Posted in Stream of Consciousness Saturday

With Reservation: #SoCs for June 16, 2018

I’m about to write a post I don’t want to write, and which I’ve put off writing for most of the day.

My reservation is a bit of a mystery to me…but I think it goes back to attitudes impressed upon me in childhood. About how it’s somehow a failure to ask for help, or maybe even to need help.

But I do need help.

A year ago, my husband and I were well on our way to launching a successful cottage industry selling his artisanal hot sauces. It was something that had been a passion of his even longer than I was – I remember him telling me that he wanted to marry flavor and heat way back when we were only dating, and I really had no idea that he would be my husband in a matter of months.

He went through all the legal steps to be able to sell the sauces, and we invested the bulk of our modest savings in the company. Jim believed in what he was doing – and I believed in Jim. I designed labels compliant with state law; a friend made us a logo image for a very reasonable price. We became vendors at three area farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and other events – and we were seeing not only increasing sales, but also repeat business.

But, inside Jim’s body, pancreatic cancer had taken hold. A string of minor but annoying health concerns that began on August 24 – the day after our twentieth anniversary – culminated in a swollen, painful leg. A trip to the doctor became a hospitalization for deep vein thrombosis – and revealed that my powerfully built husband, who had struggled with his weight for most of his life, had lost 20 pounds in the month since his last doctor’s appointment, and had protein markers for cancer in his blood.

Further testing showed pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver. He was given six-twelve months to live, and chemotherapy to try to minimize tumor growth was to start within weeks.

On the first day of chemo, he went into distress twice. The last time was severe enough that he was transferred to the emergency room, then admitted to a larger medical center’s critical care unit. It was determined that he’d had a minor heart attack either during or after the infusions. The tumors on his liver were overtaxing his heart.

And he was turning yellow from jaundice. Stents were placed to try to circumvent the tumor, but they only seemed to help for a day or two. Then the jaundice was back, and there was nothing more to be done. He came home on hospice care on December 13, 2017.

On January 12, 2018, he died at home in the bed we shared.

He had life insurance – but it took me a bit to track it down, since he’d lost the paperwork. It took longer for me to file the claim. I had strong reservations about that – it was so final, and so much like profiting off the death of my best friend. Things weren’t urgent – I had the IRA distribution, then the tax refund.

But the money trickled away, and now we’re waiting. That final hospital has taken months and still hasn’t released his medical records so the insurance company can make a determination about the settlement. We have Social Security benefits, and are cutting expenses where we can – but it’s not enough to meet our needs. I could take part-time work, but we have a couple of events coming up, and I’d have to ask for those days off. Also, my daughter, who was very close to her father, would rather I stay here. She worries that I might die, too. She’s not quite 14.

What I most want to do is freelance. I want to be able to support us with my writing, and maybe, eventually, with some voiceover work (I’ve been researching that, but need more time to get to the point where I can seek jobs in that arena). I’d like to be able to provide for our modest needs.

What I need is help getting the word out.

What I need is customers and/or patrons willing to support my craft on a monthly basis.

I’m hoping this post will help me to find that. Because I’m not looking for a handout, but helping hands would be hugely appreciated. Our needs are modest, and we tend toward the frugal.

    • I have a Patreon page, here. It’s been a bit neglected, but I have plans in the works to spruce it up. Even a dollar a month brings benefits, and patrons add up. Being able to count on a specific monthly amount would ease some of my burden of worry.
    • A week ago, I posted my first freelancing gig to fiverr. It’s based on stream of consciousness writing, like this post, and an idea I’ve wanted to pursue for years. If you’re looking for a unique gift at a very reasonable price – it might be just the thing to tickle your fancy.
    • If neither of these options is right for you, I can use people willing to spread the word. Share the links, this post, or bits of our story. Help me to cast a net to find those who can use what I have to offer, and everyone benefits.
    • I’m adding a donate button at the suggestion of one of my readers.

    

Well, I had reservations. I still do. It’s a place of vulnerability, sharing this difficult position we’ve landed in. Sharing my pain, and my worries.

Thank you for reading, and for helping.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Wade into the waters here.

Posted in Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Food and Growth for #SoCS June 9, 2018

 

Food is something I didn’t think about a lot in the days when Jim was alive. You see, I’m not especially food-motivated myself, and, if left to my own devices, I often forget to eat for hours on end, as I do and tend and dream and write and hang with the kids and and and…

It’s worth noting that Jim was a chef. He often brought home my dinner, and I usually ate what he brought. The kids, in those days, preferred non-cooked foods or convenience items, having long since rejected my obligatory and rather phoned-in efforts at feeding them “right” when they were smaller.

But then, Jim was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, and, in the day less than two months between that date and the night he died at home, I realized that food was going to have to become something I think about, plan for, and prepare.

More than that, as it turns out. The life insurance claim has yet to be settled, and, at the moment, finances are extremely finite. Where we used to spend about half (or, when Jim shopped, sometimes more like three-quarters) of our grocery budget on convenience items and snacks. A lot of it was motivated by Jim and the kids, but I had my favorites, too – many of them single-serving freezer meals I justified the expense of because they were “healthy” versions.

But that doesn’t fly, anymore. I am the mom of two teens. My son, who will be 17 early in September, is about 6’3” and burly. He can go through a half gallon of milk in about a day. My daughter, 14 next month, is nearly as tall as me now – and I’m 5’9”.

Food needs to be an important factor in our budgeting, because it takes fuel to grow these people into adults. And, if I don’t eat as much as I need of the things I need, it’s hard for me to do the work of two parents.

It could also adversely affect my health – and, just because they’re older kids doesn’t mean they’re ready to be without parents altogether.

So…

I’ve been growing (in my approach to food and feeding us; my body is actually shrinking). I haven’t stopped buying snacks, but we buy considerably fewer of them these days. I can’t promise I’ll never buy another freezer meal, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it mindlessly, or fooling myself about why I’m buying them, when I do….

And I don’t feel the same need for them…because I’ve started to cook.

It began with buying an Instant Pot, so I could prepare things without babysitting them – the part of cooking that tends to literally drive me to distraction. I can also often cook in the one pot, and save considerably on the cleanup (wonderful, because I generally want to accomplish about four times as much as I can physically manage).

These days, I look up recipes online (365 days is my current favorite site for these), and our grocery budget is weighted toward ingredients. Food has become sustenance, art form, and agent of growth – both literal and symbolic.

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday, hosted by Linda G. Hill at Life in Progress. This week’s prompt is “begin your post with a noun.”

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Round Two, slices of life, The 12 Week Year, The 12 Week Year 2018, The 12 Week Year Three, Writers' Resources, writing

I Think I’ve Got It Now! #ROW80 Round 2 /#12WeekYear 3; Midweek 7

Hi there, ROWers and friends!

Yes, you’re seeing this right. It’s Wednesday, and I’m here….on time, even! – to offer up my plan for this week, taken directly from my accountability group, and presented to you with progress accounted for.

Looking at this checklist shows me that I am resisting doing the family financial stuff, and letting other things get in the way of my marketing learning and practice. I have a few ideas why this is happening but will be giving it more attention in the coming weeks and rounds.

In the meantime…

last Wednesday, I asked people what their least favorite books were. The one response I got was the same as my own attitude – I don’t generally read books I don’t like – I set them aside. Most recently, I did that with Dark Mirror, by Juliet Marillier. The two main characters, both children, jumped seven years in age – and became strangers to me. I can’t invest in them twice like that…too much is unknown.

But I do have least favorite children’s books:

  •   Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: I know this is a classic, and many people love it – but the rhythm changes dramatically, and without warning partway through. I feel that this spoils the story, and cheats children out of the beauty of a rhythm that had been established. I just can’t seem to get past it.
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch: Although Mr. Munsch is one of my favorite children’s authors, this one gives me the creeps. Love is not about stalking your children into their adulthoods, or always considering them babies even when they’re long since grown! Love is seeing someone as they are, with all their flaws, and being willing to spend time with them and sacrifice for them if need be. This book gives a very strange concept of love, with a mother actually putting a ladder to her grown son’s window and cradling him in her arms while he sleeps…it suggests that kids don’t REALLY grow up, and I don’t think that’s a great message.

But now – let’s get to know each other with -yup – another question or two:

 What characters resonate with you?

Which characters do you love to hate?

I’ll post my answers next Wednesday!

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up.
  • Final Review: after Week 12.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Completed.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike: 86’ed.
  • Red: Goal Change.

Writing:

I complete one Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction story each day, using the Story A Day prompts.

I brainstorm, do needed worldbuilding and character work, create a rough outline, and write a first draft of my 2,500 word limit short story for the Little Bird Writing Contest, using the prompts.

  •  I finally got to this! 301 words in first brainstorming session.

Revision:

I complete a final polish of “Storm at Song Glass Cabin” and submit revised version to Exploits in the Adirondacks anthology publishers for professional editing.

  • Downloaded one crit from an accountability partner – thanks, Lauren!!!

I complete spot revisions for each day’s Story A Day fan fiction piece.

  • Sunday’s mammoth piece done; 1/3.

Blogging:

I decide on a spring/summer blogging schedule.

  • Early brainstorming in progress.

I post and adhere to this schedule.

I respond to all pending comments.

I revise my About page, based on Pixels to Platform learning.

I add a Welcome page, based on P2P learning.

Social Media

I update my Patreon page, with apologies to my Patron (sorry, Fallon!)

I share my Patreon page on other social media, because no one can be my patron if they don’t even know I want any!

I keep up with #AllStarTrek, ROW80, #accountabilitygirls. P2P Facebook group, and general Twitter, Facebook, and email.

  •  Some attention to each of these, but skimped on ROW80 (sorry, fellow ROWers!).

I post and browse at least once on Instagram and Pinterest, because I miss them.

Learning:

I complete Pixels to Platform Module Two.

  • Gathered some images, and did some research. #babysteps.

I watch Module Two Video Two.

I assess Video Two Play Sheets/devise schedule for completing them.

I doublecheck time for group call;  am prepared to participate; submit at least one question.

  • Group call time verified; simmering questions.

I watch the DIY-MFA free Stop Dreaming, Start Doing! videos, and participate in the discussion of same.

  • Watched 1/3 currently available.

I finish reading voiceover ebook.

  • Done…simmering and contemplating next steps.

Family Finances:

I read two financial articles.

I investigate Fiverr.

I post three items to yard sale site.

I choose three more items to prep for sale.

I find titles for Gus and motorcycle.

I handle two administrative tasks.

  • I’ve pulled the materials for these and placed them prominently on my desk, where they will stay till completed. #babysteps again.

I add regular auto withdrawals to planner.

I check Paypal for other auto payments and list.

I rough out family budget.

Hometending:

I complete 3 hometending cycles in my room.

  •  2/3 in progress.

I complete one each in garage and porch.

I complete 2 each in common rooms – bathroom, dining, kitchen, and living.

Yardtending:

I move rest of downed branches to containment.

  • Moved one largish branch more closer to containmnent, but not quite INTO containment.

I move slate to front yard.

I weed/clean flowerbeds.

I mow backyard as possible.

Lifetending:

I choose three recipes to make this week.

I make them.

I facilitate Gabrielle visit on Monday.

  • Done – possible weekend plans, as well.

I take Noli to dog park Wednesday and Friday.

I get Noli’s license.

  • Done, and tag on her collar – so she’s all legal!

I take a long walk with Noli each day.

  • Sunday- Tuesday; check.

I get at least 4 hours of sleep each night.

  • A bit short Sunday, but nearly 8 hours on Monday.

Soultending:

I meditate and journal each morning.

  • Sunday -Tuesday, Check..

I read one inspirational article.

  •  Done – one on “taking the waters” from Mindfulness Newsweek Special Issue.

I meditate and journal 4 evenings.

  •  1/4; Monday.

I light a candle and read from Sleep 4 evenings.

1/4; Monday.

Use a sleep meditation each night.

  • 1/7; Monday.

ROW80

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

Noli on the go! Photo by Gabby Monlea, age 13.
Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Round Two, slices of life, The 12 Week Year, The 12 Week Year 2018, The 12 Week Year Three, Writers' Resources, writing

Now I’m Late Again: #ROW80 Round 2/#12WeekYear 3 EOWeek 6 Wrapup

 

Hi there, ROWers and friends!

It’s Tuesday –way past time time to share my Week 6 Wrapup. I’ve been Working on Week 7 since Sunday…it just seems to be that kind of a month, but I am checking in more promptly than last time. (Here’s my last update). 

Sunday was a tricky day. I stayed up well past dawn Sunday, slept 3.5 hours, and got up in time to do my usual morning things and take a long walk with Noli and Miah (my 16 yo son), before getting ready to head out to my weekly writer’s group meeting.

I came home late, and tired, and spent the rest of the evening playing Cake Mania 3, because I needed that.

Monday brought our twice a month visit from Lise’s best friend, Gabrielle extra driving for me, and an extra teen in the house.  By the time we were home again, it was closing in on the end of the day, and I hadn’t written my Story A Day piece yet (or even checked the prompt!).

I’m finally here, to answer my three wrapup questions:

  1. What did I accomplish last week?
  • I realized I habitually expect myself to do four times what I CAN do.
  • I decided to work on that.
  • I completed a major revision and passed the draft on to my accountability group for critique.
  • I regained forward momentum with Pixels to Platform.
  • I explored voiceover freelancing.
  • I wrote a StoryADay and shared them at ff.net.
  • I decluttered a bit and made a modest profit from doing so.
  • Family, home, and dog stuff.
  1. What’s on deck for this week?
  • More Story A Day
  • More Pixels to Platform
  • Polish “Storm Glass” and sumit)
  • Updating blog and Patreon
  • More decluttering
  • More voiceover research
  • More family, dog, and hometending
  • Learning how to set reasonable goals
  1. How do these things serve my greater purpose?
  • All support a sustainable writing career – and/or a a sustainable income that will allow me to nurture and tend my family – my primary life goal.

How would you answer these three questions?

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up.
  • Final Review: after Week 12.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Completed.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike:
  • Red: Goal Change.

Writing:

I write one new StarTrek:Enterprise  fan fiction piece each day for Story A Day May, and post to ff.net.

  • Held one story back because it wasn’t working.

I brainstorm ideas; do character work as indicated; and create a rough outline for the Little Bird Writing Contest ( 2,500 word limit).

Revision:

I complete “Storm at Song Glass Cabin” revision/submit revised copy to anthology publishers.

  • Revision completed; it’s with my accountability group for critiquing.

I complete spot-revisions for all StaD stories prior to posting.

  • Daily except Saturday; story wasn’t finished at midnight.

Blogging:

I move everything from Squarespace (expiring 5/16).

  • I looked at what I need to move; shouldn’t be a huge problem to copy/paste into a Word file).

I decide on a spring/summer blogging schedule.

  • Considering a pared-down effort with a shifted focus.

I post in accordance with new schedule.

I answer all back A-Z and all new comments. (I got to more; maybe all.)

I continue A-Z visits through letter I, using the format I used during April.

Career Building/Learning:

I listen to two past Story A Day podcasts, and all daily prompt videos.

  • Keeping up with the videos for daily prompts.

I catch up with Pixels to Platform Ambassador duties.

I complete P2P Modules 1 and 2.

  • Worked on Module 2; mostly assessing, with a bit of brainstorming and setup.

I complete two 11:11 flash fiction course sessions.

I complete reading Voice-over book.

  • Currently at 54%

Family Finances:

I offer first 3 items on yard sale site.

I investigate Fiverr and consider what I have to offer.

I go through cash receipts and bank statements.

  • Listed out monthly bills from bank statement,

I find five more items to sell.

  • 2/5.

I locate titles for motorcycle and Gus (our vintage truck).

I create rough budget.

I create cold-call pitch for unlabeled hot sauces.

  • Not happening this week; need a bit more time to think about it.

I read one financial/business article.

Yardtending:

I move downed branches and old wood to fire pit or containment area in former garden.

  • I have a willing son – and a plan of approach. Moved several small/medium branches.

I move slate to front yard.

  • This needs to wait until enough branches are moved to allow access.

I get contact info for refugee family relief; offer outgrown playground toys.

I see if lawn mower is working; mow yard or facilitate kids doing it.

  • Mowed broad strokes of front yard and a bit of the back before getting rained out.

I clean out/weed flower beds.

  • #babysteps to cleaning out 1/3 beds – the most cluttered.

Hometending:

I complete 5 rounds in my bedroom.

  • 5/5 rounds complete.

I do one round each porch and garage.

  • Garage done.

I do two rounds each in bathroom, dining room, kitchen, and living room.

I catch up with laundry and dishes, then maintain.

  • Both much closer than last week,

I make a rough list of regular hometending tasks and typical frequency.

Lifetending:

I watch Enterprise each day: #itswritingresearch.

  • Yes.

I take Noli for a long walk at least once daily.

  • Every day.

I take Noli to the dog park twice.

  • 1/2 Tuesday, for about 3 hours; kept her home with digestive issues Friday.

I get Noli’s license.

  • Postponing till next week.

I make Instant Pot chicken, bone broth, and chicken soup.

  • YES!!!! ALL of them!

Make pasta bakes for kids.

  • Done Wednesday night, when it was cooler out.

Make Cheddar Bay biscuits.

  • Done! Lise loves them; Miah found them OK.

Soultending:

I meditate/journal every morning.

  • 7/7; 4:44 minutes, using Insight

Meditate/journal 3 evenings.

  • 3/3; 1:11 with Insight Timer, then sleep /relaxation meditation to promote sleep.

I read from Hygge book.

  • Regularly.

I read one inspirational article.

I focus on getting at least 4 hours sleep for each 24.

  • Every night this week!

ROW80

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

A moment in my life….at my Command Center, with pistachio ice cream!

 

 

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Round Two, slices of life, The 12 Week Year, The 12 Week Year 2018, The 12 Week Year Three, Writers' Resources

Now You See Me: #ROW80 Round 2 /#12WeekYear 3 Midweek 6

 

Hi there, ROWers and friends!

 

It’s Wednesday –time to share my Week 6 Action Plan, and I haven’t been here in way too long. I really can’t say why, other than that Life Happened. (Here’s my last update).   

Just a couple things to cover before we get to the check-in:

Recently, I joined Slack with other members of my small accountability group. I’ve been creating daily and weekly checklists there, so, to simplify my updating here, I’m recreating each weekly list as it appeared at the end of the current session.

In my last post, I asked a few questions designed to get to know you better, and promised that I’d share my answers, as well.
So…

  1. What are your favorite books?

  1. Why do you love them?

  • In both cases, these books shifted the way I view life, the universe… and myself. And they keep on doing that – I reread them every few years, and always take away something new from the reading.
  1. What’s the most recent book you read?

Since I’ve been away a while, I’ve just got one two-part question for today:


What’s your least favorite book, and why do you dislike it?

Next Wednesday, I’ll share my answers, and bring you a few more questions.  Until then, please drop your answers into the comments, and I promise I’ll put them to good use. =)

In other news – there’s more black than I’d like on this update  – I’ve been focused on a few specific projects, and on helping Noli adjust to our home and her new life.

What are you adjusting to, in your life, this week?

 

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up..
  • Final Review: after Week 12.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Completed.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike: 86’ed.
  • Red: Goal Change.

 

Writing:

I write one new Story A Day May (ENT fan fiction) each day, and post to fanfiction.net  in their own file.

  • Keeping up with this; getting great feedback on the stories.

I brainstorm ideas; do character work as indicated; and create a rough outline for my entry to the Little Bird Writing Contest ( 2500 word limit).

Revision:

I complete “Storm at Song Glass Cabin” revision and submit revised copy to publishers.

  • 2/5 pages complete; working my way through the tangles.

I completepot-revisions for StaD stories prior to posting.

  • Yes, daily.

Blogging:

I move everything from Squarespace (expiring 5/16).

I decide on a spring/summer blogging schedule.

  • I’m considering a pared-down effort with a shifted focus).

I post in accordance with new schedule.

I answer all back A-Z and all new comments.

  • I got to more; maybe all.

I continue A-Z visits through letter I, using the format I used during April.

Career Building/Learning:

I listen to two past Story A Day podcasts, and all daily prompt videos.

  • I’ve been keeping up with the videos for daily prompts.

I catch up with Pixels to Platform Ambassador duties.

I complete P2P Modules 1 and 2.

I complete two 11:11 flash fiction course sessions.

I read Voice-over book.

  • Currently at 27%.

Family Finances:

I offer first 3 items on yard sale site.

I investigate Fiverr and consider what I have to offer.

  • I’ve taken an early peek, and brainstorming has commenced.

I go through cash receipts and bank statements.

I find five more items to sell.

  • I’ve found 2/5.

I locate titles for motorcycle and Gus (our vintage truck).

I create a rough budget.

I create cold-call pitch for unlabeled hot sauces.

I read one financial/business article.

Yardtending:

I move downed branches and old wood to fire pit.

  • Discussed with Miah; will begin soon.

I move slate to front yard.

I get contact info for refugee family relief; offer outgrown playground toys.

I see if lawn mower is working; mow yard or facilitate kids doing it.

  • Mower is working. After I discovered this, I mowed the broad strokes of the front yard. Also mentioned mowing to both kids, casually.

I clean out/weed flower beds.

  • Began with the most cluttered. #babysteps.

Hometending:

I complete 5 tending rounds in my bedroom.

  • 1/5 complete.

I complete one round each in porch and garage.

  • Garage complete. It’s going to take a LOT of effort to get it the way I want it.- but I’m willing to make that effort!

I complete two rounds each in bathroom, dining room, kitchen, and living room.

I catch up with laundry and dishes, then maintain.

  • Both are closer than last week.

Make rough list of regular hometending tasks and typical frequency.

Lifetending:

I watch Enterprise each day: #itswritingresearch.

  • So far, yes; except for the when the station was out.

I take Noli for a long walk at least once daily.

  • Every day, so far.

I take Noli to the dog park twice weekly.

  • Tuesday, for about 3 hours;1/2.

I get Noli’s license.

I make Instant Pot chicken, bone broth, and chicken soup.

  • Chicken done; separation for bone broth in progress.

I make chicken salad.

  • Done (and being consumed!)

I make Cheddar Bay biscuits, and pasta bakes for each family member (we all have different preferences).

  • Made pasta bakes for the kids, but decided I’d rather have pesto tortellini.

Soultending:

I meditate/journal every morning.

I meditate/journal 3 evenings/week.

  • 1/3; sleep meditation.

I read from Hygge book.

  • Daily, I think.

I read an inspirational article.

I focus on getting at least 4 hours sleep for each 24.

  • Every day this week.

ROW80 –


The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

LIfe has been just a little crazy since Noli-girl came home – but in such a sweetly goofy way! =D
Posted in #atozchallenge, #atozchalllenge 2017, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, The 12 Week Year Two, Writing Sample

Y is for “You’ll Always Be a Part of Us”: #atozchallenge Day 25

Accept What’s Ahead

Why do some live while others die

Why is that fact so hard to accept

Accept that death is inevitable

Accept that my beloved is no more

More of him is what I want

More time and more love denied

Denied his touch his kiss his embrace

Denied his laughter and his smiles

Smiles that made my heart beat faster

Smiles bestowed with great generosity

Generosity of heart love freely expressed

Generosity of spirit always with a willing hand

Hand holding my hand in sweet intimate caress

Hand him over unwillingly to whatever’s next

Next year and the next and the next lived without him

Next to me still is where I want him yet to be

Be my lover my companion my friend and husband

Be my children’s devoted silly father forever

Forever is a thing that doesn’t exist in the physical plane

Forever alive is a fantasy no one gets to claim

Claim him as my own forever but death took him away

Claim what I can that I was loved long and sweet and well

Well of tears and sorrow born of a love that sustains me

Well past the time of separation on this mortal coil

Coil my heart and soul around all I hold so precious

Coil his love inside me as protection for the future

Future uncertain and gaping wide before me

Future days and years waiting for me to live through

Through the acceptance and the resistance

Through sorrows and joys and laughter and tears

Tears of grief at his life so soon ended

Tears of future joy as my saddened heart recovers

Recovers from this sudden devastating blow

Recovers the beat and pulse of a single life

Life continues on though he is now gone

Life without him, but he’s still here

Here in hearts and souls that love him

Here within his children’s very selves

Selves that would not exist without him

Selves that carry so much of his nature

Nature sees that we have means to continue

Nature ensures something can carry forward

Forward past the length of time he lived

Forward into a future as yet still unknown

Unknown joys and sorrows yet await us

Unknown peace and turbulence ahead

Ahead as behind he’s there in every step

Ahead whether the trail is level or rough

Rough

Step

A few years ago, long before I knew where our story was going it go, I wrote a poem about our love, titled, It Levels Off Up Ahead. The name came from something Jim and I said to each other repeatedly during a rather grueling 3 mile hike to Montana’s Lava Lake.

The thing is – it never did level off then, or, really, since. Even now, as I adjust to the realities of widowhood and raising our children, it hasn’t quite levelled off, because finances will be an issue at least until we know the status of Jim’s life insurance. I know it’s probably fine, as we certainly aren’t trying to defraud anyone, and that the review is simply a formality – but needing those funds makes a huge difference, as there are bills to be paid, two adult-sized and still growing hungry teens to feed, and a house in need of some rather urgent repairs. I haven’t worked outside our home for more than a decade, so that I could be available for homeschooling. Just at the point where I was considering a return to the workforce, Jim launched his business, and my initial small contributions became a full-blown partnership that left me with little time and energy for my writing or looking for another job.

And now, the kids and I need some adjustment time to settle into our new lives. I want to wait until fall, and stay with part-time work, because my ultimate goal is to be able to support our modest lifestyle from home – with writing and writing-related endeavors that make use of my skills and passions.

If the insurance doesn’t happen soon, though, I will have to re-evaluate.

The trail ahead hasn’t leveled off – and yet, I feel strangely secure, even with the concerns I’m dealing with. Why?

Because, in some sense, Jim is still here with me. When he was alive, we were never rich, but we always found a way through the lean times….and more. We managed to find and create joy even in the times when we were struggling to make those frayed and stretched ends meet.

To Jim, now, I say, “You are always a part of us. For the rest of my life, you will be a part of everything I do. Every breath taken by our son and our daughter is, in a way, also your breath. And you love and laughter still sustain me, still provide a delightful anchor through the many, many changes of life after your death. And I will love you always.”

Rejoin us a little later in the day, when we’ll wrap up our #atozchallenge with the Zen of grief.

You don’t want to miss these Y posts!

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

Z is for The Zen of Grief: #atozchallenge Day 26

 

Being Within Zen

Zen is more than just a word

Zen is a way of life and being

Being a thing of mind and soul

Being a matter of acceptance

Acceptance that what is is

Acceptance without resistance

Resistance wastes energy I need

Resistance intensifies the inner pain

Pain can crush if I fight against it

Pain part of the process of mortality

Mortality brings permanent separation

Mortality is simply a fact of every life

Life and death are the yin and the yang

Life and death are forever intertwined

Intertwined in an endless circling dance

Intertwined and immutably inseparable

Inseparable as our two souls while we lived

Inseparable and each a part of the whole

Whole of the grief I feel at life’s impermanence

Whole of the pain at the loss of my marriage

Marriage of two human souls bound in one love

Marriage of life and death in perfect harmony

Harmony of corporeal reality

Harmony and flow circle and spiral

Spiral through cycles where we live and we die

Spiral of birth and growth and death

Death is the endpoint of each life

Death is the beginning of what’s next

Next breath next heartbeat next meal

Next level of consciousness or energy

Energy that maybe swirls through the air

Energy that might fuel the universe

Universe contains so much life and death

Universe holds more than we can ever know

Know that death is not truly the end of all things

Know that in some way he is still somewhere

Somewhere within this universe we share

Everywhere within the confines of my soul

Soul now bereft of his physical touch

Soul now with my own ever intertwined

Intertwined in life in ways that remain

Intertwined after his death in ways that sustain

Sustain me as I learn to live in new ways

Sustain through grief’s sharp jagged edges

Edges that are less distinct than they seem

Edges that soften when touched with Zen

Zen makes of death not only a sorrow

Zen blends bloom and decay into grief’s garden

Garden

Sorrow

 

I’ve often described myself as religious rather than spiritual. I’m not fond of doctrines or agendas, proscriptions and rituals that others devised, and I’m intended to follow whole, without question.

I need something more than that.

I need something that requires my active participation, my mindfulness, and my awareness that the life I live is more about my own choices than any external divine.

Zen matches my personality, and my approach to life – and death.

I come again to that Welcome to Night Vale quote:

“Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.”

We were all born, and we will all die. Those are immutable facts – the brackets of a lifetime. But that can’t be the whole of the story, because lives are fueled by energy, and lives touch other lives; changing them, creating memories, adding layers and levels to others’ living.

I am not who I would be if I hadn’t known Jim, and loved him.

If I hadn’t loved him, and agreed to make my life with him, our children would not exist, and all that they’ve brought to me life wouldn’t, either.

I would be a different version of me, living a different version of my life.

Life with Jim wasn’t perfect. He and I were imperfect people living imperfect lives, carrying the scars and wounds of a lifetime into our relationship. There were issues that cropped up again and again, and never truly got resolved in his lifetime.

But that’s not to say that it was a bad life – because it wasn’t.

It was very, very good – often magical. Jim and I didn’t come to each other from a place of need. When we met, we’d both independently decided we’d be happy alone rather than settle for someone who didn’t truly suit us. As a result, we complemented one another very well, and lived our lives together with a general state of harmonic teamwork. We were friends who delighted in one another throughout the two decades of our marriage.

So, while I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of heaven, I know that, as long as I live, as long as the children do, as long as there are people in the world whom Jim’s life touched and changed, he’s still here, in a sense. He lives on in the way he’s affected the world, and the energy he gave in his life.

It’s not the same as having him here, but it allows me to find the Zen of acceptance – most of the time – and to accept the lack of acceptance when I just can’t find it.

And, for me, that’s enough.

Which works out well, since this is the final day of the #atozchallenge. Join me again in May for the wrap-up festivities.

Before you head off for your Zzz’s, check out more zesty Z posts.

 

Brancing out in the last months of his life. Jim as Chef Bluebeard, selling his “flavor enhancement sauces” in July 2017.