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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Coming Full Circle

For 32 years, in my hometown there was an annual silver treasure hunt compliments of a guy I went all the way through high school with. Each week of the contest the newspaper printed a new clue in the form of a riddle and as long as no one found the business card sized medallion the clues kept coming. As many as 60,000+ people took part at its height of popularity and one year it took 17 weeks for someone to solve the puzzle. To win all you needed was a city map and the knowledge that the treasure could be found in a public assessable place within walking distance of bus stops. Here’s an example of a clue: “Perhaps riding a bicycle, perhaps not. But how he got there is important. He knew that, it changed a lot of things. If you are the first one to know, you'll find it. If you look that is. It is near a sign of change.”

Until last night in my dreams, I’ve never taken part in the treasure hunt but I had read the riddles over the years and wondered how anyone could ever find something that small in such a big city with so little to go on. I hadn’t seen any coverage of the contest since January when it was announced there would be no more hunts, and I hadn’t been thinking about high school or my old classmate, so why on earth was my dream life inventing the shadows of two electrical wires that only crossed at high noon where I found the winner's medallion? Why was my deceased husband very much alive in my dream and helping me find the prize? Doesn’t it just bug the heck out of you when you spend half the morning trying to figure out what your subconscious mind or dream life was trying to tell you, if anything at all? Dreams drives me nuts when I can't unravel them.

Today I took my first art lesson in over 40 years. I had to bring some photos of work I’d done way back when and a few drawings that I did this past week so the art instructor could get a gauge of what I need to work on, where I need to start to get back to where I was when I was a serious student of art. Last weekend when I did my “present day” sketches I shocked myself and made some passable, quick-sketch line portraits right out of the gate. I literally had not done anything drawing or painting in decades. The Professor must have agreed with my passable assessment because he said my drawing "doesn’t need work" so he started right out teaching me the ins and outs of working with Prismacolor pencils, the media we had determined when I set up the classes that I would use. They aren’t as messy as using oils---my first love---but I plan to work my way up to oils again. I just don’t have a place in the house right now to make into a designated studio and I’m getting too old to wait until I do before attempting to return to my roots.

The only downside of today’s two hour class was that the instructor played Christian music in the background the entire time. I can appreciate that it might inspire some people to paint wonderful, flowing lines and I can handle listening to several songs in a row from the genre but this non-Christian found it annoying after the first hour. I don’t understand why someone trying to build up a brand new business doesn‘t pick a “neutral” type of background music that appeals to a broader customer base. But that’s West Michigan. It’s not an uncommon practice around here. Of course there are a lot of things I don’t understand when it comes to music choices…like why do some nitwit kids think it’s perfectly okay to play hard rock at full volume when the boss walks out the door and you have to yell your order to the waitresses? I guess I want the whole world of public places to play vanilla pudding music. Think Stepford Wives who glide around in public, all harmonious and happy. No one’s annoyed, no one’s ear drums are getting blasted into early deafness. No one is driven to commit a homicide or to have sex in public because "the music made them do it." Vanilla pudding. ©


A Quick Sketch From the Past

14 comments:

  1. Oh gosh! What talent!!!! I'm glad you are getting back into this wonderful hobby. Hooray!

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  2. Thank you! It should fill up a lot of hours next winter when I have a lot of hours to fill up.

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  3. Jean :

    you are such a talented artist. after my stroke I thought I should learn watercolor painting & instead of enjoying class it was stressing me out for ruining the paper lol. though I did enjoy economics & accounting courses more than that water color paining. I guess I was left brain dominant even prestroke & luckily still am post stroke. hope to see your completed picture soon.

    Asha

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  4. Asha, you picked the hardest media to try! Watercolor was always stressful to me, too. It does not forgive your mistakes like oils, pastel or acrylics and you can't cover them up. I would never suggest it to beginners I admire your math abilities. That is not my strong suit.

    Does your son graduate this year or was that last year?

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  5. Jean he will graduate high school next year can you believe my baby is driving & will fly away from nest next year, luckily my stroke taught me valuable lesson to not get attached to my role playing. you might remember how worthless I felt after my job loss thanks to stroke had it not been you & others to pick me up I would not have come out alive of that adversity. Thank you so much for being there for all of us.

    love & hugs
    Asha

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    1. I fully believe you would have made it out of your adversity on your own, but it just might have taken you a little longer. You taught your son valuable, lifelong lessons as he watched your journey. I hope you have a plan and/or goals for how you're going to handle your empty nest when it comes. He's such a special kid, you're going to need one!

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  6. WOW--that picture is wonderful!!! I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler--kid you not!! You are over there on the side of the State with the Dutch Reform--right? Even I, a Christian, would not want to listen to that for 2 solid hours. Even I, a Classical Music lover, would not want to listen to it for 2 hours, nor Country, nor Oldies Rock and Roll. I probably would appreciate no music at all or just a nice soft sound of rain or ocean waves.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I'm in the heart of the Dutch Reform. Nice people but straight laced and serious people.

      I'm the same way. I can not listen to the same type of music for long periods of time. I prefer mixed genres or no music at all.

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  7. Those are neat renditions. Did you work from a photograph or from life? I agree the pencil needs to flow when sketching, if only to keep our inner critic from wedging her way in. But the teacher should switch tunes - like you say. Maybe bring in your Smartphone loaded with songs you like, plug in your headphones and sway?

    That dream of yours...this is my interpretation, to be taken with a mound of salt. YOU are the treasure, the prize, or who you are when you figure it out. Don is helping as amply as he can while you follow clues that seem as thin as air and as elusive as fleeting light.

    I love this concept of the treasure hunt. Shall I add 'artist' to your emerging identity?

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    1. The dog was done from a photo---dogs don't sit long enough in one place for me---but the drawing at the bottom was done from real life. The photo was staged by me and was a spoof on Victorian portraits.

      Thanks for the idea about bringing my own music. I have an iPod that I can use if he has the same channel on at my second class.

      I had a similar interpretation of my dream...that the treasure was actually finding or searching for me again through art. But it's still fascinating that our brains would invent such elaborate fantasies or 'activities' from such obscure memories.

      By the way, I'm being to dislike Prismacolor pencils. Very frustrating compared to paint. But we shall see where they lead me....

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  8. I was thinking the same thing about his choice of music for a business. I'm afraid I may be in for some bland book choices in my book club because the group was formed by a group of ladies who attend the same church. I'm withholding judgement for now. They are nice, though, and that was my intention... To meet some nice people.

    Your sketch is beautiful. I hope you share some of your work as you create.

    Dreams are so interesting. I'm always trying to analyze mine.

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    1. I was in a book club where everyone was from the same background and church. The book choices were those planned by the district library and were mostly interesting. But the reactions of those in the club were all very much similar. If someone didn't finish the book because a scene or character offended them, then it was common that it would be 2-3 others did the same thing.

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  9. How exciting that you are taking art classes; getting back to work on old talents that we haven't had time to cultivate in years seems to me one of the joys of this stage of life.
    BTW, I never have subtle dreams because my subconscious knows that I'm too much of a dolt to ever figure them out; it relies instead on symbolism as subtle as a sledge hammer. -Jean

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    1. Thank you, So far I'm frustrated with the media I'm working in but I can always change if it doesn't come together soon. I'm just glad I've made a start again.

      You're probably better off that you don't have subtle dreams. They can waste a lot of time trying to figure them out.

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