Self Care, part two

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None of us truly knows how we will handle loss. In my case, I was capable of living on my own, handling my finances, getting through the final arrangements and all that follows the loss of a spouse.

I didn’t count on not being able to take a deep breath for what felt like months.

I didn’t expect to completely lose my appetite and my sense of humor.

I didn’t count on the paralyzing loneliness that overwhelmed me.

In the first few months most days I didn’t get dressed or even walk outside to get my mail. Days I spent almost entirely in bed, covers pulled over my head and tried to sleep so I wouldn’t have to think. I took a lot of bubble baths and basically hid out. I desperately missed my husband and our happy life. Every memory, even the good ones, caused me pain.  Not surprisingly, I cried a lot during this time. And though, intellectually I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world dealing with loss and sadness, it felt as though I was.

There is no time-table, no book, no one else’s advice that can tell you how to navigate your new normal. This is where self-care comes into play.  Being retired, I didn’t have to return to work for which I was grateful. Instead, I allowed myself to just….exist. No judgement, no guilt, no pressure to speed the process along.  Losing someone you love is the most intimately personal experience you can have and you’re entitled to feel every emotion that comes at you.

Be as understanding and kind to yourself as you would to others.

It gets better but it takes time. 

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If you need to, make this your mantra.

Self Care – a new series

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If there’s one thing I learned last year, it was the importance of self-care.  My awareness came after losing Spence in March 2017.  For months, I had no appetite nor desire to cook. I had no interest in music and it was hard to focus on a book let alone a movie. I all but gave up blogging. The idea of traveling by myself after having had the most stellar traveling partner for 26 years, seemed too sad.

After months of being a recluse and hiding from my new reality, the fog started to lift – a little. I knew that Spence would expect me to embrace my life and live it. I had a lot to be grateful for even if I couldn’t acknowledge it. With the unwavering love and support from family and friends, even on my darkest days I knew there was no way they’d let me slip through the cracks.

March 4th marked a year since I lost Spence. By doing this series, it’s my hope that what I share may help someone else. Self-care is not for widows only.  It’s about putting yourself first, forgiving yourself, pampering yourself and moving through challenging and stressful times eventually reclaiming your life, your heart and your joy.

Watch for the next installment and in the meantime, stay strong. You are not alone.

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Keepin’ it real (or why I blog)

Since retiring I’ve found myself busier than I could have imagined. My mission when I began blogging was to document what life is like after a frequently stressful career, track new experiences and accomplishments as I check items off my bucket list and other goals.

By blogging, I can share my passion for writing, cooking, travel, cats, gardening and photography as well as reflecting upon my life from childhood to present with humor and poignancy. I choose to keep my blog upbeat. My blogging mantra, “no rules, just write”.

My expectations at the onset were that my audience would be those who know and love me. The reality is that only some of my family and friends are reading what I write – and that’s okay.

What I didn’t expect it is that I’ve reached an audience spanning 38 countries, from teens to seniors, crossing genders, sexual orientation and whose blogs are similar but often wildly different than mine. I’ve engaged with authors, photographers, students, comedians, professional chefs, doctors, fashionistas and world travelers. That’s been thrilling for me – and validating. After all, blogging puts your authentic voice and point of view out there for the world. And that world has been kind and encouraging.

My lifelong BFF and I attended a day long blogging class at Interlochen last weekend. We came away with insights that can’t help but make us better. Over the weekend, we brainstormed how to implement what we learned, generating numerous ideas for content and “best practices”. All while enjoying her fabulous log home on a lake, a sunset cruise on the pontoon, wine tasting at area vineyards, delicious meals and reflecting on nearly 57 years of friendship. This post was inspired by the class and events from last weekend.