Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life's Path

I have recently received some comments from womanNshadows, Sari, Bec and Judy S. that were just what I needed to hear. These past weeks I have been in such a struggle to try and be happy despite all the grief surrounding me and I also have been struggling with the concept of trying to see the good in my husband's death.

These women gave me some insight that I was unable to see myself - that it is okay to be grieving during this time and not be happy; that some losses can't be gotten through so you live on despite the loss and make the best of your future; that the death of a good husband is crappy and there may not be any good to be found in the loss; and the biggest key is to cultivate joy and happiness in one's life even having faced significant loss. That happiness can be found again in spite of the previous pain and suffering.

My mind has become much less burdened by the wisdom of these kind souls who took the time to convey their thoughts and beliefs to me. I feel so much more free to be able to acknowledge that I don't need to"get over" my husband's death - yes, I'll need to adapt and cope but it is not an event that I'll ever totally "get through." I love the concept of experiencing future happiness - that perhaps the greatest testament to my strength and healing will be to go on and experience joy despite the hardships.

Today at work I adapted some of these ideas to my feelings of dissatisfaction with my current job. I thought to myself that this is a job I took as a temporary bridge to being in some income while I sell my house and get my feet back on the ground. No where is it written in stone that this will be the last job I'll ever have. As my life stabilizes, I'll be in a better position to pursue jobs in my field of social services. For now, it is what it is - and that is okay (thanks to womanNshadows for this perspective). Again, I felt such relief and a weight off my shoulders.

The hardships will eventually lessen - someday soon I'll be back in my field doing the work I love. It'll all be okay - right now this is where I'm at on the path - and the fact that my feet are even hitting the road is a good place to be.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the beautiful park in our center of town
2. For the misty half-moon I can see from the window
3. For Poptarts (sometimes I really just have a craving for them!)
4. For this year's set of Fall magazines coming out soon
5. For geometric coloring books, find-it puzzles and word searches (so adults can have fun too)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Greatly Humbled

In addition to the terrible loss our community just faced with the death of an academically and athletically gifted high school junior, we also faced the loss of a young man who died while at college as a freshman this spring. He was also an intelligent young man and a very talented athlete.

I saw his dad just last week when he dropped some paperwork off at my girlfriend's house. He rode his bike to accomplish the errand and gave me a wave in greeting. I was astounded that this man who works in a home-based business would be out on a bike, greeting people, much less working only two months past his son's death! I told my girlfriend that I would still be in bed, in some kind of comatose state, probably heavily drugged and/or drinking.

The future emotional battles the parents of these two young men face puts my fretting and complaining in a whole different light. Yes, I'm facing the loss of our home and having to move to smaller quarters. Yes, our new life may be scary and unknown. Yes, our finances are in such a state that we could be considered poor. But the loss of a child is of far more magnitude than all of my problems put together.

My heart absolutely breaks for these parents. I think of them and cannot imagine the road that they will be traveling. I am humbled beyond words - awe struck by their courage and strength. I know there is nothing I can do or say to make their worlds right. I keep thinking of these parents...

Today I am grateful:

1. For the cooler weather - it has been a near perfect summer - not too hot and steamy.
2. That the house inspection is over and now I can concentrate on purging and packing.
3. That I have health insurance.
4. That my sons are safe.
5. For the wave the dad gave me - it greatly impacted me and has inspired me to be stronger.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Friend in Life and Death

One of the bad things about working is that I'm not home for nine hours and the boys have to fend for themselves. I feel as though I am not in touch with them - when I get home I am so exhausted I just collapse after getting everyone dinner. Then I go to bed early or frantically clean because of the house being on the market and tomorrow is the house inspection.

When I got home yesterday, I saw a memorial card from a funeral on the table and saw that it was for a teenage boy. I was not aware of a student in our community dying because I have been at work nonstop and haven't been keeping up with the news. It turns out that a friend of my oldest son since 7th grade died last week. While I was at work, he got dressed up and found a ride to get to the wake on his own. While there, he stood by his friend's open casket and talked to his friend's father for 30 minutes. He related that he patted his friend goodbye and that many of the kids there could not even approach the casket.

I was blown away by my son's maturity and actions. That he handled paying a tribute to his friend on his own without any assistance from me is amazing. But then to have the composure and strength to talk to his friend's grieving father for 30 long minutes is even more impressive!

I asked my son if he is more comfortable with death because of his Dad dying when he was 10 and he agreed with that. He did cry at the service, which I think is good.

I hate this job that takes me away from being with my boys when they need me but if I had been at home I would have driven my son to the wake and funeral. My not being there has shown me the depth of his character and soul. There aren't enough words to express the pride I now feel for this young man who has suffered so much but can also give so much.

Today I am grateful:

1. That there is still money left in the checking account with payday a day away.
2. That my son showed respect for his friend and his friend's family.
3. That both boys have been able to make mature decisions while I am working so although I worry, I also trust them.
4. For my job that does put food on the table.
5. For my sons' strength and perseverance.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Scary Widow Health Alert!

I have just finished reading of a health study due out in September that finds that divorced and widowed individuals have far more medical problems than those in relatively stable/happy marriages. Surprise, surprise! I could have come up with this result just based on my own experience. The day-to-day stress I have endured over the past seven years as a widow, care- giver to sick and aging parents, only parent and most recently as a divorcee has been overwhelming.

I have always known and believed that there is a huge benefit to being happily married - physically, financially, emotionally, and socially.

The study emphasizes that people who are widowed and divorced need to take extra care of themselves because we don't do so, especially during the first year of loss. We sleep and eat poorly, may not exercise and can be extremely anxious and depressed. I am guilty of eating poorly, having trouble sleeping and not exercising enough. I also do not take the time to nurture my interests or laugh enough. I seldom have any fun personal downtime. And I've had my share of depression and anxiety.

I have decided to take this study to heart (I've had some high blood pressure concerns). I need to start focusing on myself more (personally and physically). And I need to have some faith in love again - that it will visit my door one more time. I'm thinking of the stress and strain that occurs when dating - as if widows need anymore in their life! But if the ultimate reward results in a more happy and healthful future life, it will be worth it!

The Purple Lady Saves the Day

Today was a big fake show at work because some of the bigwigs were in from corporate. Ever since my husband's death I have despised stuff like this. We had extra employees in and managers to wait on customers hand and foot. People worked all night to stock and clean the store. Is this the way it normally is? Hardly. I just want life and people to be honest and real - to tell it like it is. This all reminded me of how people really clean up their houses before company comes. What does it matter if the papers are strewn across the table 99% of the time anyway? Why do we have to pretend that things are better than they are? I just felt annoyed by all of the show and the pomp and circumstance because it is phony.

During the morning I waited on a woman I refer to as "The Purple Lady." I have seen her before in town (although maybe there is more than one person like this). She dresses totally in purple and has dyed her hair purple. When I saw her some months back she also had purple shoes and a purple purse. Today she did not, although she did buy purple paper to wrap up the gift she was purchasing. I refrained from asking if purple is her favorite color. I had to admire her for going all out as she does.

I happen to love the color green and pretty much choose that color when buying anything. A few years ago I caught sight of myself in a full-length store mirror and freaked myself out a bit because I was dressed head-to-toe in green with a green purse and shoes besides. I then decided to try and wear more colors and have done a pretty good job of it. Since my husband's death I have steadfastly reused to wear any black clothes or carry a black purse (I want to have colors surround me).

The Purple Lady was being true to herself and expressing who she is visually. She has the strength to even color her hair purple! There is some real coolness in that versus the charade that was played out today at the store pretending we have three managers on hand in the front every day to service customers. I far more admire Purple Lady for her truth and honesty to herself. We all need to follow more of her example.

Today I am grateful:

1. For Sunflowers and Lazy Susan flowers (beautiful in summer).
2. For umbrellas.
3. For applesauce.
4. For nail files.
5. For scissors.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I am tired and drained from the workday - in the past three months I have worked every Saturday and Sunday, along with some Fridays. All day long I worried about getting the house cleared out and ready for our move on August 25th. What is absolutely the worst aspect of widowhood for me is not having a helpmate by my side to share some of the load (emotional, parenting and with the day-to-day tasks of living, including the house and working).

I get up alone and sleep alone. Right now on my list to the Universe of what I most want in the future is to be able to SHARE A BED with a committed, loving man. The lack of daily support has really taken its toll over the years. There is no one here when I get home to offer a hug, a drink, encouragement, a smile, a back rub, or an opportunity to vent. Hard to keep pulling yourself up by the bootstraps day after long day.

This aspect of widowhood needs to be put out on the table - some of us don't have supportive family and friends can only be relied on so much. How do tired, drained widows recharge and revive themselves to keep on going? Especially those working with kids to actively supervise and parent? That is the great question of the day.

And to take it up a notch, I'm just talking about the day-to-day stuff here - what about handling the conflict and stress that results from extreme hardship such as foreclosure and moving, as in my case. I'm already pretty much depleted to the extreme and now I have to get through another hardship on my lonesome. None of the widow guidebooks I've read over the years have had any sections on this issue.

Widows are doing the work of two but not receiving any support back from a partner to help defray the stress and strain of the double work load.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the orange ball of sun I saw setting in the horizon as I drove home from work.
2. For the good ham and turkey sandwich I made for lunch.
3. That I had clean clothes to wear to work.
4. For the spaghetti I made this morning before work so I had a nice dinner ready for me when I got home.
5. For being able to lay my head against a cool pillow when I go to bed.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

She Works Hard for the Money

Do you remember that song Donna Summer used to sing, "She Works Hard for the Money?" I kept thinking of that song all day today as I put in my eight hours at work. This job is incredibly tedious for me. I can tolerate six-hour shifts but the eight-hour ones just kill me! So boring and relentless just ringing customer's purchases up - that is all I do. Stand in place and ring up items, remove sensor tags, take money and count change or return credit card receipts. There are only small moments of respite where I can talk a moment or two with another cashier. By the end of eight hours I am about ready to explode form boredom, the repetition and monotony. To top it off both the management and customers sometimes treat the employees as beneath them.

I will be so ready to get out there this fall to pursue a "real job" in my field. I am worried about handling even this minimal job plus get my house ready for the closing and move on August 25th. Next week I am scheduled for 40 hours (five eight hour days - I am going to die!). I think I may have to ask for a week off. I still have to clean out/clear out the garage and get rid of all the excess in my home.

They say moving is one of the most stressful situations a person can go through. Let's make that 10 times worse when you're doing it on your own as a widowed, working Mom!!!

Today when I got to work at noon I found out that they had changed the schedule without informing me. So instead of working noon til 8:30, they had me down for 2 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. They wanted me to leave the store and come back an hour later but that seemed pretty silly to me plus a waste of gas. I stood my ground (since it was their error) and said I wanted to work my original hours and that is what I did. At this point I actually don't care how much longer I work - if they fire me I wouldn't really mind. There is so much on my plate to worry about, figure out and handle it might even be a blessing to not have to work right now.

I truly can only do so much on my own - no one is rallying to lend a hand or even minimal emotional support. Everything that will need to be accomplished will have to get done by me. Like I referenced at the beginning of this post, "She Works Hard for the Money," but now I'll change it to "I Work Hard for the Money!"

Today I am grateful:

1. For the crescent moon I saw in the evening sky as I drove home from work.
2. For the billowing blue clouds and dark blue sky I could see from the store's big front windows as I worked today.
3. For the continued cooler weather - this summer has been blessedly less hot than others in the recent past.
4. That the boys had a good baseball season - they did well and so did their team - it was very enjoyable.
5. That despite all the hardship surrounding our life the boys have continued to have a good summer with friends, going to the city, Great America and having soccer and volleyball camps in addition to the baseball.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happiness on Hold

All of the empowerment books I have been reading have stressed the need to find the good in any situation, including my latest read, "Embracing Uncertainty - Breakthrough Methods For Achieving Peace of Mind When Facing the Unknown" by Susan Jeffers, PhD. Try as I might, I am unable to come up with any positives from the death of my first husband. In these books it is interesting to note that the examples given do not include death. For instance, the author might talk about finding the good in losing your job or losing money in the stock market. Where is the good in leaving two boys fatherless at ages 9 and 10? Or leaving your wife in financial duress so that the house is in foreclosure? You might be able to stretch the situation a bit and say that certain blessings came about after the death but I will remain steadfast in my belief that not all situations contain good within them.

I have also struggled with the concept of happiness, especially since husband #2 left me. Is it possible for people to be happy in the face of intense pain, grief and adversity? I believe there can be moments of happiness but that there might be periods in our life where we're just not going to be happy.

In facing the loss of our home I am swept back to the numbness I felt in the early days following my husband's death. I am functioning on autopilot - if I think too much, I'll hurt too much. For now, it is all I can do to get by. How in the world can someone in this state be charged with finding the good in their terrible situation, as well as trying to be happy? I don't even want to be happy right now. I want to grieve and mourn this new loss that stems from the death of my husband. It is a time for tears and not laughter.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the opportunity to see my boys play baseball.
2. That I had Friday night off (somewhat of a rarity).
3. That the rain held until after the game.
4. That I got a fair amount of knitting done while watching the game.
5. That I can sleep in a little tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Waltzing off into the Sunset

I have three close friends, all of whom are divorced, two female and one male. My guy friend's ex-wife initiated a divorce from him in the fall of 2007. Their divorce was finalized in March, 2008. She started dating at that time and remarried March, 2009! She is moving out of state at the start of August and taking my friend's 11-year-old son with her. It was extremely fortunate that the company she works for in Chicago just so happened to have an opening in their office in the state her new husband resides. So she relocated without having to look for a new job. She and her new husband also just bought a house together.

This situation irks the heck out of me for a number of reasons. It so reeks of unfairness that I want to scream! For one thing, ex-wife isn't a knock-out or anything special in the looks department. She once weighed 240 pounds and has acne scarring on her face. She did not go to college. Apparently she has lost some of the pounds but isn't thin. I suppose that isn't what gets me upset. And these factors shouldn't matter (but somehow they do).

What really gets me is that since her son has been an infant, her mom resided with them and provided the childcare she and my guy friend needed to be working. Grandma also bought them the lovely four bedroom home they lived in. Needless to say, grandma also cooked, cleaned and shopped. "Not that pretty ex-wife" never had to parent on her own, manage a home on her own or even shop or clean by herself. She never had to arrange carpooling or to take her son to the emergency room or doctor's appointments on her own. AND SHE ONLY SLEPT ALONE FOR A YEAR!!! Excuse me Universe - but there are a heck of a lot of women out there handling it ALL on their own and sleeping in their own beds. And they're tired and want to be loved again by someone.

"Not that pretty ex-wife" took away all the spots ahead of her - she didn't pay her dues - she cut in front of the line! Maybe it is harsh and unfair for me to think of all of this (and I've never even met her) but she doesn't seem to deserve another shot at happiness so soon after her divorce without having really suffered much, if at all. This woman hasn't been much of an active parent, with my guy friend and grandma handling far more of the hands-on parenting. So not only does she get to waltz off into the sunset to her new life, but she gets the kid too!

The one aspect of all of this that is the most glaring is that she never really had to sleep alone. Just a year. It is going on six years for me (seven if you count the year my husband was in the hospital most of that time). In terms of all I've had to live and survive through, my number should be the one called for some happiness right now. Not some woman who selfishly is tearing her only child away from his dad and kicking out her mom so she can do her own thing.

Maybe I need to take her lead and be more selfish myself - when I had that chance I ended up losing my second husband because I chose to care for my dying Mom and concentrate on my sons. Why doesn't that count for anything? I'm living at a low economic level, no one is sharing my bed and we're faced with moving into an apartment (so I'll have to get rid of over half of our current possessions). This woman's new house has a hot tub and six acres of land. Just doesn't seem balanced, right or fair in the grand scheme of things. But what, if any of the past years since my husband's death have been?

Maybe what I am trying to uncover in all of these words is that "Not so pretty ex-wife" doesn't seem as deserving as me or the other widows out there who have been pulling more than their weight. It is hard not to compare oneself to someone who hasn't had to endure as much struggle and hardship and seemingly has an easier life.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the opportunity to see one of my son's pitch and the other catch together in tonight's baseball game, which they won.
2. For the compliment one of the moms said to me tonight, about how handsome and nice my boys are. I replied that I thought they'd turned out pretty well and she told me I'd done a good job (ON MY OWN!).
3. That we did receive an offer on the house today (and the house has only been listed a week).
4. For my youngest son telling me that living in an apartment will be better for us because we don't need all the room in our current home.
5. For having a good girlfriend to call and talk about the house with - and hearing her tell me that everything I've done in the last year has been accomplished on my own without the assistance of anyone. And that I should be proud of myself.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's All Just a Pile of Junk!

I spent most of today consolidating two of my storage sheds into one. It was a long, hot, grueling, tiring and dirty job - not fun at all but it had to be done. I can't keep paying money to store stuff that needs to be sorted through and donated/thrown out.

The trouble with all of this started when I was planning to move with husband #2 and put items in storage in anticipation of that. But then my Mom died and my parent's house was sold. Because my Dad was also very sick, there wasn't time to go through the contents of their house before it sold (we only had two weeks) and I ended up taking boxes of items from their house and just putting it all into storage. But out of sight, out of mind. Everything has continued to sit in a 10 x 20 shed until now when I just can't put off going through my stuff, my parent's stuff and husband #1's stuff any longer. I can't afford it and with the prospect of moving, it has to be eliminated in case I need to store furniture or items that won't fit into an apartment.

Problem #2 - I just don't have much time to go through everything, which is why it has sat for the two years my Mom has been gone. Hopping on over to a storage facility to work on clearing out your parent's old belongings is not up there on the fun parade of things to do. It is depressing and sad to do so. Time consuming and grimy besides. And because the storage site is some miles away, it is another factor preventing much progress on the task.

One of my close girlfriends called me last night having just returned from a trip to her parent's home. She had spent a week there of vacation trying to clean up/clear out the home in preparation of selling it. Her dad is now in an assisted living facility and her mom passed away a few years back. She claimed to have not made much progress in her week there. I laughed as she described how her dad hoarded everything and collected pencils, pens, rubber bands, flashlights, pads of paper and the like. The same with my Dad! In my cleanup of their home, I found a paper bag with probably 500, if not more, book marks! But my parents were not as organized as my friend's parents. There were boxes in my parent's home with papers in them ranging from 1972 - 2002 in no particular order. That made going through things more difficult because I needed to look at all the contents of a box - couldn't just assume it was all from the early disco era!

In talking with my friend, I mentioned that what made me so sad is that the fact that my Dad now lives in an assisted living facility and has no trace of the former life he used to live around him. No need for his extensive pen, pencil and bookmark collection. It is like everything in my parent's home ended up not amounting to very much in the end. My girlfriend understood exactly what I meant - she felt the same way too as she visited her father in his assisted living facility.

In the end, the vast array of stuff we accumulate and surround ourselves with is just junk! Worthless and taking up unnecessary space in the storage sheds or garages of unfortunate relatives left to the task of sorting through all of it. My girlfriend who was divorced in March also has her home on the market to downsize. I commiserated with her that here we are trying to get through the junk in our own lives and also stuck with the task of dealing with the mess of our parents.

These observations have given me the impetus to get through the junk as quickly as possible and to not hold on to much - the bare minimum of memories. It is serving a bit as a guide to how I want to move forward from here - with less clutter and unnecessary items accumulating and stagnating my life.

Today I am grateful:

1. For fireflies.
2. For ladybugs.
3. For butterflies.
4. For cottage cheese with pineapple.
5. For raisin toast.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Compliments and Touches Needed

Something my first (real) husband said to me when we initially met, really struck a nerve with me and I still remember the impact it had. He had been in divorce proceedings with his wife for nine months and before that they had pretty much been living together but leading separate lives for quite awhile. They had not been intimate for a long time and during the divorce he really recognized how much he missed the physical contact of a woman. So to counteract that feeling, he'd schedule frequent haircut appointments just so he could have a woman's hands touch his head. I remember feeling so sad when he told me this. I didn't realize it at the time but his admission was pretty deep for a guy - most would probably not admit their vulnerability to a new girlfriend as he did to me.

The lack of physical contact (hugs, kisses, hand holding, back rubs, not to mention sex) takes a toll on those of us living alone. My divorced guy friend recently told me that what he misses most about having been married is not being able to sleep next to someone anymore. What I miss is the absence of those little confidence boosters I'd get from both my husbands in regard to the way I looked. I miss those compliments and find myself feeling almost like a faceless blob when I venture out in the world. Do I look good anymore? Am I still pretty? Should I cut my hair or keep it longer? Do my outfits look nice? It helps to hear something positive about your outer appearance even though I know to some extent it is vain. Not hearing these remarks has made me start to wonder about how I DO look. I'm not someone to brag about myself - I don't think many of us are - still, it gives such a boost to know that the care you took into applying your makeup, doing your hair or choosing your outfit is noticed by someone. I'm not expecting anyone to say I look beautiful - a simple, "Your purse is cute" would be more than enough!

Ever since my husband died, I've noticed how few of us offer compliments to others in our daily lives, as well as heart-felt thank yous. So I've made an effort to do so everyday, wherever I am - the grocery store, at work, with my sons' friends, when I'm with friends. I always try to say nice, positive remarks. At work I compliment polite kids to their parents, nice outfits, jewelry, purses, etc. I let customers know that I think the gift they've chosen is nice, or the colors of their towels is really the in color for the new season. They are all genuine remarks and I do it because I think all of us need to hear more positives. It's funny though, because you'd think with the Law of Attraction and all that I'd be getting some compliments back for all those that I give but so far they're not being returned to me with much frequency.

On to my little secret weapon. Whenever I'm feeling starved for compliments, I go to Carson's to try on clothes in a dressing room. I don't plan on buying anything but I can try some new outfits on and see how I look in a full length mirror, and even catch my backside too. I can see how my hair looks from all angles, practice my smile, toss my hair over my shoulders. Not the same as hearing I look nice from someone but a way to assess myself and hopefully come out with an appreciation for my appearance. Kind of like what my husband did when he went to get a haircut - trying to find a substitute to give him the feeling he was missing. This is my way for now. I'll fit that in next week - it has been almost a year since I've gone clothes shopping anyway.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the continued cooler weather since our Central A/C isn't working.
2. For having the opportunity to sleep in a bit this morning.
3. That my guy friend fixed my broken downstairs commode (out of commission since February).
4. That my son chose the cheaper soccer shoes on sale (and they cost me only $22.00!).
5. That I didn't have to work until closing today (so I didn't have to clean the public restroom and now I have a moment to read a magazine before bed!).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tired of Being Tired

I am busy cleaning the house as we have two showings tomorrow. The inside will be pretty decent but I haven't gotten to the garage or the backyard where the weeds are waist high! Oh, well! I can only do what I can on my own here (our yard is double-sized).

I am exhausted and not sleeping well. I am tired of working (on the job and at home) - it seems as though I have very little down time and seldom time for myself. I haven't knitted in ages, nor browsed at the bookstore (both cheap thrills for me). I am promising myself that next week I will do both, plus have lunch with my girlfriend and visit a new antique shop.

I have been experiencing an almost constant migraine the last few days and I just want all this house stuff over, finished with and behind me. It is impossible for me to keep up with everything and I feel as though I am breaking down in spirit, hope and confidence. This is not how life is meant to be lived - constantly struggling to keep up and never being able to measure up.

I am tired of being tired.

Today I am grateful:

1. For all the summer shades of green present in just the leaves on the trees - from yellow greens all the way to deep forest greens. Utterly amazing! This alone makes me believe in the power of miracles because just the different shades of green seen in the leaves is one right before our eyes!
2. For summer rain storms.
3. For the cooler summer we've continued to have.
4. For Vera Bradley purses and bags (although I am too poor to get one this season, I still see and admire them).
5. For paper plates that don't have to be washed (I use them year-round to cut out one small task from my chore pile).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's Fall, Y'all!

Well, I guess it is officially Fall now! I went to the Dollar Store yesterday and they had scarecrows up. Then I got my JoAnn's Fabric and Crafts sale brochure in the mail and they also displayed scarecrows and even pumpkin crafts! I guess it will be Christmas in September! To me this is just plain nutty (the way we plan so far ahead in advance). I want to tell the world to stop doing this. Enjoy the month of July for what it is - don't be planning or even doing Fall craft projects. Guess what, world? Live for now because you really don't know what will be happening tomorrow.

As morbid as it seems, since my husband's death I stopped doing such things in advance because of the lesson I learned of life being so unpredictable. I remember thinking, why should I spend all this time and effort when I may not even be around six months from now? Of course, some long-term planning is needed and necessary in our lives but why are we always finishing up a season while we're still in the middle of it? Rushing ahead to the next? For what reason? Why?

We all need to slow down and stop planning our lives in such minute details. To reflect on the joys of July, the exact moment we are in. I almost am tempted to put up a scarecrow for the sheer stupidity of it. On the other hand, this is a grim reminder to me that life does move on quickly and with certainty, whether I'm ready to catch up with it or not! Anyway, enough of my ranting and raving about this. Let's all just live and enjoy life right now - even those of us struggling with life transitions.

Today I am grateful:

1. For cold pickled beets.
2. For cold green beans.
3. For cold chicken salad.
4. For tomatoes.
5. For corn bread (I guess you know what we're having for dinner tonight - a perfect SUMMER meal).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another Friday Alone (Depressed, Lonely, Sad)

I am having a tough night, alone at home with the boys both out. I reluctantly let the oldest have the car to go to the movies because I work Sat. and Sun. I guess I am also feeling guilty at our probable move to an apartment, so I try and give in to the boys when I can. But the end result is that I am here stuck at home and reading isn't cutting it. I'm depressed and eating too many M & Ms. I had plans to go out with a friend and now wish I had done so as I work the rest of the weekend and next week will be spent on a final push in getting the house ready for showings. I signed the real estate listing contract today and I suppose am feeling down about that too. At the store today they had the Righteous Brother's Unchained Melody song playing over the intercom and I started sobbing. It is a beautiful song. It made me want to have the kind of relationship the words described.

I am too young, vibrant, intelligent, attractive, interesting, loving, caring, kind-hearted of a person to be alone on a Friday night like this. I want and need to share my life with a committed partner. The boys are only growing older and will be off to college before I know it. I do not want to be having this same discussion with a blog post five years from now - complaining about being sad and lonely!

I would like to feel wanted and desired. To have a male companion who values his time with me and is eager to hear what I have to say about life and the world. I should and need to be out on a dinner date sipping a glass of wine right now. But then there is this part of me that is stuck in this depressive mode saying that it won't happen. I'm too old, my chance is over, I blew it with husband #2, there is something wrong with me, no on will want me now that I've failed financially, etc. and all that. I go back and forth between the two like I'm on a swing, from feeling high to low.

Part of the problem is that I have come to believe that it is much harder for widowed moms to date and socialize than divorced moms. That is my opinion because we're doing all the parenting and have less free time to spare. I also think that we're more drained and sometimes don't want to go out because of that.

That line I hear all the time about love finding you when you're not looking and least expect it is pure bunk! I didn't look for love for 2 1/2 years after my husband died and didn't have a date until I registered online with a dating service and started putting myself out there. It takes such energy to date and build relationships here in mid-life and as an only parent.

Tonight I gave the van to my son out of the goodness of my heart. It was a sacrifice on my part. But I think I need to be concentrating on myself every once in a while or I may just end up a bitter, mean-spirited old woman who yells at little kids for cutting through her yard and even watches for them out her window, ending up scaring them and having then call her a witch. I don't think this is a real likely scenario but you never know - I need to recharge and regroup too if only to maintain my sanity.

I haven't had much time to devote to myself at all since my husband's death and maybe I need that more that I need a date right now. Some selfish time for healing, reflection, and doing whatever I want to do when I want to do it (within reason of course). E.g., I wish I'd thought of going along with my son to the movies - I could have sat in another show while he and his friends saw the teen flick they wanted! Or go out to lunch, browse in an antique shop, start knitting a new pattern.

And maybe this is just one of those low points that will pass in a day or two and I need to ride out the storm until I see the clouds break. What makes this really crummy is that being a widow with virtually no support, yes there are times it is overwhelming and I feel down and out. But the only way out is to climb out myself - there is no one beside me holding out their hand and saying, "Here, let me give you some of my strength." I'm already depleted, depressed but it'll have to be me who gives myself a hand in order to get out of this. And that aspect of this life is the ultimate irony. To be in a place where I need help but I only have myself to rely on - and when you're at a low point, purely funcitioning on a minimal level is almost a miracle in and of itself.

So, to recap, this is what I've gotten out of all my gibberish:
- I don't want to live the rest of my life alone (without a committed partner)
- it is hard to find a committed partner when you're a widowed mom
- I need to start caring for myself or I might become a witch/bitch
- I'm a valuable woman, deserving of a partner and with a whole lot of good stuff to give that I want to give
- There are times when I'm going to be down simply because of my current life situation because I am not yet a Saint
- It is unbearably difficult to have little support and to have to rely on my own strength to constantly pick myself up, move on and get out from under the funk
- I still have to keep living with or without another husband/partner by my side - I have to try and find fulfillment and happiness in my life

Today I am grateful:

1. That I got to hear the Unchained Melody song.
2. That the kitchen light was fixed and we have a bright kitchen again!
3. That I got the right tool needed to cut out some carpet that I need to do in the family room.
4. For my cats who lie in my lap while I am reading.
5. For the opportunity to go to bed early tonight.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Clearance - School Supplies

The other day, Tue. the 7th, I stopped in at my local Walgreen's to use the cash station as my oldest was going to the Great America Theme Park and I wanted him to have enough money. While I was there I figured I'd pick up a needed pair of gardening gloves. I was happy to see that they had some, at a reduced price. So I got six pairs (two packages) for only $1.50.

As I was checking out I joked with the cashier that here it was, still in the heat of summer and all the summer merchandise was already on clearance. I asked her if they were planning on putting out the Halloween stuff. She informed me that it was the back-to-school supplies, some of which are already out! Then she joked back to me that the kids in our town just got out of school and here we are selling the supplies again. It was funny and I laughed at the absurdity of it all. How we rush through life to take on whatever chapter lies ahead. Sad really.

I was grateful to be able to laugh and have a moment not dwelling on my house situation. Then I thought about how no matter what ends up happening with that, the one thing I can be certain of is that time is marching on. Whether we are still living in our house or the new apartment come Halloween, Halloween will arrive. And the day after, all the Christmas decorations will start to be stocked!

Today I am grateful:

1. For the beautiful moon shrouded in the clouds I saw tonight.
2. That my sons are safe from their trips to Great America and downtown Chicago.
3. That I was able to buy my youngest a 6 x 8 rug in blue for his room (which he really needed and at a good price since I used my store employee discount).
4. That the weather is still on the cool side and we don't need to worry about air conditioning.
5. For Swedish Fish candy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Moving On Figuratively and Actually

I was approved for leasing the apartment I applied at and one is on hold for me with a tentative move-in date of October. I am beyond relieved but still struggling to deal with all that is on my plate - packing up the house, downsizing, trying to sell the house. There is still the possibility that we will renegotiate with the lender and stay here but I am not sure that is the best alternative at this point.

As weird as this seems, even when my husband was in such poor health, I still felt that he and I were a team and that I was not alone. Having to face life and all the recent challenges of foreclosure, etc. on my own is an indescribable challenge for me. It is a far more difficult task than facing my husband's death because even though a part of me knew he was probably going to die, he was still alive and I had him by my side.

I am sad that my life has taken such a trying turn when it is already tough enough just being a widowed mom. I wish I had been spared some of this hardship but it doesn't seem that wishing for an easier time of things is of much benefit. Life is what it is right now.

Today I am grateful:

1. For getting approved to lease the apartment.
2. For knowing that we'll have a place to live and WILL NOT be homeless and having to rely on staying with friends.
3. For the cooler weather today since it makes working in the house easier.
4. That I live in a safe, very attractive community with excellent schools, parks, shopping - the whole package!
5. That my sons are hanging in there with all that they have had to go through.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Difficult Choices and Tasks

Today I did one of the hardest things I've ever done - apply to lease an apartment. I have never lived in an apartment (not even in college when I joined a sorority specifically so I wouldn't have to live in a dorm or apartment). I went to two places and cried throughout the process. The first complex would not accept me because I have over five credit card bills I am paying on. I am still waiting for approval with the second complex.

I took the boys over to see the model apartment (we'd be leasing the largest) and they found it acceptable except for the distance from their school. We live down the street from the high school now which has been very fortunate. I am going to lease a two bedroom and give each boy their own room if we do have to move. I'll sleep on a pullout sofa in the living room. I let the boys gripe because I know they are upset with the possibility of us moving from a 2,500 sq. foot home to an apartment half that size. But I won't take much more griping because I am doing the best I can and it is better than living on the street.

I am worried about not getting approval but my close girlfriend in town has offered to let us stay with her and today my male friend offered the same. But his home is 30 miles away and it would be hard to get the boys to school as they want to remain there. I have also thought about living at an extended stay hotel but that would be tough too - just one living area containing two beds and kitchen area. We would probably all drive each other crazy! But again it would be better than being totally homeless.

My attorney handling the foreclosure says the lender does want to try and renegotiate but I am not sure I want to do so now. I am so worn out at trying to clean and maintain this home and it is basically falling apart around us because I lack the funds to keep it up. The utilities alone cost me an extra $500.00 monthly. And I can barely get to the needed lawn work outside - I already use a mowing service (we have a double lot).

On Friday I am signing the real estate contract to list the house - it is worth a shot to see if I can sell it in today's market. The earliest we would have to move would be October but it looks more likely to be December if the renegotiation doesn't go through and it doesn't sell. I just want all this to be over and for it to be settled and put to rest. I am sick of worrying on my own with no one to support my morale or decisions. I feel utterly exhausted today after my running around, which included checking at the storage facility for a bigger unit which I'll need, paying the water and cell phone bills and grocery shopping. Since I work Fri.-Sat. I have to play catchup on Mondays.

I am proud of doing what I had to today but am still almost physically sick with anxiety and fear over all the future what ifs. I got no house cleaning or any yard work done but I think this had to be attended to - the process started to see where I stand and what needs to be done next.

Today I am grateful:

1. That I did what had to be done.
2. That I survived a very difficult situation for me.
3. That my friends have offered their assistance to me and continue to stand by me.
4. That the leasing agent told me things will get better in the future.
5. To have a place (blogging) to relate my fears, hopes, emotions and life circumstances.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What Really Matters

I felt very discouraged and rather irritated with people today as I worked on this holiday. It surprised me that so many people came in the store to do major shopping trips - not just to pick up a bbq tool or something small. No, these folks were browsing for wedding gifts, buying accessories to totally update their bathrooms along with rugs, towels, sheets and comforters like they'll never be for sale again!

I thought of the days of my youth when there wasn't even a 7-11 around. If you ran out of something on a holiday, you'd better hope a neighbor or relative had it or you just did without. When did all these stores start staying open during the holidays? The store I work at is only closed two days a year, on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I know our economy can use the financial stimulation but for goodness sake, we could all use a day off on a National Holiday to rest, relax and rejuvenate with family and friends!

The attitude of the customers was also particularly disturbing. Many were downright demanding and rude to those of us working. A number came in two minutes before closing and became very particular and time consuming with returns. Who even thinks about making a major return of your unwanted wedding shower gifts at 5:58 p.m. on the Fourth of July?

I just kept thinking that shopping has become a huge source of entertainment for us. I wanted to tell these shoppers to stay home and do some crafts with the kids; try a new cookie recipe; get caught up on some reading or minor household repairs; take a nap; go to the movies; rent a movie; go through a closet and set aside some items for donation; organize photos for an album; take a walk in a park or forest preserve; garden. I could keep going with ideas - why so many people young and old, male and female were out spending wads of money in our store today had me dumbfounded. In all the years I was married and living my normal life before my husband died, I never once went out shopping on a holiday. I spent the time with my boys and husband and often hosted a get together for my parents, siblings and their kids. I treasured those moments, which is what I believe those shoppers should have been doing instead of getting their high from finding a floor model comforter on sale for half-off.

I think some of my observations today stem from the fact that I see life differently than those who haven't had to face hardship/grief/loss; the "untouched" as someone aptly described them in a recent blog post I read.

Today I am grateful:

1. To be living in the USA.
2. For an opportunity to pay tribute to our country on this day.
3. That my oldest safely survived the Chicago fireworks show yesterday with his group of friends (I went once and vowed NEVER to do it again).
4. That my oldest even packed food to take with him to the fireworks show to save money!
5. That I don't have a need to buy any more comforters, towels or 800 thread count sheets to make up for whatever is missing from my life. I don't need those items to lift my spirits - I already have enough possessions.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mourning Dreams and the Future

When I was first dating my second husband, I told him that some of the grief over my husband's death was from what was lost for the future. All the dreams that we had shared, that would now not come true. For me that included retiring to Wisconsin, which we probably would have planning to do in three years when the boys graduated from high school. It was also our dream for our sons to go to college in Wisconsin.

My new husband told me that this observation had a profound impact on him. It had never struck him that you could grieve for what hadn't yet occurred. I am finding myself now grieving all of what has been lost in my second marriage - the plans, hopes and dreams we shared.

It is funny because I was doing something in the family room and an old episode of Frasier was on - a show I did not watch. This one had Frasier taking a call from a woman who had broken up with her boyfriend eight months before and could not seem to move on and get over him. Frasier pointed out to the woman that she was mourning the life she wasn't going to have and she needed to let go of that dream and move on.

I came across similar advice in a book I was reading by life coach Rhonda Britten, author of "Fearless Loving." She also proclaims that those of us grieving what we hoped for the future, need to let it go and concentrate on our lives in the here and now. She says, "It comes down to a willingness to get over what you think should have happened and accept the reality of the present moment." Very well-said, wise words but as I keep on finding, much easier to think about and agree with than actually follow.

I read books like this and I think the expectation is to be able to adapt the new way of acting right away - but in reality it is a long process. Some days are better than others. So you reflect on the vanished dreams and mourn them and then try to shift back to the present and focus on that. A back and forth, give and take road, weaving and curving instead of going in a straight line.

Today I am grateful for:

1. Still having a job (they haven't fired me yet).
2. Being able to sleep at night.
3. That I haven't had an emotional breakdown.
4. That I can still smile and laugh.
5. That I can think of the dreams I had with both of my husbands and feel tremendous loss that they will not come true but also gladness that I even had them in the first place!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fate, Timing, Circumstances, Choices

I keep going over all that I could have and should have done since my husband's death. Of course, in retrospect this is always easy to do. Basically, I am struggling with the choices I made to care for my parents at the eventual expense of my myself. I was so mired in care-taking duties to my family that I never stood back and cared for my own personal emotional, financial or social health. I didn't have any choice to care for my kids but I didn't exert any limits around the remaining time and energy I had. And so today I am without a second husband (who felt I chose my kids over him) and in a financial tailspin because I never took the time out to handle my own affairs. I am also painfully estranged from my only sister for reasons that I am unsure of because she won't talk to me. I think it has something to do with our family-of-origin issues that were triggered with the severe illnesses of our parents and then death of our Mom. But I am guessing.

It is hard to recognize or acknowledge all this. I did have a hand in what has resulted. I have to say that the Universe sure threw me some tremendous curve balls to navigate through. And in all honesty the forest was so thick I could not see through the trees during the years following my husband's death. But now that the dust has settled and my divorce is final and I have gained a little perspective,I do see that there were things I could have done differently.

I never had a chance to grieve as a new widow and I never made the time to heal myself. Maybe the time is now, five years later. So sadly, it took me losing everything to figure this out. I'm not sure what the eventual lesson or life plan is for all of this. I only know that there wasn't anything left to nurture and care for me.

I am currently struggling with trying to forgive myself and at the same time become more attentive to my needs so I can heal and move on. Some part of me knows that it does no good to keep kicking myself down for what I could have done. Those days are long over. And would I even have done anything differently? Could I have? My Mom was dying, my father was in another hospital also sick - not real conducive for packing up the house, dragging two resistant teens and moving into a new community with a less than supportive husband. Bad, terrible, unfathomable timing to be sure! Almost as if everything was set in motion to prevent me for not moving.

I set out to write tonight and had no idea what would come out. As I finish this post (because I have a scowling 15-year-old wanting to get back on the computer standing over my shoulder), I guess the clarification I've gained from this rambling is this - life is a combination of fate, timing, and circumstances, as well as choices. And sometimes that combination proves too daunting, too complicated to navigate out of without some casualties. And I suppose that as in all things too, there is a balance between forgiving oneself for what was impossible to do, while learning the lesson of seeing the choices that could have been made but were not.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the beautiful moon I saw tonight in the sky, all misty among the clouds.
2. For being able to have my rear view blinker light fixed for only $8.10.
3. For having my girlfriend inform me that my rear view blinker light was out because I didn't know that.
4. For the peace, perspective and clarity I am gaining (although it is not without pain).
5. For having enough possessions to give away to others who can put them to good use.