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, December 31, 2015

Showing Up for the New Year



Woody Allen is known for having said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” He was talking about being successful at writing and how so many people say they want to write, but they don’t sit down and do it thus they don’t accomplish anything. He believes that if you actually show up every day to put words on paper, you’re 80% of the way towards being successful.

I learned a similar lesson back in high school in the late ‘50s, long before I’d ever heard of Woody Allen. Back in those days I had dreams of being a famous artist and so did another boy in my class. I approached art from a technical angle, studying how-to books religiously trying to hone a craft while he had so much natural talent you couldn’t tell his work from photographs. But he was a perfectionist who could never finish anything on time; there was always something more he wanted or needed to do. Teachers, of course, all knew he was the better artist and when it came time for the two of us to submit designs for event program covers, the year book cover, etc., they did their best to get him to turn his work in on time. He never did and guess whose work they had to use instead. 

After a year or two of art school he started a commercial advertising art business that wasn’t very successful because in that field deadlines count and he was allergic to them. In the early ‘70s my husband ordered some magnetic signs from him and if Don hadn’t died a couple of years ago he’d still be waiting for Mr. Perfectionist to finish those signs for his trucks. One time we went to the grand opening of a business and the place had no front door. They had commissioned Mr. Perfectionist to carve it and he missed the deadline. Not too long after that we ran into him at an art-in-the-park show. He’d given up advertising art and was doing art shows, the perfect outlet for his talent. He could be as fussy-mussy as he wanted to be. No deadlines. No customers breathing fire down his neck, just another starving-but-happy artist in a sea of his peers. Me? My less talented art took me in a different direction. After three years of college I went to floral design school, then spent the next twenty years making bridal bouquets. I did the flowers for literally thousands of weddings and I never, ever missed a deadline. To this day, I envy Mr. Perfectionist. He had the raw talent I lusted after, but I suspect he might have envied me as well for “showing up” when he couldn’t.

Pulitzer Prize winner for literature, Saul Bellow, once said, “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” We shall see. I got out of bed at 2:00 AM to write the above and whatever follows. Yesterday I had finished writing a blog entry I was planning to use for New Year’s Eve but something about it bothered me. I did quite a bit of research on New Year’s traditions and what I wrote might have made a passable theme for a high school assignment, but my authentic voice could barely be heard above the historical accounting of how the whole world came into the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions. It dates back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians, in case you’re interested, with Julius Caesar (46 BC) and John Wesley (the founder of Methodism, 1700s) both leaving their sizable imprint on the custom. As I tossed and turned in bed in the wee hours that Woody Allen quote popped in my head and it wouldn’t leave. It drove me to rewrite my New Year’s Eve essay. And out of that whole research-bloated blog the only part I’m keeping is what was supposed to be the opening paragraph. (Below)

Strive to be healthy, happy and productive. That’s what I want for the coming year so that’s what I’m setting as my mantra/resolution for 2016. If someone wants to cross-stitch that on a tea towel, my birthday is in April. This big umbrella alternative to the traditional list of New Year’s Resolutions allows me to redefine my goals throughout the year. Being healthy over the next few months, for example, means getting my diet back under control but in the spring striving to stay healthy might mean getting the black mole on my back checked out. Shape-shifting resolutions---bring them on. You can’t break or fail at a shape-shifting resolution unless you totally give up on improving yourself. I may be old but I’m not that old. 

By the way, Woody is right, just showing up is truly half the battle to accomplishing anything. "Anything" for me could be: grief recovery, working on New Year’s Resolutions, redefining what it will take to make me happy, learning to paint again, writing an authentically me blog or just plain living happily in the moment. “Just show up” is a one-size-fits-all manta/resolution that's up for grabs if anyone still needs one for the coming year. There’s a whole world out there waiting for us to apply ourselves. ©

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

14 comments:

  1. I don't do resolutions, but I think we've had this conversation already. I live each day as a new gift and strive to be kind and thoughtful. Not just this day, but everyday.

    Showing up is indeed the key to a great amount of success.

    Have a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year. ☺

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    1. You have a mantra to live by. You just don't label it as such.

      Happy New Year!

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  2. Happy New Year! I love your motto for 2016. Get it put on a t-shirt and a sweatshirt! You rock. Thanks for blogging. At least twice a week ... I love love love. You were my first!

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    1. Let's clear this up...I was the first blogger you started reading???? LOL

      You've given me an idea. I could get my mantra put on a silicon bracelet. I've done those before. I still wear my "just do it" bracelet whenever I'm in diet mode.

      Happy New Year.

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  3. That is so true. Often if we just go through the motions and push past any feelings of abandoning things, we find that we're actually moving toward our goal. It might be slow, but as long as we're going in the right direction, slow is fine!

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    1. I'm impressed by the number of published children's books you've written! You obviously know a lot about moving forward.

      Thanks for the comment. Happy New Year!

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  4. A Very Happy New Year to you.
    I am glad I found your blog through TGB. I appreciate your writing.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I always wonder how people find there way to various blogs. I love Ronni's, too. Happy New Year, Lisa, and thanks for your frequent comments.

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  5. Happy New Year Jean. Strive to be healthy, happy and productive is totally agreeable to me. Have a wonderful day my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Thank you, Paul. Try to keep all the cold air and snow up in Canada this winter, will you?

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  6. Happy new year jean I never do any resolution. I try to do best ea ch day and then go with flow of life have happy healthy and blessed new year

    Asha

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    1. Happy New Year to you as well, Asha.

      One of the things I learned when I was researching and writing the blog I didn't print is that only 68% of Americans do resolutions and more young people do them than older ones. So you are in good company.

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  7. I'm behind in my blog reading....and writing. Can the month already be nearly half over?!? Anyway, I love what you've written here and as usual I find you and I are similar...I never make "resolutions" anymore but do create an "intention" for each year -- sort of a personal growth theme that I pursue. I don't always keep every aspect of it at the forefront of my mind, but setting the intention and doing a periodic review keeps it somewhere close enough to consciousness that at the end of the year, when I review, it seems I've been able to accomplish what I set out to. That never happens when I resolved to lose 10 pounds.

    Also, the "authentically me" blog idea? I've been toying with that too. It's funny to me the "voice" my blog has taken on. It's me -- a part of me anyway. But sometimes I find myself wondering who that Pollyanna is who seems to often find something profound or insightful or inspiring to end with when in real life I'm often just pissed and dismayed. Also I swear way more in real life! LOL I don't write for any particular audience, but I am wondering if I edit my voice at times to be palatable to .... I don't know who. Interesting to ponder.

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    1. The "authentically me" blog is a puzzle isn't it. Where is the line between our inner voice and our public voice when we write? Who do we write for---ourselves or others? The Pollyanna words and occasionally insightful words do come out of our brains but is our internal editor's voice being given too much or too little authority? In "real life" I'm more Pollyanna than in my written life, so for me the answer to that question is easy. However, I confess to wanting to sound smarter than I am or feel inside. That's why the heavily researched blog that I didn't published bothered me so much. I didn't know KNOW that stuff. One or two quotes per blog adds interest but too much outside sources and I might as well just provide a link and say, "Go read this." LOL

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