transition

From Grief to Grace: A Mother’s Devoted Dedication to Keeping Her Creative Late Daughter’s Spirit Alive

While I’ve often talked about transition here on my blog, the transition one goes through when losing a loved one is undoubtedly the most difficult one we will ever endure.

I’m so honored to share with you, and also reminded, that even when the heart endures one of the greatest losses – that of a child – that somehow, someway, one can find their way back to finding joy again.

And so it is with my friend Monica, whose dear daughter, Lena, died unexpectedly from meningitis at the age of twenty-two in 2003.

It was the creative and magical imagination of Lena, that would carry Monica to where she is today to begin to experience joy once again in sharing the story Lena penned at the young age of ten, Hoofen Floofen Island.

The blessing of Lena, her creativity, and the many gifts she left behind for her mom, who misses her everyday, is what helped Monica to know that even when life is really hard and feels so unfair, that the magic of life can be experienced once again with courage and grace.

It was truly an honor to recently sit down with Monica in my writing cottage and talk about the book she co-authored with Lena, and the journey this has been for her which helps her to continue to heal.

Here is the interview. I hope you will enjoy!

Monica and Lena’s book is available on Amazon today with all the proceeds benefiting the Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund. 

The fund was established in 2003 at InFaith Community Foundation (formerly the Lutheran Community Foundation). 

InFaith Community Foundation is a national charity with a mission to serve donors, spread joy and change lives. Together with donors, InFaith now grants $16 million annually to charities serving local, national and global communities. 

About Monica:

Monica Sword is Lena’s mother. As a writer and artist,  she shows others how they can mindfully find their way to a happier and more fulfilling existence. 

Her life was not always this way.

Three family members’ deaths at an early age caused her great sadness, especially the death of her only child, Lena. She struggled to balance home life with a challenging career. Several physical manifestations and discontent from this imbalance contributed to losing her way. She yearned to create a deeper connection with nature, the universe, and people. 

She tried everything from happy pills to talk therapy. Important life relationships started and ended. Her library was full of self-help books. She tried going “back to school”. She set up a basement studio thinking she would surely make time to be creative. While these activities kept her busy and much was learned, nothing really stuck. 

Then she discovered the problem wasn’t with her work ethic or what she thought people expected of her. The problem was how she was applying her conscientious, high-achieving style. 

Once she saw that honoring her passions, being mindful of her emotional reactions to life events and focusing on total self-care are applicable to a conscientious and high-achieving lifestyle, she developed a creative mindset that helps her do her best work.  

Although her grief experience is on-going, her life now has a wonderful flow of writing, painting, drawing, and connecting with people.  

About Lena:

My name is Lena Kay Rufus. Since March 28, 2003, I no longer live on Earth. On that day, quickly and unexpectedly, I passed away from meningitis.  

During my childhood, I enjoyed being around farm animals as well as living on the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Northern Wisconsin. I played Suzuki violin during first grade. I loved going to school and excelled in most subjects. 

Although my life was short, my accomplishments were many. I was active at Washburn High School where I studied diligently. I was able to spend most of my senior year enrolled in courses at Northland College. I played the clarinet and after learning French, traveled to Paris. I served as an officer in several high school clubs and associations. I was a Stanford University student at the time of my passing. As you can see, education was crucial to me.

On April 1, 2000, my life celebration ceremony took place on my home reservation. I said goodbye to hundreds of people I loved dearly. There are too many loves to mention except for Mom and Dad, who supported me in all aspects of my life. On this date also, the tribal elders honored me with the Ojibwe name of Ogitchidakwe, warrior woman. 

Look for the “Lena Speaks” area on Life is a Pretty Word for selected pieces written throughout my life. Mom thinks I was a good writer although I never thought so. 

Thank you for sharing and subscribing to my blog updates.

Be the Light and Come Fly with Me

Be the Light and Come Fly with Me
Butterfly “In The Moment” Energy Painting by Julia Watkins

“You are in transformation. It’s a beautiful place to be.” These are the words I heard from a dear woman who is part of a women’s mastermind circle I’m part of that just began in January of this year.

We meet once a month to support each other in our celebrations, guide us in our challenges, and speak our truth in order to not only move forward in our own individual lives, but to hopefully be the example that shining our light can positively affect those around us.

On this, International Women’s Day, I’m riding on a cloud of gratitude to have been with these five amazing women today and in this time of great change.

For three years I was in transition, which I’d ultimately come to realize was a gift and I write about in my latest book, Wisdom Found in the Pause – Joie’s Gift.

From that transition I realized I was being called to offer creative workshops for women to guide them through their own transitions and transformations, and help them step more fully into their being. It is something I’ve become very passionate about.

But the road hasn’t always been easy because it meant I had to let go of what was in order to accept the call. I had to let go of an identity I had tied myself so closely to, and really, how so many others identified me with as well. That role of sharing the message that dogs with disabilities can live a quality life.

That will always be a part of me. But underneath my work with Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog, my little dachshund in a wheelchair, that little light of mine was gaining new insights.  I was growing stronger in my confidence and my belief’s as a woman. 

As one of the women today talked about her own transformations over the years, it is her horses that brought her to the awakened place she is today. Tears sprung to my eyes as for me, it’s been my dogs. I wouldn’t be who I am today without opening to the lessons they were teaching me.

And while those lessons remain embedded in my heart, and I’ll always have room in my heart to love dogs, I’ve felt called to expand on who I am, (besides someone who loves animals deeply) and share that with others.

So my friend was right, I’m in transformation. Frankie and Joie (as well as my other dogs) gave me the courage to begin to test my wings to see what I was made of. And now I stand on my own.

It’s a place I want to be. But it also means I have to step out in other ways in order to continue to transform and do the work I wish to do, which is facilitating workshops for women – to be a guide in helping others to tap into their intuition, through creativity and connecting with nature and animals – and my belief that when we take more time to pause and listen to our soul, it will ultimately help us to live more meaningful lives.

Being in transition came the understanding of the importance of letting go and accepting. Now being in this stage of transformation means spreading my wings more fully and shining that light that is being called to shine in a new way.

I’m not alone. This I know. Women all around the world are feeling what they sometimes can’t put words to – but I believe it is that little light within you that wants more than anything to shine in your own brilliant way.

So on this International Women’s Day I celebrate each of you and say from the depths of my heart, Let that Beautiful Light of Yours Shine!

Strengthen your intuition through creativity to step more fully into your true essence. Self-paced, video course “Connect with Your True Essence through SoulCollage®.”  I’m here to support you with an optional private Facebook group with this course. Click here to learn more.

Thank you for sharing and subscribing to my blog updates.

Finding Clarity through Tuning in and Really Listening

I share with you today the book trailer I made for my latest memoir, Wisdom Found in the Pause – Joie’s Gift.

When I decided to write this book, I wanted more than anything for people (especially women) to read it and know that they deserve to take time for themselves – that really, it is imperative in order to live the life they want.

A part of me felt vulnerable at times for sharing my story about grief, letting go, and not knowing what was next, because I’d thought I’d had it all figured out, and then realized we will have many transitional periods in our lives. I also believed in my heart that many others were going through a similar transitional time, or would be in the future.

While I envisioned being in the place I am today, a new direction of helping and encouraging women to take time for creativity, stillness, and looking within to listen to their own soul whispers, I look back now and see that every step I took until this point was necessary – even though at times it felt like I was in murky water and I’d never get out of that questionable place.

Putting together this video today is just another way in which I want to encourage others and let them know that is perfectly okay to be in a space of transition – to see it as a gift – to sift through your thoughts with gentleness.

I hope you will enjoy the video. And if you are a reader of my blog who lives nearby, I’d welcome you to take time just for you during a winter women’s creative sacred soul circle I’m facilitating at my studio, Joyful Pause. It begins January 19th, and you can learn more about it here. I’ve extended the early bird pricing because I truly want to be of help to others.

Thank you for sharing and subscribing to my blog updates.