Grief – The Ultimate Permission-Giver

I thought I was losing my mind after my Pop’s died.

No joke.

I began to think the dementia that finally ravaged his brain, was about to do the same to mine.

I couldn’t think straight, literally.

My short-term memory was shot.

Which sent me down the Google rabbit-hole where I found helpful articles that explain how grief is not just processed emotionally and spiritually; it’s processed physically as well.

 

Lightbulb moment; that makes total fucking sense, I thought!

 

I didn’t question my sanity after that.

Instead, I got really intentional about taking care of myself and my grief.

 

POST-PHYSICAL GRIEF REVELATION

What unfolded after that has been interesting because grief became the ultimate permission-giver to say “no”.

 

Because grief left me feeling depleted of almost everything – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically – I gave zero f*cks in life.

 

With not much left in my tank – if you’re not my husband, daughter, or client – I rarely have anything left over to give.   

 

Protecting my energy has become a full-time job.

It’s made me say “no” to just about everything outside of my family, house, and work.

It’s made me say “yes” to everything that helps my world feel, well, soft and not so dreary.

 

And, damn, it feels so good.  

 

Which makes me question –

Why did grief have to give me the permission to say “no” to whatever I wanted to say “no” to?

Why couldn’t I have those boundaries without having to lose my favorite person in the whole world?

  

GRIEF – THE ULTIMATE PERMISSION GIVER

So, what does that actually look like?

You know, saying “no” when you want to and saying “yes” when you want to.

Being all congruent and aligned in life.

 

If it’s hard for you to place boundaries or say “no” when all you do is say “yes” – here are some examples of how I laid the grief/boundary smackdown.

 

  • Listen to your body. Bloody hell, if you’re tired, be tired.

Your grief body needs all the help it can get. Reschedule, cancel, leave the party, get in bed while the sun’s still up to tend to your tired.

I went to Scottsdale, AZ for a business trip and stayed in this magnificent, swanky-ass resort. After the conference, I passed out at 6:30pm and never really took in the beautiful place we were in.

That’s more than okay. I woke up refreshed and my body and brain were happy I did just that.

 

  • Be brutally honest with yourself and others.

Now that I know tending to my grief-self is #1 priority for me, I have very uncomfortable conversations with family, friends and even strangers.

I decline gatherings and invitations constantly (including holidays, birthdays and celebrations), or give the caveat I may not stay too long and tell people up front: In my grief process, currently, I get overwhelmed super easy, so if I do come to your shindig, don’t be surprised if I leave early.

I’ve ordered the wrong milk in a café and told the barista, “Sorry, my dad died recently and I’m completely out of it.”

When my family or close friends ask how I’m doing, my usual response is, “I’m here. You know, just feeling like my left arm is cut off and I don’t know where it is.”

The pre-grief Keli was a jovial little bitch and her remarks would have been, “Great!! How are you?”

Grief and death are subjects’ people can get squirrely with.

 

My honest response is to honor my journey…whether that makes you comfortable or not. 

And of course, I think these topics should be discussed more in life because they can be lonely and isolating if you don’t talk about them.

 

  • I fumble constantly but give myself GRACE.

Here’s where I fumble – when I think I can say “yes” to something (in the moment) but when the time comes, I actually don’t have it in me to do the thing I said “yes” to.

I’ve had to say “no” at the last minute to my very best friend more times in the last couple of months than I ever have in our lifelong friendship.

I forget to tell people the stipulation: “This sounds like a “yes” to me right now, but let’s revisit this when the time gets closer.”

In December alone – the month of my Pop’s and Hub’s birthday, along with the holiday’s – we ate out constantly.

Not something we do consistently, but I gave myself grace to not cook and get through this hectic month as sane as possible.

   

So, perhaps, if you blow at boundaries, or want to get more aligned with how you show up in the world and where you place your energy – don’t wait for grief to give you the permission – do it now, yo!

And get to flexin’ those boundary muscles.

 

Love + Big-Ass Boundary Grief Lessons,

Keli

  

Psst…Grief-life is a giant mirror for your friendships and relationships in life. It’s a brutal process to watch someone grieve. It’s also a beautiful process to be in the thick of it with them.

 

Also, if you don’t have a robe (it’s like you’re constantly wearing a warm hug), get yo’ass to a Target ASAP. I basically live in this wardrobe now. 

It’s Never Goodbye, It’s Only So Long…

The Vic

My pops…

The guy I talk (write) about all the time. 

The dude who I said has the number one spot in my heart (even my hubs knew his ranking). 

The man whose humor surpasses any comedian I’ve ever watched.

And who rocked a raging case of CRS/Alzheimer’s like no other…

Went tits up recently (Vic’s words for anyone who died was “tits up!”).

 

I had the privilege of honoring who he was in life and writing his obituary, which I knew could have absolutely NO pretense in or around it! 

 

Here’s to The Vic, my pops, for showing me how to live a life with just enough grace, heaping compassion and a fuck-ton of laughter. 

 

 

Please enjoy an obituary fit for a man who lived life mostly on the edge and rarely did he overthink much. 

 

The Vic Obit

 

Victor Michael Conci, Sr. – more appropriately known as “The Vic” – completed the family round table and joined his mom Rose, father Vittorio, brothers Charlie, Joseph, Hank, sister Mary (Reno) and nephew Chuck on August 23rd, 2019. He’s now singing opera with Pavarotti at the top of his lungs and keeping whoever is in charge up there on their toes.

 

The Vic came screamin’ into this world on December 10th, 1932 in the mining town of Rugby, Colorado. We don’t know if that town still exists, but he sure loved spouting off that he was born in Rugby as if it was a legendary town nobody knew about.

 

Vic was the youngest crumb-cruncher born to Rosalia (Rose) and Vittorio Conci – both whom left the old country of Italy and set sail to America – for what (we hope) was a better life. We’re sure, however, both Rose and Vittorio questioned that decision after Vic was born.

 

By the time Vic came along, he joined his siblings Charlie, Mary and Hank to give his mom Rose hell – and not many years later – officially sent his father Vittorio packing his bags.

 

After brother Charlie made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II, when it was time, Vic joined the Marine’s (“Semper Fi Mother F***er” he loved shouting). He served in the Korean War and never let us forget that he endured Major Payne’s (yes, that was his real name) slaps upside his head and he finally overcame his fear of swimming because they threw his ass in the water and told him to swim. He never did like water much after that – including showers.

 

A career in the Marine’s wasn’t for rebellious Vic and so post-Korean War threw him into adventures in California, Wyoming and eventually settling back in Colorado.

 

Eventually, he did land in what would be his career at the CF&I as a steelworker. Now, truth be told, he spent as much time at the bars doing shots of Crown Royal, sucking back 7 and 7 drinks while smooth-talking the ladies as he did slinging steel.

 

The Vic was an equal opportunity lover (especially if you were at least 10 years younger than him) and so began his string of three marriages and kids we ponder are still unaccounted for. (We’re waiting for a Maury Povich moment where we see if Vic is truly the father!).

 

Fortunately – throughout the three marriages – we can account for Kim, Marijean, Mike, Keli (Josh) and Codi Conci as his offspring. And he even welcomed being a father at 50-years old when most people that age were reveling in their empty nest.

 

Mike and Keli especially gravitated towards Vic’s larger than life personality, unmatched wit, sarcasm and most of all unconditional love and the unique ability to not take life that serious.

 

When Vic wasn’t rebel-rousing, you could usually find him with his family cooking (especially a spaghetti sauce or chicken soup), cutting a rug on the dancefloor, singing Pavarotti or Bocelli at the top of his lungs with absolutely no shame, and watching his favorite sports on TV. You could even find him yelling at the television screen when Jerry Springer was on.

 

When life threw him a raging case of CRS (Can’t Remember Sh*t/Alzheimer’s) you better believe he made the best of it. His easy-going nature, light-hearted disposition, and infectious laugh made those 10+ years some of the hardest, yet fondest that Vic and his family had the honor and privilege to be a part of.

 

Vic never lost his ability to laugh at the slightest joke, make fun of himself and know that at the end of it all – we’re only here a short stay.

 

He packed his life and those around him full of humor, levity, kindness, compassion and wholehearted love.

 

After 86 years of raising hell on Earth, he flew out of this world like he lived: easy and his way, surrounded by so much tenderness and devotion you’d think it was Mother Teresa on her death bed…but it was The Vic.

 

(A special shout-out to the living and breathing Earth Angels at the Bruce McCandless State Veteran’s Home and Frontier Hospice. You ALL made his last two years [and final week] there like the party that he thought life should be. Your grace and care for Vic and the entire Conci family will never be forgotten!)

 

Cheers to a long life well-lived, and in honor of The Vic and his life – go worry less, live more and hug your people!

 

Show Up. Tell Your Story.

I can’t say I recall ever wanting to be a writer.

Even when I was little and kept a journal (you know the ones with the lock and key) + wrote silly stories — I didn’t think of being a full-on writer one day.

But in 5th-grade that changed; I found a hunger in myself around writing. But it definitely didn’t look like a hunger at first, it looked like jealousy.

I mostly remember our teacher telling the class to write a creative story. There was a timed aspect to it, and damn did I feel in the flow when I was scribbling away on that paper.

When the timer went off, I actually felt proud of what I just wrote.

My innards felt all warm and fuzzy proud, but not proud enough to share it with the whole 5th-grade class. Baby steps, people.

The teacher starts asking for volunteers to read their story. And while I was super happy with what I just wrote (especially the ending), there was no way in classroom heaven I was going to read it aloud.

A couple brave souls read their cute stories and I thought, “Look at them go, but my story is better.”

And then a girl – known for her smarts, brass + front row seat in the classroom – stood up and read her story without missing a beat; she shared her story with full confidence.

The next thing I knew I thought I was listening to my own story because it was quite identical. But I had the ace in the hole I thought – her ending couldn’t top my ending.

Oh, but Keli, it did.

Because it was the same ending.

We both did the “And then little Johnny woke up from his dream.”

I was shocked + pissed at the same time. And it didn’t help that the teacher couldn’t stop gushing about her story, “So creative! I love the ending! Really good story!”

I wanted to grab my paper right there, stand up and show MY creativity gosh darn it.

Too late.

I stewed for a bit over that experience, but it made me realize if I care that much about my writing maybe I should show up and stand up more in my writing.

After that day, I wasn’t so afraid to put my writing out there – even though I still didn’t have dreams of being a writer. I just knew I never wanted to feel like I didn’t show up fully for something I actually was pretty decent at.

I did a lot of showing up for my writing in high school. I joined the school newspaper, took creative writing classes, wrote an essay for a scholarship (and won) and my senior year I was editor of the school newspaper.

I kept showing up even though I couldn’t connect the dots.

My dreams at that time were to move to California and get into acting (even though my only acting credit was reciting Steel Magnolias in my bathroom mirror while fake crying). I think my bigger dream was to just move to California + pursue a career as a talk show host, but who really knows.

Writing was never on my radar of how I was going to show up in the world. It was just something I was good at.

I wrote my way through every certification and degree I got in my 20’s. And once social media entered the picture, I wrote there, too.

When I launched my Health Coaching practice in 2012, I officially started a blog. Just because it came with my website.

I love expressing myself through words, but again, never thought of it as a career.

Except that is exactly what it has become: my writing has become my career.

I write articles on my website, I help small businesses and creatives write their websites and blogs and newsletter and social media content: I write for a living.

I get paid to write.

But that’s not how I always saw it because I’m not a published author (yet), or my articles don’t go viral and spread like wildfire through the Interwebs.

I just simply show up every day and write —

Write blogs.

Write content for clients.

Write emails.

I write my ass off and get paid to do it even though this was never my dream, but now, it feels like it’s always been a whisper of a dream I just didn’t take the time to listen to.

Maybe you’re wondering what the actual fuck you want to do with your life.

Maybe you’re criticizing yourself for not knowing your “purpose” (whatever that means).

Maybe you’re unsure of yourself because you thought you loved one thing but realized you actually really don’t love that one thing.

I’ve been there – and on days when I can’t get a decent sentence out to save my life – I’m very much still there.

I’m not sure of easy answers in life, but the one thing that’s usually worked for me is continuing to show up until something does make sense – until you can definitely say something is up your alley, or hell-to-the-no that’s not for you.

Show up.

Go first and share your story.  

Because if you don’t, you may never know what does or does not make your soul move in ways you didn’t know it could.

Love + Still Learning To Tell My Story,

Keli

When the Whistle Blows

I scurry to the kitchen from our bedroom like I’m a running back with my eye on the end zone.

(Just to be clear, I had to Google what a running back actually does + I originally said “inzone” not end zone. THAT’S how much I know about football.)

It’s a familiar scene in the Conci household; the tea kettle is whistling + I need to shut that thing down before the neighbors call the police for a welfare check on me.

Enter me sprinting like I know what I’m doing.

Except my Hubs already let me know – like 3 minutes before the whistle blew – that it was about ready to spew like Yellowstone’s geyser.

I ignored him of course.

I was pounding away on my laptop like a herd of elephants making their way across the desert.

That’s what usually happens when I’m so deep in computer work – I forget what the hell is happening around me until the damn kettle whistles so loud it startles the ever-living-shit out of me, and I run like my life depends on it.

And then I turn that sucker off + feel triumphant for an insignificant moment because I slayed some water beast.

But this time, the Hubs got me, and I didn’t even know it.

You know how I came in and told you this thing was about to blow?” the Hubs grinned as he spoke.

“Uh-huh, I nodded like a little schoolgirl listening to a teacher she’s in love with.

“Well, it was about to blow because I knew that’s the only way you’d listen. I already took the kettle off the burner, but I placed it back on ’cause I knew you’d react to the whistle blowing…and not me telling you that thing was about to go nuclear.”

Sneaky little shit, this guy, I thought.

But he knows me best.

And he was right.

(Why does he have to give me life lessons via a tea kettle?)

Why do we wait for the kettle whistle to blow?

Do we like being startled?

Is it easier to just anticipate + then react?

I’m not sure why some of us learn the first go around, or why some take a few soul-screeching turns to get something.

Do we learn better by watching someone else experience life — even when it’s difficult and crushing?

Or do we have to take every hit?

I know I’m waxing philosophical here, but dang, you’d think I’d be tired of learning life lessons via a whistling kettle + the ignoring of common sense.

What whistles are blowing for you?

Love + Blowing Off Steam,

Keli