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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

West Coast Trip 2014, Part II

As promised, here is the continuation of the previous post... (and timely, I might add!)

At last year's Camp, I led a workshop that I so thoroughly enjoyed presenting, that right after, I proposed another workshop to Michele (the founder of SSLF) for 2014. She loved the idea of it, but with having moved just before Camp 2013, and all the work I've been doing on the house since, all the activities the kids have gotten involved in, etc., I didn't follow up with it.  I felt bad about that, but I did let Michele know that if she needed my help with anything - anything at all - for Camp 2014, I would be ready and willing.

About a month before Camp, Dana (one of her awesome volunteers and also my friend) texted me and asked if I would be willing to assist with the Segway Tour for the Alumni Track. The Alumni Track is the name for the series of events that have been set up for those of us who return time and time again to Camp, but don't exactly have the same needs as the others. We also really enjoy Camp almost as a reunion with the lifelong friends we've made through the organization. 

Segway Tour.... I wasn't quite sure what that was, but I was so happy that they thought of me that I eagerly agreed. About a week before, I decided to look up the keywords, "Segway Tour San Diego" to see exactly what I had gotten myself into.

So THAT'S what those things are called that I saw last year tooling around town that I vowed to never ride on.

Determined to not let my favorite organization down, I decided to suck it up. I mean, how bad could it be, anyway??? Lots of people think they're fun!

So Friday was the first official day of Camp, and as I mentioned before, Matt's birthday.  Assisting with that tour gave me some purpose for that day. My job was to basically get our group from the hotel to the Segway Tour office nearby (within walking distance), and keep track of everyone. We got from the hotel to the office without too much trouble. There were two tour guides that gave us all a tutorial on how to ride a Segway. They make it look so easy... It requires a fair amount of balance and coordination - two things I'm somewhat lacking in (I haven't blogged about how I broke my wrist and nearly my back while rollerblading with the kids this past March yet, did I).

We each took a turn on a Segway to get a feel for it and practice what we've learned. We were practicing on a nice, open, level space - perfect for this sort of thing. Once we felt confident enough, they would take us out onto the sidewalks for a tour of the beautiful gas lamp district of San Diego. I never felt very confident, but didn't want to hold us up any longer than I already had while trying to get comfortable on this thing.

The first thing we do when we head out is go down the sidewalk onto the road, then up the next sidewalk. All slanted, sloped areas that we did NOT practice on! I nearly lost it both times, but somehow managed to keep it together and make it down the block to the next crossing, but my nerves were getting increasingly frayed as we went on. Got down the one side, and by the time I got up to the other side, my nerves were completely shot, and I couldn't get a handle on the slope and ended up doing a 360 on the corner, nearly hitting a car at the stoplight. I'm yelping at this point and the guys in the car are laughing their asses off. The one guide was able to help me stop so I could get off, thank GOD, and told him (as I'm shaking and fighting back tears) that I am not getting back on that thing. The lady guide came over and I told her I can't get back on, but I'm willing to jog along with the group. She said, "No one has ever jogged and kept up with a Segway. You can go back to the office, and when we're done, we'll come back for you. Don't worry - we'll take good care of the girls for you."

I told her (rather emphatically), "Oh, don't worry - I'll keep up. I was put in charge of this group and I'm NOT leaving them."

She reluctantly agreed, and we continued on. Did I mention I was wearing flip flops?

I managed to keep up - for a total of SIX MILES. It was all adrenaline, people - I'm not a skilled runner.

At one point, though, we hit a long straight-a-way, and the Segways were picking up speed. At this point, I'm holding my flip flops and running barefoot to keep up, and was focused on my breathing so I didn't cramp up. I was in the zone. So much so, that I ended up losing two of the girls that were behind me- our hearing impaired widow (Donna), and her interpreter (Carrie).

So now, I've officially failed at the two main things I was supposed to do for this event in such an awful way.

Fortunately, the male guide went back and found them fairly quickly, but it took a while for them to catch up to us at the office. Thankfully, we ended up all together and accounted for.

Now, during the last nearly six years that I've been widowed, I have heard umpteen times someone say in various different circumstances, "In all my years of blah blah blah, I've never seen blah blah blah." Apparently, this was no exception.

The guides told me that in all the years they've been doing this tour, they've never had anyone keep up on foot - let alone in flip flops. They also have a policy that if you don't have a good time, you don't have to pay for the tour. This was the first time they ever let someone get the tour for free. One of the guys also mentioned that in order to keep up with a Segway, you need to run at a man's marathon rate. I highly doubt we were going at that rate of speed considering all the obstacles we encountered along the way, but it sure was a boost to my ego! Adrenaline, people.

Now that all that was over, it was time for our group to go to lunch before heading back to the hotel. One of the ladies knows the area well and suggested a place called Dick's Last Resort. I've never heard of the place, but apparently it's supposed to be very entertaining with an intentionally obnoxious (and politically incorrect staff). Totally fine by me, since I was too exhausted to have any political correctness left in me, anyway - and I just wanted beer. We were trying to tell Donna (who thankfully has a great sense of humor) where we were going. We said the name three times, and finally, I used a very politically incorrect gesture, and she immediately understood. =P

They had the biggest bottle of Corona I have ever seen in my life at that restaurant, and I was able to properly say cheers to the birthday boy with my widda peeps.

I'm sure Matt was watching as all this transpired, and was extremely entertained for his birthday!!

PS - Did you know the guy who invented the Segway apparently Segwayed off a cliff and died??? It didn't surprise me too much to hear this news.


(PART III, to be continued...)



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Catching Up (and West Coast Trip 2014, Part I).


In my usual slacker style, I haven't been updating like I always intend to.... SO much has been going on, and the more that goes on, the more I intend to write, and the longer I go without writing, the more overwhelmed I get at the thought of all I need to write in order to catch up! So without further ado, I'll just start from the present and work my way back. 

The kids and I recently returned from another glorious trip to the West Coast- my sixth Camp Widow in San Diego, and another visit with friends and family. We flew into San Diego on Wednesday and this time, I had the kids stay with me at the Camp Widow hotel (Marriott) so they could finally get to see where I go every year for Camp, and get to meet some of my good friends. They LOVED it. They loved being there to get to see where I go, and they loved swimming in the pool and hot tub! Uncle Greg and his girlfriend came out (they live right in San Diego) to hang with us at the pool for most of the day - and it was his birthday! 

Between traveling all day, the time difference, and then spending all that time in the sun and water, we were exhausted by dinner time. We went back to the room to freshen up for dinner, and Sydney crawled in the bed and said, "I'm too tired to care about dinner!" Poor girl! We decided to treat ourselves- put our PJ's on, and ordered room service. What a luxury! Right after we were done eating, we crashed for the night. 

I woke up in the middle of the night to hear some mysterious knocking on the wall... We were at a hotel, after all. =/

The next day, we went to Starbucks for breakfast (so cool to have the kids do the typical Camp Widow things with me!), and then walked around Seaport Village. I LOVE Seaport Village - it's so beautiful, the views are spectacular, and there are so many cool little shops to explore. We checked out the guy balancing rocks on top of each other, got some souvenirs, and so much more. Made our way back to the hotel, grabbed some lunch at the pool bar (that the kids barely ate - not their kind of food), and then spent more time in the pool and were able to meet some of my friends before Aunt Brandi came to pick them up. She kept them until early Sunday afternoon, and the kids had an absolute blast! They even spent time with their cousins. Aunt Brandi planned some really fun activities for them while they were there. 

The first official day of Camp Widow was on Friday, July 11, and it just so happened that it fell on Matt's 45th birthday. Aunt Brandi had the kids bake cakes, and then they did a beautiful balloon release in his honor. 

I felt that my way of honoring his birthday was by being at Camp Widow and volunteering to help with one of the alumni activities..... 

(This is an extremely entertaining story that I intend to continue in the next day or two. If I don't, feel free to harass me!)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Avoidance.

I'm sure this is a psychological term I've heard somewhere... In fact it is - i just looked it up, and here it is. I am the Master of Avoidance.

I'm gonna lay it all right out here, as honest and open as can be. It's been a while since I've done this, and I think I know why that is, too (that's another post)... This may get long, so if you're gonna read it, find a snack, a drink, and have a seat.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Hairless Hairstylist.

So there's this beautiful soul that found me through my blog (actually, several beautiful souls have found me through this blog, amazingly)...  She has faced sudden adversity, but in a different way than I had. She was nearing her 30th birthday and dreading the big milestone like most people, when her perspective suddenly changed.

Here is an amazing birthday post that would make anyone grateful for a birthday at any milestone (and any in between!), and that shows just what a truly wonderful person this woman is - as is her entire family. Read on to see more of her beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring posts!!

Please join me in giving her and her family extra love, prayers and positive, uplifting thoughts so she may experience many more of these!!

I truly, wholeheartedly believe that by giving someone genuinely positive thoughts and prayers, that it somehow benefits the person not only receiving them, but GIVING them, so there's some extra incentive to spread the love.

=) <3 p="">

Friday, March 14, 2014

Something...

One of my very good friends and I are embarking on a very exciting project... 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fabulous Forty

I turned 40 years old in October, and I'm actually happy about it! 

It might sound strange to some, but not only am I grateful to have made it to 40, I finally feel like a full-fledged grown-up!

Finally following up!

"Y" has been a faithful reader of my blog for years now, and until recently, I only knew her as "Mrs. Prior" when she would send one of her sweet, supportive comments. When I posted about moving back to Buffalo this last time was when she realized that I'm from the Buffalo area - and it turns out she is, too! Her and her family were coming back to visit around Christmastime, and she sent me an email letting me know she had something she wanted to give to me. 

I can't tell you what a thrill I got that - first of all, she's still reading this even with these huge blocks of time between posts (which now will be less), that she thought of me in the first place, and she actually had a gift for me? How sweet!!!

We decided to meet at the mall where her sister has one of her salons. I was so looking forward to meeting this thoughtful woman, and for some reason, she was looking forward to meeting me! And if she turned out to be a nut, at least we were in a public place. ;) 

Well, not only is she not a nut, but she is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent and loving people I've had the honor to meet and befriend, and I'm so glad our paths have crossed. She is the kind of person that brings joy and love to people's lives just by being in it, and no matter how much time passes between conversations, you can just pick up where you left off with ease. Here is her post about our visit from HER blog

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dating...

I know I said I was going to update with details from my previous post, but right now, I'm moved to write about this song I heard on the radio yesterday that I hadn't heard in a while...

"...If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, 
Threatening the life it belongs to..."

I've had insomnia going on a few months now, and I finally realized what I need to do to help me sleep. WRITE!! Gotta get these swirling words out of my head and write them down!

"...And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
'Cause these words are my diary screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to..."

When listening to this particular set of lyrics, I was surprised at just how starkly accurate this describes how I feel about this blog.  This is essentially my diary, but because it's "out there," people will use my words however they want to - good or bad. The good, however, far outweighs the bad, so I continue.

As I told Jacob yesterday (trying to get him to open up about stuff), something I've learned over the years about myself is that if I didn't talk about what I'm feeling, I was inclined to think I'm weird and the only one thinking or feeling a certain way. But, when I've talked about it to others, I found I'm not alone with those crazy thoughts and feelings, and there's actually nothing weird or strange about them at all - they're completely normal. That's something we can all do for each other.

There is something I would like to clarify, though... I've recently noticed there seem to be a few people who believe that some of the things I've written here indicate that I have not, nor cannot, move forward with another man because of how I still feel about Matt.

This had been pointed out to me a few months ago by one potential date who came across my blog while doing the obligatory google search you perform on someone when you first begin dating.  He actually told me that I wasn't ready to date. First of all, no one can determine that but ME. It could be six months or six years, and it's STILL only up to me as to whether or not I'm ready to date. Secondly, the person that feels that way seems threatened by the love I have for my late husband. It has never, and never will make sense to me how anyone could be threatened by a dead man, or by love, but you would be surprised by the number of people who are. In this one particular case, though, I think he simply didn't want to accept the fact that I was just not into him, so he created these other reasons to soften the blow to his ego. Can't blame him, I guess.

I realize that by keeping my blog public, I run the risk of this happening more often, but I'm willing to take my chances.

I will never apologize for that love or attempt to diminish it. It is part of me and my children, as is Matt, and it's truly a beautiful thing. Everyone should be so fortunate. I have plenty of room in my heart and a desire for more. I have come to believe (or at least CHOOSE to believe) that there is more than one person out there who we can have such compatibility with - the yin to our yang, the peanut butter to our jelly... soul mates, if you wish. Seeing as how much I detest the whole process of dating, though, I hope it happens sometime sooner rather than later.

Another thing I noticed that's kind of funny is how most people feel that talking about an ex is "against the rules." Maybe I felt that way in the past, but the rules somehow get changed with life circumstances. And with age. Who makes up these stupid rules, anyway?? In my opinion, the relationships we've had in the past have a lot to do with what shapes us and who we become. Hopefully we learn from our mistakes; even from other's mistakes. It's not all negative, either - we're also shaped by the positive experiences. Maybe I'm also more accepting of this because I don't want to be told not to talk about Matt. Sharing our past experiences isn't necessarily a bad thing - it can help us understand the person we're trying to get to know. In the alternative, going on and on about the SAME THING isn't helpful to anyone... (Um, am I doing this? Tell me if I do this....) =/

Occasionally, I get emails from people who contact me through this blog because they found me due to their own unfortunate circumstances. My heart aches for these people, but it makes me feel good that I can positively impact even just a few with what I've written here. Because I'm associated with such an extensive and beautiful network of other widowed people, I'm able to put the people who contact me in touch with others with whom they can possibly get the most help from - or at least I try to.

My point of this post? Not exactly sure - I don't like "explaining" myself per se, but sometimes it's good to give some details to help others understand things a bit more clearly from another perspective; especially when I've encountered some prime examples over the last few years of men who almost had me convinced that I should stifle or somehow even feel bad about the love I continue to have for Matt. I know better now. "Be true to yourself." It's a good reminder to me, too, to not forget a very important lesson.

"No one can find the rewind button, girl..."

More to come... =)