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, March 6, 2015

Personal Brands and Busy Widows



They say spring is coming and I’ve started thinking about buying some new clothes. I don’t do that very often compared to most women I've known. I have clothes that are old enough to collect pensions, but I could use a smaller size. I do have some things in boxes that will fit but they’re up high on a shelf. However, unless my orthopedic doctor changes his mind when I see him next week, that’s where they’ll have to stay until the end of May when my post-surgery restrictions are lifted. A decade or less ago I started writing the year I purchase a new garment on its labels. Why, I don’t know. I do crazy things like that and try to justify my actions later on. Later hasn’t landed yet and until it does, I’ll keep dating my clothes---that sounds weird. Blue pantsuit, would you like to go out for dinner sometime?

Since I need some new clothes I thought I’d do a little research. God knows I could use a style concept that doesn’t include sweat pants taking the place of the “little black dress”---good for all occasions by dressing them up or down with accessories. Should I wear the black tennis shoes or the hot pink ones? Okay, I don’t have a pair of black tennis shoes but not for lack of trying. Some of the color combinations those companies put on running shoes are god-awful. My feet are not my best feature why call attention to them? If my foot doctor had his way I’d be wearing running shoes them 24/7. Get this: he actually wants me to put them on just to go the bathroom in the middle of the night. If I took the time for that---well, you know where this is going. Not going to happen. Needless to say, my wardrobe choices are strongly influenced by my shoes. No sexy high heel shoes for me. No strappy sandals. I do cheat and wear a lot of Crocs and when I do I hope Mr. Good-Looking-Podiatrist never sees me out in public.  

In my research of what’s hot this year I ran across something called “personal branding.” What? I’m not Jessica London, Jackie Collins or what’s-her-name---the lady who turned her big butt into a brand all its own. Okay, that was cattie.  Bad, Jean! Bad! The point is why do ordinary people living ordinary lives need a personal brand? One website that sells workbooks for you to figure out what your personal brand is claims a personal brand is like a calling card, it’s “how people will experience you.” We’re supposed to “deliver our brands clearly to make it easier for others to get to know us.” Okay, isn’t that just another way to say we need to be authentic? The workbooks help you to discover your unique strengths and talents, your values, passions and purpose in life. I’ve got news for workbook people: if I don’t already know these things about myself, it’s a little too late in life for a trip inside myself to do any good. I think the idea of creating a personal brand is silly. We’re always evolving, always changing so why should we pigeonhole ourselves? And if I wanted to brand myself as a deep thinking what am I supposed to do, sit around naked like Rodin’s The Thinker sculpture? That’s not the kind of wardrobe change I have in mind. Note: It’s only in my warped world that wardrobes and personal branding are used interchangeably. A wardrobe can enhance your branding but it not your branding. 

The newsletter from the senior hall came in the mail recently and that always prompts me to sit right down and read all fourteen pages so I can get my RSVPs in right away. They get filled up quickly. My April and May RSVPs include: a restaurant hop along Lake Michigan, a day trip to an underground railroad museum, two luncheons, five lectures (on the following topics: baseball during the Civil War, making granola, selling and buying a house, President Lincoln, and the history of the Detroit Tigers) and I signed up for my first ever an “off Broadway” musical, a Beatles Tribute at the preforming arts center. I also signed up to help with spring cleaning at the senior hall and I volunteered to help with the May luncheon. There were so many things to choose from it was hard to narrow down my choices! You can't do everything the senior hall offers and still have time to do what needs to be done in the other areas of your life.

The temperature tonight is supposed to dip to two above but temperatures in the 40s are in the ten day forecast. I can almost taste spring coming even though the world outside my window is still a blanket of white. Makes me glad I don’t live in Russia. With my tendency towards writing irrelevant and irreverent things I’d probably get banished to Siberia. Wait! Did I just brand myself as an irrelevant widow with bad feet, a closet full of old clothes, and a desire to sit naked on top of a block of marble? ©

14 comments:

  1. I love the idea of putting a date on the label of new clothes. If I'd done that I think I could cover almost half a century in my wardrobe. But I was putting on a favourite pair of pale yellow Liz Claiborne jeans this week, thinking they looked and felt quite smart. And if I'd written the year on the label when I bought them in Manila in 1996, maybe I wouldn't have felt as good. (The amount of Liz Claiborne gear I managed to acquire during the two years I worked in the Philippines makes me doubt the authenticity of the label anyway. But who cares about authenticity, as long as the things with her name on them feel as comfy as they do. Obviously someone there was making good long-wearing clothes - no matter what his/her real name was!)

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    1. I think you would have been more proud of those jeans if you had dated them. You'd know that you picked a classic style that you still love and got your money's worth out of them. Not to mention that you are the same size you were nine years ago.

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  2. I don't have any old clothes. I wear them for several years and then out they go. Styles change and sometimes I just get bored with the same old thing. Never thought of dating my clothes though. It might be interesting to see how little time I spent with them.

    Sounds like you've some fun adventures this spring/summer. Good for you.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. :)

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    1. Old habits die hard. I could never bring myself to get rid of clothes that are still in good shape. I buy mostly classic styles so that isn't an issue.

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  3. LOL on that very last sentence. You crack me up sometimes... which is a very good thing. If you can make someone laugh, you've done your job for the day. At least that's my way of thinking.

    I'm impressed with the kinds of things and the variety of things that your senior center offers. I would love the restaurant hop along Lake Michigan, a day trip to an underground railroad museum, and the "Off Broadway Musical." How interesting or fun those choices are. I wish I lived near you. I would tag along.

    I've gotten better about purging my closet, but could still improve. The different sizes thing is an ongoing problem. I'm always afraid to get rid of the sizes that I can't wear. You never know. I could need them again. Sigh.

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    1. You would love the garden tours I passed up this time. I passed on several 12 hour day trips and stuck to the shorter day trips because of Levi. They also had a car museum tour I passed on because I'd been there many times with Don.

      We've talked about the different sizes in the closet before and I'm not sure I'll ever get over feeling the need to keep what no longer fits. Sigh is right!

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  4. I worked in a correctional facility for many years and we had some restrictions on our clothing (no green because that was what the inmates wore), no writing on clothing, and no jeans (too informal) After I while I settled into a mostly black or dark blue wardrobe. In retirement I have slipped back into blue jeans and sweatshirts but do not get rid of clothing that is still in good condition and I like so I do still have drawers full of black shirts!
    I, too, just signed up for the spring senior classes which include Socrates and the examined life and Line Dancing (very much out of my comfort zone but I was hoping it would help me feel more comfortable with rhythm while playing my flute!)
    And I sincerely hope that this is the last time that I will have to rant about this but I was so disappointed to wake up this morning and hear -12 degrees. They said we had forty days in a row without going above freezing. Here's hoping next week will bring some warmth!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I would love, love, love the Socrates class! Line dancing would be fun, too.

      I'll bet you have some interesting stories to tell about your years at the correctional facility. If you ever start a blog, be sure to let me know.

      We've set records regarding the cold, too. I think we're all going to feel better in a couple of weeks. Even 40 sounds like heaven right now.

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  5. I so seldom wear dresses anymore, but with the Classic style I always bought, if a funeral comes up, they still look good. I can remember in 1992, I didn't even own a pair of jeans. I always wore slacks. Now--jeans and sweatshirts are all I wear around the house. If I go out to go to the grocery store, I usually pull off the sweatshirt and put on a sweater. I'm just happy to hear that short hair and pixie cuts for women are coming back in style--at least my hair will be styling! HAH

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    1. I remember the post you did where you showed us your dresses and suits. They are so classic and classy you can wear them anywhere. You had great taste when you bought them.

      I used to wear jeans all the time, too, but now I find sweats more comfortable. I started wearing them after my husband had his stroke and he had no other choice but to wear them....if he wanted to be able to dress himself and go to to bathroom by himself and not get seam sores like what happens to people in wheelchairs. I didn't feel right dressing in jeans then when he missed wearing them and his cowboy boots so much.

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  6. Jean, LOL, I'm not sure that going around naked with your chin resting on your palm all the time would brand you as a deep thinker. I can't believe a borderline OCD type like myself never thought of dating my clothes. For many years, I bought all my clothes at L.L. Bean, because they fit both my body and my lifestyle and seemed to last forever (all things that have changed since they changed their business model a number of years ago), and I always seemed to look like a walking 10-year-old L.L. Bean catalog.
    We are having three days in a row here of temperatures in the forties, and it may even hit 50 on Wednesday. I'm thinking of getting my shorts out. -Jean

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    1. Sorry to hear that naked chin holding wouldn't brand me correctly. LOL

      I love L.L.Bean. If I had the guts to get rid of everything in my closet all at one time, I would order a whole wardrobe from them. I do already have a lot of things from them. Their styles are classic enough that no one could guess which year of their catalog you're walking around in.

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  7. So glad I'm up early...still dark out...reading your blog. I've been in a funk lately and I forgot that reading you makes me smile. That last sentence...funny! :)

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    1. You've got that empty nest thing going on in your life. The funk will pass....

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