Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow, senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Jean

Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Red-Headed Rider

There’s a woman who moved into my building in late October and just lately she’s been showing up in the lobby and other public places on campus. She’s always dressed immaculately, usually in a white starched shirt with a black sweater over top, the shirt collar perfectly framing her face and head of short red hair. She wears beige riding pants and tall, black boots and does so with the grace and confidence of someone who doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body. She’s eighty-six. I don’t know how she gets her shirts to look as stiff as cardboard and as white as newly fallen snow but I intend to find out. Who says old people can’t have goals. It takes something I don't have to have a signature look but I want to be that person with a style sense so uniquely me that it makes others smile. Instead my style is uniquely fashioned by whatever I can find that fits and isn’t stained at any given moment in time. (The yummy soups they serve here are killing my wardrobe.)

She and I happened to both be at the cafe` counter at the same time waiting for them to open and we struck up a conversation that carried us all the way into the dining area and was extended by email once we finished our long lunch. And get this, she was dressed like an equestrian because that’s what she used to do before moving here from Tennessee. She had a horse she had to give up---the hardest part about the move---but her veterinary adopted him and sends her photographs and updates her on how he’s doing which helps, knowing her horse has a good home.

The Red Rider for lack of a better name moved here with her husband to be close to their son but two weeks after the move her husband had a stroke, lingered in the hospital awhile then spent several weeks in the Hospice building here on campus before passing away which explains why she hasn’t been around this part of the campus much. Between unpacking and being with her husband  during the days, then packing his stuff back up again after the funeral she’s far behind the rest of us in the socializing and settling in department. 

We bonded over talking about the 'Heartland' series on Netflix. We are both binge-watching it. I’m on season nine of thirteen and she’s not far behind. For those who don’t know the show it’s filmed in Canada and centers around a horse ranch and a teenaged girl who is known as the Miracle Girl, a sort of Horse Whisperer. Each hour-long episode is about a horse with a problem that she helps its owner (her client) work out. Red Rider tells me the bond between horses and humans and the training sessions portrayed in the series are absolutely authentic and I shared with her the fact that when I was a teen I had a crush on a boy whose dad had horses for rent but my romance was a non-starter because every time we’d go on a trail ride the insides of my legs and thighs would break out in hives.

I told her that we have riding stables around here but she said at her age it was time to give up riding anyway but she’s like to find a volunteer situation that involves working with horses. Before moving I happened to have lived near a place that specializes in therapy equestrian riding. A big place that helps nearly 200 people a week from 2 to 100 ride for therapy. My niece on my husband’s side goes there and we’d seen her ride. She’s completely wheelchair bound with MS and she positively glows when they put her on a horse. It’s exactly the kind of place Red Rider was looking for and she has experience volunteering at a similar place back in Tennessee. 

If I was ten I would have gone home after lunch, flew through the back door, letting it slam shut which annoyed my mom like no other thing my ten year old self could do and I would have excitedly told her about the new friend I just made. I would have told her how we made easy conversation and have plans to meet for dinner on Saturday where I’ll show her the ropes of how to get seated at the table for singles eating alone. But the grown up me hopes she’ll stays my friend after she meets all the other ladies around here who are far more in her class of classy people. Have I mentioned that I’m the forth fattest person on campus? Okay, okay I know I should tell myself that being over weigh doesn’t cancel out being classy---exhibit A, look at Oprah---but January (when I started writing this) is when all fatty-two-by-fours beat themselves up. Fortunately January will be over by the time this post goes live and I will have moved on to obsessing about my dry skin. I'm as predictable has as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. ©

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

New Year's Resolutions Report - Week Four


As you may or may not remember I’m taking a 12 week course called Stronger Memory and one of the three requirements is reading out loud 20 minutes a day. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it. It’s not! My voice box hasn’t gotten this much of a workout since…well, since never. I wasn't a mother who got to read to kids or grandkids and I’ve never taught classes or had a job where I had to give corporate reports. The closest I got to speaking out loud for any length of time was back in college when I took a couple of classes in public speaking, and I was a second stringer on a debate team but even back then our preposition and rebuttal speeches were limited to ten minutes.

A quick google search of how our voice changes over the years brings you information like: “As you age, all of your muscles naturally lose mass. This includes the muscles of your vocal cords and voice box that make your voice work. The older you get, the more your voice may become hoarse or ‘tired’ feeling as a day wears on." Even before I signed up for this course and discovered how hoarse my voice really is I’d been concerned that my voice was cutting in and out when I talk. I spent so much time alone during the pandemic of 2020/21 that if I hadn’t had a dog to boss around my voice would be even thinner and more cracker-ly than it is. (Oh, look, I just made up a new word.) As one website describes the aging process of our voices, “Weakened and dry vocal chords become stringy, which prevent normal vibration, causing higher pitched voices that sound thin.” That’s me. My voice sound ten years older than I am by the calendar.

The above paragraphs are the long way of saying that after ten minutes of reading out loud, it gets hard to do! I have to push myself to get through the next ten minutes. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m supposed to be reading out loud. (And I'm not alone in these complaints about our homework.) I am, however, enjoying the content of the book I’m reading: Painting Techniques of the Impressionists. One of the things I’ve learned that gives me hope for my own work is how long it took various Old Masters (by contrast to the Impressionists) to complete some of their famous works of art. Notes, sketches and color samples in a notebook of Turner’s for example resulted in a finished painting ten years later. Impressionists were not like that. According to my book they were “…painters of fleeting effects, as no other painters had done…” Impressionists would paint outdoors then come back with paintings they’d show and sell in galleries while the Old Masters would have taken those same paintings back to a studio, refined them and worked on them for long periods of time---years even---before they’d declare them finished. No wonder the Impressionists were scorned by some in the art world. (The invention of the camera factors in here, too, but that's a whole another topic.)

Anyway, back on topic: New Year’s Resolutions kept and discarded. I have started a painting but I had a least ten false starts before I settled on a subject to paint. Check that resolution off the list since the resolution was about starting a painting…nothing was said about finishing one. Okay, so that’s a technicality and some might say I’m cheating but it’s my Resolution List so I get to make up the rules here.

Although by the end of the year I do hope to finish a couple of canvases I’d been working on when my husband had his stroke in 2000. I recently found the photo and notes I’d mourned as lost about what color formulas I’d been using on a painting I truly want to finish. It’s of my great-niece when she was a little girl and now she’s a woman with two children of her own. If Turner could take ten years finish a painting and some of the Old Masters work on the same paintings for half a decade, then Amateur Hour Jean can take twenty-two years and not have to feel like such a failure about it. And Manet had once scraped a face off his canvas 25 times before being satisfied that he got it right, so I guess there's no shame in me redoing a face for a second time. Still, my mom in the last few years of her life made a conscious choice to finish up all her unfinished projects and sometimes it feels like her ghost is haunting me, telling me to hurry up and tie the loose ends of my life up because time is running out. Mom, quit nagging me, I'm trying!

The above paragraphs cover two of my New Year’s Resolutions, a third one about improving my personality has already been moved to the discard pile as being too vague. I’ve changed that from “improve my personality” to “reveal more of my personality” and I did so recently at a lunch table when the topic of Chick-fil-A came up. Someone asked if their chicken is really that good that people would wait so long  in line to get it and I mentioned that I wouldn’t know because the place is on my Boycott List. When I was asked why I boycott it I kept it simple, just saying that they support a lot of conservative causes that I fight against. That statement opened it up to where three others revealed that they boycott the place too.

Then one of the Skinny Minnie Twins admitted to buying a My Pillow pillow before they knew the company owner was so off the rails Trumpian and how much it hurt to throw that very comfortable $100 pillow out because she couldn't put her head on it without negative feelings filling her head. Another woman admitted that she will only go to Hobby Lobby when she’s exhausted all other sources to find what she’s looking for. Because I had the guts to drop the ‘Boycott List’ into a conversation I’ve found my political tribe on the continuum care campus. And here I didn’t think there were any other Liberals around.  However, The Cheerleader causally mentioned that we all have to live together for the rest of our lives and there are so many other things in the world to talk about that we should keep politics and religion off the table. Okay,  then. ©

Photo at top: J.M.W. Turner's 'Dutch Boats in a Gale.'

The unfinished portrait that I'm pledging to finish by the end of the year. (Need some practice time on other stuff before I tackle her face again.)
The shelves I mentioned in an recent blog that I had added to have a place to store wet canvases and various things I need for inspiration or to have handy in my painting nook. The thing to the right of the easel is a fold up, antique table that I can put my palette on when working.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Widow Does Netflix's

So far I’ve written about the things I love the best about living in an independent living apartment on a continuum care campus. One thing I don’t like is the television service. On paper it looks good ---60 free cable channels for one TV plus free internet and Wi-Fi sounded good after paying over $300 a month for a 60 channel package where I used to live. But 10 of the channels here are a sports package and there are probably another 6-8 others that I call Old People Channels which I don’t watch at all. I could care less about black and white movies or TV shows from my youth or game shows, but I’m in the minority on that opinion around here. I think. Oh, and I'd rather you gag me with a spoon than make me watch the imported shows from England. And did I mention the "cable" isn't a true cable and the service is effected by the weather?

Recently Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was on one of the old people channels and the lunch table talk the next day was about that movie. There’s a delightfully crusty women here in her late nineties who had never married and she just raved on and on about how much she loves that movie and how she watches every chance she gets. I like her because she has no filter when it comes to asking other people questions. For example when she found out that we have to write essay answers to questions in the ‘Stronger Memories class she tried to convince us all that “they” could take those answers to get inside our heads. They’re just questions to provoke memories like ‘what did you do for fun growing up?’ But she won’t take the class because she doesn’t want a psychiatrist analyzing her! Heck, I could analyze her based on just the premise that her all-time favorite movie being about seven brothers who essentially kidnapped a bunch of women to turn into wives. I might not be right in my analysis but I’d have fun doing it. 

Never-a-Bride’s younger sister also lives here on a separate floor of the same building and both say they’d kill each other if they shared an apartment. She cracks me up. She asks me a lot of no filter questions. I give her a lot of sassy, no filter answers. She spent her career working in a lab that runs tests on blood for the medical community, the only woman in her field when she first started working. I would love to do a deep dive into her life story. But she plays the tit-for-tat game whenever anyone asks her a probing question and I’m not quite readying to bare my soul in this community yet. So I’ll gather her stories up like grains of rice leaking out of a tiny hole in a box of Uncle Ben’s.

Back to TV: Like I said we get free cable into our living rooms but if we want a TV in our den or bedroom it has to be a smart TV or an old set that you can hook up to the new version of the ancient antennas (rabbit ears) to pick up what local channels are available. I’ve got both, but apparently I can’t enjoy TV when I can’t have all three televisions set on the same channel so I can walk freely from room to room and not miss anything. I’ve never been a sit-and-watch kind of person but Netflix is turning me into one. So every night from 9 or 10:00 to 1:00 I’m binge watching and I can’t multi-task my time in the bedroom which is a problem I’m still working on solving. I downsized a standing TV tray out of my life that if I had it back I could put my laptop on it and multi-task while sitting on the side of the bed, but I doubt you can buy just one of those trays because they come in sets---at least they used to back in the '50s when they are popular. New mission: Find a way to do more multi-tasking with my Netflix beside fold laundry and clean the on-suite bathroom.

I started out binge-watching Longmere, a modern westerner that I loved, then I binged Outlander which I also loved. I hated to see them both end. If you don’t know that Outlander is based on a well-love series of time-travel romance books you’ve been living under a rock. I cut my romance reading teeth on time-travel romances so this was right up my alley. I tried to like House of Cards but I’m still too turned off by politics to continue. I also tried to like Grace and Frankie but like I told a fellow resident, all I could think about watching the first three episodes is how close I came to living the lives of those women---married to gay guys who didn’t come out of the closet until they were old enough to draw Social Security. I see the heart-break and deception while everyone else sees the humor. Schitt’s Creek is another one I tried to like, but didn't. I watched three episodes and see the show as version Green Acres. Rich people loss their money and have to adjust to living a different way---a popular series here on campus. The Maid was another one that didn’t hold my interest and I don’t know why but I'm thinking I just don't relate to the whole single parent thing. For awhile I watched The Ranch because I like Ashton Kutcher and Sam Elliott but that got boring after hearing the thousandth F word. I’m still getting used to Netflix’s having no restrictions on language or full nudity. I'm not offended by either one in the least but it's lazy writing when it's just there because they can.

Now, I’m binging and loving Heartland, Virgin River and I’m embarrassed to admit to liking Jane the Virgin. A lot. That show is so campy, stupid, silly, far-fetched and you never know what the writers are going to do next. (Mel Brooks on steroids.) I’ve watched a few movies on Netflix too, but nothing special enough or bad enough to mention. If you’ve got any suggestions for my next binge, leave me a comment. I’m going to need something new soon. ©

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Covid on Campus and Exercise Woes

Thursday morning I sat waiting for the results of a rapid-Covid test because a married couple here on the continuum care campus has it and is under quarantine. Contact tracing of their whereabouts put them within one degree of someone I sat next to at a recent meal and she’d been in their unit with them the day before they got sick. The dining areas in both restaurants were closed (until Monday) and that night they got thoroughly cleaned which included the use of a large ultrasonic UV-C cleaning machine that the company describes at a “dual emitter UV-C sterilizer specifically designed to work in tandem to emit germ deactivating UV energy.” It supposedly cleans the very air we breathe and every surface with lights so strong you can’t look at it without special goggles thus it’s done during times when all good little soldiers are no where around. It’s same machine they use to disinfect airplanes and hospitals. The management applied for a special grant to buy it and this was the first time it was used.

Everything on our calendar got canceled for Thursday including I was supposed to get my apartment cleaned in the morning and I set my alarm at the crack of dawn to be ready for the guy. But he’s the only one trained on our new ultrasonic UV-C machine so I’ve been put on hold while he gears up for being The Germ Terminator. By the end of the day when the results of everyone’s rapid covid tests were known we all breathed a sigh of relief because they proved that the only ones with it are the couple with covid symptoms plus three others who’d been in close contact and tested positive but they don’t have symptoms. All are under house arrest until they test negative again. And yes, the One Degree Woman was one of "the three others."

The rest of us could resume normal routines but masks and public distancing through out the place are required and we can only get our food in to-go boxes until Monday. I’ve already gotten my first boxed meal and it was so good I wouldn’t mind emergence rations every day. In the box was a thick steak to die for (poor choice of words considering), mashed potatoes and broccoli. All we had to do is place an order by phone from a three item menu and then pick it up 30 minutes later, disregarding the normal 11:30 to 1:00 and 4:00 to 7:00 hours when the kitchen is generally serving.

Topic Change: When I moved into this place in October my weight had dropped eight pounds due to the packing and unpacking and forgetting to eat during those craziness days but the holidays put them right back on again. So I dug out my I-pod with my treadmill playlist and I’ve been on that machine every day for the past five days. Going to a gym that is virtually across the hall is handy and when I get off the treadmill I walk the distance of our hall and back to Helen Reddy singing I am Woman and that always makes me feel like---well, I could do anything. Anything but stay on that treadmill for that last song on my playlist...but I'll get there. 

I have such a love/hate relationship with exercise---mostly the latter. I love the fact that it helps me lose weight but I have to work myself up to do it, get thoroughly disgusted with myself. It just doesn’t stick as life style routine. Never has, never will. It’s always been punishment for being fat from the time I was 14 and my mom took me to my first gym aka fat camp where one of the things they did to me was wrap me in wet cloth and stick me in a sauna.

There’s a woman here who is a perky and petite blonde who I nicknamed The Cheerleader the first time I saw here at a tailgate party. She was knitting and throwing her arms up in the air often enough that I was sure she was loosing stitches. Turns out she really was a cheerleader in both high school and college. Married the star quarterback. Divorced the star quarterback. Then she married twice more, both times apparently to nice guys who ended up dying on her. She’s an exercise fiend. She’s always got her Nordic poles with her walking her little feet off outside inside, good weather and bad weather. She says it’s her job to stay healthy and walking with her Nordic poles keeps her arm bones strong. She doesn’t believe in popping pills like I do for my bones. I don’t believe in spending several hours a day doing something I’d absolutely hate.

It the past I had the typical stereotype for cheerleaders in my head---stuck up and shallow---but our cheerleader is nothing like that. Whenever someone new walks into to the cafe` or the lobby she’s on them with a greeting---a regular little welcome wagon. She’s not the least bit shy which I both admire and recoiled from at first. I kept looking for a hidden agenda like maybe she’s noisy and her perky little welcome wagon covered that up. But, nope, she genuinely seems to care about people. For example when she found out I like art she told me about the art professor living here and she made sure to point her out to me when we happened to all be at the same dinner table. The Cheerleader does that sort of thing all the time, matches people up with like interests.

There are two people here on campus who are tuned into what everyone else is doing, and The Cheerleader one of them. If you want to know something you know who to ask. But the two of them are opposing forces. Our cheerleader is all about spreading positive energy and the other is all about spreading discontent.

Since I wrote the above I got a request from the management to go to the office to get a second Covid test because contact tracing---again---put me at a party earlier in the month where someone in attendance just tested positive. I passed this test too, but it makes me want to google where I can get a bi-hazardous suit so I can socialize without fear that we're playing Russian Roulette.  ©

My latest 600 piece jigsaw puzzle, started is Saturday night, finished Monday morning. Fairly easy but still fun and different than others.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Man in the Shower Stall

The day was filled with crisp sunshine---the kind that leaves strong contrasts between the blueish gray shadows and the sparkling brightness of clean, white snow that fell the night before. I was alone in the cafe` eating a bowl of cauliflower soup so I hardly noticed the pristine beauty outside the window. I was enjoyed a rare moment around my continuum care campus when I got to write longhand in my notebook, the way I used to do at the Guy Land Cafeteria. I could see a gathering of office workers out in the lobby but they didn’t bother me nor did the concierge lady sitting on the other side of a glass wall. The maintenance men were setting up chairs in front of the fireplace for the Resident Dialogue meeting. I came down for an early lunch so afterward I could nab one of the chairs nearest to the roaring fire before the meeting got started. It’s the warmest place I’ve been able to find on these fridge Michigan days. The high that day was 12 degrees.

Our CEO opened the meeting up with a joke about how in the military they’d call meetings like this ‘Pitch-and-Bitch’ sessions but he prefers Resident Dialogue which is better than what he calls our cleaning services around here which is Environment Services. Don’t think that didn’t have us all scratching our heads, thinking it had something to do with recycling. At the meeting we were introduced to a new cleaning lady who is actually a black guy in his mid-twenties, a handsome young man who looks like he could grace the cover of a fitness magazine and, no, I have not imagined him without his shirt on. I’ll save that fantasy for warmer weather. 

So there I was with that inappropriate thought about a shirtless cleaning guy tucked in the back of my head when out of the blue someone at the dinner table that night said she didn’t think the Environmental Service guy will fit in her shower. I was shocked thinking her mind had taken her deeper into Fantasy Land than I had gone but then she added, “He’s too big to get down on his hands and knees to scrub that floor.” After getting my head out of the proverbial gutter, my next thought was that she’s more delusional than I am because I seriously don’t think any cleaning person in a place like this is going to do corners and grout to satisfy a bunch of women who’ve been cleaning their own homes for 50-60 plus years. At the meeting a couple of people tried to talk the CEO into letting them clean their own apartments and knock $40 off their monthly maintenance fee but it was a hard ‘NO!’ to that suggestion. I wasn’t surprised. Call me paranoid but I’m guessing the mandatory cleaning service person also looks for old people issues that are signs of trouble ahead: hoarding, rotten food piling up, burners left on, use of candles or Voodoo Dolls, signs of rodents, bugs and pet neglect. Fine by me if Big Brother is watching. I didn’t move here to live off the grid which it felt like I was doing before with the lack of human contact I was getting.

Remember the campus pastor who was in my painting class and I wanted to nickname her Miss Labradoodle but I didn’t out of fear that readers who aren’t ‘dog people’ wouldn’t recognize that as a high compliment? Labradoodles are friendly and sweet and always eager to please so I named her Ms Angel instead. She spoke at the Residents Dialogue meeting about a weekly thing she's starting. 

It's a fifteen minute guided meditation that is centered on nurturing spiritual grown withing ourselves" and it's open to people of all faiths or "no faith if you're a searcher." A searcher? How’s that for a new label and canned answer for me to use when I’m asked the Dreaded Church Question? “I’m a searcher.” Ohmygod that woman could have me turning in my Agnostic Club card if I’m exposed to her often enough. Thankfully we don’t live in the same building because with the exception of her calling as a pastor I want to be just like her when I grow up. She reminds me of my dad, always willing and able to extinguish any negative energy floating about.

On our schedule today is a live-steaming event billed as ‘Keeping It Nuanced: How to Have Grace-Filled Political Conversations.’ I’d love to go to that but today is the first time in awhile that the temperatures are going to be high enough for me to venture out to the big box grocery store. Those temperatures in the teens and below are too hard on my lungs. So I’m off to where it’s going to kill me to buy a muffin pan and a humidifier because I had both before the Big Downsizing of 2021. ©  

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Joy of too Many Choices

During the lockdown of 2021---or was it 2020? It doesn’t matter. A lockdown is a lockdown and unless someone has a soulmate to play with and a good cable package lockdowns are boring and scary and add pounds in places where you don’t need it. Life stuck at home because of a world-wide pandemic left me longing for some place to go, something to do. Well, now I’ve got places to go and things to do and I can’t believe I’m saying this but there is too much on the smorgasbord of activities here at the continuum care complex. Take today for example I had my choice of any or all of the below activities:

9:00 Cardio Drumming class

10:00 Coffee and Conversation

12:30 The Gravity of Joy lecture

1:30 Stretch and Flex class

4:00 Tailgate party

6:00 Game Room night

In addition to the above I had an hour’s worth of homework to do for my Stronger Memory class plus I had to pick up my mail and the book for the next club discussion, and fit lunch and dinner into the mix not to mention that I’ve been obsessed with finishing a jigsaw puzzle of all yellow pencils (up above). I’ve done this puzzle every winter for 13-14 years but it’s never taken me this long before. I’m on my fifth (and probably final) day. The memory quilt puzzle (pictured below) took me a day and a half. There are at least three others living in here who have puzzle tables and there is one in the game room where it’s a group effect to put one together. But a long-ago experience doing a communal puzzle makes me stay away from them. I'd spent a lot of time sorting pieces by color then the next day someone came along and sorted them over again by some other criteria that baffled my mind.

I discovered the other puzzle people at a party I went to on Sunday, a joint effort by Auntie Mame and my neighbor (not Scottie dog’s mom). This one lives at on the other side of my hall. She’s a widow barely three years out and she still struggles a bit with her loss. She has one of the biggest apartments in the complex, three bedrooms and fantastic views of the lake and her deck connects with the public piazza. I’d hate the latter but she says she’s very social and it’s the feature of her apartment that she loves the best. These two ladies put on a spread and wine bar you wouldn’t believe and there were probably 20-25 people in attendance…all of us who frequent the cafe and farmhouse table on a regular basis. Other than the fact that I kept thinking it was a breeding ground for Covid, it was fun. At least two people at the party had been on airplanes a day or two before the party and not a single person was wearing a mask. We all had to be vaccinated before making our final payment to move in here but still, people have gotten the new variance with their shots and boosters. Time will tell if it was fool-hearted to go to a party.

‘The Gravity of Joy’ presentation was giving by the author of a book by the same name, Angela Williams Gorrell, and was about her search “for authentic Christian joy as she reflects on our collective need for a counter-agent to despair.” Yes, I know, agnostic me was worried I’d stand out like a heathen with a big red ‘A’ painted on my forehead, but I never pass up an opportunity to hear an author speak in public because I’m still fascinated by the process of pulling thoughts from the inner recesses of our brains and making them into a book you can hold in your hands. And more importantly, I knew this lecture would be the talk of a few dinner or lunch tables. She’s an assistant professor of practical theology at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and an ordained pastor in the Mennonite Church. This young woman also volunteers at women’s maximum security prison and she lost her husband to suicide just months before her young nephew died of a heart attack and her dad died of an opium addiction. Talk about a powerful and compelling reason to search for joy. One reviewer on Amazon labeled the book to be about spiritual resiliency and I would agree if that label was applied to this lecture. 

This lecture was part of a series underwritten by a local church-based university, the same one where I took my husband for speech classes twice a week for six years and I have nothing but deep appreciation for how we were treated there, red ‘A’s painted on our foreheads and all. I don’t usually go to lectures that I know will be laced heavily with religion but it wasn’t a waste of time by an means and I didn't get converted. But you can’t listen to a story like hers and not be happy she found her way through her grief. The human spirit truly is resilient. 

There was a Q&A at the end and someone asked what she suggests to whose who are drowning in grief and she answered that what worked for her was "trauma dumping" a type journeying where you spill your guts and then shred the pages. That’s essentially what I did after my husband’s massive stroke. It just didn’t have a name but it did eventually help me find my Joy again. ©


This 500 piece puzzle that was way too easy to be fun. The pencil puzzle above is also 500 pieces and it doesn't get easier no matter how many times you do it.