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 31, 2016

New Year's Resolutions for an Old Widow



In the late 1950s, when I was fifteen and seriously boy crazy I wrote six New Year’s Resolutions in my diary. Only back then I spelled them “reoloutions.” One: Take better care of myself. Jeez, I’ve been making and breaking that resolution for well over a half a century! Two: Get a boyfriend and show him off to the girls at school. Three: Make Dale sorry he went “which” Judy. “Which” was my dyslexia spelling for “with.” In my world any word that started with ‘w’ and ended with ‘h’ were used interchangeably for decades. (Dale, by the way, was the first boy who ever kissed me and fireworks literally went off overhead. How’s that for a memorable first kiss?) Four: Get thinner. That’s another resolution that’s been repeated more years than I’d care to admit. Five: Improve my personality. As an adult I can see the irony and humor in making that resolution on the heels of making one about getting revenge against poor Dale for throwing me over for Judy. Six: Do things to make me happier in 1958. That year, according to a list I found in the back of the diary, I kissed four boys and I also found a copy of a breakup letter I wrote to a guy so at least I was able to make at least one of my resolutions come true. Side note: When Dale died several years ago, they had to cut him out of his house because of his morbid obesity. I was grateful it was Judy, and not me, who’d spent all those years cooking his meals. 

Fast forward to this century and the impulse to write resolutions is still part of my DNA but for New Year’s Resolutions 2017 I could be lazy and recycle four resolutions from my 1958 list: 1) Take better care of myself; 2) Get thinner, 3) Improve my personality and 4) Do things that make me happier. If I wanted to include the one about “getting a boyfriend” I’d start by switching my regular grocery shopping day to Tuesdays, just after lunch. That’s when the local veteran’s facility buses in a bunch of old men in wheelchairs who are being helped by equally old men helping them shop. I was in the checkout line behind one of the volunteers and his charges this week and I caught smitten-itis. He was my age to the month and day, had been a helicopter pilot with search and rescue in his career years. Totally wrong for me. If I was looking. For one thing, I don’t do spur of the moment and being in search and rescue is all about being ready for anything at any time. And two, my idea of keeping fit doesn’t involve a gym, rock climbing or repelling down ropes. That old guy is making the rest of us look bad!

Back on topic: According to one statistic I found on the web, young people are more likely to make New Year’s Resolutions that older people and only 68% of Americans make them at all. But what I find more interesting is the fact that making resolutions is a world-wide tradition that dates back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. Back then, according to the History Channel they started the new year after “the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness.” They would celebrate the spring harvest coming in and the people had to reaffirm their loyalty to the king. 

Then in 46 BC that scandalous Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar, moving the beginning of the new year to where it’s still celebrated is today. Julius declared January first to be a day to honor its namesake, Janus, the god of beginnings. The Romans threw raucous parties that included offerings to Janus. When John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) came along he added his spin on New Year’s Eve in 1740 when he came up with an alternative to all the holiday partying---a church service where reflection on the past and renewal for the coming year were important. I was going to say that Julius had more influence over the way we celebrate New Year’s than pious John but then I googled church services on New Year’s Eve in my city and I found more services than I could count which just proves you’re never too old to learn something new about your fellow man. 

There is one resolution I should make. Critical word is “should” but I don’t know if I’m capable of learning to be more spontaneous. I’m a list, schedule, calendar and routine obsessed person but my new friend---BL---from The Gatherings labels herself as a spur of the moment person. An example of that would be we had plans to meet for lunch today and this morning she emailed me, asking if I have time to catch a movie, too. I baby-stepped my way to spontaneity and said “yes” then I spent the next five minutes re-figuring my schedule. 12:45 be at the gas station, pick up photos at 1:00 before lunch instead of after. Pick up the house for tomorrow’s service call while the nightly news is on TV, do laundry at 7:00 PM. Hey, maybe old dogs can learn new tricks! ©

32 comments:

  1. Happy New Year to you and all your readers! And thank you again for your blog, for posting regularly, and for your frankness and good humour. Blogs such as yours have greatly helped me stay sane these past few years, by realizing that life/family is generally the same worldwide.

    I don't recall making resolutions. If I did, they were forgotten in less than a week. After reading yours, mine is to get out of the house for a walk, morning and evening. I hadn't walked for days as I wasn't feeling well, so I pushed myself out today. I used to have a regular walk/exercise habit years ago, and hope to restart it - at least the walking.

    Its New Year Eve here, and very quiet. No noisy parties or anything, unlike previous years. Touch wood, life remains peaceful. ~ Libby

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    1. I hope you and everyone who reads here has a good New Year. You guys know me better than people I see in person that's for sure and I'm happy I got to know you through your comments.

      If I lived where we could walk everyday I'd be making the same resolution as you. It's so good for you but it's not one of my favorite things to do.

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  2. The Gatherings sounds like a good place to make some friends. I'm always ready for spur of the moment.....I was not always like that. I've found the desire to be much more social increased after my husband's death. I want to join a book group at my library, but I'm still having difficulty focusing on reading....that should be my resolution! Focus!

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    1. Of all the things I've tried to meet people, The Gatherings have been the most satisfying and successful in that endeavor.

      It took me a two-three years to get my concentration back for reading after my husband died. It seems to be a common widowhood malaise. Not sure if I'm using that word right but you'll get what I mean.

      I envy you your spur of the moment character. I wish that was me because it does effect your social life. On the other hand you get more done with plans.

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  3. My PC gremlins are at it again. My comment disappeared!

    I am wondering, planner that you are, if you feel like a partner in crime when you go rogue. I do hope you enjoyed the movie along with lunch!

    My hat's off to John Wesley for introducing the reflection and renewal version of New Year's eve. He must have been an introvert like me. Tonight, though, I celebrate with a few old family fogies, so I am cramming R & R in this morning. My new year resolution is to lead even more with my heart. Lest my house spill over with kitties or puppies, I will pop thinking in there, but in the back seat.

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    1. I'm a planner by nature and nurture both. For twenty years of doing wedding flowers you have to plan every detail. Brides are not someone you want to disappoint because there is no do overs. My husband was quite used to doing things on the spur of the moment so I've had my share of that as well. I just don't like it as well as knowing I've thought of everything before I leave the house.

      I would not call John Wesley an introvert by any stretch of the imagination. LOL He didn't like the sinning that went hand-in-hand with New Years celebrations and was offering an alternative.

      Your New Years Resolution would be be the last thing I'd like to do in life but I understand why you are making it. Leading with your heart can get you hurt. (There is a happy medium between not trusting anyone and trusting everyone.) Better---at least for me---would be to be more open, let things unfold organically.

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  4. Don't blame me for Dale's betrayal! He told me he wasn't dating anyone. How was I to know? He was a good kisser, for sure, but we never married. I realized early on that he had an addictive personality with food A dozen White Castles at one sitting? Yeah--I know, they're small, but...............and then, when Pizza became all the rage? Large, with everything, except Anchovies. He had four slices down before I was done with my first one! Be glad he dumped you! I dumped him six months later--remember? Thankfully you and I have remained friends all these years.

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    1. Funny fantasy. Your creative writing juices are running at full force.

      But he actually did marry the same Judy he met after dating me a scant handful of times. They dated all through high school and got married soon after. They didn't go to my high school but I saw him in the summers at the lake.

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    2. I actually knew a Dale in high school and re-met him 28 years later. We dated for a while until I found out, he had neglected to tell me he had a wife.

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  5. Thanks for another great blog! I think my resolutions have been the same as yours for a million years!

    Spontaneity went out the door years ago. But maybe that would work better during the day. Once it hits 8pm, I am winding down with my glass of red and tapping away at the keyboard. Followed by an episode (OK, two episodes) of whatever series has my interest.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! We are staying in and have a "fancy" dinner with napkins and candle light and very good manners!

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    1. I love your New Years Eve plans! I'm off to go buy some chips and cheese for tonight...not a good choice but the dieting starts tomorrow. Did you know that wine is a diuretic? I quite drinking it in the evenings a long time ago.

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  6. Fun reading about your 15 year old resolutions! Me, I make some, but I realize that most all will be broken, and it's one of the few non-OCD things I am. That was really poor English/grammar, but I think you get my gist. Time to start working on my list! Happy New Year!

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    1. We all know our resolutions will be broken but I think there is value in thinking about the things we'd like to do to aspire to changing.

      Every time I think I'm going to get rid of my old diaries I read something that makes me laugh and I change my mind.

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  7. Oh dear, you frighten me! I must be a spur of the minute person. I like lists but I also like change. I still have a husband so it's hard to say how I would feel without one, but I find it nearly impossible to imagine wanting another one at my age. A nice friend to go places with and visit with would be nice but old men tend to want to move in and I wouldn't want that.

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    1. Yup, old men usually are looking for nurses, cooks and house cleaners. Not going there either. It's also a loyalty issue. My husband worked hard for what we had/have and I wouldn't just let some guy move in and reap the rewards my husband earned.

      It's harder to be spontaneous when you have a dog, too. They have requirements that benefit from routine. Seven hours is tops that I can leave mine and then only if he's had his morning routine that requires me to be at home until 10:00.

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    2. By the way, I'm really confused about why I frighten you. Is it the talking to old men in the grocery store? Most of what I wrote about was gleaned from eavesdropping. Is it the lists thing? If so, you'll really be bummed out when I tell you I use a timer bell as well. I get so wrapped up inside my head or when I'm at the computer that I often lost track of time so I need them both.

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    3. No, no, not the old men. Your list making reminds me of the astronauts scheduling. Their days are scheduled in five minute increments I think.

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    4. Hey, we're not dead. No reason to stop being interesting in looking at the opposite sex, even if we're not in the market. LOL

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  8. There is not much more I can say in this year 2016 Jean. Yes I'm looking forward for my cruise but like everything that one will go quickly also. I wonder what 2017 looks forward for us? I've decided to just take whatever God gives me and there isn't much more then I can do about it my friend. I love my life even though there are ups and downs but that's natural. Life is really just what we want it to be. I've decided to take whatever I get. What do you think Jean?
    Happy New Year my friend. See ya in the New Year.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I think for you that's a good philosophy to follow. It works for millions of people putting their trust in God works wonderfully.

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  9. I found that phrase "back on topic" amusing because that was a lovely story and you needn't have ended it there ... after all you did have enough of a chat with the guy to find out his age!
    I have never been a planner and for a lot of my life it has been a problem. The problem was in days when I was in school and should have been preparing or studying, my lack of planning tended to limit my progress!! But my impulsiveness has led me places that I probably would not have gone, had I given them any consideration! An interesting aspect of this is that in my older years I have been trying to rein in my impulsiveness so that I can plan a bit more in order to be a bit more productive. I am not taking this to any extremes as it is difficult for me as my mind tends to move into a lot of different directions. But I have taken the time to examine two things that I really like doing...quilting and playing flute...to allow me to be as productive as I can in my sewing and practicing, it has been a really good exercise for me in structure. So I am trying to learn what you have been doing all your life!
    And I marvel that you still have all those diaries.
    I am in England for a few months and it is the last hour of New Year's Eve so Happy New Year 2017 to you and all your commenters.
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. Being impulsive with creative things is one area where I can be very impulsive and indulgent. If it's going well I hate to break away to go out to last minute invitation and often don't go.

      I guess what I dislike the most is people who don't want to make a firm commitment to do something on a certain day. Say it's Wednesday and they want to wait until Friday morning to give you a firm commitment for a Friday lunch. Whether they end up going or not, you have to keep the time slot open.

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  10. Happy New Year to you, Jean. I managed to stay up past midnight last night, socializing with neighbors. Now, I'm thinking a nap might be in order, since the cat was determined to get me up at the usual 5:30 anyway.

    I'm not so much a resolution person any more as I am a goal setter. I do like to think about what I'd hoped to accomplish in the past year, whether I did or didn't, and whether I want to give it another go. This coming year is going to require a good bit more discipline, since I'm adding things to my schedule. We'll see how it goes. With work still part of the schedule, i have a certain structure that helps keep things chugging along.

    Your old man story reminds me of a woman I knew years ago. She was in her 90s, and had men in their 70s and 80s after her because she had money. She wasn't the least bit interested. As she said, "Why would I want to pick up another old man's socks? I did that for years." Oh, we did laugh at her. A sassy thing, she was -- and a mean domino player.

    Here's to a fun, sassy year. We all could use it, I think.

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    1. We sure can use a "fun,sassy year!"

      I don't think there is much difference between setting goals and making resolutions. It's just terminology. Both require introspection and planning if we're going to carry through.

      Older women with money do not lack for guys sniffing up their skirts. I've observed it more than a few times.

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  11. Happy New Year, Jean! I am a list maker, even a chore list maker, but only with hopes, not expectations. I learned long ago not to plan anything. (That's when things go wrong.)
    Not a thing wrong with looking, but if I was free (for whatever the reason) I would not be interested. I've spent enough time alone to know I prefer it that way.

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    1. I'm a chore list maker too but have been known to change the date/day at the top when I don't do what I wanted to get done.

      When people say they don't people watch I'm never sure if I believe them. Seems to me it's part of our DNA. Even if we are past that point in our lives where we're looking for a partner, it's fun to look.

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  12. Those New Year's resolutions from your teens are hilarious! Do you really resolve to change your personality? At this stage of my life, I figure my personality is what it is and is unlikely to change. My job is to work with its strengths and figure out how to work around its weaknesses. (I also decided at some point in middle age that the strengths and weaknesses of my personality are flip sides of a coin -- I can't have the strengths without the weaknesses.) I confess that I haven't made New Year's resolutions in many years, but I do experience this as a time of new beginnings and I begin the new year with renewed energy and purpose. Happy New Year, Jean, and may all your resolutions come true! -Jean

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    1. Thank you. I do wish I could change some things about myself like being more spontaneous and could have the confidence it takes to initiate more social outings. But on the other hand, I agree that at my age my strengths and weaknesses are probably set in stone. I guess I just like the IDEA that we should always be striving to improve our personalities. LOL

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  13. I'm a planner and scheduler, too.

    I used to make resolutions, but I didn't make any last year or this year. I loved your 1958 list. "Improve my personality." Ha. That reminds me of how a friend and I bought a book about how to become a great conversationalist. Somehow we thought it would improve our social skills and personalities, which would improve our "relationships" with boys, of course.

    "Do things to make me happier in 1958." Now that's one for the ages. I think I'll steal it.

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    1. Now that you mention how-to-books, I remember being still in high school and reading a book by Normal Vincent Peale, thinking it would make me a better person. Recently, I heard a Trump biographer say that the orange guy's father used to take little Donnie to hear Peale preach. It gives me the chills that we have anything on earth in common. LOL

      I was never a good at conversations but my husband was an expert. The trick, I think, is asking lots of questions and being well read enough that you can talk about whatever the other person brings up.

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