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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

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Holidays, when you’ve lost a loved one, can prove very difficult. I am so grateful this Thanksgiving I was surrounded by my family and their families on Thanksgiving Day. I’m sure for those grieving a loss alone, the added pain of everybody celebrating around them can be almost unbearable. I have made great strides since Rick has passed. Fourteen months have come and gone and each day I find more strength and purpose returning to my life. This does not mean I still don’t stumble, I do.  Yesterday for example, Black Friday, was a difficult one. The turkey now eaten and leftovers tucked away in the fridge, left me drifting about the house with Boo, the Queen of Cats, wondering what to busy myself with. I try not to always clutter up my days with “doing”. Sometimes it is important to sit with your feelings while they are stewing and work your way through them. However, yesterday I needed air and people around me so I headed for the stores looking for a way to keep my mind occupied.

Expecting the usual crush of holiday shoppers littering the aisles I was pleasantly surprised to find only an average amount of shoppers milling about making it painless to select the first Christmas presents I’ve purchased this season.  In one store, the bank of extra cashiers ready to ring up holiday customer’s orders were lined up along the check out aisle beckoning customers to their stalls like barkers at a sideshow. Interesting.  Guess everybody was busy filling their carts on line. Makes me wonder if someday there will be no stores to shop in, with everything being done with the click of a mouse. I hope not. I am an old dog, I guess. I like to hold my book and read it, turning the pages as I go. I want to feel the fabric and explore the fit of a bathrobe before purchasing it, and I enjoy the lively conversations and colorful Christmas goodies displayed in the stores. Woof.

Although change is always a process, change life will, and continue to do so. Either you hop on board and change with it or the train will pull out of the station and you’ll still be standing on the platform. A lot of my friends are still circling their computers trying to figure out what makes them tick. They approach their laptops like a haz-mat team might creep up on a ticking box. Because I have quite a bit of experience in my pocket I have become sort of the It-Girl for my friends still working on the difference between portrait and landscape. Thankfully I have kept up with my skills for the most part so as things changed I moved forward with them keeping me somewhat “fresh” with the new technology. Um, with one exception I’m afraid, phones. Even my best friend who still had a flip phone until the beginning of this year now has an IPhone she devotes a great deal of her time to. I have one response when asked why I am so stubborn about this, “I don’t wanta”.

I suppose at some point I will cave pitifully and get myself a smart phone. There is something intimidating about having a hand held device that is so much more intelligent than you are. Next I will be on a first name basis with Siri not listening to anyone around me anymore except her soothing voice. I watch in fascination as my friends speak to her in their phones asking advice about everything from directions to where the best deals on toilet paper can be found. Some, I have observed, seem to have an uncomfortably personal attachment to these digital beings which at times can make my skin feel a little squirrely.

Over Thanksgiving dinner we older adults were discussing with the younger members of our clan what life was like when phones were still attached to the wall. When your ability to walk around with it attached to your ear was directly controlled by the length of the cord you purchased for it when you picked it out at the phone store. Mouth agape they stared at us as if we had just landed and walked down the ramp with ET. When I went on to explain we didn’t have APPS, voicemail, personal computers, video games, and only limited channels on the TV I swear one of them crossed himself.

To further shock these young beings, in particular the girls, I explained that if you wanted to do your hair you didn’t just plug in your blow dryer and curling iron. Oh no. You washed it, rolled it in curlers and either endeavored to sleep on the miserable things generally finding them all over your bed in the morning or plugged in a portable hair dryer and sat underneath it until your hair was dry.

Looking back so much has changed over the years. When my children were born there were no seat belts. Kids floated about in the car roaming from front to back, sticking their heads out of the windows, or sitting on your lap and helping you drive. Amazing we ever made it this far.

So, we look toward another year. This one should be interesting. With everything going on in the political arena certainly this may prove to be a fascinating time to be a fly on the wall for an election. I don’t usually get political in my blogs leaving it to others to sling mud where they may, however I would hope we breathe some dignity back into our government. My relatives in Canada tell me we have become the source of many jokes up there and I’m sure that rings in true all over the world. Time to clean this up and restore some civility to our world.

For my part I’m still trying to figure out who I am as this new person evolves from the ashes of my old life. The new year is both exciting and a little intimidating. I know I have to go back to work which makes me want to go in the closet with a bag of fiery Cheetos and pull a blanket over my head, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Hope your holiday was special. Most of you are heading home today or out in the stores frantically trying to scratch names off that holiday list. Take a breath, enjoy the spirit of the season. There is much to be thankful for.

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Struggling to find my joy again after losing Rick, my significant other and soulmate, has definitely been an uphill battle. It’s not I don’t laugh or enjoy myself while doing an activity or sharing time with friends and family, I do. Rather it’s an abiding emptiness, which persists deep inside me bubbling up unexpectedly from time to time leaving me feeling vulnerable and alone.

There are sometimes multiple endings following the death of a spouse. In this day and age where blended families are more the norm than the exception, often step families drift off after a death absorbed back into their own tribes. Even if you felt the bonds were strong people have a tendency to go with their own leaving behind frayed ends and unfinished beginnings. As this situation has occurred for me on more than one occasion in my life I speak with some experience on the subject. So your life shifts and morphs before your eyes like the lens of a kaleidoscope making it difficult to recognize or find a familiar comfortable place to be. This leaving you to mourn not only the person who has passed on but the peripheral beings now missing in your world as well.

I am always spouting “if you don’t like your life, change it”. I am not a proponent of whining, even though I do give in to it from time to time. My philosophy is if something hits you hard go down for a day or two, then stand up, dust yourself off, stick your chin out and keep on going. Sometimes this is easier said than done. My mother used to say I’m like one of those inflatable clowns with the sand weighting the bottom. You can smack me down but I will always pop up again. I’m counting on that particular trait to see me through this as well.

The holidays are coming up. For people suffering a loss, not having their loved ones with them on special occasions can prove doubly taxing. Memories of holidays past begin to surface and the realization their old life is gone forever becomes more clear. I speak of this because I just celebrated my second birthday without Rick. This one was filled with friends and family and good vibes reminding me of how far I have come since his passing. There’s something about another year going by that always shakes things loose things in my mind. I begin to examine what I have done with these 365 days now used and discarded and what I plan to do with the 365 clean and freshly pressed days lying before me. Oh my.

I have been auditing a class on Love at the Unity Church. Interesting concepts being taught there. They are especially focused on the inner dialogues we tend to conduct in our minds and offer different ways to approach your life to bring about added peace and serenity. I never realized before how much internal chattering goes on beneath this blonde mane. Yak, yak, yak. Always I have known I was a woman who has much to say. (Rick used to comment if I asked if he was listening, “Sweetie, if I listened to every word you said, I would never get anything else done.” Funny man my Rick.)

Like an old dog long ingrained habits are not easily given up. When you are used to doing things a certain way, particularly as you age, changing course is not an easy task. There’s no day to implement change like today, so I begin.

First on my list as mentioned in my previous blog is looking for a part-time job. There are a lot of us baby boomers still in the work force and so I am hoping I can find a niche just my size to fit into to. Where to begin? First, I updated my resume. My son’s business in corporate headhunting so he was helpful in guiding me through the process. Do not write endless descriptive paragraphs dating back to when you exited the womb, was his first instruction. “But that’s my speciality. Awwww, all right.” Apparently busy people looking to hire someone don’t have time to read through the definitive life history of twenty people in order to whittle it down to the right candidate. Got it. Brief, attention grabbing tidbits about what you’ve done over the past ten years with the emphasis on what you can bring to the position that is unique and pertinent to the job description provided. Done and done. Apparently brain surgeon is off the table. I looked it up and it seems you have to have a degree. Darn.

Learning to live alone is another hurdle I am mounting. You’re not alone, you might say, you have Boo, the Queen of Cats. Oddly enough you’d be on the money with that statement. I can not stress enough how much it means to open the door to an empty house and find a furry face waiting for you on the other side. If you have suffered a loss having an animal (if you love them as I do) can be such a comfort while at the same time giving you something to fuss over besides yourself. As the days pass I actually find myself looking for quiet hours to hang out with me. Being an only child entertaining myself perhaps comes more easily than for those people coming from large families used to lots of noise and activity 24/7. Growing up in Nova Scotia during long cold winters I learned to be inside seated on the floor of my bedroom using my imagination to fill my days with wild adventures and limitless wonders.

Winter has not made itself known here in Northern California as yet. As I turned the calendar over to November I went to my shed and retrieved my winter clothes, replacing the summer clothes hanging in my closet. Yesterday it was 78 degrees. As usual, I’m right on target. Sooooo, tiring of wearing fleece in a heat wave today I will go back to the shed and forage for some lighter clothes thus guaranteeing a blizzard by Friday. One cannot deny living in California, in spite of the fire situation dogging us over the past decade, offers glorious weather. This does not come without a price, however, and I look more and more often at how I will sustain myself here long term. If it wasn’t for the fact that all my loved ones reside in this state I wouldn’t be adverse to exploring other options. Rent in particular has hit the roof making it difficult for grown children to move out on their own, people in low income jobs to limp from paycheck to paycheck, and the old and infirmed to manage to survive. My best friend’s daughter just moved to the Houston area. She bought a gorgeous home in a lovely area for about one-third of what you pay for a similar house here.

So many things to ponder. I am trying to put all I have learned about mindfulness into play as I go through my days. Focus on today, even this moment of today, and let tomorrow unfold when and as it should. I believe I’ll buy a lottery ticket this morning. No reason not to hedge my bets.

Today is Veteran’s Day. Always I think of my father. He was twenty-five, and I one, when he died. I have pictures of him in RCAF uniform to remind me of the man who launched me into this world then had to take his leave. When I was sixteen I visited Ottawa. While there I visited his grave at the military cemetery. I will never forget the sea of white crosses marching up and down the hillsides in every direction. So much loss. To all the veterans who have given and continue to give of themselves for our country, thank you for your service.

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