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. I.am.not.done.yet.

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.  http://www.bravegirluniversity.com/

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 every.single.day. 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 none.of.their.business. And it's ok to just tell them that. Period.