What the world needs now is love! Thanks, Santa, I have the best present ever. Did Elf tell you?
Happy New Year 2020, May this year be a love fest for everybody, everywhere. I know we can heal the world with love, optimism and joy!
My last decade started with final years of my beloved husband’s life, a period of flux, challenges, accepting the inevitable, that which comes to all of us.
I’ve written to you before about my moves, uncertainties, complexities, loss, growth and hopeful transformation. My recent book is about optimism, overcoming obstacles, keeping faith and meeting all challenges with grace and dignity. Sounds good while I write this, sitting in a comfy chair in my “portable office”, watching at long last, a bit of rain, needed in Eugene, and more desperately in other places.
As I reflect on my life and hopes for this bright new decade, there are dark moments; much of Australia burns, animals lost, political question marks, inhumanity, simply a quagmire keeping me awake at night with my pondering and musings. But, always, optimism shines through, focusing on stories of compassion and service to others. Spotting rainbows and blue sky amidst the forlorn clouds.
I have a milestone birthday coming up, time really does fly. I was always the youngest everything- family, kids’ table, graduating and teaching at 21 and so on. What a grand career! Blissful marriage, raised four wonderful kids, life picture perfect, mostly, until my husband became ill. Taking care of him on a historic property in the middle of nowhere was no picnic for six years, however, joy filled, as well. It was my turn to take care of him, instead of everyone else. Patience and tenacity were my companions for so long.
When one’s heart is broken, others don’t know what to say, and offer cliches, however well meaning. As we grieve our losses, we are often inconsolable, at least I was; maybe, you too. There are thought to be stages of grief. I hope I am finally where I want to be, I believe I am, thanks to a loving partner. I choose love. Remember, anguish is not forever. Thoreau offered “You are more aware than before of what is significant and what is trivial. Your beloved lived. But you’re still alive. The future is worth expecting.”
Ten yeas ago, this date I asked William to write me a love letter. I knew he didn’t have much longer. And what a letter it was! He actually stayed with me another two years, somehow, dancing with Rebecca at her wedding in Oregon. I never dreamed I could love another person again, just impossible. But anything, everything is possible, really. What happened proved it.
Being isolated so long, not on social media, living pretty far from anywhere, there wasn’t opportunity to meet anybody I’d like, and I didn’t think I could ever do it, anyway. Starting over, with fresh starts and new beginnings seemed an impractical, impossible goal. I kept busy with local Book Club, Grange activities, reading, walking at lake and trails with my big poodles, incessant property work, that sort of country life. Gorgeous acreage, including pond, wildlife, orchards, our community garden. I had frequent family and visitors. Not enough. Teaching homeschoolers and needy kids, Miwok tribe children, writing a book. Not enough. Special appearances. Not enough. Adjunct teaching, Credential and Administrative courses. Not enough. Nothing was enough. I was so lonely. Loss, grief, so indescribable, but since a shared humanity, I know you understand what I mean.
I never expected to actually meet someone, nobody could replace William, such a force of nature, larger than life sort of person. I’ve been widowed eight years now. I will never forget. I will never move on like all those years didn’t happen. However, I know now that I do not do well alone anymore. For several years I tiptoed, then jumped into the dating vortex. I really did meet some great men, just not for me. Eventually I eased up on my criteria, nobody could match my ideal guy. Oh, I could regale you with unbelievable stories, but better not here today. Instead, I’ll just say I met several amazing men, but not where it was a mutually agreeable, let’s say, situation at this stage of life. People really do get “set in their ways”, I’ll tell you that.
And then Marie Kondo walks through that door, all the years of collecting interesting stuff, where’s that go? And families involved? How does that come together as pieces of the pie? Oh boy.
And now, in year eight as widow, four moves later, recovering from a bout with cancer and complications of unimaginable sorts, I am still here, celebrating each day. Gratitude, prayer, meditation, and serving others as possible keeps me going. To date, I am working with a village of natural healers of every sort, to overcome pretty hard core residual challenges. By lifting others up, as we say and do, I lift myself up away from fears, pain, replacing with hope, faith and joy.
Joy is my #oneword for this year, because each day is such joy. Every moment I wake up, filled with gratitude I am given another day, knowing I can make it through, a step closer to good health and well being. On Christmas Eve I got the good news I still am cancer free, so I have hope the rest of my not so great stuff is on the way out the door, as well, just in time for a new decade.
When we shed our past, and reflect what old paradigms need to go, looking in that rearview mirror all the time isn’t probably such a great idea. I always say we need to know the past, live in the now, fully present, with eyes open to future possibilities. Paradigms and promises. In the rich tradition of yesterday, bright promise of tomorrow. Could I really say farewell to traditions and my stuff? Yes.
And then I met him, the right one for now and our future.. I always said I’d meet a Sam and he’d be the one. Sam I am, Green Eggs and Ham. I saw my movie star hero Sam Elliott here in Eugene, chillin’ outside at a favorite local restaurant. I knew it was him, but honestly, not available. But this Sam was! Our first date was lunch at a local hippie restaurant, as he calls it. I saw him, then voila! I just knew it. And so it began.
But I must tell you, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There were starts, pauses and stops. In between I could hardly breathe. We were probably both at fault. We were pretty private, no announcements on facebook, no photos, just hermits, reading, watching movies. Through it all, and other family and life stuff, this guy hung in. Stepped up to the plate. I couldn’t ask for more. So interesting and good to me.
Turns out, I fell in love with the worst kid in the school, that kid I always write about, including a fairly recent blog “That Kid At The Back”. For example, his kindergarten picture shows a teacher’s hand pushing him to sit there, and not run away. Lol. I love a minimalist, when I am apparently more of a collector, especially of school items, than I would have admitted. He’s also a vegan, and I am not. But we have more in common, than differences. It takes a lot of compromise to be together at any life stage. However, we find that being age appropriate is greatly helpful. With birthdays only six months apart, I tell him he will always be older. We share common background knowledge for a lot of things and resolve differences pretty easily now, as should be.
I figure that since we figured out how love significantly enhances our lives, wouldn’t it be a blessing to see others in our world resolve differences and come together as partners in our shared global community? It really is true, love conquers all. At least I believe it to be so.
I wish you all love in your life, whatever that looks like; maybe in the least likely places, love awaits us all. It took me so long to figure out what and who I wanted to be, then becoming the best person I can be, given a second chance at life and romance.
I decided to share this piece of my life story, it feels so different writing not about schoolhouses or current events, but finding love again when I least expected it. All I wanted for this year is be to settled, at long last, enjoying the twilight of my life and career, making a difference for others. Being loved is my bonus as a new chapter starts, another year and another decade.
May you find or keep love and joy in your life this New Year, and welcome home, bright new decade!
Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita
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