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, August 28, 2014

Bones, Bingo and Tai Chi for Widows



 
I always thought if you found me playing bingo you could just put me on a chunk of ice and let me float out to sea the way the some indigenous people used to do to their elderly who were too old to pull their weight in the tribe. So imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting with three bingo cards in front of me for the first time since I was a kid. My, how times change! These cards had sliding tabs to cover the numbers. What happened to the red bingo chips of my youth? And I hear tell they even have handheld electronic gadgets that let you keep track of dozens of cards at one time. Who knew! But I bet you’d like to know how an anti-bingo-no-not me type got roped into playing. I went to a summer potluck at the senior hall and as I was walking out the door a widow friend asked, “You’re not staying for bingo?”

“I’m not a bingo kind of person,” I replied.

“Me neither,” she said, “But I don’t have anything else to do today.”

I got out to the car, put my potluck dish on the back seat and thought: Well, shoot, I don’t have anything else to do either. So I went back inside and sat at a table with bunch of ladies from the Movie and Lunch Club. I was proud of myself because I’m generally not a spontaneous kind of person and I didn’t let my snobbish, stereotype opinion about bingo hold me back. By luck the woman sitting next to me plays bingo 3-4 times a week and she gave me a crash course on playing bingo. Corners, straight line, postage stamp, full card and bingo-the-hard-way are a few of the bingo variations that we played. I also learned she often wins between fifty and a hundred-and-fifty dollars a week playing bingo! A light bulb went on in my head. Some old people must be supplementing their income playing bingo! And here I thought they only played for soup cans and pizza kits. At the senior hall, however, a winning card only brings in one to three dollars. I went home with an extra buck in my wallet and a lot of laughs under my belt. It was fun because the people around me were fun.

Earlier in the week, though, I wasn’t laughing. I woke up with a “slipped” rib causing a stabbing pain with every move, deep breath, yawn or sneeze. Sometimes called a “floating rib” I learned that the 11th and 12th ribs are ribs that are attached to the spine but not to the sternum like all our other ribs and they can slip out of place, putting pressure on internal organs. I also learned that at one time in the history of fashion women had been known to have these ribs removed to help give them a more hour-glass figure. I would have done my own rib surgery the day my rib slipped out of place if I had had a sharp scalpel, a bone saw and someone to hold a mirror up to my back, it hurt that bad. An appointment with the chiropractor, though, took care of the pain in less than five minutes and with no blood spilled or drugs shot up my veins. It was like a mini miracle. Since all stories should have a moral or lesson to teach, this story sings the praises of keeping your core muscles strong so they and the ligaments can help keep your 11th and 12th ribs in place as you age.

Today I was back to the senior center to take a Balance Class where we’ve started doing Tai Chi moves. Or I should say kindergarten Tai Chi as our instructor calls it because we’re required to keep a chair near-by to grab should we lose our balance. Tai Chi moves have some neat names like: the white crane, calming the water, lotus flower and gathering the stars. We also learned the horse stance and the bear walk and when class was done we all thought it was a great work out. By next spring, we kidded, we’ll be good enough to do to Tai Chi barefoot in the park the way they do in the orient. We’ll have our qi (life force or energy) flowing through us because our body’s yin and yang will be in perfect balance. One class and already I can throw around the lingo (hopefully correctly). Pretty cool for an old bag of bones like me, don’t you think. ©

16 comments:

  1. Wow! Fun! Sometimes where we least expect to find it.

    I signed up for Tai Chi starting next week. I hope I can talk the lingo with you. My hope is that it helps stretch and limber and strengthen a few things ... yoga intimidates me because it is so hard to get up and down from the floor.

    And ... I dropped my water color class. I wanted an "introduction" to water colors but this seems more intense. The instructor sent a supply list ... totaling over $200! I don't even know if I would like water colors!!! So I put on my cheapskate hat and withdrew.

    BINGO!

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    1. Yoga intimidated me even when I was younger. Tai Chi was yesterday and I am so sore this morning it isn't funny. Well, it is kind of funny but you know what I mean. At the time you're doing them it doesn't seem like you're getting much of a workout. I've only got another week of Tai Chi/Balance class before I have to take a 3 week break for the Fun with Metaphors class I signed up for, but I've already found some YouTube videos I can use for Tai Chi. I think I'm going to like it. In my Stretch class we use a lot of stretchy bands with chair exercises and you be surprised at how much of a workout they give you.

      Art supplies are expensive these days. You need to find a class like the one day introduction to pastels that I signed up for in October. All the supplies come with the instruction for $40.00 total. Just three hours long but it should help me brush up on the techniques.

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  2. bingo..... my hubby used to call it "oh $hit", he said one person got to say "bingo" and 499 people said the other. he hated it! it's on every cruise ship. i run the other way!

    my trainer exercises my core weekly and i also do it in the pool daily. it's very important. however, that said, i still have a "gut" that won't go away not matter what i do! lol

    smiles, bee
    xoxoxoxoxo

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    1. That's a good one, Bee---Oh Shit! I don't think I'll be a regular at the bingo tables but I was in a silly mood that day and it worked for me then. But I learned something that day and that was good.

      I wish I had a swimming pool. Swimming is the one exercise I actually like to do. But I never could force myself out of a warm bed, on in a cold snowy day to go use a pool so I always drop out which wastes a big bucks membership somewhere.

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  3. Oh, gosh. I have your opinion of Bingo too…and yet there is something of a so "it's so awful, it might be fun" vibe too. Especially with fun people. Maybe I'll have to try it. I tried Tai Chi once, but didn't like the teacher. I do know it's a cool, meditative thing and deceptively difficult.

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    1. That's the attitude I had going into bingo...it's so awful it will be a 'campy' thing to do. I used a lot of self-deprecating humor and over the top excitement which made everyone laugh but I don't know that I could pull that off a second time. Fun but not something I'm likely to repeat...at least not seek out to do.

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  4. Bingo? Not me--ever! (she said, knowing one day "Nursing Home Bingo" will be on her daily activity list). We used kernels of corn the last time I played, LOL.

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    1. That's what I associate with bingo---Nursing homes and kid's camps.

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  5. LOL Yes, pretty good for an old bag of bones like you. Tia Chi is so graceful to watch - I've seen them doing it in China, all ages, all synchronizing the moves. I wonder if it's actually prayer-in-motion, with all this wonderful qi flowing around and the mind in preverbal bliss.

    I meant to comment on your 'date': Flat out fabulous for an old sprite like you, even if the dear man in question was gay. I have a widow friend who laments the normalizing of alternate sexual preferences. Before, they blended in by paling around with women who weren't on the mating hunt. My best friends back in the 1970's were gay - that's when I lived in Greenwich Village and danced the night away at Studio 54. But sadly, aids claimed them.

    So sorry about your >ouch< rib. Amazed the chiropractor fixed it so smartly.

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    1. From my little research into Tia Chi I did learn it's sometimes called Meditation in Motion so you're not far off with your prayer-in-motion. I doubt we old people will ever look graceful but it's a good workout!

      I knew a lot of gays back in the day, too---in the arts and floral business. I'm glad they no longer feel they have to be in the closet which makes dating easier. A lot of girls wasted a lot of time dating guys who were not really available. Remember when gay guys had to have a "cover girlfriend" to make their mom's happy and others from guessing the truth?

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  6. Jean :

    I love reading your blogs and get amazed how you find creative fun things to do in your spare time instead of getting bored. you are great example woman who finds her own happiness & peace in life by trying so many new things ofcourse that requires stepping out of your comfort zone. I am going to follow your example & do things when my kido leave for college, and I encounter my next challenge of being empty nester

    Asha

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    1. Being an empty nester is a major life transition and as such it's good to have a plan on how you can make that transition good, instead of a trigger for depression. Oh my gosh, I can't imagine how hard that will be to see your 'baby' go off to college. You raise them to grow up and be independent but those are just words until it actually happens. You will do fine, though, I know.

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  7. Jean,
    Aren't you the gal about town - Tai Chi and bingo all in the same week. My sister plays bingo, but I never have. Years ago, she even had a dog named Bingo. Of course, I played bingo when I was a kid, but that's been a while. It sounds like what you played is a different animal, maybe a second cousin to the bingo we played as kids. I love how you said, "I went home with an extra buck in my wallet and a lot of laughs under my belt. It was fun because the people around me were fun." Isn't that the truth? It's always about the company you keep. If the company is bad, it could make eating an ice cream cone miserable; if it's good it can make getting a shot between the toes tolerable.

    I'm so glad the chiropractor did the job for your ribs. You're right. The core is very important. Your rib story makes me want to drop and do some planks right now, but I'm too lazy. I need to get over it. I really hate exercise. I did love my yoga class, though. I didn't know they were called floating ribs, but the minute you said that, I saw a photo of a skeleton in my head and, of course, it makes total sense.

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  8. I didn't know that could happen either with a rib. The chiropractor said a lot of people think they are having a heart attack and go to ER which did think about doing. But because it was on the same side of my body as the neck and shoulder pain I thought they were connected.

    I can't believe how sore Tai Chi moves made me. I found some online and have been doing them at home and I hope I can keep them up.

    I'll let you know if I ever do bingo again. LOL



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  9. Just a few days ago, I was doing a search online for Tai Chi classes in my area. This is something I've long wanted to do to improve my balance. (And those names make it even more appealing.) I haven't found a local class yet, but I'll keep looking. -Jean

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  10. The one I'm taking is through the senior hall and is taught by a OT or PT therapist from a hospital and my brother takes a class that actually meets in a small town hospital. They are listing them as a way to improve balance and I can sure see how they can do that! ~ the other Jean LOL

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