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.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Ah, September, you teach me so many lessons

Well, I'm back in here because I haven't had time to update my web site so I can start blogging over there and I really need to write about September. The 30 days between our wedding anniversary on August 23 and the day Vern died, September 22, have never been easy. Some years have been especially hard, some not so bad, but this year's march to the death date nearly did me in.

Those of you who know me personally know I'm a very positive person, but I will admit that this year I slipped into a depression for the first time. I spent days mostly in bed because if I got up and stayed awake the tears would just not go away. I even missed my Golden Knights FanFest because I just could not get out of bed. I've never experienced anything like that. And I'm grateful that it only lasted a few days.

These were the hospice days. When we both knew he would not be here long. They were hard days. They were beautiful days. They broke my heart. They filled my heart. I got to say all of the things I wanted him to leave this world with. He spoke very little, but the few words he shared will rest in my heart forever.

So I was vulnerable. The scammer incident, the total lack of interest from anyone on eHarmony and the resulting hits to my ego, both of my computers crashing and losing important documents and photos, and I was just so so tired ... well, I guess I learned that I do have a limit in what I can withstand.

But, once again, Vern gave me a nudge when it was time to snap out of it and get back to living my life.

So what did I do on September 22, the 8 year anniversary of Vern's death, after coming out of those days of depression?  I joined Match. What?!?!

It was crazy, I know. eHarmony was hurting my heart. Why the heck would I think it would be any different with Match? And to do it on THAT day? WTH.  But my gut (Vern) was pushing me to do it, so I did. I actually laughed about it with Vern. Yeah, I talk to him all the time. Yes, out loud.

And, yes, I did get more activity on the Match site. Lots of fakers and some messages of interest but nothing progressed. So after sharing those awful days of depression with a dear friend who strongly urged me to get off the dating sites, I closed up my profiles and turned off the matches and notifications. And it felt good. If someone new was coming into my life they were going to need to track me down on their own.

Fast forward a few days and I found two messages from Match in my in-box. JG liked me; JG sent me a message. How did those messages get through? I had turned off all notifications and emails. And there was that nudge again. "Open them up." So I did. And I responded to the message. And so did he. And he seemed like a real guy. We messaged on the Match site and then moved over to texting and then to a phone conversation and FaceTime. He was definitely a real guy - a really nice guy - and we decided we wanted to meet. We did. And I am happy. And I won't be sharing more about that right now. This time is for us to get to know one another and see where this might go.

But I felt I needed to share this wonderfully good news with my blog readers to counter the bad posts about my dating site experience. I have a lot of widowed friends ... many who are contemplating dating ... and I think it's important for them to see that we can take a hard hit and yet still get the prize. We just have to keep believing that it's possible.

I spent 7.5 years not believing. Not one man ever expressed an interest in me in all those years. That didn't send me into a depression because I didn't believe it was even possible that I could love anyone other than Vern. Or that anyone else would ever choose me. And I had gotten myself so busy and my life so filled with doing other things that I was ok with being alone.

But then everything changed. And I started to believe that it was possible that someone else could love me and I them. This year has been hard as I've worked through all of that, but those lessons - even the hard ones - were needed to bring me to where I am today.

Feeling my heart flutter as I await seeing my new guy again this afternoon.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

It's a New Day!

It's time to remove the word 'widow' from my blog title. 

I'll leave all 8 years worth of "A Myeloma Widow's Journey" posts here on Blogspot - for me to reference and for any new widows to find - and will start a new blog over on my biz web site.

 Here's where you'll find it:

I need to spend some time getting that site updated with my 2019 Soul Restoration Retreats and the new blog and will post a note in here once it's ready to go.

So ... let me just assure everyone that I'm ok. Yesterday was pretty awful and I don't want to ever go through something like that again.  Many, many thanks for your posts here and on Facebook. It helped immensely to feel your support and love while at such a low point.

After what happened, many advised that I no longer emphasize that I'm widowed on my social media. OK. I'll give that a try where I can. I've updated my eHarmony profile and it is now very bland; it does not give a glimpse into who I really am like the old one did. (Maybe I made it bland on purpose because I really don't think the online dating thing is for me.) I've changed my Facebook settings from public to friends only and will use my Tending Your Heart and Soul Facebook page to advertise my retreats to the general public.

The graphic I chose to use on this post makes me smile. For a rather surprising reason. You see, Jeff - my eHarmony scammer - sometimes used 'Sunshine' as a term of endearment. I now know that's a pretty common thing for scammers to do. But on this morning, after a mile-long walk with only a few tears shed along the way, I think that graphic is my closure on that whole ugly episode.

I learned a lot ... about scammers, about what to share on a dating site, about how to respond to questions from suitors, and - most importantly - I learned a lot about myself.

My lack of self-esteem is what allowed him to manipulate me, to make me feel that I was lucky this handsome, high-ranking Army guy had chosen me out of all of the options he had available. And that put me in real danger.

Never again.

I know that I am worthy of being loved again ... loved for who I am and for all I have to give to a relationship. I am working hard to believe every word of that with my whole being. 

I believe there is someone out there for me. Searching for me, waiting for me. And when we find one another it will be glorious.

I don't think I need to search for him. "I can respectfully wait my turn."  And those words will be explained in my first blog post on my biz site. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

I fell for a scammer ....

How was that even possible? I know better. I've been processing Widowed Village applications for seven years and know what to watch for. I know all of the red flags. I've even corresponded with some of them who have managed to get into Widville by using other's info and played along until they crossed the line and I had reason to kick them out of there.

But not this time. I even pushed back with a couple of friends who tried to point out the red flags that I refused to see. How could I have been so stupid?

It's a whole different playing field when your heart gets involved. And these guys know exactly how to do that. If you read my blog you know I'm very open and honest. Well I was open and honest when answering each of the questions he asked. And that showed all of my vulnerabilities. He picked up on each and every one of them and used those words that he knew would touch my heart.

Five days. Yeah, just five days. Some may wonder how I could possibly fall for someone in such a short period of time. But I did. Because I've been seeking that "poof" ... that connection ... that person who was going to just show up and be "the one".  Foolish? Perhaps. But it happened with Vern. And I thought Vern had brought this amazing man to me. Instead this guy had read my blog posts and knew exactly how to lure me in.

So how did I finally realize he was a scammer?  I have to thank God & Vern for that. I went to bed last night on a high after our conversation. I couldn't erase the smile from my face and I felt like a teenager (please don't laugh). He mentioned he was reading a book on relationships so I added it to my Kindle and took it to bed to read. I dozed off but awoke within the hour with this urging that I needed to check his emails and texts for suspicious language. It was 1:30am so I figured I'd do that when I got up in the morning, but that whisper would not go away. So I got up and went to my laptop. I selected a sentence, put the quotation marks around it and Googled it. And there it was. On multiple scammer sites dating back to 2010. But still that wasn't enough to convince me. So I Googled several other sentences. Yep. All of them were there.

I searched those sites for his name and photo but didn't find it. And then I chose some of the more personal things he had said ... and there they were on those scammer sites. I couldn't ignore it any longer. So I wrote him a text ... not as nasty as you might expect ... and he argued with me about it!  Tried to make me feel guilty for not believing him. I blocked his number. And then I went into eHarmony and I reported him. Marked his email address as spam, too. And yet through it all I still wanted to believe.

I had searched his name, email and phone number when I first learned each of them, just as a safety measure, but could find nothing - even on the BeenVerified app I use for Widowed Village. And, yes, that concerned me. So I asked him about it and he had an explanation.

Now when I share what he said I expect that every single one of you are going to say .... "OMG Dianne, how could you have not known right then and there that he was a fake."  But I believed him.  It's that heart thing, ya know, and he had already done the work so I would believe him.

So ... he said he's retiring in 6 months and is a Lt. Col in the Army working with special ops teams. And that explained why he doesn't have an online presence. And it also explained why he has homes in TX, AZ and NV.  And he even sent me a photo of his passport. Yep. Dianne believed that a Lt. Col had fallen for her sight unseen and was her Chapter 2.  I feel so stinkin' stupid. And still I cry as I type that. I wanted to continue to believe him even after finding his words on those sites. Pitiful, isn't it?

You see, those feelings I experienced when he and I seemed to just click ... well they were amazing and exciting and powerful and exhilarating ... and I did not want to walk away from that. But I did. And now I can only hope that I will feel that way again one day, with someone who truly loves me and deserves my love.

The internet can bring some wonderful things. Many of you who read my blog I only know online. But it can also be an ugly place where people can pretend to be who they are not with the sole intention of causing destruction. Luckily, I exited before we got to the part where he would ask for my help financially, so only my heart was stripped clean.

I'm trying to replace the image of the handsome man I fell for with what he probably is ... a skinny Nigerian scammer or a 13 year old boy getting his kicks at the expense of an old widow lady. Or maybe that really is him in those photos. I will never know.

I'm not sure what I'll do about eHarmony. I paid for 3 months, so will let it sit until I feel up to peeking in there again. After looking at all of those photos on the scammer site, there won't be a single guy in there that I won't think I saw on that other site. I will change my parameters to just have locals (although Jeff had himself listed as living in Henderson), and I'm going to remove any reference to being widowed. Jeff was the only one out of all of those matches I received that showed an interest. I'm going to try to not let that make me feel bad.

Oh and as for those red flags ... there was a big one that I didn't recognize until the very end. Scammers for some reason like to use first names when creating their scammy name. My guy actually used a first name for all three:  Jeffrey Kurt Douglas

Other red flags: 

  • Not wanting to talk on the phone
  • Having an excuse why you can't meet immediately
  • Suggesting you leave the dating site to text or use email
  • Being too complimentary - or as Jeremy said, "Mom, guys don't talk like that."
  • They ask you a lot of questions
  • The details they give you in a text or email don't match what is on their profile
  • Use of a "pet" name (babe, darling, sweetheart, sunshine)
  • Fake passports can look very real
  • Pay attention to the times when they send messages; that can alert you to them being in a different time zone (or country)
  • If you notice a comment that seems odd or doesn't fit how they've sounded before, check it out. Google it with quotation marks around it to see if it shows up on a scammer site.
  • If they seem too good to be true ... they probably are

Monday, September 3, 2018

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Well after my last blog post I received several pleas from friends (both widowed and non-widowed) advising me to hand my money over to eHarmony and just take the leap. So I did on Friday.

Creating my full profile was harder than I thought it would be. Who am I?  All those questions!  What age range should I select?  Maybe 57-77 ... 10 years on either side of me. My Vern would be 77 now. But I don't want an 'old' man unless it's Vern.  So I accepted my guilt about that and clicked on 57-70. I'm sorry. That does make me feel bad.

And then those matches started appearing and I wasn't at all comfortable in being so judgmental. Some didn't have much on their profile so you really only had their photos to look at. I had to seek advice from a friend who said I needed to 'smile' at those I wanted to perhaps get to know and I could 'hide' the ones that didn't interest me. It was hard!  So I smiled at 4 on the first day, and then 4 more the next day.  Some of them viewed my profile but I didn't receive any smiles or messages.

OK ... that just fueled all of those negative self-esteem issues I struggle with and I was ready to call it quits. But I had a widow group meeting Sunday afternoon so I decided to wait to chat with a couple of friends who are using the site. They said I was over-reacting, it hadn't been long enough and asked what I had on my profile. They read it and both said it was "awful" because I put too much emphasis on my love for the Golden Knights and I had a statement in there that I wanted to go very slow.  Sigh.

I slept on it and thought about changing it. But I am not on a dating site so I can date a different guy every night. That is not me at all. I'm on the site to see if there just might be someone special meant for me. And since I very much believe in synchronicity, I believe that it is possible that I could meet my new person on eHarmony. So I left it as is.

A batch of "what ifs" showed up and that was even harder to deal with. You have to decide right away whether to smile at them or click 'move on' in order to see the next one. These are people who are a bit outside of the preferences I selected. So I took a deep breath and did it. Sent smiles to 4 of them. Ya know, this all just feels a bit ridiculous at my age.

So this morning I was thinking about just shutting it down. I don't need to date. I don't need to have someone to love in this season of my life. I can do this alone thing for another 8 years ... and another and another and another.

But then one sent me a message!!  He's a widower!  And we're talking. And he seems pretty darn nice ... very nice actually.  He has a condo here in Henderson, but lives in Tucson. We'll meet the next time he's in NV.

That is, if he really is all that he's telling me. I believe him at this point.  But yes, it scares me that you really just don't know with this online stuff.

Ya know this life I'm living right now is so far removed from what I expected to be living.  I've had several conversations with Vern these past few days. Wanting some guidance about whether this dating stuff was really something I need to be doing. And I feel assured that he's going to help place the right person in my life.  So I'm gonna stay and see what happens.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What do I really want?

How's that for an open-ended question? 

Well, there could be quite a long list of things that I want if anything were possible.  #1 absolutely would be that Vern would be alive and healthy. But that is not possible. And neither is my wish that I was still in my 40s instead of my 60s.

But there are some things that are still possible to want and to obtain:

 * To fall in love again
 * To be loved
 * To be cherished
 * To be important to someone

And yet, that is why I'm asking this question.  Is that what I really want?

I honestly do. not. know.

There are days (well, actually mostly nights) when I do wish there was someone here with me. It's the casual love and tenderness that I miss. Being together. Holding hands. Just sharing space. Those little touches.

But to find that would take WORK. And I just don't think I'm up for it.

I really was satisfied with my life. With my alone life. For over seven years. I worked. I retired. I traveled. I met new people. Made new friends. I blogged. I learned new things. I participated in three Grief Diaries anthologies. I volunteered. I started a local widow group. I started a little business. I held retreats. My life was full. Very full. And I was pretty happy ... or as happy as I could be without Vern by my side.

And then everything changed ... and I thought ... perhaps I *could* love again.

I truly had not believed that was at all possible. Not for me. And yet there were those feelings. Such a conundrum.

So I worked through all those feelings and tried that first date. And it was nice. But it told me a lot about who I am and what I can and cannot do. I can't do the casual dating thing. Dating a different guy every night of the week - or dating someone who is dating a different girl every night. And I'm not even going to bring up the sex stuff. Old-fashioned. Out of date. Unrealistic. Yep, that's me.

So I've stuffed those feelings back down from whence they came and I'm once again plugging along. Doing well. Living my life.

But ....
every now and then ...
Boom! There they are again.

The Challenge of Living ... to allow the sorrow and weight of life and yet to dance with an easy and open heart. to ache in your darkest depths and yet to laugh from your light filled center. to know the reality of humanity and yet to believe in the magic of the stars. to act with love in the middle of the fear and to hold each moment as the gift that it is. this is the challenge of living.

So dating has been a rather hot topic lately among my friends. And a lot of talk of dating sites. Advice being asked for and given. It seems that many of my widowed friends are at that stage of wanting to dip their toes into the dating waters.

And I got curious. So I went to eHarmony and answered their questions. Didn't pay anything. Just wanted to see what it was like. I now have 25 photos of guys between the ages of 57-70 who live here in southern Nevada or in California who I am compatible with. And most actually look too good for me to believe that they are the age they say or even who they say they are. And what's with having a profile photo showing them cozying up with a gorgeous younger gal?  That's supposed to attract me?  Ummm - no.  How the heck do you wade through all of that? And why would I want to waste all of that time?  And have to pay for it?

I guess I really am a Pollyanna.  I want romance. To be swept off my feet. And I want it to just happen. Poof!  I know ... I should probably insert an LOL in here after that statement, right?

So I went back in and looked at those profile photos again. And one stood out from the rest. I opened up his profile and his responses to the questions were really pretty amazing. So I clicked on the little star that marked him as a favorite. I don't think anything happens at this point because I'm not paying ... and that's ok with me.  Because really ... now the 'I'm not good enough, pretty enough, small enough, smart enough' stuff is bouncing around in my head and I think I'll just go to bed now and have a little cry. I'll be fine in the morning.

Monday, August 20, 2018

This Alone Life

I enjoyed my 1450 mile road trip to Boise. It was the first time I've traveled up through northern Nevada and I liked seeing the different landscapes along the way. Got to see places I heard about while working at the Water District/Authority ... Pahranagat Valley, Warm Springs Natural Area, Coyote Springs, Ely and some of the ranches.  Although I got to see most of those only because I missed the turn off for 93N off I-15 and ended up going about 20 miles out of my way. Serendipity, I guess. Or construction having removed the 93N sign and I didn't know Exit 64 was what I should have been looking for.

No weather impacts, but did have some dust devils and heavy wind gusts along those barren stretches of highway. They didn't impact me nearly as much as the semi I was following. It was a bit scary seeing him weave back and forth across the road until I realized what had caused it when I hit it. I passed him at the first available moment. Grateful that my new CRV has fabulous 'get up and go' as I learned whenever I was passing a semi, camper and car altogether. Passing on a 2-lane road has always scared me, so when I do it just picture me white-knuckled, holding my breath with pedal to the metal. Zoom!  90mph in a flash! Maybe that's why my hands and arms are sore today.

You see, Vern was always the driver. Always. And I was a rather excellent navigator, if I do say so myself. Well ... he might have said I was an excellent navigator AND random stopper. I kept us on the right roads, but often yelled 'stop!' and he knew that just meant he needed to find a place to pull over so I could take a closer look at something or pull out my camera and take a photo.

So I missed him on this trip. A lot. I couldn't rest my head on his shoulder. Or hold his hand. Just that constant contact and touch, as we always did when we were in the car together. I had to do all of the driving, stay alert ... because he was not there. Well I did do one thing we used to do together ... sing loudly along with all of the songs on the radio. Thank you, Sirius, for being available the whole time.

I can do hard things. I know that. I've done that. Many, many times. But I don't think this alone life will ever get 'easy'. I miss being cherished, loved, missed, valued. Sure, I share on Facebook and here in my blog. I share a lot. Often, too much. But believe it or not, I do not share everything. Not at all everything. And that hurts my heart as I face the fact that this is my life. This. is. it.  So I have to find a way to get used to it. Somehow.

This was a slide used by one of the Brave Girls Symposium presenters.
Not widow-related. But it sure speaks well for me today.
Don't get me wrong. I know I have a good life. I'm happy. Most of the time. And I'm grateful I can do the things that I do. I hope I can continue to do these things for another 20-30 years. But .... I sure do miss being able to do these things with my guy. Sigh. Perhaps this is hitting me hard today because I'm tired. Went to bed at 8pm last night but I woke up every 2 hours and gave up at 3:30am. And this Thursday would have been our 49th wedding anniversary. I need to figure out 49 acts of kindness I can do that day.

An important note to my married friends .... Yes, I admit that I do get a tiny pang of jealousy whenever you post your 'together' photos but please keep taking and posting those photos - lots of them! Treasure each and every moment you have together.  Please. do. this.

Brave Girl Symposium was amazing. I learned a lot ... a lot that will help me when today's little pity party takes a hike. I'll write a blog post about it. But not today.  I have always advised my widowed friends to "feel what you feel when you feel it" and that applies to me at almost 8 years out as well as to someone who has just joined our widowed tribe. It will pass. It always does.

If you'd like to see some photos from my trip you can view them on my Facebook page. Don't think you even need to be 'on' Facebook since my profile is public. Here's a link to my page and just click on Photos and go to the 'Road Trip to Boise and Brave Girl Symposium' album.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Well ... I did it!!

Oh dear Lord ... NO ... I did not do THAT! 

But I did do something else I referenced in that same blog post. I put on that bikini. And I went out to the pool. In the daylight!
I asked Jeremy to take a photo. He was not thrilled; so I started in with a body-shaming lecture and learned that wasn't why he was uncomfortable ... he just didn't want to think about his mom wanting to wear a bikini - LOL. He hasn't been at all comfortable with my whole dating saga either. Poor guy.
So I posted the photos in that private (thank God!) Facebook group. Mission accomplished! And ya know?  It wasn't nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. I actually found that I looked better in that suit than I did when I switched out the bottom for one that gave more coverage. Who knew? But - NO - I don't see me ever wearing it in public. It has been many, many, many years since I was at a public swimming pool or invited to a friend's house for a pool party, so I'm quite sure I won't have to even consider it.

I decided to drive my new CRV up to Boise for Brave Girl Symposium instead of flying. It's about a 10 hour drive, which I could do in one day, but since I'll be volunteering first thing Monday morning I decided to split the drive into two days. Was going to do 6 hours the first day and stop over in Wells, NV but since it looks like they only have motels there ... where the room doors open directly to the outside ... it didn't feel quite as safe for this traveling all alone gal. And since it's late now and I haven't even started packing I decided to just drive 4 hours and spend Saturday night in Ely at the LaQuinta. Gives me some wiggle room with what time I leave here.

I've been saying this is my first solo road trip, but that's not true. I did my very first drive alone trip in 2012 when I drove Vern's Mustang to the San Diego Camp Widow. But a drive to California doesn't really feel like a 'road trip' since Vern & I did that so many times. I made a stop at Crystal Pier and walked down the pier to the cabin we had stayed in those two summers. That was not my best idea. Way too soon and I was a complete sobbing mess. That particular road trip was also eventful because I encountered a tornado on the way back home and had to take cover under a highway overpass to ride it out. Yeah, in a Mustang convertible that felt like it was going to lift off at any moment. Very, very scary. 

I also did a 7 hour drive up to Folly Beach, SC after the 2017 Tampa Camp Widow for my very first Soul Restoration Retreats. I broke that one up with a stop in Deltona to see a friend. That's the trip where I got those awful sores on my face and the shot and/or antibiotics they gave me caused that nasty rash.

Hmmm ... I'm seeing a pattern here with these alone trips. Let's hope that trip #3 is totally uneventful because I really would like to do a true road trip one day soon. No specific destination. Just get in the car and start driving and see where it takes me.

A friend reminded me not to pick up any hitch-hikers on my travels and I did promise him that I wouldn't ... even if they looked like Sam Elliott or Mark Harmon. But ... really ... could I pass up an opportunity like that? Let's see. I'd slow down. I'd probably drive by. But then, I think I just might put that car in reverse.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Be the Light

Some of you may be tired of my angel card posts. I'm sorry. I love words and they really do offer me so much contemplation that I sometimes just have to post them. Or write about them.

That's what I felt when I pulled my Saturday cards. There seemed to be some really important messages in these particular cards.

But there wasn't time to take a photo or write anything because I needed to head out the door for an appointment across town. So I set them aside to take care of when I got home. I ended up knocking a few things off my to-do list while I was out, but it was a HOT 110 degrees - and my car felt even hotter each time I got back into it. I was a perspiring mess by the time I got home that afternoon and was really tempted to just walk straight out to the pool, strip off my clothes and jump in. 

There's a couple of issues with that, however. One ... I have never 'jumped' into a pool. Long story. And two ... well, since I don't want the neighbors to see me in my new 'bikini', I surely don't want them to suffer through my skinny dipping in broad daylight!  So instead I pulled off all of my sweaty clothes and put on one of Vern's t-shirts and stood for a bit under the AC vent. Ah, yes. Much better.

And then I got busy on the computer with my volunteer work ... and didn't think about them until I uncovered them around midnight Sunday night. Some days sure do fly by fast.

I've had my angel cards for several years (purchased them at Camp Widow), but there's now a little book that goes along with them (which I ordered on my trusty Amazon Prime). I've always pulled 3 cards and this little book shared a perspective about that I had never heard before:

The first card addresses the PAST. Take time to explore past interactions and events related to your intention.   

Well that one seems pretty easy to me. Those caregiving years proved to me just how strong I am, and surviving Vern's death took every ounce of strength I had. These years alone have been filled with many challenges that needed me to be strong and face the unknown. Maybe this was a reminder that I need to accept how strong I am. I CAN do hard things.

The second card addresses the PRESENT, reflecting the quality that can be most helpful in experiencing the truth of what is happening now. You may need to reevaluate your assumptions, judgments or predetermined decisions that have limited you in some way. 

This one initially made me smile. Check out what the angel is doing - LOL.  Is this quality related to my previous blog post? A reminder that I do have the freedom to choose what I will - and won't - do.  Or does it relate to my back and forth flip-flopping about dating and those feelings I keep trying to tuck away? Perhaps those old trappings I need to let go of are related to my self-esteem issues. I think I'll be doing some private journaling on this one. 

The third card addresses the FUTURE, inviting the quality that you ideally intend to manifest. 

Isn't that a perfect card for the future?  And I do believe it is a reminder that I need to remain open to whatever life has in store for me. Dating. Not dating. A new love. A life alone. I'm pretty positive, so that's easy. And I definitely believe in miracles. And who doesn't like surprises?!

The Happiness card also felt important. The book shared "When you are filled with love and compassion, not only do you bring happiness into your life, but you lead others by example. Be the light."   Don't you just 💙 that!

Friday, July 27, 2018

I can't talk about this, but I need to ....

I had a fun dinner last night with a couple of friends who have been dating. So many stories. So much laughter, which was exactly what I needed this week.

First a little update for those who don't follow my Facebook page.  I posted this yesterday morning in the comments after sharing my Wednesday blog post. I felt so much better after a good night's sleep.
I slept well & feel so much better this morning. Woke up to Styx’s ‘Babe’ which always brings tears but today’s tears felt good. Cleansing. “Giving me the courage and the strength I need.” Yep. And then I pulled these cards this morning. Well ok. Message received. I’m sending this melancholy packing and I’m back to living my life in a way that honors all of those years that Vern & I loved.

And then I spent some time that afternoon trying on swimsuits. I took an online class earlier this summer called Bikini Bootcamp and had committed to trying on suits that I would never ever have tried on before.  Well ... that was not fun at all. Oh, I take that back ... I did laugh several times.  But not necessarily in a good way.  And I actually said out loud in that dressing room, "Well now I know I cannot date anyone, because no one is going to want to ever see this."  I've learned so much from Stasia's Style School and I know I need to love and accept the body I'm living in. And I've learned ways to dress it to emphasize my good points and detract from those bad ones. But bikinis?  Oh hell no. I did purchase two pieces that I promise I will wear at least once ... in my backyard swimming pool ... at night ... in the dark ... when the 2-story house neighbors behind me can't possibly be looking out their back windows. I know, Stasia, that is not following the rules. But. I. just. cannot. do. this.

And that brings me back to our dinner conversation last night and something else I know I cannot do.

This is going to be hard to write without saying what I'm actually talking about - and alerting the internet police which would result in my blog being placed on a sexually explicit list. I'm a bit embarrassed. Yeah, at 67. I knew I was old-fashioned and that I have not lived any sort of 'on the edge' kind of life. I didn't date much in high school. Vern & I falling in love so quickly right after I graduated was magical, meant to be. That's the only explanation of how the handsome single teacher driving a Corvette ended up loving me. We had a good life together. A very good life. We loved deeply. But apparently we didn't express our love like 99% of everyone else. OK - that's not a scientific statistic, but it's kind of how I'm feeling today.  I'm obviously a dinosaur when it comes to dating and expected 'expressions of intimacy'.  I guess it demonstrates just how naive I am that I never even thought about this being something I would have to do. Never.

So during dinner - oh those poor folks sitting near us at Mimi's had quite the entertainment if they were eavesdropping - a particular 'thing' was brought up that apparently most everyone does on the 2nd or 3rd or 4th date. I hesitated sharing, but then whispered (yeah, really, I whispered it) ... "I've never done that."

My one friend was shocked, flabbergasted actually, that after being married for 41 years I had never done this 'thing'. The other friend understood when I reminded them I was from Michigan. That makes me laugh now because I'm quite sure this particular 'thing' is done back there, too. Just not by me. or Vern. And he's the only guy I've ever been with.

So after my friends shared a few more details about this particular 'thing' ... I realized I cannot possibly date. And perhaps this was the gift I've been seeking all along.

I've learned how to do a whole lot of things since Vern died. Many things I never ever thought I would do or could do. But this thing? Nope. I don't want to have to learn how to do it. Call me a prude. Call me a dinosaur. Call me whatever you wish. Not gonna do it.

So if doing that 'thing' is what is expected in dating world, then I am quite content to let it pass me by. And I think this will also allow me to do what I've needed to do for some time with my unrequited feelings for my friend. They can slip quietly into my memory bank, with a silent thank you to learning I was able to feel something I didn't think I ever would feel again. 

I know I have friends who were quite happy I had 'finally' opened myself up to the possibility of a new love coming into my life. And it actually felt good to me, too. But when I think back to all of the things this year has brought me, there's just been way too much drama surrounding these feelings. I had a pretty good life before everything changed in January. I was happy. Not the same kind of happy if Vern were still here, but happy enough. And I wasn't constantly beating myself up over how I look. I'll be honest, I may need to take just a wee bit of time to grieve the loss of the possibly of having someone love me in this final season of my life. But last night clearly showed me that my idea of dating does not in any way, shape or form match up to the reality of dating in this day. I'm apparently stuck back in 1969 and while that was a really wonderful year for me in so many ways it does not resemble anything of today.

I sure never thought it would take a random discussion about that particular 'thing' to lead me to this decision. But it feels like a weight has been lifted from my soul.

So before posting this I pulled my cards for the day ... and I think those angel cards are perfect! Wow! I was at first disappointed with the Grief card but after reading what it meant it, too, was a perfect choice.  ("Nothing is gone forever. The belief that we have "lost" someone ... is merely an illusion to assist us in learning to appreciate our having had it in the first place ... The lesson of loss ... is to acknowledge that the bonds of love never end and that we have not been abandoned ... When you accept in your heart that you will be reunited with everything you have ever loved, it will give you the ability to move beyond your grief and derive something beneficial from the experience.")

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

This Widowed Life

Today was a good day. A full day. But I'm tired. Really tired. I think I will crawl into bed much earlier tonight than my normal post-midnight hour.

But before that I decided to come out to watch the sun set and just sit with my feet in the pool for a bit. I never go in it. It's a shame really. I was greeted with what felt like bath water. Heavenly. I know some don't like that ... but I do. Vern did, too. I think I really need to do this more often. Maybe even put on that rarely used swimsuit and immerse myself fully into the gentle, warm waters. Self-care.  Being in the water would actually have felt better than the 110 degree winds that were whipping around me. But I was too tired to go in and change. Maybe I'll just plan on doing that tomorrow.  (And no, Stasia, I didn't finish the Bikini Bootcamp course work and purchase that bikini. I promised I would, so I will. But I really cannot promise that any living human being will ever see me in it.)

There were some good things, joyful things today. Had a great Soaring Spirits regional group meeting today - and I got to spend some unexpected time with my old boss (he's not old, just the last boss I had at the Water District before retiring). That was lovely. And I got to bring him up to speed with what's happened this year. My surprise feelings for someone unavailable. My first date. He was beyond shocked because I had been so adamant about never dating, never caring about anyone other than Vern. It felt good to have an in-person conversation about all of that. And with a guy. How about that?  He seems to think I'm pretty fabulous, which felt awfully nice. I had forgotten how good he made me feel about myself.

And then this evening I received some very sad news that just hurts my heart.  Can't speak of it, but just praying with my whole heart.

Life. It just keeps throwing things at us. I'm pretty dang strong. I know that. I've lived that a thousand times during those cancer years. But I just can't seem to get a handle on all of these thoughts that just keep bumping around in my head. It's so not like me. How do I stop feeling what I'm feeling for my unavailable friend?  I think that would just take care of the whole 'do I date or not?' question. But can I be happy spending the rest of my life alone? I honestly don't know. This widowed life makes all of this take on yet another dimension. Oh and let's not forget what aging adds to the mix. 

I'm tired. Maybe that's all this is. I've had a ton of stuff on my to-do list since returning from Camp Widow and I haven't slept well. It's 10pm. I think I'll try to go to sleep and see how things look in the morning.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

I have NOT switched teams

If you follow my blog, then you know I really struggled at the beginning of the year with some very unexpected feelings. And all of that eventually led to having drinks with a friend and someone she wanted me to meet.  Which led, subsequently, to a first date.

So new guy has been traveling and he sent me a text that he's returning soon and would like to meet for drinks. I had decided that dating wasn't for me and was ready to respond with a no. But his text arrived in the midst of Camp Widow and I didn't have time to think about an appropriate response then. So I decided to wait and respond when I got home. And I'll admit I started thinking about saying yes. Many friends had suggested I give him a second chance. It was just for drinks.

It was a very good decision to wait until I got home to deal with this.

You see, when I saw his text I didn't realize that I wasn't seeing the whole thing. And when I opened it up and read what he wrote at the end I knew I needed to decline the invitation. Telling me I was in his dreams did not feel like 'we can take this as slow as you need'. And it made me very wary of what he would be expecting with a second date.  And to be honest ... if he really cared about me wouldn't he at least spell my name correctly? 

So I spent some time writing a response and was quite happy with it. I felt it was a kind response and it placed the reason I was saying no totally on me.

He responded very kindly so I felt pretty good about how this whole thing had turned out.

And then our mutual friend called and shared what he had told her: That I had opened up and shared in my 'Dear John' text that I wasn't interested in men!  What?!  She said it definitely sounded like he was saying I had acknowledged I was a lesbian. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a lesbian. I have many really wonderful gay friends that I love dearly, but how on earth could he take what I wrote and get that conclusion? 

OK, I do understand that this was probably him soothing his ego by making an excuse for my rejection.  So I laughed.  And our mutual friend and I went out to dinner. And we laughed some more because she was going to tell him I had accepted a 'date' with her. (They are good friends, so I doubt she'll actually do that because it could hurt his feelings.)

But through all of this I've learned that I need to listen to my gut. Always. When it tells me that something isn't right for me, I need to believe it.

This was my first date in the nearly 8 years since Vern died. My first date in 49 years. My first date with someone other than Vern since I was a senior in high school back in 1969. I have no experience with any of this. Vern is the only man I've ever been with. Dating probably isn't ever going to be a thing I'm comfortable with.

But I'm still open to the possibility that someone could arrive and sweep me off my feet.

Do I believe that will happen? To be honest, no, I do not.
Do I hope that it might just happen?  .......... ya know, I think I do. And that surprises me. A lot.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

All the 'feels' ....

It has been a week full of incredible emotions. Actually a month of it.  Hard things shared by friends, entrusted to me and my loving heart and praying soul. Life things. Health things. My personal worries, some important, some so silly to spend any of my time thinking about. And then there's all of the emotions that come during each of our Camp Widow weekends. Joy at seeing alumni return with smiles and wonderful updates of where their lives are now. Sadness to see others who are still struggling and trying to make their way through this new life. Happiness at seeing the new campers make important connections that will carry them through the coming months.

My tender, empathetic heart really feels all of these emotions.

I tried to give myself a couple of days of self-care after returning from San Diego. But there are some things that just cannot be put off.  Like a widower who lost his wife last week and buried her on Sunday reaching out for help. We chatted. We will meet tomorrow morning so I can let him know there is hope that he will survive these oh-so-hard first days. And a 5 month out widow who is struggling and heard of me from a friend who owns a restaurant my local group meets at once a month. We're meeting, too.

I've had friends - even widowed friends - say they think I'm too involved in "all that widow stuff" for my own good. Oh, how I disagree. Being able to give back to my widowed community by helping others has helped me to heal. I still miss Vern. That won't ever change. But the deep pain of my loss has lessened as I've reached out to hold other widowed people's grief in a safe space, to give them a listening ear, to let them say their loved one's name and share their memories, and to be an example that they can survive their devastating loss. It feels like this is the work I was meant to do at this time of my life.
~She is stronger and more confident then she has ever been before. She has much work to do, but she is up for the challenge. For those that continue to walk with her, love and support her, she is a completely different woman. Be patient, because she too, is learning to understand who she. Relating to her in a different way may be a challenge for some, but those that care enough to understand her are those that will love her~  Mary Costanza
And then there's the offer of a second date. That brought out some emotions, too ... but I'll save that for the next blog post.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

I *DO* have what it takes!

Well this post almost had a completely different slant. I was feeling rather blue last night and started writing. But after typing all of those hard words, I couldn't get them to work the way I wanted to present them. So I decided to sit on it overnight and just go to bed. 

There are a couple of important lessons I learned by that action.

One is that it sometimes helps to just write the hard stuff out. Just write and not share. You can choose to delete what you wrote if it was on the computer. Or burn it if you wrote it on paper. Or paint over it if you wrote it in your journal. Or even just leave it there for your own future reference to honor those feelings. Because we do get to feel whatever we feel ... and it doesn't matter whether others would understand it or be comfortable with hearing or reading it.

The other lesson is that my 'perfectionism' saved me some embarrassment. I'm grateful for that. Really grateful. I did not need to share all that I had written. Too honest. Too raw. Too vulnerable. If only Vern was here. He would listen. He would understand. He would help me answer my own questions. Actually, he would take one look at me and just know I was struggling. But then most of what I wrote about would not even be a concern if he were here.

So I made a choice when I woke up today. We each get to do that, ya know?  Choose how we're going to react to things, choose what we will focus our attention on, choose to fix the things in our life that hurt our hearts - or choose to walk away from those things.

And rather than posting the words I wrote when I was feeling all sorts of hard things, today I'm sharing this beautiful song I heard for the first time this morning. You can add anything you want for yourself after those two powerful "I am" words.  And those are the words that I - and you, too - need to embrace every day.

Today I am choosing kindness. And love. And I'm saying thank you. I started that last week but spent today finishing it. I'll be headed to the Post Office in the morning with a nice stack of those things to send out into the world. I'm hopeful putting these good things out there will shift my focus and help to lift this weight from my heart.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Saying Thanks

A week has passed and I haven't mailed that thank you letter to Dr. C. So I decided I needed to finish it today so I could get it in the mail in the morning and it will be there waiting for him on Monday. There were a few details I wanted to include that I needed to check on to refresh my memory, so I opened up my CaringBridge Journal link to get the info ... and now it's well after midnight and I have a pile of wet Kleenex next to me. Sigh.

I'm truly grateful I kept that journal. Each year, during the days leading up to Vern's passing, I find myself reading the whole thing - yeah, all 4+ years worth. Today I just searched for my entry on May 7, 2006 and then I remembered that Dr. C had also assisted during the abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery Vern had in September 2009. So I scrolled through the pages to get to that date. And I was surprised to see the date that surgery was held: September 22, 2009.  One year to the day before Vern died. I don't think I've noticed that previously - or I had forgotten it if I had.

So tonight I read each of my entries from that final year. And I also remembered all of the things I didn't write down. Gosh those were hard, hard days. And worth the tears I shed tonight.

I was also reminded of other doctors I should have thanked. Were they perfect? Oh, gosh no. But each of them did what they thought was best to give Vern more time. More time with me. I am grateful for that time, regardless of how hard it was. And a couple of them really did show they cared about us as people, not just as a very ill patient and his caregiver/wife.

So I'm finishing my letter to Dr. C. And then I will write letters to Dr. G and Dr. L ... Vern's oncologist and infectious disease doc, who were with us from the beginning through to the end. They may never read them, but I will have sent them.

On what ended up being Vern's last birthday I asked those he taught or coached to share a special memory of him and received so many lovely notes. What a blessing it was to be able to share those words with him.

Do you have people in your life you need to thank?  Maybe it's time to do just that.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Are you ready for a 'time out'?

We sometimes get so busy with 'stuff' that we miss those beautiful fleeting moments that come our way. Maybe it's time to give yourself the gift of a 'time out' to take stock of what's happening in your life. All of the good things. Good people. Notes received. Words said. Experiences.

Close your planner.
Turn your to-do list upside down.
Step away from the computer.
Set your phone down.

You can do that ... just for a few minutes.

I know it's not easy to shut out all of the 'noise'. We're always on the go. Something always needs to be done. Deadlines must be met. Places we need to be.

Being in the midst of all of that busyness can cause us to miss so much. And we can instead focus on the negatives. Taking a little time to think about those special moments that drop into our life can make such a difference.  Embrace them.  Feel them.  Be grateful for them. Maybe even write them down in a journal.

I have had many lovely moments arrive during these past seven days and it was wonderful to take some time today to be grateful for each one of them.

- Spent an evening with some widow friends that brought me much laughter and some great entertainment.  Thank you, Debbie & Annette.

- Did a small act of kindness for a dear friend and his parting words are etched on my heart.  Thank you, Greg.

- Had lunch with a friend who let me share my story and listened.  Thank you, Catherine.

- Stopped by City National Arena and enjoyed watching the little ones put on their skates and gear and take the ice like professionals. Thank you VGK for bringing the love of hockey to our little ones.

- Joined thousands of other Vegas Golden Knights fans downtown for the Stick Salute. Thank you, Team, Turk, GMGM & Mr. Foley. Thank you for what you've brought back into my life.

- Had to write a 200 word bio for the Brave Girl Symposium directory and asked my son to read it. He gave me some really valuable constructive criticism and I'm much happier with the final product. Thank you, Jer.

- An old friend called - we lived in the same cul-de-sac during 5th grade but then I moved away for a bit and we lost touch. We ended up working together many years later, but then I moved to Vegas and she moved to Massachusetts. This 'catch up' call was filled with all sorts of really wonderful goodness.  Thank you, Bobbie.

- Did an anonymous Twelve Days of Christmas for my neighbor who lost her daughter unexpectedly this summer. She eventually figured out it was me and returned a couple of the baskets I had left on her doorstep for me to use again. When I got home I saw she had slipped a note inside. Such beautiful words.  Thank you, Nancy.

- I confirmed that Dr. C is still practicing and I'm writing him that thank you letter. Twelve years late, but I have a feeling he might just need to hear my words now.  Thank you, Dr. Cottrell.

It's been a busy week, with Camp Widow prep and a bunch of Brave Girl-related deadlines but taking these few minutes to remember exactly how I felt when each of these things occurred was well worth the time. Give it a try.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tell Your Story

I met a friend for lunch today - the teacher whose classroom I visited this year. We had worked together at the Water District years ago and hadn't had a real conversation in a very long time. And what a gift today was. We caught up on things and then she asked me about Vern and how he was diagnosed ... and I shared. And shared. And shared. And bless her heart, she listened and let me talk. I can't remember the last time anyone asked me to share my story. Or perhaps someone did and I did my normal thing and turned the conversation back around to them. But today was different. She listened. She asked questions. She shared, too. And it was beautiful. Thank you, dear Catherine.

This just reinforces how very important it is to be able to tell our story. To speak their name. No matter how long it has been. It felt so good.

And there was another revelation today. I'm going to write a letter to the vascular surgeon who held Vern's heart in his hands and brought him back to me after he bled out two days after the initial cancer surgery. It happened way back on May 7, 2006 and I know he may not remember ... but I suspect that he will. I think there is some kind of connection that occurs when a doctor saves someone's life like that. My conversation with Dr. C popped into my thoughts the other day out of the blue, so I googled to see if he was still practicing; it appears that he is. So today when I shared with Catherine what happened, it reminded me that I had wanted to contact him or write a letter. To thank him. I can still remember the exact moment when he walked into the waiting room. He said my name and walked right over to sit down next to me. He touched my hand and said that Vern was alive but he had gone into cardiac arrest, died on the table and he had been able to bring him back by pumping Vern's heart with his hands. He also shared that Vern had been given 4 units of the wrong blood during the chaos that occurred in his MICU room while he was bleeding out. He didn't need to share those details, but he did. It's some kind of sign, I think, that I need to thank him. Twelve years later. But perhaps it's important for him to hear it now.  I will do that this week.

Another good thing today was that I asked Catherine if she'd be able to connect me this Fall with that sweet little boy in her classroom who loves the Golden Knights. And she can!  I want to give him tickets to one of the hockey games so he can see a game in person at T-Mobile. My heart just knows that this is what I need to do and that it will be very important to Levi.

So today was a really lovely day. Important conversations. Important decisions.

Saturday, June 2, 2018


My 2018 word is Renew and I can honestly say I don't feel like the same person I was back on January 1st. My regular readers know that the year started off kinda hard with me having some very unexpected feelings that forced me to do a ton of work figuring things out. It was not easy. And I wrote several blog posts as I worked through all of that.

That same month brought me the Vegas Golden Knights and - wow! - what a difference they have made in my life. I never expected a hockey team to bring me such joy, but they sure have. I just know that Vern is loving watching me enjoy this new passion of mine. My love for this team has actually given me a place to put all of those emotions I still don't quite know what to do with. Let me just say that you probably would not recognize me by my behavior at a hockey game.

And then I hit 67 ... ugh. That is a number that in no way defines me. At least in my head. Perhaps in rebellion to that number (but more honestly just because I didn't want to spend my birthday alone) I accepted that offer to have drinks with a friend so she could introduce me to new guy.  And that led to that first date. Over 7 years since Vern died - and 49 years since I last dated back in high school.

I had a nice time. He's a very nice man and he's lived a very interesting life. Dinner was great, the conversation was comfortable and easy. But I didn't feel a spark or any desire for a relationship to grow. And I didn't get the impression he felt it either. We parted after dinner with a thank you and a hug. He's traveling for the next six weeks and mentioned reaching out when he returned home. I figured he was just being polite and did not expect to hear from him.

And I felt some relief about that actually.

But then our mutual friend called to let me know that he likes me and he will be calling when he returns to Vegas. Sigh.

What to do?

I do not want to hurt his feelings.
I do not want to lead him on thinking something more could develop.
I do not want to ....

Oh boy.
So how vulnerable do I want to be here?  I started this blog to be a lighthouse to the caregivers I met in the online cancer groups. I knew that many would soon be joining me and felt it would help me to write and them to read of my experiences. And now I write for my widowed friends who are experiencing these 'do I date or not' feelings, to let them know they aren't the only ones thinking and feeling these things. So I guess I need to do this. To be vulnerable. 
So my dear *single* widowed friends, these vulnerable words are for you.

I guess it really comes down to intimacy. I just cannot even imagine it, and I do not want to.  Even just kissing. That was my test, you know. Could I imagine kissing new guy? No, I could not. No spark. Or I'm just not ready. Either works for me.

I just don't think dating is for me. It feels like too much work. And I can't help but make comparisons to Vern - and that's not fair. I know that I do not want to date just for the sake of dating. I cannot date more than one person at a time. And I surely cannot sleep with someone without being in love with them.

Perhaps someone will come into my life down the road that will create that spark and allow me to be brave enough to step into that light. I think I'm open to that now. I think I could even want that. But I need that spark. Even if that's not realistic to expect. It happened with Vern. We both felt it. Immediately. 

I will tell you that I did enjoy those few days before the date of thinking 'wow!' someone likes me, maybe even cares about me. I've missed that and it did feel rather nice. And part of that has stayed with me, making me feel a little more confident about myself.

So if new guy contacts me when he gets back in town, I will tell him that I'm just not ready to date. I'll thank him for being kind and willing to allow me to test the waters. I'm comfortable with this and hope that he will be, too. There's plenty of women out there ... in fact, I wish there was a way to introduce him to some of my widow group members. Hah ... ok, I won't go there.

So I've been feeling pretty good about this decision. It feels right. For me.

And then tonight a friend on Facebook was pulling cards for people and this is what she pulled for me.

Geez universe. You're killing me!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Blessings from Little People

When you're feeling a bit low and in need of a pick-me-up may I suggest you find a way to start your day in an elementary classroom.  I guess I should clarify that ... as a GUEST in an elementary classroom. I was married to a teacher for 41 years so I do know the daily life of a teacher often doesn't feel like a "pick-me-up".  But these kids 💗  ... they sure know how to make you feel special and loved. And I don't often get to have that blessing in my life.

I entered this 3rd grade classroom to wonderful exclamations of "Miss Dianne!" I had visited with them only once 3 months ago and was so pleasantly surprised they remembered me. I explained a little bit about what SoulBooks are and read some of the words and quotes I had chosen to include in their books. And then I handed each book out one at a time and received a lovely hug from each of these very special children. 


The reactions to their books touched me deeply. They really loved that their name was on the cover. And some were even exclaiming over the specific duct tape I had used to bind their book. Others liked the page colors and asked how I had made the books. Catherine, their teacher, asked them to choose their favorite quote from their book and they took turns sharing them (most were unable to limit themselves to just one quote). They loved that I had included a photo of their teacher in the book - and also some photos from my first visit with them - and that I had left space for them to add things to their books.

I was asked to again read the book I had read to them during Reading Week (You! by Sandra Magsamen) that fits in beautifully with the words in their SoulBooks. And then I was asked to sit in the 'hot seat'. Now this is a hot seat I wouldn't mind sitting in daily.  The children took turns saying something kind to me. Each and every one of them.  Oh. my. heart.

Each of these students is so very special, but there is one that I connected with during my first visit because we share a love for the Vegas Golden Knights and our goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury. Levi was able to meet Marc-Andre at one of the team practices and Catherine had shared a couple of photos of that with me. I included those photos and a Golden Knights logo sticker in Levi's book and he was thrilled. He shared with me that he's hoping to play on two hockey teams this next year. Perhaps one day this special little boy will be a Golden Knight himself!

And a final little God-wink occurred during my visit when I learned that one of the teachers who had dropped by while I was in the 'hot seat' had worked for Vern at the Orleans Arena. It is always so wonderful when someone shares that they knew my guy.

So while my procrastination caused me to stay up all night finishing these special little books, I cannot think of a better way I could have spent my time. I dozed a bit while at the hair salon after leaving the school and came home to try to purchase tickets to the first Stanley Cup Final home game during the special presale (but was not successful). Tomorrow will find me at the DMV renewing my drivers license and then .... it will be time for my first date in 49 years. Gah!  It's just a dinner ... it's just a dinner ... it's just a dinner .........

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Spreading my Wings

Having trouble getting out of my head these days. Waking up multiple times each night isn't a new thing for me, but the major thoughts now causing this surely are.

I do have some big deadlines hanging over me, too, which is part of it I'm sure.  Let me get those on the table first:

H O W E V E R ... my waking thoughts the past few nights have not been about these unfinished deadlines but rather about me personally and this new dating adventure. I hit a birthday this week and was dreading that ever-increasing number, but I'm now feeling more like a very insecure junior high kid.

Cards pulled this morning. OK, I hear ya.

I enjoyed meeting my friend and 'new guy' Thursday evening. He's very nice and interesting and while there (for 3 hours) I didn't even think about WHY I was there and just enjoyed the conversation. That changed the moment I got in my car to head home and has not let up since.

He asked my friend for my phone number.
He asked me out to dinner (and said I was beautiful)
I accepted (with some caveats).

All sorts of emotions ... feeling scared, old, nervous, fat, excited, guilty, ugly, beautiful, wanted, insecure. Geez. And this is supposed to be a good thing?  I truly do not know if I am up for this.

He shared some health issues ... and that scared me. Those caregiving years with Vern were a precious gift I lovingly gave to him, but they were so very hard and I just don't know whether I could survive another round of that. But my work within the widowed community has given me oh-so-many stories that prove there are no guarantees when it comes to illness or death. Strong, young, healthy people get sick and die. Healthy older people get cancer and die. And when a lovely widowed friend who is living with a treatable cancer shared what it's like trying to find a new love from THAT side of things, I decided I could not let that be the reason I did not accept the invitation for a second meeting with 'new guy'.

When I first changed my mind about the dating thing, I expressed my desire to just have someone drop on my doorstep with an immediate spark and connection. Like what happened with Vern. Not very realistic, I know. There was a connection with the person who initially got me thinking about dating, but he's not interested or available so I'm quite happy to have him as a friend (who is doing a little coaching with this current situation).

So this Friday I will go on a date. The first one since 1969 when I was 18 years old.

The world has changed since then and I may not fit into the current dating scene, but I decided I must give it a try so I'd know whether to keep at it or just know that it's not for me and to pull myself out of it completely. And 'new guy' seems to understand my trepidation.

So wish me luck.  And also pray that my blood pressure remains low and I don't break out in junior high zits!