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, June 9, 2018

Barf, Art, Friendship and Minutia


Fifteen minutes after taking an Ambien sleeping pill plus two chewable Melatonin I heard the unmistakable sound of the dog tossing his cookies alongside of the bed, right in the pathway to the bathroom. I get up several times in the night to pee and even if I had wanted to, there was no way I could let the barf sit until morning. I turned on the light and couldn’t believe how high that pile of undigested food was that Levi had the bad manners to deposit on the carpet. With sleep quickly taking over my body I managed to drop the pile of vomit I had picked up with a paper towel, spreading it across the three foot between where Levi had parked his barf and the wastebasket. While I was undoing the damage I did, I heard Levi out in the living room retching up more vomit. In two different places. The poor little guy was sick and I was not safe to be walking around. I was afraid I’d fall asleep right in between his second and third piles so I picked up what I could and left the deeper cleaning for morning when I was sure the Resolve Pet Expert, High Traffic Carpet Cleaner could do the rest. And it did, but it wasn’t going to dry before the township inspector was due at the house to check out the installation of the new hot water heater I got last month. Rather than let him think the dog had peed on the floor I plopped two of Levi’s least favorite toys on top of the wet spots. I am nothing if not creative. 

This week I’ve been busy with not much opportunity to be bored or melancholy but both are still lurking below the surface none the less. Monday I had lunch at the sculpture garden with my Gathering Girls pals where there was a new exhibit of contemporary sculpture by Masyuki Koorida from Shanghai, China. His medium is mostly marble and the one thing we each wanted to do is touch the polished surfaces of his work, but of course that’s not allowed. The security guard either had a thing for older women in comfortable shoes or he didn't trust us not to resist touching the stones because he followed us around from room to room. Every time I go to one of these exhibits of art that each costs more than my house, I wonder why not me? Why do some of us give up playing with paints or clay before we’ve become so damned dedicated that others think our work must be good just because we’ve devoted our every breath to creating it? The artist, the docent said, sits in a room with a slab of marble for hours letting the stone speak to him before he starts. (Ya, sure. My husband and I once did that before tackling our first wallpapering job, knowing it would be costly if we screwed up.) Mr. Koorida says he’s letting the “heart of the stone out.”

The next day I let the heart of friendship out when I met one of my husband’s high school classmates for lunch. He lives a couple of small towns away and a couple of times a year we meet in the middle for lunch. He’s thinking of moving out of state. That made me sad, then ashamed of myself for feeling that way. I should be happy that he wants to find a climate better suited to his disability but if he leaves all my connections to the good times we all had in our old group of friends will be gone. Sure, we can still talk on the phone like we do every couple of weeks when we each give the Republicans hell---get it all out of our systems until the next big news story breaks. But it won't be the same. He’s been such a great friend, even moved in for a couple of weeks to be my husband’s caregiver when I had my knee replacement surgery. How many friends can you name who’d wipe your butt like Gary did with my disabled husband? 

Yesterday I went to a travel club presentation to hear about the 2019 trips they’ve got planned. Three of the five are taking place in The States which makes them more doable and intriguing to me. One trip abroad is a ten day Kenya Camera Safari for $4,195 plus airfare. The other overseas trip is a cruise called the Mediterranean Legends. Thirteen days for $3,995 taking in Rome, Sicily, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia and Malta. The trips here in The States are: 1) The Tournament of Roses for five days, $2,650; 2) New Orleans for seven days, $1,999; and 3) seven days to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, $2,895. I go to these travelogues because they’re a free afternoon with interesting things to learn and see and usually they inspire me to hop back on the diet train. Travel would be so much easier if I could drop a few pounds. But this time with boredom and melancholy so close to the surface, I got to the "rail station" too late to catch that train. I have no reason to be unhappy but every so often---like now---I feel like I’m hiding behind a cardboard cutout of myself, showing the world what they expect to see when inside I’m questioning why the minutia of daily life is sucking the sparkle out of me. ©

Meijer Sculpture and Garden Park, more work by Mr. Koorida.

38 comments:

  1. Oh my do I know how you feel....with the blues and sadness. I keep mine pretty well buried, but they are there waiting for a gloomy day, a perceived slight or a sudden memory. And I think this is true widow or not. It's more the changes we go through as we age and life changes, often not for the better.

    I miss traveling (we did a good bit), but it's just not the same with gal pals and certainly not alone.

    I can certainly see how this man moving would make you feel sad...a link to the past and all. I sometimes feel like the woman without a country. I'm not in contact with any old high school friends or where I worked for 32 years. And I've moved from where my husband and I retired to. But I've settled, have new friends and I'm very close to both my ex SILs, which are here. But the loneliness does creep in at times and I hate that feeling.

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    1. Yup, you've described me while describing you. "A woman without a country." In my case I think it has more to do with aging than with widowhood although that's a part of aging to know that my time for a deep and meaningful relationship has come and gone. What I'm saying is I don't grieve anymore for Don but more for my own lost youth and drive. And the flaming liberal in me used to be so proud of the accomplishments my generation has made in women's rights, civil rights and environmental responsibility then along came Trump and all those illusions got blown out of the water.

      I miss traveling too but the idea of spending that much money to room with an almost stranger seems so chancy and the price to get a single room on these trips I've mentioned up above really ups the price.

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    2. Oh yes what trump has done and will continue to do is a whole other sadness and even more sad are the people who have given up decency to support him.
      It is more an aging thing now and sometimes I feel like I'm just killing time, even though it is enjoyable for the most part, but still.....

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    3. Amen, sister. But we have to keep fighting for decency and keep fighting the "just killing time" feelings--both of which can overwhelm us if we don't check ourselves.

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  2. I just read the comment above, and your response. So true, the words: "...(related to) ageing ....to know that time for a deep and meaningful relationship has come and gone". And also: "... (the grief over) lost youth and drive".

    I travel - it takes a lot of research (which I enjoy, sometimes more than the travel!), but even that, the research and travel both, is now becoming tiring. Usually, when traveling, I am able to recover some of my previous drive and energy. But not on my last trip when I had to force myself out of the accommodation some days. Having said that, I will continue until I find I physically cannot.

    PS: some hotels do have single rooms. I hate paying for double rooms, but have no choice. ~ Libby

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    1. I think I'll rename this blog "Lost Youth." Just kidding but I could fill pages up with that theme.

      Good for you on traveling. It feeds the soul to see and do new things. The travel club does the research for you and pretty much irons out any issues that might pop up along the way which is a good way for older people to travel. But I do wish they'd do some 4-5 day trips here in the States. Two of the above mentioned trips are in the winter, too, and I'm frankly afraid to fly that time of the year. Long airport delays are not on my bucket list.

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  3. This post and the comments are difficult for me to comment about. I have a SIL who shares your feelings exactly but that’s not me. She looks back a lot and thinks about her experiences. I don’t understand why she does that, and she doesn’t understand why I don’t look back. I don’t know why, I just don’t. I can honestly say I’d never thought of lost youth till I read it in your comment.

    I live alone. I don’t have a pet. I don’t have much of a social life. Still I seem to have a variety of things I find interesting, enough to make me want to get out of bed every morning. I guess I find looking to the future more uplifting than looking back down memory lane. You made me think with this post and that’s hard on my brain.

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    1. I can't give you any insight on why some of us look back and some of us don't other than maybe some of us didn't have as ambitious goals in our youth as others or maybe they've full-filled all their goals in life where people who look back have more regrets? I don't spend a lot of time looking back by any means and I find plenty of interesting things to do. It's just that from time to time it just feels like going I'm through the motions because that's what's expected. And sometimes when I look ahead I get melancholy knowing I don't have enough time left to accomplish all the things I'd like to accomplish---if that makes any sense, the lost youth thing. At least you have a sister-in-law and kids to talk to. I really don't have anyone who fits in that niche other than blogger friends.

      Which brings me to a shout out I want to make to B.J. for the Pooh meme she sent via email about how everyone feels this way from time to time but some people are just better at covering up or ignoring their feelings when it happens.

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  4. What a thought provoking post, makes me think twice about a few things that occupy my brain space from time to time.

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving a nice comment. I appreciate that.

    Wishing you a Great Sunday!

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    1. I really enjoyed my visit to your blog. Thanks for returning the gesture.

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  5. Is it that I lived as a nearly only child for my first 18 years that set my joy at living alone in these last few years. I love it! I don't go out much, because I have no need to interact. I don't get bored and rarely lonely. I just know that I enjoy so much not having to share my house, my TV, my bed...and I don't have to cook. Maybe it's because I was a housewife for 27 years and got used to being home all the time? Maybe it's because I'm selfish and prefer my own company?

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    1. I enjoy my own company, too, and not having to share my house or TV time. I don't mind living alone BUT I know from reading your blog that sometimes you also long for things and let a touch of melancholy slip in---like family contact and phone calls that aren't always forthcoming as you'd like. Just about as often as you have vented about that, I long for a great conversation or for a sense of accomplishing something creative that others see value in. It's not an every day longing, not even an every week or every month longing but it's always there under the surface...that sense of boredom that no amount of projects or places to go can erase. I wish I knew how to explain it because judging by you and Linda's response I don't think I'm doing very good job.

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    2. Jean R. - I understand exactly what you are saying. I'm happy to live alone in solitude but sometimes ...... Its only when I read your comment above that I understood my own feelings, which are not always there but do occasionally rise up. I can attest that travelling to places doesn't always erase those feelings! (sometimes it does). I think its good to acknowledge and face one's feelings. My own advice to others is always: don't look back, no point - just wish I could always follow it.

      Your creative accomplishment is your blog, regular as clockwork, twice each week. I greatly admire that commitment, and your generosity and kindness to commenters. I look forward to each post, as I'm sure many others do. I find your blog inspiring, and suggest that its your living legacy, much as paintings/books are of others'.

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    3. Aren't you kind to write what you did in the second paragraph about my legacy. I hope you are right since I don't have kids or grandkids and it will the only thing I leave behind. LOL

      Your advice about not looking back would make a good topic for an entire blog post...debating the pros and cons of that idea. Whatever works for each individual is what they must do but for myself But for me there is value in reassessing how we got to where we're at in terms of mental growth and we can't do that without looking at the past, present and future all at once. We've all overcome obstacles and heartaches and are stronger than we give ourselves create for. I enjoy trips to the past---mine and other people's remembrances. The trick is not to get stuck there especially if you're still grieving a loss. However, I must say here that my feelings of boredom and restlessness are nothing new and not a direct result of my age or status as a widow but rather a life-long need inside for constantly be pushing the limits of what in means to be _______ (fill in the blank). Ah, the mysteries one finds inside our brains!

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  6. I am sorry your friend might move away. Good friends with a shared history are irreplaceable. My mother used to say that "she didn't have to explain" herself to her oldest friends. I really didn't understand until my closest friends were gone.

    I have some really nice memories of traveling, but now, when I travel, I find myself wishing I were home after a couple of days. It is just more complicated now.

    I really miss having a cat, but your story explains a little bit why I haven't gotten another cat. Not having a pet is less work and expense, but it is still a missed presence.

    Hope something nice happens to interrupt your boredom and melancholy. Ann

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    1. I'm going to have a full body mole scan from a new dermatologist on Monday. Will that count as something nice? LOL

      Saying good bye to Gary, if he moves, will hurt for the reasons you've described in your first paragraph.

      Traveling really is more complicated than when we were young and could sleep in the back of a pick up truck and be happy. There are pills to pack and aching bones to worry about and bathroom schedules to think about not to mention when traveling with a group, you'd get very little privacy for days on end.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. I have a small book entitled "Grace Notes" by Alexandra Stoddard. It's a book of daily meditations. On the page for March 21st this is what it says (the whole page which I read often):

    "...Let him cry whoever feels like crying....the shedding of a tear, whether of forgiveness or of pity or of sheer delight at beauty, will do him a lot of good. Lin Yutang

    * When Mrs. Brown finally died just before her 101st birthday, I called a close friend. Once I heard his voice I began to cry and was too chocked up to talk. I loved Mrs. Brown. Crying helped. So did my friend John, who listened as I cried. I cry often. It's okay to cry.

    * Think of crying as singing. You wouldn't want to keep a song inside when you had an urge to sing. Crying reminds us that we're moved by life's sorrows and beauties and we're participating in them all fully. "

    I get it Jean. I feel the same way, sometimes not knowing why I feel the way I do. We're all different which is what makes the world go around. Nothing wrong with that.

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    1. "* ...Crying reminds us that we're moved by life's sorrows and beauties and we're participating in them all fully. "

      Oh my gosh, that is SO beautiful! I really wouldn't want to be numb to all of life's sorrows or beauty. I will try to think about being melancholy as participating in not trying to avoid my feelings. Oh, and I've actually experienced that crying with a good friend so I really understand the power that has.

      Thanks for taking the time to share that here!

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  8. How is your dog? Two enormous piles doesn't sound good. I hope it's not something more significant than not enjoying his food. Having had the dubious pleasure (?) of stepping in hairballs and cat hurl in the past, I know your frustration. Good move with the toys.

    And I can relate to your feelings in the sculpture garden and sadness over Gary's impending departure. Friends like that are rare and indeed, a special unique to those we've known before and the experiences shared.

    Hugs coming your way.

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    1. Thanks for asking about Levi. He's been fine since that night. The next day I switched him to a dog food for sensitive stomachs and got him pumpkin 'gravy' that's suppose to settle a dog's stomach down. Seems to be working. I'll be so glad when his treatment for Lyme Disease is over in ten days. Those drugs can't be easy on his tummy.

      I love the sculpture garden but I often have a hard time understanding what makes some of that stuff great works of art.

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  9. Hi Jean,

    I don't have many down days anymore so I am pretty terrible at dealing with them when they happen.

    But something I have found to be a bit helpful is to just be kind to myself and let the feelings out. Which you have done in your blog post. I think this is great.

    Then I go to bed early, pull the covers over my head, and vow that tomorrow will be a better day. And almost always it is. And if not, I can usually find a reason to laugh at myself, which (strangely) helps.

    Hugs,

    Deb

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    1. Ah, another person who subscribes to the Scarlett O'Hara philosophy of life: "I won't think about that now. I'll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day."

      I do think it helps a lot to allow yourself a set time frame to have a pity party---when they come---and then end it when said time is up. I read a quote recently where a person said that allowed herself five minutes every morning to feel lonely then she put it behind her for the rest of the day.

      I did debate whether or not to "let my feelings out" in this blog post, but in the end I decided with the two high profile suicides this past week that it might make a difference to someone who reads my blog to show that we all have our ups and downs, that Mary Poppins doesn't live in my head which I think I'm guilty of projecting that out sometimes.

      Laughing at ourselves is good medicine, isn't it.

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  10. Hi Jean. Sorry to hear about your lovin dog. I hope his tummy is back to normal. How is he making out with the Lyme disease?
    I'm so sorry hearing about your friend leaving. My friend left after getting married and they moved to live in Alberta, Canada. It has been 38 years since I've seen him and three days ago him, his wife and I got together to have a coffee. He was in town for his mother's birthday. She turned 90. When I saw him it was like 38 years ago except we are older now. It was wonderful. We hope to see each other again when he comes back to town again.
    Meijer Sculpture by Mr. Koorida are unbelievable even though I can't under stand them.
    Are you thinking about going to one of those beautiful places? After this cruise is finished, I'm thinking about a 10 day cruise that will take me to New Orleans for 3 days in a row. It will be during Mardi Gras and my friend Gerry took this cruise and told me that New Orleans was great.
    That's about it for me my friend. I hope that you are doing well and say hi to Levi for me. See ya

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. My friend, if he leaves the state has no relatives or friends that he'd ever come back to see. I do thinking he is under estimating how hard it would be for someone in our age bracket and his disabled to boot to network into a new community where he knows no one. So I hope it works out for him, if he goes.

      I am giving serious thought to going on the New Orleans trip because I've always wanted to go there but the biggest draw back is I'd have to fly in the winter and get to the airport and back in potentially bad weather. I'd hate to spend all that non-refundable money and get snowed out of going. The hot air balloon festival sounds good, too but too much time scheduled for shopping for my tastes. They will have additional travel presentations that go into more details on each of these trips so I'll go with an open mind. Glad your friend like New Orleans. We'd be going a few days before Mardi Gras but would still be able to see the floats, etc. Lots of side trips around the area.

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  11. Jean--Poor Levi! He must have been feeling downright terrible. Either that, or he was Making Art: Letting His Creative Muse Out, Taking Whatever Shape It Will. And you went and destroyed it! So sad...

    I'm sorry you've been feeling some Melancholy. My mom, a widow, has been as well. June is a difficult month for her--lots of sad dates--and she has been inward and quiet. I've told her for many years never to apologize for her feelings. They make us fully human.

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    1. I've never had a dog who upchucks as much as Levi does, but it never occurred to me that he's making art. LOL

      I'm glad you're mom has you. It helps a lot when someone understands and validates your feelings like you've done with her.

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  12. I realized a while ago that two things that I am doing in my life now are really important to me because they are goals. I can live my life and do pleasant things and there is nothing wrong with that but my attachment to playing the flute and making art quilts is something completely different. I feel different about working toward improving my skills and ability in both of those things and it is a different kind of motivating force in my life.
    The other thing that I wanted to mention is that the news is very dark and distressing at the moment. It is certainly affecting my mood and I don’t doubt that others are affected as well. It is the way that you are describing it because it is underlying our existence.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I've made a conscious effort to cut my consumption of world and national news down by 4 hour a day. I don't turn the TV on when I get up anymore and in the evening sitting on my deck I read instead of having TV going on in the back ground. The world situation really is one of the forces that effecting my mood but I won't do a total news blackout like some others I know. That would contribute to the normalizing of what is far from normal.

      Now that my life is slowing down a little (busy spring) I need to start a creative project that grabs me the way your quilting and playing grabs you. I've always been goal orientated in my life and now, except for keeping up my blog, I'm just drifting again. Thanks for reminding of that.

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  13. Saw a quote
    "The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." So I agree, we must stay informed and vote , but we are up against a wave of ignorance and bigotry that is supported by a sizable number of people. I try to look at it long range or the old
    This too shall pass...but sometimes I feel this is somehow different....a very shift in what American ideals stand for and the losing of our very freedoms...it's concerning for sure.

    I don't have goals other than to try staying busy, eating out, a nice glass of wine in the evenings, enjoying the sounds of nature and lots of following all the blogs I follow, which I love....yours included!

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    1. The shift is different from normal politic tribalism and that's what is so scary....just of much ignorance out there, allowing it to happen! Your quote is well chosen and worth keeping where we can see if often.

      I need to find some new blogs to follow. So many people I loved following are cutting back or quitting!

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  14. How is Levi, that is a lot of retching for a little guy! I hope he is well. Jean, I understand the melancholy all too well. Take care of you and continue to be mindful of it and do what you can to ride it out or override it. I know it is not easy. I'm here offline if you need it.

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    1. His last pile was pure yellow stomach acid I think it's called. I switched him over to sensitive stomach food and pumpkin sauce for dogs with digestive issues. He seems fine now.

      Thanks for this post and the sentiments behind it! It helps knowing others understand that gray area in between total happiness and full out depression.

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  15. I know what you mean about feeling depressed. It happens sometimes. Hope you feel better soon.

    Poor Levi. I'm glad you didn't fall asleep in between his last to retches. That would have been something to wake up to. Spot cleaner for your carpet is a good thing! Especially when you have a dog.

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    1. I'm never without the Resolve carpet cleaner in the house. With a dog and light gray carpeting it's a necessity of life. It does a wonderful job. We are both feeling better, though. Hope are too. I miss your blog posts.

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  16. What you said about travel here really made me grin. As you know, I almost always travel alone, but I just bid adieu to a girl-cousin, with whom I traveled and lived for the past two weeks. The first week consisted of figuring one another out, and getting used to one another. We discovered that we had almost nothing in common, except that our mothers were sisters. It worked out fine in the end, but my goodness -- it was a reminder that, for me, signing up for travel with a stranger or a group just isn't for me. Beyond that, I really was surprised by the cost of the offerings from the travel club. It took me a while to figure out that (naturally, and quite rightly) there probably is a profit margin built into those costs.

    I laughed at your comments about being followed in a museum, too. When I went to the King Tut exhibit here a few years ago, the temptation to sneak a touch of the cat sarcophagus was nearly overwhelming. I didn't, but only because one of those eagle-eyed guards was lurking around.

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    1. There are cheaper tours around, tours that aren't escorted. This company sends one or two escorts with you to iron out any and all issues like medical emergencies, lost passports, connections, etc. Plus they hire local guides and transportation, luggage handling, tips---all the details---all inclusive including food. They always schedule one or two free days to be on your own and they'll help you hook up with whatever it is you might want to see/do. They also have mixers before going so you get to know everyone a little bit before you go. Groups are from 12 to 20, mostly 60 to 80 in age. I've never traveled aboard so if I ever do, I'll go with this company and hope if I go to enough travelogues I'll meet someone I'd room with. But, boy, that's big commitment as your experience with your cousin taught you!

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  17. "I have no reason to be unhappy but every so often---like now---I feel like I’m hiding behind a cardboard cutout of myself, showing the world what they expect to see when inside I’m questioning why the minutia of daily life is sucking the sparkle out of me." EXACTLY! Thank you for so clearly stating my own feelings too often.

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    1. Sometimes it's necessary for us to keep on trucking along even when we don't feel like it.

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