Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The "D" Word

Well that "Be Nice to Dianne" note on my mirror is working. It hasn't entirely stopped the negative self-talk, but I'm giving myself a little verbal scolding when those ugly thoughts arrive, which often is followed by a little chuckle at what I must sound like when I'm in front of that mirror. Ah, the life of a woman living alone.

I've done lots of sharing in Widowed Village these past few days. I don't do that very often. Again, way way outside of my comfort zone, but it's been good to be open and honest and has actually helped me to work through some of this stuff. Come to find out I'm not the only one experiencing these feelings and not knowing how best to deal with them. Who knew?  And an extra special bonus to me being vulnerable in there is that a couple of my favorite people returned to the Village to respond and I was able to catch up with what's happening in their lives. I love the Village.

OK ... I guess I might as well spill a few of the beans about what these feelings are that have caught me so off-guard lately and sent me into a tailspin.  It's that word I never ever expected to say for myself ... d a t i n g ... eek!  Yes, I'll admit it.  It's me, the one who has stood on the soapbox for all widowed people who do not want to ever date or remarry.  Hear me roar.  Well, just to be clear, I will always stand on that soapbox, regardless of how this all turns out.

No, I haven't started dating. And, no, I'm not joining a match site. And, no, please do not try to set me up.  And, no, I'm really not ready to say yes to the stress.  But these totally unexpected feelings about all of this have shown up making me think I just might be open to it. Might be. Maybe. Someday. And that's been a real shocker for me.

This stuff is scary, folks. I have never dated as an adult. Nope, never. I married at 18 right out of high school, and really did not date much during my teen years. Vern is the only man I've ever been with.  I have real, serious issues with my physical self now that Vern is gone (reference my 'Be Nice to Dianne' note). My caregiving years were extremely hard and I don't know if I can handle the chance of having to go through that again.  I don't think my tender heart can survive rejection.

So as I said last night in the Village ...

That was easier.  More comfortable. And I may just do that. So please don't try to convince me that I need to do this ... that I must do this.  I'm working my way through all of these issues and feelings and insecurities and I'm in a good place with them right now. I won't let myself get swooped back down the rabbit hole that occurred last week. 

Because I'm using my God Box.  The physical act of writing out what was weighing heavy on my heart and putting it into that little box for God to handle for me has made a difference. A remarkable difference.

And as my old Village friends who returned with news of their own change of heart and new loves shared with me ... God ... fate ... the universe ... can have a hand in how this all turns out. I don't need to DO anything. I can just continue to live my life as I have been doing and let serendipity come to play if it is meant to.  Just as it did during that amazing summer of 1969. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Help, Thanks, Wow

Well this has been quite the week. One thing after another just bringing me down ... layer upon layer ... questioning my worth, beating myself up, feeling unloved, not good enough, so alone. Ugh. And then to top it all off, yesterday I had a really nasty gall bladder attack. Really, really hard to have no one around who cares about you when you're not feeling well. OK. What the heck is going on? This is NOT who I am. Help!

So I was forced to do a little self-care. After the pain and nausea settled I climbed into bed with my Lularoes, socks and a sweatshirt, piled on a blanket and afghan cuz I was freezing and just did jigsaw puzzles on my phone. Total waste of time. But was it?  I don't think so.

Because while doing the mindless puzzles, my head was still buzzing and I gave myself a good talking to. I even posted a little something in Widowed Village that was way outside my comfort zone. And when I woke up this morning, the first thought I had was to get up and go for a walk. Thank you, God.  Now that is definitely not my normal waking thought. Wow!

So I put on my 'I am a Brave Girl' sweatshirt and headed out the door (should have put on gloves, too, because it was 40 degrees ... I know, I know .... no need for comments).

And it felt so good. The sun was shining (posted a pic on Instagram) and breathing in the cool, fresh air was invigorating. What a change in my outlook.

During my trek I came across a large group of high schoolers waiting for the bus. Interesting to note that not one of them was smiling and they were not talking to one another at all, just looking at their phones, of course. So I slowed my walk as I approached. And I caught the eye of one who happened to look up. "Good morning!", I said.  And she smiled back at me. And then another one looked up. And I caught his eyes and said "Good morning". Wow!  This felt kinda good.  And as I turned the corner, more kids were heading to the bus stop so I greeted each of them with a "Good morning!" 

The initial surprise on some of their faces (that a stranger would greet them with a smile) saddened me. Perhaps they'll have a better day because of my two little words. Perhaps they'll smile and say "Good morning" to a lonely fellow student today.  I think I may need to plan my walk for this same time again next week.

So when I got home I decided to do something else to take on one of my bigger issues.

The mirror is not my friend. (I have had that issue for as long as I can remember.)  A dear friend had suggested I put a note to myself on my mirror.  (Thank you, Linda.)  So that's what I did.  I'll let you know if it works.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My God Box

Today has been a rough day. Well, actually it started yesterday with some random thoughts that took root in my brain and then just started to grow into all sorts of not-so-good things. And then a big ol' issue hit me upside the head last night.

And the gray skies and rain for two days has not helped at all. I know everyone back East finds that rather ridiculous. Heck, I spent my first 31 years in Michigan so I do know that just two days of gray skies and rain would be a blessing. But we desert dwellers are used to our nearly 300 days of sunshine and it really does make a difference when we have more than one gray, rainy day in a row.  Especially when our feelings are bubbling right at the surface. 

I can't share the specifics of the issues that took me down the rabbit hole today. One is not my story to tell. And the other ... ah, well, it is mine but my heart is so very tender and I'm just not able to share these feelings that have been whirling around inside my head and heart.

And that is a big part of the problem.

There is no one to share these feelings with.

One is something that Vern and I would have handled together and the other ... well it would not exist if he were still here.

And ya know ... he should still be here.  But he isn't. And I. am. alone.

Now I know I have friends who would listen ... but ... I also know I would get advice on both issues that I cannot possibly follow. So today was a day to just feel it all. I don't cry all that often any more, so maybe I just needed an empty the bucket day.

And that's ok.  Even at seven years out.

I took a break from the computer and finished reading a book I had started a few years ago ... "Help, Thanks, Wow - The Three Essential Prayers" by Anne Lamott (thanks for the reminder, Susan). It  helped me shed a bunch more tears and I highlighted a whole lot of passages in the book. Here's one:
"It unfolds, and you experience it, and it is so horrible and endless that you could almost give up a dozen times. But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on."
And I've created my own little God box that was noted in the book. It's a place to physically give God the things you've been wrestling with or can't seem to let go of.  The act of writing it down and placing it in that box says, "It's yours now, God. Help."  My issues are now in my God box and I await the answers.

And tomorrow? Ah, yes!  The sun will be shining once again.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

So long 2017 ... Hello 2018

I can be my own very worst critic.

Oh, I acknowledge that I do some really good things almost daily ... for other people. But I fail miserably at doing things - for me - that really should be done.  I'm a 5 Star Procrastinator, and that's an award no one should ever aspire to receive.

But things are looking up!  I finally started tackling tasks that have needed to be done for a long while. And it feels pretty darn good. 

My old 2003 CRV had been telling me for awhile that it was time to trade it in, as one thing after another kept needing repair. But I was so fearful of having to buy a new car *all by myself* that I kept putting it off.  That was silly, I know. Gosh, all I have to do is recall the hundreds of really big things I did while Vern was sick to know I can do the hard stuff *all by myself*.

So one day I just did it and it wasn't so bad after all!  I love my new car, and as a bit of serendipity, I sold Vern's 2003 Mustang ... to the salesman who sold me my new car!  That action got me going on other things ... cleaning out cupboards and closets, organizing, decluttering.

So now it's the beginning of a brand new year and time for me to select my 'word' for the year. I don't think I did one for 2017 - at least I can't find any reference to it. But 2017 was quite a year: 
  • Started up my little Tending Your Heart and Soul business, holding two Soul Restoration retreats in Folly Beach, SC and one here in Las Vegas, and three SoulBook Gatherings locally. 
  • Attended Camp Widows in Tampa, San Diego and Toronto as the volunteer coordinator.  
  • Traveled to Boise for the Brave Girl Symposium followed by a trip to California to meet up with some other certified instructors. 
  • Made my first ever trip to Texas for the dedication of the Soaring Spirits Resilience Center at Schreiner University, where Vern's name is displayed as one of the founding donors. 
  • Had an unexpected trip to Maui with Jer over Thanksgiving (thanks to a a friend of his offering us free rooms at his timeshare).
And that was just the travel!   

My heart is very dedicated to the widowed community, so I spend time daily volunteering in Widowed Village and with our regional social groups. I also managed to squeeze in some time to visit The Smith Center for their wonderful Broadway series, to catch shows by my favorite local singer Frankie Moreno, and to have breakfasts/lunches with friends.  

No wonder my house is a mess!  

It was a full and satisfying year, but admittedly far busier than I expected - or wanted - to be in retirement.  I learned a lot about what I like to do and what I don't like to do ... and where my heart is drawn to put my energy and resources.  Especially at age 66.  And I also realized that I desperately need to dedicate some time to ME.

So my word for 2018 is ...
1: to make like new : restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection 
2: to make new spiritually : regenerate
3  a : to restore to existence : revive
    b : to make extensive changes in : rebuild
4: to do again : repeat
5: to begin again : resume

I can't continue spending like I did last year if I expect to live comfortably into my 90s. And since I learned that I really do not like the 'business' side of soul work - the charging fees, the marketing, getting people to sign up - I've decided to not hold any retreats this year. I lost a considerable amount of money because my fees didn't come close to covering retreat costs and I don't think I can change that part of me. I will always want to do more, give more, to those who need these lessons. So I've scratched retreats off my list for this year. I'm hoping to be able to continue offering the free local gatherings. I have lots of artsy 'stuff' to share and feel it's so important to do creative things with our hands while we get to know other like-minded people. So stay tuned on that.

But for now ... let the self-care work begin.


Sunday, December 24, 2017


If you've been following my blog for awhile you know the history of my Christmas Eve sparkles and how very special they are to me. This is my 8th Christmas without Vern and I did not expect to find sparkles this year. The reason?  I thought I had discovered who my Christmas Eve Angel was ... at her funeral.

Vern & I have lived in this house since 1983 and our neighbors across the street were here when we moved in.  Nancy watched Jeremy after school until I got home from work; our kids grew up together; we shared the good times and the not so good over the years. Nancy lost her husband David in 2004 and her 42 year old daughter Bridget died suddenly this summer. Bridget's service was beautiful, with so many stories shared of the kindnesses she was always doing for others. And then they read the poem, "We Remember Them" - the poem that was left with my first sparkles - and I knew. She had been my Christmas Eve Angel.

But those sparkles did arrive this evening. Beautiful golden sparkles that once again made me think of my Vern.  And I am grateful, so very grateful. 

So was I wrong to think Bridget had been my angel?  I don't think so, but I actually don't need to know who did this tonight.  This gift is such a beautiful blessing to me and I suspect it's a blessing to whoever it is that does this each year. That is enough.  It has helped me to appreciate the beauty of anonymous gifts of kindness. I do a lot of those throughout the year and will continue to do them. To honor my Vern. And in memory of Bridget, my Christmas Eve Angel.

Here's the back story for those who don't know it:
Three days after Vern died, I arrived home to find our street sparkling, right in front of our house. It was like little pieces of gold were imbedded in the pavement, and with the sun shining brightly it made them sparkle so beautifully. I felt it was a message from my Vern ... that he was up there walking the "streets of gold" and just wanted to share a tiny bit of that with me down here.

Three months later, it was Christmas - my first without Vern and my first gift of Christmas Eve sparkles.   http://amyelomawidowsjourney.blogspot.com/2010/12/sparkles-are-back.html

Those sparkles kept arriving, each Christmas Eve. Here's a couple of blog posts about them: