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, July 29, 2020

Battle Scars and Bloody Noses


Spoiler Alert: If you are a Trump supporter you may want to stop reading here. If you don't want to read a political post, please skip this one and come back on Saturday.

Wikipedia says that Brianna Wiest, the author of the meme up above is a twenty-eight year old "American writer and poet. She is best known for her prolific work on emotional intelligence. Her published works include the books 101 Essays to Change the Way You Think, The Truth About Everything, and The Human Element…”

I snatched the meme off Facebook and it spoke to me at a time when I was in a grumpy mood and dealing with a wee bit of depression that led me down a path I knew better than to set foot on, but I did it anyway. Yup, I engaged in an off-again, on-again all day Facebook debate with me on one side and five Trump supporters on the other side and by the end of the day we’d racked up over fifty comments back and forth. I was on a debate team in college, a second stringer, but I learned a lot, loved the process and the rules of engagement and for 3-4 years I was also a message board administrator on a website where I was in charge of giving members time-outs when angry exchanges got too hot and posting rules were broken. I debate fair and square and keep my cool as I did this time on Facebook. But Facebook doesn’t give time-outs and Trump supporters don’t care if they take their fights into the gutter with name calling and belittling those with opposing viewpoints and for that reason I rarely engage in political discussions on Facebook. That's to say I went into this slug-fest with my eyes wide open knowing I would become a pseudo punching bag but that doesn’t take the sting out of getting a bloody nose.

“Your Anger? It’s Telling You Where You Feel Powerless.” Oh, yes, Brianna, my anger is telling me I’m totally frustrated with the state of our nation and feeling as powerless as a dead kitten. We have a president who is incapable of empathy and compassion. He's incapable of bringing two sides of people together whether we're talking blacks and whites, Democrats and Republics, radicals and pacifists. He’s incapable of dealing with the Covid-19 epidemic or any other crisis that might come along.

“Your anxiety? It’s telling you that something in your life is off balance.” Oh, yes, Brianna, I am without words to express the sadness, fear and hopelessness I feel over what is going on in our nation right now. As if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, now we have Trump sending unidentified troops into Portland uninvited and unwanted by the state or city governments. "Tyranny creeps up on a nation and we’re witnessing its beginning here and now," according to Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University who in 2017 wrote: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. “Be wary of paramilitaries, "he said in an interview this week. "In 2017 the idea of unidentified agents in camouflage snatching leftists off the streets without warrants might have seemed like a febrile Resistance fantasy, Now it’s happening."

“Your fear? It’s telling you what you care about.” Oh, yes, Brianna, I care about this country, about its future and I fear that Trump is going to get reelected or if he doesn't, he'll weaken our democracy by not giving us a peaceful transition of power for the first time in our history. Part of the debate I took part in today was about voter suppression which, of course, no one but me thought it was a problem for people of color but voting by mail in their minds was full of run-away abuse---setting the table for claims of a rigged election if Trump loses. It came up because we’d been on the topic of the Black Lives Matters. Trump supporters do not distinguish between protesters and rioters and, according to them, just saying “black lives matter” is racist. I brought up the parable of the shepherd who has 100 sheep and one goes missing. When the shepherd leaves the 99 to go looking for the lost sheep, the 99 sheep cry, "But what about us, don't we matter?" And the shepherd says, "Of course you matter but you're not ones in danger. The one is." I read that in a sermon delivered by a Catholic Priest who was explaining to his congregation why the church supports the Black Lives Matter Movement. I hope his telling of the parable got a better reception than mine did.

“Your apathy? It’s telling you where you’re overextended and burnt out.” Yes, Brianna, that sentence really spoke to me because I haven't done anything but the bare necessity of living for over a week, checked out on life, which I’m guessing is why I needed a good slug-fest today to make me check back in and feel like I was adding something to the pool besides the pee others were leaving. We have a do-or-die election coming up and that should challenge us all to help by calling out outright lies within our realms of existence. When I saw the nasty meme about Black Lives Matter that started the whole debate thread I just had to put on my bathing suit and wade into the muddy water.

“Your feelings aren’t random, they are messengers. And if you want to get anywhere, you need to be able to let them speak to you, and tell you what you really need.” Okay, Brianna, I let my feelings hang out here on my blog and I want to thank you for this ‘conversation.’ You are a breath of fresh air after my day of collecting battle scars and a bloody nose. ©


NOTE: The two memes in this post were shared on my great-niece's Facebook page. It's what she does. Sometimes its surreal to see them show up alternating with the hate filled, misinformation posts from the Trump supporters on my husband's side of the family. Another prolific poster always adds beautiful photos of enchanting cottages into the mix I see on my Facebook feed, and another shares recipes. I've been on a kick lately of posting humorous kitten memes. My favorite posts are photos of the youngest little people in my family. That's Facebook---a microcosm of the world at large. The good, bad and the ugly. True or not, I like to think of myself as a student of human nature which is why I don't unfriend the relatives who irritate the living stuffing out of me...just in case you were about to suggest that I do so.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Inspirational Quotes, Pen Names and Aspirational Dreams


I have two magnetic squares on my refrigerator. One has a George Eliot quote on it that reads, “It is never too late to be what you might have been” and the other has a Christopher Reeve quote saying “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” I like the former better than the latter quote. The Reeve magnet is one I didn’t buy, it came as a thank you gift from an eBay purchase and I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. I'm guessing that means I think its bad luck to discard something that speaks of hope?

Until I set out to write this blog post I didn’t have the foggiest idea who George Eliot was which is sad when you think that I’ve walked past the magnet a dozen times a day for three years. Where was my curiosity before now? And why was my education in literature so lacking that I didn’t know George Eliot was actually a Victorian Era English woman---a novelist, poet and journalist named Mary Ann Evans? More likely I did know back in the dark ages when I went to college and I forgot. My brain is a sieve when I HAVE TO learn something as opposed to when I WANT TO learn something.
 
Anyway, I did know that women back in that era had to use male pen names to be taken seriously as writers. A bummer bit of trivia but what can I say, men ruled the world and the publishing industry. Even my famous Revolutionary War female ancestor wrote under a male pen name. But are we any less judgmental today when it comes to who we think is writing the books we enjoy? We still haven’t moved past that whole men and woman aren’t capable of understanding and writing in a voice of the oppose sex. Women write romance, men write sci-fi thrillers with few exceptions shoring up the belief that Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. I remember when that John Gray book came out in 1992 and my husband and I both read it, thinking we’d both had Aha Moments. But I’m getting side-tracked again…

Today, the gender ambiguous J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame is actually Joanne Rowling which by now you’d have to be living under a rock not to know that, but did you know she also uses the pen name of Robert Galbraith? According to the article, 9 Female Authors Who Wrote Under Male Pen Names by Matthew Thompson: “In 2013, Rowling published the crime thriller The Cuckoo’s Calling under the nom de plume Robert Galbraith. Of her decision to use a pseudonym, the author explained: ‘I really wanted to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.’ Rowling/Galbraith has since published three additional crime novels in the series, with plans of continuing it well into the future.”

So if you’re the curious type I’ll bet you’ve asked your computer screen exactly what it is that the Misadventurous Widow wants to do that she thinks she’s too old to do. Why did that magnet with the Elliot quote become one of her favorite possessions? If you guessed bungee jumping, you'd be wrong. Bungee jumping could lead to a freak accident rendering me with a broken neck and grateful I didn’t throw away the Christopher Reeve magnet about hope. And no, I don’t want climb a mountain where I’d likely pass out from lack of oxygen have to be carried back down by two porters and a pack mule. And I most certainly I don’t want to join the Mile High Club because that would mean I’d have to step foot on an airplane. Did that a couple of times, don’t want to relive that terror. (Stepped on an airplane, not join the Mile High Club. Done the former but not the latter just to be perfectly clear.) 

The reason for the pep talking refrigerator magnet is to remind me to write every day. Boring reason, I know and I could have made up some bucket list dribble, but facts are facts. For years, it actually functioned as a coaster for my coffee cup next to my computer, but then as I got to know my cleaning girl I moved it to the refrigerator where she's had to clean around and behind it every month for the past three years. If ever there was a person who needs to be reminded that she’s not too old to go after her dreams, it’s her. She’s a street-wise pixie-sized woman in her early twenties who has had more tragic life experiences than most people my age. But she’s stuck on the rise cycle of life and can’t seem to move through to the spin cycle to start anew even though she has doable, aspirational dreams. Easy for me to say with my idyllic childhood. If shedding insecurities was so easy we’d all be living our dreams wouldn’t we and coffee cups, tee-shirts and magnets wouldn't be flaunting inspirational quotes because none of us would need their 'pep talks.'

Now you know the story of why I have a George Elliot quote on my refrigerator. What you don’t know is how many times I’ve walked by it and wished and wondered why I can’t write something so profound it becomes a meme that goes viral. Where is that wisdom that is supposed to come with age? All I got was wrinkles and not the good kind like Meg Murry used to time-travel to a different dimension. ©

Two of my favorite memes that basically say the same thing.