Sunday, June 30, 2013

Accountability

Several things occurred this past week that, to be quite honest, put me in a funk. I spent much of Monday running errands; dealing with traffic congestion, long lines at the few stores I had to visit, a mix-up at the pharmacy that required a 30-minute wait, etc. had me feeling rushed and a bit crabby by days' end. I woke up in the middle of the night with a pounding headache and had trouble getting back to sleep, and on Tuesday, I was stood up by a casual acquaintance that had invited me to lunch at a newly-opened restaurant near my home. I ended up eating alone (I didn't have her phone number in my cell), and shortly after I got home, she texted me, saying she had lost track of time chatting on facebook but was now at the restaurant -- 95 minutes after we had agreed to meet. She ended her text with "I'm here -- where ARE YOU?"  On Wednesday, I had a very minor routine medical procedure done, but it left me feeling somewhat groggy and out of sorts the rest of the day and much of Thursday. And once I got into my funk, I simply stayed there on Friday and even Saturday, reading books, eating chocolate ice-cream, and watching recorded television programs. To make matters worse, I spent quite a bit of time fretting about two inter-related issues I've pondered off and on for over a year: if/where/when I should move and finding a new job so I can relocate.

When my husband was alive, he was (for want of better word) my sounding board. If this week's events had occurred over 3 1/2 years ago, I would have shared with him the frustrations of Monday, my hurt at being stood up on Tuesday, and any questions or concerns I was pondering. He wasn't much of a talker, but he was a fantastic listener, and I often found answers or at least some measure of peace just talking through things with him (or maybe "at" him would be the better term).

Now, though, I don't sit across the dining room table from anyone at the end of the day, rehashing the days's events -- good and not-so-good, soliciting their advice. In fact, I hadn't told anyone I was stood up for lunch on Tuesday, only 3 people knew I had the minor medical procedure, and to be quite honest, I wasn't going to share any of this here. Instead, I was planning to write a nice little post about facebook (pretty ironic, considering the reason I was stood up for lunch on Tuesday). But then I realized that what happened this week, especially this morning, is worth sharing. Let me explain.

Last night, I posted the following status update on facebook: "In a bit of a funk today -- living alone just isn't much fun some days." Of course, that last part was putting it mildly. Several friends responded, sharing that they were thinking of me, etc., and I truly did/do appreciate each and every encouraging, caring response. I went to bed, feeling slightly better. This morning I logged on, checked facebook, and found a private message from a dear, long-time friend. In just four sentences, she lovingly reminded me to remember how several very specific, seemingly insurmountable issues have worked out in ways I never imagined possible these past 3 1/2 years. She reminded me to keep trusting God step by step

Cliched' though it may sound, her words literally stopped me in my tracks. I realized instantly that I had gotten off track, that I'd lost focus. Instead of doing what I can do, taking one positive step at a time, making adjustments as necessary, and trusting God, I had allowed my focus to wander to things beyond my control. And as I lost focus, negativity entered in and worry took root. I needed that email; I needed someone to lovingly, gently remind me that I needed to refocus and get back on track.

Is there someone in your life who knows you well enough to recognize when you're getting off track in some way, who knows the best way to tell you what you need to hear, and who is willing to do just that? Does this person share your belief system, whatever it may be? Do you feel safe enough in your relationship with them to open yourself up to them, risking vulnerability? I hope you were able to answer "yes" to these questions. Either way, though, please feel free to comment below, sharing your thoughts on this topic. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thoughts on Father's Day

Of course, Americans recently celebrated Father's Day, a day on which we recognize our Fathers with a gift and/or a carefully-selected or hand-made card. Across the country, children of all ages made a special effort to spend the day with their father, many of them engaging in Father-Son/Daughter activities like fishing, going to a major-league baseball game, or just hanging out.

But for many of us, Father's Day is not so fun-filled, and the days and weeks leading up to it can be difficult. I vividly remember the first Father's Day after my own father passed away 23 years ago. I took my then 1-year old daughter and 3 1/2-year old son to the local Hallmark store to pick out cards for their dad. Of course, neither of them could read and my son especially wanted to find the perfect card, so we discussed our strategy on the way to the store. The plan was that I would show first my daughter and then my son various cards, each would choose one, and I would read what it said aloud, repeating the process until both had chosen a card. We made our visit on a Monday morning, a time I thought the store would be less crowded and my reading cards out loud would be less of a distraction to others. It was a good plan.

It was also a huge failure. The store was empty except for us and two employees. We all greeted each other, and my children and I went to the massive Father's Day cards display. I scanned the cards, looking for the section marked "From Daughter". And then it happened. My chest grew tight, my eyes began to tear, and I was overcome by sorrow over the loss of my father just 3 months before. Long story short, tears began flowing and I was furiously wiping them away  in hopes of not ruining this outing for my children; excited by the prospect of buying something for  Daddy, they were oblivious. One of the employees -- an older woman who had no doubt witnessed previous melt-downs around a holiday --  was not. She came to me, touched me lightly on the shoulder, and handed me a kleenex. She then quietly offered to show and read cards to my children. She told me that I could sit on a bench right outside their shop window and watch so that I knew my children were safe. I gratefully took her up on the offer. Fortunately, each succeeding Father's Day was less difficult.

For the past four Father's Days, I've approached the holiday like a soldier entering a field that might contain IEDs and enemy snipers. No mention of the holiday to my children while being alert to any distress on their part and avoiding stores and malls with their banners and signs shouting "Don't Forget Dad this Father's Day". As if any of us could.

I don't know whether or not my strategy is a healthy one, and I don't even know if it works. Both of my children, while talkative with me and each other normally, are fairly stoic; my daughter has always preferred to express strong emotion privately (or on facebook) and my son continues doing his best to be the man in the family, strong for his sister and I. I know, though, that the day is difficult for both of them; a mother always knows.

Two days have passed since the big day. We survived another one, and we'll make it through many more in the future. Some day, both of my children will (hopefully) have children of their own, and Father's Day will once again mean Mom helping little ones pick out cards and Dad receiving cards signed with small handprints and crayon scribbles. But I'm sure that even in the midst of the love and joy of the day, their thoughts will return to their own father and to his absence.

Holidays and special days -- with their focus on family and on spending time with loved ones --  can be very difficult, and my thoughts in recent days have been with widows as they mourn the loss of their children's father and, possibly, their own father and with widowers who have lost their father. 

 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Living Authentically (part 2 -- Simplicity)

"A man's home is his castle", and "Home is where the heart is." Just two of the hundreds of quotes that speak to the importance humans place on the idea of home. Libraries and book stores have hundreds of books on home improvement, decorating, design, architecture, and other housing-related issues; a search with the keyword "home" brings up almost 423,000 books on amazon.com; there are several television networks devoted solely to the topic; and most financial experts agree that the single most costly purchase a person or couple will make in their lifetime is that of a home. Most of us would agree that there are two aspects of "home" -- the emotional aspect and the physical, and much of the time and money spent on the physical aspect is spent in an effort to influence the emotional aspect as well.

Home is very important to me, and I love being at home. While I enjoy travelling, when I am in the city in which I reside I prefer to be at home. In fact, my dream has always been to work from home so that I can spend even more time there! Now that I live alone, I want to create a home that reflects me, my interests, and my loves. One of those loves is simplicity, and even though I've downsized tremendously in the past 4 years, I find I still have far too much "stuff".  This past December, I set a goal for 2013 to go through each room, the basement, and the garage and ruthlessly purge anything that isn't used on a regular enough basis to warrant it being kept and/or that isn't something I love (or at least "really like").  I was so excited about this goal that I didn't even wait until January 1 to get started! Here's what I've done so far:

1. I searched amazon.com for a book that would provide both inspiration and helpful tips. I was extremely lucky to chance upon You Can Buy Happiness (and it's really cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel. This fantastic book was just what I needed *and* it led me to another fantastic resource, Strobel's blog, "Rowdy Kittens" (www.rowdykittens.com). I cannot say enough about Strobel and her writing without gushing, so I won't even try.  Instead, I hope you'll check out her blog and purchase her book.

2. Strobel's blog in turn led me to Simple Ways to be More with Less, an ebook by Courtney Carver, another very inspiring woman. In turn, Simple Ways to be More with Less so intrigued me that I became a regular reader of Carver's blog "Be More With Less" (www.bemorewithless.com).  Again, to avoid gushing, I will simply say that Courtney has tremendously impacted my life (more on that in a future post, I'm sure) over the past 5 months, and I hope you will check out her blog and ebook.

(Both of these women address simplicity from a broader perspective than just the home.)

3. While channel-surfing one evening last Fall, I came upon "The Biggest Loser", the famous reality show in which contestants vie to see who can lose the most weight while living at The Biggest Loser Ranch and working out under the supervision of some of the toughest people I've ever seen! I don't know why exactly, but watching the contestants survive challenges, the screaming and even bullying of their coaches, their own lack of self-confidence, etc., inspires me to get to work on my own personal goals. While some people might find that watching this show inspires them to eat better and work out, it inspires me to simplify my life!

4. Another source of televised inspiration has been the various "hoarder" reality shows. Just seeing homes which are so incredibly full of clutter (and, often, filth) and watching as the homeowners struggle to overcome their obsessive-compulsive behavior to have a clutter-free home makes me want to fill up a trash bag of stuff and throw it away.

5. I've begun working through each room of the house, removing items and either listing them on a Facebook sell/swap site for members of my large planned community or donating them to a thrift shop that helps support (through 100% of the proceeds) a safe house for women and their children. I've made quite a bit of progress and hope to be completely done by the end of June. I get a little thrill every time an object leaves my home!

Do you wish you had less "stuff" or even a minimalistic lifestyle? Or, like a dear friend of mine with a beautiful home that has appeared in several national home magazines, do you prefer to be surrounded by a variety of collections, knick-knacks, baskets, etc? You may, like most people I know, fall somewhere in between the two. Whatever your personal style, does your home truly reflect it? If not, I hope the following ideas will help you move in that direction.

1. Browse through home decorating magazines and books at your library and/or a local book store. Pay attention to the rooms that cause you to pause, that you feel drawn to. What similarities do you see between those rooms?

2. Check the television listings for your area and watch a few shows about home decorating and even house-hunting. These shows will allow you a glimpse into a wide variety of homes, where you'll see a wide variety of home-decorating styles. Again, look for any trends in terms of preferences and even in what you don't like.

3. You might want to do what a dear friend of mine did after she was widowed. Sunday afternoons had always been spent with her husband, and now those afternoons were painful reminders of his absence. She began going to realtor open houses in her hometown. She shared with me that not only did this help her get through a difficult time each week, but she also became more aware of new-to-her decorating styles, some of which she liked much more than what she went home to!  (On a side note, she enjoyed the open houses so much that she decided to become a realtor and loves her new career)

4. If you know that a particular style or decorating philosophy (such as minimalism) appeals to you, use google and appropriate search terms to find blogs and websites that hopefully will inspire you. For example, a friend who loves "prims", has bookmarks for well over 50 sites devoted to decorating with primitives; she visits them when looking for inspiration and new ideas.

5. Spend some time browsing Pinterest. I've found some of my favorite rooms, as well as DIY projects, while browsing the popular site.

6. As you find pictures, DIY tips, etc. online, save them to a "home decor" board on your own Pinterest site. For magazine pictures, create an inspiration folder or bulletin board.

I hope you'll share your thoughts on creating a home that fits you -- your successes, challenges, tips and hints, questions, and anything else that comes to mind. If you prefer not to comment below, please email me at aliferedesigned@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Living Authentically (Part 2 -- Physically)

As I studied what it meant to live authentically, I found (as I explained in my last post) that the key points I noted fell into one of four life categories: spiritual, physical, relational, and emotional. I decided to focus on physical authenticity first simply because I thought it would be the easiest. I further divided that larger topic into two: 1) physical as in diet, exercise, & appearance and 2) physical as in my home, place of residence, and place of employment. I've addressed the first incrementally, in small steps over the last 9 or 10 months.

The issue of diet caused me the most frustration. I had never given much thought to what I ate, other than in a very general sense; as a result, I was consuming the same types of food that I always had. I was very aware that my diet wasn't as healthy as it could/should be, and because I sincerely wanted to be as healthy as possible, I knew change was necessary. But what changes? One "expert" said I should watch my carbs, the other scoffed at that notion and said I should eat according to my body type, carbs be darned. Another claimed it was essential that I eat 6 (or was it 7?) small meals a day; according to other sources, three good meals a day with healthy snacks if needed was the way to go. The options, the advice, the rules, and the programs were endless and conflicting. After weeks, even months of  confusion I decided to consider my then-current health concerns and my long-term goals first. After establishing those, I began looking again at various diets (I use this term to mean "a way of eating", NOT "an eating plan intended to cause weight loss") in view of those concerns and goals, and I ultimately settled on an eating plan. I read every book written by a credible source on the topic, and then I discussed my goals and eating plan with both my "regular" doctor and my bone-loss specialist. Both agreed that the eating plan was a healthy one (as are many, but definitely not all, others) and that the plan was appropriate for my health concerns (avoid cancer at all costs and prevent further bone loss) and my goal of a healthier lifestyle overall.

I've been struggling over whether or not to share my eating plan. I am not a nutritional expert by any means and didn't want to in any way insinuate that my chosen diet is the only good one; on the other hand, I realize the people who read my blog are adults who will recognize that fact and not let my dietary choice influence their own. With the latter in mind, I decided to share that I have been gradually moving to a paleo diet. So far, I am very pleased with the results, but I have a long way to go. 

I also tried out various exercise programs and finally settled on one that meets my goals of overall good health and losing the "chicken wings" I developed over the 12 months that I was dealing with frozen shoulder and was unable to lift one arm more than a few inches. I discussed my routine with my general practitioner, bone-loss specialist, and orthopedist (who I saw for the "frozen shoulder"), and all 3 felt it was appropriate and would help me reach my goals. I'd like to be able to say that I've been exercising consistently, but I haven't; for a few weeks I would exercise according to plan, but then I would quit for a day, which almost always turned into a few days and then a week or longer. However, I've acquired an accountability partner, and have been doing much better the past few weeks.

As I considered the issue of appearance, I focused primarily on 3 things: hair, skin, and clothing. I'd had essentially the same hairstyle for a several years, and fixing my hair every morning took a minimum of 30 minutes. I don't like "messing with" my hair, so spending that much time doing just that every day was causing me to be frustrated and didn't reflect what I really wanted to be doing with my time. I decided to let my hair grow out in order to have more hairstyle options, which translates into less time spent fixing my hair (I'm terrible at it to begin with) and fewer trips to the beauty shop because I can trim my own bangs). I've also flirted with not getting hi-lites. I've done that several times in the past 10 or so years, though, and found that my natural hair color has with age become a mousy brown that makes me look old and very, very blah. For now, then, I'm continuing my every-eight-weeks trip to the beauty shop so Becca can work her magic.

After 50+ years of using sunscreen on rare occasions only and of hanging out at the pool or sitting on my patio to enjoy the sun and a good book almost every afternoon 3 months out of the year, I've given up tanning. It isn't healthy, so it was contrary to my health goals; since physical appearance isn't a high priority for me, tanning all summer wasn't an authentic use of my time. As an added bonus, by eliminating tanning, I have 2-3 more hours each day, 5 days a week, at my disposal! In addition to giving up tanning, I also began using both a moisturizer with sun protection and a sunscreen specifically for faces (for a total protection level of 60) on my face, neck and upper chest, and the back of my hands. I've gotten more serious about using good products (cleanser, toner, moisturizer) on my face and neck and about using them twice a day, every day. These changes caused a good-sized dent in my budget; fortunately, the products are used sparingly and, except for the facial sunscreen, won't have to be purchased again for about 6 months. I'm confident that my skin care routine is now aligned with my desire for a healthy lifestyle and for more time to spend dong things that are meaningful to me.

Clothing. How do I start? What do I say? I've always hated shopping for clothes. I'm short -- not cute short, but short enough that it has always been difficult to find pants, skirts, or dresses that don't require hemming. Petites and (often) junior sizes solve that problem; unfortunately, the junior sizes are often too "young" for me (have you seen the shorts in the junior department?), and the petites in the women's department often look . . . matronly. I don't aspire to look matronly. To avoid shopping, I had for 30+ years chosen to replace items here and there and only as absolutely necessary .  The result was a wardrobe that was filled with a hodgepodge of styles, none of which I cared for or that accurately reflected me. While visiting my cousin in Las Vegas a few months ago, I went shopping one morning with my cousin and my daughter. We ended up in Ann Taylor, where the salesladies were unbelievably helpful -- it was as if I had my own personal shopper. I scoured the sale racks for anything half-way decent in my size while a saleslady choose 8 or 9 pieces as well. I walked into that store resigned to the fact that the morning would be frustrating and a total waste of time. I walked out 90 minutes later with a new summer wardrobe of pieces (including a pair of jeans!) that mixed and matched, fit my short frame and long waste perfectly, and were all 30% and 40% off the already-sale price. More importantly, I like what I purchase -- they fit my personality and style.  I now have a 32-item, mix-and-match spring and summer wardrobe made up of clothes that I love, that fit well, and that are fairly timeless.

I want to take this opportunity to share a wonderful challenge that I encountered in December 2012 when I first heard about Courtney Carver through her book Simple Ways to be More with Less, which then led me to Courtney's blog and to Project 333. I hope you will visit Courtney's blog and read about Project 333 (don't forget to go to amazon.com and purchase her book). In a nutshell, Project 333 involves choosing 33 wardrobe items (google Project 333 for guidelines) and wearing only those 33 items for 3 months (corresponding to the 4 quarters of the year). Courtney's challenge provides for unexpected events; for example, I wear my "funeral dress" so rarely (thank goodness) that I did not select it as one of my 33 items. When I needed to attend a funeral a few weeks into my first attempt at the project, I followed the guidelines so I could wear it. Remember, the guidelines are just that -- guidelines, so even if the project sounds intimidating to you, check it out and adapt it to fit your purposes, moving closer to 33 items with each quarterly change. My closet is neat and tidy, most of my selected items can be mixed & matched, and my streamlined wardrobe has also translated into a more stress-free, efficient morning routine. 

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Does your diet, exercise program (if you have one), and appearance reflect you accurately? Maybe you haven't even given this much thought. I hope, though, that you'll take some time to reflect on these aspects of your physical life and ask yourself if you are doing things out of habit or because they are "right" for you at this point in your life. I hope, too, that you'll share your thoughts on living a physically-authentic life by commenting below. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Living Authentically (Part 1)

In mid 2011, I heard about an online scrapbooking class that involved choosing one word to focus on throughout the year and then scrapbooking about how that word in some way "played out" each month. Being passionate about words (which no doubt was either caused by my love for reading and writing or, conversely, is part of the reason for both loves), the concept appealed to me, so I signed up and paid the fee for the 2012 session. I spent days agonizing over which word to choose, first choosing "authenticity". I loved the sound of the word and its meaning, but as I played around with it a bit, I decided its lengthiness presented some challenges, so I ultimately settled on "authentic".

I chose this word because I had discovered in the 18 months since my husband's passing that making decisions was difficult. Part of this, of course, was because I was still dealing with grief, and quite frankly I didn't do my best thinking during that time period. But the issue went deeper than that. While it my sound cliched, I had come to realize that I had no idea who I really was apart from my role as daughter, wife, mother, and teacher. I had lived with my parents almost to the point that I married my husband, and 2 years later, our son was born. Personally, I had been a member of a familial household all but 2 years of my life, and professionally I had been functioning as either a student or a teacher for the majority of it. As a member of a group, there had always been others to bounce ideas off of. Being a group member also caused me to learn, as (I believe) any group member does, to compromise and to consider the opinions and needs of others. Of course, this doesn't indicate subservience or marginalization. For example, throughout my marriage, every home I lived in reflected the family, not just myself. It reflected, for example, the facts that children and their friends were often present, that one member loved to hunt and fish while another enjoyed reading, scrapbooking and various crafts, and that durability and cleanability ran hand in hand with style

Now, though, my husband was gone and both of my children lived outside the home; to a large degree my life was the proverbial blank slate. It was time, I knew, to get to know myself again so I could live in a way that was right for me. I googled "finding yourself" and got hits to more articles than I could read in a lifetime and to a few blogs. I began skimming and taking notes. As I filled a composition notebook with ideas garnered from articles, blogs, and other sources, I quickly saw that everything I jotted down fell into 4 broad categories. That realization allowed me to sharpen my focus and eventually led me to the parameters I needed and within which I could work, as well as to a goal to work toward.

 

That goal was to attempt to discover what it meant to me to live a life that is authentic spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally and to make choices that would enable me to enjoy a lifestyle that is truly authentic. By the end of February I had quit the online class that had been the catalyst for this project. Numerous glitches in the material provided (due to updates by the instructor that were not accounted for in the course materials and technology) and the resulting problems caused me to give up -- I had enough stress in my life that I didn't need to add more in an attempt to have less!

Even though my involvement in the class ended, my interest in and desire to live an authentic life hasn't, and in the 16 months since I became a drop-out, I've given quite a bit of thought to what constitutes an authentic life for me. While I'm not there yet by any means, I'm getting closer, and I'll share more about that in upcoming posts.

What about you? Was it difficult for you to transition from who you were as a member of a couple or group to a person on his or her own? If you've made that transition, how has it impacted your life? I'd love to hear your thoughts; as usual, you may either comment below or email me at aliferedesigned@yahoo.com.

 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Quiet After

This past Friday, my daughter and I -- she in a u-haul with all of her furniture and I in my car loaded down with some of her clothes and other odds and ends -- were moving her from my home to her new apartment in the city. Just as she pulled the truck up to the loading dock in the lower level of the parking garage attached to her building, I heard a tornado warning on the radio. According to the announcer, the heavy rain and winds we were experiencing would soon be replaced by two tornadoes -- both headed first to where I live and then on to where my daughter's apartment is located. Two hours later, the tornados had moved through and had been replaced by storms and heavy rain, and the uhaul was completely unloaded. Three hours later, I was home, lying in bed listening to the storm rage outside my bedroom windows.

I woke up the next morning to quiet. The storm had moved on. My daughter had moved out. It dawned on me that nature's quiet after the storm is similar to the quiet I am now facing in my own life. After living the first 20+ years of my life either with my parents and sister or with a roommate and then the next 20+ years with my husband and/or our children, I am living alone. Gone is the almost-constant sound of feet going up or down the steps or hall, of at least one person grumbling about chores, of someone asking for an answer to a question or for help with homework, of the sound of washing machine doing yet another load of laundry, of a family playing a game together, of dinner-time conversations which included laughter and sometimes multiple voices vying for attention, of the melody of a house full of neighborhood kids, of good-natured teasing between father and son or brother and sister, and of squabbling between siblings.

In the past few days, I've been struck by how different the house feels. The only conversations around here now are between Dazey (my dog) and I, and they don't last long. There's less activity and less energy . The only two things moving are Dazey and me, and Dazey is the most laid back dog I have ever seen (she rivals Beauregard the Wonder Dog from Hee Haw in that regard). I've kept fairly busy moving furniture from one room to another and rearranging things, but one person does not generate much activity.

I knew this day was coming, and I knew that without classes to teach I might easily do nothing but waste away the entire summer. I also knew that loneliness could become a real problem, and I decided I was going to head it off if at all possible. Here's what I did:

1. Created a "summer to-do" list of 6 major projects that should keep me busy for a good part of the summer. For example, I am completely revamping the class I teach most often, revising my online textbook, activities used in class, etc., so that it's ready for the first day of class in August. Another project calls for scanning all (well about 95%) of the papers that survived my file-cabinet purge, organizing them and saving them on my computer, external hard drive, and cloud, and the shredding the hard copies.

2. Signed up to play on a bocce ball team in my community's summer league; we play one night a week.

3. Signed up for a 6-week knitting class. Four weeks into the session, I just began making a sock. According to my knitter-friends, that will keep me busy and my mind occupied.

4. Bought several pieces of furniture (including a dining room table and 4 chairs) and a few wicker pieces for my patio and front porch that are in need of refurbishing (I got these pieces for next to nothing on a neighborhood facebook sell/swap group). I've already painted one wicker table, and it looks wonderful on the front porch next to my metal glider. I plan to paint and keep the outdoor furniture, but I'll paint the other pieces and sell them.

5. Beefed up my Netflix queue with movies that have been nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. I have them listed in chronological order and am looking forward to watching some for the first time and revisiting others I haven't seen in years.

6. Made a commitment to schedule at least one social event a week. Last week, I met a young couple from my community at our wine bar for a glass of wine and to chat for awhile. I'm planning to meet another friend from the community -- also a widow -- for coffee/tea this Thursday afternoon at our community free-trade coffee shop.

7. Made a commitment to write 2 letters a week. Not emails, but actual letters. So far, I've written an elderly lady  and 2 elderly men from our church "back home", a couple of aunts/uncles, and a high school teacher I admire and respect.

 

What about you? Is loneliness an issue? If so, how do you deal with it? I'd love to hear from you on this subject; if you don't feel comfortable posting a comment, please feel free to send an email to me at aliferedesigned@yahoo.com. Are there any other aspects of redesigning your life after the loss of a loved one that you would like me to address? If so, please let me know. 

**On a side note, I hope all of you have been safe from the devastating weather that has pounded various   parts of our country these past few weeks. My heart goes out to those people in Oklahoma who have lost loved ones (and homes), to those affected by flooding, etc.**