Sunday, December 25, 2016

Oh the holidays ....

I was just sure that I'd feel better about the holidays this year. I was planning to pull out the decorations, put up my special ornaments, set out my nativity collection and really enjoy the season. And then August arrived with our wedding anniversary and then September with the death anniversary and then October with our son turning 40 and not being in a great place, and then there's my still messy house ... well, the holiday doldrums took a good hold. Now granted, I had a really beautiful vacation with Jer in Hawaii in November and those days were wonderful. Really wonderful. But since returning home, there have been things that just kept pulling me downward. Life things, insecurities, questions, feeling unseen, unappreciated in so many parts of my life. Those of you who know me know that I'm generally a pretty darn positive person ... but hoo-boy there have been some yucky days and nights lately. Now during all of this I continued to put on my happy face and kept posting on FB and Instagram and in Widowed Village and in emails and messages and saying 'yes, yes, yes' to whatever came my way ... but I finally hit a wall yesterday and said "enough"!  I'm taking a FB/IG break for a bit - at least until all of those wonderfully happy perfect family Christmas posts disappear!

Oh ... and my anonymous Christmas Eve angel who has touched my heart by sprinkling glitter on my doorstep since my very first Christmas without Vern has left me this year, too.  Christmas Eve Sparkles


No, not really. I will forever be grateful for that special angel. And I love the true meaning of Christmas - but we have strayed pretty far away from that IMO.

UPDATE 12/26/16! There were sparkles out in the street at the end of our driveway ... where they were that very first time just days after Vern died.  I just didn't see them until I backed the car out of the driveway today. A valuable lesson learned. How many gifts do we not see because we're not looking in the right place for them?

So ... I'm trying to figure out how to get a handle on all of this other 'stuff'. Some of it is just me ... and at my age I'm probably just going to have to learn to live with it. I've always had a self-esteem issue and it doesn't take much for me to feel 'less than' or invisible. An innocent posting showing appreciation to others but omitting me is what led to this latest thing. I'm 65 for crying out loud. Why do I care? I don't do the things I do to be recognized. And why does this take me back to my early days of grief when I just wanted to run away to a place where I knew no one.

But that's unrealistic. Unfortunately. So, instead, I'm spending the day in the Widowed Village chat room ... making sure that anyone who pops in on Christmas knows there is someone else around to greet them, to hear them, to care.

And I'm writing this blog post.  And I've made a list of the online classes I signed up for but haven't started - and have actually started one of them. And I'm organizing my desk. Little steps forward.

I stay active on FB and Instagram because I'm trying to promote my business but when I look at how few people 'like' or respond to anything I post it's pretty obvious that most of my 'friends' are definitely not 'following' me or wanting my posts to show up in their news feed. And, yes, I added that little fact to my pity party yesterday, too. Sigh. When you're feeling down, life just seems to pile on. Or at least that's how it feels.

So ... can I make this business thing work? I've felt called to do this, believe it's my life's work and that it honors Vern, but how much effort do I want to put into it at this stage of my life? I honestly don't know.

What I do know is that I'm very excited about the two small, intimate retreats I have scheduled for March in Folly Beach, SC. The first one is filled and the second one just 1/3 filled. I'm buying and planning and creating some lovely things and can't wait to meet these wonderful women and share the life-changing Soul Restoration curriculum with them at this beautiful beach house. Will I make any money from these retreats? If I fill both of them, I hope to cover my expenses. Will I offer retreats and classes here in southern Nevada? I'm not yet sure about that. I need to find a location I can afford that 'feels' right. So I'm putting that on my vision board. Oh yeah, that's another thing - I plan to hold vision board workshops as part of my business, too. So if any of this interests you - or you know anyone who might be interested - please share my business links and sign up for emails about future events.

It does feel good to just write this all out and put things into proper perspective. When I look back at all I've handled since Vern was diagnosed in 2006, this is really so insignificant. I know I've got this, no matter how it all turns out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I miss him

I thought I was ready ... well, yes, I am ready. This first part of the journey back to my 'before' life really should have been the easy part. I'm only here in Honolulu because Jer has never been to Hawaii and he wants to see Pearl Harbor and meet up with an old high school friend. The real emotions will come to play when I get to Hana because that was a very special place for Vern & I. Sigh.

So let me just say from the start that Hawaiian Airlines is fabulous! I'm a big Southwest fan, but Hawaiian really knows how to treat their guests. It was a lovely, smooth flight. We even arrived about 30 minutes early!

Grabbed a shuttle to the hotel. Surprising amount of traffic at 6am, so it took awhile. The last time I was here was in 1990 - after we dealt with the pancreatic cancer scare - and it has definitely grown. We arrived at Stay Hotel Waikiki which I booked through - first time.  Definitely the last time.  This is the room they showed on my reservation email:

And this is the room we got:

I was standing right at the back wall when I took this photo. Teeny tiny space. We were so tired, we just both laid down and fell asleep. When we woke up a few hours later, Jer made arrangements to meet up with his friend and headed off to the beach. If I were 40 years younger and planned to spend all day at the beach and only land at the hotel to sleep, then perhaps I could have just made the best of it. But I'm 65. And while I don't stay in 5 Star hotels, I do like a little space and comfort and this room had none of that. Not even any room to open the suitcases except on the beds. 

Let me add that the reservation was non-refundable. And a gal from the front desk had called to see if we needed anything and when I shared my disappointment that this room was not at all what I had expected, she offered nothing. So I felt trapped. I thought I had gotten a good deal (which is why I did the non-refundable reservation) - but as I sat in the tiny hot space and started feeling depressed, I decided to check the hotel web site to see what they would charge for the room I thought I was going to get. It was cheaper than what I had paid. Argh!!!

And I missed Vern. He would have handled this mess. He should be here, ya know.

And then I got angry.  And I wrote my very first ever bad review. 

I posted it on the FB pages of both and the hotel. And decided to suck it up and learn from this mistake ... and headed over to the beach for a mai tai to give me the strength to do just that.

I ordered my drink and sat there looking out at that lovely beach with the ocean at my feet and I missed Vern. And the tears started. Thank the dear Lord for sunglasses and paper napkins.

And then my phone rang with an unknown local number. I don't usually answer unknown callers, but thought maybe Jer had lost his phone so I answered.  It was the hotel's general manager. And she had seen my post and was very kind.  And here's the room we're in now:

Just a little bit of a difference, eh?  Still not like the photo, but quite nice. And there's a desk and a bathroom you can actually walk in and shut the door.

So all's well that end's well, huh?  A good lesson learned.  I'm now starving and going to meet Jer and his friends at a sushi restaurant. I've never had sushi ... may be time to give it a try.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My unexpected ride at Toronto Pearson

Yesterday was a long travel day, but I arrived in beautiful Toronto safe and sound and just slightly bruised ... my ego, that is.

My neighbor gave me a ride to the airport at 9:30 and my TSA Pre status helped me avoid a very long security check line. My full flight of 250+ passengers apparently arrived in Toronto at the same time as several other large flights because the queue to get through customs was out the door. But when I finally got to the front of the line, I sailed right through ... so thankful I didn't have a repeat experience of the past two years where I was taken to a 'room down the hall' for further questioning and a thorough going through of my luggage.

I headed off to find my way to the Union Pearson Express train and found I'd need to go up a level or two. First one, I took the elevator because it was right there. Second one ... the escalator was right in front of me and I was sure I could maneuver my 45 pound big suitcase and small carry-on without an issue. Not!

I positioned my carry-on on a step, me on the next one, and my big suitcase on the one behind me. I got this! What I didn't realize, however, is that one wheel of my big case was on my step ... and then all of us were tumbling. Yeah, that was me.  Thank God for the kind man and woman a few steps below me. They stopped my ride down the escalator or else I would have landed face first at the bottom. Instead, I landed face down on top of my big suitcase, still holding onto my carry-on. Oh and with some of the kind man's coffee on me, too. So very embarrassing.

I am grateful that I didn't break a hip or anything else. Just a little sore today. So I declined joining Michele on her run.  Hah! I would have easily come up with another excuse to decline that invitation.

So a lesson learned. I'm no longer 35 ... and it's ok. I can still do a lot of things, I just need to recognize when it's better for me to choose a safe or an 'old lady' way of doing something and remain upright.

OMG ... they have photos of people falling on escalators?!? I surely hope my ride doesn't end up out in cyberspace!  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Missing you on the day you left

I doubt these 30 days in August/September will ever become 'easy'. I miss him. However, as our August 23rd wedding anniversary started that final countdown this year, I can say my heart hasn't hurt as deeply as it did early on. It's no longer a constant physical pain, but rather one that visits from time to time. And I honor it when it visits. I give myself grace.  Today ... the anniversary of the day Vern died is one of those days.

Six years.

It just does not seem possible that six years have passed. I can easily forget where I've placed my keys or hidden the titles to our cars, but I can transport back to 'that day' in a heartbeat and recall every single precious second. The words, the sounds, the peace, the love. And the silence.

My soul knows ... even after six years have passed, I still wake up around 3:30am each day - regardless of what time I crawled into bed. That was the time I had to get up each morning to give Vern his meds before heading out the door at 4:30 for dialysis. That didn't happen this morning. Instead, I awoke at 5am ... the time he died. Six years ago. My heart knows.

My previous blog post mentioned the conversation I had with Mary-Anne Wagner. What a precious gift that has been during these 30 days. I have felt wrapped up in the comfort of the words and visuals she shared with me. I'm not alone, Vern is right by my side. Forever and always. And I must say that the little 'heart' surprises have been plentiful lately.

This has been a busy week. Prepping for our Toronto Camp Widow, working on a class for Brave Girl University, trying to finish up my new web site, working on all of the fabulous details to include in my first soul restoration retreat, staying on top of the activity in Widowed Village, posting my regional group events. I say 'yes' too often, I know, but these are all things that are very important to me. Oh - and I'm also taking an online course through UCBerkeley on 'The Science of Happiness" and doing the "Uninvited" online Bible study with Proverbs31.

I'm 65 ... I have a limited time to do all of the things I need to do to 'become all that I am". So I will pack as much into my days as I possibly can doing good things, being of service, learning, teaching, sharing, giving, listening, caring, loving ... because I know Vern is watching ... and enjoying ... it all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Soul Knows ....

This time of year always seems to bring memories and triggers. Our wedding anniversary is in August and September holds the end days. I've learned what I need to do is just ride the wave and give myself some grace whenever it's needed.

So far this year these months have brought the death of a friend (with the funeral at the same mortuary Vern was at), followed later that same day by a widow friend entering the hospital (and being in the exact same room Vern was in the last time he was there), coming face to face with a couple of my moon people (this is a Brave Girl reference), sitting on a jury looking at spinal MRIs and listening to doctors (words not heard since caring for Vern) and yet another widow friend is in the hospital. Instead of these things bringing me to my knees I found the memories they triggered to be almost comforting ... reminders of the amazing love and soul connection Vern & I shared for 41 years.

Perhaps these were tests to see just how well I'm doing as the 6 year death anniversary date approaches. And I can honestly say that I'm doing ok. Really. That doesn't mean that I don't still have days that I must sit with my grief. I miss him. I will always miss him. This life I'm living now is not at all what I expected it to be. Not at all what I wish it could be. But wishing will not bring my beloved back. So I will live my life for both of us. And I will be quiet and sit with my grief when I must. There is room for both.

My life is filled with many good things. Unexpected things. Friends - in-person and online - that I would never have met without my loss. Creativity and art and retreats and learning and writing that I am quite sure I would not have experienced if we were still 'Vern & Dianne'. I'd give it all up in an instance if it would bring him back, but I know that cannot happen. So instead I choose to be very grateful for the blessings of these unexpected gifts.

Mary-Anne Wagner was one of the speakers at the Brave Girl Symposium. Her soul counseling presentation really spoke to me so I contacted her to schedule a session and it landed just two days after my anniversary. It was an amazing conversation that validated several things in my life and will stay with me forever. One was the beautiful connection that Vern and I have ... even now ... which reinforces why I have no desire or need to seek a new partner. Hearing that he is enjoying watching me have this time in my life was a truly wonderful gift.

And then there's my unexpected gift at WalMart. Her name is Donna. I was in the paint aisle when a woman commented that she liked my haircut and color. I shared my stylist's contact info and we started chatting and didn't stop for over two hours! We just couldn't believe all of the things we have in common. Kindred souls.

I guess the take-away from this post is that I hope you will be open to all of the possibilities that life presents to you. Try new things. Listen to your gut. Hear those whispers. Act on them. You just never know what lovely things they may bring to you.