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's still with me and it's open.  From the bottom of my busted open heart, thanks Christine.



Thursday, August 11, 2022


 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.

Monday, April 25, 2022

April and Life Goes On

 April brought Easter and for the first time since Rick died I went to a family gathering at my sister's and then at his sister's.  Both were difficult, I still feel suspended and not quite sure of where I belong or even who I am.  His younger sister and her husband lost their only child in a car accident just before Easter.  The funeral was held at that same place where Rick's memorial service was held.  I sat in the back and took deep breaths.  Our nephew James, my brother's oldest son lost a leg to sepsis, loss comes in so many ways.

My mother told me once  after my dad  died her life became one of loss.  Sure there were good moments, but the older she became, the more people she knew died, who became sick,  she just saw more and more loss.  Sometimes I fear that is what life becomes for all of us as we age...just acceptance of loss.

This weekend I went out to my shed to get my hoe to work in my garden.  My hoes were gone, so were several other old tools that had all belonged to my grandparents, then passed on to my parents and then to Rick and I.  There were shiny new tools, that the thief didn't touch.  More loss... Tools that had been used for almost a hundred years, that had seen sweat, tears and felt calloused hands.  Tools that been lovingly caressed, handles rubbled warm and smooth with appreciation. Taken from their home by someone whose only reason for existence apparently  is to find money for their next high.

And while there is ugliness there is great beauty in my life as well.  All around the farm, spring has delivered  her beauty in abundance.  The apple trees have filled the air with soft delicate sweetness.  Wild flowers have bloomed in the fields and woods with abandonment as though Van Gogh had tossed seeds into the wind and the spring rains and sun painted the earth with their beauty.  The blackberries are blooming now, and I can hear Rick's voice, "you are going to make a blackberry cobbler, right?"    The blueberry bushes are full of green berries and I walk barefoot through clover daily.

I have started a large painting.  It's inspired by a photo that a friend of Rick's sent me of a field of Texas wildflowers.  We will see how it goes.  I have written many pages, worked on some new songs and  cried many tears.  I know Rick's death changed me forever and I muddle through as best I can.  Using creative energy helps, so do friends and family who listen.  Regardless of whether it's a good or difficult day, Rick's voice stays in my head, "life goes on."  Yes, it does Rick.  The photo is of blackberry blossoms in the backyard.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

7th Decade

 Yesterday was my birthday.  I entered my 7th decade, it was my second birthday without Rick.

To be honest I don't remember much at all about my last birthday.  I made it through, that was my goal and I was successful.  

Turning 70 is surreal, not the aging part but it was such a milestone birthday that the two of us always talked about.  Rick would have been 70 last year, I know we would have celebrated in some form or fashion but it would have been different because of covid.

Yesterday I thought about him most of the day.  Life has changed in so many ways, yet much has remained the same.  The dogs and I walk daily, the chickens are still my girls and spring is arriving on the farm.  The redbuds are blooming, the dogwoods are budding, every day brings a different shade of green.

I have worked the beds, cleaned all the planters and containers, pruned fruit trees, cleared the fence line and ordered seed.

Friends called, texted, sent cards yesterday, family members dropped by.   I felt much love and gratitude, yet the feeling of emptiness stayed with me.  I just miss him.  The pain is not unbearable any more, just nagging, always that little twinge that has become a part of me like my blue eyes.

My mom traveled constantly after my father died.  It was her way of dealing with the twinge.  I am fortunate to have friends who live all over the globe and in their infinite kindness they issue invitations to visit.  Before Rick died, all I wanted to do was travel, now it is such a difficult thing to think about. 

This farm has become my security blanket, the last threads of a life that was not perfect, but content.

Building courage to continue new things daily is exhausting,  finding direction and purpose is painful, like being born again.  This freedom, thrust upon me by the death of a lifelong partner is nothing that I asked for but it is the hand I have been given.  The responsibility of it is heavy and the choices are not easy.  Life continues to go on.  Sharing my birthday selfie.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentines 2022

 February 14, 2022

Love is messy, complicated and difficult

Love is glorious, beautiful and life sustaining

A heart wrapped in love will celebrate the beauty of the roses and endure the pain of the thorns.

May you have an abundance of roses and an absence of thorns.

Happy Valentines


Saturday, January 1, 2022

A Gift

 New Years Day, 2022

It's interesting how the celebration of New Year's has changed through the decades for me.  Once upon a time, it was all about dressing up, going to a party and lots of champagne. As the years went by, it became spending time with good friends, enjoying good food and making memories. Then it was just Rick and I, a great meal at home, and a good bottle of wine and sometimes we didn't stay up to welcome the new year.

Rick loved New Years, it and Thanksgiving were his two favorite holidays.  He made elaborate mind maps of his resolutions, he would make recordings of his resolutions.  For him, a new year was like getting a new life.  I never got into resolutions but I always did vision boards.  A couple of months after he died, I picked up my vision board for 2020 and threw it in the trash.  Everything on that board, every vision I had included him.  I no longer make vision boards.

Last year as 2021 came calling, I had expectations.  You probably had them as well.  A vaccine would be distributed, Covid would be contained, and  the divisive craters created by politics would begin to grow smaller.  

This year, I have no expectations of 2022.  As a matter of fact, I smudged my house last night, opened the doors and hoped that any kind of negativity that existed would disappear into the darkness.

 I am living one day at a time with hopes that I can spend time with my friends and family, play music once again and travel before I am too old.  I am practicing kindness as much as I possibly can.  This farm is a full time job but the hard work outdoors has been good for me.  I am grateful for family, friends, my dogs and chickens.  My life is very different, but it's good.  Painting and music give me joy, so do books and conversations with friends. 

This morning when I walked the dogs I spied a flash of golden yellow on the trail.  I looked down and there was a heart shaped leaf.  I think it was a gift for the new year.  For this year, may we all be kind, to each other, our selves, to the world around us.