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

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Are You Ready for a Sunday Morning Sermon?



 
 “I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life.' I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  
― Maya Angelou

Isn’t that a great quote? Maya Angelou---in case you just came to earth on a space ship and don’t know these things---was (and still is) a world renowned and influential voice in our time, not to me in a direct way but as a woman there are certain things she achieved in life that all women have reaped the rewards from as she carved her wide path around the globe. She was a woman of many talents---an actress, dancer, producer, screenwriter, author, poet and Civil Rights Activist. Some of the awards and honors she’s received include: twenty-one honorary college degrees, The Mother Teresa Award, Induction into the Woman’s National Hall of Fame, a Pulitzer Prize, two Grammy awards, The Norman Mail Lifetime Achievement Prize, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. I could keep going and fill up another paragraph but you get the idea. She made good use of her 86 years on earth.

There is one fact, though, that I’ll bet a lot of people don’t know about her. She was a mute for five years following a brutal rape when she seven years old and the rape lead to the killing of her rapist by a family member. She had told her brother the name of the rapist and in her child’s mind her voice caused the chain of events that followed. During those five years when she didn’t speak she was an avid reader and she learned to love the melodic voice and imagery of her southern minister. Can you see how that nugget of love grew? Another not so well-known fact about Maya Angelou is how she got started writing. She was at a point in her life where she thought she was going crazy and might harm herself so she went to a psychiatric hospital and tried to get help from a young doctor there, a white woman who she didn’t think could understand her. So she confided to her voice teacher who told her to get a ballpoint pen and a yellow pad of paper and “write down your blessings.” The rest is history. The power of gratitude saved her sanity and gave the world a voice that brought us wonderful quotes to savor like: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.”

It’s no secret that Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey were good friends. It’s no secret that I’ve been a long-time fan of Oprah though I know some of my conservative friends and family don’t understand her gravitational pull. She was actually the first black person I got to know---via TV but still from all accounts she’s the same off camera as she is on camera. I like her personality. I like that she’s a highly moral and self-made woman who spends her philanthropic money in ways that uplift others…like building schools in Africa, her Angel Network charity, the work she did to bring about the Child Protection Law that Bill Clinton signed into law (nicknamed Oprah’s Law) and all her other global humanitarian causes that she gives time and money towards. I like that there are strong women like Maya and Oprah who didn’t have the world handed to them on a silver platter but who grew up to be great role models for girls and woman everywhere. I like that this widow can find quotes by these two women to inspire me. Like the following words from Maya’s book, Letter to my Daughter, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

With the problems in the Middle East----the bombings, destruction and attempts to commit genocide---and with the hate, stupidity and obstruction going on here at home in our politics, with the trouble brewing in the Old Soviet Union all contributing to an undercurrent of world tension it seems like a good day for me to go back to my roots and write one of my Sunday Morning Gratitude Essays---nicknamed my Sunday Sermons by those who read them back in my stroke caregiver mentoring days. When I first started blogging, when my husband was two years out from his stroke, I wrote several years’ worth of Sunday Sermons as an attempt to keep balance in my life. Gratitude is a powerful force and that is something the two women above have learned and passed on to all who will listen. Today, I’m hearing them loud and clear…. Today I am grateful I am able to spend the morning writing. Today I am grateful that yesterday I was finally able to build a bottle tree in the back yard to keep the evil spirits away.  Today I am just grateful to be me, living in a safe place. ©


Note: The bottle tree at the top is not mine, mine is just twelve bottles on a metal bottle tree frame held in place by a pile of rocks. But I have a small tree in the back yard that is dying and instead of  mourning its impeding death I've decided I will look forward to a time when it can be make to look like the photo above. In the meantime I'm hoping to find some wine lovers to share their empty blue bottles with me.
  

23 comments:

  1. Jean :

    no wonder I have pull for your blogs. I love oprah, maya angeleou & not to mention oprah's super soul sunday series on her OWN network. after your sunday sermons stopped I love watching super soul sunday every sunday, I don't watch any other shows on her network but super soul sunday & now made my husband also watch sometimes with me. I love Maya angeloes another line when you know better you do better, I find that line highly forgiving & encouraging.

    Asha

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    1. Thanks for sharing that! I'm glad I wrote this blog if for no other reason than I just learned about Oprah's Super Soul Sundays. I just started getting the OWN channel a few weeks ago and haven't had time to explore what's on it. I can't tell you how many times I have repeated that line about "when you know better, you do better." It fits so many situations, like when people are beating themselves up over something and need to forgive themselves. Or another version of if she/he had known better they would have done better---that covers everything from abusive parents to a whole list of stuff.

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    2. P.S. I knew you'd remember those old Sunday Sermons of mine. LOL

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  2. I didn't get to church this morning so I would enjoy your Sunday Sermon. I love Maya Angelou, can't stand Oprah. Used to like her--don't anymore. I did not know those things about Maya--thanks for the info.

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    1. A lot of conservatives quit watching and liking her when she publicly backed Obama. As influential and rich as she was/is it sent a message that was perceived in a scary way by some on the right. Also, in her earlier years, it was easier to think of her as "just one of us" but in later years when her extreme wealth and lavish parties became more obvious, that shifted her to "one of them" for some x-fans. That doesn't bother me...she earned her money but some see it as flaunting it. I haven't seen much of her in recent years myself but, to me, she still deserves a lot of respect and praise for what she's accomplished in her life.

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  3. I love this post, Jean, and I'm a big fan of Maya's and Oprah's for all the reasons you mentioned. I've always known but have recently had a number of life lessons that brought home the power of gratitude. It can transform your life, as you know. I get the OWN channel, and I set up 'Oprah Prime' and 'Oprah Next Chapter' to record on DVR. That way I never miss them.

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    1. Back in the first/second year after Don's stroke I don't think I would have gotten through that time period without a major stroke or breakdown of my own if not for Oprah's emphasis on gratitude topics. Because of her I started a gratitude journal and wouldn't go to bed without writing at least five things in it each night. For many nights that list of five included tiny things like it was finally bedtime. Eventually I found myself saying through out the day, "I could write that down in the gratitude journal." It saved my sanity.

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  4. Just the right topic for me this morning. I kinda kept my Oprah crush a secret .. but I feel I can join right in here! I read an anti-Oprah biography a few years ago ... still think she does amazing things.

    She has bought a LOT of the island of Maui which makes people there grumble. They all got above average prices so what the ??? She has started an organic farm there which will benefit all of us, in my mind. Honestly, she tries to be as normal as possible. We saw her and a small group of friends at a restaurant there!

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    1. I knew she started an organic farm but I didn't realize it was so close to your 1/2time home. The trouble with living any place that is as beautiful as Maui or Nantucket or the Caribbean is there is always going to be rich people who come in and buy up property. Better her than someone who'd turn it into a big resort with lots of traffic flying in an out.

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  5. On a day that began with frustration near the boiling point, the reminder to count my blessings (which are many!) was very timely. Thanks for helping me get some needed perspective. This post also makes me want to go back and read some Maya Angelou. -Jean

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    1. Gratitude is such a simple concept yet it's so easy for us all to get caught up in life's little frustrations that we lose the big picture, don't we.

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  6. well here it is wednesday and i am just getting here but baptists go to church on wednesdays too! ha ha

    good words of wisdom.

    hugs, bee
    oxoxox

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    1. I did not know that about Baptists. LOL

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  7. I am a HUGE Oprah and Maya fan, for the reasons you outline. I discovered Maya when taking a Women in Literature class in college and reading "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". It moved me to my core. Oprah's Super Soul Sunday show is a must-watch at my house. Feeling melancholy today, this post boosted me…to be reminded of strong, smart women who have come from less advantaged origins than I and have thrived and influenced so many. It's inspiring to me to get out of my own way and LIVE FULLY in GRATITUDE, no matter the occasional bouts with the blues. Plus, that bottle tree is so cool!

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    1. Isn't that an awesome bottle tree! Even my little one with half green bottles and half blue looks great in the sunlight...just makes me smile.

      Oprah and Maya have such good messages and stories to tell. I'm always surprised by some of the hateful things I see posted about them online. Jealously? Not sure where that comes from....

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  8. Jealousy or fear? I find that when hateful things are spoken, written, shouted, etc. it tends to come from a place of fear about loss of something or other -- the status quo, long-held beliefs, one-sided values. I don't know. There are sure plenty of folks I disagree with…some of them quite vehemently, but rarely am I moved to be vile and hateful. I don't get it.

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    1. Probably both are at play in difference degrees in different people. I'm like you in that I can vehemently disagree with someone but rarely am I moved to hateful or vile. In fact I'd have to think long and hard to come up with something in my life that would fit that description.

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  9. Oh…also, I have a musician friend who lives on Maui. He was asked to perform as an accompanist with another musician he knew for Oprah's 50-something BD (about 3 yrs ago I think) -- a private affair hosted by Maria Shriver at a resort in Maui. He said Oprah is EXACTLY the same in private as in public. Kind, smart, sort of goofy and very gracious. He said it was just Oprah and some of her gal pals and they had a wonderful time.

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    1. That doesn't surprise me in the least.

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  10. OOOPS! Your last post was taken down? Talk! Why? What? Who? When?

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    1. It just had so much stuff about my financial life in that post, I decided not to leave it up. Nearly all my close blogging friends had seen it anyway.

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    2. Oh! But I think you need to post a do-over!!!!

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    3. It's just in a draft. I could/may bring it back when it drops off the first page.

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