Believe, Restore, Build, Explore and Nourish
These are the words that I am going to chose from in order to move forward next year. They all are good words, positive words and strong words. Which one should I pick?
In 2017 I need to believe that I can move forward with my life. I need to believe I can go on without John. I need to believe that I will be alright again. I need to believe that I can make this journey and not just survive but thrive again.
In 2017 I need to restore not only my life but my health. I am overweight, my sugar levels indicate I’m pre-diabetic and I’m out of shape. Writing this word makes me realize that it does not encompass my goals for the year. I need to find a new life. Perhaps Reset (like a computer) is a better word.
I need to rebuild my life. I need to get stronger, build a stronger body, build a life for me that encompasses financial and emotional stability and build bridges to my family and friends so that our relationships are closer.
I want to explore myself and the world around me. For all my adult life I’ve stood with my husband and now it is time to stand alone. I need to find out who I am and where I want to go.
This year has been hell on me. My body is rebelling, my business needs attention and my home is in the midst of renovations. I need to spend nourishing me, my business and my home. I need to strengthen myself in order to handle my life alone. John was always my safety net and my strength. Now I need to become strong enough to go on alone.
Which word should I pick?
Grief is the strongest emotion I have ever felt. It has taken over all my feelings of love and hope, erased all the joy and life out of me. The only time I sleep is when I take a sleeping pill and it is a dreamless sleep. A restless, dreamless sleep.
Over and over again I reach out for John and he is not there. He is not there when I need him, he is not there when I need my hand held, he is not there when I am scared or tired, he is not there when I turn to show him something I discovered. All that happens is that momentary joy turns to overwhelming sadness when I realize I don’t have him here to share it with. He wasn’t here for the world series, he wasn’t here to see his Orioles get beaten my Blue Jays and he won’t be here for any more of the events in my life.
I am going to fight this though because that is what John would have wanted me to do. While he was dying he held me and told me that I was strong enough to get through this. He never was wrong before so why should he be wrong now? I need to find that strength within me and beat this thing called “grief”. I am still alive.
I’m not sure how to do this … how to defeat this overpowering thing called grief. I want to smile again, really smile, when I hear Christmas songs or see a child playing in the surf. I want to feel better and not spend my days curled up on my bed just staring out the window. I know where I want to be but I have to figure out how to get there.
I need to be like a super hero … like Dr. Strange or Batman and take this loss and turn it into something positive. John believed in me. I need to believe in me.
Today is my first Thanksgiving without my husband. I’m having a very hard time finding anything to be thankful for even though I know in my heart I should be grateful for the life I have.
I still don’t sleep well. I tend to wander the house at night. I sleep a few hours in my bed, sleep a few hours in the living room and then a few hours in the family room. I’m most comfortable in the family room because I feel John is in there. It is the room where he died. I curl up on the sofa and pretend he is still there in his hospital bed. I think I will do better when I return to Florida. It is less stressful there for me.
My son Adam made his first Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, squash, steamed veggies and a yummy creme brulee for dessert. My daughter Amanda came with her husband and we all enjoyed the meal. Everyone seemed to avoid the topic of John but he was never far from us. Tomorrow I’m going to another daughter’s house to celebrate again. But this celebration is really difficult for me. I know I have to be strong for them but it is really difficult.
A good friend of mine called today to tell me he was thinking of me. He said that he knows it is hard experiencing “firsts” without John. He’s right. But I think I’m going to miss John every day of the rest of my life.
I have been thinking though that John would be upset with me if he knew I was still feeling this way. John always wanted my happiness before his. I’m going to work hard at being more social and getting my feet back on the ground. I spend too many days feeling lost and empty. I don’t want my life to be wasted. I still have time left to do some good in this world and make my mark. I’m going to try and be more positive and find my way.
I have been working on clients year ends lately and I want to get them all finished so I can clear my mind when I go down south. I don’t want to take work down there with me. So for the next week I’m going to keep my nose to the grindstone and get it all done!
My Last Tax Season
I’ve been having a difficult time writing lately and I think it is because I’m tired of work. A little background for you first … my husband and I have had our own business for over 20 years. He’s a chartered accountant and I’ve run the office plus worked with clients teaching them bookkeeping and QuickBooks. The practice was successful but there are times I think the cost was too great. We worked very hard, most times 6 or 7 days a week. We spoiled our children. Just when we had decided to stop working as hard, my stepdaughter moved in with her one year old baby. Suddenly there were two more mouths to feed, a baby to dress and care for and we had to work harder to provide for the family. Then the whole financial crisis killed our investments.
In 2010 my husband entered into an agreement with another chartered accountant to take over the practice. He turned 65 on his last birthday and he deserves not to continue working at this pace. Over the past two years we have been winding down and getting the clients used to the changes. My time at the office will end the end of April while my husband will continue working (but less hours) for the next couple of years.
I’m finding it difficult to focus at work. I feel a sense of loss since work defined me for so long. My role there has changed. I’ve gone from the person running the office to the person making tea, answering the phones and, yes, I am filing. I have some tax returns and bookkeeping to do for clients but I’ve lost my work mojo. I am tired of being there. It is time for me to move on.
I feel tired all the time and I know I’m trying to sleep the time away. I need to look at this as a positive change in my life. One step at a time and move forward instead of dwelling on the past. So tomorrow I’m going to try to focus on my happiness plan and work on the plans I set out earlier this year.
One is the Loneliest Number
Actually over the past couple of month’s I’ve realized that I don’t mind being alone. I have done things I’ve never done … gone to sit down restaurants by myself, to the beach, walked along the boardwalk at John’s Pass and went Black Friday shopping alone. I was alone, but in this high-tech world, I’m not lonely. My daughter has written to me each day and I’ve video chatted with my grandson and his mom a couple of times also. I face-timed with my husband, son and granddaughter. It was all good. 🙂
Tomorrow I’m heading home. While I’m very happy to be going home I’m also happy to have found out that I’m a strong, independent woman who can be happy alone.
It Is Not You
When I was 12 I was sexually assaulted. Normally I wouldn’t bring this up but I need to in order to introduce you to one of my greatest influences of my teenage life.
I was babysitting my niece and nephew. My sister was out (I can’t remember where) and my brother-in-law was supposed to be at the cottage for the weekend. It was around 7:30 and both my niece and nephew were sleeping when the door to the apartment opened. In came my drunken brother-in-law demanding to know where my sister was. I told him she’d be home in a few hours and he suddenly grinned at me. I will never forget the look on his face as he came towards me. I’m not going to go into details here but he ended up leaving (he went back up to his cottage) and I phoned my parents. My mother answered the phone and she told me she’d come get me.
She arrived, assessed the situation and packed the kids up and we went to my house. My mother left my sister a note saying she could pick the children up in the morning. In the car my mother told me I was to tell my father nothing about what happened. I didn’t understand how I was going to explain the fact I had a split lip, black eye and one very sore side. I also didn’t understand why she was angry at me.
The next day she told my father and sister that I hurt myself while babysitting. She said I was reaching for something in the cupboard, it fell and hit me in the face. No one said anything to me. My mother warned me not to say anything about that night … that if I did I would be blamed for ruining my sister’s marriage. I was confused, hurt and felt very alone. My nephew spent most of the day on my lap as if he knew I needed someone to care for me. I knew that day I’d protect that little boy for the rest of his life.
OK enough of that … now to the person I really wanted to talk about.
Over the next year I was becoming a normal teenager. My sister ended up leaving her husband, and to my mother’s relief, I was not blamed. Apparently having the shit beaten out of me wasn’t a good mark on the family. I started high school alone since most of my friends ended up going to the Catholic High School and I went to the public school. I changed my look entirely. I went from wearing very short (my mother used to cut my hair) hair and horn rimmed glasses to growing my hair long, going strawberry blonde and getting wire framed glasses. I embraced the hippy lifestyle. I wore fringed vests, long flowing dresses and coloured glasses. My mother HATED it or me. Obviously I was crazy so I was sent to see a psychiatrist. I am surprised she did this because I would think it would also reflect on her that I had to see this doctor.
This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that lasted several years.
I remember the day I met Dr Raskin as if it was yesterday. I was nervous waiting in the reception area. Everything seemed so dark. The walls were dark, the lights were turned down … I guess it was meant to relax you. Didn’t work for me as I felt very uneasy waiting. My mother and I went in to meet this man who was going to turn me into a normal human being. For the first hour (ok 50 minutes but I’m going to say hour because it is easier) my mother talked. She told him that I was impossible. I listened to loud music (IT WAS NEIL DIAMOND … WHAT TEENAGER LISTENED TO NEIL DIAMOND), I didn’t keep my room clean .. she told him about me and my faults for the entire session. I just sat there. Went back the next week and once again she did all the talking. How horrible her life was, how horrible I was … I just couldn’t understand why I was there. Third session started and Dr. Raskin finally spoke. He looked at me and said, “Why are you here?” My mother started to answer and he looked at me again and said “No .. Why are YOU here?” I replied, “I really don’t know. My mother feels I need to be here.”. He asked, “Do you?”. I just shrugged. He told my mother that she was no longer needed at “our” sessions and that he would contact her when he felt she should be there. It was the quietest ride home.
The next week (I went every Wednesday at 4) I went in alone. Dr. Raskin and I just sat there. Minutes dragged on. He started reading something on his desk. I didn’t want to interrupt his reading so the silence just dragged on. He finally looked at me and said again “Why are you here?”. I told him I really didn’t know but apparently I was defective and, as a doctor, he needed to fix me. He laughed. Now you have to picture this man. He was very tall, dark hair and had a mustache and always was dressed in black. For some reason he reminded me of Dali’s sane brother. He would twirl his pen in his long fingers and it fascinated me. When he laughed, I laughed. And we started to talk. And talk. He saw me through all the high and lows of my high school years.
Every week we would talk about school, my school mates, music, life … nothing was off-limits. He sent me to the Oshawa Hospital for two days of extensive testing. I was having migraines and he had them run every test possible. Not that it surprised me because I already knew this but I have a high IQ but trouble memorizing things. Don’t ask me dates, names, even words to songs. My mind doesn’t work like other minds … he would tell me I could be brilliant but I had an undisciplined mind. He would lecture me to focus, train it as I would any muscle but I never could learn to memorize things properly. I wonder if it is too late to start training my mind.
For three years I saw him every Wednesday at 4. I looked forward to our visits. To me they were not “sessions” but two friends getting together to chat. We did talk about the reason my mother sent me there originally and dealt with it. I remember leaving one week and as I got to the door, Dr. Raskin said to me, “You know, it is not you”. Nothing else. I laughed and replied that I knew that too.
I started dating the high school football captain and ended up marrying him. When we were getting serious I told him where I went every Wednesday afternoon. He was horrified. He didn’t say anything for a few weeks and then told me that I would have to stop seeing the doctor. He could not go home and tell his parents that I was in therapy! As it was they hated me for not being Ukrainian. This would be the final nail in my coffin. So I went to see Dr Raskin and told him. Dr. Raskin totally understood and told me his door was always open. For the first time, he actually touched me … he hugged me as I left. This time, when I was leaving he said to me “Susan … it is not you. Be you. And … your mother is crazy”. I said I knew that since I was a kid and that was the hand I was dealt as a child.
I married my high school sweetheart. I married him for all the wrong reasons and leaving him was probably the best thing I ever did for him. He will be the topic of a blog some day … but not today. When I left him, I knew it was over. I filed for divorce (back then you had to wait 3 years for it to be final). He said he would not contest the divorce IF I would go see Dr. Raskin (apparently I was crazy to leave him) and he agreed that leaving was the best thing for me. I agreed and went to see my old friend. We didn’t even talk about my ex-husband in that session. I knew nothing was going to make me go back to that life.
Dr Raskin had aged. Perhaps he was ill, I really don’t know but all I could think of was he had become an old man. We chatted but that link between us was gone. This time I left without looking back. We both knew it was time for me to be out in the world on my own.
I have decided this is a good time to start my bucket lost. I have already crossed off many things on my bucket list (such as touching Uluru) so this is for moving forward. This post will constantly evolve and be updated. Once I complete an item I will bold it and continue working on my list until I die.
My list is (in no particular order):
Learn a new language. For some reason I have always wanted to learn Italian or Spanish. I would like to be able to have a casual conversation in another language.
I would like to take cooking lessons, either in person or online, so I can make extraordinary meals.
I want to start a cookbook blog of favourite family recipes.
I would like to learn how to play chess. This will help my brain as I age.
I want to learn CPR.
I would like to see a real iceberg.
I would like to visit the British Museum.
I would like to go to the Dali Museum.
I have ALWAYS wanted to write a book.
I would like to fly a kite.
I would like to take art lessons. I would like to know how to paint or draw.
I want to take photography lessons and learn how to use Photoshop.
I would like to read 25 of the top novels of all time.
I want to see a live volcano.
I want to visit Key West.
I would like to go to Holland and see where my father was born.
I want to be proud of something I create in fused glass.
I would like to drive through Nappa Valley.
I would like to visit New Orleans.
I would like to visit England, see the historical sites like castles, Stonehenge etc.
I would like to take a bus tour of Italy.
I would like to photograph the Loch Ness monster.
I would like to learn how to knit.
I want to finish Adam’s Christmas stocking.
What’s My Talent
I wish I had some sort of talent. My daughter is the most talented person I know. Thirty years old and no matter what she tries to do she excels at. She could easily make her living as writer or an artist. She designs counted cross stitch patterns, sketches like a pro, cartoons, has an artist’s eye … she amazes me on a daily basis. My nephew is the same way. He is a talented self-taught musician and published author and does this in his spare time. So what is my talent?
I am searching for that special spark so I can develop it so it can burst into my flame. So far all I have accomplished is I’ve spent a fortune at Michaels and Joann’s Fabrics on paint, wool, patterns and fabric. But it just sits there. How do I find that spark to create something that is me? I am trying to paint this little ceramic house to put under the tree and just making a mess. Am I being too hard on myself? How do I start feeling that I can actually do something that I will be proud of? So far I feel like all I have done is create a “can’t” list, I can’t write .. I can’t draw … I can’t paint … I can’t knit .. I can’t .. I can’t .. I can’t.
How can I?
Two weeks into my happiness and project and it is time to self evaluate. Am I moving forward? Am I any happier? The answer is a resounding YES.
I have made small changes in my diet. Cutting down on my old nemesis french fries has made a big difference in me. I have decided if I am going to eat them they have to be awesome! Home made style … crispy and salty. Great thing for me is that is not the way they serve them in restaurants so it is easy to leave them on the plate.
I am failing on the exercise part but I did get up today and used the wii fit. I am only here another two weeks but I hope to swim most days. That will help me burn calories!
I did read a book to keep my brain active and blogged every day. I do want to add in doing my luminosity exercises every day. I forgot all about them once I stopped working at the office.
Now the more difficult area .. creativity. I did try to find something to make but so far have not completed anything. I will find something that I am good at again. I have decided to finally finish a Christmas stocking for my son over the next two weeks.
I do want to add some resolutions to my basic five now. My beginning five are:
1. Cook from scratch. Not just cook .. create meals. Create menus and feed my family good food.
2. Ignite my creative side.
3. Read more.
4. Exercise more.
5. Blog regularly.
New changes are as follows:
6. Eat 3 pieces of fruit or vegetables a day.
7. Create a daily schedule, weekly schedule and monthly schedule to help bring balance into my life.
8. Kiss or hug someone every day. Smile at strangers.