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.