Psalm 139:14 (KJV) 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Today is day 9 of my grateful heart bible plan but I want to talk about something else. I will get to day 9 tomorrow, I promise! What I want to talk about is dating. More specifically, dating after being with someone for a big part of your adult life. How?

It has been 6 months since my Beloved died, and I am not ready to start sharing myself with someone else. It isn’t that I feel guilty about dating, but I promised myself I would not make any life-changing decisions for the first year and dating would definitely fall under that category! Still, after a few interactions with men who I feel like I would like to get to know better, I am curious.

It has been a long time since I dated Albert and before that I had been married. I got married at the age of 19 and divorced at 28, with six months in between that and meeting Al. I really haven’t had a ton of experience with the opposite sex. I am just learning how to be a grownup without his help, I think having 6 more months to get it down in my mind will do me good. But while I wait, I am learning a few things about myself.

Thanking God for the gifts he gave me got me thinking about how many gifts I have received from Him. I have realized that I have never really made a guy “work for me.” What I mean by that is, my ex-husband and my late husband both did not have to do much to get me to go out with them. When I met my first husband, I was young and naive so I didn’t really know how to play hard to get or whatever. And when I met Albert, I had such a low opinion of myself and was super flattered that he even wanted my phone number! This time around things are different. I have every intention of playing the field. I want to go on dates with a few guys, not meet one guy and be his everything until he moves on. I know that I am a catch! I am beautiful, smart, and capable.

But I don’t love myself as much as I should being that I am God’s masterpiece.The next six months will be devoted to remembering that I am beautifully and perfectly made; and as such I deserve to have anyone who is interested in me put in some effort. My inner critic Frank has already pointed out that I am not a young person (and maybe I don’t have time to be too picky?!) and also that there is a possibility if I play hard to get or date more than one guy at a time I will end up alone because no one will put up with that. I am not THAT special, after all. Except that I am THAT special. I think this is a turning point for me and God has brought me here before only to have me ignore him and do what I thought would be a safe alternative. No more! I have felt that Albert dying was something I needed to have happen so I could become the person God wants me to become. And I believe that He wanted me to see myself as the worthy person that I have become so I will not allow myself to get lost in a relationship with someone. I said it before, the message is received!

The weighted blanket of grief

This post is off the subject of my attitude for gratitude, but I need to get it out. I feel like I have changed in my grief process; and it is enough of a change that I actually can FEEL IT.

My grief has been like a weighted blanket or shawl I have worn around my body. Some days, especially in the beginning, I would wrap myself up and go to bed. I could hear his voice whispering in my ear that it was all going to be okay. And when life got hard or too many people were around me I could put the blanket over my head and just breath in the smell of my Beloved that surrounded me in my cocoon of grief, using the blanket to wipe away the tears that fell with every thought of him. It was strangely comforting to always feel that weight on my shoulders, while it was reminding me that he was gone.

The weight was so heavy sometimes that I could only manage to do what I had to do in a day and nothing more. That was frustrating at times because I was stronger in my mind than I was in my physical body. I would go to the gym, a place where I felt welcome and empowered, and I would not be able to do even the easiest of exercises. I would cry when I walked in because of all the reminders; and I would cry when I left because I was so weak that I failed miserably in my workouts. What I didn’t realize was that the blanket was making it hard to do the things I did before Al died. Even though I had not been away from the gym for a really long time, and even though I had been walking and exercising at home while he was sick, lifting my body while the blanket weighed it down was a struggle all in itself. Instead of feeling empowered, I felt defeated.

Then something unexpected happened. I woke up one morning and the blanket had slipped off a little during the night. It was still on me, but only part of my body was covered in this weighted grief. I moved my arms and they felt lighter and stronger than they had in a while. I went to the gym and although I couldn’t finish a full workout I finished more than I had before. I still didn’t feel empowered, but hopeful that maybe I would one day be as strong as I was once again.

Days and weeks past with that blanket wrapped around my waist, making it easier to move and harder to hide. The comfort of my grief cocoon was gone, I could no longer smell Al when I wrapped it around me because it was too far from my face, but I heard his voice this time telling me that I was stronger than I knew and that it would be okay. I was able to walk farther than I had before, all the way to the beach near my house before I had to stop. It was getting easier.

Yesterday when I awoke I had thrown the blanket off completely. I got up and got dressed, grabbed the blanket and left for my morning work. Except, I didn’t wrap the blanket around my waist like I had in the past. I put it next to me on the seat and went on my way. When I got home, I put the blanket on the back of the couch and took a walk to the beach. And back. Yup, I was strong enough to go there AND back. Today I was able to do almost a full workout at the gym, while the blanket was in a cubby with my phone and keys. Still ever present, but not weighing me down and making my life feel hopeless and hard.

That blanket will always be there. When I move it will move with me, when I go on vacation it will be in my carry-on. But it has lost its weight and heaviness. I still wrap myself up in the grief cocoon when life is hard, and even though I no longer smell his smell I know Al is with me. And his voice in my ear? It is saying, “I told you!”

21 Days to a grateful heart…

I have started (and recently restarted because I wasn’t giving it the kind of attention that I wanted!) a plan to help me see the gratitude in my life instead of just seeing the big holes of ugliness that seem to keep popping up. I have been reading different bible plans over the years to coincidence with my life and this one is no different.  To be sure that I follow it and put the energy and focus in that I think I need, I am going to write down the reflect section here. Starting today!

So today’s reflect–Gratutude is a condition of the heart. Let’s kick these 21 days off with a heart-check. What was the last thing you thanked God for? What’s in your heart that is blocking you from cultivating gratitude? Are you more focused on what you didn’t get rather than what has been given? (courtesy of YouVersion “21 Days to a Grateful heart”. http://www.elevatehim.com )

I thank God every day for another day so I would say that was the last thing. The thing in my heart that is blocking me from cultivating gratitude is my doubt. It isn’t that I don’t believe in God’s almighty power, but I don’t believe He will use it for me. Does that mean that I don’t feel like I am worthy of having a life that my Father would have planned for me? Or am I just so convinced that everyone eventually lets me down so why not
have a “plan B” in case God does, too? I am not more focused on what I didn’t get than what has been given to me because I know in my heart of hearts that everything I have been given (or denied!) is part of His master plan for my life. But there again, are those just words I am telling myself or do I truly believe that God has a plan for me? Doubt. It is a wormhole the Devil has used often to work his way through my brain! But not anymore. Starting right now, I say “Not today Satan!”

How about you?  Read the reflect section above and answer the question for yourself.  Was it an eye-opening experience for you like it was for me?  Let me know in the comments 🙂    Until tomorrow, Peace and Love!

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5 things I am grateful for

A good friend of mine talked to me a few weeks ago about my fear. She told me she also has fear that is sometimes crippling. Her solution was gratitude. Not the only solution but a solution that worked well for her. I told her that I am thankful every day but she told me gratitude is different than thankfulness. So, I am trying to be thankful in my prayers and in addition, grateful.

What does being grateful rather than just thankful to God look like, anyway? It turns out this is the true question. I have been pondering it and today I spoke to my heavenly Father about it while I walked. I thanked him for the trees, the birds, and the plants. I thanked him for the sweet smell of the springtime air and I thanked him for my ability to smell the air and have the lungs and legs to carry me on my walk. But was I grateful? I told my Father that I had a hard time feeling gratitude for my life as it is. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am on a path that God needs me to be on. I also know and believe that all the things in my life that are hard and uncomfortable are God’s hands molding me into the person I am destined to be. But am I really grateful for it?!

God told me to look in his Book for the answers. I have been writing down the verse of the day from an app on my phone but I am going to start writing down a verse of gratitude instead. I think today would be a good day to start! I found a plan that focuses on 21 days to build a grateful heart so I am reading that daily. Today it told me to read the verse below and to write down 5 things I am grateful for.

Lord, I thank you for my brains that lead me in my business and in my life. I thank you for my dry and warm home, for the family and friends who surround me, and for the car I drive to work every day. Finally, I thank you Lord for the ability to hear you speak to me!

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with celebration! Come before him with shouts of joy! Know that the Lord is God–he made us; we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture. Enter his gates with thanks, enter his courtyards with praise! Thank him! Bless his name! Because the Lord is good, his loyal love lasts forever; his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.” Psalms 100:1-5

First Mother’s Day—check!

I just read another post from a widow that was so much more engaging than mine and I was upset (jealous?). Then I heard a voice (God probably!) reminding me that I am speaking my heart for myself, not anyone else. He also reminded me that I don’t always speak my whole truth, because I am afraid of offending or hurting someone’s feelings. I heard you loud and clear! I am trying not to forget that I started this so I could speak without fear of what other people think. And I am following my instruction book, the Bible. All that being said, here is today’s musing 🙂

When Jesus went to the cave that Lazarus was buried in, he wept. Not because he didn’t have faith in God’s will, but because he was troubled about the sorrow and tears of his friends around him. He had to have known he was going to raise Lazarus, but instead of smiling and saying to Martha and Mary, “It’s all good. Watch what I can do!”, he wept along with them. I guess the moral of this story, for me, is that even Jesus grieved a dead friend. He knew in his heart that it would be okay (like I know in my heart that Al is alive with God and is better than he has ever been) but he still had the human emotion of loss and grief. I am not sure if this makes sense with the story I am telling, but they are completely tied together in my mind!

Yesterday was my last bereavement group meeting. We shared memories and photos about our lost loved ones, and also we talked about the last holiday (Mother’s Day) and how that went for everyone. It was interesting because we all have lost someone we loved, but Mother’s Day was a different holiday, depending on who we lost. One of the women in the group lost their Mom so the holiday was really hard. Others had lost children, and that was hard for them as well. One thing I have learned is that time is never an option for how easy a holiday is. You just learn to work around the sadness and loss. Mother’s day was not hard for me, at least not harder than any other day that I had to be around people. Just getting out of the house is a big accomplishment!

The hardest thing for me is always the fact that Al cannot speak. People that I know he did not get along with are trying to act like they were best friends and it makes me so angry! Because I know that I am alive and have to live with the people around me, I don’t try to alienate anyone 🙂 Instead, I just avoid situations (or people!) where that is going to happen.

This was true on Mother’s Day. My Mom and Al never got along. She doesn’t try to act like they were besties but she does try to say things to comfort me when I am upset and I feel like she is lying. I just remember that she gave me grief about us moving to the shore (and farther away from her) when we told her that Al wanted to be by the water. And that when I told her his cancer was stage 4, she told me that her friend was a nurse and she said stage 4 is not terminal. I am not sure where she was going with that and I didn’t ask because I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere good! I know she is trying to help and I know she doesn’t mean to make me angry, so I don’t do anything that will get that movie started. On Mother’s Day, we went to my cousin’s house for lunch. She has a new grand baby that I got to meet for the first time. The thing is, I didn’t hold him. I was worried that holding him and smelling his sweet baby smell would make me cry (not unlikely since everything makes me cry these days!) and I did not want to give my Mom a reason to comfort me. As soon as I start crying, I can’t always stop. And, of course, when I am crying in front of people I feel the need to explain why (which makes it worse and makes it hard to me to calm myself.) I recognized that I was playing it safe and not enjoying myself, so I eliminated the trigger. I brought my Mom home and went back to hold the baby. My cousins and I talked about Al a little and hung out. I even cried a little without anyone asking me if I was okay or what they could do. My cousin just got me a tissue and kept talking about Al. I think that was the first time anyone just talked about Al without it being a sad or awkward story and that was so nice!!!

Hopefully I will be able to have more interactions like that and I need to learn how to spend time with my Mother and not feel like she is lying to me. I love my Mom, even though I don’t always understand her. And I know she has my best interest at heart.

Mother’s Day…do I have to?!

Today is Mother’s Day. I started to go to church…I got dressed in a pretty skirt and shirt, I drank some coffee. But before I left, I realized that Dora (my betta fish) needed to be put in a clean tank. So, I did that. When I realized I had just enough time to get to church, I put on a sweater and headed out. Except it was colder out than I realized, so I went back in to get a coat. I put a coat on and walked to my car. I was still pretty cold and I decided that I was going back to bed. It is Mother’s Day and so I can do what I want, right?!

I put my pajama pants back on and started watching tv. Now I am sitting here wishing that I hadn’t promised my own Mom that I would pick her up and bring her to my cousin’s house for lunch because I would rather just stay here and binge watch “My Cat From Hell” on Hulu.

My cats are not getting along lately so that is another thing for me to focus my attention on. My newest cat has really bad anxiety and is scratching/licking his fur off. I think my resident cat, Ella, is stalking him so he is always afraid. I am keeping his sequestered in my room for about a week to see if it improves and then I will slowly reintegrate them back into the house together. It is what I do, after all 🙂

**I went to my cousin’s and it was really great. I don’t know when leaving the house will be the norm for me rather than such a big struggle but i look forward to it!!!!

Eureka! Gold!

I had an epiphany today.  I have a friend who has had a some really serious things happen to her.  At first I felt bad for her because she really didn’t ask for this stuff to happen but now I don’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not heartless or anything.  I realized that God puts people in my life to help put or keep me on the path He has laid out for me and this is no different.  Let me explain 🙂

Since Albert died, I have been in a funk.  I want to stay in bed all day long and I don’t want to work on my business.  Even though in my mind I know that I am the best cat sitter and that my schooling has put me above my competition, my heart is broken and doesn’t care!

I have been going along thinking that I would really like to start living again, but also thinking that it would be good to do that…tomorrow.  I don’t think anyone will blame me for taking one more day to feel sad and sorry for myself, right?  But that is not right.  I blame me!  It is like a bad loop that is playing over and over–I don’t want to do anything, I feel bad about not wanting to do anything, which makes me not want to do anything…and so on.  I am dizzy just thinking about it!

The thing about my friend is that she has passed the point of being a victim to being someone who just won’t help herself.  When this stuff first happened, she reacted with anger and bitterness (completely understandable.)  However, it has been long enough where she should be trying to make her situation work for her.  She has some ideas that would definitely work but instead of doing them, she just keeps bringing up how horrible her situation is.  After listening to her for days and trying to help her but with no success (because she doesn’t truly want the help, I think), I am tired of it.

Then it hit me–this is God spitting a spitball at me to get my attention!  Okay, if it offends you that I talk about God doing something so obnoxious, perhaps this site isn’t for you.  I mean, my Father would definitely do that.  I can’t believe that God is some stuffy guy who doesn’t act like me!  But I digress…

While taking a walk today and talking to my Dad, I realized that by going back to bed every day and waiting until tomorrow to begin to heal, I am doing the same thing as my friend.  It is definitely not the same situation and there is no magic number for when I should be moving forward, please don’t misunderstand.  Grief is different for everyone and maybe it hasn’t been long enough for some people; but it is time for me.  Not time for me to “move on” (frankly it will never be time for that because I will never be able to just forget my Love!) but time for me to use the tools God has put in front of me to make my life work for me again.  I know he is up there telling Albert that he never doubted my strength!

Job 17:9 The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.