Monday, January 2, 2023

New Year Wishes

 

January 2, 2023

I woke up thinking about the song California Dreaming.  All the leaves are brown today and the sky is that shade of grey of rain and storms that occur often in Alabama.

I have survived the holidays another year without Rick.  It's so different and how I miss all those things we did together.  In many ways, 2022 has been the hardest year so far.  I no longer expect anything to get easier, now I just try to gird my loins and deal with the hard stuff.  I don't think of myself as strong or weak, just that I have the willingness to do whatever the day asks of me.

Rick Watson loved New Years.  He saw it as a clean slate and loved making resolutions and setting goals more than any human I have ever known.

For  me, I never was very fond of resolutions, but for about twenty years I created vision boards.  I haven't done that since Rick died in 2020.  Those visions for that year died with Rick and it has been difficult for me to envision a future.  I am thinking I might create a new one for my birthday in March.

The rain is pounding on my tin roof, and I take comfort in that sound.  It inspires me, that and the grey skies.  The day Rick died, it was a blistering hot day in July with bright blue skies.  I still find it strange to attempt joy on sunny days with blue skies.

I have made a New Year's wish...I wish for my eyes to be open to possibilities and my heart to be open to hope.  If I have goals for 2023 it is to rediscover who I am, to regain as much of my creative energy as possible, to see friends in distant lands, live each day with grace and kindness and however much time there is left in my hourglass, to spend it wisely.

I wish all of you a year of kindness, good health and hope.

Happy New Year

Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas photos




 I forgot to share my photos last night.   Top photo,  my great nephews, Anthony and Jordan baked cookies with me.

Middle photo, great nieces, Joy, Daisy and Breeze presenting me with  my gifts they painted for me.

and the last, 2022 Christmas card I painted. 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Christmas 2022

 It's been a bit.  I thought with the  changing of the seasons, the farm work would ease up.  It didn't.  Doing the work of two is hard, complicated and challenging on a good day.  Bad days, well, we won't go there.

Then the holidays arrived.  I foolishly thought the holiday season would be easier, it hasn't been.

I now know that holidays will probably always be difficult.  Life has always been about change and transformation but acceptance is a whole different story.  

This past week I spent several days with great nieces and nephews.  Life is easier with them, they make me laugh.  Jordan and his  mom moved to Birmingham in August.  He's 14 and had always lived next door, their move hit me hard.  But he's in an excellent school and they both seem happy.  Life just goes on and I know I have to as well.

I have an interview this week at a local church, I'm hoping to start a community yoga class there.  I am ready to teach again, hopefully write more again, and maybe even play some music again.  The want to create is slowly coming back.  I need to do something to balance the physical labor that takes so much time and energy.

I hope you all have had a holiday season filled with joy and love, surrounded by those you love.  I have learned the past couple of years that the love of friends and family is my life line and I am so grateful to those who have loved me through the dark times.

I still navigate through the fog of grief blindly, but I am not alone, there are so many of us.  I have learned to truly appreciate the good moments, to cherish laughter and understand that tears flow for no reason.

Today I spent the day with the dogs and the chickens, walking on the frozen earth, feeling the  cold bitter wind in my face.  I had seen several family members during the week, and I had invitations for today, but the need to be by myself was overwhelming.  Conversation and interaction just seemed more than I could handle.

I hope that you all have had the Christmas you needed, that you have felt love and contentment and maybe a bit of joy.

Wishing all of you tonight, 

Merry Christmas.


Monday, October 3, 2022

Open Your Heart

  This blog was written on September 27, our local online news source The Community Journal published it that day, so I waited to post until today.


A few days after my husband Rick died, my friend, Christine Ohlman called.  She had been a member of the widow's club for a few years and she understood so much of what I was thinking and feeling.  As we talked, well she did most of the talking while I sobbed and tried to breathe and grasp simple  phrases to respond to her.  One phrase she repeated in that conversation and many others that followed, "Keep your heart open, open your heart."

When her words began to sink in, opening my heart was the LAST thing I wanted to do.  My heart was in a gazillion pieces, strewn around my soul in the wake of a grief driven hurricane.  All I wanted to do was curl up in a fetal position on the sofa and fade away in oblivion.

Christine was relentless.  She texted, called, sent cards,  and always there was that phrase, "open your heart."  As the days passed into weeks, then somehow months, "open your heart, keep your heart open" started to make sense.  Grief was showing me every emotion I was capable  of...anger, sadness, fear, loneliness, self-pity and each one was felt in extreme.  It  made sense after a few months, that it would be easy to become bitter, stay angry, and live in a perpetual pity party.  I finally got it.   "Open your heart" was the key for opening the door to letting go.

I pursued letting go and opening my heart as if they were precious jewels.   I hated not recognizing that person in the mirror and I knew that no matter how much I loved Rick and missed him,  I was still here and it was important to my existence as a human  that I had to find my way  back on the road less traveled.

I am writing this today September 27 because it is "National Day of Forgiveness."

You might ask what does this day have to do with opening my heart.?  My biggest lesson on this grief road ( it has been 26 months since he passed) has been forgiving Rick for leaving  and forgiving myself because I couldn't save him.  Maybe for others who have dealt with loss, forgiveness means nothing but for me the day I forgave Rick and myself I started to pick up all those tiny fragments of my broken heart.  It will always be broken, with pieces scattered here and there,  but at last I know my heart didn't disintegrate into a pile of dust...it's still with me and it's open.  From the bottom of my busted open heart, thanks Christine.


 

 




Thursday, August 11, 2022

Acceptance

 August 11

Contentment and acceptance, an interesting place to reside these days.  Acceptance, I have found doesn't mean giving up but a release of anger and struggle against changes I had  no power over.  The Serenity Prayer probably comes to mind for many of you.

Acceptance has meant  I no longer find myself at 2:00 in the morning demanding answers to questions that have no answers.  I still awaken in those strange wee hours but now I read, I make gratitude lists, I write song lyrics or just meditate.  After an hour or so if I find I'm still awake, I get up and start my day.  Acceptance means I'm ok here on this farm alone but I'm really not alone.  There are chickens and dogs and mother nature supplies an endless menagerie of creatures to amuse or annoy me.

Contentment is a byproduct of acceptance.  Both have brought  a greater understanding of who I am and how I want to live my remaining life.  There is a place now for the grief and sadness that will always be a part of who I am .  

My day planner of all things helped bring me to this place.  Each day I found myself connecting to it.  Maybe it was because it is one of my favorite gifts from Rick or maybe it was just the habit that had been instilled in me years ago and I just clung to the familiarity of it.

Daily I have written in this old worn leather planner for 35 years.  At first after Rick passed, I just kept a daily list of farm chores, business and personal chores that had to be done.  As the months passed I found myself adding to the "what matters most list" and soon items like, do your vocal exercises, walk, paint, read, write, call friends and family, take a nap,play guitar, pound on the keyboard were all helping me to find balance and regain acceptance of an everyday life.

Acceptance also gave me awareness of my most valuable treasure, time.  I have become so cautious now of whom I spend time with and how I spend my time.  I have no desire to waste a second.  

Contentment and awareness makes for a good place to live these days.  There are moments of joy and laughter but I also know the value of my tears and sadness.  I know that for me, memories won't heal my shattered heart,  I have learned to live with the hole that is always there.  For now, my gratitude list is long and that is enough.  An everyday life is a good one.


Thursday, July 14, 2022

What Is Left


 July 14, it's been awhile since I have written.   What can I tell you, June was overwhelming  as well as these first couple of weeks of July.  Work on the farm hit with a vengeance along with upper 90's to 100 degree days.  Heat and no rain, but high humidity...fruit dropped to the ground, a critter got in my chicken house and killed my oldest girl, Speckles.  I have had two burglaries ( loss of third generation garden tools and then the theft  of Rick's tools and my dad's.)  Now I have padlocks and high tech cameras everywhere.

July 16 will be the two year anniversary.  It's been two seconds, two minutes, two days, two million years...every moment is different. That first year life was a dark grey fog, this year the cold deep well of reality opened its mouth and swallowed me.  I have drowned in that well many times, but something always brings me back, throws me a life preserver and I hang on.  The insistence of friends and family, their belief in me is the thread that has wrapped around me and kept me going.  Thank you all for never giving up on me.

Here's what I personally have learned from loss.  The only good thing about loss, you learn the value of what is left.  My candle has flickered daily, but someone else's light has shone brightly and kept the darkness at bay.  I know family and friends are sick of me telling them how much I love and appreciate them but I have to do that,  they are what is left and I can't let them ever think I don't know their value.

To those of you who read my words, I will write when I can but for now, please be kind, and know in your hearts, love is all there is.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May 31


 May 31

Once the warmer weather came, my life became  hectic.  Chores continued to build daily, now there were fields to mow, lawns to mow, weed eating to do, maintenance on the house, blueberries and the orchard to care for, plants and flowers to care for, vegetables to plant, plus of course caring for the chickens and dogs.  This weekend I took a couple of days and did nothing, 

May has been such a bittersweet month.  May 5th would have been our 48th anniversary, we had our very first date for his high school graduation of May 26, 1968, to say I have been sad, well I admit I have been very sad.

Friends keep wanting me to visit them in places like Florida and upstate New York and even out West.  I spent years traveling on jobs by myself and it was no problem, but now...Rick and I had incredible times traveling together.  We had experiences that many only dream about, making friends everywhere we went, seeing so much beauty, truly living a dream.  

I have hit a wall.  Each time my friends ask me to visit and I know they do so out of love, I freeze.  Traveling without Rick does not compute in my brain or maybe my heart is in the way.  The connection that we had on our travels has faded with his death.  I do want to see friends, but seeing them without him breaks my heart, all those happy memories taunt.  It is like each time someone sees me out and expresses their sorrow of Rick's passing ( it will be two years July 16) the wounds that cover my heart reopen and the pain hits all over again with a dastardly vengeance. 

Life will slow down on the farm this fall, after I get things winter ready.  I am trying to visualize myself traveling alone then, seeing friends, allowing memories to comfort me.

I still haven't performed.   I sing to the dogs and the chickens, in the car, in the shower, in the field. I performed for many years before Rick and I married,  but music like traveling became such an integral part of our marriage that when he died it's as though he just whacked that part of me off and took it with him.

I think of him and wonder how his life would have been without me.  Would he have picked up the pieces and moved on, thinking of me with fondness and maybe meeting someone else? Or would he have become frozen/suspended in a half century  of being entwined with me and trying to figure out how to live alone.

But life does go on, there is beauty in this place that makes me laugh out loud, moments when friends and family surround me with so much love that that I can breathe deeply and memories  caress my spirit and heart.  The gardenias are blooming, the hydrangeas and the bee garden, hummingbirds dart about and life seems to have exploded here.  Spring proves that life goes on.

My nephew James lost his leg a few months ago.  He and I talked about his phantom pain, how he can still feel his foot and toes, yet he knows they are not there.  I told him I understand completely how a part of you can be missed so greatly and the logic in your brain knows it is no longer there, but you know it will always be a part of you and will always grieve the loss.

I hope you all are well, that every day you whisper a few words of gratitude.  Savor every moment, hug those you love and always see the beauty in the ordinary.