Back in the 70’s there were only 2 or 3 TV channels.
So just about everyone watched - or knew about - the same shows and this brought people together in a way today's kids will never understand.
The TV show “Dallas” about a family of wealthy Texas oil tycoons was a massive hit.
The most famous series cliff-hanger, was when the main star “JR,” played by Larry Hagman, was shot – it was such a big deal I remember people wearing t shirts saying “Who shot JR?”
Charlene Tilton was born the only child of a poor single mother suffering from mental illness.
A self-described “latch key kid” living in LA, on her way to school each morning she would stand outside the famous Hollywood studios to see which glamorous star was arriving in their limousines and who she could spot behind the grand locked gates.
Before she walked on to school, she would dream big and tell herself, “one day I want to be inside those gates and inside that studio.”
Being able to act was a great escape from the sadness of her everyday life, and at the age of 17 she got the chance to read for the part of Lucy Ewing on ‘Dallas.’
When she read the description of Lucy’s character: a manipulative little vixen being raised by her family because she doesn't have her parents, she said to herself “that's my part!”
She “clicked” with the character of Lucy, nailed her audition, landed the part and got her big break.
I remember watching her on Dallas in my teenage years and feeling a big crush on the beautiful girl on TV.
At 24, she fell in love with country singer Johnny Lee and had a daughter, Cherish.
Sadly, her first marriage ended after two years and at 43 Charlene began dating cinematographer Cheddy Hart.
She was happy, it was real love and they enjoyed a blissful eight years together, but two days before Christmas 2009 her husband turned to her and said, “Honey, I don’t feel well.”
He placed her fingers on his neck and she could feel his hearts irregular beats.
He knew how much she was looking forward to Christmas as he looked up at her and said, “I'm sorry I'm ruining Christmas.”
Then he passed in her arms at the age of 54.
Through her tears, Charlene tells of the shock being “something she had never experienced.”
She describes herself as a “mess.”
She spiraled into helplessness and descended into long hazy days clouded with alcohol and cigarettes.
The loss of her partner felt like losing of a part of herself, she wondered if perhaps a part of her had lost the will to live …
Until one day she asked herself, ‘what the plan was for her life? Was it to sit on the couch drinking and smoking?’
She decided right then that “I'm going to go help somebody else.”
She didn't know where to start, but a friend of hers had mentioned something about “Actors For Autism.”
So Charlene joined the group, hoping that her experience and words of encouragement would help bring the young autistic sufferers confidence and help them to find themselves in the world.
She loves her work and finds it amazing and fulfilling watching them “grow and be able to be more socialized in everyday life.”
I think we can both agree that Charlene did a lot right.
1. First off she allowed herself a grieving process.
Sometimes this looks a little like chaos, but that doesn't matter as long as we are processing our feelings and not doing things that pose an immediate danger to ourselves or the lives of others.
2. And Charlene didn’t lash out or blame other people for her pain.
3. When her grieving process was over, she refused to look inward with eyes of self-pity, but she looked outward to what she could do and how she could add to the lives of others.
It is often suggested that we should “give what we want to receive.”
Charlene has made herself happy by making others happy.
She has grown by watching them grow.
Focusing on others suffering when we are in pain, is a great lesson in dealing with the grief and sadness that is a part of all of our lives.
Charlene faced the shock of the sudden loss of her lover passing in her arms.
We may not experience a loss so dramatic, but we will all experience the loss of someone we love and watch dreams filled with hope lie unrealized.
Life is sad.
Loss is a part of life.
That's the deal, we can't do anything about that, but what we can do is choose our response to ourselves, others and our world when loss happens.
At times of loss in your life, you can use Charlene’s formula for inspiration:
2. Try not to blame
3. Focus on others
If you'd like to watch the You Tube video where Charlene tells her story you can take a look at it here.
If this post has got you thinking about how to deal with loss, here's the 5 Stages Of Grief tool.
wishing you the best of days,
Harley M Storey
"The Life Coach Toolman!"