Monday, August 24, 2015

It's all about the LOVE

The week leading up to my wedding anniversary was a tough one ... lots of emotions ... both good and bad ... plenty of triggers.  Ups and downs.  Good news, bad news.  Life.  And melancholy became my companion.

Where was the excitement to work on my anniversary random acts of kindness (RAKs)?  It was such a joyful experience last year to share flowers and donuts and balloons at the hospital. But the thought of entering a hospital this week just became more than I thought I could handle. 

And then I ran into Dr. Gollard, Vern's oncologist, at Starbuck's. It's been nearly 5 years since Vern & I last saw him. I hesitated approaching him, but was encouraged by my friend (thanks, ML). I introduced myself and thanked him for the care he gave my husband - and he immediately said "Vern, what a kind man" and followed it with "Ohio State". He remembered!  Those two drove me nuts talking football at appointments when I was anxious to hear blood count numbers and stats and progress. But Vern loved him because of those conversations.  

And thinking about that short little conversation helped me to recognize how important it is to me that Vern be remembered. And why I include his name on our anniversary RAKs. They are a physical reminder of the love we shared, the love we continue to share. So I got out my stencils and pens and ink sprays and the little RAK cards my friend Laurie gave me and got to work.

But what to include inside these 50 little envelopes? What could make a difference?  And then I came across the More Love Letters website:   And I knew what to include.  

It's really that simple.  It's what the world needs more of.

So I began writing little love notes to anonymous people. I've joined the More Love Letters team and will be writing love letters regularly, but these little anniversary RAKs will just have a few important words for whoever finds them:  you are loved, you are beautiful, you can do this, you are amazing.  

And that's the thing ... I don't need to deliver them to a hospital. That was the right thing to do last year, but not this year.  I can place these in any number of spots ... tucked in with the canned goods at the grocery store ... dropped in a bin at Target or Hobby Lobby ... handed to the drive-through kid at McDonald's ... tucked inside a book at the library. Ready and waiting for whoever is supposed to find them.  

So I'll admit this here ... I did not distribute my RAKs yesterday. I spent the day in the house, with the blinds closed, in my jammies. All day. It was what I needed to do on that special day this year. Self-care. Yes, it's been nearly 5 years since my Vern left this world. But don't you dare say I should be 'over it'. I will miss him and the love we shared until the day I die. And it's OK. Really, it is. I'm not depressed. I'm living my life. I'm doing some really, really good things. These melancholy days just drop by every now and then - especially from August 23 to September 22 each year - and I must respect them. Remember them. Remember him.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fill your cup

Becoming a widow changes us. Quite an understatement, eh?

While most of the changes we experience are difficult ... the grief, sleeplessness, tears, financial issues, being the only parent, loneliness ... there are actually some changes that could be considered positive.

And one of those is our expanding empathy.
We know more now.
Granted, they are things we wish we didn't know ... but there's no turning back the clock.

We've seen and experienced things non-widowed people have not. And it allows us ... almost forces us ... to reach out and identify with our widowed sisters and brothers who come after us.

Now I've always been pretty empathetic - even before Vern became ill. But after he died, it seems my empathy level ratcheted up pretty high. Probably at a rather unhealthy level.

And doing all of the volunteer work that I do for Soaring Spirits ... well, let's just say I have hundreds of opportunities every single day to feel the pain of my widowed family.

And sometimes it gets the best of me.
My heart actually hurts.
Sadness envelopes me.
A heaviness overwhelms me.
I want to just climb into bed and shut the world out.

These past few days have been hard ones. Shocking and devastating news has rocked our widowed community. A young widow experienced her second loss when her fiance died. Another young widow lost her husband's brother in a violent tragedy. I went to the hospital to visit a member of my local widow group and found her in ICU and intubated. And I feel. it. all.

I guess the point of this blog post is the importance of self-care. We need to recognize when our cup is empty. When we cannot do one more thing until we do something - whatever that might be - that fills our cup.

I thought I had hit that point today after my visit to the hospital (the same hospital my Vern was in when hospice became our only option). Instead, I went to lunch with a friend. And had some laughs with my son. And had a wonderful online chat with a dear Widowed Village friend who has found some new happiness.  And my cup filled. Without me curling up in a ball alone in a dark room.

Our wedding anniversary is this Sunday. It would have been #46. I will once again do random acts of kindness to honor him and our love. 46 of them. And I will do 2 more for a couple of my widow friends, to honor their loves. I think my cup is going to get much larger on Sunday.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lights! Camera! Action!

Well my Amazon Prime order has arrived, so it's time ... time to face my fears and try doing a video. I ordered an inexpensive tripod (so I can shoot further away and a little above me (cuz I've been told that is more flattering LOL) and a cool little bluetooth device that allows me to start and stop the video from where I'm seated.  Who knew?  I sure didn't.

But since I agreed to join Brave Girl University, it's something I have to do ... and soon. I'm still struggling with all of this, but I believe opportunities are dropped in our path for a reason and we must be listening ... and brave enough ... to follow where they take us. So I'm working on some content and will do some video intros and see what comes of it all.

If you'd like to save a spot to find out what BGU is all about, just click on the link below this photo and it should take you to a page to leave your email address that links to me if you should decide to sign up for BGU.

Yes, that means some $$ could come my way if anyone signs up using my link - but that is not why I'm doing this. We reach a lot of widows through the Soaring Spirits programs (Widowed Village, Camp Widow, Widow's Voice), but there are so very many who never find us, who don't find a group that can support them during their grief.  While most of the Brave Girls are not widowed ... unfortunately, many will be one day ... or someone they care about will become widowed. So my little corner of BGU will provide them with a space to connect with others, to learn that they are not alone, to find their tribe. (And I have committed to donate any funds I receive to Soaring Spirits International. One more way I can give back to an incredible organization that helped to save me.)

I am not a fan of being photographed and usually shy away from it whenever possible. So this video thing is a really, really big deal for me. Can't say conquering some of my insecurities about how I look was on my bucket list, but I guess it will be a good thing for me to have in my pocket.  Ok ... time to tackle this video thing.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 3, 2015

I Can & I Will

Oh boy - I said yes ... and now the self-doubt has settled in pretty hard.

There are so many incredible teachers offering their existing classes and creating new classes for Brave Girl University (BGU) ... that part is pretty darn exciting. I'm already a subscriber to the Brave Girl Soul School, so that means that starting September 1st I'll also have access to all of these other classes at no additional cost!  Pretty awesome!

But seeing all of these amazing people share that they will be offering classes in BGU is really intimidating.  They have a following. They already have a presence in the Brave Girl/online art community.  Where do I fit in?  I'm not an artist.  I don't have any existing classes.  Can I do this? Will what I offer be of any value to anyone?  Sigh.

Where is my guy when I need him to boost me up and tell me I can do this?  Oh yeah ... he died ... and that's the only reason I've been asked to participate in this new adventure.

So enough of this not feeling good enough stuff. I'm a Brave Girl. I'm a widow. I'm a survivor. I have valuable resources to share with my widowed friends.

I've ordered a tripod and microphone for my iPhone. I've kept a notepad with me constantly to write down ideas and thoughts ever since that initial contact from Melody. I won't try to be like the others. I won't do any comparing. I will just share what I've learned along this road that has taken me from devastating grief to a new life that has purpose. I will share my heart and soul with the widowed community I love. And make sure they know that they are not alone ... in what they've experienced, how they feel, how others treat them, the struggles they endure every single day.

Yeah ... I can do this.