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, January 5, 2019

Three Pages and Namesake Babies


Amazon sent me an email that I was about to lose a $5.00 credit toward buying a book if I didn’t use it soon. I wouldn’t throw a five dollar bill away and I buy a lot of books, so I went to their listings and bought The Artist's Way. It’s a book that’s been around for twenty-five years and I’ve been meaning to read it for the past ten. Its synopsis says author “Julia Cameron takes readers on an amazing twelve-week journey to discover the inextricable link between their spiritual and creative selves.” Below is my first attempt at following her ‘three pages’ rule. It involves getting up every morning and writing three pages off the top of your head. No excuses, nothing is off limits. Just write with no forethought.

Already I’m breaking the rules of writing the three pages because they're supposed to be written in longhand. But writing in longhand doesn’t work well with my dyslexia because I know I’d get caught up in stumbling over spelling and transposed syllables and that would break the stream of consciousness the exercise is supposed to free up. There’s no one here to tattle on me---so my house, my rules.

I woke up with a weird but pleasant dream still hanging around inside my head. I dreamed I put a squash in a baby bed and was petting as it ‘slept’ peacefully and the baby bed was in the middle of a bunch of women doing yoga in a sunny meadow. Then the dream had me in a pickup truck with my husband and a stranger and we were running the country roads looking for roadside grave markers near the lake where my family’s cottage is located. I woke up wondering why on earth I’d be treating a squash like it was a live baby and if this were a blog post I’m writing I’d google ‘squash’ in the dream dictionary to find out what it signifies. Oh, what the heck, my house my rules and I’m looking anyway.

Just as I suspected there was no listing for ‘squash’ but the dream dictionary did have a listing for seeing vegetables in our dreams. It supposedly can signify “a need for spiritual nourishment…” Is it creepy or serendipitous that I just bought The Artist’s Way and the book claims to nourish spiritual growth? While I was looking in the dream dictionary I wondered if the squash had something to do with the diet I always start with a new year. I know I need to eat more vegetables and the yoga class is easy to figure out how that fit in the dream since I recently wrote a blog about a woman in tight yoga pants. It also just occurred to me that the last thing I read on Facebook before going to bed was an announcement that the newest member of our family was just born and named after my father.  

I have mixed feelings about naming children after others in the family. It’s an honor to be sure. One of my nephew’s granddaughters is named after her great-grandmother. A pretty name but won’t people who knew my brother’s first wife tend to look for character traits in the baby that belonged to her grandmother as she grows up or look for similarities in the newest baby to his namesake? What if these two babies grow up to be awful human beings, disgracing their namesakes? I doubt that will happen...but still with so many outside influences parents have to deal with in this day and age you never know. They say kids grow into their names and I suppose that’s true. Well, except for ‘Mabel’. My neighbor’s ten year old girl is a Mabel and I still can’t get used to addressing a child with a frumpy old lady’s name. My dad was nearly a saint in my eyes and in the eyes of the new baby’s grandmother’s, so will he get special attention? A special kind of love? The brand new baby in the family is obviously the squash in my dream but am I sad because I probably won’t be around to see him grow up? Is the stranger in the truck this baby all grown up and I'm introducing him to his namesake and other ancestors? Is this why I dreamed of roadside grave markers?

Well, don’t I know how to bring myself down. On a brighter note, I got a long, hand-written letter in the mail from a person on my Christmas card list. He and his sister and my brother and I spent a lot of time together growing up because our parents were good friends. We even had summer cottages on the same lake. He wrote about seeing Black Board Jungle, the movie, together in 1955 and how he knew the song, Rock Around the Clock was going to be the start of something big. He wrote the letter  before Christmas and said he wasn’t looking forward to the holiday “because of all the people who are now in heaven.” I wrote him a letter back saying that I’m a firm believer in the notion that as long as we remember and still talk about the people we’ve help bury, then they are still with us. I got that from my dad who defined heaven and hell this way: if after we die we are remembered with love then we’re in heaven but if we’re quickly forgotten or scorned then we’re in hell. “It’s the living,” he said, “who are the final judges on where we reside.” Wow, I think I just figured out why people name babies after relatives who’ve passed on. The little Melanie’s and Pete’s of the world are helping to keep their great-grandparents in heaven. ©

31 comments:

  1. wow, you really came full circle on this post! Nice job! :)

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    1. Doesn't always happen with stream of conscious writing exercises, does it, but it's fun when it does.

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  2. Hi there Jean. Your weird but pleasant dream was weird. I'm not sure if I want to my acorn squash for dinner. LOL My dreams are also weird. Some are laughable but others get my heart racing and I'm worries about it. I use to just sleep but not now.
    Names, my name Paul I guess came from St. Paul who was a bad person until God changed him and made him a very special person. That's me, a special person. LOL
    You kow Jean, I wish there was a where for you send me your address so that I could you my special cards that I make at birthdays and Christmas. If you could figure it out I would love doing that for you.
    Have a great day my friend and I've already placing my underwear into my luggage.See ya.

    Cruisin Paul ( St. Paul )

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    1. Dreams are interesting...why we have them, what's in them, what people think it all means and whether or not medications you're taking cause you to remember them more.

      That's sweet of you to want to send me some of the cards you make, but I can't give you my address without giving it to the entire world.

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    2. I tried. See ya Jean.

      Cruisin Paul

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  3. So many things can influence our dreams. I guess we're really just working out all the stuff that happens during the day. Interesting post. I'll have to try this sometime.

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    1. The book wants you to try it every day for 12 weeks and I do know a couple of people who did that years ago and are STILL in the 3 pages a day habit. It can be a fun way to write and I do it from time to time but I call it my ramble writing.

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  4. I agree, you really tied that all up in a neat bow.
    She really wants you to write 3 pages in long hand. Mercy. I am lucky that when I just sign a card "Love Patti" that it is legible.

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    1. She wrote that book 25 years ago, before computers, and at first I thought if she wrote it today she'd ditch that hand-written rule but she has a new introduction in the front written for the book's 25 anniversary and she didn't mention changing it. I have a tiny 3"x5" notebook that I take with me when I go to restaurants, parks or where ever and I can easily do 20 pages in that. LOL I don't think that would count anymore than doing the pages on the computer.

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  5. What a great experiment!!! The writing.

    And I admire your hobby about dreams!

    Keep it up cause it keeps you going!

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    1. I quit keeping dream diaries in the late '90s when my dad got to a point where he couldn't tell his dreams from real life and it scared me.

      Anyone got an opinion on naming babies after others in the family? My dad's family have Johns in every generation for 10 back and my husband's family have Toms that go way back. Drives me crazy from a genealogy point of view.

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    2. My daughter did maternal grandpa's middle name for firstborn middle name then paternal grandpa's middle name for second born. Some Jewish friends name their children after deceased family members. And also often change their last name when married ... both husband and wife! Naming is an interesting process.

      I named Kate after my favorite Aunt Catherine (who was mad I didn't use a "C") and her middle name is my Mom's middle name. So her initials were KT (Katie!!) Ralph's family called him RD and I am JB ... so we thought it was meant to be. When she was three she asked us NOT to call her Katie ... that's a baby name ....

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    3. I've always liked the name Kate or Katie or Kay, but not Catherine. I had a terrible time naming our dogs, I can't imagine picking out names for babies. My brother named his oldest daughter after our dog...but he named the dog years before his daughter came along.

      Did not know that about Jewish people changing names! Interesting.

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  6. Yes, naming kids after relatives can be risky. When Donald Trump and his then-wife, Ivana, had their first son he initially didn't want the boy to be named Donald Jr. because "What if he turns out to be a loser?" Or, as we might see, indicted by Robert Mueller. If that's the case, I hope it's "like son, like father." Wouldn't that be nice?

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    1. Oh no! I share a similar thought with Donald Trump. This is not good news. LOL But it would be nice outcome on the Mueller investigation.

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  7. What a great dream. And serendipity!

    I love The Artist's Way. I did it pretty faithfully for a long time and parts of it, I still think about and maybe even do. It was worth it. And how nice about the letter from your old friends. That's really special (and these days, rare -- handwritten! I like them!)

    Thanks for stopping by my place. Glad you "know" Freddie and his band. If you google Backstage Pass Root Doctor WKAR you'll find a program we did with them eons ago. I mean, eons. They were so young and new -- and still good!

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    1. Freddie is very popular around here too and deservingly so. Thanks for the google tip.

      I really wish I had gotten the Artist Way in a real book form instead on my Kindle. Seems like the kind of book I'd like to skip around in or refer back too places. I'm trying not to read too far ahead of the the 'assignments.'

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  8. Exactly what kind of squash? And did you drive off and leave your squash baby with the yoga women??!!

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    1. I really don't know my squashes well enough to answer your first question but the answer to your second one is 'yes' I did leave the sleeping squash with the yoga ladies. I didn't really want to because it was a bright, sunny meadow and the driving around part of the dream was dark as we looked at gravemarkers that were close enough to the road that we didn't have to get out of the truck.

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  9. Our family uses family names a lot--mostly as middle names and thankfully, we are not in the habit of naming our sons with the same name as their father!
    I can pretty well, no one is going to name their child Judy. Such a silly name.

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    1. I wouldn't be to sure of that, Judy. The young people in my family are digging up all the old names like Eden, Madelyn and Evelyn. I know young kids with Names like Neil, Clara and Mabel.

      Sons named after fathers is such a pain for genealogy researchers like you do!

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  10. I don't have a problem with naming children after grandparents, aunts, etc. I DO have an issue with naming a child after yourself, whichever parent you may be. Just too narcissistic to me. I think you can still preserve family heritage/honor someone by skipping a generation. This is my opinion, only.

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    1. I'm sure it's narcissist for some to name a child after themselves, but not always. The two cases I know of where the oldest son was named the same as their father and other first borns going way back, I think they did it because it's been a family tradition for so long generations that they don't want to be the one to break it. Just too confusing! Naming a child has got to be hard. It took me forever to name a couple of our dogs. LOL

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  11. All the Elderly names are really making an odd comeback. My nieces and nephews are having kids, and it sounds like they've adopted senior citizens instead of having had babies. They've used names like Emmett, Everett, Millie, Jane...and they're not even named after Ancient Ones.

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    1. "...sounds like they've Adopting senior citizens." That so funny but true of what I've noticed too. People in my peer age group remember those names associated with great-aunts and grandparents but the young kids naming babies don't have those hangups associated with the Pearls and Mabels and Neils.

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    1. He didn't have a formal education past the age of ten, but he sure was the smartest person I knew growing up. Not many things he couldn't do, built, fix or explain.

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    2. I think it’s nice for children to be unrncumbered with a name attached to other known people, family or celebrity, or whoever, but know not everyone feels that way. My husband close to his father and had been named a Jr., but didn’t want our son to be a III any more than I did. His mother was probably disappointed (father dead) but she never said anything.

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    3. Joared, Your mother-in-law was smart to keep her opinion to herself. My mom didn't with my nephew on a name she didn't like and it caused problems for my brother for several years until my mom finally accepted the name my nephew was given.

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  13. The first person who came to mind re: the naming business was George Foreman. He has twelve kids -- seven daughters and five sons -- and every one of the sons is named George. It's not something I would do, but apparently it works for them.

    My folks finally decided to name me Linda because they thought it was pretty, and they'd never known anyone who carried the name. In the first year after I was born, it apparently caught on, and now there are Lindas galore. My middle name's Lee, which alliterates nicely, and I married into Leinen, so now I have a full name that sounds vaguely Hawaiian, and that makes a heck of a monogram.

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    1. Oh, I love your three L's name. I can't remember meeting very many Linda's in my life.

      Twelve kids all named the same! That's crazy for anyone but someone as world-wide famous as he was. It would definitely open doors for the kids but bet I'll they all went by their middle or a nickname.

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