Friday, September 22, 2017

7 years ... 84 months ... 2557 days

Emotions have run strong this week. But then I've believed from the start that I must 'feel what I feel when I feel it' in order to get through this.  So I've grown quiet. Cancelled lunches and meetings where I'd have to put on the Dianne 'act'. This is the time I allow myself to be selfish and do whatever I must to just honor all that it holds and then move forward. And this one comes right after holding one of my Soul Restoration Retreats, where I shared more than I would normally share about my life and those emotions get added to the mix of my missing Vern.

Please trust that my words are not said to scare any of my newly widowed friends. If you've been following my blog, you know I'm doing well. Trying new things. Stepping way outside my comfort zone. Surviving. Thriving. Growing. Giving. Learning. But this week ... those final 4-1/2 days spent in hospice ... will always be a time that pulls me back to those early days of my grief. And that's ok. I don't carry this sadness with me throughout the year, and you will learn that, too. Oh there are triggers that can hit - mostly songs for me that stir a memory - but I no longer need to pull off to the side of the road when that happens. Now, my heart just fills with the sweet memory of the love Vern & I shared and I smile . . . and I am grateful.

I can remember joining Widowed Village and attending Camp Widow during my first year and seeing people at 5+ years still there. And that was frightening. I did not want that to be me. And yet here I am. 7 years. But oh the knowledge I have gained. Those 5+ year people were there to provide hope and an acknowledgment that we don't leave our loved ones behind as the years pass and we move forward. And they are also a reassurance that we don't have to stay stuck in that early, debilitating grief. I am thankful they were there. And I am grateful that I can now serve that role for the new widowed people joining us.

So today I find myself surrounded by the 3 full carloads of containers and boxes and bags I brought back from my Soul Restoration Retreat. I will get them organized, but not today.  And today the check engine light came on in my car. I will get to the dealer to get that new CRV, but not today. And today I learned of the passing of one of Jer's high school friends/soccer teammates. I will miss today's visitation but will attend the funeral ... tomorrow.

Today is my day to just BE. Whatever that needs to look like. I'll pull out photos. I'll read my CaringBridge journal. I'll read back through my blog entries from those earlier days. I'll remember Vern and our 41 years together. I'll remember the sweet story of our whirlwind courtship. I'll remember his smile that sparkled in his eyes. I'll remember his kindness. His strength. His love.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reality Check

I spent a few hours in the ER earlier in the month. I thought I could deal with the pain I was experiencing, but after 5 hours of it I knew I needed some help. This was only the second time I've ever been an ER patient in my 66 years - and both were for a kidney stone. Let me just say I would not wish a kidney stone on my very worst enemy.

The hospital visit provided me with an IV to control the pain and nausea but it also provided me with quite an awakening. Well ... the awakening actually didn't truly come until after that stinkin' stone finally passed at home many hours later.

Lying in that ER bed brought back memories of the many times Vern & I were there. Together. And the difference now is that I was there ... alone.  My Vern wasn't there to hold my hand and tell me this was all going to be just fine. Oh boy, I sure do miss him.

I had a CTscan and ultrasound which showed the kidney stone but also gallstones, which I hadn't expected. They sent me home with Percocet and Zofran and I took the first dose and crawled into bed. I slept for a couple of hours but then the pain woke me and I was not happy to see I had to wait two hours before another dose. That day was spent just watching the clock for when I could take the next dose and sleep for an hour or two. Twenty-three hours after it started I woke up and that pain was gone. Hallelujah!

So very grateful for the relief but with my head finally clear from that debilitating pain the pitiful voice in my head took over. Yep. I had myself a little pity party right then and there.

He should be here.
It's not fair.
I'm tired of always being the strong one.
This is my life and what I have to look forward to if I get sick as I age.

I recognize now that it was easy to slide into a rather depressive state because I still wasn't feeling well. But the reality is This.Is.My.Life.  Suck it up, buttercup.

And then the house air conditioner died. Guess I'm 'lucky' that this is the first big, really expensive decision I've had to make alone ... but it wasn't fun. Especially during a record-breaking excessive heat warning week here in Vegas. 117 degrees with no A/C is another thing I would not wish on my worst enemy. But the good news is, this big expense helped me make another decision that has been weighing on me (will blog about that another time).

And now the gallbladder has decided to remind me that it's still lurking. Miserable pain and nausea again yesterday.  I don't "do" doctors; last visit was the physical I had after Vern died (because I promised him I would). And reading the reviews about local doctors is enough to make me decide to try once again to just change my diet. I now realize how very lucky I've been to be so healthy all these years. Not feeling well impacts you in so many other ways. Sigh.

So may I just state for the record that I am more than ready to put this month of June behind me?  Yes, I am. It has not been kind while I'm in the midst of a ton of to-do's and deadlines with retreat planning & marketing and website creating and widow group meets and all of my volunteer work responsibilities. And all I want to do today is sleep. I think that's what I'm going to do. Things will surely look better after a nice nap.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

She Did it Anyway ....

I became a Brave Girls Club Soul Restoration certified instructor in April 2016 because I wanted to share this powerful curriculum with others. What a difference it will make in this world of ours. My initial intent was to provide free workshops at local women's and teen shelters, but that's not yet an option available so I had to decide whether I was going to take the leap and offer retreats.

Since losing Vern I have listened to my 'gut' with every new thing or trip I've done and this was no exception. An art retreat I attended in 2013 at a beach house that spoke to my soul popped into my mind, so I started Googling to see if I could find it. And I did!  But then the questions surfaced ... how do I manage holding a retreat over 2200 miles away from home?  I'll need to fly there, rent a car, ship supplies. But since I'd need to fly to Tampa in March as a Camp Widow staffer, I had what I thought was a fabulous idea to hold my retreat while I was already on the East Coast.

I took the big leap and rented the beach house ... figuring that if no one signed up I'd have a week at a beautiful place ... and I took advantage of the generous Brave Girl University opportunity to post it on their web site. And people were interested!  Granted, most of those interested did not sign up ... but 6 did and that filled up my retreat space. Wow! And then I heard from two others who really wanted to attend and asked if I'd consider holding a second retreat there. The house was available the following week so I decided to advertise it and see what happened. I ended up filling that one, too!

Sounds great, doesn't it?  But .... life can throw some major curveballs at you sometimes.

I love being a member of the Camp Widow Leadership Team but it includes very long hours for 5 days straight and then I had a 3.5 hour drive to Deltona (that should have taken less than 2 hours) to pick up some retreat supplies I had shipped to a friend. Headed out the next day for Charleston (a 5+ hour drive) and started to not feel very well. My mouth and tongue were so sore I couldn't eat anything and I had this 'thing' trying to break out on my chin. Nerves? Stress? Who knew.  I had 3 days at a hotel until I got the keys to the beach house, so I set myself up in there, organized my supplies, studied the curriculum, stayed in my jammies and continued to feel poorly. When I checked out of the hotel on Saturday I decided to stop by CVS to see if a pharmacist could recommend something that would help. By this time my glands had swollen and were red and that redness was traveling around to different parts of my neck each day. He took one look and said I should see a doctor. So off to the local urgent care I went. It wasn't a bite ... it was cellulitis. A first for me and hopefully to never return. This is what I looked like the day after I got a Prednisone shot in the butt, started on 10 days of Bactrim AND Keflex and was using an antibiotic ointment on the sores 3 times/day.  Ugh. Not a pretty sight, eh?

And my very first Soul Restoration Retreat guests were due to arrive in a couple of days. Ack! I confirmed that I wasn't contagious so I could hold the retreat and give hugs - and I did my best to cover it up with makeup so I didn't look quite so horrid as that photo. And when that big ol' scab fell off I was relieved ... until I looked in the mirror and saw the HOLE it had left. OMG. The ointment went on more than 3 times a day to fill that thing.

On the very last day of the antibiotics - and the day the second group of women were due to arrive - I broke out in this on both legs and my trunk, front and back. It wasn't raised bumps - reminded me of what Vern used to get when his platelets were low; I believe it was a reaction to the antibiotics.  OK universe ... ENOUGH!

But ya know ... in spite of not feeling well, and the ugly sores and the raw tongue and the rash and the upset tummy from the antibiotics ... I did it anyway!  I held my very first Soul Restoration Retreats anyway!

And I do believe the 11 women who trusted me enough to sign up for my very first retreats took home some wonderful, life-changing tools and new friendships. That's what this is all about. Sharing this amazing curriculum, developing new connections, making a difference.

So when life throws you a curve, just stare right back at it and 'do it anyway' ... whatever IT may be for you. What have you got to lose?

And if you'd like more information about the Soul Restoration course, retreats or modules ... ask me! I have another retreat scheduled in Las Vegas in September: Las Vegas Retreat  - or take a look here to see if there are any scheduled in your area:  Certified Instructor SR Events

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.