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Coping With the Death of Your Father

As a little girl, I always imagined my father walking me down the aisle. As a woman, the idea that my father would not be at my wedding was overwhelming. It was a thought that I had never before contemplated.

On a Saturday night, my father called and left a message for me.  It was late, so I decided to call him the next day.  I listened to the message and he sounded better than he had in months, having battling radiation and chemo for such a long time. 

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  I was asleep when I heard the phone ring.  It was my mother and she was frantic.  “Your father is dying. I’m on my way to the hospital.” My father had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  It was Memorial Day weekend and I was two and a half hours away in another city.  My brain shut down for a few seconds, unable to truly comprehend what was going on.  I repeated my mother’s words to my husband and went into a panic.  “Just go,” he said.  “I’ll be right behind you in ten minutes.”  I threw on some clothes, grabbed my car keys and sped down the highway. About twenty minutes later, my mom called again.  “Daddy died.  They tried working on him for an hour but they couldn’t save him.”

When your father passes away, there is a tremendous amount of sadness that is associated with his death.  It is indescribable.  As a little girl, I always imagined my father walking me down the aisle. As a woman, the idea that my father would not be at my wedding was overwhelming. It was a thought that I had never before contemplated.

Death is a part of life but nothing prepares you for the death of a parent.  You are suddenly planning a funeral, writing an obituary, and existing in a space between living and remembering that seems so foreign.  It took me a month before I truly grieved for my father and to grasp the fact that he was no longer here.  It was sparked by me trying to call him.  I scrolled through my cell phone for his number.  I had forgotten that he was gone.

I walked down the aisle without my father.  My oldest brother took his place and my bouquet had a ribbon wrapped around it with a picture of my father.  After our first dance, we chose not to include our parents.  The thought of my father not being there to dance with his little girl was just too much for me.  My husband understood and was completely supportive.

My husband (then boyfriend) was amazing during the entire grieving process.  Funerals are so similar to weddings because everyone comes out to celebrate a new life…without their loved one.  My husband was there for me, my mom, my brothers, and my entire family.  On Memorial Day, after spending two full days around my husband, my aunt whispered in my ear, “He’s a keeper.” 

How your significant other supports you through a tragedy is extremely telling.  It is something that you cannot test out before it happens.  But my husband made sure that he supported me in the way that I needed and his family was there to support me as well.  He acted without be asked. My aunt was right…he is a keeper and I will never forget how much we grew as a couple through the loss of my father. 



3 Things You Should Never Talk About in a Relationship

It’s no secret that great communication is needed in a relationship.  But great communication doesn’t include telling your significant other everything  about your past nor does it require you to answer every question that is asked of you.  Your past is your past. 

1. The number of people you have slept with.  Suppose someone tells you that they have slept with 75 people? What about 2? What about  35? Whatever the number, it is unnecessary information that only leads to judgment, resentment, and more questions.  Individuals who are new to the dating world often offer up this information to their mate.  It’s a rookie mistake.  The reality is that your past has nothing to do with the person you are currently with.

2. Intimate details.  Secure men or women don’t want to know details about their significant other’s past.  Don’t ask about them and don’t offer them.  Whether it is related to numbers or the location of your first date, it is not a good idea to discuss information that will lead to a comparison.  If you are or your partner Create new memories together without making your past an issue for either of you.

3. Your last significant other.  Whether it was your choice or their choice, you are no longer with your significant other.  Constantly bringing up their name to talk about what they did or what they said isn’t fair to your new mate or to your relationship.  Minimize the discussions about your exes.  Focus on what you have and not what you had.


Ten Free or Low Cost Valentine’s Day Ideas


1)      Top ten list. Use an expo marker and a mirror to write a list of the things that you love about your significant other. (Don’t worry—it wipes off with a paper towel)

2)      Have a scavenger hunt.  Hide a bunch of love notes with clues that tell your significant other where to find the next one.  Hide them all over the house or use the books on your book shelf.  You can also have a scavenger hunt in one or two of your favorite restaurants.  Get the hostess and bartender involved.  Once they hear, “Do you have something for me?” that is their code word to give your significant other a card or a gift.

3)      Love notes.  Hide love sticky notes in cabinets, on the remote, and behind doors.

4)      Make dinner.  Instead of reservations, turn your living room into a restaurant.  Choose a recipe from a website, turn down the lights, light some candles, and have a romantic evening at home.

5)      Favorite things. Create a basket filled with your significant other’s favorite things.  Include snacks, candies, chocolates, sodas, beer, coffee, wine, books, cds, movies, etc.

6)      Texts and Emails.  Ask your significant other’s friends and family to text or email you one thing they love about him or her.  Compile them in a card and present the love notes to your significant other.

7)      Make a video collage.  Use Animoto or imovie to upload photos or videos of your significant other.  Add quotes, words, or music.  Instead of card, you can create a personalized movie.

8)      Love Texts.  Send a love text every couple of hours to your significant other.

9)      Have a movie night at home. Pick out a couple of your significant other’s favorite movies.  Have a few boxes of their favorite movie candy, popcorn, and create a movie night in your living room.

10)   Write a poem.  If you don’t write poetry, collect a bunch of your favorite quotes from your favorite poems or poets. (Be sure to give them credit). Buy a Pablo Neruda poetry book and leave a book mark in your favorite poem.


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Why You Shouldn’t Go to Bed Angry

Throughout my childhood, I have been surrounded by an incredible group of “second moms”, all close friends of my mother.  I can’t remember these women, or their families, not being a part of my life.

Over the past three years, all of us have experienced tremendous loss.  Mrs. Cartright’s husband died of a stroke and very soon after, we lost my dad.  Months later, Mr. Hill passed away as well.

Just before I got married, Mrs. Cartright, Mrs. Hill, and Mrs. White took me out for brunch.  Over mimosas and french toast, they passed on marital advice, laughter, and guidance that I am eternally grateful for. 

Out of everything they told me, there is one discussion that I will never forget:

“People will always tell you not to go to bed angry.  But the day before Mr. Cartright died, we had the most wonderful day together.” Mrs. Hill chimed in as well. “The same was true for me and Mr. Hill.  We spent the day laughing and talking and when I woke up, he was gone.  Spend as much time as you can loving each other, because you can’t ever get that time back.”

My husband and I don't go to bed without solving any disagreements. One reason is that anger prevents me from getting a good night's sleep....and I really like my sleep.  The other reason is that I frequently think about my conversation with the ladies. When that day does arrive, I want to make sure that we have the memories of the day before, just like Mrs. Cartright and Mrs. Hill.


Getting To Happy


It’s that time of year when people all over the world come up with their New Year’s resolutions.  January is a time when gyms are crowded beyond belief, diet websites see a tremendous upturn, and drug stores can’t seem to keep the nicotine patch on its shelves.  Search engines are overwhelmed with terms that include financial management, losing weight, how to quit smoking, finding love, and cutting back on drinking.  By the time February rolls around, gyms are back to seeing their regular customers, cigarette sales are at an all-time high, and the vodka industry is back on top.

People tend to make resolutions the same way they look for a significant other.  They focus on the big picture instead of the details.  If your goal is to lose weight, you may find yourself swallowing water with cayenne pepper and lemons and starving yourself, instead of working out, picking up yoga, or drinking less soda.

It’s no different from people who choose a goal of falling in love and getting married.  They may not think about whether their significant other supports their passions, makes them laugh, or is liked by their family.  Instead, they may end up married to a person who prioritizes everything over them, who isn’t liked by their friends, and puts all of their relationship business on Facebook and Twitter.

When someone tells me that they know a couple who has been married for fifty years, I’m not impressed.  When I find out they are still in love, they still laugh together, and they admire and respect each other, then I am impressed.  It’s the details I am interested in.

As the new year rolls in, rethink your resolutions.  Instead of losing 50 pounds, think about adding in more fruits and vegetables.  Instead of cutting things out of your life completely, think about adding things in.  Instead of looking for love, work on finding out who you are, exploring your passions, and finding out what makes you happy. 

The more you know about yourself, the less you will fall for tricks and trends, whether it’s the latest diet or a new significant other who is feeding you lies.  Being insecure opens yourself up to others who feed on insecurities.  Being a person who saves others opens yourself up to people who need to be saved.   Being emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy attracts the same thing in others.  So this year, think about growing personally, being healthy, and being happy.  Instead of focusing on the big picture, focus on the details. 

Comment on this post and let me know what your goals or resolutions are for this year.

 **For help on getting healthy and happy, check out my book, The Gift Of Past Relationships, available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.


Ten Tips For Dating During The First Month


The first month of a relationship is critical.  It determines the expectations and outcome of the relationship.  Before I met my husband, here is my personal list of things that were important for me to have in a partner:

1)    Do what you say. If you say you will call on Sunday, call me on Sunday. If you can’t call me, let me know. It's really that simple. If you memorized all those formulas in math class, you can definitely handle this concept.

2)    Be open to newness.  If you aren’t willing to at least try sushi one time, you may not be willing to keep up with my desire to grow.  The world is filled with things I have never seen or done before.  I’d like to try out the new stuff together.  Experiencing something new on your own is no fun. 

3)    Apologize.  If you find it difficult to apologize when you are wrong, you are probably not going to be accountable for your actions or comments in the future. I admit when I am wrong so I need you to practice that talent as well.  An apology goes a long way to mend hurt feelings.

4)    Family. I come from a huge network of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I’m into family. If you never talk to your family, don’t see your kids, or talk horribly about them, I’m not the person for you. I value family and I need you to as well.  If you don't, that's totally cool too...for someone else who may want you.

5)    Bashing your ex. With the ability to grow comes the ability to forgive. If you are still saying awful things about a past relationship, I know that I am next in line to be talked about if we break up. It also tells me that you don’t take responsibility for your part in a relationship. 

6)    Handle your childhood issues. We all have them. But if by this age you haven’t done some work to grow through them or to heal, you probably won’t ever do it.  Life is too short to let our childhood issues affect us as adults. And there are too many therapists out there with sliding scales. 

7)    Have priorities.  If you buy $200 jeans but can’t pay your car note, we aren’t going to work out.  If you spend $2,000 on a spur of the moment vacation but don’t have health insurance, I can’t expect you to have me as a priority when you can’t get the basics down.

8)    Fix it before bed. It’s simple.  I like my sleep.  Arguments affect my sleep.  I need a person who solves problems in the same way that I do: before bed.

9)    Make lemonade out of lemons. Problems happen and issues come up.  It’s why they call it life instead of something else.  A change of course sometimes leads you to a better path.  When something is thrown my way, I make the best of it.  If you like to complain and ask God why me, you won’t last a day with me.

10) Appreciate all people.  If you scream at the waitress just before you short her on her tip for not bringing you a glass of water that was exactly 72%, you are not for me.  I was raised to respect everyone from the people who clean the streets to the CEO.  And I am a stickler for tipping.  Plus, your words have to match your actions.  You can’t work at a non-profit and disrespect other people in one breath.



Boundaries: Why You May Not Have Them

As kids, boundaries are required so we learn all kinds of things such as when to go to bed, when to leave the room to allow adults to talk, who is family vs. a stranger, how to talk to adults in an appropriate manner, how to have self-control with food, how to respect teachers, who to trust, and hundreds of other things. 

When a person who is supposed to love and protect us, hurts us instead, our boundaries change from clear and precise to confused and fluid.  Instead of being in the middle, extremes begin to appear in various aspects of our lives, particularly around sex.  Individuals either become extremely sexually active or they head to the other side of the coin and attempt to avoid sex altogether. 

Food issues may appear as well. Food either becomes the center of their universe or they develop food rituals in an attempt to have control over something. (This stems from having zero control over what happened to them when they were abused). Examples of food rituals may include refusing to eat a food unless the food is a particular color or texture, only eating at a particular time, or only eating food at a particular temperature. 

Learning to trust is also affected.  Individuals may trust absolutely everyone or have difficulty trusting anyone fully.  If we gathered the courage to tell someone about our abuse and we were not believed, our ability to trust becomes even more complicated.

Boundaries are extremely important for us to be able to learn self-control, self-respect, and self-love.  Being molested significantly impacts these three things.  So how does this play out in relationships? Here are a few ways that relationships can be impacted:

  • Triggers – A touch, a word, an experience, a smell, a picture, a person – anything can trigger a memory that takes you right back to the moment in your life when you were molested.  It can make becoming emotionally or physically close to someone extremely difficult.  You may find yourself breaking off relationships before they really have a chance to begin and developing an excuse or reason to justify it in your mind.
  • Wavering – The experience of blaming yourself or being blamed for being molested can lead a person to be overwhelmed with self-doubt. Self-doubt or shame can bleed into all areas of your personal life. You may have difficulty making and sticking to decisions that may range from what entrée to order, what shirt to wear, what house to buy, or whether a person is a good fit for you. It stems from not being allowed to develop healthy choices.  Instead, people made decisions for you by subjecting you to situations, memories, and feelings that you had no control over. As an adult, you may still not trust your ability to make choices.

Boundaries are essential to so much in our lives. And now you have had the opportunity to understand a little more about yourself or about another person who has been molested.  For assistance or to speak with a licensed professional who can help you work through the process of recreating boundaries for yourself, please take a look at the resources below.

If you are a parent, talk to your kids (girls AND boys) about what to do if they are kissed or touched by ANYONE. The majority of abusers are not strangers - they are close friends and family members. Give your kids scenarios (example - What would you do if we were at a party and you were in the house and someone tried to touch you? What would you do? Where would you go?) There are resources below to help you with the conversation.


Resources and Websites:

Find a Therapist


National Center For Victims of Crime

Resource for Child Sexual Abuse

2000 M Street NW, Suite 480
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 467-8700(202) 467-8700
Fax: (202) 467-8701


Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

1.800.656.HOPE1.800.656.HOPE(4673) 24-hour hotline

Talking to your kids about sexual abuse and prevention


Project Unbreakable

This powerful and evocative project shows abuse victims holding up a card with the words of their abusers written on them.

To see more photos or to learn how to submit your own click below.


1 in 6

Helping men who've had unwanted or abusive boyhood sexual experiences live healthier, happier lives.


Why "I Need To Talk To You When I Get Home" Should Be Eliminated From Your Vocabulary


In my late teens, the sections of Seventeen and Cosmopolitan Magazine that I loved the best were the quizzes. I enjoyed sorting through the multiple choice questions to discover all types of things about myself. When I wrote my book, The Gift of Past Relationships, I wanted to incorporate that same concept of self-reflection throughout the entire book.


Every chapter of the book tackles a new topic through stories and examples as we explore various concepts such as emotional triggers, patterns, timing, communication styles, compatibility, values, and respect. At the end of each chapter, quizzes and reflection questions enable the reader to learn more about themselves.


In Chapter 12, Timing Is Everything, we explore the extremely important concept of timing in a relationship. Take this opportunity to read this sample chapter and use the reflection questions at the end to explore your own needs as it relates to timing in a relationship:


Chapter 12 - Timing is Everything (Excerpt From The Gift of Past Relationships By Kristen Crockett)

Imagine that you’ve had an extremely rough day and on top of everything, the traffic on your way home was terrible. You walk in the door ready to drop your keys, take off your coat, and relax. All you want to do is sit down on the couch. Just as you put your arm on the armrest, your significant other is standing there, ready to tear into you about something you did. You are exhausted, stressed, and now you are headed into an argument.

Communicating how you are feeling is extremely important in a relationship. But it is equally as important to have the right timing. Every person walks in the door and needs a certain amount of time to relax and cool down from their day. Some people need fifteen minutes, some need thirty, and others may need more than an hour. Choosing the wrong time to talk to someone may compromise the way they hear you or how they understand your feelings.

Although there is no way to determine that magical moment to discuss an important topic with someone, there are definitely moments that are better than others. Often, we search for the best opportunity or the best timing for us, instead of the best moment for the other person or for the conversation. Here is an example:

Brit had just given birth to her third child. She quit her job to stay at home and take care of her son. Two months prior, she and her husband sank all of their savings into a new house. At 11:30 at night, her husband rolled over, told her that he hated his job and that he wanted to quit.

Brit spent the night tossing and turning. Her thoughts and emotions were whirling around in her head. She felt scared, worried, and helpless. But her husband had been experiencing those very same feelings for a very long time. He simply wanted to communicate his feelings to his wife. The issue is not whether he should have expressed his feelings, but whether eleven-thirty at night was the best possible moment for that conversation, especially when his wife had been up since 5 am that morning taking care of a newborn son with colic.

A lot of times, we know that the timing is not right for a specific conversation, so we say, “I’d like to talk to you about something. Let’s discuss it later.” But think back to when you were in elementary school. Just before class begins, your teacher walks over to you and whispers in your ear, “Please see me after class. I need to talk to you.” With all of the questions churning in your head, you can bet that your teacher will not have your full attention in class.

Years ago, I had an issue that I wanted to discuss with my boyfriend. I called him at his office. I knew that it wasn’t appropriate to have a conversation while we were both at work. So I simply said, “When you get off, please call me because I have something that I would like to talk to you about.” At 5:05 pm, five minutes after he got off, my phone was ringing. He wanted to know what I had to say.

I learned that what I said to him was the catalyst for changing his day from good to bad. He spent almost every single minute at work thinking about what I wanted to talk to him about. What did I do? Is this a break-up conversation? Is she ok? When we finished talking, he asked me not to call him with a concern unless I was ready to talk about it right then and there.

Telling someone that you need to talk to them later is unsettling and stressful. If you are unable to address an issue that is on your mind, save the other individual from unnecessary anxiety and don’t bring it up until you are ready to discuss it.

Timing is equally important as effective communication. While there is no perfect time to discuss an issue or dilemma, there are times that are more opportune than others. Ensure that your significant other knows how much cool down time you require when you walk in the house, what time of the day is best for capturing your attention, and what scenario would be less than ideal for you to address a serious issue. Make sure that you are clear on their needs as well. And if a problem or issue arises, present it at the best possible time for both of you, not when it first comes up.


Answer the following questions to determine your timing preference:


How much time do you need to wind down after you walk through the door?

  1. Less than 5 minutes

  2. 5-15 minutes

  3. 15-30 minutes

  4. 30-60 minutes

  5. More than 60 minutes



What time of the day do you feel most awake?

  1. Early morning

  2. Mid-Day

  3. Afternoon

  4. Evening

  5. Late night



What is the worst time for your mate to bring an

issue to your attention?

  1. After you walk through the door

  2. Just before bedtime

  3. Early in the Morning

  4. At work

  5. Other __________________________________



**Excerpt From The Gift of Past Relationships By Kristen Crockett. Click here to purchase the book on Amazon in either the paperback or ebook versions.



Dating Backwards


In my twenties, the thought of my boyfriend meeting my parents was beyond scary. I wasn't sure if I was more afraid of my mom meeting him or my my dad.  Either way, I tried to put it off for as long as possible. I always introduced him to my friends first. Next came my cousins, then my brothers, and months later, I would gather the courage to introduce him to my parents. 

It was completely different with my husband. He introduced me to his friends and family within the first two weeks of meeting me and he met my family very soon after.  Immediately, I realized that throughout my entire life, I had been dating backwards. I had been waiting until I was head over heels in love with someone to meet the most important people in their life.  What I should have been doing was meeting his family first to see how he operated, interacted, and communicated with his family. Was he rude to his mother? Did they treat me with respect? What were their family values? Could I get along with his parents?

When you wait until you are in love with someone to meet their family, you give up a tremendous amount of control in your relationship. Instead of making strategic decisions with your mind, you make decisions with your heart. You become more accepting of faults, flaws, mistakes, different interests, and incompatible values, because you are already in love.

Meeting a person's family gives you way more insight into who they are as a person. You get a chance to see a more realistic portrayal and whether that meshes with the person they have held themselves out to be.

If you meet a person's family at the beginning stages of your relationship, you don't have to worry about having to accept a family that is disrespectful, rude, abrasive, or unloving. You gain a better idea of who they are upfront and then you can decide if this is something you want to deal with or if it would be best to choose a person with a more loving, caring, and embracing family unit. After all, you marry someone's family....not just that individual. You do not want to spend holidays with a group of people that you really don't care for. It's best to have the control upfront to choose something other than dysfunction. That saying, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree", says it all.



What To Do When There Is a Mass Shooting At Your Wedding Venue

I popped my head in a friend’s office. “Do you want to see my dress?” I whispered to her.  She nodded feverishly. We both giggled and smiled as I unzipped the garment bag and reached in to take out my wedding dress. With my dress half in and half out of the bag, that was the very moment that my phone rang.   It was the Navy Yard.  "We are sorry to inform you that your wedding has been canceled."

Prior to September 16th, no one had ever heard of the Navy Yard.  “You are getting married where?” Monday’s events changed all of that.  Everyone all over the country knew exactly where our upcoming wedding was going to be held.

I was getting ready to stand in front of a room full of people to facilitate a training session when a slew of words and phrases injected themselves into my thoughts.

“Did you hear about the shooting at the Navy Yard?

“Twelve people are dead.”

“They are still looking for the shooters.”

There was no time to think about my wedding at the Navy Yard. It was showtime and I was on. I forced myself into facilitation mode and tried to stay there for the next two days of the training. At dinner and during breaks, I felt myself crawling into a never-ending list of questions and what-if’s… and then reality would pull me back in…until the next text or voice mail would pop up on my phone asking me if I had heard about the shooting.

My cousin started making calls to another venue. For me, the thought of contacting and moving 300 people just seemed too overwhelming to me.  The barrage of voice mails and text messages sent me into a world where stress and questions made everything seem to stand still. Was this really happening? Out of all of the places to get married, was there really a mass shooting at the very place we chose to get married? And then came the questions:

“Even if you can still have your wedding, do you really want it there?”

“What are you guys planning to do?”

“Can you find another place to have it?

“Can you postpone it?”

It was now 9:30 pm and I had just stepped into my hotel room, marking the end of my conference for that evening. It would all begin again in the morning at 7 am.  

Exhausted, I switched on the television to see faces of the distraught, mourning their co-workers.  I thought about the families who were devastated and the people who had been glued to the news channels for the entire day.  My phone vibrated. It was a text from a friend, “What color should I wear to your wedding?” I quickly picked up my phone and called her,

“Have you not been listening to the news?” 

“I have been watching it all day”, she said. “But we are having a wedding on Sunday. So, what color should I wear?”

That 10 second exchange was all I needed.  I immediately let go of whatever wasn’t in my control. Even if we were going to get married in my parent’s backyard, there was going to be a wedding on Sunday.  All we wanted was to get married and both of us agreed that whatever the circumstances, that would still happen.

Fast forward to Thursday.  I was headed to my last fitting with the seamstress. The Conference Center staff from the Navy Yard called and promised to let me know as soon as they knew something.  I headed back to my office with my wedding dress in my hands, honestly hoping for the best.

I popped my head in a friend’s office. “Do you want to see my dress?” I whispered to her.  She nodded feverishly. We both giggled and smiled as I unzipped the garment bag and reached in to take out my wedding dress. With my dress half in and half out of the bag, that was the very moment that my phone rang.   It was the Navy Yard.  "We are sorry to inform you that your wedding has been canceled."  It was Thursday afternoon and the wedding was Sunday. After months of planning, a twenty second message erased every ounce of laughter in the room.  I sat down, put my hands over my face and the tears began.  

The Navy Yard had informed me that they were doing their best to reschedule the wedding at an alternate location, minutes from the Navy Yard.  An hour later, the director of the Navy Yard let us know that our wedding was officially moved. The start time would also have to be pushed back and hour and a half. I had a matter of hours to collect the name, date of birth, and driever's license information from all 300 guests.

I don’t believe there is a word in the dictionary to describe the amount of stress I was under at that moment.  I am sure that the five new grey hairs that I currently have, all came from that 24 hour period. Both of our families kicked into full gear to help call, email, and text as many people as they could. And the staff at the new location was AMAZING. They all did whatever they could to ensure that we would have an incredible wedding surrounded by our friends and family.

By Sunday, all of that stress was in the past. We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing ceremony or reception, mostly because everyone we loved was there to watch us profess our love for each other.  We had a room filled with laughter, tears, dancing, and smiles from wall to wall. And we both got our wish….to spend the rest of our lives together.


Be sure to check out my book on Amazon: The Gift of Past Relationships