Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.


A Homeschooler Takes on the “Mean Girls” and …


Homeschooling’s Black, White, & Gray Series 1 Ep. 7

What does it mean about me if a dysfunctional institution led by some “mean girls” throws me out? Here’s what happened, but first of all, my definition of “mean girl” is a sometimes fun, but really selfish, usually gorgeous, controlling woman who uses manipulation to get what she wants and to keep admiring people around her (similar to the mean girls in the movie with that same title)…

I met her on the day I interviewed for the job, and she seemed interested in me and glad to have me come on board. This beautiful, married woman seemed like she could be a friend; since I was used to being friends with my bosses, I thought I could do it here too. I jumped into the job, helping with even more than I probably should have, but keeping my eyes open because I knew the institution had a reputation for dysfunction. I invited her to go see Shakespeare in the Park (which she couldn’t make), we had other interesting conversations, and I thought she liked me.

Because my “dysfunction radar” was on high alert, I didn’t let things slide when my schedule got changed around the day before school started. I spoke up, respectfully. I let her and the boss over her know that it shook me up to have more students thrust upon me and rooms changed around the day before school starts, and I felt disrespected. I thought they understood…

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Push Into The Throb

I know the pain slices through your hope, it casts your eyes toward the darkness, thinking it is bigger than the light,
But it’s NOT!
Feel the pain,
Push into the throb,
Hold onto it until you navigate its rapids because if you numb out, medicate, and avoid it, it will stay there, buried, still aching.
Numbing seems safe, but it just delays healing.
Healing comes through feeling, weeping, cleansing, and releasing.
Be free
to heal,
to live.


Copyright 2014 by M. H. Campbell


Josh Marks’ Funeral: How One Family Celebrated a Life that Ended Too Soon and Thoughts on Transitioning Through a Season of Mourning


On Monday, October 21st, 2013, several hundred people gathered to celebrate the life of Josh Marks, second place winner of Season 3 MasterChef reality TV show, basketball player, loving son and brother. How do you have a funeral for someone whose life tragically ended by his own hand during a time of mental confusion? I found out that how you do it is to just do it: celebrate all the wonderful life that person DID live. Focus on the life, not the death.

The only time I had interacted with Josh was a few weeks earlier. One student I was with recognized him and wanted to high five him, so I helped them connect. I got Josh’s attention and he smiled, reached out to the student to touch his hand, then the student was shyly grinning back as they high fived. The funeral reflected this part of Josh: how he loved and reached out to so many people.

The funeral service was crafted beautifully. Several of his closest friends from college shared how Josh encouraged them and would stay up until 3 or 4am to study with them. Josh’s family chose to show a video he had made of himself; he had recorded himself singing in order to practice speaking more clearly and smoothly (he explained that to us).  Before he started singing, he just talked a while (and drank from his glass of water!) From what he said, we all learned that he could make fun of himself, he wanted to grow and get better in life, and the most powerful thing he said was, “I want to be like Jesus and feed the masses.”

He didn’t cook to get famous, he cooked because he loved people and knew that food is a wonderful way to show love. One friend shared how even though one time Josh didn’t have much money, he chose to buy a homeless lady a pizza while he was hanging out with his friends. One way his family honored Josh was to provide wonderful food before and after the funeral service. Most of us were crying during parts of the service and then laughing during parts; Josh’s family composed a beautiful gathering to honor Josh’s life and celebrate his faith.

How do we transition through the time after someone we care for commits suicide?
From this experience I learned a few ways:

Let people know what is going on and let them come around and love you. Josh’s family was honest about what happened, and they let people come around and love them.

Celebrate all the wonderful things about the person that has passed; focus on the positive (feel the negative, process it, but choose to dwell on the good things about that person).

Having a funeral really helps. Just watching the family and friends that were close to Josh say good-bye to his body at the front of the church had me crying. Cry. Say “Good-bye.” Being able to see the body helps you realize the person is gone. Express your sadness.

Faith in God brings support and comfort. God can handle anger, so if you’re mad at Him for letting this person die, scream at Him if you need to: He can handle it, and He will always love you.

At the end of Josh’s funeral, a cousin sang “Amazing Grace.” I believe there’s enough amazing grace and love to support Josh’s family and friends and supporters through this loss. The funeral service, as it said on the program, truly celebrated God’s humble servant, Josh Marks.


P.S. A book that has helped me process grief is:

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis. Check it out. It is also an audio book: A Grief Observed Audio Book

Copyright 2017

Josh’s Mom encouraged me to link Josh’s words that they shared at his funeral, so here they are:

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Flying Away from a Dream: The Transition Through a Breakup


The 1,000 mile plane ride to visit my boyfriend had been joyful; my hope about the relationship had been growing.
Over the next four days we walked along the ocean, hung out with family,  and got to be around each other and know each other more. Toward the end of the week my boyfriend decided we weren’t a great match and ended our relationship without much warning. I fought for the relationship for a day and a half and then let him go. Hours later I got on a plane to fly home.

The plane ride away from a dream sucks. Shock, sadness, and questioning whirled through my head. After the plane left the ground, I looked out of the window and quietly cried. I didn’t want the gals next to me to see I was crying, so I pretended to sleep, and later studied the billowy clouds, hiding my red eyes. Even though my head knew the “Why” to what had just happened, my heart didn’t want to accept that the dream I had been nurturing about my boyfriend and I was dead. I was flying away from a place from which I probably won’t ever return.

I knew I had an option: To shut down again like I had five years before (when a different relationship had ended) or to learn from the ending of this relationship (that I had wanted to keep working on). Since I couldn’t keep working on this relationship, I could work on myself and on being open to new relationships!

This time instead of hiding and shutting down, I let others see my pain and I stayed open. On that plane ride, one of the gals next to me started talking with me, so we had an interesting conversation about Islam. A few minutes before landing, I told that new acquaintance that I had just had a break-up, and she surprised me: She responded with compassion! She had been through even worse than I had, and she empathized with me. This was the start of processing the pain WITH people. The compassion and support from even distant friends and family surprised me; I felt more connected to the human race. My old housemates hung out with me that night and helped me process, and just loved me and let me cry.

The transition through a break-up is a bumpy road. It combines the steps of grief, the letting go of hopes about the relationship, the processing of anger, the loneliness of not having that friendship anymore, and the choice to stay open to new relationships.

The break-up was a transition I didn’t expect. The change was abrupt and painful, but it taught me so much. It connected me more to people that I love, and it has helped me focus my life more pointedly. I have more hope about life and for future relationships. A breakup is an end to one relationship, but it can be a dark stairway that leads to an even better future.

Copyright 2013

P.S. Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as from  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income (at no extra cost to you!), for which I am thankful. So…..

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Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope