Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I was just flipping through the channels when I decided to watch the last half of Oprah's most recent interview with Shirley MacLaine. I used to think Shirley MacLaine was a little crazy, but now I'm not so sure (though I'm pretty sure I'm a little crazy, but that's beside the point). She said a few things that really resonated with me. I felt I needed to share.

What first caught my attention in this interview is that Shirley mentioned she no longer attends funerals. When Oprah asked her why she replied with something to the effect of "well, none of us die so why go to a funeral?" According to her beliefs (in a nutshell), souls don't die, they just shed their bodies and move on to another state of consciousness. From there they can decide whether or not to incarnate again.

Anytime someone talks about their belief that souls don't die, I get a little excited. It's like somewhere in my deep pool of sadness a little bit of hope bubbles up. I don't really want to get into a full-on discussion of my feelings about reincarnation right now (maybe in a later post) but, suffice it to say, I've considered the possibility.

At this point in the interview I was somewhat glued to the TV, feeling quite emotional, hoping to hear something helpful. It's not that I think Shirley MacLaine is some "enlightened being" (who knows, maybe she is?) or guru I want to follow, I just believe that we can learn something from everyone.

After more reflection on Shirley's life experiences and accomplishments, Oprah asked her what her biggest life lesson has been so far. She replied that she has learned to "let life happen". Then she used the word "surrender".

It's hard to explain why the word surrender had such a huge impact on me, but when she said it I had a major realization. It hit me that for the past two years, three months and twenty-seven days I have used every ounce of energy I possess to fight against reality. Every moment of every day, both when I'm awake and when I'm asleep, I'm thinking "this didn't happen, my kids can't be gone, there must be some mistake!"

Hundreds of times each day I say to myself in my head or under my breath "I just want my kids back, please give me my kids back, I'll do anything - please!" All I do is fight, fight, fight and I'm getting angrier and more anxious all the time. Just this afternoon I tried to take a nap and woke up in a complete panic. It has to stop.

When Shirley said "surrender" the word sounded like a vacation (I know that sounds strange, but stay with me for a minute). Surrender, to me, seems like a land far, far away in which I might be able to rest. I thought, "if I could just give up this fight and accept what has happened maybe some of the anger, stress and panic will subside, at least temporarily".

I have to tell you that accepting what has happened to Kate and Peter is not something I want to do. It's not right, it's not the natural order of things and I fucking hate it. But I can't fight it anymore. I certainly can't change it because, let me tell you, if I could I would have changed it a long time ago.

So I guess my next step needs to be finding a way to surrender. I have a feeling I'll last all of five minutes and then be back to my usual fighting, but I think that's ok. Maybe the next time I try I'll be able to last six minutes instead. Maybe eventually I'll be able to find some peace . I'm not convinced, but it can't hurt to try.

Maybe if I can "let life happen" something will shift or change and I'll be able to move forward. Despite my best efforts to move forward, I'm currently stuck in some sort of holding pattern of relentlessly negative emotions. Something's gotta give. Maybe it's me.


  1. WOW! I get you...I seen the original interview, and I dont even watch Oprah much. I felt the same ora around Shirley, she seemed so peacefull annnd...just ahh... right. Love the perspective you put that in......surrender?!

  2. I understand this way of thinking completely (have always liked Shirley). A yoga master I worked with a number of years ago used to give me similar advice, and it did help me get through a divorce, a custody battle, my Dad's illness, etc. I lapse every now and then - stop thinking this way - then something will happen to jolt me back to this perspective. Living this way does seem to attract more positive energy - makes life more functional - nothing seems too mystical, ya know?

  3. I posted last time about my nephew dying. I was talking to my sister, his other aunt, about it the other day. I said that none my of feelings or actions can fix this. Rage won't bring him back, crying won't bring him back, lashing out at the people I think are responsible won't even bring him back. Nothing I think or do will bring him back to his son, wife, mother, aunts, siblings or grandparents. This is the other part of the equation. Since nothing I or we can do will bring him back, I have to surrender to the fact that he's gone. It's easier for me than my other sister. He was her son. But, I will share this word with her. I hope it helps her. I hope it helps me. I am so uneasy and uncomfortable and in disbelief, but I'm not at the bottom of a pit like I'm afraid his mother is.

  4. We don't know each other, but I've come to care about you, thanks to your blog.

    I was an injured person living a broken life before I got sober about a year and a half ago. The most profound moment of my sobriety journey was when I followed AA's third step and turned my life over to the care of a god of my understanding. It is so freeing to live life on life's terms. I was such a control freak, wanting life and the universe to unfold how I saw fit and torturing myself when it didn't happen. Eventually, my thoughts became so distorted and negative and I honestly believed that I was a bad person or was being punished if life didn't happen according to my agenda. I never realized that there's so much that I don't know AND that I don't know I don't know.

    I know our experiences aren't the same, but I bet magical things are going to happen when your surrender.

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  6. I don't believe in reincarnation in the traditional sense, but I (through my religion) certainly believe that our spirits do go on and I truly believe you'll see your kids again one day. It doesn't change what happened, but it does bring peace to think that it's not goodbye forever.

    I lost a brother in a car/pedestrian accident. He was two years old. My family has faith that we will see him again and that there is a plan for all of us and that has made all the difference in our healing. If you're interested in another insight, http://mormon.org/plan-of-happiness/

    I also watched the Shirley interview and found peace some of her beliefs. I think it's important to be open minded and actively find ways to heal. Surrender IS a beautiful word and I hope to be able to do this in aspects of my life as well.

    I just learned of your story while researching Frick Park. I recently moved to this area. Your story touched me, and I pray for you.

  7. I went through a terrible depression three years ago. I felt like I had a black cloud hanging over me; a heavy rock sitting on top of me. One day I was at the bookstore and I was just desperate for something - anything - that might help. Eckhart Tolle's A NEW EARTH was on the sale table, and even though I had previously dismissed it (the whole Oprah book group thing had made me really skeptical) I bought it.

    It ended up helping me so much...it shone a light into my dark world. Then I read his other book, THE POWER OF NOW, which helped too. You might want to check them out. Good thoughts to you.

  8. The "natural order" of things is different for every human being.

    For Kate & Peter, what happened was the "natural order" for them. For those whose lives are cut short in our lifetime,whether at birth, in their youth, in the service of their country, by storms or earthquakes, etc their souls will return for many more lifetimes. Our lives are infinite. This is what Shirley refers to when she says we need to surrender to what life thrusts upon us.

    No one leaves this earth without having an effect on others. Think about what has transpired for you and for others this past year or so.. Your children have affected the lives of many in a positive and memorable light. Their light will always shine.

    It is not a matter of religious belief. It is a matter of what you believe in your heart. All prominent religions believe there is a supreme being or source that created life.

    Study Eastern philosophy or doctrines and the idea of infinite life is so much more commonly accepted than for us in the West.

    And if, Shirley McClaine, by opening her heart to new or what some may describe as unorthodox approaches and new ways of thinking, she is labeled "enlightened", then then may we all find a little enlightenment.

    You are on the right track, Amy. Continue to follow your instincts. Believe it not, you brought them with you into this lifetime.

  9. This is full of thoughts I keep coming back to... Thanks for sharing, I saw that Oprah as well and it was really powerful. Keep swimming, Amy. Keep swimming.

  10. amy, i haven't been on here alot lately, but i love shirley and her beliefs, i think surrender is a great place to aim to get to, i know what helped me to move forward after my harvey died was realising wherever he was, he was already ahead of me waiting, up until that point, i couldn't move forward because i was afraid of leaving him behind. it turned everything around for me.. i still cry every time i look at a picture of your sweet kate and peter and ofcourse harvey. it really is so very hard xxx anne