January 27th, 2011 by Regina Brett
Just about everyone has been touched by a suicide. One of my dearest friends lost her dad to suicide. It has shaped and dented her whole life. It turned her into the most compassionate woman but also left her with an overwhelming need to rescue others.
I had a friend who took her life. Jodi was a beautiful woman I looked up to and admired. She fought an addiction and it finally won. My cousin's daughter, Keely, took her life at 16. She struggled with bipolar disorder. I didn't know that until the funeral.
A reader just sent me this email:
"Dear Regina, I thank you for the book God Never Blinks. Since my son committed suicide in 2007 my soul has been lost and lonely. Somehow your book touched me and helped me feel hope. Even though I know as a parent I did everything I could for my son, I still feel shame and sadness that I could not "save" him. Thank you for putting my prayers on paper."
There's so much we don't understand about the brain and the heart. The sadness of losing someone will remain, but the shame doesn't have to. Most people who take their lives suffer from a mental illness the world can't see.
When Keely killed herself, at first I felt angry. I said it would have been easier if she had died from a disease. My sister gently reminded me, "She did."
January 21st, 2011 by Regina Brett
What's the secret of life?
Curly in the movie "City Slickers" said it's one thing, but never revealed it. You have to find it on your own.
An old Jesuit priest told me it's to love. At the end of the day, you ask yourself: Did you love?
I think it's a bunch of things. Having no regrets. Making peace with dandelions.Showing up early. Showing up with flowers. Reading the funny pages. Forgetting what you were mad about. A squeaky porch swing.
The secret of life is driving with the top down. Loving the reflection in the mirror. Knowing when to let go. Holding a baby. Laughing when you're happy. Crying when you're sad. Returning what you borrowed. Honoring your wedding vows. Getting your sillies out. Rolling down hills...
The secret of life? It's all around us. Right here, right now.
January 11th, 2011 by Regina Brett
My heart goes out to the families of all the people killed and wounded in Tucson, Arizona.
My head is swimming from all the fingerpointing, pundits opining and blame going around.
I don't know who is at fault. It's hard to blame anyone but the shooter when you see his picture on the front page of the New York Times. He looks like a young man who has a serious mental illness.
Right now, instead of blaming anyone or anything, I hope we can pause, take a breath and be more mindful of the people around us. The bruised and wounded who stand out in classrooms, who speak out in ways that cry out for help on Facebook, who are broken in some way that will break others if left untreated.
Perhaps those of us who are blessed with better mental health can be more mindful of what we put in the greater world around us. What can it hurt to see this as a call for compassion?
January 7th, 2011 by Regina Brett
Stuff. Clutter. Junk. Whatever you call it, it can overwhelm a house and a family.
Clutter is anything that isn't useful, beautiful or life enhancing. The Pez collection your kids neglect to keep in their rooms. The carburetor parts on the dining room table. The sewing project that has taken over three spare rooms.
The FLY Lady, Marla Cilley, was on my show this week and gave great tips for de-cluttering your house, which is to say, your life. We also had Barb Tako, author of Clutter Clearing Choices on "The Regina Brett Show" to talk about how to declutter from season to season.
Here are some of their tips:
To declutter a desk, remove everything into boxes, then start at the center of the desk. Work on it six inches at a time.
Place paperwork in labeled baskets if you need to see it to remember it's there.
Get a shredder. Donate the shreds to the Humane Society for pet bedding.
In the dining room, once the table is clear, set it for dinner. Keep it set every time and it won't collect clutter.
Always shine the kitchen sink before bed so you wake up to one glorious clean area.
Clutter attracts clutter. Try the "27 Fling Boogie." Marla advises this: walk around with a garbage bag and, as fast as you can, toss in 27 items. You can't stop to look in. Just keep moving. Then take an empty box and walk through the house filling it with things to donate. When you are done, take it to the car. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RESCUE THESE ITEMS.
Then put your house on a diet. If you bring in five items, you release five items. Both you and everyone in the house will feel lighter.
January 6th, 2011 by Regina Brett
Growing old beats the alternative, dying young. Some people age more successfully than others.
My aunt Kate continues to amaze me. She's in her 90s and is always reading the latest New York Times best seller. She knows what all of her 50 nieces and nephews are doing, what cities they're in, what jobs they hold, etc.
She keeps her mind going, even though her body has slowed down.
Today I wrote a column about others who can show us how to age. People like book store owner Jane Kessler, who turns 90 this year, and mystery writer Les Roberts, who is still cranking out books in his 70s.
Don't sit back in the rocking chair. Sit on boards of businesses and non-profits. Stay involved and engaged in the world. Work part time. Run for office. Volunteer.
Add new people in your life as you lose old friends. Discover dating. You're never too old to fall in love.
Keep learning. Read books. Take a class. Go to art shows, concerts, lectures.
Get involved with young people. Learn the latest technology. Become curious about what you don't know. Keep moving, even if it's slower. Walk. Take yoga classes. Try Pilates.
Accept your limits. Adapt and find a new purpose.
Good advice for all ages.
January 2nd, 2011 by Regina Brett
Take a nap. Wear fun clothes. Share your toys.
My grandson has become my greatest teacher. He's only 19 months old, but constantly shows me how to live with more awe and joy.
In today's Plain Dealer I wrote about some of the things he has taught me: Say no like you mean it. Savor the small stuff. Pause in the presence of beauty. Use your words.
Get your sillies out. Before bed, his parents tell him, "Get your sillies out" and he convulses with laughter. He sticks his tongue out, shakes his head, throws his hands in the air and runs around in circles. He releases all the joy in him and makes room for more.
What a great way to end every day.
January 1st, 2011 by Regina Brett
Happy brand spanking new year!
I got mine off to a great start by releasing everything I didn't want to carry into the new year. I wanted to leave behind the old year and any resentments or grudges.
The last day of the year, I took some quiet time and reflected on the people in my life. There were a few relationships that seemed a bit broken, some that needed repaired and some that needed to be released for good, for both of us to grow in new ways.
I jotted down the names of ten or so people on ten separate index cards. On each card, I wrote: I release ____ and tell a new story. Then I wrote on a new card, their name and the new story. Instead of so and so done me wrong, so and so taught me a valuable life lesson.
Then I took the cards of release and burned them, and said goodbye to the old story of having been wounded.
Too often we have one bad story we velcro onto a person and we won't let go of it. I decided to release each individual and the old story I told of how they hurt me. No more victims, no more villains. The new year has a clean slate for new stories -- with happy endings for all of us.