Tuesday, January 31, 2012


The last day of a typically snowy, wintry month. Only today it hit 56 degrees. What a heat wave in the middle of winter! My husband used to always say spring really began on February 15th. He was a big conservationist and believed in climate change, which my son says replaced the old term "Global Warming." But I wish I could have proved him wrong about his own personal spring theory. Because the past eight years since his death, the winters have been especially harsh. So this winter has really been a big blessing for me. One less obstacle to deal with in widowhood land.

On top of everyday life, being a widow in winter brings on the ever cold bed that once was so much warmer when shared with a partner. There is the rash of holidays starting with the early Thanksgiving and ending with Valentine's Day. For me in the Midwest there is the added car maintenance and worry about driving in hazardous weather. The days are so long, overcast and dark. Well, enough description, you get the idea - I am depressing myself!

We use certain days as markers in our lives. I have always used Valentine's Day not to mark the end of winter, as my husband did, but to symbolize that the end is near. In recent years, I have come to believe that if I can make it to Feb. 15th, the worst is over and I'll survive the final month to spring.

My husband and I used to always write down the first day we noticed that the grass was really green. It would usually fall around March 21st. I would mark the date on a post it note, then put it up on the fridge and throughout the next winter glance at that date with hope. I kept the last post it note from the spring before my husband died up on the fridge until we moved from our home. And then I took it down and put it with paperwork to be saved, though where it is now, I haven't a clue. But when I move, unpack and eventually come across that note, I will put it back up on my new fridge.

In the meantime, just 14 days til V-Day, which I no longer look at so much as a romantic holiday. But it is still okay to look at it as a beacon of light shining through the winter gloom and illuminating the green of March!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Think Spring!

It is hard to not long for Spring when we keep having plentiful days of above 30 degree weather. What a blessing this Winter has been compared to those of past years. There has only been limited snow and cold. I have come to dislike the Winter months because of the added burdens they bring to an only parent or one living alone without a full-grown adult in the household. These months of dark and cold are usually accompanied by mild depression as well.

It has been easier for me to just keep plugging/plodding away the past few weeks - to aim toward getting through what I consider the harshest month, January. I don't want to air my feelings of worry or anxiety. What good does that do except for the initial venting? So it is not to say that all is hunky dory in my neck of the woods (remember that old figure of speech?). But that I'm not out of the woods yet.

The number one thing I have determined that will bring some ease into my life is being free to move from this area to one of more affordability. And I can't do that just yet, so for now it is continuing to hang in there.

I remain focused on supporting my younger son through his final semester of high school. My plans to attend grad school for career updating have to be put on hold for a few more months. I wasn't aware of how costly it is to apply for grad school and get transcripts sent from the five colleges I attended. But that is okay. The focus here is finishing what I was bound and determined to do - enable both boys to graduate from their hometown high school and get admitted into decent colleges of their choice.

In just a few months, I will get back to the college application process for myself but I still have to work on the financial aid stuff for my sons and that takes priority right now. If this results in my having to start school a semester later than planned, I'll just take a bit of time off for myself, which isn't such a bad idea in the first place.

My regular nightmare (both asleep and awake) is a fear of losing my teeth. I've just come across an interpretation of that dream. It is closely tied with our basic, most primal needs for survival and the nightmare comes out when we are extremely stressed and fearful. The fact that I have this nightmare frequently reminds me that despite the month of January being a bit more mild, my life is still stressful. I think for many widows, a stressed life is pretty much the norm. And maybe when you stop and think about it, most of us lead stressed out lives, widowed or not. But of course, there are additional challenges faced by widows on top of everything else.

My oldest son sent me a text today saying that he had a good idea for a tattoo for me. I sent him a text back, curious as to what his idea was. He replied that I should get either the image of a Superwoman or just the word Superwoman. He then related that he had just written his fourth English paper of the semester and wrote it about me. As he said, "I called you Superwoman in my paper since you had to do so much stuff for us, so I think it would be a pretty appropriate tattoo haha."

It will be interesting to read his paper, which I asked him to email me. In the meantime, I'll stay the course and imagine myself, Superwoman cape and all, emerging with a flourish into the sunny Spring!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

My emotions were stirred up taking my oldest to the train station for his trip back to college for second semester. One semester, his first, already completed successfully! How quickly it went. Now he has started the new term, and for my youngest, it is his final semester of high school! Woo hoo!

If we could get through the first semester, then it makes sense that this second one will be gotten through too.

I decided to not drive my son back to school when his roommate called him mid-week to inquire when we'd be leaving. Another buddy also called with the same question. I asked my son how these boys would be getting back to school if I didn't drive. My son replied that they'd take the train. I felt somewhat upset that these young men were assuming I would be driving them all when they come from two-parent homes and can well afford the $70.00 gas price it would cost for the trip. I thought about the 8 long hours on the road, 4 on my own, in the cold January night. If the two-parent families weren't driving their sons back, heck no would I be driving them all back myself! It felt good to assert myself and put my widow foot down.

This start of second semester is a very significant moment for us as a family. It represents the final hurdle in the long and trying journey of an only parent focusing on getting her kids out of high school and onto their college careers. This is the turn in the road my eyes have been on the past 8 years. It means I can finally move to a more affordable location because I won't have to stay in this upper-middle-class suburb where my sons have been raised and where I wanted them to see their educations completed, pre-school through high school.

It is almost seen through! Almost over! Almost time for me to have an opportunity to go back to school for career updating; to not be so stressed about money (paying the rent); to maybe have the time and energy to devote to establishing new friendships; to maybe being able to take a weekend trip somewhere. Yippee! I can almost feel and taste my new life and all the good stuff lying ahead. How I wish we didn't have this final semester to go. I'd love to just be able to jump over, like a game piece, the next few months... But if I envision the next few months as a game board, then I can visualize each day completed as a step closer to May. Way back in August, I started the game and now am halfway there. The end of this chapter is in sight.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I guess I will just keep posting via this blog rather than start up a new one for now, at least. Haven't felt much like posting the past week. Holiday letdown and also a bad case of PMS (yes, still at my age). My #1 goal for January is to try and be more positive for the new year. The PMS really did not get things off to a good start. But even with feeling a bit down and out and bluesy, as I get at this time, I DID make an effort to try and be more positive, so at least I am being more conscious of this goal.

I have been captivated by the word "Believe." It is really striking a chord with me. I am trying to make that word my focus for 2012. I'm not the only one inspired by this. Weight Watchers is using it for their advertising slogan.

Rather than make resolutions, I decided to make goals for each month. This month's are:

1. To pay more attention to better eating, overall health and pampering myself as I feel and look a bit drab these days. I would like to really lose some weight so come my son's high school graduation in late May, I can buy a new outfit. In fact, I'd like to have a mini makeover then to celebrate his success but also mine, at finally seeing both my boys off and away to college! I do not want to look in the mirror and wonder if I look "too fat." I want to look in the mirror and feel uplifted, joyful and WONDERFUL!

How am I doing after a week? Well, I've lost 5 pounds and am eating lots less now that the holidays are over. But am coming up way short on my goal of eating 2 fruit servings and 5 veggie servings a day. Usually, managing only 3 of veggies and 1 of fruit. I still feel drab and listless. That makeover is really needed!

2. To be more positive, as I related at the start of this post. I don't think it makes anything better to mope and complain. If things are bad, I want to say I feel sad right now. Acknowledge it but not dwell on it. Also, I can say "things are going to get better" rather than stay mired in the gloom.

How am I doing? Due to PMS not the best start. But I do try and reframe my negatives into positives.

3. In an effort to clear up and clean out my house in anticipation of moving this spring/summer, I want to try and get rid of 10 items a day. Get rid of means donate, recycle or toss.

How am I doing? I am laughing right now because with the exception of the first day I started my goals, Jan. 2nd, I have not managed to get rid of anything! Why? Well, lack of time, due to work and having both boys off for Winter Break. I know I need to make this a higher priority.

4. Knit through my stash of yarn (about three storage bags full). I am not allowing myself to obtain any new yarn until I knit through what I currently have.

How am I doing? This is the goal I am succeeding the best at. I have almost used up 24 ounces of cotton print yarn knitting a bath mat or rug - it is really cute. I have also knit two dishcloths and a kitchen towel. I am finding that knitting is really brightening up my mood. I have even awakened in the morning to realize that I was dreaming about knitting. I would like to create a couple wall hangings for my new home and continue to make some rugs.

5. To not purchase anything that is not necessary or needed.

How am I doing? Pretty well at this but I have gotten pretty good at living under reduced circumstances so this isn't that hard for me. I did restrain myself to only one 2012 datebook (half-price), although there was this really cute one with birds for the wall. Also, I refrained from picking up some half-price holiday ornaments/decorations at the dollar store. I figure I can pick some up next year when our financial situation it more stable.

That's it for this month. And maybe I'll keep these for February as well. Hope everyone had a meaningful holiday season or at least made it through in one piece. Also, hope all are starting out the new year with renewed spirits and belief in a positive and better 2012!