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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

End of the Year Dreams



A new year is coming and I’m not entirely happy to end this one and greet another. Where did 2015 go? And the years before that? The days, weeks and months seem to fly by the older I get with me not accomplishing much of anything since becoming a widow. It’s not that I don’t set goals for myself, I do. But they don’t stretch and test me. They don’t make me a better person or give me a sense of purpose. What’s worse I’m not even sure it matters anymore if I drift through my self-indulging days with no structure coming from outside myself. That sounds like I’m suggesting I should want a job or a volunteer position, doesn’t it. Been there, done that and I could make a quilt with the t-shirts. Nope, those doors are closed and no matter how much nagging I might hear inside my head, I’m not opening them again. 

The past few weeks I’m been having trouble sleeping through the night again. I’ll fall asleep around midnight then between four and five dreams-on-steroids wake me up. They are a mixture of my daytime dilemmas and bizarre images that won’t let me fall back to sleep again. This morning’s dream was of my mom with a heavy chain wrapped around her leg that she could have easily removed. She was kneeling next to a brick building on a narrow brick street lined with shoulder-to-shoulder brick buildings as far as the eye could see. The bricks were striking in their pastel buff color. Clean, unadorned and orderly. Dreaming of bricks, according to the dream dictionary, represents one of two things: individual ideas stacking up or putting up a wall to protect or isolate yourself. And dreaming of being chained signifies a need to break free from something---a routine, a relationship, whatever is holding you back. In the dream I asked my mom what she was doing there and all she said before I woke up is, "I have to stay here.” The dream dictionary says that mothers in dreams represent “…the nurturing aspect of your own character. Mothers offer shelter, comfort, life, guidance and protection.” Doctor Freud, help me! Am I my mother in my dream? Is the brick alley of possibilities my prison or my fort?

Dreams are fascinating and dream dictionaries even more so. It might be physio-babble to assign meanings to bricks, chains, mothers, etc., but the fact that someone took the time to write down explanations for just about every object, action and relationship you can name is mind boggling in itself. The fact that the dream dictionary can make sense out of bizarre dreams and give you an ‘aha moments’ keeps me going back. 

What’s causing my recent dream episodes? I’ve got it narrowed down to two possibilities---or maybe a combination of both. One: my healthy eating from last spring, summer and fall was replaced with a diet with way too many sweets, typical of what happens to me this time of the year. Call it comfort food eating or lack of self-control, the end result is the same. I gained five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They say that sugar triggers responses in the same pleasure part of the brain as cocaine does. We crave what gives us pleasure. There’s no doubt about the fact that cocaine is addictive but the jury is still out on whether or not sugar has some of the same addictive qualities to a lesser degree. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve used that excuse before.

The other factor that might be making my dreams so intense lately could be the fast approaching sadiversary of Don’s passing in the middle of January. Try all you want to avoid doing it, but I bet most widows use that date on the calendar to assess their lives---what we’ve been through and where we still need to go. The fact that my dreams-on-steroids come paired with night-sweats, I’m leaning towards the cause being mostly diet/body chemistry related. Guess what that means. Yes, kicking the sugar habit---again---will be on my list of New Year’s Resolutions. But only after I toast 2016 in with hard root beer poured over vanilla ice cream. I just discovered that combination recently so it should be easy to give up. Only three bottles left in the six-pack and I never have to buy it again. 

Actually, the last few years I’ve replaced my life-long habit of writing New Year’s Resolutions with naming a single mantra for the coming year. For 2015 my mantra was, “Hoe the row you’ve already got and don’t go off looking for new seeds to plant.” It meant that I’d been trying too hard to find new friends/relationships in my widowhood and I needed, instead, to nurture the ones already in my life. My success with that mantra was mixed. The desperate search mode I’d been in since Don died all but disappeared from my life this past year but I could have done a better job of nurturing my old relationships. A few more phone calls to family and old friends, a few more invitations to go out to lunch coulda, shoulda been forth coming on my part. I still need to work on that. 

“I was looking for a new mantra for 2016 when ran across this suggestion: “Inhale the good shit, exhale the bull shit.” I’m pretty good at doing that already so I’ll pass that one up, but as a potential mantra it made me laugh out loud. I’m still looking and I’ll let you know when I find one. ©

16 comments:

  1. I never really make resolutions. Just lump everything together and say I'm choosing a healthier lifestyle. I saw a suggestion about opening a new gym with the first two weeks of January having exercise equipment and trainers ... then the rest of the year with bartenders and happy hour food!

    What is hard root beer?

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    1. Hard root beer is just like it sounds, it's root beer with a 5% alcohol content along with the classic and all-natural licorice, vanilla and birch. I don't drink much at all but I like to try the things that everyone is talking about on our local news. We have lots of micro-breweries in the area that do tastings and competitions. People come here from all over to do brewery tours---wines, beers, cidars. Last year I discovered hard cider and liked it so I decided to try the hard root beer.

      Recently I tasted the Capella ice wine (a dessert wine made in our UP) that's been served at the White House twice and I would have bought a bottle to take to the Christmas party if it didn't cost so much for a very tiny bottle. (I would have needed to two to give everyone a 1/2 a shot.) Here's a link on how it's made. Basically you have to have naturally frozen grapes to legally call it ice wine: http://www.blackstarfarms.com/harvest-to-bottle-with-a-capella-ice-wine/

      I'm glad my bar hopping days (in my 20s) didn't come at the same time the micro breweries here became a big deal in the past few years. All the bars around here serve tasting trays and I would have tried them all. LOL

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  2. I don't do resolutions either. Setting myself up for failure. I know I'm lazy and I'm good with that. I've given up bad stuff in my life, but when I'm ready, not the new year. I've managed not to gain weight this holiday season. I'm the same weight as last year, but the sand has shifted. Age I'm pretty sure. Oh well.

    “Inhale the good shit, exhale the bull shit.” Love this.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Gosh, I admire that you didn't gain anything through the holidays. This was my worst year in a long time for that. It was also the year when I got out to more parties and events which I think accounts for it.

      I love that inhale/exhale saying too.

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  3. Well, many profound thoughts in this post... Could be your soul IS revealing its current purpose, in dreamtime, and assigned the questions you ask as your homework.

    The way I look at it, I have only so much time left, and my soul craves an experience or two to complete its purpose here. Therefore, I depart from people pleasing or making my mark. I move toward soul rewards, which is as full of riddles as your dreams.

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    1. I do believe our dream lives are working on problems and dilemmas our daytime selves are debating. I'm pretty sure I know what this dream means but I'm not ready to share it with the world at this point in time.

      Soul rewards. I have not heard that term before but if anyone I know can find them, it will be you.

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  4. I think the last, almost 4 years, you've been exploring new avenues to make up for the years you were constrained. For so many years, you didn't have those opportunities, and now you do. Maybe it's time for you to learn to enjoy alone time more? Pick and choose what you REALLY want to do? You don't have to go to that movie, if you don't think you'll like it. You don't have to go on that tour, if you aren't really excited about it. I have found that I really enjoy going out on an adventure/drive/movie all by myself. No chatter from another person to distract my thoughts. You are totally right about your dreams. They are our subconscious exploring what our waking consciousness hasn't or can't deal with during the daytime. They can be from times long past. Something we never settled in our mind at the time. You'll be fine!!!

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    1. I just got the Jan/Feb newsletter from the senior hall and it had 27 things I could sign up for over the next two months, not counting the exercise and craft classes and the Movie and Lunch Club. I'm only signing up for 11. I'm passing up all the cooking demos, health related lectures and music events. I'm oping for a brewery tour, a tour of a Buddhist church, lectures about wind power, personal experiences in a Nazi camp, reading fantasy fiction and downtown history. Picking and choosing is necessary unless you want to live at the senior hall---and some do---but 11 outings over 59 days isn't much.

      I think my dream was more about the decision to move/not move outside of the township where I won't have access to doing such interesting things. I like having new experiences to think about when I get back home and realistically I'm not sure moving closer to my family is actually going to result in me see them more often. They all have busy lives and I'm just an aunt. (Trust me, there is nothing comparable to our senior hall in other townships. I've done my homework.) I drive myself crazy thinking about this stuff! I want two things that aren't compatible and some how I need to work it out before I can be totally happy.

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  5. I once attended a two-day dream workshop (the guy had written a couple of books on dreams and their meanings). He said to throw the dream dictionaries away (but I haven't). His take on dreams is that we are ALL the people in the dreams--they represent some aspect of ourselves even if they show up as people we know (or don't know). He also said whatever OUR interpretation of the dream is, is the lesson for us. Even if we are stumped, we can generally take a guess and he said that "guess" is our intuition telling us the meaning. Just another theory. I love to try to figure out dreams too. I don't remember my dreams as well as I used to and I am so incredibly grateful that I rarely have a "bad" dream or nightmare. I know some who are plagued by those; I would find it so unsettling.

    Diet. Oh dear. I had sworn off sugar, gluten, most meat, even dairy for several months and felt GREAT. And then December came. I completely fell off the wagon and just ate with no restrictions for the past month. I refuse to get on the scale. The worst of if for me is now I'm "hooked" on sugar again. I do think it's evil and addictive; AND I've been having nighttime hot flashes again, which were mostly completely gone for several months, so I do think there is a dietary correlation. Must re-read "Salt, Sugar, Fat" to get myself re-motivated! I just filled the crockpot with beans and veggies for a hearty soup. Here's to getting back to health!

    Every year I make a New Year Intention -- one thing that I plan to focus on in a self-development/personal growth way. Some years I'm more successful than others -- like the year I said I would begin to "public" my creativity and started to read/perform my poetry at Open Mics and created a monthly Ecstatic Dance experience at our church. But other years the whole thing sort of fades away after a few months. I'm giving thought to what this year's intention will be. I'll probably do a blog post on it at some point!

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    1. I have not heard that theory on dreams before. I could buy that we're everyone in our dreams but I could not give up my dream dictionaries. I find them fascinating and maybe a shortcut to figuring them out.

      There is no other explanation for why we don't leave sugar alone when we know how much it effects us other than it must have some addictive qualities. Maybe more for some of us than others? Many people in my family, myself included, has low blood sugar which does weird things to you, too, when your diet doesn't factor that in.

      Looking forward to your New Year's post. I'm working on one, too. I think you should make a resolution to publish a chap book of your poems.

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    2. Oh...thanks for the encouragement on the poetry chapbook. I occasionally fantasize about that, as well as collecting my blog posts into a book -- at least for the family. I keep forgetting what you told me about how to do that, so I must have a block. There's still a big part of me that wonders who the heck cares about my silly musings... But then a few of the essays I think are pretty good. Well...that may end up on the Intention list if I can get out of my own way and just do it. :)

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    3. I have had my 'Misadventure of Widowhood' blogs printed as yearly books. I love them. I figure I'll like them even more when I'm too old to remember my life and my nieces can read to me when they visit. LOL I took the books to show-and-tell at a Write, Read and Share MeetUp and now another woman who had been writing poetry for years is working on a chapbook of her work, using the same company I did---Blurb. I seriously don't think it matters if anyone cares about your musings as long as YOU care. I have read the musings of ancestors I've never met and trust me, after the years pass those musing get more and more interesting. The world around them/us changes...but human nature stays the same. You might consider writing a few poems about your grandmotherly emotions or your hopes for their future. That will insure they'll love your chapbook when they grow up because they'll be in it. LOL

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  6. I am really touched especially by your first paragraph concerning purpose because it is such an exposed topic in the sense that a lot of people I know are afraid to even think about it. I think one of the reasons might be that they are afraid that the answer might be that there is no purpose. However, and that however needs to be really bold, that doesn't mean that our life doesn't have direction. Something that really surprised me in my retirement was how curious I am in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of things that I thought I had some grasp of but want to really understand more clearly and deeply. And now have the time to pursue. My curiousity drives me and ultimately there is no purpose to it except personal satisfaction.
    I think it's time for you to pick up that paint brush and express yourself on the canvas!
    Happy New Year
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Learning and trying to understand the world is important to me, too. There's just so many interesting things in the world.

      I'm working my way up to painting. It's coming soon.

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  7. I don't have vivid dreams very often, but when I do, they are not very subtle. It's as though my subconscious knows it has to hit me over the head with a sledge hammer to get the message through. ;-)
    I inevitably gained back some of my recent weight loss over the holidays. I'm actually looking forward to finishing off the last of the holiday goodies so that I can get back to a sensible diet. (Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed all those treats, but enough is enough!)-Jean

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    1. Boy, I know all about looking forward to finishing off the holiday sweets. I loved them but I can't keep this up and will start the process of getting back in control on the 1st.

      My subconscious, I think, borrowed your sledge hammer.

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