Saturday, January 30, 2016

Expansion


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

The truth to this quote astounds me at times. It's sort of been the catalyst behind this blog. My life expands constantly, a vast and inviting landscape of rolling hills and lush fields of opportunity and awesomeness...all because I vow to live bravely and with passion. 

I sat down this morning to pull another crossed off item from The List and tell you the story of how I came to do it. But as I sit here, sipping coffee and wrapping a blanket more tightly around me, I realize I'm smiling. And I realize that this is not unusual for me.

I often find myself driving along in the course of my day, smiling. Alone but smiling. I often find myself getting ready in the morning in front of the mirror, smiling. Alone but smiling. I often find myself curled up in my living room, comfortable and tired, smiling.  

I have no list of complaints...no regrets...no disappointments. I shocked someone the other day when in the course of our conversation he discovered I was a widow. It reminded me of the time at my old job {link is to that post from my old blog The Cat Widow} when someone who knew I was widowed actually FORGOT during a conversation with me only 3 months after Rick died. Well, just the other day someone who only met me after the commencement of my widowhood, found out and was shocked...simply because I'm joyful and complaint-free. The look I got began as sheer surprise...which quickly changed to pity...which was replaced with curiosity. And we told stories...and we smiled. And yes, my husband is dead, but life is good.

My old blog The Cat Widow may have chronicled my daily grieving process, but the tagline was always: Tomorrow may bring pain, but it cannot steal my joy.

But back to courage. It's a strange thing to say, but even I almost forget I'm a widow sometimes. It's not that I forget what's transpired in my life. It's just that the word doesn't seem to describe me anymore. It's a label that's still accurate. And it's the box I have to check on legal forms. But it just doesn't fit the woman typing this sentence right now. It has nothing to do with being young. It has nothing to do with having a truly fantastic significant other. It has to do with courage.

Being a widow made me braver...and now I often have the courage to leave the word behind. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Auld Lang Syne

I just had the best Christmas of my life followed by the best New Years Eve of my life. I could list all the amazing material things that made these holidays wonderful (a surprise future trip to Aruba, delicious homemade food dishes, a pile of presents, massive personalized stockings filled with goodies, etc.), but what really made these last two weeks so meaningful were the simple, special moments I've tucked away in my heart forever.

I got a real tree this year, an experience I shared with my great guy. After the tree made its debut in our living room, we decided to start from scratch and buy all new ornaments rather than decorating with ones from his past or mine. Instead, we looked forward to accumulating a few ornaments that would mean something to us. I bought him a 2015 crystal train ornament he wanted; he bought me crystal ornaments of the 12 days of Christmas - the turtle doves and a partridge. My mom bought us a glass hot air balloon to hang on our tree to remind us of the awesome ride we took together in October. On Christmas morning, one of the gifts I opened from Jeff was our personalized First Christmas ornament.


For the first time ever, there was a train surrounding my Christmas tree, 1500 lights on the 8 foot tree, and literal piles of gifts. I can't say I won't remember those things...they made Christmas different for me in a very good way. But what I remember most about the day is waking up in the arms of the man I love, his smile as he filmed me opening his creative gift to me (the Aruba trip, literally spelled out in wooden letters),  laughing hysterically as we watched Four Christmases together in our pajamas while waiting for his kids to come for the day and weekend, playing with his two little daughters (silly string fights, backyard football, arts and crafts, car racing, etc.), and falling asleep in a big pile of tired gratitude. 

After some of the things I've been through, Christmas had the potential to always be a little sore, a little sad, and a little lonely. Not this year. 

And I have a confession to make: I've always hated New Year's Eve. There are a lot of reasons why... But this year, it was great. Really great. I remember last New Years, how glad I was that 2014 had come to a close... How I felt I had survived... 

And I had... But what a difference to end this year feeling like I've really lived... And to look forward to 2016 with so much passion and hope and love. 

I've laughed so much this year. I've laughed and laughed and laughed. And all the broken pieces of my heart connected again a little more with each laugh. 

2015 brought new love, new friends, new thoughts, a new job, and new opportunities. I sit here in a house I wanted to leave and I feel comfortable for now, ready to make firm plans instead of itching to run away. I look at this man in my life, currently fast asleep on the couch spooning my cat, Tumbler, and I feel joy. I write on a new blog, and I'm so happy every day there are times I actually almost forget I was the Cat Widow

Not because my past or my stories are gone...or hold no meaning...or are hidden away, but because I used to feel so much pain...and that pain is almost gone.