Starting a New Beginning



Norman Vincent Peale wrote about dealing with life's troubles. In an old piece I came across recently, he suggests we may unknowingly like our trouble..."a convenient alibi for failings and shortcomings." In my case, I blamed my writer's block on grief and melancholy....I did enough on the sad theme about becoming a widow and poor me!  But what's really holding me back is my fear of sharing that I can and DO find happiness; I AM trying another beginning. "The spirit of man enables him to surmount his sorrows," Peale states….it’s okay.

I focus on moving forward; learning to live on my own and keeping my husband’s light burning for family, friends and all those in the world whose lives he touched. I still deal with grief and loneliness at times.  I feel the pain all over again when friends lose a spouse....the heaviness holds me down sometimes and it wears me out pushing it away. Know what I mean?

 But I am grateful for each day that I'm here and healthy. I can make decisions now. I can laugh and have fun and enjoy things even though I lost a part of my being. Underneath the sadness is hope, hope begets curiosity and strength.  It's strange feeling content and steady, but lost and wobbly at the same time. Does it ever go away? Should it? I like this kind of vulnerability. It keeps me balanced: two steps forward selling my house, traveling, thinking about another man; and then one step back with memories and tears and longing for my husband's touch. It works in perfect rhythm most days, until I trip and step back too many times. Just like on Dancing with the Stars....I have to stop whining and try again the choreography of life’s neverending starts.

All my life I had beginnings, but the path was laid before me pretty much. College/dorm life/degrees came with plans and I conquered them all. Marriage was the best beginning because it came with a partner! Together we figured it out through 47 years of living, raising kids, cross country moves, new jobs, homes....loving and learning and laughing all the way. We welcomed grandparenting with open arms; left alone with the first newborn, we stared at each other in awe. How did we get here? Are we ready, willing and able? We learned to tag team and face this new beginning hand-in-hand; another granddaughter, then a grandson!  By the time the twins arrived, we were having the time of our lives! We loved each other even more....not because we'd been so beautifully rewarded for raising two kids.....but because we'd reached old age while we were still young and fun and onboard with a fast-changing world.

There was even a plan for death. Funeral arrangements and wills and bundles of red tape are all explained in solemn binders. People magically appeared to take my hand and guide my way. But then it's over. It's done. And days and weeks turned into months and seasons and I floated along automatically; not quite here, but functioning. Time went by, but I was still at the beginning.

There are no rules for widowhood. No right or wrong for dining or traveling or living alone; no plan for finding friendship, companionship. Yes, there are websites and what we used to call mixers, but that’s not my style. Seventy, senior and single seeks comfortable and understanding; another wounded soul on this same journey....do I want someone else wandering and wondering what the hell do we do now?  

 No rules on how to behave. I joined a grief group at my church which was quite comforting in those early months; yet it frightened me to see so many widows still there ten years later with sad eyes. I have five young ones who miss Grandpa and I am HIS cheerleader now!  I am the go-to grandma for fun and games, sleepovers, skating, shopping...do they realize how much I need this too?  

Should I stay or should I go? I’m going to sell this home full of joy and love. I want a fresh place, a new environment and an old village if you will. I am blessed to have many villages and tribes of pals who’ll welcome me with open arms. But the naysayers say stay; your house is your nest egg, you haven’t waited long enough. How long is enough? No rules here either. I know staying here and now is not for me…..I want to go and do and be! My five little giggle buddies….ages 8-17 are my strength here also….going through files and photos, old trophies and sports memorabilia. These kids have done some heavy lifting, figuratively and literally, in helping me prepare for a garage sale. Not one is saying “don’t go, we’ll miss you”…..they can’t wait to visit wherever I land!

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to change. I was wishy-washy for a long time; then gradually becoming sure of my decision to move. I told my family I felt a sense of peacefulness now. Bless my granddaughter who gently whispered, “peace means you are ready and you are doing the right thing, Grandma.” I spend days going through things room by room. Each closet or shelf or drawer I open is a peek into the past. The old woven jewelry basket I've kept filled with old photos is absolutely ‘my life in a box!’ I’m taking my time; but once the sign goes up, it’ll sell pretty fast.  Finding a place to relocate is not easy either; have you ever felt like being blind and wide-eyed at the same time?  I am learning as I go.

 Besides peace and strength, I have faith in God’s plan and faith in myself. You too, will realize someday that you are stronger and ready for change, big or small. You’ll learn it's okay to laugh while sadness floats inside; to tuck the past safely in your pocket, forget about 'right' rules and look ahead to something new. “It’s hard to start again this far along” as the song written by Mary Gauthier goes. “Brick by brick, the letting go, as you walk away from everything you know.”  I can tell you this….beginnings also bring anticipation. Every new start I've made helped build the chapters of my life and now I'm ready to start another.
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36 comments:

  1. Bravo, Joan! In your own time and in your own way; that's the way to do it. I'm so glad you have had so much love and support during this most difficult part of your journey, but I'm sure you would still be moving forward even if you hadn't. I know you will not believe me, but you are a hero.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. Great support from you too saying, in my "own time, own way." The sense that I'm doing the right thing is strong.....time will tell. Thanks for always being my #1reader!

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  2. All I can say is, "yes, this exactly."

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    1. Hope you mean doing exactly whatmI'm doing! I recall you've done the same. And you always sound content and happy, my friend. Thanks for your support with this chapter of life.

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  3. Why is it other people are so willing to tell you how to live your own life and to be so negative about everything? Just remember -- it is your journey and only you can drive! Looks like you have decided on a great direction.

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    1. People mean well; and care about me. Maybe I'm not doing it 'right', but they understand it's what I want! Thanks for your faith and support as always, Kc!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm 53, and I haven't had a lot of loss, but every year, it becomes more probable. Thank you for explaining that there are many ways to be a widow and many ways to grieve and many ways to move forward while retaining a memory/legacy. You have a real lyric quality to your writing, which indicates that you are lyric with how you live. Tenderness and beauty are rare gifts.

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    1. What sweet words, Karen! I love the word lyric in this context; appreciate you seeing that in my writing. The only thing I can offer is there are no right ways; we must do what feels right to us. Thank you so much for taking time to comment!

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  5. good on you for making the move in your time and when you're ready for it. I hope it all goes smoothly and you find the perfect place to settle into and continue your journey from . Wishing you the very best, Leanne

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    1. Thank you, Leanne...for your kind words and good wishes. Peaceful making the decision.....may be bumpy before smooth and I've had a lifetime of perfect; so I'll be happy with safe and comfortable!

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  6. Joan, I so admire your strength. I can only imagine the sadness and loneliness you have experienced. Yet your decision to live a purposeful life shines brightly and will get you through the difficult times. Bravo to you, my friend.

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    1. I love your words..."purposeful life shines brightly!" We talked about one of us carrying on someday; I need to live like we did together....with curiosity and purpose and enjoying whatever lies ahead. Thank you, sweet Helene.

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  7. This is a path so many of us will travel and your insights could be so helpful if we do. Grieving really is a process and it's an individual one. Good on you, girl. Blessings.

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    1. Thanks, Carol.....I know you understand this: feeling him alongside, still guiding and strengthening me!

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  8. Losing someone you love and building your life differently than you'd imagined is never easy, but will be easier with your attitude. Best of luck in selling your place and embracing a new life, a new place, a new adventure, when it all comes together.

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    1. Sounds exciting, but a bit scary too. Thanks for your faith and encouragement, Beverly.

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  9. I think that the move will be good for you and I am so happy to see that you are ready to live life again just as I am sure that some of it will be painful. I also know that you can handle whatever life throws at you. I will be cheering you on!

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    1. Oh sweet Rena.....thank you so much! Amazing how life prepares you for "someday!" Our happy, long love prepared me too. Like the TV ad says, 'without the scary, there is no brave.'

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  10. This is lovely. You remind me of my grandmother on my dad's side - she lost her parents and her husband (my grandfather) all in a very quick span of years, but she regrouped beautifully - sold the house in Pennsylvania, bought a one-bedroom apartment in Ann Arbor, close to the town where she'd grown up (and half of my aunts and uncles live in Michigan - Grandma loved Michigan and although her kids were all raised in Pennsylvania, she'd done such a good job of indoctrinating them with her love of Michigan that they just gravitated there), brought her favorite things from the house, and settled in to a very happy life of grandmothering (and eventually great-grandmothering), travelling, bridge games with her friends, and cheering on her beloved Wolverines. Go Blue!

    She's been gone for a while now but I still just smile when I think about how well she lived her life after all of those losses. Thank you for making me think of her. I hope you do as well.



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    1. How did you know I'm heading back home to Michigan!? I'm planning to rent near family and friends and beable to travel with pals and grandkids! Thank you for this sweet story about your grandma....I love it and hope my grkids will remember me as you have honored yours! Thank you so much for reading me and taking time to comment, kayak girl! What an amazing life you have!

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    2. You're moving to Michigan? We'll be neighbors! Monticello is about an hour south of the Michiana border.

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    3. Kalamazoo, Bob! I'll keep you posted!

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  11. Wishing you the best as you continue to move forward. My favorite sister-in -law after her husband passed away says a book needs to be written with the title " What to do after the casseroles stop". Maybe you should write it?

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    1. Thank you, Harralee. That is a great suggestion.....my husband was the cook in the family! I'm still learning to shop, prepare and eat healthily on my own; I know how it feels! Thanks for reading, my friend.

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  12. Wishing you all the best on this journey. I just finished reading a wonderful book,"Four Funerals and a Wedding," a great story of love, loss, resilience and moving on. I recommend it to anyone--no matter what the circumstances. It touches on so many of the things you write about here--no right or wrong, just living and doing the best you can. Good luck to you, Joan.

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    1. Great book....I've read so may reviews and heard so many praise it; time to read it myself! Thanks for suggesting this, Risa.... and for your good wishes! Appreciate it.

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  13. Wanting so much to know how far you'll travel from the current moment is hard. I wish you faith and continued trust in yourself. It's clear you know how to express yourself and I hope you lean on that.xo

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Susan. The unknown is a bit scary, but faith and trust is all I have. I feel strong and wise one day, not so sure the next.....it really is a journey of discovery! I appreciate you taking time to read me!

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  14. Beautifully penned, Joan. As always. You write with such nostalgia, poignant grace, and celebration. Best of everything to you, my friend. xo

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  15. Thank you, sweet friend! Your kind words always make me smile.....coming from one of the greatest, most compassionate writers I know!

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  16. There is such hope and positivity in this post. Very beautifully done. Thank you!

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  17. THis is beautiful and touching and I am so glad I read this. I am sorry for your loss. My husband was very ill at the beginning of the year and I was afraid I would lose him. He got better and I am grateful but have been fearful ever since. This post comforts me.

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    1. How wonderful he is better and healthy! I'm glad you found it comforting, Michelle. Thanks for reading me

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  18. Wow - such a beautiful post. Such strength! Enjoy your new home!!

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! I do feel stronger now...but he equipped me well!

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