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, May 1, 2015

Serendipitous Opportunities, Meet the Widow



I’m old so I’m allowed to repeat myself or I should say people will tolerate old people who repeat things and the next paragraph is one of those times. It was written a few months after my husband died, when a couple of serendipitous opportunities found me. Recently that happened again. But before I share them, the next paragraph explains the origin of the word 'serendipity.'

In 2004, according to Wikepedia, the word ‘serendipity’ was voted one the ten hardest English words to translate. It’s been around since 1754 when it was coined by an Englishman, Horace Walpole, after he had read an ancient Persian fairy tale set in a country called Serendip or Serendippo depending on the translation. The heroes in the Three Princes of Serendip were always making discoveries by accident in their quest to track a lost ‘camel’ they’d never seen. Thus the word ‘serendipity’ was born to describe happy accidents or good luck finding things we’re not actually looking for in our travels through life.

As mentioned in my last post, after a lecture on “Mr. Lincoln’s War” I got recruited to join The Daughters of Union Veterans of the American Civil War along with eight others who attended the lecture. A few days later their president called and gave me more details. They are a group of forty women who meet monthly at the veteran’s home and they’ve done things like photograph all the gravesites of local Civil War vets for the website, Grave Finders. Anyone who’s done genealogy work knows how handy that website is. They also tend those graves for Memorial Day and they set up a booth at all the summer events that take place at the veteran’s home where they hand out---of all things---snow cones. In my wildest dreams I never would have guessed my future could include peddling snow cones to a bunch wounded warriors. I might join the group (did I mention that?) I’m not sure because their meeting day often conflict with things I enjoy doing at the senior hall.

An old neighbor of mine, who was widowed a year after me, volunteers twice a week at the vet’s home and she says it's rewarding to be around guys who love the female attention she gives. Me, I’m not so sure it won’t give me flashbacks to my wheelchair pushing years. I say that because when I go with my Red Hat chapter to provide entertainment at a nursing home a few times a year it's uncomfortable getting such an up-close and personal look at my past and future. It might happen at the vet’s home, too. When my husband’s mother was in a home and I didn’t feel that way about our visits, but that was different. I was younger and didn’t look like the residences and fear a nurses’ aide would stop me at the door, wanting to keep me locked inside. Maybe I should put low lights in my hair again and start wearing skirts short enough to show off my privates. Maybe then I could blend in the other visitors at the care facilities in my life. I’m quite sure the vets would appreciate those changes in my personal presentation. Red panties, here I come!

Something else serendipitously fell into my lap this week; I got invited to join a start-up writers’ group. Mostly poets but some short story writers, too. I don’t know what to call what I write. ‘Memoir’ would be the closest and who knows how that will go over in a mixed age group. I’m going to try it, but I must admit it scares the crap out of me because at each monthly meeting we’ll be required to read something we’ve been working on. I’ve only been in one writers critiquing club in my life, but serendipity stepped in my path again so I’ll see how this opportunity works out. For the first meeting I’m taking a poem and one of my tongue-in-cheek 'Sunday Sermons' and I’ll decide on the spot which one to read based on who will be listening and what the others have shared. Scary, or not it’s good to kick yourself out of your comfort zones from time to time, and it just might keep me away from the humane society. That place is calling my name again! I worry that Levi my mighty schnauzer needs a sibling. But I should probably wait until I get those low lights and short skirts before going to the shelter because they don’t give youngish dogs to old people. People my age are expected to take the canine nursing home editions and Levi needs a 5-6 year old playmate. ©


Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. 
Without risk, nothing new ever happens. 
Without trust, fear creeps in. 
Without serendipity, there are no surprises.

Rita Golden Gelman

14 comments:

  1. Looks like you're going to have a busy summer. Good for you.

    I repeat myself all the time, and that's just they way it is.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺

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  2. I love it! You ARE branching out. It would scare the crap out of me to share my writing in person. I blush at the drop of a hat and would probably burst a blood vessel. I like to have one event on my calendar every day. Some days it's a pretty small thing. But I feel so productive when I can cross off something.

    Congratulations!

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    1. I'm still trying to figure out how many events/things I need on my calendar each week to be happy. Every day is a bit much for me---feels like a job sometimes or like I'm living in a hotel. LOL

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  3. I have always been much better at giving constructive criticism than at getting it. I guess that's why I became a teacher ;-). Two bits of encouragement: (1) I have one published book to my name and the editor Stanford University Press assigned to work on the final polishing was amazing; it was both humbling and exciting to see my writing transformed into something that was still written in my voice, but better. (2) Toni Morrison would not have followed through on finishing her great first novel, The Bluest Eye if she wasn't required to bring something with her to each meeting of her writing group. This really sounds like an exciting opportunity. -Jean

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    1. Thank you! I will keep these things in mind if someone wants to tear my work apart and put it back together. Actually, I've been in many art classes that were critiqued and I was always the better for it. So I'm hoping/thinking it will be the same with writing.

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    2. In one writing class I attended the instructor had us critique each other in 3rd person, i.e.. "I believe what he writer is saying here..." or "I'd like the writer to delve deeper about her conflict with the neighbor..." It really helped hear the critique in a more objective, less personalized way.

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    3. That makes sense to use the 3rd person when critiquing. That's brilliant!

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  4. It seems that Spring has brought many budding opportunities to you. I hope they are good. I never imagined that I would be playing a musical instrument and I never imagined that I would be willing to play in front of other people but I do. I was given good advice a while ago...it is not about you - it is about the music. Similarly it is about the words and the way that you put them together to create a piece.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. What great advice you got and I do think could apply to all creative outlets---art, music and writing.

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  5. I put a comment in, but it disappeared! I was in a wrirting group a few years, and it was obvious I was the oldest member, but I loved it!!! Also, if you wear your short skirt and red panties to the Vets home, remember to bed over--a lot! You will bring new life to the older guys! You scamp!

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    1. We shall see if I love it or not. The writers' group meets on the 12th. The first one I was in was run by an egotistic guy who dominated the time with his work. I don't think the woman who runs this one will do that, though. I think she'll be a good facilitator.

      I was thinking the vets would be "old guys" too (our age) but I guess they have a younger guys, too. I kid but I really don't think any of those guys would want to see aging legs and panties. LOL

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  6. Red Panty Society! Love it! Also... seriously...I love all the things you do. You ARE a risk-taker and your curiosity and willingness to try new things is inspiring. I've been in several writing groups, most of them friendly and encouraging. One was rather brutal and I didn't last long...one can be helpful without being thoughtless, in my opinion. I call my writing "personal essay", but memoir works too. Keep on keepin' on, Jean...and let us know how it goes.

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    1. You know, there really is a Red Panty Society and a Purple Panty Society as well.

      I've never thought of myself as a risk taker...thought you had to do zip lines and sky diving for that title and I have a friend in another state (my age) who does both. But I guess I do push myself out of my little comfort zone so I see your point. Oh to be sure, I'll write about the writers group.

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