Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Friday, June 14, 2013

Are You a Thistle or a Rose?


 As I sat here in my frumpily bathrobe trying to decide what to blog about I got to thinking about how much we change through out our lives. My skin, for example, is as leathery and “full of character” as a pair of alligator shoes I bought back in the 1960s. God, those high heels had the power to turn on my sexy side and I felt great when ever I wore them! I don’t even remember the last time I wanted to look sexy and it amuses me that my favorite footwear, now, is a colorful pair of chunky Crocs. Today their little crocodile logo smiling up at me seems to say, Hey, old lady, you’re wearing rubber and that’s about as fashionable as wearing a paper sack. There were a couple of decades in my life when I cared about such things but that gave way to caring more about comfort and I’ve never looked back---and apparently not in a mirror either. I need a make-over.

Outward appearances aside, the internal changes we experience in our lifetime are much harder to critique. Taken as a whole, I am happy with the emotional, intellectual and spiritual grown and progression I’ve experienced from my toddler days to these toddling old-person days. I’ve had many ‘aha moments’---moments of comprehension, inspiration and realization of what life is all about. And as most of us do as we age, I’ve made a mental catalog of all the opportunities I’ve grabbed hold of and those I’ve let slip through my hands. I also know the points in my life when I could have done better, made better choices and I comfort myself by knowing that if I had known better at the time, I would have done better. Wouldn’t we all?

Where is all of this reflection leading to? Damned if I know. I guess I’m trying to decide if I’ve gotten to the point May Sarton was at when she wrote the following in her memoir titled, At Seventy.  “I love being old,” she wrote, “Because I am more myself than I’ve ever been. There is less conflict. I am happier, more balanced and more powerful.” If I take widowhood out of the equation and the temporary (I hope) sadness that comes with it I would agree with what May is saying here and I would chime in, "me too!" Old age comes with a lot of intrinsic advantages if you’re open to embracing them. In the same book she also wrote: “In the middle of the night, things well up from the past that are not always cause for rejoicing---the unsolved, the painful encounters, the mistakes, the reasons for shame or woe. But all, good or bad, give me food for thought, food to grow on.”  I guess I would reshape the idea by saying the more pain and lows we’ve experienced in life the more opportunities we have to evolve into an empathic, thought-provoking and wise person as we age. Of course, it could go the other way, too, and we could let life beat us down and become bitter, resentful and crotchety. Somewhere along the line we all have to make a decision on how we process our pasts and use them to drive the rest of our lives. What’s your choice? Do you want to be a thistle or a rose?  ©

“We have to dare to be ourselves,
however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
May Sarton

6 comments:

  1. I'm a big May Sarton fan and especially enjoyed the journals. The House By the Sea was my favorite -- I reread it so often that my copy finally just fell apart in my hands.

    I think a lot of people were surprised at some research that was published a couple of years ago showing that the highest levels of happiness were reported by people in their seventies. Perhaps it's because, by this point in our lives, we know who we are. -Jean

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  2. With your love of gardening I can sure see why you connect with May Sarton. I've just recently discovered her. Her journal, At Seventy, really speaks to and for me.

    That's interesting about the study and judging by my whole little circle of friends and family in their seventies, the results doesn't really surprise me. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thank you for this lovely reminder. I wish to be a rose, a Rose! But there have been days in my journey through grief,in particular, where I have been fully aware that it could go either way - that I could grow either way. Knowing how to nurture a soft, beautiful attitude, despite life's hardships, seems like something that I will continue to work on for the rest of my life...but it's something I choose to work on. And by the way, I'll be you look adorable in your Crocs.

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  4. Thanks for the comment and compliment. I love Crocs so much it's almost embarrassing. On the serious side, knowing that we have periods in our lives when we have to make a conscious choice to be a rose or thistle is half the battle. We can't change anything if we don't first acknowledgement that we want to pick one path over another.

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  5. I have been reading your posts--past and present all morning long, after finding your blog last night. Your words speak to me--we seem at the same stage--moving forward, inch-by-inch. I must get these May Sarton writings--they too speak to my soul. I am SO glad I found you!!! Oh--I am a rose--with an occasional thorny attitude day. :-)

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  6. I'm glad you found me! It's always fun/interesting/comforting to find someone who seems to be in the same stage of moving forward after the death of a loved one. I can't read often at widow support sites anymore because they make me feel like Mary Poppins by comparison.

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