Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Hey there-

Arthur learned to ride a two wheeler the other day. Henry taught him while I watched through the dining room window.

Learning to ride a bike was one of those things that had me in a panic after Bob died. I always imagined he would be the one teaching the boys this important life skill. I had visions of him running passed me on the sidewalk holding the back of the teetering bike and shouting encouraging words with that calm patient tone he had.

Instead, one evening during a block party Henry, newly five, marched past me with a wrench in one hand and his bike in the other.

"The training wheels are coming off," he announced, his blue eyes full of determination.

Moments later he rode passed me on the sidewalk. No teetering, just focused power and freedom on his face.

Arthur has been a bit slower to warm up to the physical part of life and needed some motivating to remove the training wheels. Once off, however, he was out on the sidewalk with his helmet on trying to run and jump on his bike like his neighbor friend had showed him. I quickly assessed the frustration on his face and called out to him to wait until I got some clothes on so I could come run behind him and offer those words of encouragement. (probably not as calm and patient as Bob would have been but my own version of encouragement....something like "Put the peddle to the metal buddy, you have to pick up the pace if you are going to get anywhere" type stuff. That's encouraging right?)

But before I could get through the dining room I heard Henry out on the driveway with Arthur. Had I not seen the two boys out there with my own eyes I would have thought that Bob was back from beyond to fulfill this parenting milestone he had so rudely left me with.

"Now Arthur," Henry explained thoughtfully, "it's all about momentum. Momentum is gravity's enemy."

This information was followed up by a visual presentation of a bike making a turn. As the bike neared the curve he explained that the faster the bike was going the less likely it was to fall over.

Arthur listened and nodded and then took off on his bike very slowly and cautiously. He, of course, fell right over.

"Momentum, Arthur," Henry continued, "just remember, it is all about momentum."

Giving Arthur a swift push the next time he sailed down the driveway and the boys counted the number of peddles together. One, two, three, four.

"OK, Arthur, let's see if you can get to five next time. Always remember.....momentum is gravity's enemy."

I leaned out the window in my robe and cheered as Arthur got to seven peddles the next time. Bob couldn't have done a better job, and now these brothers will always have this memory, when Henry taught Arthur how to ride a bike.

And Henry taught me about the importance of momentum.

When life threatens to pull me down with it's unexpected twists and turns, I will just keep moving. Proceed as best I can. Don't just sit there and look at the lemons, make the lemonade right? Because momentum is gravity's enemy.

Thanks for checking in-


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Hey there-

“What would I do with them?”

This was the most common question from the conference in Dallas, referring to essential oils and the lotion and bath/body oils that I make and are available on my website.

I use essential oils every day of my life and have for about 12 years, for me it is just a matter of which oils I use and when. So my initial reaction to that question was; “Huh?”

Not very professional I know.

Since this blog is dedicated to living beyond grief, I thought I would tell people how I used essential oils throughout Bob’s illness and after his death to help me get through each day with a little beauty and style.

Hopefully this will shed some light on why I want to spread the good news about essential oils to the masses.

I will start with the morning….in the shower I used shampoo and conditioner that I had scented with the essential oils of rosemary and lemon. (I bought unscented shampoo, soap and conditioner and put drops of essential oils in them that I purchased from an essential oil supplier in Oregon) I chose rosemary oil because it stimulates ones mental capacity and lemon for its clean, refreshing scent.

After the shower I used body oil scented with bergamot, rose, orange and sandalwood. (Jojoba oil is my carrier oil of choice due to its similar chemical structure to our own skins oily secretions, giving it excellent moisturizing and emulsifying properties. It will not clog pores and is fabulous for blemished skin. Jojoba also happens to be one of the most expensive of the carrier oils. Others include almond, olive or grape seed) I chose bergamot for its mood elevating qualities, orange for its soothing and refreshing scent, rose because of its antidepressant and comforting properties and sandalwood for grounding.

Throughout treatment and mostly during the stem cell transplant in Nebraska I had Bob gargle with tea tree oil to decrease his chances of mouth sores and infection. Tea tree is antiseptic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. I put drops of lavender and marjoram on cotton balls and stuck them in our pillow cases for their assistance with relaxation and sleep; both oils can calm an agitated mind.

And one crazy afternoon I massaged oil infused with cypress and lavender to assist Henry after he twisted his foot in one of those hideous play areas in malls that have a room filled with plastic primary colored balls that the kids jump in and climb through. I wanted birch oil for its anti-inflammatory and cell rejuvenating qualities but cypress was the closest I could get in Omaha on short notice. I do believe that the intention with which the oils are used can assist in their healing, which is why some oils can have stimulating and relaxing properties at the same time.

At the very end I massaged Bob’s feet with peppermint oil, gliding my warm hand over his slender arch I was foolishly proud of his smooth skin. The fresh minty aroma cleared the air in that dark living room; it lifted my spirits and cleared my mind.

After Bob died I put bergamot in every soap dispenser in the house so every time I washed my hands I got a shot of it's refreshing and uplifting scent. I boiled water on the stove and dropped lavender in the steamy water when I was selling the house, giving it a relaxing and calm feel. On anniversary dates or particularly bad days I put rosemary in the steamy water. The penetrating scent was stimulating and has signified remembrance for centuries; it can also help combat depression.

I don't mean to bore people, I just wanted to give folks an idea of how the oils can be used in everyday life and can be tailored for a person's specific needs at the time. The oils I have mentioned are just a small sampling of what are available, each have their own specific chemical compounds that assist the body and mind in a myriad of ways.

Professionals could use my blend in their office, have a jar of the lotion next to the tissues or place some in the bathroom next to the sink. The oils in my Embrace blend are selected specifically for their benefits for common symptoms of grief; insomnia, melancholy, headaches, lack of appetite, anxiety. The blend has restorative and comforting properties that will last after the client has left the building.

Friends and family of people newly bereaved can purchase Embrace body oil or lotion as a complement to flowers when a loved one is grieving. Essential oils are a step beyond flowers and the bath oil or lotion will provide strength and warmth to the bereaved long after the last flower has wilted and the final casserole has been eaten.

For more information feel free to visit my website at or email me directly at with any questions or comments.

Thanks for checking in-


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Walk It Out Reminder

Hey there-

The next Walk It Out is this Saturday, April 25th, 2009. It is supposed to be beautiful weather!

I just returned from the ADEC (Assoc. of Death Ed. and Counseling) conference in Dallas with lots of information to share about the latest research in death, dying and bereavement if people are interested.

Spring is always such a lovely time of the year, with signs of new life everywhere. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes from the book "The Courage to Grieve", by Judy Tatelbaum.

"Spring does not refuse to come because it was preceded by winter."

Something to ponder for our walk.

Thanks for checking in-


Monday, April 13, 2009

Website Launch

Hey there-

I am heading to Dallas, TX on Wednesday April 15th to present on the topic of the use of essential oils with grief and loss. The conference is the Assoc. of Death Ed. and Counseling.

"Healing with Scents" I call it.

I have been a bit crazed getting all of my information consolidated and looking pretty. With the help of many friends and their artistic abilities things are coming together.

The website is up and mostly functional for the conference! The big launching! Woo, hoo! There are still a few kinks to be worked out but people can check it out at and can even make a purchase if they like! Yikes!

It is very exciting! I am bringing Mike as my marketer and Henry and I have been busy making 1 oz. sample jars of lotion to give to people at the conference who might be interested. Henry is quite good with the shrink wrap and loves to use the hair dryer. It is a family business after all.

I will let people know how it all went when we return.

Please be patient with the kinks and let me know of any glaring mistakes.

Thanks for checking in.


Thursday, April 9, 2009


Hey there-

I bought a Boboli.

The pizza crust, the pre-made pizza crust, the pizza crust Bob would have never allowed in the house.

“Why buy pizza crust when you can so easily whip some up?” That’s what he always said.

When Bob plugged in the KitchenAid and got the flour and yeast from the shelf and carefully placed his stop watch on the counter so he could time the fast and slow mixing as well as the rising of the dough, a peaceful feeling would descend upon the kitchen. His face would smooth out in a focused calm and the smell of garlic and fresh pineapple would begin to permeate the house.

Music was usually involved and sometimes whistling or hip swaying would be added for good measure as he peered at the thermometer sticking out of the measuring cup, making sure the water was just the right temperature so as to not kill the yeast. Bob would remove the silky dough from the bowl, place it lovingly on the lightly floured countertop and effortlessly begin to knead it with a flick of the wrist only an experienced baker can produce.

“This is a beauty,” he would say if he were particularly pleased with the dough that day.

The red pepper, Canadian bacon and garlic was my favorite, the crust was crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. As we munched the pizza and I savored the taste sensations exploding on my tongue, Bob would analyze the crust and determine what could be changed to improve it for the next time. A little less water perhaps, some more salt, bake it a few minutes before putting on the toppings, maybe.

It was a Zen like experience for us both.

“Whipping some crust up”, takes on a totally different meaning when I am the one trying to make the pizza crust. It starts with me dragging out the KitchenAid and dusting it off, attempting to find the proper utensil for the mixer and hoping I have yeast that hasn’t expired.

When the timer on the stove goes off I can’t remember if that was for the 30 seconds on high speed or the 2 minutes on medium because I was distracted by Henry trying to cut his finger off while slicing the olives. I am never sure if the water is too warm or too hot for the yeast because I am never sure where the thermometer is (I think the boys were using it the other day when they were playing shop keeper).

When I remove the dough from the bowl it never feels silky and the flour pile on the counter goes flying everywhere after I drop the sticky dough ball onto the counter in disgust. The kitchen still fills with smells of garlic and red pepper but you don’t bite down into light and flakey crust, it is more leaden and soggy.

So, this year for Bob’s annual birthday celebration I bought Boboli. Sitting around the dining room table eating the pizza my sister-in-law looked at me quizzically and asked; “You didn’t really make all of these did you?” I shook my head sheepishly and admitted to the purchase of the offensive item, feeling guilt creep up from the pit of my stomach.

“I was going to say, nothing we made ever tasted this good.”

Ouch, that hurt.

So, we move forward. This year was the 6th birthday we celebrated Bob’s birthday without Bob and the 1st year we had store bought crust, something tells me it won’t be the last.

A wise friend reminded me that the point of the gathering is to celebrate Bob’s birth, the fact that he was alive and we all knew him and we honor him still today for simply being a part of our lives, not to make myself crazy trying to recreate Bob’s pizza crust.

You can tell when food has been prepared by a person who loves to cook and when it has been made by a person who is trying to put food on the table. Like so many things that Bob did I will never be able to recreate his pizza crust (although I do a pretty good job with his pancakes). Another wise person once told me that I can’t spend my energy trying to recreate Bob because then who would be me?

It makes me wonder, if the situation had been reversed, what would Bob be trying to recreate?

Thanks for checking in-


Friday, April 3, 2009

Forever 39

Hey there-

Bob would have been 45 yesterday.

He died just 4 days before his 40th birthday, so he will remain forever 39.

At the time of his death the proximity to his birthday was awful.

We had already ordered a cake so my sister and some friends and I stood around the small layer cake with purple and yellow flowers and smelled the faint lavender and lemon scent slowly fill the room. "Happy Birthday Bob" was joyously written across the top. None of us knew quite what to do as we huddled around the kitchen counter and stared at the cake as if we expected it to tell us what to do next.

Now I think the two dates being so close to each other was a stroke of genious on Bob's part. These important dates can be recognized in one crazy week of emotion. (I also would like to thank Bob for dying in the spring when there are signs of new life everywhere instead of the fall or winter when it is difficult enough to endure the long dark nights and bare trees)

We have established a wonderful ritual to celebrate the day that Bob entered into this world. Henry and Arthur and I get together with Bob's mom and sisters and we make pizza using Bob's recipe and his KitchenAid. Then we set off balloons into the universe. Now that the boys are older they write notes that we attach to the balloons and we watch as they drift off, bringing good wishes to the cosmos.

It is important to honor the day Bob came into this world. Without him I would have never experienced the Pacific Northwest or discovered how much I love camping or eaten red peppers or had Henry and Arthur. Without Bob this world would have been a lesser place.

I am sorry he wasn't here for his 45th birthday. I am sorry the boys and I couldn't sing to him and go on a bike ride with him afterwards. I am sorry he wasn't here to see Henry ski down his first mountain in Colorado or perform in his first talent show.

But I am so grateful he was here and that I had the great luck to meet him and be his friend and wife. I take all Bob was with me and am a better person and parent for it.

Thanks for checking in-


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Two Chai Day

Hey there,

March 29th was the 5th anniversary of Bob's death.

I have declared this date to forever be a Two Chai Day.

Having allowed myself one chai per day since starting the habit when Bob and I lived in Portland, I looked at my friend, Mark, dubiously when he reached for my mug to froth me up a second one the morning Bob died. A group of us sat around the dining room table in the early morning light waiting for the undertakers to arrive.

"Irene, I think it's a two chai day," he said to me.

That steaming mug of cinnamon goodness was so comforting in my hands that morning as I tried to explain to the ever curious Henry what "those" men were "doing to daddy".

So every March 29th I treat myself to two chai lattes. It is my small way of honoring the day that Bob's struggle ended. It is also a small, private way to treat myself and honor the struggles I have conquered since that first Two Chai Day.

As my life proceeds and the days and years fill up with activities that don't include Bob it gets harder to honor these moments of my past, but no less important.

Thank you to Mike (my sainted live husband) who understands the importance of these dates both for me and my boys.

Thank you for giving me my Two Chai Day this year.

Thanks for checking in-