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, November 28, 2015

What in Your Life is Calling You?

I was looking for a writing prompt when I ran across something called “Terma Collective, a quote by zaadzster.” I’m having a hard time not capitalizing the word ‘zaadzster and even more trouble finding an explanation on Google for who or what ‘zaadzster’ is. If anyone knows, clue me in. I think it has something to do with spreading spiritual awareness but whatever it means, what do you think of Terma Collective (below) as a prompt for widows or anyone else in transition? Do you want to answer the summons---that something in life that is calling you---or do you continue pretending it’s not there?

What in your life is calling you?
When all the noise is silenced,
the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,
and the wild iris blooms by itself
in the dark forest,
what still pulls on your soul?

In the silence between your heartbeats
hides a summons.
Do you hear it?
Name it, if you must,
or leave it forever nameless,
but why pretend it is not there?

Time to grab my stream of consciousness and record what the voices in my head are saying. Yes, I hear the summons…some would call it a restlessness with the status quo. A restlessness caused by knowing there has to be something out there that will allow me to keep my fiercely valued independence and at the same time will bring me closer to others who can keep an eye on me as I age. Is it moving? Is it trying harder to build new friendships? Do I initiate more frequent contact with family? I need more human contact in my life and not just more of the same that I get now---friendly acquaintances at senior hall events. I need more contact with people who value me in their lives. People who’d notice if I fell off the face of the earth besides the dog who, as smart as he is, couldn’t dial a 911 if I tumbled down the basement steps.

Yesterday a niece in-law dropped over with some deserts left over from her family’s Thanksgiving get-together and she asked me why I want to move so far away, that she’d miss me not being in the neighborhood, and I said something inane about wanting to be closer to family. It was an inane (and maybe hurtful) thing to say to her because my husband’s brother’s kids and their spouses---where she comes in---all live close-by and would help me in a heartbeat if I called. If it was hurtful, I didn't mean it to be but down deep, I know blood ties me tighter to my brother's kids. I can't help it. Is that normal or am I a bad person? Then she said, “I hope you know you’re always welcome at our house on holidays. If I’d known you were going to be alone I would have had you over.” And the fact is, I know she meant it. Taking it a step further, if it had really bothered me being alone on Thanksgiving I could have called people on Don’s and my side of the family both, invited myself over and I would have been welcome. What does it take to make me feel valued? Why isn’t knowing the welcome mat is always out enough? Am I turning into one of those needy people who forgets to see the half full glass next to the half empty glass sitting on the table of Personal Choices?

What in my life is calling me besides quality human contact? A vague and undefined picture of ‘contentment’ but I can’t focus the lens to see what contentment looks like, so how do I find it? Do I bring back the artist in my soul that got lost years ago in the fog of making a living and then being a caregiver? I open the door to my spare room where my long neglected painting easel was recently placed and I see the stack of how-to books that was unpacked last week. Maybe I’m on my way. Maybe I’m about to answer the summons every person in transition hears. I just wish I knew exactly what in my life is calling me and will I have the courage to answer? I am old and I worry my procrastination will outlive me. ©


  1. I felt this way before we moved. I'm much more content now, but I still feel it sometimes. I think, for me, it's about connecting more with those who are already in my life. I'd love to meet and make new friends, but that doesn't seem as easy as it was when my son was young. But we have relatives and friends who I should invite for lunch or meet for lunch more often. I was just saying all this to H the other day. I have a very loving niece that's not too far away. I should make more of an effort. Okay. Enough of the "I shoulds." I will. Ha!

    1. I agree with what you're saying about connecting more with those already in our lives. The first few years after Don died I thought it was about making new friends but but, again, like you said that's not as easy to do as when we were younger. I can feel a couple of New Years Resolutions being hatched here. LOL

  2. Perhaps if they had called you and invited you to Thanksgiving that would have helped. I think I would have stayed home too having not been invited. I can't see myself asking to be invited to anything. I'm just throwing this out there.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. I can't see me doing that either, Sandee. But the thought did cross my mine.

  3. Jean :

    I love your writing so much. you describe your feeling so well with touch of humor & humanity. I know exactly how you are feeling searching for purpose. I went through exactly same thing after my stroke & job loss, having young son & husband gave meaning to my life. Now that kido is gone off to college my routine & my breakfast gets me out of bed lol. I know all of us want some bigger purpose in life, its hard to believe you are still here because of god's grand plan. you matter in this vast universe, even though its hard to believe it sometimes we matter in this grand scheme of things. but believe me your writing & support has saved so many lives. It saved mine for sure. without you & your writing I don't know what choices I would have made. I know this for fact that atleast you saved me. In hindu scripture they say you have to do your karma based on your dharma without getting attached to results. another thing I learnt in my own life anything you do in life with good intention behind it, it will turn out to be right thing. now I feel silly sharing my learnt wisdom to spiritual pro like you lol.


    1. You are always so supportive of me, it makes me blush. I absolutely love what you said about anything we do in life with good intentions behind it, will turn to be the right thing. Thanks for sharing that.

      Remember all the long posts and messages we exchanged when we were both on the stroke support site? You helped me as much as I helped you. Because of you and others stroke survivors sharing your pain and frustrations on the site, I gained insight about what Don was going through and couldn't express because of his aphasia. Don't ever under value you place in the stream of humanity!

  4. Very wonderful post! You are a thinking woman's blogger. Maybe younger relatives could ALWAYS call and invite .... none of us would call and invite ourselves! (Well, I might!). Then they would know if we were home ... alone ... treating a holiday like just another day.

    1. Life is complicated! LOL Treating a holiday like just any other does work. That's what last Christmas. Although I really enjoyed by turkey legs cooked in a crock pot and the pumpkin pie.

  5. I think the relationship thing is tricky as we age because we are looking for relationships based on some kind of equality or reciprocity, not ones that make us feel like a child or a charity case. I imagine it's easier for those who have children and can see the care children provide to elderly parents as reciprocity for the care that was provided for them in childhood. Caring for grandchildren provides another sort of reciprocity that is not available to us.
    This year, I've initiated an arrangement with my recently widowed neighbor (who is still working) to have her over for dinner one evening a week. It provides me with a weekly engagement I can count on even in bad weather and provides her with a good home-cooked meal that she doesn't need to prepare for herself. I knew it was important for me to accept her invitation to Thanksgiving dinner with her extended family in order to maintain that delicate balance of reciprocity. -Jean

    1. Having children sure would have made aging easier. My brother and I took great care of my folks when they needed us late in their lives and in my fairy tale world I like to think all kids would do the same, In real life I know that is far from true. It's a crap shoot.

      Your widowed neighbor and you have a nice arrangement. It's one I would like.

  6. zaadster was hard to find! I dived into Google and came up with this as the best source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nexUc2Op1Wk I didn't watch the whole thing; basically it's a social network for people who want to change the world and has been bought out by Gaia, with which I'm familiar through Yoga and other things. Interesting. I guess a zaadster is a member of the zaadz social network.

    Now, to your post. Such a beautiful meditation on aging, transition, listening to an inner calling, stepping into the unknown. I think aging is one of the most courageous acts of our lives.

    I hear so clearly your longing for meaningful connections. I share that longing and my deepest fear is to be alone in old age. I spend so much time worrying about it, that I'm actually already feeling that loneliness emotionally, when my life is still full and busy. I am creating the fear I dread. Duh! So, being in this moment and not projecting into a future I truly can't predict is my "go to" mode these days.

    And the idea that people around us will give us what we most need? Well, I have always wanted others to be as kind, considerate, caring, and loving as I am. (TeeHee) And they so often fall short. In a funk of feeling sorry for myself around this one time, my husband told me "You may never be loved that way your want to be loved by other people." It sounded so hard and cruel and we had a HUGE fight over it. But he was right. I was setting myself up for disappointment over and over again but having expectations of others they could never fulfill. I actually "ran away from home" that weekend and spent 3 days alone, writing and ruminating. I came to the realization that I had to love MYSELF the way I wanted to be loved. I spent the last day alone nurturing myself and bought myself a beautiful heart-shaped necklace to honor the love I have for myself. I go back to that whenever I feel neglected or marginalized.

    Well...all of this is to say, "I hear ya, Sista." We are on the path together.

    1. Thanks for the link and explanation of what you found on zaadzster. It bugs me when I can’t find what I want on Google. It happens of few times. I knew yoga had a shirttail connected but I couldn’t figure it out.

      I have a worrywart nature, too, and we both recognize that gets in the way of living in the moment which is always the goal. Although I think of my “worrywarting” as planning instead. LOL

      Love what your husband said to you and how you spent three days coming to the same conclusion. That was worth buying a commemorative necklace to honor the enlightenment. It's a great touchstone to wear when you need to be reminded to love yourself. I sort of do the same thing with a necklace I had made that has my husband’s wedding ring incorporated. I wear it when I need to be reminded that I was once loved deeply.

  7. Concerning your easel:
    I worked for many years in a correctional facility with adult men. I was on the rehabilitation side as a teacher hoping to show them a better direction through education. But in a very true sense I felt that we couldn't really attempt to rehabilitate people while they were behind barbed wire because they weren't seeing what we were trying to show them as a contrast to their life. I wish we could have taken them into the woods to show them the beauty of the natural world. And I wish we could have taken them to art museums and to chamber music concerts so they could touch and see and hear beauty...so that it could wash over them and allow them to understand a different way of living. That isn't the way our facilities are run but it was my idealism!
    And I think in a strange way that is why I have spent so much of my retirement quilting and playing music...because there is real value in reaching out to beauty. In no way do I think that I am creating it...but I am touching its presence and I know it is there in a really important way. So I do hope you start creating on your easel because each one of us should reach out if we have the opportunity.

    1. In the old neighborhood where my husband lived before we got married there was a 10-11 year old boy who we came to know really well. His father was dead, his mother was mental ill and often gone for months at a time. Until we started taking him with us when we'd go to the beach, art shows, outdoor concerts or where ever, he'd never even been out of six block area.. We exposed him on so many things. So I understand what you are saying about wishing you could have exposed the men you worked with a different side of life. We take so much for granted in the way most of us were raised, but there is a whole world of others who only see bleakness. Art has always been important to me, even when I go years without creating any. I do think I'm inching closer to try my hand again.