One year

La Veta, CO

Today, June 8th, marks one year since Lance passed. I wanted to take a moment  to remember the man that was, in my humble opinion, one of a kind. When I wonder if I am being biased, I am quickly reminded by any number of people that Lance truly was a unique individual. What consoles me when I think of Lance’s life being cut so short is he truly lived the life of five people combined. From the countless countries he traveled, to the volumes of books he read, to the mountains he skied or hiked, to the way he approached life with wonder and adventure, to the way he would embrace something and turn it into gold. It makes me feel less sad and instead, inspired and proud. Proud to have been blessed by someone with such an adventurous spirit, with so much life, so much pizazz.

Lance will always be a significant being in my life.  He is the father of my children. He was the boy I met on a hot May day in 1990 at a Grateful Dead show. When I feel sad, sad for myself, sad for my kids and sad for Lance, I run through the list of all the things Lance accomplished. How he lived so fully. How we should all be so brave to live a life without fear, with so much passion, so much wonder for the world and the guts to tackle anything. Lance- wherever you are, you inspire me and give me strength. The things that I used to be afraid of, I no longer fear, and I have you to thank for this gift of all gifts.

The kids and I are spending this day thinking of all our good memories of Lance. Reminiscing about all the times we had, and all the things we loved about him. How even though he is not with us in physical form, he will always be with us in spirit. As this one year anniversary is symbolic in many ways, I look at it as not only a time of reflection and remembrance but the beginning of a new chapter. Looking at it how Lance would…as one big adventure. Attempting to move on but never forgetting the husband, the father, the son, the entrepreneur, the friend, the traveler, the reader, the barefoot runner, the wonderful man that was Lance Gentry.
Love,
Nancy

 

You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with

“Average? Me?” “Are you calling me average?” (Someone just said that to me the other day). These are the kind of responses I get when I tell them you are the average of the five people you hang out with. But let me digress.

I have been on a hiatus from my blog. It started with the flu but then it turned into feeling uninspired and not as productive as I’d like to be. Then I woke up one morning thinking…”Nance, you have been in fight or flight mode for a long time.” I guess this was bound to happen but I really don’t like staying in a funk for long so I called up a friend and said, “Can you meet? I need to be around your energy.” This is the same person that thought I insulted her when I called her average but I was calling her because I admire her and how she lives her life.

If you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, then surround yourself by motivated, inspiring, thinking out of the box kind of people. People that push you to be the best that you can be because of what they are accomplishing. People you want to emulate. People that are doing things for the greater good. There is nothing I love more than watching my friends create the lives they want and deviating from the norm. That is what I feel about the people I surround myself with and on that note, I wanted to do some shameless promoting.

IMG_4727 - Version 2Roxanna Smith and Alison Litchfield…How many ways can I say how much I love these women? How they were actively involved in Lance’s death. How they literally bonded while sitting vigil over Lance so much so that their shared experience both over Lance and losing a parent has had them join their talents and offer a 10 day trip to India this October with a focus on Transcending Grief. All I can say is WOW…from Lance’s death to a trip to one of Lance’s and my’s favorite places in the world with two amazing woman. For anyone who has loved and lost, read more about their trip…http://highestunfolding.com/india/

imageJen Fisher…talk about go getter. I’ve watched this friend re-invent herself so many times that just by being in her presence I want to to be wound up like the energizer bunny and go! I admire her ability to make things happen. I laughed at the time when she started her new business Vasu Skin Solutions and was asking me how she was going to get clients. The girl is booked for weeks. She is worth the wait though. Check her out at http://vasuskinsolutions.com

IMG_4375 - Version 2Kirsten Boyer….Well I WISH I hung out with this woman more. From chickens to an amazing photography business and unbelievable energy and enthusiasm for everything in life, I just want to be her side kick and hang out with her all day. http://kirstenboyerphotography.blogspot.com

IMG_1249Tiphaine and Paolo Bonetti…I just want to be them. Just being around their energy makes me want to be a better person. That’s all I’m saying.

The admiration could go on and on. I really truly admire all my friends in their unique and special ways. I encourage you to look at those 5 people. I am not saying dump the downers. If anyone knows how much you need your friends when the going gets tough it’s me. Just be aware. How their energy effects your energy. Is it helping you on your path? I’m sure hoping my five will help me get my mojo back.

Love and inspiration,
Nance

 

WBGL

This might be my most boring post but it might also be my most important.

The cover story for consumer reports this month is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time. The example it gave was identical to mine. Without going into details, I’m talking wills, beneficiaries, guardians, and life insurance. I’ve talked to too many people that were like us or even worse. It’s a new year so this is a perfect time to get your affairs in order…here is what I learned from my experience.

Lance never took the above topics seriously. In fact, ironically, we did our first will just a month before Lance was diagnosed…8 years after our first child was born. That’s 8 years too late. I forced the issue in 2010. I remember sitting in our living room, our lawyer came to our house, it was December 2010 and Lance sort of thought it was a joke. He was in many ways appeasing me. He just never thought the worst would happen. I do not say this to criticize Lance at all, more to set the tone of how casual one can be about things that can actually happen. Do this for your loved one…make the process as easy as possible on the one who is left behind. Be really conscious whom you choose to be the guardians of your children, the beneficiaries of your assets and update regularly!!! Grief on it’s own is enough. To deal with unpleasant issues on top of it, is just plain hard and can be completely preventable.

Since my experience, I have learned we are not alone. I have talked to tons of people who don’t have wills, life insurance or guardians. I can not emphasize this enough…besides being a major hassle, it strains relationships. We’ve all heard the stories. Wills, guardians and beneficiaries change all the time.  It’s super important to take these issues seriously. Consumer reports quoted 86% of people have not updated their wills and beneficiaries. That means that many of you reading are among those people.

In my case these things were never talked about once Lance was diagnosed. It was too painful. We were trying to stay positive. What message would I be giving Lance if on one hand I am his biggest cheerleader and on the other hand checking with him to make sure everything was in order? I just couldn’t do it. These topics are MUCH EASIER if you do them when you are both healthy. I did what I could do on my own making sure things were in order but some stones were left unturned and it was messy afterwards. Small oversights can have a big impact.

I also wanted to touch on life insurance policies. Figure out what your life costs and how much you reasonably could live on minus your spouse. Certain dollar amounts might seem like a lot more than the reality…especially with inflation. Talk to a financial advisor.

Also one last thing, have all assets: houses, cars, anything you own in both your names or in a living trust. You will avoid probate if you do this. That means a lot of time and money saved.

I have hesitated writing this blog because it brings up personal issues but I’ve also wanted to share my experience so people can do everything to prevent any hassles for the one left behind. I am redoing my will, going over it with a fine tooth comb and will update it every year if need be. I cannot stress these issues enough. It will save time, money, relationships, stress, arduous paper work and give you the time you need to focus on what’s really important should you ever be put in this position.

So in the words of my friends Kristin and Jon Hatch…”get ‘er done.”
Nancy
PS: Consumer Reports article:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/02/7-money-stumbles-to-avoid/index.htm

PPS: A timely article in the NY Times from yet another young widow.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/your-money/estate-planning/shell-tell-you-its-time-to-think-ahead.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&

 

Peace-Love-Meditation

I remember writing my holiday post last year and being so full of hope. Fully convinced that Lance was beating his diagnosis and having no insight that a year from now, I would be sending holiday wishes minus one very important being in our lives.

December 8th was 6 months since Lance passed. 6 months! It was a milestone that hurt to my core, made my heartache and made me cry for the majority of the day. However, as with all anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays I’ve experienced so far, I came out the other side still thankful for all that I still have.

One thing I have realized throughout these past 6 months is I have never lost that hope. I am still full of hope for my future, my kids future, and for our lives. And I am grateful. I may not be grateful for Lance dying but I am grateful for how he died. I am grateful that he didn’t suffer and I am grateful for the support I have had throughout and since his death. For the way my kids and I can talk about Lance on a daily basis with a laugh, a smile, a tear.

Lance resides not in physical form but in our hearts. That is something I focus on during my hard days and it reassures me in a way that nothing else can. After a solid 6 months of walking around in shock that Lance was gone, every morning, thinking “Really Lance? Did you have to go? Are you really gone?” I have turned a corner of accepting that this is true and that my kids and my life continues. He is with us always…sometimes in actually forms (a hawk) and ALWAYS in our hearts. This has been my greatest lesson of 2012.

I can say without a single doubt, I am ready to say goodbye to this past year. I have felt this need to get this year behind me but a part of me is exploding with things I want to share. I’m ready for what the future holds, to be grateful for every day, to continue to share my story, my lessons, to grow and be open to whatever is in store for me.

Even through all this, I’ve never lost the feeling that there is still magic to life. This isn’t what I would have wished for myself or my children but this is our lives nonetheless. I was reading a book called Dream New Dreams recently. The author who also lost her husband at a young age said she learned “not to look at today through the lens of yesterday, which made the promise of tomorrow all the more magical.” Amen.

photo copy

I was hiking with two close friends last weekend and I took this picture. I felt like I was that mountain peaking out from the mist. Getting my head out of the clouds so to speak. I hope it continues to emerge.

So with a renewed sense of hope for what the future holds and gratitude for all the love I have in my life, I wish you a loving, tender, peaceful new year.

Love,
Nancy

 

Giving Back

Zach, Amélie and Lakota kids on the Pine Ridge reservation

For a long time now, I have been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity. I have often wondered how in the world I could reciprocate and felt lost at how to do this. I finally realized while giving back directly might not be needed, giving back indirectly is definitely needed. One morning a few weeks ago, the executive director of a non-profit called Conscious Alliance invited me and the kids to go help feed 850 families on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This was not totally random. Lance had been on the board of Conscious Alliance (www.consciousalliance.org), which helps Native Americans in some of the most impoverished communities in the country.

This was a symbolic pilgrimage because it felt like a way of honoring Lance (he had been there too) and doing something meaningful and eye opening for the kids. Pine Ridge is the poorest reservation in the country. It’s population is 30,000. The average lifespan is 50 years old. 80% of the people are unemployed. The people are riddled with diabetes, heart disease, and alcoholism. People live in total destitution and hunger. They live in a world of no hope. A world that was taken away from them with no means to make money. It is just plain sad. Nothing like perspective to give your life a lot of meaning.

The awesome Justin’s Nut Butter team.

Our job? To bag and distribute 850 turkeys (brought up from Boulder in a huge penske truck) as well as veggies, potatoes, corn, stuffing and of course Justin’s Nut Butter. We did this both by people coming to us and by driving and delivering door to door. The Chief and his wife have been doing this for 16 years.

 

 

I’ve been to my fair share of third world countries but this felt somehow sadder than anything I have ever seen. Somehow the people in India don’t feel as if they have completely given up hope but this is what it felt like on Pine Ridge. And it’s right in our back yard…right here in our very own FIRST?! world country.

Amélie delivering a turkey and food

My kids LOVED this opportunity. In fact, Amélie could have stayed for a week. They loved the communal feeling of working together. They loved interacting with the people…just trying to make a small gesture of kindness. It made them feel good. It made me feel good. Nothing like community work to get you out of your head.

Lance and I had a shared dream of exposing our children to eye opening experiences and give them perspective on how many people in the world live. One thing I have promised myself is I will make this dream come true.

I greatly encourage you to go out and help. It can feel defeating to see the disparity of a situation but if we were ALL doing a little bit here and there, it could really make a difference…and you don’t have to go all the way to South Dakota. I am sure there are plenty of opportunities right in your home town.

I felt honored to be asked to go to Pine Ridge, grateful to be with the Conscious Alliance and Justin’s Nut Butter teams and humbled for the individuals who opened their homes and allowed us to help.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Love,
Nancy

Back in business

Some people have advised me to take it slow this year. Sit around and grieve all day? Trust me, I cry enough. Before Lance was sick, I was a life coach for seven years. Back in January 2011, Lance became my sole subject, my passion, my everything. Now I am ready to return to work, I’m inspired and I’m on a mission. My mission is not only to encourage people to eat more healthy but to live their lives more healthily: body, mind, spirit.  I want to share my knowledge (which I will continue to do so on this blog) of the many many different lessons Lance and I learned throughout his illness but I am ready to do this one on one as well. Throughout this process, I realized my true passion is helping people change their lives for the better.

I have some strong opinions and convictions of why this happened to Lance. I believe illness is a combination of a perfect storm, habits that are not serving one both physically and mentally. Lance believed this too. There are too many illnesses out there, cancer raising exponentially over the decades, and what about auto-immune diseases? They seem rampant.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. I feel equally if not even more passionate about how people are living their lives NOT just what they are putting in their bodies. My mission is to help you live your life the best you can every single day, right NOW!

Some people start a foundation to raise awareness towards the illness that took their loved one. For me, the best way I see of honoring Lance, is sharing what I’ve learned in order to raise awareness on a healthy lifestyle. I want to help you change. It takes EFFORT to have a balanced life, to eat healthy, to live your life in the most fulfilling way…But guess what? You have me! Someone to be accountable to, to champion you, to give you the occasional kick in the pants and of course love and compassion along the way.

So this is to say, I am officially back in business although it will be much more focused on health, wellness and life choices.  I will listen, motivate, and encourage you to change. Everyone has heard the expression “if you had a year to live…” but the truth is we are closer to our death every single day even if we are lucky enough to live to be 80. So my message is CHANGE NOW!

While I don’t have an official website yet, if you are interested, please contact me at gentrynan@gmail.com and as always please post words of encouragement on the blog.

“A year from now you will have wished you started today” -Karen Lamb

Love and health,
Nancy
PS: I wanted to share my first published article in Elephant Journal and stay tuned for videos coming in the near future.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/11/my-husbands-last-words-nancy-gentry/

 

 

 

The Lance celebration..recap and videos

I wanted to share a recap of Lance’s memorial…many of you were there and some were unable to come. It was hands down one of the most beautiful fall days we’ve had. It was truly a magical day. I am sure the 32 degree snowy/rainy weather the day before helped make it seem that much more glorious but I like to think Lance took part in creating the incredible vibe that ensued. It was a Lance day for sure. He’s favorite weather…a crisp fall day, not a single cloud in the blue blue sky.

I am posting 2 videos (see below): The first is one I made to show a glimpse of Lance’s life. Believe it or not, I edited 90 pictures out of it. It was not easy because almost every picture I have of Lance I either love or have special memories of or know the story behind them but I tried my hardest to keep it to the best of the best.

The second video was created by Kirsten Boyer who is an awesome local photographer who documented the whole day and created a video out of her photographs. I have had major troubles getting the quality of her video downloaded so this video does not do her work justice. I know the beginning actually looks like I am marrying my friend Roxanna but for those of you who don’t know by now, Roxanna was an integral part in the end of Lance’s life, his death and the organizing of this event.

First I will mention some highlights (all of which are in the video)…

My kids, Zach and Amélie participating in a very special Native American ceremony in front of a bonfire led by our friend Pete who is from the Diné (Navajo) tribe. I thought to myself, I might not be able to get through this next hour because just watching my kids, my emotions ran the gamut of love to sadness for my sweet children.

The speeches were all incredible and some even laugh out loud hilarious representing different sides of Lance from the hard worker, to the spiritual seeker, to the endless giver and helper, to the awesome father, husband, son, friend, and unique individual he was.

Parts of an incredible prayer that my friend Tiphaine wrote and shared is scattered throughout the video below. I may have to post this whole prayer as it is so beautiful and captures so much of who Lance was and what he means to us now. I am incredibly grateful for this prayer. I can hardly fathom how Tiphaine wrote this but it blew me away as I know it did for every person there.

Another highlight for me was Amélie playing the piano and singing “Let it Be” (with her super talented teacher Kate Jaworski).  I thought I would cry but I was just so proud of my little girl.

The thing that did reduce me to a puddle of tears and which I think took many by surprise was at the end of the ceremony when two bagpipers came out and played “Amazing Grace.” We had moved into the barn to watch Lance’s video and the acoustics inside the barn were incredible. Thank you Roxanna for that extremely special and memorable touch.
So here are the videos
Lance Tribute:

http://vimeo.com/51303937

Lance’s tribe:

Thank you for all of you who helped make this happen: to all my friends, to the natural foods community and Planet Bluegrass who all contributed to this celebration in a big way. It was very representative of how our community has been with my family all along. Thank you. I am deeply grateful.

Lastly, I wanted to share Kirsten Boyer (the photographer’s) website. Thank you Kirsten. http://kirstenboyerphotography.blogspot.com/

Love,
Nancy

Tears and rainbows

When I was pregnant with Zach, I cried a lot. At first, Lance thought it was cute. He said, “I’m glad you’re human” because he hadn’t seen me cry much before. When I was pregnant the second time around, he was over it. In fact, I remember crying on a plane at a really bad movie (so bad I can’t even admit it) and he thought I was nuts. I wonder what he would think now? Tears are a normal part of my days. It makes me think of Telluride or Kauai (two of our favorite places in the world). One minute it’s a beautiful day, the next it’s pouring rain and then the clouds part and it’s blue sky again and if you’re lucky, a beautiful rainbow appears. I feel like this every day.

I guess this is my grief process. I keep wondering about those five stages…to me grief is disbelief. Is that the same as denial? I often think, “I can’t believe I am not going to see you again Lance” and then I get a sign that maybe that’s not entirely true. His spirit is everywhere and it keeps appearing…but I’m going to save that for another post.

Those other stages…anger? Is that going to happen? I hope not. I don’t like that emotion. Yearning? Yes. I yearn for Lance daily. I yearn for the sound of his tools in the garage, the messes he would make, his car coming home up the alley, interrupting me to tell me some fascinating fact from one of his books. I yearn talking to him, laughing with him, hugging him, spooning him, taking unromantic steam showers while talking politics, even making him endless juices. I yearn hearing the words, “I love you Nan.” I yearn for the father of our children. I yearn countless things about him.

Even the 5th stage…letting go. That part is hard to imagine. I realize I am no where near that stage. I am afraid of moving on, even if that means I will suffer less. Moving on without my Lance? There was so many things I loved about us…even our names…Lance and Nance. I know that sounds silly but it’s true.

My friend who is going through hospice training told me that often people expect the bereaved to be “moving on” in 6 months? I was shocked. I can tell you now…that isn’t happening here…6 months?! It took me a lot longer to get over my first love when I was a teenager.

A friend of Lance’s wrote me something beautiful…some wise words from a Native American. He said, tears are a healthy and good part of death. Water brings us into the world and helps us leave the world. The mother’s water breaks when we are born and that helps bring us into the world, and tears are the water that helps our journey out of the world.

I guess I am helping Lance along…I hope he isn’t getting tired of my tears.

Love,
Nancy

You are invited…RSVP!

I am really looking forward to seeing many of you at Lance’s celebration. It’s kind of my full time job right now…planning it that is. I remember the day (like it was yesterday) when I took this picture on one of our favorite hikes in Telluride. I’ve been staring at this picture so much I have actually caught myself saying, “Lance can you just be super human and jump out of the picture now?” I’m still waiting…

We have a lot of beautiful and special things planned for what I hope to be a memorable tribute of a man so many loved and admired. Lance and I talked about his memorial once (way in the beginning….not believing it would be his reality so soon) and he wondered who would be there, what people would say, and then he said, “this is really silly, this is all my ego” and we laughed. Well, being a producer in a previous life, and not wanting to disappoint him for a second, I am wanting to make this a special and unforgettable celebration. As I said earlier, I have no doubts his spirit will be there among us.

Details:

It’s really important (essential actually) to RSVP. Even if you have verbally told me or emailed Roxanna. We went round and round on the best way to do this because I don’t have many people’s emails but finally settled on the blog. So please RSVP in the comment section of this blog (even you shy types) by September 21st. It can be a simple reply of “I’ll be there” and how many people in your party (please specify adults vs kids).

Please share the invitation to people who may not be on this blog…ALL are welcome. I want to make sure people know that as I keep hearing about whether this is for only close friends and family or the community at large. Just stress the RSVP part!

Questions or volunteers about the event please contact Roxanna Smith: roxanna.smith@gmail.com. Goddess of all things to do with Lance and his final days and beyond. Without Roxanna, I would be lost!

I know that some of you are coming from out of town. Trip Advisor is a great resource for hotels in Boulder but to name a few…St. Julien, Boulderado, Boulder Outlook, Millennium, Quality Inn.

There is a plan in the works for an informal gathering Saturday night. More to come.

Love and gratitude,
Nancy

Fire on the Mountain

When the above fire broke out behind my house just a few weeks after Lance passed (actually the day after Lance’s birthday), I thought “Okay, this might actually push me over the edge.” As thousands were on a pre-evacuation warning, it beckoned the question “What would I take?” I know people always say pictures…but I was thinking letters…which I had just come across a box full of letters Lance and I had written each other over the years.

After the fire was no longer a threat and the slight sense of panic resided, it made me want to purge…like crazy. I started asking myself, “How would I feel if I lost this in a fire?” and if I wouldn’t miss it, I’ve been donating or tossing it. It’s been a good exercise for me because I realized how replaceable most things are. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be slightly traumatized if my house burned down but I realize that very little I have matters…beside my kids and dog. I mean I already had that lesson over the year but now I felt the need to do something about all the “stuff.” I thought about when you die you leave all these material things behind so why are they so important in this life? When Lance and I would go on our big trips to Asia, we would bring very little and I never missed a thing.

People sometimes ask me what I’ve been doing. Now you know. My sister and I filled three big bags of my clothes and I immediately gave them away. My friend Tiphaine and I practically took shovels into my kids bedroom and cleaned out their room. Every drawer, closet, and room in the house and eventually my attic is getting the big purge and it feels really really good. I’m recruiting more friends to continue the process and for anyone who wants to go at it in my garage is welcome.

I’ve always been a purger (my sisters would disagree but that’s because they are minimalist) but this particular time it feels extremely freeing and cleansing and clearing and just opening up the energy for new beginnings. I am not saying I am ready to move on…but I am willing to do anything and everything that helps me along in this process. I don’t want to be weighted down with stuff. There’s something about uncluttering, freeing the energy, not holding onto stuff….literally and figurtively. It’s amazing the amount of stuff that accumulates.

In case you are wondering if I have gone through Lance’s stuff, my initial reaction was not to touch a thing just in case he came back (I mean he did really look like Jesus when he died) but realized that’s not exactly moving on. I do a little bit here and there and I am trying not to feel too attached to his belongings. I’ve realized that I’ve got the best of him in my kids and his ever present spirit. So far I’ve gone through his clothes and have given the majority of them to his friends and family. I realized I wanted to spread him around and see his friends wearing his clothes and that would make me happy. I kept some ratty beloved t-shirts and sleep with one every night. My kids also kept a collection of his favorite t-shirts and wear them to bed or in Amélie’s case…all the time.

I’m saving the letters for a rainy day.

In the meantime, I’m purging. I encourage you all to do it too. It’s unbelievable addicting and liberating.

Love,
Nance