Ask Questions of Yourself and Your Friends: Fear

July 17, 2014
 Deepen relationships by asking questions
about managing emotions.

Ask Questions and Explore Answers


two bears

I once saw a cartoon that showed two bears in a forest. One bear turns to the other and says: “It’s the lions and tigers that scare me.” We all have something that scares us.

This post explores how fear helps you and how sometimes it just gets in your way.

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Doing Something Half-assed is Better Than Not At All

July 14, 2014
 A life lived only by the well, or a life worth living?

Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD — one of the earliest pioneers in the mind/body health field — includes a short chapter titled “Life is For the Well.”

Here she tells about one of her patients who had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and spent several years seeking help for her symptoms. She would go from doctor of doctor “obsessed with the minutest details of her physical problems, which she tracked in a daily journal.” She thought she had to be without symptoms to enjoy life to go the theater, to have children, to love.

It seemed to her that life could only be lived by the well.

Then in meditation one day, she saw that her chronic disease was not stopping her from participating in life; rather, it was the meaning she assigned to that illness. She was surprised to find that there was absolutely no reason why — if she felt weak or was in some pain — she couldn’t still go to the theater. It might take her longer to get to her seat and if she felt poorly she may have to leave early and miss the last act. But otherwise, operating from the way in which she defined her illness, she would have missed the whole play.

Today, Dr. Remen writes:

She has stopped pursuing the perfect health she once had and does what she can to strengthen her body in simple, natural ways. Instead of seeing four or five doctors a week, she now consults her doctors only for serious problems. She has discovered that by being willing to begin without being certain of the outcome, she is often able to do a great deal more than she would have thought. Laughingly, she says that she has made a substitution in the cross-stitched sampler than hangs in the walls of her inner life. It used to say, “Life is only for the well.” Now it says, “Anything worth doing is worth doing half-assed.”

I’ve told you this story because I’ve been under the weather for several days and have only had enough energy to watch films on my iPad. Then this morning I remembered that I had said I hoped to write two posts a week and last week you only got one. What was I to do without energy to give this piece more than a perfunctory attempt?Ever After movie

That’s when I remembered the story of living fully no matter how one feels — and that I did have something to share after all, even if I wrote it perfunctorily. You see, just a short time ago I finished “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” in which Drew Barrymore plays a spirited commoner in a delightful twist on an old tale.

I don’t need to write more than to recommend you watch it. Read the reviews and see for yourself.


Tribute to a Life Well Lived: Words on a Mountain Top

July 7, 2014
 A fitting farewell for Bob.

This is fourth in a series of four articles about the celebration this spring of my husband’s life. The other articles are:


If you scatter the ashes of someone affiliated with a church, you can use familiar hymns or scripture during the ceremony. However, my husband was not religious and we weren’t certain what to do when we scattered his ashes on Mount Wilson, in the hills he loved to hike.

Fortunately, my brother John, who had been a minister in the Lutheran church, wrote a piece that perfectly expressed what we wanted to say in this ceremony.

I share this in case you ever have to say something when giving the final good-byes as you scatter ashes. Perhaps these words would give you an idea of what to say.

This weekend we have come together to treasure and remember the life of Robert Leland Harder – husband and father, grandfather and kin, great intellect and playful comic, lover of trains and mountain trail warrior.

During his lifetime, Bob walked along many a technical pathway, creating solutions that still impact the world. He also trudged over many mountain pathways, like the trail beside us and next to this majestic Ponderosa.

It seems fitting to deliver his ashes to this mountain, to his second home, where he can become part of the life of these surroundings for future generations to enjoy.

John Fabian, Brother-in-law
April 20, 2014

I will always remember you: a poem

July 3, 2014
 A special poem for Bob.

This is the third post of four that share my experience of saying good-bye to a wonderful man with whom I had many experiences over the years. If you have not yet read the first two, here they are:

For the celebration of Bob’s life, I wrote the following poem. It is based on one that I wrote in 2002, called “I Still Remember Them.”

Mileage Sign

Incidentally, the illustration for this post is one taken at the southernmost place he and I have been, Bluff, New Zealand, looking out across the water to Antarctica. It is an example of the many things we’ve done that have created memories over the years.

I Will Always Remember You

Because we shared so much in life,
there is much to remind me of you.

That is why I will think of you when walking in a park
. . . and when having a picnic in the mountains.

I will think of you when I am alone in our apartment
. . . and when I am eating in the dining room.

I will think of you when I hear a new joke
. . . and when I tell a joke you liked.

I will think of you when I visit our children
. . . and our grandchildren.

I will think of you when I hear a train whistle
. . . and when I take a boat ride.

I will think of you when walking down familiar streets
. . . and through foreign cities.

I will think of you when I can’t remove a jar lid
. . . and when I don’t understand something technical.

I will think of you in the cold nights of winter
. . . and the hot days of summer.

I will think of you in the setting of the sun
. . . and the rising of the moon.

Many years from now
I may not think of you quite as often as I do today.

But memories of you will live in my heart
. . . and I can always think of you wherever I am
and whatever I do.

What I Will Miss the Most

June 30, 2014
 A few of the special things that Arlene will miss about Bob.

In the last post — Let Me Introduce My Late Husband — I told you a bit about my husband Bob, who died in February. With those comments as background, this is what I will miss most now that he is gone.

I will miss walks and dinner on Friday nights.

After I had a back operation in 1984, we started a tradition of taking walks on Friday nights and having dinner afterward. In this way we visited 86 cities in Los Angeles County. We would park the car near a restaurant and walk perhaps a mile or two and return for dinner. If we were going on a long stretch, such as from one end of Los Angeles County to the other, we would walk a section of the route each week. Our walking had slowed down considerably toward the end, but when Friday night comes around, I feel a pull in my heart for those days when we knew that we had a date; and that there would be time to talk about things that got pushed to the side during the week.

I will miss having my sole-mate.

Several years ago we were eating dinner on one of our Friday night outings when I asked him whether he thought of me as a “soul mate.” He replied, “Depends on how you spell it.” If “soul-mate” means you and the other person are close in all matters of the heart and mind, we clearly didn’t fit that description. But if you think of our commitment to one another for all those years, we each had a “sole-mate” on whom we could count.

Bob in the MoonI will miss playing the moon game.

One of the things we did that bridged the gap between our different ways of seeing the world was to play the “moon game.” We would try to be the first person to see the moon each day and would shout “MOON! “ or use hand gestures to describe the phase of the moon. No “points” were actually kept, but we both claimed to have the most. This is why I have used a picture of the moon as an illustration of this blog post. When this was taken last year by my talented brother Art, we discovered the man in the moon looks an awfully lot like Bob. Each new moon will remind me of this daily game.

I will miss going on train rides with him.

Whenever Bob had a chance, he would ride the metro and loved going to museums of trains, whether these were refurbished standard cars and engines or small models. Together we had the pleasure of riding trains along the California coast and in Europe, South America and Down Under. There are many other train rides I would like to take, but now probably won’t.

I will miss taking hikes in the mountains with him.

Bob introduced me to backpacking and hiking. He hiked every trail in the San Gabriel Mountains several times; when he moved to Villa Gardens, he said that even though he would never hike again, from our balcony he could at least see where he had walked hundreds of times. However, while he loved the local mountains, he said that God’s country is above timberline. Most of his mountain-climbing was done before we were married, but we often went back-packing and I even “climbed” Mt. Whitney — from the back side.

I will miss a wonderful traveling companion.

We loved traveling and visited many foreign countries. Besides the sheer joy of having a companion on those trips, I counted on him to carry the heavier bags and to keep track of where we were going. As I said in the last post, our relationship was quid pro quo and that made us good travel companions. It will be hard to find someone to replace him.

I will miss someone with whom I can share a laugh, even when times are rough.

A leading characteristic of Bob was his love of humor. He often smoothed over problems with jokes and puns. If I asked him to do something in the months before he died, he might respond with, “But you can’t ask me to do that, I’m dying” — to which I would respond with, “Well, you certainly wouldn’t burden a person who is about to become a widow.”

I will miss someone who could explain technical issues I don’t understand.

I counted on Bob to explain lots of things. His mechanical training and his left brain came in handy when I read something that I couldn’t figure out. Now I have to use my own left brain a bit more — or borrow someone else’s.

I will most miss the presence of someone I could always count on.

I am finding that the greatest thing I miss is simply having someone here in the apartment with me, someone with whom I can share a joke, watch the NewsHour, and discuss the latest activities of our children and grandchildren. What is most tough is reaching out in bed for the hand of a long-time lover and finding no one there. I know I will eventually miss these things less, but right now they are central in my life. Note: In the next blog post — A Poem for My Husband — I share a poem I wrote to him called “I Will Always Remember You.”

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