The Poisoned Pen

poisoned-pen-love-me-life-coaching--compass-reset

I was recently discussing with some friends the merit of the infamous Christmas letters so many people send out. The crux of the conversation? We all rolled our eyes proclaiming bullshit! Okay, okay, certainly there is a sampling of truth in what is being said but in reality we all know it is the power of creative writing. That same creative writing that potential bosses look for, that uplifting sermons are built upon, and which beloved novels are created. So is the poisoned pen really that great a thing or is it shaping a story that might not really exist, a simple plea for people to love me?

Wondering what I mean? Look at my following made up Christmas letters. The first one is subject to creative writing; the other, hard cold truths. One makes for better reading and fits within our cultural norms of putting your best face forward for the world to see, but the other represents real life. The first one is the Facebook of letters (look at me, look at me) the other is the diary of letters (don't look at me but someone please hear my words).

If we are to get past the shallowness that surrounds star-struck lovers entering into real-life marriages setting them up for a fall, if we are to become in touch with our spiritual selves (not just religious selves) or just become a person more in balance with our inner and outer world, we need to dig deep, stop whining, do the hard inner work and sometimes drop the pretenses and let people in.

Embellished Christmas Letter

Dearest Family and Friends,

Whew! Another year almost done and we can hardly believe it. Time certainly is an elusive little rascal!

Let's see, where do we begin?

In May Bluebell (Ursula's van) started having some major mechanical issues so we traded it on a new four-door sedan. Her name is Pepper. In July Tristan was in a terrible car crash on the I-10 returning on his way home from work. Luckily he was okay but his car was totaled. We had our water softener break open (we were gone for the day), spewing thousands of gallons of water, flooding both our back and front yards. Thank goodness it was outside! At the end of July a microburst hit our block wall, damaging 75' of fence and all of our furniture on the inside of the fence. Our insurance was great and covered repairs and replacements.

Kevin is doing great and is busy all of the time doing commercial appraisal reports. When he isn't busy at the office he's busy at home doing honey-dos. This year he built a beautiful 10'x14' pergola and is currently in the process of extending the pad and building a brick planter to go with it. He is enjoying football season lamenting the fact that in less than a month it will be over. : (

As many of you know Ursula started her own business this year, Compass Reset, which is a personal and business coaching service. She also offers grief coaching to mothers who have lost children. Business is operating within her five-year plan and she is so grateful she had the opportunity to drop out of the corporate world allowing her to embrace her real passion: helping people.

Tristan started his sophomore year at the Barrett Honors College at ASU and is doing fantastic. He moved from a shared dorm to a quad this year and he was also selected to carry his T-Gen summer genetic research internship into a working internship, doing so five days a week. T-Gen is an awesome opportunity and being hired two years in a row was a real boon. A career in genetics is a lot of work but he is staying strong. Go Tristan! Tristan and Jamie (high-school sweethearts) are still going strong.

Aidan is enjoying 7th grade at Villa Montessori. Villa has, in our opinion, the best junior high program, which helps develop these young men and women into strong independent individuals. He is quite sure he wants to be a game designer when he grows up and is currently creating a game and creating the musical score along with it. He is an affable young man who has many friends and girlfriends. He is growing fast and has already bypassed his mom in height (she's no shorty at 5'8.5").

We miss Kelli and our love for her is endless. We wish she was here to celebrate Christmas, though we know she is here in spirit!

We send wishes for love, peace and happiness to each and every one of you. Happy Christmas to all!

Non-embellished Christmas Letter

Dearest Family and Friends,

Whew! Another year almost done and we can hardly believe it. Truth is, the older we get the faster the time moves!

Let's see, where do we begin?

In May Bluebell (Ursula's van) crapped out on us so we were forced to trade her in. We were tempted to buy the convertible Ursula has wanted for years but she passed on it for multiple reasons: not a huge income coming in from her business yet, we don't ever have two car payments and there were still payments remaining on the Charger, plus depending on what we got we could possibly give it to one of the boys eventually. So she got a Hyundai with the thought that she will get a convertible in three years.

In July Tristan was in a terrible car crash on the I-10 returning home from work. Luckily he was okay but his car was totaled. We get to spend the rest of his school year finding him an inexpensive used car for him. Plus our insurance rates are due to go up Jan 1. So excited! We had our water softener break open (we were gone for the day), spewing thousands of gallons of water. Luckily it was outside but our water bill was horrendous and Ursula felt totally guilty about living in the desert and wasting that much water. At the end of July we were out of town when a microburst hit our block wall, damaging 75' of fence and all of our furniture on the inside of the fence. Our insurance was good and replaced everything but the process was confusing and coordinating fence repair was a living nightmare. We have replaced most of the items that were damaged but some things are just hard to replace.

Kevin is doing great and is busy all of the time doing commercial appraisal reports. He has picked up extra jobs to accommodate Ursula not pulling in a steady paycheck though he would never admit to it. When he isn't busy at the office he's busy at home doing honey-dos. This year he made me beautiful 10'x14' pergola and is currently in the process of extending the pad and building a brick planter to go with it. He is enjoying football season lamenting the fact that in less than a month it will be over. Ursula feels lucky he enjoys it but isn't fanatical about it.

As many of you know Ursula started her own business this year, Compass Reset, which is a personal and business coaching service. She also offers grief coaching to mothers who have lost children. Business is operating within her five-year plan which means business is slow and a steady income is not happening yet. But she is so grateful she had the opportunity to drop out of the corporate world allowing her to embrace her real passion: helping people. Customers will come as they are supposed to or so my husband and the enlightened keep telling me. Some days are tough though and at times I think fuck it, I need to get back to a steady paycheck.

Tristan started his sophomore year at the Honors College at ASU and is doing fantastic. He moved from a shared dorm to a quad this year. This was the second year he was selected for the research internship at T-Gen. It was his summer job and now they are using him five days a week. T-Gen is an awesome opportunity and being hired two years in a row was a real boon but it also comes with some draw backs like not being able to publish under his own name and he is not paid for working. He needs a paying internship if he is going to move into an apartment this next summer. A career in genetics is a lot of work and we know he just loves it but we wonder if it wouldn't be better to become a Chiropractor or cosmetic surgeon. However, we love and support him in whatever he chooses to do. Tristan and Jamie (high-school sweethearts) are still going strong though the relationship has had its ups and downs and Ursula thinks time apart would help them each grow significantly. Tristan was deeply affected by the loss of his sister and he needs to take time off from the girlfriend to reflect, change and build himself up on some personal issues.

Aidan is enjoying 7th grade at Villa Montessori. Villa has, in our opinion, the best junior high program, which helps develop these young men and women into strong independent individuals, but it costs a bloody fortune to send the kids there. Between supplies and school trips we are always paying out boat loads of cash. He is quite sure he wants to be a game designer when he grows up and is currently creating a game and creating the musical score along with it. To us it appears as if he is just always playing on the computer and it makes this a difficult situation to parent. Is he really doing something that will help him with a future career or is he just a typical 13 year old slug sitting endlessly in front of a computer? He is growing fast and has already bypassed his mom in height (she's no shorty at 5'8.5"). He is an affable young man who is loved by everyone. Ursula finds him a major pain in the ass as his selective hearing has been taken to a new level and he has trouble admitting he is ever wrong - an emotional carryover also stemming from the loss of his sister.

Speaking of their sister, Kelli, we miss her dearly. We miss her funny sense of humor, quick wit, forked tongue and ever-engaging selfless love she bestowed on pretty much everyone. The boys rebounded pretty well from such a monumental loss though we see the effects of that loss in various emotions experienced by them and at times it is damned near impossible to figure out what to do to help. Ursula still occasionally finds herself sitting on the edge of her bed weeping because she misses the physical person, who was Kelli, so much but knows that missing someone that much will never bring her back. Kevin is always the rock but sometimes he too lets his grief surface. We wish she was here to celebrate Christmas with us in the physical form; fuck the spiritual form - if it even exists. Christmas, no, all holidays became less joy-filled after she died, though we try hard to make them joyful for Aidan's sake. He deserves more than that.

We send wishes for love, peace and happiness to each and every one of you. Happy Christmas to all!

Ursula Neal

Ursula is a grief coach for mothers who have lost children helping them to move from crappy to happy again. She is also a personal growth strategist helping individuals reach their goals. She may be reached at 602-400-4423 or ursula@CompassReset.com. Facebook Google+

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