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 Out of date.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.