Do you remember what the screen looked and sounded like when a TV station would go off for the night? Yes, I know to some it’s hard to believe there was a time without 24 hour programming or infomercials. White noise bothers some people, but others use white noise machines to relax and sleep.

In Tokyo we were dazzled by all of the bright neon lights and digital billboards. At every subway stop in Tokyo there was an equivalent to the NYC Times Square. The neon lights were not limited to the famous Ginza shopping district.


Once we exited the subway station in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, multiple digital billboards that talk at you greeted us. At a certain time every hour, all the billboards played the same commercial in unison as a type of surround sound not found in any cinema. I found it eerie-it seemed more like an episode of DR. WHO, when people on the billboards come to life and attack (I have no idea if there is such an episode, but there should be).

shibuya stationThe displays were mesmerizing yet overwhelming at the same time. I can relate it to the emotions that have been buzzing through my thoughts lately. Sometimes, all the concerns and anxiety I have just will not stop yammering.

Some thoughts are exciting ones like: I’m less than 9 months away from the publishing date when THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM hits the shelves! That’s August 2nd for those of you who don’t want to do the math 🙂 But that leads to: how will I successfully market the book? Will I physically be able to attend conferences? Will schools want to buy the book for their classroom? And lastly, will I be able to write anything else?

Other constant chatter involves my concern with my bad pain days increasing and that each RSD flare up takes me longer to bounce back to my “normal pain level”.

The static in my head feels as if my fight or flight switch that turned on 18 months ago from various losses and changes has been on for so long it doesn’t know how to shut off. I feel like I am supposed to put out a fire but I’m running (well limping would be more like it) in circles looking for my lost bucket of water needed to douse the flames.

Sometimes to feel better, I scream, rant, and cry (not necessarily in that order). But it is not always plausible to burst into tears. For example being in the produce section at the grocery store is NOT the best time. Not that I know this for a fact or anything…okay, yeah it happened. However, I do find that if I am in the car screaming or yelling, I don’t feel embarrassed because anyone that might see me may think I have a Bluetooth or am singing a really, really angry song.

I’m still trying to figure out how I’ll deal with the first major holidays without my mom. My grief counselor and various articles I’ve read about the grief journey discussed that there is no wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Celebrate in a way that is comforting to you and what makes you feel the most grounded amidst all the changes. Interestingly enough, a YA novel I recently read has been helpful with this sentiment.

In ORCHARDS, an award-winning novel by Holly Thompson, the main character, Kana, is trying to find meaning of a classmate’s suicide. She’s sent from the U.S. to spend her summer vacation with Japanese relatives on their mikan (orange) farm on the seaside of Japan. She is only half Japanese so many of the Japanese customs aren’t followed in her American home. I could definitely relate to that 🙂

Kana, stuck in her grief, wondered if she could have helped the classmate somehow and what she can do to help her friends deal with what happened. While in Japan she celebrates the Obon Festival (a carnival like celebration usually in August, but depends on the region of Japan and celebrated for over 500 yrs.).  Loved ones are remembered  with appreciation for all they had done for their family.

The family welcomes the spirit back into their homes with a special altar, sprucing up the burial area, sharing the memories of their loved one, and a bonfire to guide their family members back to their resting place.

Because of other lessons learned while living with her Japanese relatives and partaking in the Obon Festival to honor her Grandfather she becomes ‘unstuck’. Kana discovers a way to remember the classmate, heal her own heart, and help others heal as well. It is a wonderful novel and well worth reading to find out what other steps she took on her grief journey.

The sentiment that got through my white noise was that she couldn’t control one way or another what happened to her classmate, but she could control how she chose to remember her in a meaningful, loving way. So, I am continuing to pray that I am open to whatever God (one constant amidst the changes) places in my heart to offset the static in my head.

(Sending prayers to all who are grieving for loved ones or their loss of a sense of security and peace in Paris) ❤

I will be sharing this post at:


25 thoughts on “STATIC

  1. Congratulations on your book coming out soon! What a wonderful accomplishment.
    I’ve been thinking of you so much as I know this Thanksgiving was an anniversary and also there was an empty place at the table and in your heart. You have been in my prayers this month.
    Beautiful post. God bless ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much- knowing that her story will be published in 2016 is one of the things that help me push on 🙂 Your comments never fail to bring me comfort and make me smile. I’m so appreciative of your prayers and your caring heart. Wishing you much love and blessings this Christmas season ❤


  2. Dear Kathleen, Grief can linger for a long time. When our daughter Susanne died 30 some years ago, we weren’t sure we’d ever get over the tragedy of it all. And I’m not sure we ever will. But we have learned to go on with life, finding it cathartic to put parts of her in our stories and songs. You will find a way to deal with your grief, just as you have your constant pain.Much love to you and happy holidays. Sarah


    • Sarah, thank you for sharing your grief with me. I did not know about Susanne. My heart goes out to you. It really touches me that you would share that with me;along with some ways you have learned to go on with life, yet holding on to your love and memories of your daughter. You inspire me. I wish you and your family much love and a blessed holiday season as well. Sending a gentle hug ❤


  3. lindaphillips4866 says:

    Kathy, hooray for screaming out in the car, or any other way you can think of to get it out! If you are interested, my church PUMC in Charlotte has a great service on Dec. 21 at 7:00 pm called “Longest Night” with grieving family members in mind. Love to have you join me there if you can. As for stressing about the book, I also can tell you it is not life-giving and I agree with Miriam. Start work immediately on the next project. So appreciate your sharing from the heart! Blessings.


    • Linda, I so appreciate you cheering me on! I also love the idea of “Longest Night”. Nights can be difficult for me to get out, but your church’s idea inspired me to look for other such services during the day. My husband, daughter and I will be going to an afternoon service called “Hope and Healing” which is a similar type service on the 20th. Your caring words are really like a hug to me at this time. Thank you for your advice and for your friendship. I’m so very grateful ❤


  4. Hi Kathleen, it appears we have a lot in common. I remember the TV going off to bed for the night. I see you follow Holly Gerth. My sister and hubby are missionaries in Toyko, and you write too. So sorry to hear you that you have RSD, and praying you’ll get through the holidays without your mom this year.


    • Tracy, my goodness we do have a lot in common! How wonderful that your sister and husband are missionaries in Japan! I hope they are enjoying Tokyo and are making many joyful memories as my family has done(asid from billboards that wigged me out). Thank you so much for your kind words. I so appreciate your prayers. Wishing you and your family a very Blessed holiday season. 🙂


  5. Being Woven says:

    Dear Kathleen, this touches my heart. This will be my third holiday season without Mama, although the fourth back she was so very sick that it doesn’t compute as a holiday. I do better with each year, yet when someone so very special is gone form this earthly life and we were son close to them, the remembering part (as in the book) is so vital to being able to breath calmly and sweetly. God never leaves you nor forsakes you and He does hold you through the moments.
    I spend some time looking at photos or writing about her. I once, years ago, after the loss of someone else, went off to a coastal town on Thanksgiving weekend and enjoyed the beach and a good meal alone. I actually had a wonderful time in a quiet sort-of-way. We all do the best we can and know that that is enough.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda


    • Dear Linda, Thank you for sharing about your Mama. My mom was pretty sick last Christmas too, so I know what you mean. I definitely need to work on my ‘breathing calmly and sweetly’ methods. Your blog posts on Being Woven, help me a lot. Your reminder that God does hold you through these moments of grief and despair (especially at the times I do not feel it) comforts me. I am beginning my first round of edits for my mother’s story, so the timing is perfect to delve in and hold her story close to my heart. I so appreciate your prayers and your encouragement. Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas season ❤


  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your photos of Japan. That static in our heads is so difficult to turn off! I know you have a lot to juggle right now but as I’ve learned from a very stressful few months dealing with my daughter’s latest challenges, you have to live ONE DAY AT A TIME. We have to stop the what-ifs and the worries about the future, and try our best to live in the moment. Even on the most difficult days, I’m learning to look for that moment of joy and peace, for being grateful for the little things. You will find your own way to get through the holidays, and though it won’t be easy, I know you will find some comfort in your memories and in being with your family. You will start new traditions, and you will find a way to honor your mom in those traditions.

    As far as worrying about the book and what you should be doing to prepare for the debut, all I can say is I wasted months worrying and caught up in some anxiety whirlpool that sucked up all my time and energy. So try your best to avoid it, and like everyone told me (but I couldn’t take their advice at the time), focus on your next project. You can do it!!

    Hugs and love, and hope we can get together soon!


    • Miriam
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am grateful for your friendship and your advice from your own experiences. I definitely want to get together after Thanksgiving-we still need to celebrate your novel EXTRAORDINARY 🙂 I wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving. Sending back love and hugs. ❤


  7. “The static in my head feels as if my fight or flight switch that turned on 18 months ago from various losses and changes has been on for so long it doesn’t know how to shut off.” Yes, that sounds like me currently, as well. So many family losses lately, that all we can do most days is just pray and let God take care of things. He, and only He alone, knows what to do. Thanks for sharing from your heart.


    • Ann, thank you so much for visiting me. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing with me. I am sending you a hug and a prayer that you as well will work through this journey of grief and we can find some healing amongst our loved ones who are still here and knowing our loved ones in heaven are watching out for us as well. ❤


  8. Joan Y. Edwards says:

    Dear Kathleen,
    I think you’re handling everything really well. Beautiful pictures and description of Japan. Glad that the release of your book is getting closer.
    Praying for you!

    Love, Joan


    • Joan, thank you so very much. I so appreciate your inspiration. I am so psyched it is less than a year now till publication 🙂 Look forward to seeing you again. You are in my prayers too. Love you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family ❤


  9. Your grief counselor is absolutely right. There’s no “right” way to get through the holidays–just your way. I also have a copy of Orchards and look forward to reading it. You have a lot going on in your life, Kathy. May the Lord be with you as you go through it all. Looking forward to reading your ARC!!


    • Carol, thank you for your encouragement and your prayers. It means so much to me. You will really like ORCHARDS. Thank you and I look forward to having you review my ARC!! 🙂 Wishing you and your family a Blessed Thanksgiving ❤


  10. Ellen says:

    Kathy, this is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing! Yes, holidays are very tough during the grieving process. Many soothing healing thoughts and prayers and strength, too, for your book adventure. I know the next writing idea will come.
    Great coffee time with you and Billieeeeee today! Looking forward to the next time…soul sister therapy! Yahoo! Billieeeee, see you in the water tomorrow afternoon.
    TTFN!…Chubby Huggs, e

    Sent from my iPad



    • Ellen, thank you so much. And thank you for your soothing healing thoughts..I can feel them already 🙂 Definitely helped by seeing you and Billie the other day for sure! Thank you for your friendship 🙂


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