Thursday, May 24, 2018

Blessings from Little People

When you're feeling a bit low and in need of a pick-me-up may I suggest you find a way to start your day in an elementary classroom.  I guess I should clarify that ... as a GUEST in an elementary classroom. I was married to a teacher for 41 years so I do know the daily life of a teacher often doesn't feel like a "pick-me-up".  But these kids 💗  ... they sure know how to make you feel special and loved. And I don't often get to have that blessing in my life.

I entered this 3rd grade classroom to wonderful exclamations of "Miss Dianne!" I had visited with them only once 3 months ago and was so pleasantly surprised they remembered me. I explained a little bit about what SoulBooks are and read some of the words and quotes I had chosen to include in their books. And then I handed each book out one at a time and received a lovely hug from each of these very special children. 


The reactions to their books touched me deeply. They really loved that their name was on the cover. And some were even exclaiming over the specific duct tape I had used to bind their book. Others liked the page colors and asked how I had made the books. Catherine, their teacher, asked them to choose their favorite quote from their book and they took turns sharing them (most were unable to limit themselves to just one quote). They loved that I had included a photo of their teacher in the book - and also some photos from my first visit with them - and that I had left space for them to add things to their books.

I was asked to again read the book I had read to them during Reading Week (You! by Sandra Magsamen) that fits in beautifully with the words in their SoulBooks. And then I was asked to sit in the 'hot seat'. Now this is a hot seat I wouldn't mind sitting in daily.  The children took turns saying something kind to me. Each and every one of them.  Oh. my. heart.

Each of these students is so very special, but there is one that I connected with during my first visit because we share a love for the Vegas Golden Knights and our goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury. Levi was able to meet Marc-Andre at one of the team practices and Catherine had shared a couple of photos of that with me. I included those photos and a Golden Knights logo sticker in Levi's book and he was thrilled. He shared with me that he's hoping to play on two hockey teams this next year. Perhaps one day this special little boy will be a Golden Knight himself!

And a final little God-wink occurred during my visit when I learned that one of the teachers who had dropped by while I was in the 'hot seat' had worked for Vern at the Orleans Arena. It is always so wonderful when someone shares that they knew my guy.

So while my procrastination caused me to stay up all night finishing these special little books, I cannot think of a better way I could have spent my time. I dozed a bit while at the hair salon after leaving the school and came home to try to purchase tickets to the first Stanley Cup Final home game during the special presale (but was not successful). Tomorrow will find me at the DMV renewing my drivers license and then .... it will be time for my first date in 49 years. Gah!  It's just a dinner ... it's just a dinner ... it's just a dinner .........

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Spreading my Wings

Having trouble getting out of my head these days. Waking up multiple times each night isn't a new thing for me, but the major thoughts now causing this surely are.

I do have some big deadlines hanging over me, too, which is part of it I'm sure.  Let me get those on the table first:

H O W E V E R ... my waking thoughts the past few nights have not been about these unfinished deadlines but rather about me personally and this new dating adventure. I hit a birthday this week and was dreading that ever-increasing number, but I'm now feeling more like a very insecure junior high kid.

Cards pulled this morning. OK, I hear ya.

I enjoyed meeting my friend and 'new guy' Thursday evening. He's very nice and interesting and while there (for 3 hours) I didn't even think about WHY I was there and just enjoyed the conversation. That changed the moment I got in my car to head home and has not let up since.

He asked my friend for my phone number.
He asked me out to dinner (and said I was beautiful)
I accepted (with some caveats).

All sorts of emotions ... feeling scared, old, nervous, fat, excited, guilty, ugly, beautiful, wanted, insecure. Geez. And this is supposed to be a good thing?  I truly do not know if I am up for this.

He shared some health issues ... and that scared me. Those caregiving years with Vern were a precious gift I lovingly gave to him, but they were so very hard and I just don't know whether I could survive another round of that. But my work within the widowed community has given me oh-so-many stories that prove there are no guarantees when it comes to illness or death. Strong, young, healthy people get sick and die. Healthy older people get cancer and die. And when a lovely widowed friend who is living with a treatable cancer shared what it's like trying to find a new love from THAT side of things, I decided I could not let that be the reason I did not accept the invitation for a second meeting with 'new guy'.

When I first changed my mind about the dating thing, I expressed my desire to just have someone drop on my doorstep with an immediate spark and connection. Like what happened with Vern. Not very realistic, I know. There was a connection with the person who initially got me thinking about dating, but he's not interested or available so I'm quite happy to have him as a friend (who is doing a little coaching with this current situation).

So this Friday I will go on a date. The first one since 1969 when I was 18 years old.

The world has changed since then and I may not fit into the current dating scene, but I decided I must give it a try so I'd know whether to keep at it or just know that it's not for me and to pull myself out of it completely. And 'new guy' seems to understand my trepidation.

So wish me luck.  And also pray that my blood pressure remains low and I don't break out in junior high zits!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I said yes ....

It's been a really busy six weeks since I last wrote a blog post ... a lot has happened:

  • Was interviewed outside the Vegas Golden Knights practice arena and ended up with an online article about me and my love for the Knights.
  • Went to the two home games we played in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. We ended up sweeping the LA Kings 4-0.
  • Attended three of my local widow group meets.
  • Held my 7th SoulBook Gathering in Summerlin.
  • Attended the Justin Timberlake Concert at T-Mobile.
  • Went to a surprise birthday party where I knew no one except the birthday gal.
  • Enjoyed lunch with a new Canadian friend I met at the Tampa Camp Widow who was visiting Vegas.
  • Traveled to Seattle for a beautiful wedding of a widow friend.
  • Attended two of the home Golden Knights games in Round 2; we took the series by beating the San Jose Sharks 4-2.
  • Spent six days at the Whatever Craft House in Newton, Kansas with 10 lovely friends.
  • My story about why I love the Golden Knights was on our local CBS news station in their Our Team - Our Town segment.
  • Saw Frankie Moreno's show at Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
  • Attended the first home game against the Winnipeg Jets for the Western Conference Final tonight - we won!
Wow ... no wonder I've been so tired.  But that's not what I need to write about tonight. This has been on my mind all afternoon since I said 'yes' and I'm still wound up from our hockey game and not nearly ready to head to bed so figured I might as well write about it.

If you're a follower of my blog, you know that I had a rough January and February ... I developed some feelings that surprised me. A particular person sparked them ... someone who is not interested nor available ... but it forced me to really think about this dating thing. I waffled back and forth and I eventually took Vern's wedding band off to see how it felt. But then I said no when a friend wanted to introduce me to someone. That conversation helped me to realize that I don't want to date ... it's just not worth the effort nor the potential damage to my ego.

Fast forward to last night. I ended up having to go alone to the Frankie Moreno show. I really enjoyed those 90 minutes but the pity party was surfacing on the way there and was worse on the way back home. I was fine with being alone for 7+ years and yet now it's hard. Sometimes. Why?

And then today my friend contacted me again. This time she wanted to invite me to join her and her friend for drinks ... on my birthday evening. And I didn't say no automatically. I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because I just didn't want to spend my birthday alone. Perhaps it was because of the soul card I drew this morning.

So she kept talking and I eventually said yes. And I'm scared to death. Silly, I know. She'll be there. It's only drinks at 7. We'll just be talking. I talk to new people all the time. I want to cancel. But I won't. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Would you like some cheese with that 'whine'?

A friend mentioned how busy I keep myself and I wanted to admit that it's really all a facade. I keep myself so busy ... too busy, actually ... just to keep the loneliness at bay. I would happily give up every activity if Vern were still here to fill up my days.

I think my body decided to tell me that I need to slow down. I very rarely get sick (good genes, I guess, because I'm sure not living a healthy lifestyle) but ever since I got home from Tampa I felt 'off' and was not at all surprised when the crud hit hard last night. Ugh. It's just a head/chest cold, but I feel miserable and whiny. Sore throat, headache, earache, heavy chest ... even my teeth hurt. And I'm sneezing so much that my ribs hurt. And no one here to hold me and tell me this will all pass. So I whine. To myself.  And, yes, I do know it will pass and I'll be back to 'normal' soon. And I also know it could be worse. Much worse. So I'll try to stop whining. It's not very attractive.

Last week was super busy and so is next week, so it's good that this hit now as I have nothing on calendar until Sunday. Sleep was hard to come by last night, so we'll see what tonight brings. (I just looked at the time and it's 1am so guess this will be another not-so-good night of sleep.) But I'll try to do some good self-care these next few days. Drink plenty of water. Eat something. Sit outside in the sunshine.

So ... back to 'normal' Dianne. (She's still in there, I promise.)  

I thought I had put this dating thing to bed ... but a friend called and wanted to set me up with someone she knows. She tried hard to sell it/him but I declined. That conversation helped me to know that I do not want to date. At least I know I don't want to do the dating a stranger thing. I think I'm open to the possibility of a friendship developing into something more, but I'm not holding my breath for that to ever happen. And that's ok. Well .. except when I don't feel well and I get all whiny. LOL

And just to add a contradiction to all that I just said ... I've been wearing rings on my left hand since Vern died. My rings. His ring. My 25 year anniversary band. It's been Vern's wedding band and a widow's ring for some time now ... and I took them off on Monday. I was headed over to visit a friend and figured it was an opportunity to see how it felt. It was ok. Not sure whether this will be permanent. It doesn't change how I feel about Vern, but seems to be something I needed to try. And as my friend said - we don't have to do anything we don't want to do.  I can always put them back on.

Ya know, this widowed life is quite the ride. I hope I get it figured out before my time runs out. But I'll try real hard to keep the whining at a minimum.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Gifts of Kindness

I just returned home after spending the past 5 days in Tampa at Camp Widow. Soaring Spirits International is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and this was our 20th Camp. If this Tampa Camp is any indication, 2018 is going to be a spectacular year for the Soaring Spirits family.

I attended my first Camp Widow in San Diego in August 2011, just 11 months after Vern died. I had no idea then that I would end up attending every subsequent Camp (this was #18 for me!) and that I'd be asked to join the Leadership Team. So many wonderful people I've met through the years. So many lovely memories.

It's difficult to think there can be blessings that come our way after losing our loves, but this group of women is surely a blessing that would not have happened if Vern were still here with me. I am grateful for each one of them.

We start each Camp with a team meeting where we set our intentions and share our hopes for the coming days. Grace was in abundance. And we end each Camp with another team meeting where we share our favorite moments from Camp. There are so many of those moments and it's very hard to limit ourselves to sharing just one, but this was mine:
I met Rebekah in Widowed Village in November 2015. She arrived less than a month after the tragic loss of her husband while on vacation in Bora Bora. We shared a lot of time in the Village chat room and she came to the Tampa 2016 Camp just 4 months later. Seeing her transformation at that Camp was my favorite moment that year and she gave me another favorite when she surprised me at this Camp. I heard her calling my name in the crowded ballroom and she gave me the best and longest hug ever. It filled my heart. But that wasn't all she did.
After we did our beautiful message release, the music and dancing started. I found myself out on the dance floor with some friends and then there was Jason (Rebekah's boyfriend) asking me to dance. I chuckled and said something like Rebekah must have promised you something wonderful if you would do this. And this sweet young man said 'No, I just want to dance with a beautiful woman.'  Well, my goodness, how could I possibly respond with a 'not nice to Dianne' comment? So I just said 'thank you'. We don't play slow songs at Camp - and I can't even remember what song was playing - but Jason took me in his arms and danced with me. He even twirled me a time or two.  But the best thing? He held my hand. Not just the way you do when you dance with someone ... but he intertwined his fingers with mine. Just like Vern did. I thought my heart might burst and I knew that sweet Rebekah surely must have read my blog or Facebook post about missing having my hand held. What a lovely gift of kindness those few minutes were. 
I'm sure my little moment on that dance floor might not seem like much to many of you, but it's the little things that matter, you know. Rebekah noticed. She saw me. She heard me. And she asked her guy to do something very kind for this ol' gal. I am grateful. 

What can you do to make someone's day? Are you listening? Are you noticing?  Do you really see them?