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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Finding Adventure in Adventure Free Zones



Ever hear of Dan Beckmann? I hadn’t until his non-fiction book caught my eye---How’d I get Here? And Why am I Stealing M&M's From Air Force One? I was at Amazon.com looking for something to buy that cost slightly over the amount I had to spend to qualify for free shipping. I hate paying $6 or $7 for shipping when I can buy something for a few bucks less than that and get shipping on the whole ball of wax for free. Dan Beckmann has had some amazing adventures as a columnist and a former cameraman who had worked for a bunch of alphabet places like NBC, CBS, CNN, A&E, ESPN and the BBC. He filmed extensively in war zones, covered 9-11, Hurricane Katrine and presidential campaigns, been on assignments for National Geographic’s and for NASA where he once flew in a zero gravity air craft simulator---nicknamed the Vomit Comet---with Steven Hawking. Climbing 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, Dan accidentally unplugged all the umbilical wires hooked up to Hawking causing a cascade of red flashing lights, alarms and doctors holding their breath until they figured out what happened. Beckmann has a funny way with words and he got a whole chapter out of what I just wrote about Hawking in the Vomit Comet.

When I read a book I always look for a few lines I want to “keep.” In Beckmann’s book, they came in the Epilogue: “Marvelous moments happen to us all the time. We’re just usually not present enough to be aware of them while they’re happening. Experiences feed a curiosity that carries you beyond your backyard, to find wonders big and small. Near and far. Extraordinary and ordinary. You can find adventure everywhere and anytime. Even late in your own game.” 

I read those words as if they were a challenge to prove him wrong. The most extraordinary thing going on in my life lately is my fingernails seem to be growing like weeds. And the most adventurous thing to happen since April was the “something different” that I buy each week at the grocery store turned out to be a colossal waste of money. Take my word for it, don’t buy a bottle of ‘Prospectors Cold Brew Almond Maple Coffee.’ Twelve ounces for $2.99, I expected more flavor. Next week it’s back to the international aisle for my something different. Anyway, I took the find-adventure-challenge to the June senior hall luncheon where the band had partnered with Dan Beckmann to send me more messages about waking up to the special moments around us. Early on the entertainment sang a song called Always Trust Your Cape. Long story short, the song is about a little boy who puts on a flour sack cape and jumps off the garage roof. The song ends like this:

“Now, he's old and gray with a flour sack cape tied all around his dreams
And he's still jumpin' off the garage and will be till he's dead
All these years the people said, he was actin' like a kid
He did not know he could not fly and so he did
Well, he's one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape”

The song must have inspired the woman sitting across from me because soon after that song the band played Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and when they got to the line, “Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt” the woman slow-popped out of her chair and shouted out those lyrics and sat back down. I had just taken a drink of water and would have spit it out except for the hand that quickly covered my mouth. She definitely found her happy place and by the end of the song every time the band got to the salt shaker line they’d stop playing to wait for the elderly bleach blonde to slow-pop up again and shout, “Searching for my lost shaker of salt!” It may not have been extraordinary but it sure was funny. I itched to ask her why she loves that song---she’s usually exceedingly prim and proper. I’ll bet there’s a good story behind the love.

As we were all leaving the hall, I did ask another woman a bold question. She had dyed her white hair a hot pink, Not a pretty pink, more of a clown-at-work pink. “Okay,” I said, “I have to ask. Why pink?” She leaned on her walker as if the answer would take some time, “I needed a little adventure in my life,” she replied. “I’m sick of going to doctors and talking about my health!” It was downright spooky. I went to the senior hall with the challenge to find the adventure around me and what I found was two old boards who had already found some adventure into theirs. ©

20 comments:

  1. Oh I love being six hours behind you! I get first review! I sure love that song ... I always want to sing out loud. I always think about a streak of bright color in my hair ... but I think I'm going to do more pairs of specs ... and maybe hats!

    To every season ....

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    1. My hair dresser tells me they have hair chalk now that washes out. I looked it up on Amazon and it's not expensive. If my hair was longer I'd seriously consider buy some and putting in a streak. I'd love to do more glasses but they cost so much. You live in the perfect place to have a collection of of glasses and/or hats...go for it!

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    2. I'm going to order specs ONLINE, just for distance, not trifocals. See what that would cost. My hair is getting so thin and sparse. Therefore the hat!

      Kate used those hair chalk. Just put in one short wisp! I'm gonna look those up also! Then not so permanent. With our grey/white hair ... even pale pink would show up. But don't let me get like a friend of a friend ... she now has so many streaks of hot pink and purple she looks like Bozo.

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    3. I could not do more than one streak of chalk, either.

      I'll be interested in how your online classes work out. I've neve priced them but I'd need the trifocals. Thanks for the idea.

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  2. Your post reminded me that often when I don't have high expectations, I get surprised. Generally, don't watch TV, but recently sat down to watch two UK shows that I like because of the background of green foliage, gorgeous stone villages, etc - the stories are puerile/infantile to the extent that I think how can someone *pay* to have them produced. Well, most surprisingly, both the shows actually had a good plot and unexpected ending. (Of course, the next week it was back to its usual low standard!). I find life also like that - surprising when you least expect it, and for this reason try to keep my mind/outlook open to new opportunities/experiences.

    I've been reading about the magical effect music has on patients with dementia, etc. I suppose its like smell, sight etc - immediately evocative of good times from years before, which would explain your singing lady. I like the spunk of the old lady with pink-dyed hair! ~ Libby

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    1. The lady with the pink hair goes to everything---all the day trips and lectures. She says she's going to keep moving until she can't anymore. I suspect it's like the egg and the chicken. You move to keep going but you keep going because you're always on the move.

      I like your TV show analogy. Life does bring us unexpected experiences and opportunities. As we age, it's easy to forget that and quit being open to those things and we have to fight against getting set in our ways.

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  3. I was going to ask you if you were feeling like Dorothy in Oz who concludes that "There's no place like home" but I just happened to be reading this:
    "The pursuit of the extraordinary is the character of mediocrity. When one despairs of doing a beautiful, simple, and natural thing, he attempts a weird one."(Diderot 1713-1784).
    It is a translation from the French so I am not convinced that weird is the most appropriate word for whatever he used 300 years ago. And I am not reading philosophy- I am reading a book about flute technique and this is the author's illustration of phrasing. This is his comment:
    "It is impossible to load every single syllable of a speech with drama: it becomes quickly emphatic and boring".
    His other example is from a Subway ad "with everything on it: five meats, three cheeses, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard"...The works!
    His point, whether through philosophy or music technique, is that there needs to be variations and waves in order to be interesting. Highs and lows. Almond maple coffee and toast and butter! Pink hair and grey!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I've never known anyone who plays and studies music like you do and I'm so enjoying your input and comments here and on other blog posts. Art, music and writing have much in common. I love that you're reading a book on flute technique while I'm reading a book on using punctuation and we're both finding philosophy that applies to living as well as music and writing.

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  4. Wonderful story. What an exciting place to be mentally. I'm going to think about this.

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    1. Isn't Dan's and the boy with the cape philosophy great. Makes me think, too.

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  5. I have a refrigerator magnet, given to me by an old friend, that says, "It is essential to do one weird thing a day." I try to live by that motto. Love those two old broads!!!

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  6. I have a few people in my family who've lived wide open lives. My brother is one of them - a risk taker and bold decision maker. I admire that, but I'm more of the pink hair type - something bold that won't kill or bankrupt you. That's my kind of adventure: fun and a little daring. Wish I could have seen the lady singing Margaritaville. :) I wonder what's up with your fingernails??

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    1. I'm not a risk taker either but maybe we need them in our lives to give us courage enough to dye our hair pink.

      My nails get very long very quickly, especially my pinkie and thumb nails and I file them almost every day.

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  7. Oh what a thought-provoking post! I just love the prim and proper lady shouting out "Looking for my lost shaker of salt!" There have been many times I have wanted to do something like that but can't recall ever actually DOING it. Will have to work on that!

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    1. Thank you! Me, too, which makes we wonder: What are we waiting for and what are we afraid will happen if we do?

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  8. What great images of people who are not afraid to be themselves! We should all give ourselves that freedom as we age.
    I think I tend to find adventure in observing the small details of the natural world -- the first buds showing on my daylilies, the hummingbird feeding from the flowers beside my porch. -Jean

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    1. As we age I think we redefine what adventure is. I found it amazing that a guy who'd seen so much in his career could write that epilogue. It made me look at things differently.

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  9. Feeling overwhelmed and depressed....this one cheered me and reminded me there is so much life to behold in even the humblest surroundings and most mundane of moments.

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    1. Amen. We all need reminding from time to time.l

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