Sunday, December 24, 2017


If you've been following my blog for awhile you know the history of my Christmas Eve sparkles and how very special they are to me. This is my 8th Christmas without Vern and I did not expect to find sparkles this year. The reason?  I thought I had discovered who my Christmas Eve Angel was ... at her funeral.

Vern & I have lived in this house since 1983 and our neighbors across the street were here when we moved in.  Nancy watched Jeremy after school until I got home from work; our kids grew up together; we shared the good times and the not so good over the years. Nancy lost her husband David in 2004 and her 42 year old daughter Bridget died suddenly this summer. Bridget's service was beautiful, with so many stories shared of the kindnesses she was always doing for others. And then they read the poem, "We Remember Them" - the poem that was left with my first sparkles - and I knew. She had been my Christmas Eve Angel.

But those sparkles did arrive this evening. Beautiful golden sparkles that once again made me think of my Vern.  And I am grateful, so very grateful. 

So was I wrong to think Bridget had been my angel?  I don't think so, but I actually don't need to know who did this tonight.  This gift is such a beautiful blessing to me and I suspect it's a blessing to whoever it is that does this each year. That is enough.  It has helped me to appreciate the beauty of anonymous gifts of kindness. I do a lot of those throughout the year and will continue to do them. To honor my Vern. And in memory of Bridget, my Christmas Eve Angel.

Here's the back story for those who don't know it:
Three days after Vern died, I arrived home to find our street sparkling, right in front of our house. It was like little pieces of gold were imbedded in the pavement, and with the sun shining brightly it made them sparkle so beautifully. I felt it was a message from my Vern ... that he was up there walking the "streets of gold" and just wanted to share a tiny bit of that with me down here.

Three months later, it was Christmas - my first without Vern and my first gift of Christmas Eve sparkles.

Those sparkles kept arriving, each Christmas Eve. Here's a couple of blog posts about them:

Friday, September 22, 2017

7 years ... 84 months ... 2557 days

Emotions have run strong this week. But then I've believed from the start that I must 'feel what I feel when I feel it' in order to get through this.  So I've grown quiet. Cancelled lunches and meetings where I'd have to put on the Dianne 'act'. This is the time I allow myself to be selfish and do whatever I must to just honor all that it holds and then move forward. And this one comes right after holding one of my Soul Restoration Retreats, where I shared more than I would normally share about my life and those emotions get added to the mix of my missing Vern.

Please trust that my words are not said to scare any of my newly widowed friends. If you've been following my blog, you know I'm doing well. Trying new things. Stepping way outside my comfort zone. Surviving. Thriving. Growing. Giving. Learning. But this week ... those final 4-1/2 days spent in hospice ... will always be a time that pulls me back to those early days of my grief. And that's ok. I don't carry this sadness with me throughout the year, and you will learn that, too. Oh there are triggers that can hit - mostly songs for me that stir a memory - but I no longer need to pull off to the side of the road when that happens. Now, my heart just fills with the sweet memory of the love Vern & I shared and I smile . . . and I am grateful.

I can remember joining Widowed Village and attending Camp Widow during my first year and seeing people at 5+ years still there. And that was frightening. I did not want that to be me. And yet here I am. 7 years. But oh the knowledge I have gained. Those 5+ year people were there to provide hope and an acknowledgment that we don't leave our loved ones behind as the years pass and we move forward. And they are also a reassurance that we don't have to stay stuck in that early, debilitating grief. I am thankful they were there. And I am grateful that I can now serve that role for the new widowed people joining us.

So today I find myself surrounded by the 3 full carloads of containers and boxes and bags I brought back from my Soul Restoration Retreat. I will get them organized, but not today.  And today the check engine light came on in my car. I will get to the dealer to get that new CRV, but not today. And today I learned of the passing of one of Jer's high school friends/soccer teammates. I will miss today's visitation but will attend the funeral ... tomorrow.

Today is my day to just BE. Whatever that needs to look like. I'll pull out photos. I'll read my CaringBridge journal. I'll read back through my blog entries from those earlier days. I'll remember Vern and our 41 years together. I'll remember the sweet story of our whirlwind courtship. I'll remember his smile that sparkled in his eyes. I'll remember his kindness. His strength. His love.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reality Check

I spent a few hours in the ER earlier in the month. I thought I could deal with the pain I was experiencing, but after 5 hours of it I knew I needed some help. This was only the second time I've ever been an ER patient in my 66 years - and both were for a kidney stone. Let me just say I would not wish a kidney stone on my very worst enemy.

The hospital visit provided me with an IV to control the pain and nausea but it also provided me with quite an awakening. Well ... the awakening actually didn't truly come until after that stinkin' stone finally passed at home many hours later.

Lying in that ER bed brought back memories of the many times Vern & I were there. Together. And the difference now is that I was there ... alone.  My Vern wasn't there to hold my hand and tell me this was all going to be just fine. Oh boy, I sure do miss him.

I had a CTscan and ultrasound which showed the kidney stone but also gallstones, which I hadn't expected. They sent me home with Percocet and Zofran and I took the first dose and crawled into bed. I slept for a couple of hours but then the pain woke me and I was not happy to see I had to wait two hours before another dose. That day was spent just watching the clock for when I could take the next dose and sleep for an hour or two. Twenty-three hours after it started I woke up and that pain was gone. Hallelujah!

So very grateful for the relief but with my head finally clear from that debilitating pain the pitiful voice in my head took over. Yep. I had myself a little pity party right then and there.

He should be here.
It's not fair.
I'm tired of always being the strong one.
This is my life and what I have to look forward to if I get sick as I age.

I recognize now that it was easy to slide into a rather depressive state because I still wasn't feeling well. But the reality is This.Is.My.Life.  Suck it up, buttercup.

And then the house air conditioner died. Guess I'm 'lucky' that this is the first big, really expensive decision I've had to make alone ... but it wasn't fun. Especially during a record-breaking excessive heat warning week here in Vegas. 117 degrees with no A/C is another thing I would not wish on my worst enemy. But the good news is, this big expense helped me make another decision that has been weighing on me (will blog about that another time).

And now the gallbladder has decided to remind me that it's still lurking. Miserable pain and nausea again yesterday.  I don't "do" doctors; last visit was the physical I had after Vern died (because I promised him I would). And reading the reviews about local doctors is enough to make me decide to try once again to just change my diet. I now realize how very lucky I've been to be so healthy all these years. Not feeling well impacts you in so many other ways. Sigh.

So may I just state for the record that I am more than ready to put this month of June behind me?  Yes, I am. It has not been kind while I'm in the midst of a ton of to-do's and deadlines with retreat planning & marketing and website creating and widow group meets and all of my volunteer work responsibilities. And all I want to do today is sleep. I think that's what I'm going to do. Things will surely look better after a nice nap.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

She Did it Anyway ....

I became a Brave Girls Club Soul Restoration certified instructor in April 2016 because I wanted to share this powerful curriculum with others. What a difference it will make in this world of ours. My initial intent was to provide free workshops at local women's and teen shelters, but that's not yet an option available so I had to decide whether I was going to take the leap and offer retreats.

Since losing Vern I have listened to my 'gut' with every new thing or trip I've done and this was no exception. An art retreat I attended in 2013 at a beach house that spoke to my soul popped into my mind, so I started Googling to see if I could find it. And I did!  But then the questions surfaced ... how do I manage holding a retreat over 2200 miles away from home?  I'll need to fly there, rent a car, ship supplies. But since I'd need to fly to Tampa in March as a Camp Widow staffer, I had what I thought was a fabulous idea to hold my retreat while I was already on the East Coast.

I took the big leap and rented the beach house ... figuring that if no one signed up I'd have a week at a beautiful place ... and I took advantage of the generous Brave Girl University opportunity to post it on their web site. And people were interested!  Granted, most of those interested did not sign up ... but 6 did and that filled up my retreat space. Wow! And then I heard from two others who really wanted to attend and asked if I'd consider holding a second retreat there. The house was available the following week so I decided to advertise it and see what happened. I ended up filling that one, too!

Sounds great, doesn't it?  But .... life can throw some major curveballs at you sometimes.

I love being a member of the Camp Widow Leadership Team but it includes very long hours for 5 days straight and then I had a 3.5 hour drive to Deltona (that should have taken less than 2 hours) to pick up some retreat supplies I had shipped to a friend. Headed out the next day for Charleston (a 5+ hour drive) and started to not feel very well. My mouth and tongue were so sore I couldn't eat anything and I had this 'thing' trying to break out on my chin. Nerves? Stress? Who knew.  I had 3 days at a hotel until I got the keys to the beach house, so I set myself up in there, organized my supplies, studied the curriculum, stayed in my jammies and continued to feel poorly. When I checked out of the hotel on Saturday I decided to stop by CVS to see if a pharmacist could recommend something that would help. By this time my glands had swollen and were red and that redness was traveling around to different parts of my neck each day. He took one look and said I should see a doctor. So off to the local urgent care I went. It wasn't a bite ... it was cellulitis. A first for me and hopefully to never return. This is what I looked like the day after I got a Prednisone shot in the butt, started on 10 days of Bactrim AND Keflex and was using an antibiotic ointment on the sores 3 times/day.  Ugh. Not a pretty sight, eh?

And my very first Soul Restoration Retreat guests were due to arrive in a couple of days. Ack! I confirmed that I wasn't contagious so I could hold the retreat and give hugs - and I did my best to cover it up with makeup so I didn't look quite so horrid as that photo. And when that big ol' scab fell off I was relieved ... until I looked in the mirror and saw the HOLE it had left. OMG. The ointment went on more than 3 times a day to fill that thing.

On the very last day of the antibiotics - and the day the second group of women were due to arrive - I broke out in this on both legs and my trunk, front and back. It wasn't raised bumps - reminded me of what Vern used to get when his platelets were low; I believe it was a reaction to the antibiotics.  OK universe ... ENOUGH!

But ya know ... in spite of not feeling well, and the ugly sores and the raw tongue and the rash and the upset tummy from the antibiotics ... I did it anyway!  I held my very first Soul Restoration Retreats anyway!

And I do believe the 11 women who trusted me enough to sign up for my very first retreats took home some wonderful, life-changing tools and new friendships. That's what this is all about. Sharing this amazing curriculum, developing new connections, making a difference.

So when life throws you a curve, just stare right back at it and 'do it anyway' ... whatever IT may be for you. What have you got to lose?

And if you'd like more information about the Soul Restoration course, retreats or modules ... ask me! I have another retreat scheduled in Las Vegas in September: Las Vegas Retreat  - or take a look here to see if there are any scheduled in your area:  Certified Instructor SR Events