Category Archives: resilience

Grave to Gavel

I changed my name today.

Just walked in and did it.

It needed to happen.

I called Jason’s daughter first to let her know of my plan. I wanted to be sure she knew she will always be my family. She gave me love and said someday she would be married and change her name too. Family is what you make it, not who shares your name.

It is yet another day that I will lay my head down a different person than when I awoke.

Hi, I’m Terra Nicolle, it’s nice to meet you.

Now a widow, my married name isn’t who I am anymore. My maiden name isn’t either, that was a long time ago. I couldn’t really move forward being tagged by the past. I’m also feeling at this point that I belong to no man; neither my father nor a husband. I am an independent woman. So I decided to use my middle name as my last name; with a tweak.

Part of this process was to search for history and meaning of names, because I’m curious about that kind of stuff. That’s when I discovered the Kabalarians. They believe in a mathematical calculation of your name to determine if it can help or hinder your ability to fulfill your destiny which is based on your day of birth. Fascinating.

I’d never heard of them before, so of course I promptly started my complimentary name report, followed up by a casual free phone consultation with a lovely older lady in Vancouver Canada. It’s a small group of followers I think, but I figure I’ll take all the insight I can get.

Turns out, the picture painted of me was pretty spot on; highs and lows, ins and outs. I entered various names of my past; time and again the results resembled who I was at that point. Then I got to Nicole, my possible new last name. It was quite clear, no, no, no. The forecast was a dismal image of a life unsatisfied.

So I played with the spelling; after all each letter has a numerical value that changes its outcome. I tried using a Y, a K, even both; I mean how many ways can you spell Nicole? Turns out quite a few and none of the results were good.

These people may not dictate my identity, but they had my attention. After many variations, I tried an extra “L” and that was it. Nicolle. Nee-coal-l (ooh Lala). They suggested it brings balance and stability needed to be fulfill my destiny. It seemed right. It felt right. So hey, “what the L”.

That was the clerks line at the courthouse when I mentioned the numerological inspiration for adding the letter. I stopped by for information and a court date, but he said the judge can do it now. There was no hesitation on my part; bing bam boom, gavel down, paper stamped and walla.

Hello me.

big hugs from my friend and dearest daddy-o

Above the Ravine

It was mere hours ago I slid down the edge of a slope; sobbing, face in hands, stomach in throat. I could barely breathe at the realization I had “forgotten” the significance of yesterday until THE moment it became significant. Was it him reminding me? Perhaps it was my body, so changed by the tragic moment it viscerally etched that time into my being. It was the moment that path ended, literally a dead end.

I am crossing many bridges to find a new path. It seems mine are made of cobblestone, no matter how well I walk it’s impossible to move forward without wobbling. They have all been surrounded by an ever changing landscape. Moment to moment it shows me something different; sometimes terrifying and sickening, mostly enlightening and beautiful. Today I saw it all, I felt it all. I want to share what I was left with after crawling out of the ravine and crossing this bridge of shame and grief.

I am so blessed.
Blessed by the family, friends and well wishers that send me love.
Blessed by my ability to connect with so many emotions.
Blessed by the signs I receive from all around.
Blessed to have loved and been loved by a man so true that I could ever feel this way.

I finished the art piece I’ve been thinking about for quite sometime. It’s finger painted upon the place I laid him and spent nine minutes trying to revive him.

Nine is the number of endings.

Friends gathered and we played some darts, the board still had Jks writing from our last game. Then I started breathing. And stretching. And I was overtaken by a lightness, a pulling up and a flexibility in my body I’ve never felt. Literally an inch longer. I could lay my fingers on the ground. I was suddenly a new being; something heavy was lifted from me. It was unreal. Then I won the dart game.

We spent a lot of time in the space. Jason was “there”. His daughter was “there” (she lives out of state). It felt brighter. More relaxed. Like a place we were welcome. It held all of his creativity and love and that’s all. A place we can move forward in.

Like the day he died, the person I was when I awoke is not the one that will be laying back down. Life is crazy. So is death.

My hat was from our great trip to Alaska and the sweatshirt our Birch Bay expeditions.
The shell is from our wedding. My brother carried our rings in it. It holds some sage, San Paolo wood and Himalayan salt crystals.
The wings are my hands, where I placed them on his chest.
The feathers are the hawk I was so blessed to see take his spirit on earth.
The heart is all the love we lived together.
The JK is the brand I gave him, his mark on all he created.
The splatter, well that’s just splatter. But then, we looked closer.
My friend saw it first.
We feel a message left for us, permission to “Chill”.
We see an angel. Specifically I see a coiffed Poodle with wings and a halo. Why not. And it’s heading to a black hole.

Jason would say, and said hours before he left, “I’m from the stars and I’ll go back to the stars.”

I think we have been shown his passage.
Safe journey my love.
I’m on a new journey too.

Now what…

Served Raw

Today it occurred to me that the moment I realized yesterday was two months, was THE MOMENT (or close enough). Same time I found him. I was at a register and the receipt wasn’t printing. I was waiting and boom saw the calendar and whomp in the head. Knees buckled. Instantly nauseous. I tried to hold it together while they figured out the glitch (Jason I’m sure), it took a few minutes. Today I checked, it was printed at 4:20, I mean come on.

It just left me feeling sick. Sick he’s gone. Sick life is better in so many ways after he’s gone. Sick that I didn’t remember it was yesterday. Like he had to thump me and say “don’t forget”. Because I forgot. How could I do that? How could I? It’s just so awful.

Time is tediously slow and brutally fast all in the same moment.
I miss you so much puddin’.

I’ve been wanting to go make an art piece for him. I think the time is now.



Today I said the words “Maybe I won’t be a Chef anymore”.

I’ve never said that before. What struck me even more than the words themselves was that I was comfortable with them. I wasn’t experiencing the same sensations I was getting when I tried to picture going back to the kitchen, planning an event, building a recipe. The thought of doing these once innate skills suddenly brought on feelings of dread, anxiety, tension and stress. But none of that happened when I made that comment.

This is my career, my passion. A lifelong joy, dedication and decades of hard work. Then suddenly it’s not. It was gone quickly after the death of my husband. I’ve slowly been putting myself into work, but I’m not getting the same gratification from it. Food doesn’t really look good or taste good or inspire me. It’s important to do the job right, make my customers happy, never let them down; but what I get in return is not what it used to be. And that sucks. It’s really messing with my head.

And then I made that comment to my therapist. And it felt ok, it was ok. There are several theories as to why my grief has created this barrier for my return to work. Is it because work was an escape and I no longer need an escape? Is it because I have already decided I can’t go back to my “old’ life and that was part of it? Or maybe it is just the universe keeping me on a new path. I have long known I don’t have the hands for many  more years in production; but suddenly I don’t have the head or the heart.

That became clear when I took the bandages off after trigger finger surgery. Because I was losing his insurance, I had to expedite the surgery planned for later in the year to shortly after his passing. The visible wound finally “healed” but I was not able to do what I used to. That’s when I realized it wasn’t just the hand. Without the head you can’t run a kitchen, it’s a multi-tasking skill of planning and timing; I’m functioning on a single task mindset. Without the heart the food falls flat, it has no passion or character; there is a difference, you really can taste the love.

Then, there is the issue of my muted taste buds. I have not had a properly functioning palate in months and let me tell you, it is a cruel hell on earth for a Chef to lose their taste. I believe it is a situational manifestation of my current situation…. and not permanent. Fingers crossed.

When I take a step back and realize I presently can’t taste food well, am not physically able to cook well, don’t “feel” like doing it and don’t see myself doing it; then maybe I have to acknowledge there’s a reason for that. Maybe, if I allow myself to make that a possibility, then new opportunities will open themselves up to me. I don’t feel like I have to walk away from everything I’ve created, I just know I can’t go back to what it was.

Recreating myself, my career, my business, my family, my future, my home, my habits… will take time. It’s all in transition and interwoven with grief and trauma. I’m just kind of a mess right now, even while getting the best care and love anyone could ask for. It seems to me the wisest things I can do for myself is to let it happen with an open mind, an open heart and honesty. And get good sleep.

Whatever I end up doing it’s just part of my new life. I don’t need to understand the hows and whys to see the signs telling me that what is coming is better than anything before; with effort, patience and time I will reap the good stuff.

Kind of like Artichokes and Abalone.

Short Trip, Long Ride

A big day in many ways.

Ultimately I let go of Zippi-T (my sweet little Mazda) and his memory loaded truck to bring home my new car, for the road ahead.

The journey there however was not easy. I had two cars to trade in so I drove the truck and a friend took my car. Moments after pulling out of the driveway it hit me. Hard. A massive guttural sobbing surge.

I had this overwhelming sensation of the warmth of his hands on his steering wheel. So I said bring it on and put on the music I knew would take me through.

Fucking A it was a gnarly 45 minutes. It was an unexpected hardcore goodbye. I was breathless. It was a fitting tribute considering the headbanging metal beasts Jason and the truck were… together.

I made a pit stop for a needed hug from my sister-in-law and pulled my shit together; then headed to the dealership a few blocks away. They were expecting me and welcomed me with warm cocoa and calm. I was able to proceed with the task and I’m sure he would have been proud of my negotiations.

keys to an old life
I’m glad to have the cars gone, now I have a new ride for a new journey
(and lower insurance payments).
I’m grateful for the weeping, it’s just what I had to do. I’m starting to grasp the fact that it’s gonna keep happening.
Get ready indeed, I’m exhausted.

I have to give a big shoutout to Honda of Marysville for making the process as seamless and supportive as possible. They were informed, prepared, flexible and considerate. It was just as it was supposed to be. The ride home was smooth.

After all that, when I settled in for the evening, I wrote this;

Four-Wheel Farewell

He held my hands

I could feel his warmth

we gripped the steering wheel together.

A final ride,

a long goodbye,

I have been forsaken.

Wheels roll on

like years now gone

leading me on a new journey.

The song fueled tears

leave me gasping

and breathless.

 I’m Cruising down the road

feeling reckless;

because you’re here

with me.


Wheels roll on

like years now gone

leading me on a new journey.

The ride is over,

the end is here,

there is no more road to travel.

For us.

From here on out

I’ve got to work it out

in my own way.

Wheels roll on

like years now gone

leading me on a new journey.

Because of you,

I’m being true to me.

Maybe for the first time.

Goodbye my love.

We’re free.


A cashier said to me “It’ll just be a second” and I nearly lost my cool. Who am I kidding, I wasn’t cool at all. I was in the midst of my first panic attack. Ever. At the drug store counter, just days after my husband took his own life. I barely got a word out as my system was going into overdrive; inside my head I was screaming at her “don’t fucking tell me to wait a second… a second can change everything!”

Jason’s life was gone in a second.

My whole world was upside down in a second.

But, it took billions of seconds to get to that point.

Which one really made the difference?

Was it the second he decided as teenager to cope by sneaking into someones stash and self-medicating his woes for the first time?

Perhaps it was the second he decided he wasn’t worth the effort to try another way to feel better.

Or the second he decided if it was good enough for his dad, death was good enough for him.

He decided to leave millions of seconds before he actually lived his last one on earth.

He was tired of counting them, so he took time in his own hands.

Now, I can only love him for all of mine.

#fucksuicide #fuckdepression #fuckaddiction

he loved the water



Looking at the pictures
from yesterday’s graveside
I realize that even the soil
hasn’t settled
from the turmoil of burying Jason.
Time is too quick or too slow;
either way
not nearly enough has passed.
I’m certain I am more complex than dirt.

 Jason and Terra


A few days ago I made a decision.
If I am choosing to be a new me
then I’m going to be
someone who doesn’t mind
or housekeeping.
Why not.
This morning I found myself
walking through the house
trying to find the clean laundry basket
to put on a shirt.
Turns out I already put the clothes away.
I’ll consider that progress.


In the Moment

Today was a good day.

There I said it.

Out loud.

And it’s ok.

Mind you, the bar is low…

I slept well.

I had great coffee and friends to talk to, a delicious pumpkin muffin and a pretty pedicure.

I bought a soda from a cafe…
by myself …
and did not get increased heartrate, shortness of breath, anxious creepers or a soft voice.

Actually, I had a voice today, with some volume.

I’m off the meds and coming back down to earth.

I have to give it up to the universe and the people around me; both near and far. All of you. I’m merely tuning into the right channel. The music and energy of last night has lifted my day.

The compassion and skill that Dr. Katy K. has shown me has made all the difference in the world. I went to her office for wellness and she delivered. Naturally.

Maybe I’ll have another good one tomorrow!

Zen Cat