Friday, November 29, 2013

THANKFUL

Yesterday was one of the best Thanksgivings ever, despite it being my first as a widow.  It was busy and fun and delicious.  And for that I am thankful.


There were just five of us but the conversation never stopped.  Nor did the food!  None of us have family within 3,000 miles so we had that in common.  My gal pal is at the tail end of a relationship (that is not ending well).  My guy pal is just starting a dating relationship but the new woman did not invite him to join her plans.  We could have been a very morose crew, but we were not.  

Some of my brothers emailed and my sister texted and emailed.  She's so thoughtful.  She asked what my favorite Thanksgiving memory of him was!  It is/was that he ALWAYS invited those who did not have family nearby.  Since there were just the three of us, it was great to have a houseful to share our feast.  We usually talked about favorite family traditions or foods that MUST be included.  It was always fun.  

We often had to rent dishes (I hate paper plates).  The GREAT part about renting?  You don't have to wash them!!!  Just rinse and stack in their handy containers and return them the next day.


Leslie made FOUR kinds of pie!  We had island purple sweet potatoes with garlic and coconut milk.  Roasted brussels sprouts.  Green beans with crispy shallots.  The BEST stuffing EVER (and I am a stuffing connoisseur).  Even the turkey was spectacularly delicious.  

Yes.  I made the veggie tray above (I later added eyes!) and that is our turkey line up.

I am thankful.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

INSTINCT, INSIGHT, INTUITION, and INITIATIVE

My friend posted these four "Irish" I's on her Facebook page.  They grabbed me because they really apply to grieving.  My life at this point in time.  

INSTINCT:  My natural instinct is to curl up into a ball and let the world go by.  Maybe with time I can rejoin.  I am making a concerted effort to get out with other humans.  If someone invites me, I go.  I've even arranged a few things.  So far, it's not that much fun but I'm doing it anyway.

INSIGHT:  I honestly had no insight into grief until my husband died seven months ago.  Both of my parents are gone and I was sad and I miss them, but the loss was just not as great.  We were very close, talking several times a week and emailing almost every day.  Being a spouse is apparently closer ... emotionally as well as physically.

INTUITION:  So far, no helpful intuition has kicked in.  I instinctively knew grief would be sad and lonely.  I just had no idea it would be so devastating.  Eternally damaging to my heart.  And I had no clue that anxiety might enter into the mix.  Very weird.

INITIATIVE:  Most importantly, only I can take the initiative to survive this.  So that's exactly what I will do.

It's really a lot like a roller coaster.  I just can't see the end.

Monday, November 25, 2013

DISTRACTION

Besides getting a little exercise, I'm also getting a little busier.  Checking out recipes, making lists, going shopping.  My good friend (and gourmet gluten free, dairy free, egg free and cane sugar free cook) lands at 11pm on Wednesday night so I'm getting all her ingredients as well.

I love finding new twists on familiar recipes as well as new recipes.  And I usually do not practice them first!  Besides the fresh food, I spend a lot of time and thought in setting the mood in the house, especially a beautiful table.



I have to say I'm very very thankful to be hosting turkey day.  I'm probably spending too much time on each task but golly, I sure needed this distraction.  It's energizing me.

Taking my mind of my sadness.  That's a GOOD thing!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

IT IS WHAT IT IS

Grieving and bereavement is a rather rough road for me.  It seemed to me to be getting worse instead of better.  I feel so numb and paralyzed, unable to make even the smallest of decisions.  So I asked for professional help.  This was a big step for me, strong and blonde.

Yesterday I saw a psychologist/counselor.  How do they know what kind of questions to ask?  We hit it off and and I'm going back in two weeks.  In the meantime, I have a little homework assignment.  Move my body for thirty minutes at least three times a week.  Honestly, I learned things (from the internet) that help ease sadness ... exercise, eating healthy, music, hobby, finding a new purpose, plan something for each day.  But I have not been able to get myself to do a single one. 

Today I walked!  How can a perfect stranger inspire this action?



I suppose going to school to get a PhD in counseling really helps him know what and how to ask.  And why I am not a good self counselor.  It just is what it is! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

25 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME

From a Facebook challenge ....

February 7, 2009 at 7:18pm
This was written almost five years ago ... updates are in blue!

I'm from a family of six children and my only sister is one of my best friends! She gets me.

Unfortunately, I am an addict. Addicted to computers, internet, e-mail and facebook. I spend WAAAAYYYY too much time with friends this way. It's kinda like being a voyeur. I can see what you're doing without bothering you!  
(Geez, this is even more true today!)  So far I'm not into instagram or Twitter or Linked In or others.

I love to cook. I have too many cookbooks. I read too many recipes. I pack cookbooks on trips. I subscribe to too many food websites. My sister and I have been known to read recipes to each other. I trade recipes. I participate in email recipe exchanges. And I love watching the Food Network. I had to downsize over 100 cookbooks.  I wish I hadn't.  So far I can usually find my recipe on the internet!

I can take shorthand. Do they even teach that any more??  My favorite phrase to write?  I have not been able

I'm not very adventuresome when it comes to travel. I'm not a City Mouse and anyplace with over 50,000 people scares me. The past few years have challenged me to overcome this.  I'm even more adverse to travel now.  Who knew???  Although with the right person, I'd love to visit every National Park.  

For my 40th birthday I went to Disneyland. It really was a very happy place!!  A few years ago, Ralph and I went to Disneyworld ... but I prefer Disneyland based on my visits.  I hope to take Braeden (and family) in 2014 or 2015 for his birthday!

My favorite color is pink. Always has been, always will be. Any shade.

Secretly, I’d like to be a private detective. I love to do research. Who would ever suspect an almost 60-something frumpy plump old lady?  

Shopping at office supply stores is my idea of fun! I get such great organizing ideas … that I never use.

My favorite gifts have been technology rather than diamonds. I swoon over iPhone and new font packages and web apps and scanners and …. Oh!  And I love my laminator and my label maker and ...

OK. I admit it. I only watch James Bond movies because my husband likes them.  They are just unrealistic.  But maybe that's the allure ...

I’ve finally learned to enjoy sleeping in. We could sleep 10 hours or more very night. I guess we will not be the typical seniors who are up at 4:30 am and ready for the 4:30 pm early bird special.  I do still enjoy sleeping.  It's not as easy lately but this too shall pass!  Last night I got EIGHT restful hours and gosh do I feel great today.

I love eggs. I don’t care that they are high in cholesterol and fat and we should throw the yolk away. Hooray Nigella!  Probably explains why we have breakfast for dinner once a week.  I still enjoy breakfast for lunch or dinner.  Even love an egg with a large side of salad for dinner.

Complaining. I hate it. You can tell me once about a pet peeve or something (or someone) that really bothers you and I will patiently listen, most likely agree. But after that, please tell someone who can do something about it. Otherwise, it is complaining. I hate complaining.  Still true today

95% of all my shoes and purses are black.

25 years of marriage and I love him more today than ever. We are opposites in so many ways but being with him makes the bad things half as bad and the good things twice as good. (his words!)  Still true!

Maui is my favorite vacation place. As a corn fed girl from Ohio who was over 40 before I ever stepped foot on an island (well, except for Put In Bay in Lake Erie …), the warm tropical setting soothes my soul.  Ha!  Who knew I would get to LIVE on Maui!!!  A dream that I couldn't even dream came true.



I’m usually too happy. Almost Pollyanna-ish.  I can't wait to get my groove back.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will."—Abraham Lincoln 

So I stand my ground.

There is no remarkable story to why my first name is JB. The “J” is from my first name, the “B” from my previous last name. But please help me with more of the smart aleck responses like – Jingle Bells, Just Because, Jelly Beans, Just Beautiful, etc.

As a child, until after high school really, I was shy.  I feel like an introvert lately.  Can't wait for this phase to finish.

Heidi was the first person to want to be friends with me first. And despite our vast differences and life experiences, (and age!) we still are. I’m her best fan!  Love you Heidi Belle

I don’t exercise. It’s starting to show. I need a pal who is overweight and out of shape who wants to start. Suzanne? Remember that year we walked???  And there is no "gee the weather is too bad to ..." excuse here in Maui.

Weight Watchers. What’s up with that? I don’t want to watch my weight, I want to get rid of some. But it really does work. It just feels like what I imagine chemotherapy feels like.  I did reach "goal" in 2006.  Time to get back at it.

I love when something makes me laugh out loud.  This doesn't happen too often, but it sure feels good every single time.  Braeden is really good at this!

I wish I would have finished college. And yes, I know it’s not too late.  Maybe writing!

Friday, November 22, 2013

ODD or EVEN?

Now I know I have too much time on my hands.  And I worry too much.  Not like I needed any reminders of either.

The Maui house has a king size bed.  Now that there is only one sleeper (or tosser and turner), I was thinking maybe just one side of the bed would show wear and tear.  So now I do even days on "my" side of the bed and odd days on "his" side of the bed.  Do you think I should rotate and sleep right in the middle?  Maybe that could be for naps!?



Once this world problem was solved, I had to institute the same wear and tear system on the sofa.  This is a bit more work than the bedroom as I have to move the remote controls from one end table to the other.  And my laptop cord.  As well as the box of tissues (I don't want to the house to look like an "old lady" house with boxes of tissues on every level surface).

Whew.  No rest for the wicked.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

LINKED FOR LIFE

Memories are made when you least expect them.  Like a sunset.  No matter how many we shared, each one was different and spectacular.  Mr. Ralph loved taking photos so I have a million to jog my memory.  Even though I don't really need a photo to remind me.

He loved red geraniums.  And then any red flower.  Actually I asked our family and friends to plant a red geranium this past summer in his memory.  Now his memory lives on in their gardens or decks.  I have red New Guinea impatiens going right now.  

My favorite memory is something that I can hold and touch and wear.  He had a silver ID bracelet that he ALWAYS wore.  His name in Chinese on the outside, his name in English on the inside.  He had it made on his first trip to China back in the day when Americans were not welcome...he wanted to be sure his body would be identified.

As he got sicker and sicker he lost a lot of weight.  Our friend Bob noticed his bracelet was practically sliding off his wrist.  He is an artist and a silversmith and volunteered to remove a few links for him so he could wear it in a manly manner.

A few days later, he and Paula brought over a tiny jewelry box.



He fashioned a pendant and a pair of earrings from the links he removed.  And inserted my favorite gemstone, rhodonite.  It was mined in Oregon featuring my favorite colors.

According to my research (when I first fell in love with the stone):

Rhodonite soothes the nervous system. This gemstone vibrates with love. Just holding this gemstone promotes relaxation and brings a sense of well-being. This is a balance gemstone and is used to clear the psychic centers.  The healing properties of Rhodonite raises self worth and helps ward off negativity. It has been known as a "rescue stone".

Now I am linked for life.








Wednesday, November 20, 2013

COMMUNITY

Hospice is an amazing network of help and hugs.  Each month I get a newsletter which usually has an article of particular interest to me.  

This month the lead article is "Mourn the Small Community You Built."  It was filled with odd bits of information/insight.  I have been having trouble lately feeling sadder than what I expected.  (Not that anything can prepare you for losing 30 years of love).  I sure do miss him.

I miss him doing his part of our day to day living.  He loved puttering around in the yard.  Designing.  Building.  Planting.  Fertilizing.  Watering.  Pruning.  Puttering.



He was wise enough to put an individual drip watering system to each plant.  (I'm not that reliable!)  And I don't enjoy keeping up with the plants nearly as much as he did.  He designed and built the "fence art" as the morning sun reflecting off that white plastic fence would blind us as we enjoyed our morning coffee. 

He put up shelves and added door stops.  He kept the bikes humming along.  The TV and stereo sound system is a mystery to me.  How do I reprogram the garage door keypad.

The car was his domain.  Even though our car is 7 years old, Acura is very reliable.  But he was the one who remembered to have the tires rotated, the oil changed, the tune ups.  So of course, since his death I've had several incidents with the car.  All minor.  But when indicator lights come on I assume trouble and expense.  And once my key would not turn on the engine.

I've lost so much more than a friend and a lover.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JOY

Joy is something I've been missing these past months.  I think part of me feels guilty for enjoying pleasure or happiness.  It's also more fun to share these fun feelings.  Mr. Ralph used to say "love makes the bad things half as bad, and the good things twice as good."  But I think for now I better simply enjoy good things .... even on my own.  Especially on my own since that's what it is.

Children bring me joy.  Imagine my surprise when my 10 year old neighbor came over for a visit!  Abbey is the oldest of three and is on the cusp of being a teenager (gee that happens so much earlier these days).  We settled in for a chat when Lily (8 year old sister) rang the bell.  After some snacks and chit chat, the girls had energy to burn.  I have two huge exercise balls that they love.  So we figured out how to add some air and they had a blast!  Me too!  For almost three hours.  Mom came out to chat a bit as well as to invite me to "sunset night" tomorrow, where they head down to our closest beach to enjoy some free unadulterated joy.  



Mr. Ralph loved the kids as well.  He was a very good sport wearing pink and purple (I think he lost a bet).  Very confident in his manhood!  After he was dressed, he had to do a "glamour model walk" up and down the sidewalk.  What a hoot!

Apparently the kids love coming over here as much as I enjoy having them.  When little brother Alex (6) came home from a play date ... he was mad that he didn't get to come play!  So we'll have a guy date soon.









Monday, November 18, 2013

OPTIMISTIC

It's mostly mind over matter, I know.  Lately my emotions have paralyzed my mind so I am now making a concentrated effort to overcome the captivity.  No woman left behind!

I forced myself to tell a few friends how sad I have been feeling lately.  And the phone rang.  After an hour of simple chit chat, I did feel better!  And the phone continued to ring.  Unsolicited!  Which made me remember to call a couple of my friends who are finishing their journey here on earth.  Even though I did not speak to either of them, one husband got a tele-hug and some kind words and I left a cheery message for the other.  Every little bit helps.


Gave myself an "A" for social life.  Next I got a few chores done that I had been procrastinating.  As a reward for that, I granted myself time to do something fun ... putting together and sending a little care package to Kate and Braeden.  I even made it to the post office and got it sent.  Honestly, this is the MOST I have done in a day ... for weeks.

Now I understand I just MUST make myself do things, even though I don't want to.  Eventually I may start to enjoy doing them again.

I sure hope so.







Sunday, November 17, 2013

HAPPY

Despite the tone of this blog over the past couple of weeks, I really do have a million happy memories.  It all began in 1982 ... when Mr. Ralph had a business brainstorm in the shower.  And made it a reality.  I volunteered to do secretarial work (after my regular job).  The rest is history!


It was a pretty fast courtship (we had each been married before) and we were married in September 1984.  We went to the Oregon coast with my sister and his son as our witnesses.  Blue jeans and sweaters.  At sunset.  Very casual and very low budget.

Kate arrived in May 1986.  My first and only child, his second daughter and third child.  And the years flew by building our own little family traditions.  (My family is in Ohio and his in Indiana.)

He traveled a lot for business, and with a kidlet and no family sitters nearby, I didn't travel with him until she was out of the nest.  But starting in 2004 I led the life of a princess!  Mr. Ralph was pretty much a workaholic so I had to impose one condition.  We had to spend at least TWO NIGHTS in each hotel.  (Yes, he was known for a flight, a taxi ride, a meeting, a hotel, a taxi and a flight ... for two weeks at a time)(Not my idea of fun).


Europe.  China.  Australia.  South America.  And best of all, there were built in tour guides (wives of his Regional Sales Managers with whom he was working) for me during the day.  Fabulous business dinners every night.  I bought something to use as a Christmas ornament from each city.

Unfortunately, when we downsized Mr. Ralph took that box to Goodwill.  Gladly I have happy memories.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

EMOTIONS


The diagram above is just perfect, in my humble opinion.  It is so simple yet covers all the basics.  We can all think of additions to each section yet the main ones are there.

What I've noticed about myself during these first six months of widowhood is how I have become stuck in the bottom half.  Not the angry part so much.  But yellow and blue for sure!  It seems like the more I dwell here, the more stuck I become.

Yes.  I know LOTS of things I can do to help the "feel good" hormones reach my brain.  Right now I am feeling paralyzed in scared and sad.  Sad with good reason ... scared without much reason.  Just afraid of the unknown mostly and timid without my sidekick.  

Fortunately family and friends (especially new friends who are also widows) remind me that time does help.  I try not to whine too much because who wants to listen to that (very often).  Hopefully I'm making headway.

I'm looking forward to optimistic again!



Thursday, November 14, 2013

GRATITUDE

November is the month of remembering what we are thankful for all year.  Expressing an attitude of gratitude.  I’m going to join in.


I am thankful for fresh, strong, hot coffee first thing in the morning.  I love ending my day with a glass or two of red wine.  
Sunshine every day is something to appreciate.  Living in Maui for a year is a treasure I will never forget.  Getting to spend 30 years in Oregon (so far) has been fun (and damp).

I am grateful for becoming a mother (better late than never).  My daughter is my pride and joy.  Just one rung above my grandson!


And I am most thankful to have met and fallen for Mr. Ralph.  Who knew those 29 years would fly!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PATIENCE

PATIENCE

This blog isn’t for everyone.  Including me, at times.  I have always been in control of my emotions....until now.  Honestly, this pain and anguish has taken a toll.  

Yesterday I had a great day.  I accomplished quite a few tasks, planned a bit for my future and had a social engagement.  The tenseness in my shoulders eased up. I felt happy.  Today I’m anxious and blue.  It’s noon and I’m still in my pj’s.  I hate this pendulum.

Lately I’ve been worrying about EVERYTHING.  Maybe being alone increases concerns about things I used to take for granted.  Like locking (and checking twice) doors...including the one between the house and garage!  Did I pay that HOA charge?  Will I have enough money on which to live?  When was the last oil change?

This crazy part of grief needs to taper down.  I know, I know it’s not this intense forever.

But I don’t have a lot of patience.





COUNSELING

Tonight I had dinner with three widows (we call ourselves the South Maui Merry Widows) to participate in Dine Out for Maui Hospice.  It was great to go out to a restaurant with company.  It was even better to share how to hike the widow path.

I'm not big on group therapy and sharing.  For me, I'm better in one-on-one.  The four of us are all in different stages of loss ... seven years, four years, and two of us less than a year.  Somehow learning of others' experiences makes more of an impact on me and how I am fumbling along.  Each journey is different and individual but hearing stories from those who have traveled along is helpful.

Two of Ralph's childhood buddies died within 18 months of him.  I was lucky enough to become friends with their wives many years ago despite one living in Florida and one in Indiana.  One couple visited us in Maui for two weeks.  And we got to visit each on their home turf.  So I have two other resources.

The most curious thing I learned?  Each and every widow  remembers the whole painful trek.  No matter what stage they are in.  Sharing and understanding.

Peer counseling is good for me.  I hope I am able to pay it forward when the time comes.


Monday, November 11, 2013

SADNESS

It's to be expected that sadness follows the death of a loved one.  But there are just so many levels of sadness.  I am looking forward to being sad on a much much lower level than I am today.


THESAURUS for SADNESS:  unhappiness, sorrow, dejection, depression, misery, despondency, despair, desolation, wretchedness, gloom, gloominess, dolefulness, melancholy, mournfulness, woe, heartache, grief; the blues.

Some days are not so sad although I don't know why.  Some mornings I just wake up sad.  Often the pity party lasts all day.  On occasion I have a great day then get desolate because there is no one to hug goodnight.  But it didn't occur to me that I was "depressed."  I thought it was the mourning.  Grief.  Bereavement.  Sadness.

I don't stay in bed all day.  I do shower, brush my teeth, comb my hair and usually put on a bit of makeup.  I get myself out of the house at least once a day.  But I still feel so horribly sad.  About anything and everything, not just my life.  I had to MAKE MYSELF do these things.  I didn't want to.  

In the past, I was an optimist.  An extrovert.  Most of my family and friends would agree.  These past weeks have been the total opposite.  Despite my best efforts I can not get off the top rung of the sadness ladder.  It is intense.

So I took myself to see my doctor.  She spent a long time chatting about anxiety and depression.  She also explained that  it is often a chemical imbalance combined with a life shattering event.  I felt a bit less like a crybaby and agreed to try medication.  They are not instant happy pills (which I could really use!) but over the next month, I should gradually be able to see the glass filling up.  

With champagne!

P.S.  Thank you to my family and my friends for sticking with me through this down and out phase.  I know it's not easy for you guys either.  A special thank you to my widow friends who always reassure me that whatever I'm going through is "normal" and with time, life will be alright again.

Friday, November 8, 2013

THE WIDOW'S NEST

My condo in Portland will again be home, at least for most of the year.  In January 2013, when we learned Mr. Ralph's cancer had invaded his bones he asked if we could just remain in Maui for the couple of years he had left.  We found a young family (grandson's godparents) to rent it for just enough to cover out of pocket expenses.  They even packed up everything and hauled it to a storage unit!  We sold the car.  

Unfortunately, he only got several months but he was happy to end his time in the place he loved the most in all the world.  Home sweet home in Maui.  We enjoyed every single minute until the very last second.

Now that I have a second grandson arriving, and a much broader social network in Portland, I made the decision to move back to the condo.  The hardest part was telling my renters.  They are horribly disappointed as they, of course, turned it into home with their 4 year old daughter.  It was such a good deal for them as it is such a walkable location and they are a one car family.

Returning gives me the opportunity to decorate my way!  Today I took a Real Simple magazine quiz to help me verbalize my "style."  Cozy casual.  Which is what I would have said!  The condo is on the ground floor surrounded by huge pine trees so lighting is going to be very important.  For sure I am getting rid of the bedroom furniture (even though it was so carefully chosen together ... 20 years ago!)(although maybe it could be painted ....)  And maybe the office furniture can go.  I do everything on a laptop these days so it seems silly to dedicate a whole room that never gets used.

Lucky for me I have a friend whose style (and ability to change up her rooms) I greatly admire.  Guess what?  She recently retired from office work and is taking an interior design course!  I'm so excited.

When do you think I should tell her I have an Ikea/Walmart budget??

Thursday, November 7, 2013

GRIEF


Today at the Doctor's office, I had the time and opportunity to read a great article in Time Magazine (April 2013).  The Mystery of Animal Grief.  It was interesting (I kinda knew about elephants and dolphins) and one point that was made is how their grieving is not as long as humans because they have so much to do to just live.  Not having a job, or even a demanding volunteer position, or even a hobby ... might just be part of my problem.  

I need to get busy.  Busier.  It's interesting that I'm going to have to put some effort into this.  Pre-widowhood I often felt like I was TOO busy.  So I feel confident I can get myself back on track.  

This afternoon I called a widow friend and invited her to coffee.  I looked up the phone number for the local meals on wheels so I can call.  Just now my neighbor friends popped in to see if I would like to do some part time work for acquaintances who have started a local guide for people vacationing with handicaps.  Wow!  Is that right up my alley or what?  Maybe a Facebook presence and a blog or a website.  And it's something I can do from wherever I am.  

I think the elephants, dolphins, horses, dogs and other mourning animals are on to something.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

HUMOR

During this sad emotional journey, I think it would be therapeutic for me to have more humor in my life.  I enjoy a good sense of humor.  I think I have one.  So maybe if I can add a little more to my life, it might just help me through.

Don't you just love the laughter of a child?  Who can be sad when listening to that?  I can't remember how I happened upon a YouTube video of a Dad (with the invented name of Arturo Trejo) interviewing his one year old son.  

Fortunately, he does lots of videos with his little son (now 4, I think).  I just rewatched the one year old interview and laughed out loud.  Again!  I need to put a reminder on my calendar to watch one.  He also has a Facebook page at Mr. Arturo Trejo.  What a hoot.

We oldsters also have a comedienne (or two) that tickle my fancy.  Have you ever watched Mary Maxwell?  I think she's in her early 70's.  She has the perfect dry delivery and chooses relevant (to me) topics.  Oh my goodness she can make me laugh.  You may also want to try Jeanne Robertson.  Comedy with a southern drawl.

OK.  I feel better now.  Time for a little Restaurant Impossible before I hit the hay.




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

VULNERABLE

Vulnerable.  This is the most uncomfortable of all feelings for me.  Susceptible.  Worried.  Not in control.  And this is EXACTLY how I feel right now.

Once you have a loss, you take the time to learn about grief.  Some say there are five stages, some say there are seven.  Whatever.  Even though I had a couple of years to get through the "anger" stage (as we heard the diagnosis aggressive prostate cancer in 2010) the rest of the stages seem never ending.  Denial and isolation.  Bargaining.  Depression.  Acceptance.  Apparently these stages do not necessarily arrive in any order.  There is no time limit on getting through any of these.

But nobody mentioned this vulnerable stuff.



A kind friend recently turned me on to Brene Brown.  I've listened to her TED Houston talk.  I "liked" her Facebook page. I enjoy learning from her.  

I think sometimes what I need is a big hug.  And a bit of courage.

DINING OUT

Dining out solo is hard for me.  It sometimes seems a stigma.

stig·ma noun
  1. a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

    "the stigma of mental disorder"
  1. synonyms:
  1. shamedisgracedishonorignominyopprobriumhumiliation, (bad) reputation 

Really, it shouldn't feel like a stigma. Lots of people go out as couples but don't really seem to talk too much.  So singles ... whether divorced, widowed, on a business trip, or enjoying a well deserved moment of solitude ... should not be looked at with any raised eyebrows.

I enjoy food, at home as well as out and about.  But cooking for one isn't nearly as much fun as cooking for several. Or cooking for my love.  Yeh, my friend Nancy (also a widow) loaned me a couple of cookbooks "for one".  And lots of my great meals include a fabulous salad and something from my grill.  Yet I often yearn for someone else to do the shopping, chopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up.  Sometimes I can round up a friend to venture out with me.  Sometimes I just want to do a spur of the moment.  Sometimes I want to go somewhere expensive and no one wants to spend their money that way.  

Honestly?  Dining out is the closest thing to a hobby I have right now.  I enjoy dining out.  I savor delicious tidbits accompanied by a nice glass of wine.

Is there a special magic fairy who can bippity boppity boo me into feeling more comfortable dining solo?  Until then, thank goodness for my iPhone!












Monday, November 4, 2013

HOLIDAY VISITORS

Wonderful news for the Awkward Widow.

My good friend Gina is flying over the night before Thanksgiving (almost midnight!) and staying for a week.  A few years ago she discovered she is allergic/intolerant of gluten, dairy, eggs and cane sugar.  Which might sound like we might have a boring dinner.  But NO!  She is a total gourmet foodie.  Leslie and Didier have already agreed to join forces for this holiday and she is also gluten free (in fact a GF baker here on Maui).  So we are going to rock it!  In fact, they want to do ALL the food and have relegated me to crudites, a vegetable side dish and wine. Best.  Deal.  Ever!

Two days ago, a long term friend in Portland called to say "remember when we talked about me coming to Maui" ... well, M'Linda (her adult daughter) and I are coming for Christmas.  Actually, I didn't remember any serious arrangements but gosh am I happy!  Now I have a built in holiday party ... for a whole week.  

I think Mr. Ralph and the cosmos have teamed up to help me through this first set of holidays.

Thanks, buddy!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

SIX MONTHS on my own

Today marks the the six month anniversary of Mr. Ralph's death.  In some ways, it seems like just yesterday we were sipping coffee on our back deck planning our day.  Mostly it feels like the most confusing whirlwind of emotions.  When people ask how I'm doing, I can honestly say as well as expected.  Because I have learned to not expect any thing.  Each day is what it is.

I do notice that I have more happy moments than I used to.  So all the talk of time helping to heal my broken heart might just be true.  I'm pretty sure there will always be a big scar but eventually it may stop hurting if it heals properly.

Some widow friends talk about seeing or feeling their husbands.  I am pretty skeptical about that although I often get signs that Mr. Ralph is nearby.  Yesterday I got my hair cut (yes, and colored) and Lesa was so excited to show me something on her iPhone.  Oh, how the universe works!  She is thinking of replacing her seven year old car and was looking online when she discovered an Acura of Maui commercial ...

http://youtu.be/5VEXDchZOV8

with a small glimpse of my very handsome guy proclaiming he loves Acura.  (I was seriously thinking of trading in the MDX for something smaller but I think that was an omen to just keep the big SUV!!!!)

Tonight I'll raise a toast of his favorite single malt Scotch, Oban.  To a wonderful man, husband, dad and friend.  Join me!

Friday, November 1, 2013

BINGING

This should NOT be a word used in the same sentence with me.  But I am taking the very first step and admitting I have a problem.  I am binge-watching TV shows on Netflix.

Every evening I start out with good intentions.  How about one of those books I've started but haven't finished?  Tonight's the night I will call a friend just to wish her well and listen to what's going on in her life.  Maybe zone out on Pinterest to help me decide how to decorate the widow's den?

Instead, I choose to watch commercial free junk TV.  Oh, my sister is cringing!  They don't even own a TV (well, actually, I think they do but it is only on to watch a movie ... something outside the box, most likely with subtitles, that is worth discussing over a nice aged sherry.  With other erudite folks).  Maybe most of you are recoiling at the admittance of such a low intellectual hobby.  There it is.

For now, this is working pretty well for me.  My mind is still unable to focus on much, for very long.  Most days I do reach out and connect with the human race.  Some days I choose to be a recluse.  A hermit.  A solitarian.  An introvert.

An awkward widow.  Time will help, I'm sure.