Journey Through Illness

February 28, 2014

Activating Your Watcher and a view of Life after Loss.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — FrancesC @ 10:16 pm


“Activating your Watcher” is an exercise from the book, Second Firsts by Christina Rasmussen.  In the book, Christina refers to your “Watcher” or that part of yourself that is watching your process.  In psychology, we often refer to this concept as your “observing ego”, or your “Wise Mind”.  Your wise mind is essential for being able to watch and observe your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and the events in your life.  In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, wise mind is the integration of rational mind and emotional mind.  Using wise mind, you can make connections between your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and events.   Through awareness of these patterns, you can begin to make adaptive changes so you can create a “life worth living”.  Mindful awareness nurtures Wise Mind.

So what is mindfulness?  Mindfulness is observing, describing, attending to your mind without judgment.  It doesn’t mean that your mind doesn’t wander; but for example, if you are doing a meditation that asks that you focus your attention on your breath, you become mindful when you notice your focus begin to drift  and then re-direct focus back without judgment (so without thinking to yourself, “God, I’m such a shit because I can’t keep focusing on my breath”).  So just to clarify, sometimes people hear the word “mindfulness” and they think it means “meditation”.

There are several types of meditations:  breath, mantra, progress relaxation, guided imagery, etc.. Many types asked you to concentrate,  You are being asked to focus on  breath, body part, phrase, or the particular imagery.  You use mindfulness to bring your mind back to the particular focus when your mind wanders.

So, In Chapter 3 of Second Firsts, “Life Re-entry – stage 1”, you are asked to mindfully take a look at your current life and how it differs from your life before loss.  For example, What did you used to do that you are no longer doing?  and What is different about you and those around you?

For me, my life before loss seems so long ago.  I feel like my losses have aged me beyond my years.  When I look back at those early years of our marriage, it feels like we were kids, even though we were in our 30’s.  Some of things that are different are that we don’t “party” much now.  And I don’t just mean drinking alcohol (although neither of us do much of this at all now).  We did lose a lot of friends with our multiple losses.  After my first miscarriage, like my first heart attack, our living room was filled with casseroles, flowers, cards, and visitors.  But as I guess it is to be expected, by the time you are on your third miscarriage, and your fourth heart surgery..people just get too tired to hang in there.  I joked to my husband that when I finally had bypass surgery in 2010, one small dish garden arrived from my mother-in-law, bless her heart.  But I really have to say that there were an incredible few that have stuck by me through everything, and for whom I am forever grateful.

So some of what’s different:  less parties and socializing; a closer knit small support network; less optimism, more depression; I don’t make long term plans;  it feels like we’ve aged more than our chronological years; I stopped dancing and going to the gym and took up yoga instead; less money- I lost a lot of work time, racked up a lot of bills from being in and out of the hospital, and cardiac rehab, and I had to change jobs; I used to be really into “my career” and would go to conferences, facilitate more workshops, speak at events – now I work and come home; I used to pay more attention to my hygiene, wear makeup, get my nails done sometimes; now I rarely shower; I spend more time on the computer; my family fell apart when my mom passed away during this time- she truly held us together at least for holidays- now it’s “every man for him/herself”; A couple things that have changed in a positive direction:  my marriage has come through this stage stronger; and there are times when I can truly connect with spirit and have a profound sense of gratitude for simple things when I am rested, and not overwhelmed; I found a wonderful support network on-line that I recently got connected to.



  1. I hear your loss, and I also hear how your relationship has changed. It sounds like a stronger, more grounded relationship now, if you don’t mind my saying so.

    Comment by DysthymiaBree — February 28, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

    • Yes Bree! It is stronger, thanks. I need to catch up on your blog, I’ve been away from the computer for a bit.

      Comment by Frances Chamberlain — February 28, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

      • I’m not sure how much you have to catch up on, but it’s certainly been a rollercoaster for me this last little while! X

        Comment by DysthymiaBree — February 28, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

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