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.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Our 47th Wedding Anniversary Remembrance

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do this year to honor our wedding anniversary. I loved that first year so much (45 Random Acts of Kindness) but found last year to be difficult. The 5 year mark hit me really hard, so instead of doing something that required me to physically interact with others I just slipped my love notes in public places for unknown people to find (It's all about the LOVE).  So here I was facing my 6th wedding anniversary without Vern and wanting to continue to do something special to honor the love we shared.

And then I recalled Lisa Palmer's presentation about the homeless at the Brave Girl Symposium and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I created these little packages with a love note, encouraging words, a little heart token and $5 tucked inside and distributed them to the homeless people I encountered.

It took me a few days and I still had some envelopes to give out - but as luck would have it, I was selected for jury duty and spent a full week downtown. Sadly, I saw many homeless on my walk from the parking garage to the courthouse. Some were curled up sleeping in a shaded spot by a building, so I just slipped my little package along side them as they slept. Others were sitting on benches or on the curb under the shade of a tree. Handing them these little love notes and having them look right at me and say 'thank you' confirmed that I had made the right choice in how to share my anniversary love this year. In fact, it's been such a good thing that I've made extras that I carry with me so I can continue to give them out.

Sharing love is a gift to yourself. Try it. I guarantee it will fill your heart. And, for me, each time I have handed out one of my little notes I actually feel Vern whispering his love for me.

Monday, July 11, 2016

On being BRAVE ...

I attended BRAVE Girl Symposium last week and it was amazing. Fabulous speakers sharing such incredible messages. Truths revealed. Intentions identified. Important conversations for this scary world we're living in. Meeting people I had only known on-line. So much love and sistering in one place. Those three days filled my soul with love.

I was amazed at the number of Symposium attendees who came alone, not knowing anyone else, not really knowing anything about Brave Girls. Some came just because they receive the Daily Truth emails, some because they've taken a class in Brave Girl University, some because they're fans of one of the speakers. I was able to meet several of these new BRAVE Girls - a couple of them were widowed and I was able to share important widowed resource information with them. And one lovely gal approached me in the hallway after the Soul Restoration Certified Instructors were asked to come on stage. She wanted to know when and where I would be holding my Soul Restoration Retreats because she had noticed me and my 'energy'. Wow - that really made my day.

One of the group art projects was a paint stick quilt. Each attendee was given two paint sticks to write their "She Did It Anyway" words which were glued onto a wall. Really powerful to read all of the words. I was late turning my sticks in, so I think mine are mixed in with those on the floor.

I'll share one of mine with you: "She felt invisible, but she walked into the room with a smile anyway."  That may surprise some who know me - or who know of me - but I really struggle with this and felt it much of Symposium. Never feel quite 'enough' ... even in the midst of lovely old and new friends. I didn't get a photo opp with Melody or Kathy or any of the speakers or 'high profile Brave Girls' and was only asked to be in a couple of group photos. So this is me being BRAVE and speaking my truth for those other gals who were there and felt the same. I'm rather sure I'm not the only one and sometimes just knowing that is enough to help us work on those feelings.

My Symposium experience was tempered by a deep sadness in my heart. Just before leaving for Boise I received word that a dear friend was nearing the end of her cancer battle. Robbie has set such a loving example of kindness and bravery through all of her life's struggles. I debated whether to cancel going to Symposium and instead fly up to Reno that day to see her. But after many discussions and lots of prayer, I decided to head to Boise to fill my empty cup so I would be better able to lovingly say goodbye to my sweet friend. I left Boise for Reno early Saturday morning and returned home Sunday evening. That short time with Robbie was hard. So many triggers taking me back to my time with Vern in hospice. But I am so very grateful I was able to say goodbye, tell her how much she means to me and reassure her that I will be there to support her husband through the coming hard months. Robbie is the BRAVEST woman I know.

Note:  Please see that I've placed links in this blog post that will take you to registering for next year's Symposium, signing up for the Daily Truth emails, checking out Brave Girl University, seeing the list of Certified Instructors and linking to my 'under construction' website about the Soul Restoration Retreat I've scheduled. Some of these are affiliated links for me.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Brave Girl Adventure

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I recently spent 12 days in Idaho for some amazing Brave Girl training. Beautiful location, beautiful women, beautiful souls.

I honestly don't have the words to convey all that I received from my time in the mountains. Unconditional love, for sure. But so much more. Women supporting and encouraging one another. No comparisons. No judgment. No gossip. No complaints. Just lovely women openly sharing their talents, their knowledge, their hearts, their stories. What a precious gift.

The Brave Girl University (BGU) Teacher Retreat took place first. I was rather intimidated going in because these women are already well known for their work and have existing classes and websites. But it didn't take very long for me to be able to put away my "less than" feelings. Serendipitous moments. Kind comments spoken just when I needed them. Offers to help me where I'm struggling. And then there's Melody and Kathy and each member of the Brave Girl team. I know that my life would be very different if I hadn't found them back in July 2012. I am forever grateful.

I'm now working on a BGU class that I would never have thought to do if I hadn't been at this retreat. Lynette listened to my story and immediately said I should prepare a class on it. Of course, I pushed back - but she didn't budge. She recognized that I'm willing to do things for others that I won't do for myself and used that insight to convince me that there are others out there who need to hear this and learn that they are not alone in their struggles. So I will share my little secret and work alongside my students as we each climb our mountain.

While the retreat had a more laid-back schedule, the Soul Restoration Certification Training was very intense. So much really important material to get through, so we started early and finished up late each day.  This course has already changed so many lives and I'm honored to be entrusted to teach it. I'm not sure yet how or where I'll be sharing this course ... whether in women's or teen shelters, a 6-week long weekly class or at a retreat. Lots to figure out with business licenses and insurance and possible venues. Not to mention coming up with a name for my business. I'm working on it and believe that the answers will come.

On that final evening at the lodge in McCall, after all of the hard work had been completed, we stepped outside to view the night sky in all its glory. So breathtakingly beautiful. Countless stars in the dark night. And then we found ourselves in a circle in the middle of the road, embracing one another and softly singing "this little light of mine".  No photo could have captured the exquisite beauty, peace and sisterhood of that precious moment that will forever remain in my heart.

Would you like to learn more about all things Brave Girls? Just ask me and I'd love to share - or click on the links below:

  • Brave Girl Symposium?  Click HERE
  • Brave Girl University (BGU)?   Click HERE
  • 30-day FREE trial for BGU?  Click HERE & use my coupon code:  diannewest
  • Sign up for Daily Truth emails?  Click HERE

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Brave Girl Symposium July 6-8

I recently spent 12 days in McCall, Idaho for the Brave Girl University teacher retreat, followed by their Soul Restoration certification training session.  I cannot emphasize enough how amazing it was to be in the company of all those Brave Girls.  Powerful. Life-Affirming. Supportive.

Can you just imagine what it will be like to be surrounded by HUNDREDS of Brave Girls? Wow!

You don't need to imagine it ... you can live it ... July 6-8 ... by attending the very first Brave Girl Symposium in Boise, Idaho.  I'll be there - and I'd sure love to have you join me.

Click  HERE  to see the preliminary Symposium schedule and all the details. Hope I'll see you there.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

You need a death certificate for that? Really?!?

I donate blood regularly. I have for many years, but I especially understand the importance after the many, many, many times my Vern needed transfusions to stay alive. So I headed off to Sunset Station this morning for my scheduled appointment and was in and out within the hour.

They were giving a free breakfast or lunch buffet coupon if you donated, so I took my voucher over to the Rewards Center to get the actual coupon to use sometime this month. Easy, right?  You would think.

I handed the voucher to the nice gentleman along with my driver's license and mentioned that I didn't have my reward card with me. He said that wasn't a problem and proceeded to pull my info up on the computer. He verified my birth date and printed out a new card and handed it to me, along with the buffet coupon.  The name on the card was Vern West.  Ummm ... "That's my husband." ... "Oh, your card is printing out now."  "He died."  "Oh dear, I am sorry."  "It's been 5 years."  "That's ok, just bring in his death certificate and we can remove him from your account."

What????  Are you kidding me???  For a casino reward card?  Ack!!!! There aren't even any points on the card.  (No - I didn't say any of that out loud. My experience this past weekend with the delayed/cancelled flights and seeing how badly others behaved is still fresh in my memory, so I'm practicing kindness these days.)

So Vern will be staying on my Sunset Station rewards account. He's still on the Verizon cell phone and DirecTV accounts and our gas and electric utility bills. They're all paperless and paid automatically from my checking account, so seeing his name on monthly bills isn't an issue. And it's not because I'm procrastinating about doing this (I do have a rather long list of THOSE things). It's because having to pull out that stinkin' death certificate is hard. Even at 5 years. Trust me, I know he's dead. I'm living with that. Every day.  But I can choose to not have to handle that piece of paper that authenticates the death of my forever love just to have his name removed from an account. It's a choice I can make quite easily, thank you.

And in case you didn't know, my young widowed friends are required to carry their spouse's death certificate with them whenever they travel out of the country with their children. That just makes no sense at all. It should be noted on their passports so that awful document isn't needed.

I also received a t-shirt for my blood donation today.  If you're able, I hope you'll consider being a regular blood donor. It's so important to have a blood supply available for those who need it. Trust me ... I know that, too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Old? Not a chance!

I took a hard tumble last night and for a moment, as I laid there not sure I would be able to get up, I felt old. But only for a moment.

Lately I've been hearing a lot of "old" comments. Oh, not directed AT me ... but just casual references to others using that "old" adjective to describe people in their 60s.  I'm sure my friends aren't even thinking about their use of that word - even though in most every situation it is not used as a flattering term.  To my friends in their 20s and 30s, I'm old. I get that. Probably also to some in their 40s. My 50ish friends see me traveling the road just before them, so I doubt they'd like to use that word since it hits a little too close to home.  But really ... why do we humans feel the need to categorize ... label ... limit ... compare ... and judge others?

Perhaps you know some who have succumbed to the public pressure to "act their age" but, thankfully, I'm seeing so many who are living with 'their number' and not letting it define them. Go gray if you want to, or add some pink or purple to your hair.  Wear the clothes you want to wear - even if you find them in the young women's section.  Put on those bright colors. Live your BOLD life!

I happened upon a Facebook post yesterday that really caught my attention:

"She said I am not old; I have lived a hard life.
I have lived a long life. Has it been perfect, no. She said am I happy with where I am in my life right now, yes. Does she have any regrets, no.
She said I have amazing strength and courage, for which I discovered during my times of pain and agony. She said I also have tears of joy.
As she looks back on her life, she realized she had created a master piece, not knowing at first what a beautiful creation she would live to tell others about.
She said I slaved and sacrificed from the ones I love, loving them, she also found the love for myself that carried her through times of second guessing herself; she realized she is worth it.
She said I am whole, unique, lovable and real.
She said my body may have changed, my face may have wrinkled, but my heart and soul remain the same, giving love and having that love return to her.
She said that I may not have been what you wanted me to be, but I am not old, you still may see an old body, but I have come alive inside, the spirit of youth remains forever inside, and once you discover it, you embrace it and never let it go.
When you look at me, don't judge me and don't ignore me, for I have stories to tell. I will share with you where I have been and where I still intend on going, and don't tell me I can't do it, because you think I am old. After many years of trying to prove her worth to others, she has realized the one person that truly matters how worthy she is, is herself.
Don't tell her she is old and it can't be done at her age, for she will prove you wrong.
Accept her and love her for who she is, she is brave, bold and beautiful."
Mary Costanza   Link to Mary Costanza's FB post

And then today, Elizabeth Gilbert posted about an inspiring conversation she had with her 73-year-old Mom.  Here's a link to her Facebook post:  Elizabeth Gilbert's FB page

 and Melody Ross shared another relevant quote from Mary Costanza's page.

"As a woman gathers more years, she becomes more bold, which is not the same as brave: Brave is jumping in. Bold is jumping in led by angels. In age, we learn to know the difference. For certain, 'older is bolder'.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Don't you just love that?  "Jumping in led by angels."  Wahoo!

So to those of you who are fretting about turning 40 (really?!) or 50 or 60 ... how about we just forget those numbers. As a widow, I can assure you there are no guarantees how long any of us will live. So why not live each day the best that you can?  I miss my Vern. I will forever miss him. But I have to tell you, I hear him cheering me on each time I take another bold step in this alone life.

And yes, I did get up from my fall and I'm ok.  Actually, I was more worried about being able to get on that plane tomorrow morning to attend the Brave Girl University teacher retreat and Soul Restoration certification training. Because that's how I'm living my BOLD life!

If you'd like a FREE 30-day trial to check out Brave Girl U, just use my coupon code (diannewest) on the registration page. I've finally posted an intro video and will be getting my courses added after the retreat.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Oh Sheryl Sandberg, what have you done?

So it's apparently "news" that Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, may be dating less than a year after her husband's death.  Really?  Why is that any of our business?  And why on earth are people being so judgmental in their comments?  This is her life. She does not need your permission to date nor does she need your ugly comments ... and I'm rather grateful that she's probably not reading them.

But my widowed friends are reading them. You know ... those of us 'regular' folk who have lost our loves and are facing it Our lives may not be covered in the national press, but we do hear those comments, those judgments. And so do our children.  And they are hurtful and just as wrong for us as they are for a 'celebrity'.

I am truly excited, thrilled and grateful - regardless of the time since loss - when:

  • a widowed friend decides she/he is ready to start dating.
  • a widowed friend finds a new love.
  • I can attend or hear of the wedding of a widowed friend who has found their Chapter Two.

I feel these lovely emotions even though that is not something I choose for myself.

So why can't we just let everyone live their best life the way they choose?

I choose to not date or remarry and I've felt this way right from the start. For me. Personally. Not something I push on others. Not something I say is better or the way we must do this widow thing. It's just for me - and I guess to also be a voice for anyone else out there who may feel as I do.

But while responding to the offensive comments made by NOT WIDOWED people to all of these Sheryl Sandberg articles, some of my widowed friends have edged up to a line, too, with comments that could also be offensive to me and others like me if we didn't know and love the people making them. To paraphrase ...

"my married life made me love being part of a couple so I want that again"
"because we loved so well the first time, we want it a second time"
"loving again honors him instead of wallowing in grief and wasting my life"
 "I want to model resilience by moving forward with a new love" 

These kind of statements - even while said in response to hurtful and ridiculous comments about widows dating 'too soon' - have a subtle implication that those of us who choose not to seek a new partner had a bad marriage. Or that we are wallowing in our grief and wasting our lives. Not true and not fair.

I believe I am modeling resilience ... just for a different audience.

So ... to my friends who are not widowed ... please do not pass judgments on others for things you have not experienced. You do not know what this alone life is like, you do not know how you will feel or how you will want to live your life when that time comes. Trust me on this. Just love your spouse or significant person while they are still with you - and show love and compassion to your widowed friends as they do the best they can to move forward in the way they choose.

And to my widowed friends ... please be cautious with the words you use to defend yourself against those who feel they have a right to comment about how you live your life. You really don't need to defend yourself. How you live your life is And it's ok to just tell them that. Period.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Chapter Two

OK, don't go getting all excited.  
I don't have a new man in my life. 

You see, in the widowed community, Chapter 2 refers to a new love or remarriage after loss. I know of some really beautiful Chapter 2s.  And it seems that most all of my not-yet-repartnered widowed friends want a Chapter 2 in the physical form. Not all want to remarry, but they want and need to have love in their lives again.  I get that … I just don’t want that.

So if they can be happy and fulfilled with their Chapter 2s - while still holding their lost loves in their heart - shouldn't I be able to do the same even though I choose to not date or remarry?  Yes, I think so.

My Chapter 1 was oh so beautiful and amazing, but it ended when my Vern died.
I don't want the end of my story to just be an appendix.
I want my own Chapter 2.

And I think I can have a pretty darn good one with just Dianne ... getting to know her better, accepting her flaws, appreciating her strengths, exploring new things, traveling, creating, being kind, sharing, learning, growing, loving.

I was asked to be a teacher in Brave Girl University last fall, to focus on mentoring widows. I was so honored and excited … and yet I still haven't submitted my classes. A big fail on my part. My insecurities, feeling 'less than' when looking at all of the other teachers and courses, being uncomfortable seeing myself on a video, thinking that no one will be interested in what I have to say, afraid of failing ... oh yeah, I've beaten myself up over this. And just when I had a course ready to submit, my laptop crashed and burned and I lost it all. Was that a sign I should throw in the towel?  I thought so for a bit, especially when someone else submitted a course nearly identical to what I had prepared and lost.

But then I realized that I do have something to share. I've lived this life. The caregiver years, Vern's death and these years alone. And I have a different perspective from many on how to face these ‘alone’ years. What I've experienced may help someone else, may give them hope that they will survive their own heartbreaking loss. And if even just one person needs it, then it will be worth it. So I’m back at it.

I wanted to come up with a name for this endeavor - a brand of sorts to wrap all of the things I'm doing under one umbrella: this widow blog, Brave Girl University, Grief Diaries, Soaring Spirits, a new blog for my ‘alone’ life, positive stuff.  Each time I’d come up with a possibility and check it out on Google I’d find multiple others had already thought of it. And then this morning Chapter 2 popped into my head.  I Googled it (adding the word widow to the search) and everything referenced dating and remarriage. But there weren’t any Facebook pages or blogs with that title. 

So there it is … My Chapter Two (or perhaps My Chapter, Too?)

I’m on a mission to create a new – or enhanced – definition of what that can mean for widowed folk. Something like:

Finding their life’s purpose and fulfillment
after the loss of their beloved spouse/partner

Stay tuned ….

P.S.  If you'd like to check out Brave Girl University, use diannewest as your coupon code and you'll get a FREE 30-day trial!  Just go to, click on "Enroll in Brave Girl University" at the top of the page and insert the code.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I have a dream ....

I decided to change my Facebook cover photo to a Martin Luther King quote today and as I looked at the many options it was quite easy to decide which one to use.

This quote takes me back to 1969, my senior year in high school. I was Class President and Salutatorian and had to give a speech at my graduation in mid-May. I met with my favorite teacher to talk about possible topics for my speech and he suggested basing it on this quote. It worked perfectly. That teacher? Yep, it was Vern West. He didn't come to graduation and I didn't expect to ever see him again.

But I did.  And my life was changed forever.

Whenever I think back to that summer of '69 I am utterly amazed at how it all just fell into place. True serendipity. So many little things that happened just the way they needed to happen for us to find one another. And we grabbed hold of it instead of letting it slip away.

I had a dream ... my life with my forever love. And while it ended sooner than I wanted, the reality of it was so much more than I could ever have imagined.

So perhaps there's still a dream left in me. Oh, not for a new love. I truly am not at all interested in that. Perhaps the reason I spend so much time seeking and doing and exploring new things is to put me into places where serendipity can once again work its magic to produce something beautiful. A 'garden' of some sort filled with love and hope and kindness and happiness.

I have a dream .... how about you?