In August I ended a relationship that was, for over a year, filled with magical love. But ultimately, we were too mismatched. I was sad sad sad. It took me 3 weeks to literally fall down on my knees and physically grieve this incredible loss. This 3 week pause was the work of Sheila, who guards my heart. (She is a personification of how I process pain.) Sheila thinks if I feel too much, I’ll go too deep and, well, I don’t really know. Die? Go crazy?  Sheila was born from the utter disbelief and despair I felt 7 years ago when my husband, the man who loved me to pieces, suddenly died.

Richard Serra 923

Richard Serra sculpture

Sheila throws up a wall around my heart, usually a brick, medieval structure. Sometimes she designs Richard Serra-style wavy giant steel structures.

She directs my attention away from my heart and to my thoughts, rationalizing, justifying, trying to explain. I cried, I walked in the woods, I talked with friends about what had happened. And when Sheila thought I could handle it, she lowered the wall, allowing the feeling of loss in. Or is she allowing it to seep out?

Sheila Who Guards My Heart

Sheila Who Guards My Heart

It is 4 months later and I’m done trying to figure out this last heartache. When those old thoughts creep in I brush my hands together and say “allora”, loosely translated as “then” or “so” or “therefore”. For me it’s a signal to move on and stop massaging the story in my head. Funny thing – when I started doing this, the pain in my hip went away.

Each year I pick a word that defines what appears to be the lesson I need to learn. Two years ago it was “unfold”, last year “accept”. Tomorrow is a new year. I think I’ll pick “allora” – keep moving (growing), stop trying to figure it all out (controlling) and for the love of Pete, stop taking everything so seriously! Happy Happy New Year, Everyone. Allora.


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