Dead batteries

Who among you likes to take down and put away holiday decorations? I didn’t think so.

I had thought the second Christmas of widowhood would be easier, but I was dead wrong. In many ways it was worse, since the shock had started to wear off and feelings and memories flamed more brightly.

I still could not bring myself to put up a tree last month, but did give it a lot of thought. My compromise was putting James’ candles in the windows and some lighted garland along the fireplace. I decided to wait until the candle batteries were dead and then put them away.

James certainly was not a typical male, if there is actually such a thing. He had stated several Christmases ago that he wanted candles for the windows for his Christmas present. I complied, and every year, I would carefully take them out of their bubble wrapping and load them with fresh D and C batteries and place them in the various windows.

As I pulled into the driveway in the evenings this past month, I noted the progress of which candles had bit the dust and stopped flickering. When it got down to the last one, I decided to put them away.

As I wrapped them up, my throat constricted. I cried over what I no longer had. I had these damn candles, but I no longer had the man who had wanted them. Although I am better most days, the ability of “things” to blindside us into a messy heap of sadness is humbling. The inability to extinguish the flame of memory and what once was is daunting and maddening, frustrating and aggravating. Like these fake candles, it brings no warmth.

I don’t want to grieve. I didn’t ask for it. I want it to leave, but I have the fear it will continue to overstay it’s unwelcome.

So I have made a pact with myself to work harder this year to focus on the many important consistencies in my life that recharge my soul: friends, family, a nice boss. The warm glow of positive and uplifting relationships.

Stag nation

One study reveals that almost two-thirds of people who resolve to get healthy and fit in the new year give it up.

I’m not surprised by that at all. Following the excesses of the holidays, there is a certain “buyer’s remorse” over all of the bacchanal behavior we gave no thought to while immersed in the season of oversharing, overeating and overspending.

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Give thanks

I’m spending Thanksgiving with my family like countless other Americans today.

For me it means getting on a plane and flying to Ohio or Tennessee to see my sisters’ and their families. We’re lucky. We all get along really well. It could be in part because we don’t spend much time together, but I prefer to think it’s just because we genuinely like each other.

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Join the resolution revolution

Just when it seems darkest, one of my tribe reaches out with a Coleman lantern and waves it in front of my face.

I am fortunate to have a family I get along with. But since they have always lived an airplane ride away, I have formed wonderful relationships over the last several decades with many friends who I will now refer to as my tribe members, since the line drawn between friends and family has become so blurred.

Today, sitting drinking my morning coffee, I get a text message from one of the tribe elders, Pam.

“Call me when you are up. I have ideas!”

Many people besides myself were impacted by the loss of my husband. Pam has found it to be especially tough, coming on the heels of a year when she helped her husband through a bout with cancer (he is now fine) and other events which have made her question her life’s purpose at this juncture. It was a tough year for all, indeedy-do, in Pam’s lingo (and as I may have mentioned ever so tactfully, in a previous blog).

This is not us but could have been (except for the gal holding the cell phone, as they were not invented yet when we were attending JFK Junior High School).

But Pam has already been trying to pull herself back up by her boot straps. We are part of a core group of friends who met in junior high school and camped together a lot. We gals thought nothing of packing a cooler and tent and heading for nearby Vermont for the weekend. We still see each other. Most of us went for a walk on New Year’s Day at a local park. We have more shared experiences than we could ever hope to remember. That’s why I know my friends were happy when I met James and married. At last I had found my mate as my friends had decades before me.

In either case, back to the text message. I immediately picked up the phone and without preamble, asked Pam for a run down.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m calling it six in six!”

“Like a lottery scratch off game?” I responded.

“Well, yeah…OK,” she said, used to my offbeat quips.

Pam’s idea takes the New Year’s resolution to a different level.  We would each commit to plan something to do together. It could be read a book, take a day trip, sneak into the movies, steal a car (haha) –  something we have either never done or want to revisit with fresh eyes, she explained.  She takes six months of the year and I take six months and we plan one event per month.

We are all familiar with the typical type of singular resolution. The gyms are full of them come January. This idea appealed to me. A new twist that could inject some life back into our lives. Something we both needed desperately. It recalibrates the stale idea of making a resolution. Create a roadmap of experiences to look forward to throughout the year and share them with a friend.

I could already feel a small ember in my core, starting to be fanned ever brighter by a light breeze. It was not a giant plan, we would never conquer Everest, but maybe it could inspire us on to bigger and better?

“I love the idea!” I said to her, already starting to think of what we could do as the year unfolds.

The wheels are starting to turn, a bit resistant due to recent rust formations but moving all the same. So I dare you – go ahead – foment your own kind of revolution in 2017.