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 9, 2017

From Holiday Guilt and Presidential Powers to Full-out Gratitude



With the holiday spirit hanging in the air---the decorations lighting up the neighborhood nights, the Christmas music and good cheer heard in the stores, the parties lined up on the calendar---it feels like I’m living in an twilight zone. I swing from being genuinely happy in the ho-ho-ho season to feeling guilty about that. Who am I that I get to be light-hearted when so many people in Southern California are losing their homes and livelihoods to raging fires that are destroying thousands-upon-thousands of acres? Who am I that I get to be in my warm, well-lite home when 66% of the people in Puerto Rico are still without power since Hurricane Maria destroyed the island in September? 

FEMA is closing operations in our southern states but their workers aren’t getting a much needed break. They’re headed out to California and you can’t help but wonder how much longer our nation can afford to fund all the natural disasters we’re having back-to-back. If we lose our power grid here in the frozen north this winter, for example, will anyone be here to set up shelters for us? Yet our lawmakers are giving big tax breaks to billionaires thus raising our national debt but when it comes time to balance the budget it will be cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have in their crosshairs. They’ve actually spoke those words out loud and we’re supposed to say, “Oh, well,” and go back to our holiday cheer. If I drank I’d get one of those Virgin Wines Advent Calendar boxes. Open a door every day and pull out a bottle of bubbly.

I am getting whiplash trying to keep up with the changes the current administration is making. This week Trump set things in motion to relocate an embassy to Jerusalem against the advice of virtually every world leader, and he’s radically slashed the size of protected lands in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by 2 million acres---to the orgasmic delight of mining and oil exploration companies. And Utah is just the beginning. The administration has plans to shrink land in 24 national monuments including in Montana, California, Kentucky, a few states out east and the new marine monument in the Pacific Ocean. The smallest monument park, one in Mississippi that is dedicated to an early NAACP official who was assassinated by white supremacists in the 1960s is already under an acre in size. What possible justification could there be for slashing that national monument land in half other than it being dog whistle gesture to the guys who like to march around with Tiki torches?

Breathe, pace myself. Yes, time to change the topic. One of the commercial blogs I read from time to time had a topic this week titled A Powerful Reason to Give Gratitude During the Holidays and into the New Year. The bottom line, according to the article, is the holidays are often stressful so we need to double down on the act of giving gratitude throughout the day. “Gratitude stimulates your neurotransmitters, the hormones that bring energy and happiness into your living experience.” Or so they claim. Call me a cynic but sometimes I think the wine would work better. 

All kidding aside, I am grateful for the things the Sixty & Me blog article said I need to focus on: the people in my life, my talents and the events in my past that helped make me who I am. Although if I’m to be 100% honest here, I’m still working on being grateful for the latter. Being a widow helped make me who I am. Being my husband’s caregiver for so many years helped make me who I am. Watching my mom die due to a series of human errors helped make me who I am. These events may have made me a stronger person yadda, yadda, yadda but I was pretty happy with myself before I was tested with these challenges. So my gratitude in this area is not written in flowery cursive in a cloth-covered gratitude journey. If I wrote them down at all, I'd write them in pencil so I could erase them from time to time when I’m decidedly ungrateful and I’ve dedicated an hour to a pity party. 

What I am is immensely proud and grateful that I can still feel a full range of emotions, that I still have empathy and a sense of humanity that have not been crushed by Man or Nature. I am also grateful that Time Magazine chose the “Silence Breakers” that launched a global movement against sexual harassment as their ‘Person of the Year’ cover. I predicted it would Tarana Burke, the #MeToo Movement’s creator, and I got that and so much more. Woman Power is back and “the future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard.” Yes, I understand the audacity of quoting that line from Al Franken’s resignation speech in the context of the Time’s magazine cover. Life is messy. ©

40 comments:

  1. There is so much in the news to be upset about. I'm paying attention, giving it its due, and trying to just live life the rest of the time. It isn't easy. He and whatever the last thing he's said or done intrudes on my thoughts. Then I try to move to my happy place. It's a crazy existence. What can he do with three more years if left to his own devices?

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    1. That's exactly what I'm doing, bouncing back and forth. I know others who just tune everything out but with this president and congress I think that's too dangerous. we need to be ready to lend or voices to causes we care about or they'll be gone.

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  2. I never realized a president had so much power, like a dictator, in the US, to be able to do all these terrible things with no check. I thought that was the purpose of democracy to have a balance and a check on absolute power. I see little strength from the democrats and no sign of any potential candidate for president. The republicans only care about money and power. I'm so glad I'm old because we won't recognize our country in another five years and I do feel he will be reelected because of his brainwashed followers.
    I am grateful for things and my life but lately, maybe the holidays and being alone, it's been difficult. Being busy helps, which I am, but I'm still basically alone...
    Didn't mean to be a downer....sorry

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    1. Don't apologize. I debated whether or not to even publish this blog because it's could very well be viewed as a "downer" during a time when we all deserve to be happy. But shedding a light on things many of perceive as problems isn't the same thing as causing those problems. And in my opinion, venting can also be good for us because it can lead to actions.

      I guess our checks and balances are up to the courts now regarding the monuments as lawsuits are already being filed to prevent the slashes of land but, damn it, there goes more causes we have to donate money to!

      I think it's too early to expect to see a potential candidate for good president coming along from either party. Few people had heard of Obama, for example, before he started running. I have to have faith that someone of quality will float to the top like cream on milk...and that expression dates me. LOL

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  3. I feel a great deal like Mary does, let down by a government that I was always taught was a Democracy, protecting its citizens by a System Of Checks And Balances from a crazed, authoritarian executive. Now I realize that it's all a lie and a setup if one demented, power-hungry party owns all the branches and doesn't care about anything but corporate profiteering.

    I understand everyone's need to feel happy and escape from this constant heavy dark cloud. I feel it, too; it's unrelenting. But I can't pretend it's all OK out there.

    Tony Schwartz, who wrote "The Art of the Deal" about 45* said this in a recent op-ed:
    "Part of Trump's approach is to overwhelm the opposition by coming on like a human tsunami. In the book, this is the way he describes his six-year effort to build the New York City Convention Center on property he controlled: 'In the end, we won by wearing everyone else down. We never gave up and the opposition began to melt away.'"

    This is what he and the republicans are doing. And it starts with everyone accepting whatever shocking thing he does as The New Normal. He is not being held to any previously held standard of ANYTHING--party, office, government, democracy. And our country is melting away.

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    1. Trump sure is exposing a lot of the flaws in our democracy. It's shocking to realize that we could be so divided but I've still got to believe it can be turned around if we just don't give in the the New Normal mind set that this small-minded person in the White House has created. "Tsunami politics is a good description. He mentioned "the resistance" at his rally yesterday so you've got to know we're making inroads. If Roy Moore wins next week I'm predicting that will be the end of the Republican Party. The internal war will spin off to a new party of Mitt Romney types and that would be good for the country. He and Jeff Flake are the only ones left who have moral authority to do it.

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    2. Roy Moore will win. And this says people in Alabama and other areas in the South are so totally anti abortion choice and anti democrat, that they would vote for the devil himself if need be, in their distorted eyes. I think this just aids Trump and all his bible thumping followers that he has pulled the wool over their eyes. He knows how to play the racists and "true believers" like a fiddle.

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    3. I totally agree, Mary. Senate hearings will never be the same if they seat Moore and if they don't it sets a bad precedent for future elections if they get a few votes out of him, then kick him out of the senator, thus overturning the will of voters who put him there. I don't get that kind of morality of putting party above the very fiber of our nation.

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  4. I'm staying away from politics and the nightly national news and just watching the lovely snow outside and wrapping my small gifts to my loved ones, and looking at the neighbors pretty decorations. I find that helps my mood a lot.

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    1. That works for many people. I'm not one of them. Have a good holiday, Judy.

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  5. All this really just make one "bleeping" tired doesn't it? I too am grateful that I am old, just wish all my loved ones were also.

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    1. I know. The little ones in our families will grow up in a different world than we did.

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  6. I'm embarrassed by all the things I have in my that are wonderful. Knock on wood. I have never gone to be hungry. Natural disasters have been near but not close enough for me to pack an evacuation bag.

    Yet the biggest national disaster is the president! How can someone who is so visibly mentally deranged still be the president? The whole WORLD notices his ridiculous behavior but we are powerless to get him OUT of office? It is definitely interfering with the holidays...the biggest embarrassment of all.

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    1. "Embarrassed" is a good word to use when talking about the president and our country right now. I'm going to start using it. One mentally deranged person would be bad enough but I'm really worried about all the people in this country who can't see that he is or if they see it, they don't care. These are our neighbors, friends and family!

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  7. I'm no Trump fan, but he didn't invent the expansion of executive power. Conservatives were at least as upset about Barack Obama's use of executive action to accomplish things that he couldn't get through Congress (e.g, DACA instead of legislated immigration reform). How much power the executive should have was one of the big debates among the founding fathers. I think a lot of Trump's behavior is a response to how *little* power he has. We like to claim that the President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world; once someone is elected, they discover how often their power to act is blocked by legislators who can't muster a majority vote for pet legislation or courts who rule an executive order unconstitutional. I, for one, am grateful that checks and balances are working as well as they are (even if those same checks and balances frustrated the hell out of me during the Obama administration). -Jean P.

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    1. I do remember the discussion about executive actions expanding during the Obama administration and near the end of his term the Democrats wanting to find a way to reign that in for the NEXT president but that didn't work out so well. Not making laws the regular way does open them up to be undone by the next administration as we are seeing today. The main thing we need to do is pray that all the Supreme Justices stay healthy while Trump is in charge.

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  8. Politics is a slow game.

    The outcome of the 2018 midterms will be interesting.

    I don't understand why many berating Alabama voters about Moore, when USA voted for Trump, demonstrably a serial, sexual predator.

    Re the multiple cases of serial harassment being reported daily, it's beginning to dilute the shock/horror. And no public outcry against the occupant of the WH. ~ Libby

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    1. I agree, on all counts. The Pussy cat hats march just after Trump was sworn in was like a match lighting a fire under a pot of water. And that pot just boiled over which, in my opinion, is why so many are focused on Roy Moore now. Alabama voters, if they vote him in and I think they will, only care about one issue---abortion---and they don't care if they unleash the devil himself as long as he talks the pro-life lingo.

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  9. One thing I have never understood is if someone religious or not feels abortion is wrong, then by all means don't have one. But why do they feel they have a right to impose their personal beliefs on the public at large, of which many want a choice.
    Years ago when abortion first became legal, I don't ever remember any church or groups being so insistent that it had to be their way. In fact the public at large was very much in favor of choice and I just don't remember it being an issue at all. Separation of Church and State use to be a given that most everyone wanted. When did this all change?

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    1. You're preaching to the choir, Mary. It's such a black and white issue for pro-lifers where to most others can see the gray areas. I live in dark red area of the state and pro-lifers have always been militant here. It's a topic we pro-choicer NEVER talk about. There is one business that has had their flag at half staff since Roe vs. Wade was passed and they have a board out front with a the number of abortions they claim has happened since. I would guess the fact that the internet can now organize all the pro-lifers is why they 'seem' to be growing but in fact, they've been here all along.

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    2. You know, I get really, really frustrated with this nomenclature. I firmly believe in a woman's right to choose, but how in the hell does that NOT make me "Pro Life?" I am very Pro Life. No one I know who is Pro Choice is ANTI Life.

      Deciding to end a pregnancy is a heart-wrenching choice; it has to be. I don't know anyone who has made it who was carefree and flippant about it. I also--as a public school teacher in an urban school district for 30 years--saw lots of neglected kids whose parents sucked, who were abused terribly, and who also gave birth to kids who were destined to be raised in relentlessly dire circumstances themselves. (And NOT rescued by these so-called ProLifers who want to force them to have these children but not assist them in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER.)

      I am exhausted by this Social Issue/Culture War that is a Zero Sum Game. For a country founded on the Ideal of Freedom, we are veering backward to the Colonial Puritans with alarming velocity.

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    3. Exactly! Pro-Choice is NOT anti-life. Safe, legal and rare for those who make that difficult choice is the goal.

      I, too, am disheartened to have to keep fighting the same fights that many of us thought were behind us. I personally have left this issue behind for the younger generation to fight. I did my part back in the late '60s and '70s and I chose other social issues/battles to engage in now. But I still care and don't want to see a return a time when abortions were confined to back alleys.

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    4. And all in the name of religion....

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  10. I, too, feel similarly to you and commenters about how it was drilled into us that we have this unique system of checks and balances in our government. It works until it doesn't. While I am also aware of what Nance said about us being worn down intentionally, I am not sure what the alternative is at the moment. Not only are we being worn down, our efforts at protest are being sabotaged to the extent that there really is too much misinformation out there. What can we be doing at this point?

    The other thing that hurts at the moment is the resignation of Al Franken. I know it was because I liked and respected him, but I'm not sure he should have been pressured into resigning. Again I think there were some false equivalencies here and I think he was being made to appear guilty of more serious charges than necessary. It seems wrong that it was more about appearing to take a moral high ground than actually doing what needed to be done. Which does circle around to my first statement: what can we all do at this point?
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I feel badly about Al Franken leaving too. He was a good senator. The fact that his first accuser (the USO tour lady) is a friend of Fox & Friends and Hannity makes her story of the kiss suspect to me. Basically I think he took one for the team and the long game of the Democrats wanting to claim the morale high road for the mid-term elections. They are counting on the back-lash against trump in women's groups to change the make up of the house and senate.

      I wish I knew what we can do other than to stay vigilant, support the credible press, make our voices count and not allow ourselves to get worn down. We can take a break from it from time to time but we need to come back in the resistance soon after.

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  11. Every single word of this post! Brilliant, my friend. My brilliant friend. You rock.

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    1. Thanks. Sometimes it's are to reign it in when I'm on a rant. LOL

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  12. Jean, did I just mistype your name? It disappeared before I could review. I'm sorry if I did. Fat fingers.

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    1. Nope, you didn't. But I often misspell my own name as Jen or Jena and I've been doing it before I got fat fingers.

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  13. AS I sit here in Amherstburg, Ontario, CANADA, I look at and read all the stupid things that going on in the states
    ( Trump ). What the heck are the women in Alabama doing? Are they crazy? The US is going backwards. Trump and Moore are true racists and the people have to stupid. Can't they see it? It must be very hard for you who lives in the US seeing all of these idiots. I saw that there are so many poor people in Alabama today and these billionaires sit in their seats and don't care. I think the devil has taken hold of the United States. I just pray to God that some day changes will occur. For now Jean, at least try to enjoy the Christmas time. I will. See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. It's going to be interesting what Alabama voters will do today. If they elect Roy Moore it will only hurt the Republican party and strengthen the resolve of those of us who want to see an end of the Trump administration. Thankfully, we still have free speech to vent our frustrations. I have to believe things will turn around.

      Have a good holiday!

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    2. If Trump continues with his type of hell, will he continue giving the people of the states their free speech? I hope not. See ya my friend.

      Cruisin Paul

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    3. Not sure you wrote that the way you meant to. Freedom of speech is part of our constitution and would impossible for any President to take that away. It would take opening it back up and that can only be done by Congress to even debate the issue. Radicafication is a very high bar --- only done on big issues like ending slavery, etc.

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  14. Doug Jones won in Alabama. Hot damn. Now you can have a Merry Christmas my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. You bet. It's certainly a good sign that a return to sanity is on the way in the mid term elections.

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  15. I continue to think Trump has far more in mind than being President of the country our forefathers envisioned. He, Bannon and monied supporters have said their intent is to, essentially, alter our form of government. He has systematically followed a series of actions that are designed to do just that — just as authoritarian/dictators are documented as having done .... in our lifetime. He’s simply following the playbook. A block of the populace and one of our political parties go along in the same mistaken way previous countries lost their freedom. He’s also a disciple of Roy Cohn who taught him if he just keeps lying, eventually a certain number of people will believe him — and we see it happening. He has already indirectly covertly courted and empowered violent thugs — I.e. Charlottesville who can be counted on to act out when appropriate — as mentioned previously the legislative branch has made a deal with the devil thinking they can control him while gettingbwhat they want. It’s no coincidence so much military courting and appointees, ongoing efforts to load the Justice System, subvert the justice branch as with our current AG. Trumps steady attacks to cause populace to mistrust government, including our intelligence groups (if they don’t agree with Trumps view). Definitely the credibility of the Fourth Estate must be destroyed and truth is only Trumps truth. This effort has been occurring since the Primaries, is relentlessly never-ending. He is aligned with Rupert Murdoch who has had a long-standing agenda to monopolize news media as he corrupted in Great Britain, brought us Roger Ailes and Fox Fake News. Make no mistake our constitutional democratic republic form of government is at serious risk. Under the right circumstances Trump or any similar leader can usurp control overnight. We do not ever want law enforcement needs to offer him a reason to legally declare marshall law. The playbook includes some positives to seduce a certain number of people and lull others into complacey while systematically creating confusion to wear the people down, This is just a simple description of the playbook we’re repeating — slightly different in some ways but coming all too close with the end result being much the same — loss of our free nation as we’ve known it — maybe not in our lifetime, but it’s moved much too rapidly to date.

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    1. You are certainly not alone in your thinking on this topic. I've seen similar ideas/predictions on political sites. The scary part is his fans are hoping for and planning for a complete destruction of our government. and they do think it will happen in their lifetime. I don't think Trump is the mastermind behind it all, thought. He's just a useful tool of Bannon and Murdoch and God knows who else. We need to stay vigilant and support those groups that are fighting back in the courts where it counts the most!

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  16. You’ve summed up the situation quite well. I share your feelings of being jerked around. Yet, I see a very definite plan deliberately creating this environment with intentions that do not bode well for our nation’s freedoms and the good of the American people. I continue to believe we must persist in resisting this effort to alter our form of government as the legislative and judicial branches are increasingly becoming subjugated to the administrative branch. I believe we can preserve our democratic republic as desired by the majority of Americans as we celebrate this holiday season. Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

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    1. Staying committed to resist is the key and the time has never been more important than now.

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