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

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dreams and Going to Cuba



I love my sleep. I don’t always get as much as I’d like. In October and half of November, for example, I averaged 5.3 hours a night and I know this because one of the first things I do each morning is check my Fitbit dashboard and they email me a weekly report. The past two weeks I’m getting closer to seven hours of sleep and the only thing that forces me out of bed in the morning is a bathroom call. A couple of times I’ve been able to hop back in bed, pull my sleep mask over my eyes in an attempt to fall back into a dream I was having, like opening a book to where you placed a marker. It rarely works. Like this morning I wanted to know if I reached the shore before dark. I was swimming in the Boston harbor, dodging rowing crews and I was swimming for all I was worth, kicking up water hoping that a sweep of oars wouldn’t knock me out as they passed by. I know where the Boston part came from…another widowed blogger booked a room on the Back Bay for the week before Christmas and I loved that idea. The rowing crews came from the fact that recently, as I waited on a bridge for a red light, I saw a crew putting their boat in a storage building by the river near my house.
 
Can you believe it, 5-6 years ago our local high schools started offer the sport of rowing. Wikipedia says rowing as a sport dates back to Ancient Egyptian but I’ve always associated rowing with snotty universities where your daddy has to donate a few endowments and lawn jockeys to get you in. True or not, with dreams and their meanings the theory is it’s not the settings that matter, it’s the actions. Oh my! According to the dream dictionary, swimming means that “you are exploring aspects of your subconscious mind and emotions---it may be a sign that you are seeking some sort of emotional support” and the part about it getting dark, “signifies failure in some work that you are attempting.” The only work I’ve been failing with lately (that I know of) is knitting on the bias. I tore out almost as many rows as I knitted on my shawl before I finally got the hang of adding stitches on the ends and decreasing stitches in the middle of every other row. You’ve got to stay on your toes, count often and I’m liking the challenge so I doubt this activity played into my dream. My failure is probably more along the lines of feeling old and wishing I could find a cure for that. Old woman identity crisis going on. Nothing to see here, people, move along. Just don't hit her with your oars as you pass by.

This week I went to another travelogue about Cuba. The one I went to last year was about the specific places in Cuba the trip organizers will take their group this coming February---the cultural and educational things they’ll be doing as part of the People-to-People Program set up since the embargo was lifted. You still can’t just hop on a plane and go there as a tourist if you're a U.S. citizen. You have to be licensed to go for one of 5-6 specific purposes and keep a detailed diary while you're in Cuba. This time the travelogue speaker, an expert on Cuba, was a man who has been there over 100 times since 1999 to do humanitarian work delivering medical supplies. He’s allowed to come and go under strict licenses issued by our two governments and he had fascinating things to say about the island’s history and our country’s part in causing the climate that led to the Revolution. Hint #1: We helped the Mafia, set up shop to launder money and that made the rich richer and the poor poorer. He also said the all the tour guides in the country work for the government and you should only believe what you see with your eyes but not necessarily everything that you hear with your ears. Punishment for crimes is swift and harsh so the country is very safe for visitors. For example, killing a cow in Cuba comes with a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Beef is only for tourists, not the Cuban people.

With Fidel Castro’s recent death the speaker didn’t expect much to change in Cuba over the next two years because the man who is taking over for Fidel (until his retirement) has been unofficially running the country for the past five years. That’s also assuming Mr. Trump won’t keep his promise to undo Obama’s lifting of the embargo. The hope is that once he’s been briefed on the benefits our country foresees from the deal in terms of counteracting Cuba’s growing anti-American alliances with China and Venezuela Trump will do a flip-flop. Still, with the stroke of a presidential pen those in my travel club who signed up to go to Cuba could have their dream trip pulled out from underneath them.

I’ll never travel out of the country again---unless I get abducted by a UFO or go in my dreams---but going to travelogues enriches my life without having to pay a dime and we get free cookies and coffee as a bonus.   ©

28 comments:

  1. I am not a dreamer, never have been. Bob says I talk in my sleep so I must be dreaming but I never remember anything. My sister-in-law dreams vivid dreams. One time she dreamed she was kissing her husband (deceased) but when she woke up she was kissing her finger.

    Like you I have no desire to travel outside the US and don't have a lot of desire to travel inside the US.

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    1. Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers them. I dream about my husband often and sometimes about people I haven't seen in years.Fortunately my dreams are never scary.

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  2. I'm not much of a dreamer -- or I don't remember them. I have been dreaming more of late, but it's so easy to pick out the parallels in daily life, I don't give them much thought. What I really love is going to bed at night with a "problem" in mind -- like a paragraph or line that just isn't right -- and then waking up with a solution. I like to think that it's my mind working the night shift.

    I've had a hard time with the eulogies for Castro as a hero of the people. One of my customer's fathers was on trial in Cuba when the Bay of Pigs invasion started, and he was executed, after having all the blood drained from his body -- while he still was alive. I wrote about it all in a post called Cuban Gold -- which ended up being the name of my customer's boat. It was quite a tale from beginning to end, that's for sure.

    On the other hand, the Cuban people I've known in person and the ones I've followed online are wonderful: warm, welcoming, and eager for changes. I hope they can come, now.

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    1. Your comment about the father of one of your customer's gave me a chill. When my mother died, all of her blood had drained out of her veins and into her body cavity (over a period of weeks) and a doctor told me it was one of the most painful ways a person can die. Castro was no hero but there is a whole generation of Cubans who grew up being brainwashed under his regime so they don't know anything different. Our speaker said the same thing you did in your last paragraph.

      I SO identify with your first paragraph! I have woken up in the middle of the night talking to myself as if I was writing sentences or knowing what I had to change, cut or add something in a draft I was working on. I keep an ink pen with a flashlight in it so I can write stuff down without turning on the light. That's actually the key to remember dreams....transfer subconscious thoughts the conscious (just key words is enough)to and you'll remember the dream in the morning even if you go back to sleep.

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  3. I don't think I would want to travel any more, there's too much unrest. In my head, I know the odds of problems are infinitesimal, but my gut says no way.
    Dreams, I have them all, good, bad, scary, stupid. Some stay with me for days - even years. Recurring dreams are the most bothersome.

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    1. I was never a huge, got-to-do-it fan of travel but when I did it with my husband I knew he could handle any sticky situation that came along. Now, I agree about the unrest in the world. It doesn't seem safe to me anymore. I'm content to do the travelogues instead.

      I've got a recurring dream, too. It's been with me as long as I can remember.

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  4. After our post-Xmas fiasco at O'Hare last December, I have no desire to see an airport again. I'm sure that will change, but I'm perfectly content not flying at the moment. Not a fear of being in the air; I love that...just all the crap that can happen at an airport.

    I dream often, not always, but rarely can recall the specifics unless it was unsavory. I've heard dreaming is vitamin related, but I don't recall which one and I'm uninterested enough at the moment to google it. :)

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    1. I've never heard that about dreams maybe being vitamin related. Interesting! I will being googling that.

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  5. I rarely remember dreams, just that they are happy and fun. Sometimes I think I should write them down as soon as I wake up ... but what for?

    Castro. I don't think I could find any "good words" to say. All I think about is the evil.

    Now I hate traveling. It's a long dreary process at the beginning and the end of each flight that adds HOURS to your trip. The seats are getting smaller and I am much bigger. I've not been to a travelogue but simply get a great view from watching travel on TV. I'm a homebody for sure these days.

    And I like it!

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    1. He was evil but one lesson we can take from Castro is that we should never, ever look the other way when a leader in our country demonizes the free press and talks able shutting them down.

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  6. No dreaming to report. I also believe in sleeping over a problem. All dictators are bad, full stop.

    Apropos life in general, find it full of twists and turns, eg a plant that looks dead suddenly spurts into growth (and vice versa). I take heart from that. ~ Libby

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    1. That's life for sure....twists and turns. People like plants can go dormant and come back again.I like that thought, LIbby.

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  7. I was amused by your knitting, which I would not consider a failure. I was amused because I am in the process of making a quilt and yesterday, instead of sewing, I spent a good deal of time removing stitches because I decided I wanted my points to match better than I had originally sewed them. I'm doing a pattern called a kaleidoscope and it is triangles but when you get a certain amount of blocks together you can see circles. It is cool but I decided that my standards are higher and I want the challenge, as you say, of improving on what I have done in the past. Frustrating but now that I have re sewn them better, I can see the circles and it does look cool!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I know that kaleidoscope pattern although I've never made it. What colors are you using? Pushing for perfectionism is fun with handcrafts along with frustrating when you can't get it right.

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  8. Well, I'm glad you asked! I spent three whole days this summer dyeing fabrics with my art quilt group. We tried different methods including ice dyeing which I found the most interesting because you can get fantastic color as the ice slowly lets the dye penetrate the fabrics. I have been itching to try some of the fabrics but I was being very patient and managed to finish a lot of projects first. I started cutting triangles the other day and they are mostly purples, blues and as a contrast yellows and oranges. My favorites!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Oh my gosh, that's fantastic and fun to have dyed the fabrics you quilt with! I know exactly what you mean by ice dying because I googled it after seeing some clothing dyed that way at a craft show. The person selling it would take used clothing from Goodwill, bleach it white then ice dye it. Your color palette will play off each other great!

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  9. Jean, I am a recent widow and also have created a blog. I published it yesterday on the 8 month mark of my Honey's passing. I am inspired by your stories. I have just started coming out of the fog and look forward to the day when I can consistently stay out of the fog. Travel is on my list as this was not possible for years with my DH's health. I know that he would like that. Thank you for your blog. It lifted me up this morning.

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    1. I'm sorry for the loss that brought you to the blog community. Writing mine and reading other blogs by widows has helped me SO much and I hope it does the same for you. I'll check out yours soon.

      If you want to travel, I can highly recommend getting involved in the local travel clubs concept. I've met a lot of widows there and they team up to share rooms and get know each other before they go.

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  10. I'll probably be traveling to other countries yearly for the rest of my life, way too much fun and we get to drink wine all the time. Malta, France and Belgium are possibilities for extended monthly stays where friends will be invited as long as they leave plenty of food and alcohol when they go.

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    1. Traveling was fun when I could go with people I could trust with my life, if necessary. I no longer have that, but I'm happy for you that you're still enough travel and have such good friends around the world. What great opportunities you have!

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  11. I used to remember my dreams every night; now I rarely do and I miss that richness. I almost never have nightmares or scary dreams. I have the classic "lost" dream where I can't find my way home --- often this would happen on the Chicago el system in my dreams and I'd end up on the far south side (I lived west) and couldn't get back. So funny.

    Crew -- there is a club in our town. They row on the river here and compete all over the region. My younger son started rowing in high school, first just taking a class through the parks department, so not snooty and super cheap to do. He had a great time his junior year -- his 8-man boat won the Regionals (against all odds in a huge upset) and went on to Nationals in Cincinnati were they came in second to last (which was about as expected). He made great friends and found his "place" during a time in his life where he felt left out of the "in" crowd which is hard when you are in high school, so I am thankful for his crew experience. Now he's all grown up and his 29 year old girlfriend rows for a Seattle club. She invited us to one of her regattas, which would have been nice to attend had I not been sick that day. Or maybe not...as a spectator, it is often a long day standing around in inclement weather with hours to kill between races that last mere minutes, during not all of which is the boat even visible. So I guess it's more fun to do than to watch sometimes.

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    1. Thanks for the insight on rowing. I see them a lot since their storage building is by an intersection I pass often and the river goes by a park where I take the dog. I never dreamed it would be cheap but compared to football, I can see why. Funny how it's been around for so many centuries but only just in recent years because so populate in high schools.

      Your "lost" dream sounds a lot like my re-occurring dream of trying to find something in a long hall or street of doors.

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  12. You made my morning! I'm late to the party here, but I spent the weekend on my hands and knees in the garden, pulling out leaves wedged into and under evergreen bushes and cutting back dead stalks. All before the snow came this morning. The reward gazing at the clean sculptural beauty of a winter garden for 4 months.

    I'm so happy you swam the Charles River in Boston (Harvard rowers use this aplenty). Hey! Swimming at your age - my interpretation: you've proactively (maybe not consciously)taken on a large project under 'Jean' power, aware some crews(the well endowed) put their youthful muscle to the oars, skimming the same water you know more intimately. Of course, it's getting dark, and the others will have docked their boats and be clinking their glasses at a nearby pub while you will be - interrupted. Yeah, it could be about getting old...

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    1. I thought you'd recognize your influence in my dream resulting in a blog entry. LOL

      Swimming is actually a popular activity for senior citizens around here...lots of classes offered. They just offer them too early in the morning for my tastes.

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  13. I don't think I dream anymore--at least I don't remember--and thankfully am not having the nightmares where someone is trying to beat me up. Loved watching the rowers on the Charles River when in Boston.

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    1. Everyone who sleeps, dreams. We just don't all remember our dreams.

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  14. I seldom remember my dreams, but when I do, love trying to understand them -- which is usually easy because my subconscious mind doesn't seem to understand the concept of subtlety. When I was teaching, I always had the same teaching anxiety dreams before the beginning of each semester. It was usually something along the lines of suddenly realizing on the day classes were beginning that I had never ordered books or written a syllabus and then rushing around trying to get things in order before class time. Of course, everything kept going wrong, with the copy machine running out of paper, needing a new toner cartridge, and getting jammed as the clock ticked past the time my class was supposed to be meeting. If I needed a nudge to get my courses prepared, those dreams certainly did the trick! -Jean

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    1. "...my subconscious mind doesn't seem to understand the concept of subtlety." I love that and I'll bet most of our re-occurring dreams are about anxieties. I know mine is.

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