Monday, July 30, 2012

In over my head, again

I know that feeling.  Fear.  Perplexity.  Being leagues beyond my comfort zone.  Aware that abyss of  abandonment is only too happy to welcome me back.

Soon I head out in my small RV for a trial run of a couple hundred miles.  I'm starting to load it and test its systems.  Once upon a time my late husband and I headed out in it, to cherished places only campers go.  This year marks the eighth annual trip I've made on my own since he died.  However, before I head out, a few things need fixing.  Easy fixes.  Yeah, for a welder or a plumber.

Uh, oh.  I see my little pity party coming.  Get out of here!  OVER MY DEAD BODY will I give up RV'ing to avoid a difficulty or three.

Fear.  Perplexity. I know you well. Sometimes I try shake you off, with liquor, or shopping or procrastination.  Pretty stupid.  Prayer can work OK on fear, but I've yet to master miracles that fix problems.  Better to try to master the task.  And lighten up!  

Last year, hopeful that learning to swim would help me with fears beyond the water's edge, I began a DVD course called "Total Immersion".  I'm up to lesson 7 out of 10, and yes, learning to swim is actually teaching me life lessons.  For instance, a body will float if it just relaxes.   Water is friendly.  Keep any muscle not needed for forward propulsion relaxed.   (Actually very few muscles are needed for forward propulsion.)  Conserve energy, breath efficiently, and maintain focus for the long haul.  Trust the process of learning one drill at a time.  The joy of swimming will result.

So I'm trying to hang in there, learning what I need to live a joyous life.   Yes, I'm in over my head.   But, every once in a while, when I 'get' how to do something and actually get it done, my head breaks free above the surface and my heart breaks free with a joy I can't contain.   Initiating that flip from fear to 'I get it!' takes a surprisingly small amount of energy.  Now the flip itself takes a bit of time...

"It's OK.  Just start where you are. Just try....,  OK, try again.... OK....try AGAIN... You go, girl!!!"

How do you deal with being in over your head?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can changing a setting really change my attitude?

Gentle, but not fragile.
Quiet, but not brooding.
Strong, but not alpha.

The former background for this blog

Someone inspired me to change the background of this blog today.  I'm not feeling as fractured these days and this blog should reflect this. 

As alone as I feel, I'm not longing to be curled up in his arms.  I feel less like a fifth wheel in the world of couples and and more like an alternate universe.   I'm growing fond of a label called 'misfit' because I personally find misfits rather interesting.  Does this mean I've reached some acceptance of my loss and my aloneness?   For today. 

Symbols are important to me; they set the tone and the context of my experience.  The sunflowers in this background are as sunny and intimate and infinite as God's love.  I actually took this photograph while sitting in the midst of them.  There's no confusion about the direction they face.  So I'll turn my face toward the sun, too.

Have you reached some acceptance of your loss and aloneness?  I'd love to hear how you have done so.  I invite your comments. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

When we open our mouths, what comes out?

I have two older sisters.   One sister is an explainer.   The other is an informer.   When they speak I can pretty much count on learning something.  I've recently spent 10 days, separately, with each of them.   That's the longest period I've spent with them since childhood.  It was the first time I really noticed how they relate to others when they speak.

That's them.  What about you?  I know I'm not an explainer, or an informer, or a complainer, or an entertainer, or a debater, or a teaser.   Least I don't think so.  I have been called a cheerleader, but this man didn't spend 10 days in a row with me.  

Anyway, both of my sisters are amazing examples of women who have reshaped themselves and their circumstances in their sixth decade.  I'd like to follow in their footsteps in my own way.  True, neither of them are widows, but each has gone against the grain, upset the applecart, so to speak.  

I learn so much through others.  I depended on my late husband's feedback.  Now I very much want feedback in this new chapter of my life, but I'm not getting very much.  I have to trust that living life as consciously and deliberately as I can is its own reward.

I'm teachable.  I'm eager.  I'm in my own shoes, and stumbling along.  I'm willing, God, to learn more...

Have you found yourself using a new and different voice, now that your husband isn't listening?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Growing into my own skin

I've been away this past month, traveling in Ireland and France.   Sounds wonderful, was wonderful, but I was way out of my comfort zone.  I'd have it no other way.  I travel to learn, not only about the culture and terrain of another country, but about myself.

I went to Ireland by myself, knowing no one, for a bicycle tour on its west coast.  I added a pre-trip extension to the cycling portion, to explore Ireland a little first, and get over jet lag.  Six other people had decided to do this as well, in the form of three married couples.  Two of the couples had come together.  I felt my single status acutely; once I was part of a happy couple like them.  How was I going to fit in?

Until this trip, I have played my 'widow' card in new circumstances with couples.   I have found my identity as widow comforting.  It presents a status that is neither single nor married, but in a way both.   The shadow of the missing husband always exists. Since I'm really trying to move on now, I didn't explain myself as a widow to these couples.   As a result I felt intensely disoriented.   Remember your first days of college, when you didn't know anybody and they didn't know you?  Did you wonder if you'd fit in?   I felt like that with these couples.  I was me as simply me.  Would they like 'simply me'?  Who is 'simply me'?

I met her, well, me, in their feedback.  I met a lively yet self contained woman, sometimes animated, sometimes quiet, with a gutsy and peaceful spirit.   Much to my surprise and delight, I as 'simply me' was welcomed and appreciated.   I was scared I wouldn't be enough.   I needn't have worried.  

A few days later a man with similar qualities joined the cycling portion of the tour.   A lovely self assurance emanated from him.   He was quiet yet warm.  I've feared that quiet is read as aloof.  Not so.  I will think of him when I'm judging myself as too quiet among people, and remember that even quiet people like me and him can have a powerful and positive effect on others.

Thank you, God, for giving me this opportunity to learn.  Now I will unpack my clothes and souvenirs.  Unpacking my experiences and memories will be even more fun.