Monday, October 31, 2011

You've Got a Friend!

Whenever I'm feeling really down, I call one of my friends and try to encourage them in some small way. Recently, one of my closest friends was having a very difficult day. She's a stroke survivor and is paralyzed on her right side and is sometimes very hard on herself. I could tell that day was not a good one for her, so as soon as I heard the familiar, "Hello" on the other end of the phone, my "actress" side kicked in and I said something comical, "I'm sitting out here on the veranda sipping a mint julep (of course, those who know me wouldn't believe that one). She immediately started laughing and almost choked. Of course, I said many other things, but the bottom line is it got her out of her blues and into a more joyful place.

There are so many times when we need a "pick me up" and someone else needs it worse than we do! In making my dear friend laugh, it accomplished two things: 1) It got the focus off my own blahs and 2) Cheered up my friend and caused her sadness to disappear.

Friendship achieves many things such as; we commit to that relationship, we listen and we cement that friendship with our loyalty and love.

It is often said, "I can count my TRUE friends on one hand." I think this might be accurate. Oh sure, we have many, many acquaintances, but only a handful of real friends. How many friends would be there to listen to you at midnight? Would you take a call at three a.m. from a distraught, hurting friend? It takes dedication, sacrifice and good old patience! But in the long run it's well worth it...

Hum, it sounds kind of like the "ultimate" friend....JESUS!

The old hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus" -- He sacrificed, He listens to our prayers, He won't forsake us and He provides for us....

He only asks us to be faithful and incline our hearts towards Him.....

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times...."

Are you being a true friend? Do people come to you with their problems and you put down whatever it is that you are doing right at that moment and listen?

Do you know someone recently widowed? Reach out to them and be sensitive to their hurt and grief. It may have been a long while since you walked this path but you can still touch others with your compassionate heart and a shoulder to cry on. We are servants of the Most High -- Look for opportunities in your neighborhood, church or wherever you are and I'm sure there is someone that needs a smile or kind word from you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10-4 Good Buddy!

Many times, my late husband used to say, "The reason you have one mouth and two ears is because you need to talk less and hear more." Hard advice for a talker like myself. My father enjoyed teaching me words and encouraged a good vocabulary. Loquacious, I believe, is the word that means talkative. When someone is talking to me, I have often noticed that I'm already thinking about a good response. Sometimes I wonder how many others are in the same mental routine? Ask yourself next time, "Do I really have to say something clever or should I just listen to what the other person is saying....just listen?"

Connection to others is an integral part of our lives. That is one reason social networking caught on so quickly -- People love renewing old friendships, finding long lost relatives, etc. To stay connected, we need to have our human radar up and ready to receive.

Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart does good, like medicine..."

People are always mentioning to me that I am funny saying things like, "You should be on television as a comedienne," or "You should become a columnist or write a funny book." To me, it can be both a God-given blessing or sometimes, a curse. God has shown me that it's not about ME, it's about HIM and as I try to balance my humor with my listening skills, sometimes I just have to "tone it down" and hear what is being said.

Widowhood is one of those instances where being funny is not always appropriate. The ladies and gentlemen that I have come in contact with that are widowed are still walking the journey of grief. It may be recent or long ago, but being respectful and listening to them share their feelings is important. To some of these isolation has become a way of life. This is an opportunity where God has taught me to "hear" and then "speak."

It's true that humor can be used as a tool in some situations, but only when it is discerned as appropriate. Be sensitive to those who are in your company. Listen and determine if a word is needed or a hug is required. People that are solitary need lots of hugs to get them through these valleys. Be kind, gentle and once in awhile, give them a dose of healthy humor.

Proverbs 15:13 "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance..."

Are you tuned into the right frequency? Are you hearing loud and clear what God wants you to do concerning a broken, hurting heart? As they say in radio, "Ten Four Good Buddy!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Comfortable Clothing – Cheerful is the New Chic!

Can we still be fashionable as we age?

With a bit of creativity and limited dollars to spend for clothing we can still be fashionable even when fighting it out with “gravity.” Aging is a mystery until it happens to you! My demographic (the 60ish and over group) are at both ends of the fashion scale. I see ladies dressed like they are attending a movie opening, and I also see ladies dressed in housecoats and muumuus. Let’s face it as we age it is a natural tendency to become more relaxed and not so concerned with our fashion choices. In advertisements, the designers are all about the “younger women” dictating what to wear and what not to wear. As a “mature” lady I definitely gravitate toward flannel, fleece and comfort clothing. But when I go outside my home I’m all about the “foo-foo” stuff. I love scarves, necklaces and other accessories. Not having a large amount of money to spend on the actual pieces of clothing I shop at Wal-mart, Target and upon occasion, Kohl’s and other department stores. This makes the social security and retirement dollars go a little farther. Be sure to watch for special sales and bargains. There are also some very upscale resale shops around town. Check them out, as well.

Recently, I attended a widows’ brunch and there was an informative presentation by a fashion stylist. Included were easy tips on how to “dress up” your wardrobe economically and by making a few small changes ladies could improve their wardrobes without depleting their purses.

Because most of us are out of the workforce and are now retired and our wardrobes most likely reflect that lifestyle. In my closet there are many remnants of my former “work life.” I just hang onto them because they still have a few miles to go!

What would keep a lady from dressing up?

For several years I resided in a local senior community and it was not uncommon to see ladies down in the dining room and recreational areas dressed in their housecoats and muumuus. Putting myself in their shoes I analyzed the situation to see how this came to be. There are many that are disabled and getting dressed to come down to socialize is a major accomplishment. Some are amputees. They wear a badge of courage and honor as they struggle through their days. Each one of them has a story to tell of how they arrived at their current place in life. Dressing up is for some easy and for others just buttoning a blouse or zipping a zipper can be a painful experience.
Our outside will reflect our inside!

As we make trips to the grocery store or just take a few steps out the front door to walk our dogs, we make a statement about who we are and how we feel about our lives in general. When we do a LITTLE extra with our outside, it somehow makes our inside feel better, too. (1Peter 3: 3,4) Peter talks about the outward adornment versus the inward attitude which reflects the hidden heart. The Glory of God shines through us and that is TRUE beauty. The Word of God isn’t saying it’s wrong to adorn the outward side just that we should be more concerned with who we are in God on the inside. Moderation and balance are important. We are stewards of everything and that includes our wardrobes, reflecting God’s joy and peace inwardly and outwardly because we are “Daughters of the Most High King.”

Conclusion: Go ahead, tie that scarf, put that necklace on, wear that flowered headband! You are beautiful! March down life’s runway with a smile on your face and God in your heart!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Simplicity is SIMPLE!

Philippians 4:19 "And my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ"

I have become a fan of "SIMPLE." It's taken a couple of years to figure this out. Having to move several times, before my husband passed away and then twice since that difficult event. Every time I relocate my possessions become less and less. Things that I thought were priorities have either been sold, donated or thrown away. Of course, I love "things" but I am earnestly trying to buy less of them. Downsizing seems inevitable. As our children become grownups and move away, we are left with boxes and bins of "this and that" accumulated with a mental label, "KEEP THIS" or "REMEMBER WHEN...." It is stashed in our attics, garages and closets much like the National Archives but on a smaller scale.

As time progressed, I became accountable for so much "stuff" like some kind of family curator. Now that I've moved into a smaller space, these items are weighed, tested and proven to be either necessary or expendable. There is actually a great deal of freedom in clearing out clutter. My mind doesn't keep track of the item any longer. (I read that once about our mind keeping mental inventory of every possession we have stored, stashed and ferreted away).

I noticed that since simplicity has come to live in my home, I have more time. Being widowed and retired offers new opportunities for thinking, doing and living in general. Not so much concerned any longer with the urgencies of a hectic, boiler room job, I read more, write more, and volunteer. Service to others is essential and has been very fulfilling. Find something that brings you joy and do it!

What could you do to "bring simple" into your home?

What unnecessary items are stowed in your archives?

Could those unwanted items be "gifted" to someone who might be in need of them?

What could you do to serve others?

"Now where did I put that recital costume from 1950? Maybe I'll make a shadow box someday and display it." Yepper, see what I mean???

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Widow Warm-Ups

Ps 119:105 "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path"

One of the most difficult issues for me through which I have had to navigate is the "me" vs. the "we." Everything changed when I became a solitary in a world of couples. Let me explain further; Gene passed away and my somewhat structured world was rocked. Social aspects were impacted immensely. My frame of reference was geared toward couples and family gatherings for my social interaction. All of a sudden that was thrown upside down and both my body and my mind could not relate. I felt like a foreigner. That "third wheel" syndrome that people speak about came true for me. I no longer felt the same comfort level around those friends that were married. In my mind (perception), I saw them as ideally happy, content and having "everything." I quickly isolated myself and shut down some of the communication between us feeling very uncomfortable in "their world." This type of mindset still gets to me sometimes but God has shown me that it's not that my married friends have changed, but it is I that have put this limit on myself.

Here's a suggestion how to remedy this situation, humanly speaking, seek out others that are widowed. Join a group at your church. Become part of another kind of "we." There are many ways to become socially involved without being coupled up. If you notice a neighbor that is alone, take time to connect and communicate. Invite a long time friend over for lunch or tea. If someone is alone in the hospital, take time to visit them. Remember someone on their birthday with a card and a hug. There are numerous ways to "reach out."

A handy item is calling cards (much like business cards). These include your email address, name and phone number, they are a wonderful tool for introducing yourself to others. So many times hand-written pieces of paper get misplaced along the way, but cards can be stashed in your purse or wallet. The calling cards come in various formats, decor and are customized to your liking. Here are a couple of places online that you can check out for calling cards --

Remember, you are NOT ALONE -- In Him is your freedom, peace and joy -- think on these things as your "widow warm-ups" each day!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Starting the Journey

Jer 15:8 "Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas..."

"Starting the Journey" is about all of us that have experienced either the recent passing of our spouse or a loss from long ago. No matter which one of these categories you fall into, this walk is likely the most difficult life changing event you will ever go through. My idea for this particular blog came from a dear Christian writer friend, Kathi Macias. She suggested while I'm completing my writing project on widowhood, I sit down and start a blog that might help YOU and others like you and your trip through the maze of concerns and questions that arise after becoming a widow.

This blog is intended primarily to connect widows with others and hopefully a tool for discussion, a place where you can find helpful information on relevant topics such as health, finances, social rebuilding, emotions, spiritual growth and faith, friendship, travel, etc.

It would be appreciated if you would forward this blog to others that you know are having difficulty walking this path. Together we can find our way through those dark days that hit at random moments which come to light such as; places that strike a sentimental memory, special photos and possessions. These memories are like a "life mine field" striking at the most unexpected times, not just anniversaries or birthdays but sometimes occurring while walking down an aisle at the grocery store or hearing a particular song playing in the background.

Please, if you would, do not hesitate to make comments. This is as much about YOU as it is about my experiences.

I welcome comments from anyone and would love to hear your stories.

Here's to US and our walking this road together! More to follow.....

Patty "Nana1945"