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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Mumble Jumble from my Cluttered Brain

Gene Autry

I think too much. But who doesn’t? Okay, I imagine a few hands just went up in the air. Ya, I know, over-thinking things can be a curse. And I admire those among us who can “ommmm” their way into emptying out their heads. For me, mediation is akin to sticking your head in a washing machine and spinning the unwanted thoughts out like water in wet clothing; the process is hard and out-weighs the results.

My first introduction to mediation was back in the ‘60s when I bought a book by Marharishi Mahesh Yogi titled, Transcendental Meditation, Serenity Without Drugs. He was an Indian guru who is credited with bringing Transcendental Meditation to the West. At least that’s what his Wikipedia page says but we all know that sometimes the information on those pages needs to taken with a grain of salt. I’m not saying he didn’t do that, I just don’t know and I’m too lazy to dig deeper. I like to think our Native Americans practiced mediation first on this continent in the form of puffing and passing a pipe loaded with barks, berries, herbs and other plant materials. I like to think they were able to empty their minds of I everything but the fellowship of those who were smoking the pipe with them. But what “I like to think” doesn't make it so and it doesn't line up with what I saw in the old western double features I saw on the Saturdays afternoons of my youth. With the exception of Tonto the faithful partner to the Lone Ranger, Native American Indians were portrayed in, shall we say, less than peace seeking ways.  

I’m in a nostalgic mood regarding those old westerns. I recently sold the Gene Autry, side loading cap shooter that I slept with under my pillow when I was a kid. I don’t remember if I thought my brother would take it in the dead of night or if I thought bad guys were coming after me and I wanted to be ready. I just know Gene was my very first crush and after all the radio and TV mail-after premiums that I’ve recently sold out of my showcase the gun and the holster were surprisingly easy to let go of. Gene may have been my first 'cowboy' crush but he wasn’t the last and I still have one of my husband’s Stetson cowboy hats sitting on top of my bookcase to prove it. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll sell it on e-Bay. Probably not. I only got fifty bucks for his other hat and that one had its original box. It was an official NRA edition Stetson so I was glad to see that leave the house. My husband was a life member but he had a falling out with the organization back when the NRA fought so hard against The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act back in the early 1990s and he never wore the hat after that.

And I still have Marharishi’s book sitting on my bookshelf. It made the cut when the Great Purge emptied hundreds of books out of my library. Someday I might actually finish reading it. It sits in a two foot section in what I’ve dubbed my Spirit Section with titles like: Women in World Religions, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Conversations with God, Aristotle Would have Liked Oprah, Working on God, An Idiot's Guide to Philosophy and The Gook Book, the Humanist Bible---books that I have actually read cover to cover. After I move I doubt any of my new neighbors will be asking to borrow books from my shelves---I’ve saved very little fiction and lots of art, how-to write and reference books---but just in case I need to have an answer other than ”Hell No!” ready to say that means the same thing. Call me selfish but borrowed books rarely get returned and all the titles I’m moving with me cut to the chase of who I want to be. Or more precisely who I want people to think I am. If you're thinking that's weird, is it any different than having a carefully selected wardrobe that projects a certain image? Answer: No, it isn’t. Case closed.

Starting in February the construction company building the Continuing Care Campus where I have a unit being held with a hefty deposit is putting out a monthly newsletter to keep us all informed on the progress. I got the first issue and it contained lots of photos. Not that you can actually see anything taking shape yet because they’re putting underground storm and water infrastructure in now after having hauled away thousands of tons of top soil. By the end of the month we should be able to see where the road and the foundations of the buildings will be. It looks like they cut down 2/3 of the trees that actually attracted me to the place in the first place but we’ve been assured they will be planting lots of new ones later on and the indigenous plants on the property that were moved by horticultural students will be brought back for the bees and butterfly garden that will be my main view. I don’t know if this is common practice on large building projects to put out a monthly update but it’s a cool idea and was a professional looking newsletter. I need all the reminders I can get of why I need to keep myself on track to be ready for the move. I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll find myself sitting on a bench surrounded by wildflowers “ommmming” my mind to a less cluttered place. Na, I’ll be sitting there with my brand new iPad blogging my brains out until you’re all sick of reading about butterflies and unicorns and the Blue Heron fishing on the shore of the near-by lake. ©

45 comments:

  1. I tend to do puzzles to quiet my mind when it needs it. And I hope you do "blog your brains out" after you move in. What better use of blogging?

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    1. I consider blogging my mental exercise so I don't plan to quit. This is the first winter in a long time when I haven't had a gig-saw puzzle going but I do a few word-search and soduku puzzles every week too and play endless games solitaire when my mind is really in need of quieting.

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  2. You say: "...cut to the chase of who I want to be. Or more precisely who I want people to think I am."

    So your goal for your new lifestyle is to be hippy dippy, surrounded by butterflies and unicorns and, I presume, wearing the aforementioned wildflowers in your hair. I look forward to this new version of you. šŸ˜‰

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    1. In a word, Yup. Inner and outer piece in a pretty setting. If I could figure out a way long flowing robes to boot, I'd be in nirvana but I think the robes would be pushing it.

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  3. I haven't read any of those books so I've put a few on my library list. The library did not have Aristotle would have like Oprah so I'll have to search the half-price and used book stores. I understand what you meant by saying they represent who you want to be. In the days that I owned a home and had many bookshelves, I kept quite a few books like that on various subjects. And you are right, it is like clothing - for your soul.

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    1. The 'Oprah' book is the newest. I'm rather surprised that the library doesn't have it. The 'Conversations with God' was a series and I kept book 2, still kind of regret not keeping 1 & 3. I have 2 so marked up in the margins that it would have gotten tossed out if I had donated.

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  4. The image of you sleeping with your toy gun under your pillow is charming. I hope the construction perks along quickly and it ends up being all you hope for.

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    1. Me too. We can get our money back any time up until it's ready to move into. I have visions of hating the place and having gone through all this for nothing.

      I have a photo of me wearing that gun. My brother and I used to play cowboys and Indians a lot. In all our pictures he was bare-chested so I'm guessing he was always the Indian.

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  5. Since I was a Saturday morning Lone Ranger fan some 65 years ago, I was quite amused at your reference. "Toto", however, was obviously Dorothy's sidekick when she flew outta Kansas ... "Tonto" was the Lone Man's buddy:) Just the lack of two letters made me smile! I also had a cap gun that I treasured, along with the belt and holster. Simple days/fun times. I hadn't thought of those things in years!

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    1. LOL Spelling was always been my weakest suit. I'm glad you pointed that out before too many people saw that. I should have seen it myself because I have Toto brand toilet so knew the pronunciation from that.

      We could have been cap gun buddies. Those were simple times. Now a kid with a cap gun would get into a heck of a lot of trouble.

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  6. I looked into TM and it was so ungodly expensive it blew my mind. I thought how can you teach me to relax when I'm stressing over paying you more than 2 car payments in a month. They claim to be non profit and teach The TM technique by Maharishi Foundation USA. I want to assume it is their instructors who make this money but something felt off to me. but I still wish I could have afforded the classes. Once you see the sticks go up on your development it will go fast!

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    1. You can learn anything off the internet for free, but it wouldn't be the same as an in person class. I'm not sure I really want to learn how anymore. I might not want to come back out of it, it would be so peaceful to empty out your brain.

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    2. You don't need TM to meditate. It IS expensive and that kept me away for years. There are many other forms of meditation. Gonna give some info in comments below if you are interested....

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  7. Haven't tried meditation yet but may if the politicians keep messing with my brain.
    I was a huge Roy Rogers fan, enough so that I attempted to run away from home when I was 10. I was going to go to California and have Roy take me in. Not sure what I had planned for Dale:) I guess I was hoping she would just disappear.

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    1. Roy was a good guy to have a crush on too, but he had Dale. LOL

      I think our whole nation could use meditation about now.

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  8. LOL The washing machine image is funny! But you don't have to throw your brain into the spin cycle to meditate. You just have to sit quietly and watch your thoughts -- they will NEVER cease and the misconception of meditation and why people think they are failing is having this expectation that the mind will go blank or become clear. It won't. Thoughts always come and go. It's instructive to sit quietly and observe them -- same thoughts over and over? jumping around like "monkey mind" looniness? worries about the future? regrets about the past? Try not to follow the thought, just acknowlege it and maybe label it: "future thought again..." and let it go and see what else pops up. It really and truly gets easier and less 'busy' over time. You become not one with the thought, but an observer of the thoughts. But it takes daily practice. My favored form of meditation is Mindfulness Meditation -- there are classes, resources online, a great magazine called Mindful. Google it. I also like 10% Happier for beginners because that guy (TV News guy Dan Harris) was such a skeptic and unlikely meditator. Also there are apps for Meditation -- my favorite is the Daily Calm -- almost unlimited choices for meditation for various reasons, time of day, quiet or guided, etc. Just some FYI for ya. Meditation is proven to be beneficial -- even by Western medicine. I'm a convert -- can ya tell? LOL

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    1. I'd take one of your classes if we lived in the same town. You can be sure, Thanks for all the resources. I will be trying Mindfullness Mediation at some point in my future. I've heard of it before. I do have an meditation apt on my phone that I use when I'm waiting for appointments. I've actually used it between blood pressure checks at the doctor's office too and know it works to lower my BP.

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  9. I try to take 30 minutes every day to rest my brain. My PCP recommended an app but I do fine on my own now. IF my brain doesn't want to slow down, I do count slowly to five (over and over) until I'm settled. Breathing on purpose. And I elevate my legs.

    I do think our world could use some meditation. Studies have been done on having children meditate instead of punishment .... https://ptaourchildren.org/meditation-not-detention/

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    1. I've tried it in the past and seriously do need to try it again. The counting to five over and over again sounds like a better way for me than the ummmming thing that can make me feel foolish sometimes. Thanks.

      I've heard about mediation for children. It's very controversial in many red state communities.

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  10. Your blog opened up history of my youth. When I was young I remember watching The Lone Ranger & Tonto, Hoppalong Cassiday, Gene Autry, what was his sidekick's name. I can't remember. Also Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evens. I remember walking around with my coonskin hat, Davey Crockett King of the Wild Frontier . Wow, Those were happy days that I'll never forget.
    I also remember the Cisco Kid & Pancho, wow those were the days. I'm amazed that I can remember all of those names. Thanks Jean. Even mentioning Gene Autry just opened my mind. It just flowed from my wind.
    Have a great day my friend. I'm so happy to remember many of the older cowboys & Cowgirl, Dale. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. It's been a good walk down memory lane selling stuff from my showcase. I just dropped some G Men, Dragnet and Captain Midnight stuff off at the post office. Hop-along-Cassidy too. It's always been fun to listen to company stand in front of that showcase and tell stories from their childhoods.

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  11. We have different ways to clear our brains.
    I shut off all the lights, except the small bedroom lamp, sit in my darkened living room and say prayers.
    I tried meditation back in the 60's, but I never could get into it. I kept wondering when it would be over so I could get on with life. LOL
    I had twin Gene Autry cap gun pistols in the holsters AND a while hat to go along with my cowboy boots, shirt and chaps. My bike was my horse. I was 12, which is a little old for a girl to be playing cowboy, but I was a late bloomer. LOL

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    1. I'm jealous that you had twin cap guns! LOL I'm surprised that so many of us little girls had cap pistols and I'm more surprised that our mother's let us. I can just see you on your bike all decked out in your outfit.

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  12. I've never tried meditation because the thought of quieting my thoughts sounds so unproductive (yes, I know that probably makes me a good candidate for meditation). Your description of your crush on Gene Autry reminded me of my early crush on Bela Lugosi (of Dracula fame). He died the same year I was born but for some reason, my six-year-old self must have found his dark, sinister, good-looks attractive. My parents were probably saving up for therapy for me :)

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    1. Love your last line about your parents> I would have worried if I'd been your mom. LOL

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  13. Any meditation that depends on magazines, gurus, classes, apps, and a financial cost is something I shy away from. Of course, I don't experience the sorts of issues that might incline me toward meditation anyway; I get all the meditation I need while I'm sanding board feet of wood. Of course, I may have been influenced by my years in Berkeley. Believe you me, the varieties of weirdness that people were embracing there in the 70's were seemingly infinite, and the number of people who were making a living off promoting their particular "technique" was astonishing. There's no question it induced a little cynicism.

    On the other hand, there's no cynicism at all when it comes to Roy and Dale. I had my Roy Rogers lunchbox, my Dale Evans thermos, my six shooter, and my cowgirl costume. I rode the range regularly, and never told my folks how much effort I devoted to keeping them safe from marauders!

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    1. I was going to mention, if you hadn't, the calming, meditative power of hand sanding and finishing wood. I used to love doing hand rubbed tong oil finishes. I still have my first project, a rocking chair with 8-10 layers of tong oil.

      I can't even imagine what Berkeley in the '70s was like. You should write about it sometime.

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  14. If your library doesn't have books you want to read, ask if they can get it on InterLibrary Loan (ILL). Some libraries charge for that. Mine doesn't charge, because they are shallow in nonfiction books, especially. I usually have 4 books checked on ILL (the max) at any given time, because I love to look at/skim/read so many different kinds of books. More options to take advantage of! - Kathe, (retired) Librarian at Large

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    1. That's a good suggestion! I've forgotten about the interLibrary loans. I buy too many books and I need to start borrowing more.

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  15. I love that you blog your brains out, so don't stop. And I love that you visit and leave wonderful comments that make me smile, too! Interesting and smart about the newsletter. Loved hearing about your toy gun and the meditation too. I haven't done that for rather awhile. Or maybe I do it all the time!

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    1. Blogging for me is mental exercise. Being mildly dyslexic it's important to keep working at writing. It's one of those things you can always find room for improvement and experimentation so I never get bored with it like I do with other hobbies.

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  16. Like you, I think too much. But I'm happy to say, I slept until 5:45 this morning before the racing mind kicked in. Woo hoo!

    I was always a fan of Sky King and his niece Penny, but we also watched Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. We only got one channel when I was a kid in the hinterlands, and we sat in front of it with our Cheerios every Saturday morning.

    My DD is visiting and helping to clear her stuff (great timing!). So far, we've sold a few books to the local indie and the rest go to the library donation box. Of course, my DH comes home with his library books and a couple cheap used books he bought at the library. LOL. It's a losing battle.

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    1. Sky King? I'm guessing you must be a tad younger than me. And I'm jealous that you got to eat Cheerios in front of the TV.

      I haven't thought there would be a local bookstore buying books. I still have some pricey collectable books I need to find homes for. Come better weather I need to check that tip out.

      I can understand your husband coming home with books. One time recently I dropped off over 100 books at the library and then went to Meijer where I found myself standing in the book aisle. LOL

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    2. TBH, I do buy used books at the same indie I sell to. I'm sure you know who they are...google them and look at their link for selling used books. :-)

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    3. Thanks for the info. I love that place, just don't get there very often and had forgotten they have used books as well as new.

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  17. There’s a wonderful and FREE online resource for mindfulness based stress reduction at Palousemindfulness.com Same teachings that others offer for $$$$. If you or any of your readers are interested....
    Deb

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    1. Thanks for passing this info along, Deb. I really am planning to take advantage of the benches that overlook the lake and are planned in the butterfly garden after I move to practice mindfulness.

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  18. Happy Valentine's Day!
    I still love Gene Autry and Roy and Dale. I have several dvds of their movies and enjoy watching. Especially if I am feeling stressed. I had a mad crush on a boy in first grade that I thought looked just like Roy Rogers. I think I never stopped having cowboy crushes.
    I tried meditating but I never mastered it. I have a mind like a hamster wheel. If I feel especially stressed, I can go out in nature and sit by the river and get a lot more calm.
    I don't know if you have a nearby college but if you do, check on their library lending policy. We can use our college library at no cost here and the selection is fabulous. Plus, you can do interlibrary loan at no cost. It's a great place to hang out and i like it much better than our crowded local library. It is amazing what is available.

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    1. Happy Valentine's Day back at you. Cowboy crushes are the best! You are a braver woman than I am. I'm almost afraid to watch old Gene Autry movies for fear I won't find anything to crush on anymore. LOL

      "Mind like a hamster wheel" is a great expression! I know exactly what you mean. Getting out in nature forces us to live in the moment and that is regenerative, isn't it.

      We've got several college campuses in the area but none that are handy for me. I used to use one when we lived in our other house...20 years ago! Wow, time flies.

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  19. I've tried certain forms of meditation but my mind won't stop whirling - it starts of kind of calm, and then creative ideas start popping up - things I may have thought, "I wonder if..." It's probably something others have happening, I don't think there is any one way. I do however, often wake before the alarm and that's when I somehow do something similar as I adjust to being awake, but not needing to be up and doing anything just then.

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    1. I've often gotten out of bed and gone right to my computer to write down some ideas that came with waking up.

      As creative as you are, I wouldn't mind those creative ideas popping up with you try to mediate. Maybe for some of us creativity is meditation?

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  20. There was an opinion piece in the New York Times a few days ago. The woman was commenting on how it is no longer acceptable for girls to be tomboys. She gave examples from her own childhood in the 70’s and 80’s of movies and books that had characters of tomboys and they were all acceptable. I was disappointed that she didn’t go back further, which she obviously couldn’t do from her own experience. It was perfectly acceptable in the 50’s and 60’s for us to have the sharp shooters and dress like cowboys. The book that I remember at the time (although I think I had grown away from the tomboy phase by then) was To Kill a Mockingbird.
    It is encouraging to hear that so many of us played like that!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. That's crazy that it's not acceptable for girls to be tomboys! I'll have to look up that article to see what insights she gives for why that shift is taking place. Doesn't makes sense in a time when girls are being told they can do any profession they what when they grow up. All of my great-great nieces (under 5) are being dressed in girly clothing than not all that long ago, though. I wonder if that is part of the trend.

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  21. Yes, Meditation was big in the 60's and being ADHD it was always difficult for me to still my thoughts that race around like Greyhounds on Crack on a track inside my Head! I still try Meditation and I think the closest I come to being absolutely absent of racing thoughts is when I'm Creating something. Which is why I need to get back to Creating, Time literally stands still for me when I'm Creating and I'm One with whatever it is I'm working on. My first Crush I suppose was Steve Reeves of the old B&W Hercules... then there was Yul Brynner... I never read "To Kill A Mockingbird" but I sure did enjoy the old Movie of it with Gregory Peck and I was a Fan of the little Actress that played Scout, Mary Badham, wonder whatever happened to her?

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    1. I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" quite late in life but have always loved the movie. Google says Mary Badham was "nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role as Scout. After appearing in two more movies, she retired from acting at 14. She is now an art restorer and lives in Virginia."

      I'm the same way when I'm creating something arty-farts.

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