  Grandma had grace that I only hope to achieve in my life time.  She was nice to people.  She got along well.  I cannot say that I am the same, but in honor of her, I want to be.

I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband who is my shining star in good and in bad.  I know grandma wanted me to have this kind of love in my life. She knows I believed it was possible and she, for sure, was helping me make it happen by believing in me every step of the way.  She never took off her wedding band, even 30 years after grandpa was gone. She loved, so much, so forgivingly.  Ah… There is nobody like her, and nothing can replace her.  I am blessed to have shared my lifetime with her.”

I love you grandma!!!!

 

Glamorized

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Here is what I shared on Instagram account last year right after I completed watching the 2nd season of The Crown:

The most disturbing thing about season 2 of the Crown was watching the queen and the way she, even as her Royal Highness, acts merely as a puppet in a man’s world.

“Female power involves women taking part in the conversation either in the public arena or the dinner table, and having the same emotional space in which to do so as men.  It means women not having to fear punishment of any kind.” ~ Marianne Williamson

I am not a historian so this post is not about monarchy, or a direct judgement of the queen, but rather a reflection of us women, and people in general, losing our own power. The “attachment” to an outcome is surely always going to cause us to compromise and tolerate things we would never tolerate otherwise.
While in the Crown this attachment to preserving the old ways and honoring the ancestors was completely exposed, I think that each of us constantly does this in our own lives. In wanting to belong, we often sacrifice what is possible.
I never wanted to change my last name (that was my father’s) even though it made so much more sense to go with my mother’s.  I was in agony for so many years growing up, so much so that I only finally broke through it when I got married.  Even then, I decided to wait for my citizenship to actually formally change it.  Feeling like I am “disobeying” was way stronger than my personal desire to break free.

I wonder if anyone sees the places where being faithful to the old ways is robbing them of opportunity to owning who they really are and can be.”

I remember taking so much interest in monarchy when I watched this show and following up with many documentaries about the queen herself, Lady Diana Spencer, Kate and William and so on.  The more I watched, the more I felt that being a royal was almost like a curse, one is born into this privilege but then is completely robbed of a normal experience of growing up – paparazzi follow your every step of the way and while I would personally love to have more audience, I can’t imagine that someone would fill tabloids with my every move.  Nor would I find it important – and it’s not just because I am not a celebrity but because certain things don’t need to be glorified.

There is something that has us get fascinated by the stories we see on TV and buy as real.  I am still blown away by the popularity of Kim Kardashian for example. While I actually admire her ruthlessness and probably great marketing skills, I can’t help but feel that her content literally has no value.

This is a bit how I felt after watching the royal wedding.  I got curious and wanted to see – I fell for the fairy tale and even thought of myself as jealous and less than.  In allowing all those feelings to come up, even writing about them, I realized: something here doesn’t add up.  Naturally, I won’t spend time trying to prove the point, as far as I am concerned, I really don’t care what happens, but what I do care about is that this fairy tale princess story feels a bit like a drug of choice. Mesmerized by what they see, the surface of it all, people all over America have been glued to their screens and social medias commenting and sharing their love for the royal couple, their view of the whole thing and alike.  In a process, I think many don’t realize, this smoke screen of happily ever after is just as dangerous as photoshopped models that have us create unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our bodies.

I am happily married:  I define it as being committed and in love with my husband and able to solve any problem with him in a conversation.  We haven’t gone to bed mad at each other for the entire time we’ve been married (and while we dated).  We don’t agree on everything, we even have loud disagreements but we keep it real and we work on it and when it comes to it, we have space to work through whatever our limitations are so that when we come together, we can still be a team.

Duke and the Duchess of Sussex are surely in love, that shows and they are blessed to have found each other in this.  But let’s not compare ourselves to them.  Let’s not pretend that Meghan “lucked out” when she married Harry, because she is yet to prove that she can stomach all the restrictions that come with her role: the one she married into.

My concern with the messages I see all over social media is that we are creating a fake standard for what ordinary people, women, relationships should look and feel like.  There is nothing wrong to aspiring to marry well or into a royal family if that is what you truly desire, but let’s not pretend that anyone, regardless of their fame, has a better life just because they have status and money.  Granted, this is not true for people who are in a “survival” mode, but it is for everyone else who makes a decent living – because happiness, that’s not something money and fame can buy.

I think we often miss the blessings in our lives because we watch TV more than we mingle with real people.  It’s a form of escapism that I think doesn’t do us good on a long run because we have unrealistic expectations that cause us to feel bad about things that are actually good.  There is a fashion designer/youtuber who did an experiment with real people and had them pose like models in magazines.  Not one of those woman could actually physically make the pose they saw in the magazine.  Other words, we are attuning out eyes to visions that are not possible for us and then we use that to turn on ourselves.

How about we try being wise enough to detach from the buzz, appreciate what we have, and create what we really want.  Be better than you were yesterday and understand that happiness comes from you and the choices you make and the life you create and not from anything you see on social media or TV.

 

Royal Wedding – Access to my World

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I woke up this morning to take care of my younger son while my husband took our older to his theater class.  Of course, as soon as I was conscious, I wanted to watch the Royal Wedding.  I know opinions on this are mixed: majority of people will be glued to the screen and some will inevitably not care.  Wherever you are about it is right, I suppose.  Inevitably we all have a view on it and that’s just how it goes with royals, celebrities and people who seem to be the ones setting the trends for all the others.

I grew up in a small country and my mom was well known in my early years – all until I left to study in America at the age of 16.  Somehow being around artists, musicians, writers and other celebrities of my home land had me feel both entitled to mingle in those circles but also living in pretense that I don’t really want that kind of life.  Moving to USA where I was nobody was a rude awakening, I was no longer known as my mother’s daughter but an immigrant who worked hard for everything in life.  While I had a life of a privilege at home, in New York City all my special talents were nothing in comparison to all the talented people who lived here.  None the less, I can’t say I didn’t succeed, I got my Master Degree, studied numerous spiritual disciplines from yoga, mediation and Reiki and was in leadership training where  I was highly effective.  In fact, I felt like I was a front runner in most of what I did, so when I got married a little over 6 years ago, I was even courageous enough to start my own life coaching business.

People I knew for those 2 decades of living in the USA were amazed by my results and I am sure some of my friends from Montenegro.  After slowing down a tiny bit to birth and raise my two boys, I felt ready to scale my business feeling like I knew a thing or two about how to create your own happiness in life.  And then, on my 40th birthday my dad had a stroke at the age of 61.  I began to see how success and failure, happiness and loss were so intertwined that it was difficult to isolate which one of those experiences vibrates the strongest so that I can fully honor it and move through it.  Luckily for years of doing Vipassana’s 10 day silent meditation retreats I am able to move through the difficult parts of life, understanding that things always and continually change.  But this is where fear becomes stronger too because the more I have, the more it feels I have to lose.  I know all the moms out there can relate to this, as our fear drastically increases after we have children.

Why am I calling this blog a Royal Wedding?  Because ever since Kate Middleton, who shares my birth date, married her prince William and I married my husband Jason, I have been obsessing around what it must be like to be in her shoes, to be a royal. Of course, I was uncomfortable with my obsession, even envy, so I tried to set it aside, push it down and not worry about it.  I clearly remember in one of the moms’ groups how many moms were doing the same thing: looking at their kids age and comparing it with George and Charlotte.  Yet, when William and Kate had their third child, I realized, the similarities in our stories are no more and it was time to move on.  That is when Meghan Markle came along – a true American success story, the modern life fairy tale.  Here she was, someone who began to succeed in Hollywood, stands up for woman’s rights and is now marrying a prince.

For days, or even weeks, I tried to not think about it but I was truly uncomfortable, so much so, I even told my husband I wanted to explore my jealousy once and for all.  Watching numerous TV interviews and commentaries on the subject didn’t help either: words like: American, commoner, royal, princess, were all doing a number on me and I couldn’t quite let it simmer enough to see the wisdom that it could bring.  I truly believe that anything we feel, any strong emotion is here to tell us something and that the way to hear it is to be willing to explore it and be with it.  I don’t think people should act out of emotions, on contrary, but I do feel emotions are necessary and full of lessons we need to learn to move forward in life.

Everyone had an opinion about the royal wedding, I even saw titles where people go as far as predicting if this marriage would last or not, when the baby will be born, will Meghan be able to sustain the pressure, but also the boring aspects of the life she is about to embark on.  The more I saw, the more I realized that what we think we know and see and the life they really lead are not one and the same.  Biographies, even when they written in partnership with the person who is a subject are never objective and I believed Prince Harry when he said in an interview: “people think they know us, but they have no idea.” When I recently watched documentaries on Princess Diana, I was shocked that she didn’t seem more confident, outspoken and extrovert given the way people spoke of her.  And also, the scandals over the years with royal family were mind boggling to me drawing me more and more into the life of people I actually will never even know.IMG_6795

All that aside, my discomfort over the past few days in anticipation of the royal wedding was growing.  I couldn’t help but feel encouraged by a story of possibility: a young girl born in LA, already divorced and 36 is about to enter royal family.  Perhaps now all the issues that she deeply cares about will be that much closer to being resolved as she now has a platform, popularity and the means to attend to them.  How amazing that must be to get married not just for love but for the mission that you have in the world, I thought.  And then, the envy hit me again.  It hit me hard.  I discussed it with my husband too and tried to use my own coaching training to get to the bottom of it.  I will never forget a relative who once told me that jealousy was a low vibration feeling and I remember I instantly started pretending I wasn’t jealous.  My mother would call me on it, even make fun of me for it, but deep inside, this wasn’t a laughing matter to me – I actually felt the pain.  And then I realized:  the way out is through, let me let myself allow this.

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I turned on the Royal Wedding.  I so wanted to be there, to be a part of it, to be in Meghan’s shoes only to feel what it must be like to live a kind of life where you truly bust through limitations of the mind, the so-called “upper limits.”  I was hanging out with my younger one, both of us congested, with runny noses, watching the rerun.  Interesting phenomenon, the more I was letting myself be jealous and leaned into the pain I felt about it, the more I started grieving my own lost opportunities.  Suddenly, the finger that was pointing at the royal family, began to point at me and looking with eyes open wide at what I am doing with my life.  I felt  desperate at first: I am 40, I am happily married and love my husband and my 2 boys, what is it that I am still longing for?  I wanted the attention, the status, the privilege and the more I allowed myself to want it, the more my life looked like I can never get to it.

As Meghan walked down the aisle and the camera showed the picture of her mom crying, I felt the emotions of change, letting go to receive, growth, life.  Suddenly, I no longer witnessed royals and celebrities but people and then I didn’t see anyone at all, I saw myself and my desires to contribute, to be more and do more.  Instantly, I allowed myself to melt into that everything I see is my own creation and it had me feel deep in my bones that whatever people say or think about me – which often stopped me dead in my tracks – is really their own creation.  I was free.  I am free.  I can’t be 30 again, I can’t change who I am or the life I led so far, but I can make the most out of what is left.  After all, this is what I tell all of my clients and was brutally humbled into feeling it myself.

I could’ve waited to write this blog another day, spent time perfecting it, but I realized, it is when we wait that we experience life passing us by.  After watching a royal wedding today, I got reminded that we create our life and our own modern fairy tale every day and if there is something we can do to move through our emotions, to speak our minds, that we should not wait another second to do that.

To all of you who read messy blog, and regardless of how you feel about the royal wedding, what do you now want to do that you absolutely don’t want to put off?

Clean Slate

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Doesn’t it feel sometimes like life is coming at us at the speed of light?  So much information out there, so much to process, review, consider, choose from.  Which way should one go?

I constantly work on taking some time to myself to decide what matters and what I want to focus on because then I have to power to scan opportunities for what is in sync with what I said I wanted.  Not having done this work leaves me vulnerable to bombarding of information that happens all the time.  This isn’t wrong, we are all competing in this world for attention and a chance to have a voice about something, to leave an impact.  I just have it that it will only get louder so it is my job to create safe spaces where I can be with myself, access the divine within me and then act from there.

Often times people argue that we should just let ourselves be, go with the flow, respond to things in life as they come.  This is their right.  It doesn’t work for me though.  Just couple of weeks ago in a parenting class, I heard that one of the constructive ways to tell a child to STOP running is to tell them to USE their walking feet.  Or instead of telling them to STOP talking or being loud to USE their whispering voice.  It would probably take me decades to come up with these positive reinforcement strategies whereas people who’ve been educators for years learn them and use them and are effective with children because of it.

Expecting of myself to just go with a flow, be unprepared, not self reflect or plan ahead is actually a huge set up for failing in life and in addition, being hard on myself for reasons that are not even justified.

Everything in life, when studied, researched and explored can be simplified and broken down into distinctions, and not to rob us of freedom but to guide us through it with more clarity, wisdom and power.

I realize, as I am getting older, there are distinctions in everything people do and can be successful at, so why not stop, reset, re-evaulate what we really care about and then take on the things we really want with all of our being, learn the distinctions and practice until we master it?

There is nobody else coming! This is it! The time is now. What do you really want that is worth stepping back, learning about and giving your life to?

 

 

Judgements

adorable-beautiful-blur-573263I consider my culture to be one of the most judgmental in the world.  Coming to America at the age of 16 blew my mind – I realized, people didn’t tell you in your face how your shoes are uncool, you shouldn’t wear white socks or that you look chubby.  For the most part, everyone was minding their own business, in some ways probably hoping that their own inadequacies were not going the be exposed the same way they weren’t exposing other people’s.

Most people, me included, have fallen for an idea of “I am just telling you the truth” as a smoke screen for telling insulting stuff and being downright judgmental.  It is ok, I find, to tell someone who is asking you if the dress fits well on them to let them know that it does not, but I think it’s awful to walk up to someone and comment that their other dress looked a lot better on them than the one they are wearing.

I once criticized a student movie in my film class thinking I am pointing the obvious.  I will never forget my professor telling me:  “Marija, what do you really think?” and everybody laughing.  So many people were uncomfortable when I was releasing my judgements that this question cut through and gave sort of a comic relief.  I wished I could take it back or at least explain: this is how I was criticized all the time.

My body recorded all of these judgements and responded by slouching, looking down and feeling heaviness in my shoulders, shame in my heart.  I spent, oh God, so many hours undoing what has been done to me through transformation, reiki, sound healing, yoga, meditation, body talk, emotional healing, and alike.  Sometimes I wake up in a morning and I feel how high maintenance I am – I wonder why other people don’t take up so much space, self-analyze like I do and work so hard on staying present and in their power.  But then it’s obvious, those that don’t, live the kind of life I am not committed to living and the rest do the same thing I do, if not more.

A couple of decades ago, this generous man in Florida taught me this: “Live and let live!”  I will always remember this.  Coupled with my Landmark training where I officially had to give up gossiping and got crystal clear that everything I am complaining about is only hurting me, there is a strong sense of judgement is no good.

Boggles my mind how prominent this is in all cultures, not just my native one.  How come?  Why do people get so obsessive with their view of the world and how the fuck do they justify that their view is THE view?  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  What if we have to stop believing that someone else’s judgement of us is about us and not about them.  When we stop judging ourselves, all the mental chatter will clear.

 

 

Curiosity or Being Nosy

I would love to hear from you: what are the most offensive questions people ask you? What are the questions that people ask that leave you feeling annoyed? What are the questions that you have a ready answer for because you know people will interrogate?
I truly believe that how we react to others is about us not about them, but I wonder what is driving nosiness that is closeted as curiosity.  I wonder, because when asked the following questions, I don’t really have an experience that people are interested in me, but rather that they are going through the laundry list of questions that borderline offensive.
Did you lose/gain some weight?
Are you going to go for a girl?
How much money can you make with that?
Why is your husband (fill in the blank)?
Is your son….?
Are you still breastfeeding?
How long do you plan on breastfeeding?
When will your book come out?
How long have you been working on it/that?
The one about having a girl is my favorite. I am a happily married woman with 2 beautiful children (precisely what I wanted for myself) and while I wanted to have a girl, shortly after realizing I wasn’t having a girl, I closed that chapter.  I simply realized that no 2 kids are alike and that having 2 children is what I wanted, that gender preference, while I am sure many had it, is an unfair demand to have.  In fact, I think it’s perfect I am a mom of 2 boys because I have studied relationship and men for quite some time before getting married and in some ways, watching the world through my boys’ eyes is completing this research for me.  I am able to understand men in a way I couldn’t until I was able to picture that every one of the men I know was once a little boy.  That gave me perspective I never thought of.
To ask me if I will “chase a girl” as some would tell me is even rude because I just turned 40 and after my second pregnancy, I was recommended not to get pregnant again.  I didn’t have issues, but I could’ve and that was a scary thought.  To think that my ambition to have a girl could in any way jeopardize my health and leave my 2 already existing children without a mother is a narrow minded proposition at best.  Besides, I have friends who have little girls so when I want to play with one, I can, I don’t have to commit to raising her.
I am not sharing this because I am bitter, I am not.  In fact, I am committed to not being triggered by anything that people ask because when I am, I gave them my power.  But I wanted to share this experience to underline that asking a serious of stupid questions like this is not about intimacy or getting closer to someone but more like interrogation that I don’t think most of us appreciate.  You can be curious without being nosy.
Please share with me what are some of the questions people ask of you that sting you?  And please, share this post with a friend so I can hear from them too.
Love,
Marija

Looking at the Past

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I’ve met a lot of people who were repulsed by self-analysis of any kind and generally disliked looking back or rehashing the past as they would say.

Past is the past, it happened, we can’t change it, why bother…

Well, there is a big reason to look at the past.  In looking back, we get to re-examine if what we think happened is really what happened.  Sometimes merely looking back from the perspective of an adult, we can have a refreshing view on something that our parents did, for example. I remember when I did my first Landmark Forum in 2005, the leader asked those of us whose parents were under 24 when we were born to stand up.  So we did.  Even in merely admitting how young my parents were when I was born, I stopped holding so much resentment towards some of the choices they have made that affected me. Same happened to all the other people in the seminar.

Often, just merely looking back, or talking about what happened, can uncover that some of the things we could swear to be true don’t make any sense at all.  After my father passed 2 months ago now, I remember my mom saying something that I remembered to be true except, my timeline was off.  Literally, in that instant of us talking about something that happened, I got to rewrite my story.

Certain things come with a lesson we may have missed the first time around.  I could never figure out why I was trying to diet so much in my 20s when I looked so beautiful and lean in all my pictures, I realized though, I wasn’t dieting because I didn’t look good when I saw myself in a mirror but as a reaction to a comment someone made to me: “You will be fat like my mom and aunt when you grew up”.  For all I know, he meant it as a joke, but it had me choose dieting and being skinny over life for at least 7 years while I was battling eating disorder and another decade or so of dieting and thinking I would only be accepted if I was skinny enough.

Looking back is not a waste of time, people!  It can prevent us from making the same mistakes again and again.  It can shine the light on things we couldn’t or didn’t understand at the time and offer a much needed relief.  This is actually why therapy works.  While I prefer coaching to therapy as it is focused more on producing results, I definitely see so much value in talking things over and letting myself share the world the way I see it so I can sort out things that I couldn’t sort out when I was younger and question things that I made up.

It’s true that we can’t change the past and that no looking back can ever have what happened be any other way than the way that it is.  What we could change, however, is the stories we told when those things happened because all of us mostly living as a reaction to the story we told about the things that happened to us.  Change your story, change your life.  Looking at the past is an opportunity to directly impact our experience in the present and have a different future.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”              Wayne Dyer