Sunday, January 26, 2020

What's Your Word?

My word for 2019 was DELIGHT ... and last year surely was a delightful year!

I held a Soul Restoration Retreat in Las Vegas in January and then we did some traveling ... a spectacular three weeks in Okinawa, RV traveling to ghost towns and parts of Nevada I've not seen in my 37 years of living here, trips to Tampa, San Diego & Toronto for our Camp Widow weekends, off to Indiana, Michigan & Minnesota to visit friends and family and to attend my 50th (!) high school reunion & meet Jim's siblings, an RV stay near beautiful Lake Tahoe with a side trip to Vallejo & Napa where I met one of Jim's sons & family, to Incline Village for an amazing Soul Chick retreat and lots and lots of Vegas Golden Knights hockey fun. Wow!

So here it is late January and I hadn't decided on my Word for 2020. I took the DaySpring quiz again and it gave me GATHER. I immediately thought 'no' that can't possibly be my word since I'm no longer hosting Soul Restoration retreats or Soul Book gatherings. Then I considered GRATITUDE and it felt right. I am grateful, so very grateful, for the life I'm living right now.  But I still kept waffling between those two words ... until now.

This quote make me feel like GATHER is actually the perfect word for me.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Making Peace

My sister died this week. She had some health issues, but her passing was unexpected.

Shirley was 8 years older than me. In our younger years I was often the bane of her existence when  I tattled things to her boyfriends as they waited for her to get ready for a date. Luckily, she forgave me for that and she became my confidante. She & Dick married when I was 10 and I loved spending time at their home. Scary movies. Bouncing ball competitions. Board games. Sleep-overs with friends. Vern proposed to me in their living room. She was my matron of honor and Jer's extra special Auntie. She & Dick greeted hundreds of people each holiday season when they opened the doors to the big pole barn next to their house filled with beautiful Christmas village displays. She wouldn't fly, so when we moved to Nevada in 1982 I only saw her when we came back to Michigan to visit once a year.

Shirl was a devout Christian, so I am confident that she greeted her moment of passing with a joy to be going home to Heaven. But her husband of 58 years will miss her deeply, as will I and my two remaining siblings, and so many others who loved her. The death of someone close can make us acutely aware of our own mortality. I felt that after Vern died and I'm feeling it again now. It's been a tough 14 months. My sister, Bev, died in November 2018. My brother, Dick, died last month. And now Shirl.

So how should we go about living our life? Do we live as if we'll live forever?  Or do we live each day as if it were our last? Haruki Murakami said, "Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it." Maybe making peace with death is the best option. Take away the anticipation, the fear, the ending and just acknowledge that death is a part of this life we've been given and we need to live our best life each and every day. It's a lofty goal. And one I'm going to try hard to meet.

Monday, January 21, 2019


I had planned to do an end of the year post ... with all that happened last year my 2018 surely deserved that. But it didn't happen. So I decided I would do a New Year's post. Oops. How did it get to be the third week in January? This gal who used to spend most all of her time online has missed birthdays and special events and writing in my blog. Why?

Because I'm living my life. And it's good. Very good.

I started choosing "Words of the Year" in 2012 (Brave, Believe, Hope, Joy, Simplify, Grace, Renew) and they've each served me well.  Oh - except for my 2016 word. That was a total fail.

But anyways ... I needed to come up with a word for 2019 and nothing was jumping out at me. I could have used Simplify again because that IS going to happen this year, but it didn't feel like it was the right word for me.  So I took a little quiz on and it gave me the word DELIGHT.  I've sat with it for a bit and it feels rather perfect.

Delight:  Something or someone that gives great pleasure, satisfaction or happiness.

I have something ... and someone ... giving me just that. So DELIGHT, it is!

So ... 2018.  My goodness, what a year that was. I've read back through my blog and it actually feels like it was longer ago than just last year. I think it was the hardest year I've had since that first year after Vern died. I had to stop hiding my true feelings behind the facade I had created.

I was so very sure I would never date or find a second love. So when those unexpected feelings about dating surfaced there was a whole lot of stuff to work through. Heavy stuff. Hard stuff. And so many emotions. I sure bounced back and forth enough on that topic, but through it all I believed I was being guided.

By God.  By Vern.  By the Universe.
💖 to make the right choices
💖 to learn the hard lessons
💖 to open my heart to all of the possibilities

I am so very grateful that Jim entered my life and has added laughter, adventure and unexpected love. I had forgotten just how lovely it is to simply sit together watching tv, holding hands or even to cook and clean with someone you care about. And to be able to talk about anything and everything. The simple things. Living life. 

But this wonderful change has had its challenges. I had a very busy and active life going on before this. I put in a lot of volunteer hours each week within the Soaring Spirits widowed community, coordinating our Regional Group program, running the Widowed Pen Pal Program, spending time daily in Widowed Village, gathering volunteers for each of our Camp Widow weekends. And I'm a certified instructor for Brave Living's Soul Restoration curriculum and hold retreats and gatherings. Add in our 3 local Soaring Spirits regional group meetings each month and the friends that I meet regularly for breakfast or lunch and my days have always been packed. I purposefully did all of this to keep the loneliness at bay and it worked quite well for me all of these years.

But now ... well now I want to have time to do things with Jim.  New things. Travel. And that means many of these other things that have filled up my life are going to have to go.

But how do I decide what stays and what goes? I love all of the volunteer work that I do. And it's important work. But I'm not doing it as well as I have for the past many years. It's time for me to step away from some of it so others can have the opportunity to give back to the widowed community that 'saved' them, too.

And I have loved holding my Soul Restoration Retreats where I get to teach this powerful course. Giving women a few days of respite from all that their lives hold while providing them with these important tools is a wonderful thing. When I expected I would always be alone, doing this work felt like it was the answer ... it was what I was supposed to be doing during this final season of my life. So I scheduled two retreats for the first quarter of 2019 and rented two houses, and had plans to return to that wonderful house in Folly Beach for another retreat in the fall.

But I haven't received anywhere near the response I need to cover those house rentals, the curriculum materials, gifts and art supplies I've already purchased. Friends who said they would definitely be coming have backed out because of illness, other priorities, unexpected expenses. I get it.

So we'll have an intimate retreat this week here in Henderson. I'm spending these days preparing name tags, creating special surprises, printing support materials, gathering decorations and pillows and throws, planning the menu, and a ton of other things.  And I'll love every minute I spend with these four women who are giving themselves this truly special gift. We will learn and grow and make new friends, and share laughter and tears and some really good stuff.

And next week at this time I'll know exactly what I need to do.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

If you find love, embrace it ...

It's been nearly six weeks since I wrote anything in here. A very busy six weeks. I spent 9 days in Toronto for Camp Widow, a Golden Knights/Maple Leafs hockey game and my first visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame and 25 days with Jim (mostly in Pahrump but we did come in town for a hockey game and a couple of my widow group meetings). That left me with just 7 days at my house - for hair and dental appointments and hockey games. Today finds me in Henderson. Jim is in Pahrump. And I really miss being there with him.

I came home on Tuesday for a hockey game (and WOW! what a game that was!!) and to spend some time trying to clean up my house so I could invite Jim & Sheila inside. If you're a long-time reader you're aware that I dealt with my grief by letting my home fall into disrepair and accumulating a lot of clutter. The old Dianne (before Vern died) was never a clean freak, but certainly never lived like this. The 'after loss' Dianne looked just fine to the public eye. I was working and volunteering and traveling and seemed to be doing a pretty good job of living this new alone life. But behind my home's closed door ... I was a mess and I let my home become a physical example of how I was really feeling.

I had planned for 2018 to finally be the year I attacked it all. I felt ready to get rid of things no longer needed, to organize what was left and then get busy on the needed painting and renovating.  But instead I spent so much time dealing with issues of the heart. Do I want to share my life with someone? Do I want to date?  And you all know the rest of that story.

So here I am now. I am happy, really happy. I love spending time with Jim. We're cooking and cleaning and shopping together. I'm meeting some of his friends; he's meeting some of mine. And we're having a lot of fun, too. We even got a pedicure together (my first!).  But there's this messy little house in Henderson that really does needs my attention. And there's my upcoming Soul Restoration Retreats I must prepare for. And that's all going to take time. Time away from Jim.

So just as I sit here worrying about how I'm going to possibly be able to make all of this work Josh Groban's song "Granted" comes on and reminds me of what is most important. I don't know how much time I have left on this planet but I do know I sure don't want to waste any of it. So I'm heading back across the mountain pass tomorrow. To be with Jim.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Never Say Never

Oh, but I did ... often ... during these past 8 years.  Never gonna date. Never gonna love someone else. Never gonna have a new person in my life.  Never gonna do 'that'. Never, never, never. And I believed all of that with my whole heart. So many of my friends kept saying 'Never Say Never' but that did not change my mind. I knew beyond a shadow of any doubt that I would be alone til the end of my days.

But I was wrong. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. In fact ... I'm rather excited to admit that I was wrong.

That really nice guy whose messages sneaked into my in-box after I closed up my Match profile? Well, let me just say that this past month has been full of 'Never Say Never' moments.

We both wanted to take things slow. We both felt that we needed to become friends first. We talked on the phone, texted and FaceTimed a lot to get to know one another. He lives an hour away from me, 'over the hump' in Pahrump. I've spent a lot of time with him and I've grown to love that drive over the mountain pass.

His name is Jim and I love his sweet dog, Sheila. He has a beautiful home and an amazing backyard. He's 6'4", I'm barely 5'4". He has a Harley, a couple of them actually. He's a Viet Nam vet; retired military (20 years) and retired civil service (27.5 years) running clubs on Air Force bases around the world. He's funny ("freaking hilarious") and makes me laugh every single day. We talk about anything and everything. I am a totally different person when I'm with him. Oh, I still carry around my bag full of insecurities, but I'm working on leaving those behind. We took a road trip in his RV. We're planning some other RV trips and a really big out of country trip. I've missed hockey games for him (!!) and some of my local widow group meets. I took him to a hockey game. And I've fallen way behind in my volunteer responsibilities because I want to spend time with him.

He is nothing like Vern. And that is ok. Perhaps it's even better than ok, because there is no need for any comparisons. I don't think I'm like his Estelle either. They had 51 years together and he lost her in August 2017. Vern and I had 41 years together and he's been gone 8 years. So neither of us had dated in around 50 years - shocking, huh?  I kind of think Vern & Estelle just might have had something to do with us finding one another.

I have many friends who are saying "never" and I totally respect their decision. I've stood with them on that soapbox many, many times speaking out against those who tried to tell us we couldn't possibly say 'never'.  But you can. And perhaps it is right for you now and may always be right for you. I will support you because I know those feelings.

But if you start to feel that little nudge to open up your heart and mind just a teeny tiny bit to give whatever might be waiting out there for you a space to explore ... do it. Take a chance. It can be spectacular.

I've written about the ugly side of opening yourself up. But I when I think of what I would have missed out on if I had just deleted Jim's message because I was so done with Match, it scares me. I've lived my life listening to those whispers, those little nudges to do something or say something even if it feels scary. I am so very grateful I responded to that whisper that said "open them up" when Jim's messages arrived. Those of us who have lost our loves know that life can change in an instant. Have we moved quickly?  Yes. But at our ages, why not? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so grab hold of happiness whenever you can, as fast as you can, and just enjoy every single moment.

Our story is just beginning, but it feels pretty darn awesome. I am happy. I am grateful. And I want every one of my widowed friends to experience this ... if they want to.