Wishing You the Joy of This Day

A new month starts today, maybe even a resurrection of sorts. Despite the predominately religious meanings of this time of year, there is a more personal spiritual meaning — that no matter how down (or up!) we are, we can find a renewal, a liberation, a breaking open of the constraints that bind us so we can burst forth into a new day, a new way of being.

Or something like that.

After yesterday’s feeling that much of what I’ve been doing is just plain silly, today I am taking a break from all of those things. Well, most of them. Obviously, I am blogging, but I did not go sauntering with my pack (though I did chat with a fellow on FB about various sections of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington), did not go to dance class (that counts even though there was no dance class today), have not added any words to my book (though I did delete some, which doesn’t seem anywhere near as silly as adding words).

So did doing not much of anything feel silly? Nope. It felt good just to be. To enjoy the moment. I do enjoy the moments when I am doing something, of course, but when I am not doing “nothing,” the enjoyment is sort of a tagalong feeling to whatever it is I am doing — enjoying the desert while sauntering, enjoying the energy of dancing — rather than enjoyment as a separate entity.

I so often feel a push for more — to carry more weight in the pack, to walk more miles, to write more and better, to get stronger, healthier, wiser — that it’s good once in a while to burst out of the winding cloths I’ve wrapped myself in, and step out into the joy of being

I’m overdoing the metaphor a bit, but so what?

It’s a new day. And today I can do whatever I want. Be whatever I want. Well, in my own mind at least. There is still the matter of a body that doesn’t always cooperate, but that is a matter for another time.

Wishing you the joy of this day.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Leftover From Grief

I met a man the other day who mourned his brother. Both men were divorced (no children), and when newly single, they rekindled the closeness of their youth. They lived within a few block from each other, worked in the same area, often had lunch together or got together in the evening. They rebuilt the car one of them had bought as a teenager, and they went to car shows to display their refurbished antique. One brother worked as a new car salesperson, and often won incredible trips and cruises, which the two of them took.

The magrillen told me about his incredible pain after his brother’s death, and added, “I didn’t even know there was such pain.”

Many of us who have lost significant people in our lives have felt the same shock at discovering there was such pain. Most of us had experienced the death of others in our lives, but one particular death — in my case, the death of my life mate/soul mate — shocked us with the depth of pain we felt. Pain we didn’t even know existed.

If this pain was in us to experience, but could only be brought out by a significant loss, what else is in us that some sort of catalyst could bring to the surface? Is there a corresponding joy? Maybe a radiance or an intense glee that is hiding from us behind our usual stoic facades? We think we know who we are and of what we are capable, but we only know what we know. We can’t know what we don’t. So what is there we don’t know?

Intense grief brings us close to eternal truths, but are there other states (perhaps less painful ones) that can also bring us such wisdom?

For a long time now, I’ve had the feeling of wanting “more,” but I don’t know what that “more” is. I have a hunch the feeling is a leftover from grief, from the knowledge that as humans, we are so much more — can feel so much more — than we ever believed possible.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Palliative for the Brokenhearted

warriorThree years ago, a yoga teacher and fitness instructor living in Holland got tired of the cold, and so her husband put in a transfer to a warmer climate.

Three years ago, I was living a thousand miles away from the high desert in another state, watching my life mate/soul mate die.

Six months ago, that teacher’s life and mine crossed paths. A friend asked me to accompany her to an introductory therapy yoga class (a class geared toward each person’s abilities and disabilites), and there I met the woman from Holland, who was teaching the class. (She wasn’t from Holland originally. She was actually from California, but she’d living all over the world for the past two decades.)

At that yoga class, I began to come alive. Grief pulls you into yourself, huddling you against the pain, and the thrust of her classes was to open us up to the universe, to new experiences, and to ourselves. My friend dropped out after those introductory classes, but I was hooked. Coincidentally, all the women who remained in the class were in various stages of recovering from the deaths of their husbands, and we formed a bond with each other and with our globetrotting teacher. It was a rare and magical experience, the electric highlight of my week, but magic has a way of dissipating. The teacher was offered a wonderful job in another city that used all of her skills (and paid her a phenomenal amount of money), and she couldn’t turn it down.

Although I felt devastated when she made her announcement, I am trying to consider the ending of the class as a graduation. When a student is ready, a teacher appears, or so it said, and in my case it was true. So perhaps it is also true that when the student is ready, the teacher disappears. Perhaps I have learned from her what I need to know to continue on to the next stage of my life.

But this is all prelude to what I really want to talk about. Whenever I have mentioned how distressed I was at the loss of this class, the response has universally been, “Find another yoga class.” Ummm. Yeah. Find another confluence of people and events that come together from thousands of miles away to create a magical, electric, and life-affirming moment. Sure, I’ll get right on it.

This seems to be the response for every loss. Get a new class, a new life, a new soul mate. Is it really that easy for people to do? Or is it simply that it’s easy to say, a palliative for the brokenhearted?

I realize that soon I will need to find a new life, but as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, it’s not as if I can go to the mall and search the aisles at Lifes ‘R’ Us until I find a new life that fits properly and looks good. I’ve never really wanted anything or anyone, but out of the blue, my life mate/soul mate dropped into my life, bringing (for a while anyway) radiance and excitement, and then later companionship, but now that he’s out of my life, I’m back to not wanting anything. If I did want something, I’d go after it, but I don’t want what is out there to get. (Or maybe I mean I don’t want what I know is out there to get. For example, I’d never considered doing yoga, had no interest in it whatsoever, and yet out of the blue, the yoga teacher dropped into my life.)

Mostly I’m taking the need for a new life in stride. Whatever happens, happens. Wherever I go, there I go. It doesn’t seem to really matter — something will drop into my life or it won’t. Either way, I’ll deal with it.

The only thing I know (or rather, suspect) is that I will not remain here in the high desert. Because of the yoga teacher and her class, for the first time I’d been contemplating staying in the area so I could continue taking instruction from her, and her getting a new job seems to be a clear sign that my future doesn’t lie here. But then again, I don’t really believe in signs . . .


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

Is It Necessary to Want Something?

The other day I told a friend about the feeling of expectation that accompanied my grief and how empty I felt when nothing wonderful happened to me.  She said we have to make wonderful things happen, we can’t just wait. Then she started quizzing me on things I wanted to do. I couldn’t come up with anything. I’ve never really wanted much, never had big dreams or wild fancies. I do want to want something, though. It would give me a goal, a reason to be hopeful, an investment in the future.

But here’s the conundrum:

We’re told that we have to want something, have to try to reach beyond our comfort zone so that perhaps wonderful things will happen to us. At the same time, we’re told that all things come to those who wait.

We’re told that dreams are important, that we need to have something to live for. At the same time, we’re told to be grateful for what we have, to live for the day.

We live in a society with an economy that is built on the principal of wanting. The more we want, the more we buy, the more we use, the more we help the economy. At the same time we’re told to be frugal, not to waste, but more trash automatically accompanies more goods. I had to get rid of so much of our stuff when I moved out of our house, that it makes no sense to buy more stuff. So, where does wanting to want something fit in with that situation? I sure don’t want more stuff to eventually have to get rid of!

And then, there’s the Zen philosophy that we should neither want nor not want.

So what is the answer? Wanting? Or not wanting? Going after something or waiting till it comes to you? Having dreams, or being satisfied with what you have?

(After the conversation with my friend, I did think of something I wanted. I always wanted to make a gingerbread house, so I made a little one. I don’t want to eat it, though. But still, I can cross it off my list.)