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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Life Enrichment for Widows and Panda Bears



It’s no secret that I’ve been infected with cabin fever since before Christmas. Not to worry. It’s not contagious, at least not through a computer monitor. If you were sitting beside me I‘d make no such promise. But that’s irrelevant at this point in time because today my fever broke! I got to talk to people whose voices didn’t come through landlines, cables and satellites and I no longer feel like I’m the last real person left on earth. Earlier this week the Life Enrichment lecture at the senior hall got canceled because the wind chills here were twenty-something below zero. Then yesterday I got an email announcing it had been re-scheduled and the gods of snowfalls took a day off, so I got to go play in the neighborhood today. Life enrichment, here I come!

The Life Enrichment lectures are always interesting, captivating and---well---life enriching with their eclectic variety of topics. One time it might be a presentation by someone who had sailed around the world in a two-man sailboat and the next time the talk and slide show might be presented by someone who had walked across America, or who weaves, dyes and collects handmade fiber-art. This month’s lecture was presented by a guy who writes travel and history books about out-of-the-way places, festivals and small towns in Michigan. Today his talk was focused on oddities and rarities around the state and he sure made us laugh enough times to make us all go home feeling uplifted and happy. Cookies from Trader Joe's did a lot to cure my cabin fever as well. I could throw a sleeping bag under one of their display tables and happily live there for the rest of my life. I’m glad I have to travel a couple of hours to get to a Trader Joe's. If not, I’d be fat enough to sit in an off-the-midway circus tent collecting quarters from kids who've come to gawk.

One of the mysteries Mr. Rademacher talked about was an object that was found in a copper mine up north in 1801 and eventually ended up in a tiny town museum marked ‘unknown tool’. Two hundred years after it was found, a professor from Chicago came through the museum and asked if he could borrow the curious object. His wish was granted and he sent the tool to a Vikings ship museum in Norway and, yup, he was right. It was authenticated as a circa 890 AD Vikings ship building tool only used in one small, isolated place on earth. Did Gokstad Vikings ships ever sail the Great Lakes and maybe one got ship wretched near the mining area? Who put the tool down in the mine? How did a six-seven inch long, square shaped stone with one end wrapped in metal that was pegged in place survive for so many centuries without someone throwing it away? Every object tells a story and every life enrichment lecturer has an interesting object in their arsenal to act as seed for thought.

Life Enrichment. When you google the topic you’ll find a lot of stuff aimed at senior citizens like me. Some call it social-therapy. You know, get the old people out of their houses where they have opportunities for socializing and learning, for exchanging "person-centered philosophy" (is there any other kind?) and to find benchmarks to use to measure our involvement in life up against. Yadda, yadda, yadda. When I was younger we called them leisure time classes but, now, be a senior citizen taking a tai chi or quilting class or going to a lecture and you’re enriching yourself. Why can’t some people just be life-long learners without having to put a new shade of lipstick on the same pig every couple of decades?

Later this afternoon, as I do often, I went to the Atlanta Zoo panda cam site and one of the mammal keepers had written: “It's always a fun experience seeing how different animals enjoy new enrichment like snow.”  (As most of us know, Atlanta got one of their rare snowfalls this week.) The young twins were not allowed outside like the older pandas but the keepers brought them a pan of snow to play with inside their den and they took to the white stuff with enthusiasm. She said, “They were eating the snow and shoving each other’s faces in it.” When you think about it, that’s not much different than what we seniors were doing today with our enrichment. We ate it up like you’d expect people suffering with cabin fever to do and after the lecture was over we oohed and aahed over the rare and odd things we’d just heard as we milled around shoving cookies in our faces. ©

 

7 comments:

  1. Life Enrichment in January of each year, appears to be going to doctor's and having blood tests--to see if my life will last until next year. Actually, to have a doc tell me I will most likely live another 20 years, or that I am 7 years younger then my biological age is very Life Enriching for me, LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, Judy! That would enrich my life, too, if a doctor told me that.

      Delete
    2. CONGRATS! Best life enriching news of all (although the Panda babies are a close second)

      Delete
  2. It's easier to enjoy the little things in life that you treasure after being stuck inside for days on end!

    Our life enrichment option on Maui is called The Cerebral Cafe! Can't wait to discover my Oregon connection!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Holy cow, Judy. And I'm always worried that something will happen to you, and there will be no one to come on your blog and let us know. Guess I need to get someone lined up for me instead of you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This cracked me up: "Why can’t some people just be life-long learners without having to put a new shade of lipstick on the same pig every couple of decades?" I guess we should be glad someone is even thinking of ways to keep us off the street, but it would be nice if everyone and everything didn't have to be labeled.

    I alternately found this post inspirational and funny. I'm going to google "life enrichment" in my area. I really need to get signed up for something. I'd like something in photography or history or local interests. We have a lot of history around here. So glad your lecture was re-scheduled. I can't believe how many of your events were cancelled this winter or the weather prevented attendance. Hopefully you will have an early spring. Fingers crossed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Check your local museum and library when you're looking for "enrichment." Our little, near-by museum has a lecture once a month and the main library has a ton of stuff each month. Between the senior hall and the museum I've seen some first rate lectures. I'll be looking for a photography class, too.

      Delete