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, September 1, 2018

The Think Piece --- from Pancakes to the Dalai Lama


Every so often I try to write what I call a ‘think piece’ which, to me, means I have to dig deep and write something that makes me and others think rather than just record diary-style what’s going on in my world. Looking for inspiration is the tough part and I tried to find it at the Guy-Land Cafeteria. It’s a great place for people watching and it’s big enough that the seating is never full therefore you can stay as long as you like nursing your coffee or going back through the line for dessert without feeling pressured to give up your seat to someone waiting. No one ever has to wait at the cafeteria, at least at the time of the day I haunt the place. And best of all, I’m not the only one who is there pretending to be John Steinbeck or J.K. Rowling.

The cafeteria has a breakfast special that’s a great buy: two eggs, two pancakes and two pieces of bacon for $4.80. They also have a mini breakfast of one each of the before mentioned items but I’ve never ordered the mini in the thirty-odd years I’ve been going to this local chain. I clearly said ‘special’ as I touched the poster advertising this golden oldie but when they called my ticket number and I got my order back to the table, I noticed it was a mini breakfast. I grabbed the plate and was heading back up to the pickup station, thinking I’d picked up the wrong plate, when I noticed my ticket actually said mini breakfast. The manager who took my order must have been on auto-pilot when he saw an elderly lady standing in front of him. Most senior citizens of the female persuasion probably order the mini plus the manager was frazzled trying to supervise a new line cook and taking orders at the same time. I weighed my options of just eating what was on my plate or waiting for a corrected order and I decided that I didn’t get what I wanted but I got exactly what I needed. I even heard my hips thank him for his screw-up. 

“I didn’t get what I wanted but I got exactly what I needed.” I googled that sentence and it turned up 817,000,000 hits. Yup, I am not the only person on the planet who thought that idea was somehow more profound that the sixty-one characters it took to write it. At the top of the list was an essay about praying for one thing but God giving you something else. There’s a whole lot of that going on in google-sphere. People expounding on the inspirational value of what someone got that was better than what they asked God for is a popular theme. There’s even a Garth Brooks song titled Unanswered Prayers about a guy and his wife who ran into his old flame at a hometown football game. “She was the one that I'd wanted for all times,” Garth sings, “And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine, and if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then, I'd never ask for anything again.” And then he sings the punch line in the chorus: “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.” 

Obviously, all those the-universe-had-better-plans-for-you type articles were not talking about getting one pancake or egg instead of two. But still, when you go to a place looking for writing inspiration you’ve got to asked yourself if a restaurant manager I’ve known since the last century making that mistake was serendipitous or was it just the fact that I was actually noticing every single thing in my surroundings, looking for signs and points of interest to hang a ‘think piece’ on. If I hadn’t been there intent on finding a writing prompt maybe I would have just been annoyed at what happened and forgot about it before noon. Or worse yet, I would have brought the mistaken breakfast to the attention of the manager so he could feel bad and then I could feel bad for making him feel bad. I used to have a friend who made big scenes over things like that, even if it happened to someone else’s order at the table. We quit going out to eat with her and her husband because it seemed as though she was looking for reasons to berate and embarrass service people. Why do some people go through life twisting the simplest mistake or ill phrased sentence into a personal affront worthy of a hissy fit?

Have I ever mentioned that I love the Dalai Lama? He says wonderful things that make perfect sound bites and memes, like: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito” and “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” But one of my favorite Dalai Lama quotes is: “Time passes unhindered. When we make mistakes, we cannot turn the clock back and try again. All we can do is use the present well.” Okay, I did it again. I set out to write a ‘think piece’ but I ended up letting the wise words of someone else be the catalyst to make myself and others think. ©

29 comments:

  1. I love "time passes unhindered" to me that really is profound.

    We all worry and fret over big and small things and we all make every kind of mistake you can think of. We can have an influence over many things, but not time passing by. It is relentless.

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    1. I wish I had written what you just did. You nailed the meaning of that quote and of our time on earth.

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  2. I once heard a friend moan that God never answered her prayers. I said, "Oh but he did. He said no."
    I do believe we get what we need, not want. Guess you needed a "mini" that day:))

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    1. I need a 'mini' every day but old habits are hard to break. But it did give me the writing inspiration I needed.

      The whole concept of unanswered prayers baffles me, though. With so many people world wide praying for peace on earth, why do those prayers go unanswered? Surely there can't be something better coming.

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    2. Maybe they aren't going unanswered. Maybe it's because the reason there is not peace on earth is us, humanity. After all, humanity causes the unrest, shouldn't it be up to humanity to work harder to achieve it? Maybe that's the answer to the prayer. I don't think there will ever be total peace and I'm not sure there should be. A completely peaceful humanity would be complacent and there must be some discourse, if for no other reason than to think and problem solve and most of all, learn and practice compassion and empathy. Well, you've gone and made me think much too much this lazy Saturday afternoon. That's a good thing, thank you.

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    3. Interesting theories, Pippa. Now you've gone and given me something to think about the rest of the evening. The world is made up of opposing forces so you might be on to something.

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  3. I cannot stop laughing at the pure, unadulterated wisdom of Arkansas Patti's comment about God Saying No. It's so simple.

    Sadly, it seems he says it a lot and about really important things, however, and not one of his true believers cares to admit it.

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    1. "He said no." That is a pretty funny line, isn't it. I guess if you believe in "ask and you will receive" you don't expect to receive a rejection.

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  4. This is a thinking blog! Starting at the very beginning. I love how you go out of your safe zone to specifically write. Getting the mini and making do. Restaurants ARE making it easier to eat small meals ... and I love that. OR I buy a lunch and bring half of it home for Jesse or Braeden. Mindful choosing is a great talent! And it probably held you over til the next meal.

    I, too, love the Dalai Lama and his profound short reminders. So deep ... I love analogies. I also love short and sweet. I went to Al Anon for a few years because I loved their little snippets of encouragement. Acronyms like QTIP ... quit taking it personally!

    I vote that this first blog of Sept 2018 is indeed a Thinking Blog!

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    1. With the stupid long holiday weekend, I'm having trouble thinking of a topic for next Wednesday. Thankfully, I'll be going to the movies Tuesday so I'll probably be writing last minute...no time to think. LOL

      I often ask for a to-go box when my order is served and box up half before I even start eating. But not at the cafeteria. Easy there to order according to your appetite.

      I never remember acronyms but I love the phrase, "quit talking it personally." People internalized too many things that have nothing to do with them. Often it's their own consciousness making them think it does.

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  5. I like your think piece very much, Jean -- although I must say you often make me think! That Dalai Lama quote at the end is especially meaningful these days.

    Thanks so much for your visits to my blog. I'd email you personally as I try to do but since I don't have your address, I'll have to thank you here! And yes, I'll be getting a clip for that bag as you suggested. And the china -- I had a few pieces at home, but really only enough for dinner for two and a few miscellaneous bowls. At least now I can use it for a few more!

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    1. I love your blog and everyone has their our own way of replying to comments. I'm not comfortable sharing my email address publicly like so many others...long story dating back to my caregiver days.

      The sentimental value of your china is priceless but if you're ever curious about its availability and value check out Replacements, LTD. I've had great luck adding to vintage place setting.

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  6. Hi Jean. I thought the breakfast was OK but where was the potatoes and two pieces of toasts?

    I was thinking my friend, I could begin a new blog with your help. What is the company that you are in, like wordpress or blogger or anything else. I would have to have an easy one just like the one I use to have. Do you have any ideas for me. I'm still not sure if I want to through all the hassles but one of my of blogger friends told me that she would love to have me get another blog, soooooooooo, I'm thinking about it. What do you think? See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Paul, it would be too hard to help you set up a blog long distance. You need to find a grandkid or friend who can help you in person. If it were me, I'd delete your Google account and blog and start all over with a new Bloggers blog and new account since you already understand their platform. (It's what you've been using before you widget issues came up.) If you do, be sure to use a new blog name. Sorry, but I can't help you. Lots of tutorials online that can, though like this one: https://www.wikihow.tech/Start-a-Blog-on-Blogger

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    2. Thanks Jean, you are correct. I slept on it and I've decided that I won't even start. I tried but found it to difficult but I'll keep checking on your's and my other blogger friends. See ya my friend

      Cruisin Paul

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  7. Years ago, we were friends with a couple we occasionally went to dinner with. The guy was never at a loss for reasons to criticize the server, the food, or the length of time he had to wait for his food. So obnoxious. We haven't seen them for decades.

    I think blogging or photography makes us aware of things that would normally pass our notice. You never know what will make a great post for the blog. Anyway... your breakfast sounds good. Maybe I'll have it for dinner.

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    1. It's embarrassing to be at a table with a chronic complainer.

      So right what you said about blogging and photography. When I'm at a loss for what to write about I often go someplace to people watch.

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  8. And one more thing I forgot...
    Years ago, I saw a nun/teacher on the Donahue show. She said that she had given the parents a list of things the children would need. Crayons were on the list. She said that one little girl came to school with the "48" pack. She dropped it, and the crayons went everywhere. It took several minutes to pick them up, and the class couldn't continue until she finished. After school, when the parent came to pick the child up, she told the parent what had happened, and told her to give the child what she needed, not what she wanted.

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    1. Nice teaching moment! I'm trying to practice giving myself what I need and not what I want. Can't imagine how hard that is to do when a child is involved.

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  9. Hi Jean :

    As you know by now, I am big sucker for your think piece, it always make me go Yes that is what I know true for sure. Man I love my stroke of luck it opened me up to such a wonderful world of words I was never interested in reading before or noticed.

    Asha

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    1. And you must know by now that I admire the way you turned your stroke into a such an important life lesson. It wasn't an easy transition and I know your story inspires a lot of people. What year of college is your kiddo in this year? Does he still want to be a doctor?

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    2. Jean :

      he is junior in college right now & applying to medical college right now., but its tough competitive world out there. but I know he will do great wherever he will end up going & doing

      Asha

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    3. I know it too. You and your husband have been wonderful role models for him.

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  10. Talk about common wisdom -- even the Stones agree that we can't always get what we want!

    Of course, I've known some people who lived by the old dictum that if you never want anything, you'll never be disappointed, and that's as sad in its way as unrealistic and never-ending wanting. Learning to hold on to wants while learning to take care of our own and others' needs is part of that tightrope we call adulthood, I guess.

    I laughed at your comment about "the stupid long holiday weekend." Spoken like a true retired person! Me? I'm basking in the knowledge that even though it's Sunday, tomorrow's a day without work, too.

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    1. Oh, you are so right! When I was part of the working class I looked forward to holidays. Now, they are just boring.

      Adulthood isn't all it's cracked up to be. LOL

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  11. Lovely, Jean! I've been blessed with a few unanswered prayers in my life so I resonate with your topic. Also, love the Dalai Lama's wisdom...and your "Think piece". Keep thinking and rock on,

    Deb

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    1. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like the Dalai Lama...but there probably are a couple. Here's to unanswered prayers in your life.

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  12. Jean, my blog came opened to me again. I hope it continues. This is crazy but I pray it continues.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. It's asking me for my email address to enter your blog, and that's not going to happen, given the (hacking?) issues you've been having.

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