My Imaginary Friend

Before Bjarne passed I used to be very social. 

Big dinner parties at my house. 

Hanging out with many friends. 

Phone calls for lengthy conversations. 

I always had friends to talk to. 

But after the devastation of losing him I experienced what I called a duality. 

My inner world changed so dramatically and my outer world could no longer match it. 

The difference between what I was experiencing and what the world thought I was experiencing, was vast. 

It wasn’t anyone’s fault. 

I was being separated from everyone by grief.

Slowly I found myself not only devastatingly sad, but deeply lonely. 

That is when I started to learn how to solo process my grief. 

I got really good at crying alone, surviving alone and also befriending myself. 

I created a whole new inner world to live in. 

And writing was part of that world. 

People always assume I was always a writer. But I wasn’t. 

I became one to understand myself.

Grief is a multi layered experience and I could not get to a deeper level in my conversations with the people in my life. 

So I had to become the other person. 

I had to give birth to a second Christina. A twin imaginary friend. 

The two of us started to go deeper and deeper. 

Analyze what was happening each day. 

Brainstorming solutions. Reading the books. 

Learning the new landscape of life. 

And I don’t regret it. I saved myself. 

I know you have also saved yourself. 

But I do hope we do find our way back to deep and trusting friendships again. 

It is not fun not to be known by others. 

It is not fun not to be seen for who you really are.

There is healing in that, the kind of healing you cannot give to yourself.

With many imaginary friends,

Christina 

P.S. Finally registration is open for my next Life Reentry class. 

We start March 30th. Register HERE: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-class/


Growing Up in One Afternoon

Sometimes you have to grow up in one afternoon. 

Maybe in an hour.

5 minutes, even. 

I wonder why we are not given longer.

Why does it have to be almost instant. 

On the spot. Nailing us to the wall. 

What am I talking about? 

Conversations, interactions, experiences that were unexpected and gruesome. 

Someone saying something to you that hurt like crazy. 

Something happening at a family gathering you didn’t expect. 

You missed the mark at a talk you had to give. You failed an exam. 

You lost money. A friend getting mad at you for no reason. 

And the air is taken out of your lungs. You skip heartbeats. 

Your thoughts are either stopping to a halt or come crashing down.

It feels like an expander in your stomach. 

A bulldozer over your lungs. 

A needle on your heart. 

And yes, you can have growing up moments in every decade of your life. 

I had one this week. It was hard. 

They always are. Aren’t they?

For this particular moment the bulldozer was especially felt. 

While it’s happening you can’t make a sound. 

And you can’t let anyone know about the needle in the heart. 

The expander in the stomach. You carry on looking normal. 

Until you can leave the room, the call, the conversation. 

And go and figure out what just happened.

These are the kind of growing up moments I mean. 

I know you know them. Had them. Survived them. 

I am here as your witness. 

And thank you for being mine. 

These growth spurts will continue to happen until the end. 

It’s what makes us human. 

Those who don’t feel the expanders in their stomachs I don’t trust so much. 

And why you and I are such good friends. 

We have the same kind of needlework in our hearts. 

Don’t we?

 

With many nails on my walls,

Christina


Am I Living The Right Life?

What would it take to live the life of your choosing. 

Not of your dreams, even. 

But of your choice. 

And then, when you dare make a different choice, do you wonder if you made the right one?

What if the new choice is a choice you can’t take back. 

Something you can’t un-choose.  

I ask myself, am I living the right life?

Did I make the right choices for myself. 

For who I am. 

For the things I like and dislike. 

Lately I started observing my anxiety, intimately. 

Witnessing the moments I feel dread. 

I found myself dreading things that were easy, basic. 

Things that should not even be of any significance, like paying a bill, opening a bank account.

I found my anxiety in the most unexpected places. 

Hiding, waiting for me to show up for the task. 

That is when I asked the questions. 

What if my life choices were different, would I be feeling less anxious? 

Would it be the same? 

And if I could choose differently, what would I choose? 

Oh God, you made it this way, didn’t you? 

A puzzle. A maze. 

You made the easiest question, have the hardest answer. 

The answer to the question, what do I want is always the most difficult to answer. 

Not because we don’t know what we want, but because the brain has claimed these choices, labeling them as too risky. 

Too messy. But is it too messy to live the life of your choosing? (Click to tweet!)

Would anxiety find you there too? 

While you are brushing your teeth, walking to work, falling asleep. 

Or would it not even find you there. 

Just maybe, anxiety would lose her way to the life of your choosing. 

Thinking she would find you at the same place she always has. At the old life. 

You see, all these years she took your presence for granted. 

She thought you would never leave. 

I am thinking maybe, we could sneak out of this life for a few moments. 

Sneaking out while choosing something different for our day. 

Something that belongs to the right life. 

Whatever that may be. 

What will you choose? 

With new choices,

Christina  

P.S. This week’s Dear Life Podcast Interview is with someone who found her way to a new life after the loss of her infant daughter. Listen HERE


Growing Older

Today is Eric’s 50th birthday. 

My second husband’s birthday. 

This morning I woke up grateful for him being alive. 

Breathing. Moving. Being here to celebrate his 50th year. 

For those who don’t know my story my first husband died when he was 35. 

Eric’s first wife also died at 35. 

For us, getting to 50 is such a blessing. 

We celebrate aging. 

We scream it from the rooftops. 

I am going to keep my letter short today, as I want to go and spend time with him. 

People like you and I understand the magnificence of the present moment. 

The passing of time. And the blessing of another chance at love and happiness. 

Forgive me for not writing more, my brain, my heart is with him. 

And one more thing. 

My first husband Bjarne would always shake his head when people would complain about growing older. He would say, I wish I was that lucky. 

So, wherever you are today, however old you are, take a deep breath and stay in this moment, it is our one and only forever. 

 

With so much love for you,

Christina


Don't Label How You Feel With Basic Words

Lately, it feels like every day introduces us to a new intense feeling, doesn't it?

One of the reasons why everything feels more intense than what intensity normally feels like, is because we are experiencing feelings we haven’t felt before. 

There is a spectrum of emotions inside sadness. 

And a spectrum of emotions inside joy. 

We have thousands of variables when it comes to human feelings. 

But yet, we only talk about the very basic parts of them. 

We feel sad, upset, confused, good, bad, happy, angry, etc. 

Human emotions are so much more complex than that. 

When we feel something we don’t have words for, we just label it with the basics. 

Instead, we need to sit down and write in great detail how we feel. 

All the many ways we feel fear. 

The smallest ways and the biggest ways. 

Don’t dismiss the invisible, complex and seemingly small feelings. Promise? 

And don’t dismiss the moments of grief you felt that had nothing to do with the grief you normally feel. Stay with that newfound grief when you feel it. 

When you tell someone about it. 

Single out the strangeness of your grief, the mystery of what it feels like and do the best you can to find the words to describe it. If words are not enough. Paint it. Draw it. 

Move your body to it. Cry it. Scream it. Do whatever you need to do, to express it. 

Never keep it in the quietness of the inner world. 

It gets lost there if we don’t call it out. 

It is how the heaviness sets in. How anxiety finds us. Depression too. 

You see, emotions are a part of you as much as your arms and legs are. 

They need their own space. Their own words. And their own names. (Click to tweet!)

Even joy when not expressed can become a burden and make us feel isolated and why the uniqueness of your experience this week must be shared. 

Promise? 

 

With beautifully expressed complexity of emotion,

Christina


The Big Rock Between Us

We are so alone. Aren’t we?

Inside the chaos, the uncertainty. The longing. 

We find ourselves in a crowd of strangers.

Especially now. Right in the midst of much friction. 

Alternate realities within that same relationship, of mothers and fathers. 

Sisters and brothers. Husbands and wives. 

Friends for decades before, under so many moons, find themselves in conflict of one another. 

Losing each other within different stories of the same thing. 

What must we do? Where is it that we can turn to? 

How do we even go on, ignoring the alternate story that plays in the midst of us. (Click to tweet!)

Do we forget the love? The moons? The stories before this one? 

Do we stay, regardless of the new rock forming in between. 

Do we linger with bare feet knowing it hurts. Do we share the rock. 

The being with it all, until it goes. Until it is forgotten. 

Until the old comes back, without the strain of it. 

Do we stay until then. Do we quiet down the fight? 

Stop the loss from happening? Can we? Must we? 

What would our parents say? The grandparents. 

What did they do in the early and mid 1900s when these things happened then...too. 

Did they part ways when the rocks came in between? 

When the fights about things started? Someone must know. 

Someone can tell us how to be with the people we love whom we don’t agree with. 

Oh dear one, I know this is a hard one. 

But I think what you choose to do with the new rock in your relationship is going to be right. Trust the choice you will make. 

There is no right or wrong answer about any of this. There is no advice. 

Nobody can say what needs to happen.

The only thing we must do is look for the lessons, whether the choice is to stay or go. 

Whether we forgive or not. 

It is what we learned that matters in the end. 

When all is said and done, we will only remember the lessons of that rock in between. 

If a cherished relationship is falling apart in the midst of this current climate, trust yourself and make the decision that is right for you. 

Grab a pen and paper and write down the things you learned during these last few months, specifically the last couple of weeks. 

Be clear, and then choose how to go about the relationship that is hurting you. 

Trust yourself with whatever decision you make. 

It will be the right one. 

 

With a lot of lessons inside many relationships,

Christina 

P.S. And I so hope you get a chance to listen to this week’s Dear Life Podcast conversation with Medium Jamie Butler. Listen HERE

*Music I listened to while writing this letter ‘The Way We Were’ By Barbara Streisand


Sitting With You

I have to be honest. 

It is a hard day to write. 

I am sitting here looking for the words and the events of the last couple of days are interfering with my thoughts. 

So, just like always, I am telling you what’s here, what wants to be written. 

The chaos of our country feels like a robbery inside my mind. 

When this letter started to come through yesterday morning, before the events of January 6th it was writing words about something completely different. 

Once the harsh moments played out on our TVs, the words were taken away. 

What took place, in a sense hijacked my creativity and productivity. 

I know that the noise will quiet down at some point, it will leave us. 

But until then we have to be present with the truth and what we are truly feeling.

I am not going to bypass the noise so I can sound inspiring and positive. 

I will sit inside of it with you. 

Speaking our truth to each other, for better or for worse. 

What I have learned about life is that, once we start to run away from our truths we can never stop running. 

So here I am. Here you are. 

Sitting together in the midst of a world that is hurting. 

I wish it was different, and I wish I was writing a different letter. 

But somehow, even just writing what is here lessened the noise. 

I can hear the quiet a little better. I hope it brought you something too. 

I am proud of us for not running away looking for an easy fix and a positive spin. 

It never lasts long or goes deep enough. 

May this next week bring more of us together in truth, in good company (even virtually) and in healing. 

 

With honesty,

Christina


The Small But Life Changing Gifts of 2021

I know this last year felt like a rollercoaster that kept dropping you

With no bottom. An indefinite drop. 

Your head couldn’t catch up. 

Your mind couldn’t process it. 

And your heart kept trying to mend itself, inside a thousand breaks. 

No mending possible. No chance at a breather. 

Today the calendar says it's a New Year. 

But you are still experiencing that same rollercoaster drop. 

You struggle to be hopeful. I know. 

You find it hard to believe that your heart will stop breaking.

But this, whatever this last year was about, will end. 

I believe it. Wholeheartedly. 

Not because I am an optimist. 

Definitely not because of that. 

But because it is the truth. 

2021 is going to bring you gifts. 

And because of the catastrophic drop you experienced in 2020, these small gifts will bring a smile to your face. 

Everything small, will. 

You will laugh at the silliest joke. 

When you get to hug others again, it will feel like your very first time. 

When you go to the coffee shop and sit down with your coffee you will just marvel at it. 

Just pure gratitude for all the physical human things we lost in 2020. 

And as I am writing this very first letter for 2021 I want to personally wish you strength for the leftovers of 2020. 

Belief in life’s undeniable come back. 

And last but not least, a reminder that love is always present in physical and non physical ways. Nothing can ever take love away. 

I wish you the most meaningful, and spectacularly heart mending year. 

2021 is here to remind us that the sun will always rise even after the darkest of nights. (Click to tweet!)

 

With childlike wonder for 2021,

Christina

P.S. May this week’s episode helps bring in 2021 with a bang. Listen here.


My Own Story of 2020

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live” my favorite author Joan Didion often reminds me. As I am putting words on paper for the final letter of 2020 I am thinking about the story I want to tell. 

And what a better day to tell it, on December 25th. 

It matches the non-traditional clothes of grief. 

The rebellious acts of life after it. 

We often think about religion as traditional. 

But I don’t think it is. 

Religion has always been a beautiful rebellious act. 

When we didn’t have science to explore the world, religion told us unprecedented stories. 

It told us stories in order to live, in order to understand ourselves and the world around us. Bold stories. Immersed in supernatural events and unlikely heroes. 

Whatever your religion is. 

Whatever stories your beliefs about our existence tell you. 

Remind yourself to write an unconventional, supernatural story about your life in 2020.

It was kind of supernatural wasn’t it? 

If someone told you a year ago what was about to happen you wouldn’t have believed it. When the beginning of the pandemic was here, I wrote a letter about how it all felt so familiar to the stuckness tragedy brings forth in our lives. 

How we, the bereaved of the world already knew the insides of the quarantine. 

We knew what it felt like to be stuck between the two worlds. 

The before and the after. Where the Waiting Room lives. 

And just like that, the whole world got a taste of the room we have spent such long periods of time in. 

For a moment, we felt that others would know what it was like to be in limbo. 

Waiting indefinitely. 

It didn’t mean we were less lonely and unseen, it just meant that this hidden world we have been in since our loss, could be seen by others now too. 

And that to me has always been a gift from this year. 

To have a kind of knowing of each other’s hidden worlds of loneliness, is the first step towards healing which can only take place when someone else understands our pain because of their own. 

The story I tell about this Holiday Season and this last year is one of unity. 

One of unprecedented understanding of loneliness, where for the very first time we could glimpse inside each other’s hidden worlds.

Inside the unseen.  

Here’s to a Holiday season full of empathy for each other’s pain. (Click to tweet!)

May we witness what was impossible to witness before and help each other heal. 

This is indeed a special December 25th where a supernatural and unconventional future can be born as we walk out of an unnatural year. 

 

With many future stories to be told,

Christina

P.S. This whole week on my Dear Life Podcast we have special episodes to get you through these days. I hope you listen HERE.


Dating The Holiday Season Once Again

It is ok if some things that are meant to be easy, feel hard to do. 

Don’t compare yourself to others.  

If something feels hard, it is hard. 

Someone else’s experience with it, can’t change yours. 

This goes for everything. 

Including grief. 

Including Christmas. 

The Holiday Season makes some people happy and others sad. 

Hearing Christmas Carols can make one man weep and another cheer. 

It all has to do with the kind of losses you have had. 

The kind of loves you have experienced. 

And the childhood you remember having.

It has to do with the history of your life.

The stories you were told and the stories you remember being told. 

I have a strange relationship with the holiday season.   

I broke up with it completely for a few years then I decided to date the Holidays again and I found its season bitter sweet. 

It never felt as wonderfully dreamy as before. I could never just let go in it. 

Be a part of the festivities with my full heart. 

Indulge in the lights and the songs. 

It feels like going back to an old relationship trying my best to feel its glory days. 

It never delivers. 

So now, well now I arrive each year here doing my best. 

I laugh. I cry. I dress up. I put up the trees. I sing the songs. 

I buy the gifts. I surrender to it. Just like a ride on an old roller coaster. 

It is good enough but not the highlight. 

And certainly not the big hit that it used to be in the good old days. 

As this next week is approaching remember to make it whatever it needs to be for you and for your life. 

Your version is the only version that matters. 

 

With holiday musings,

Christina

PS. And I hope my books Second Firsts and Where Did You Go? find you during these next two weeks.