The ending to this year was no different than the personal devastation I endured throughout this horrific year of 2017. Bitter cold temperatures and wind prohibited the otherwise planned trip to be with family this holiday season.
It was to be that I was to spend this holiday alone. As we all know, holidays are designed for family. Period. When you find yourself alone, you realize that more than ever (and a lesson to keep in your heart to help others who you realize are alone during a holiday season). However, with a bit of perseverance (because I’m that way), do-over planning, and creative thinking, I have come to realize there were actually some highlights to this holiday season of which I am most appreciative. Here are a few and may help you if ever . . .
Childhood ornaments ~ I did put up a Christmas tree. Full size from floor to ceiling. Preferring a real tree but knowing the handling aspects, the artificial had to suffice. Having long passed along our family’s handmade ornaments, in conversation with my Mother, she offered the myriad of boxes of ornaments she had stashed in her attic, literally a plethora of vintage glass adornments from my childhood. Boxes and boxes found themselves in my hand and eventually on my tree. This season, when I looked at the beautiful lit tree, Christmas memories of my childhood surfaced rather than the loneliness I was feeling.
Christmas cookie baking ~ Simply said, I made sure to participate in the annual Christmas cookie baking I had set up years, ago with family. Even though I didn’t feel the spirit, something about the act of kneading dough is quite therapeutic. The cookies turned out great and it was satisfying seeing the very happy faces of the others.
Volunteer Appreciation Dinner ~ Traveling with the crew of ladies I work with at Habitat for Humanity, dressing up so the men could see we do indeed clean up nicely, it was a lovely evening getting to know more personally those who are teaching me ‘construction’.
Birthday Dinner ~ Temperatures frigid, a beautiful winter scene, I was treated to a birthday dinner from Mom. With lovely seating and a beautiful view, it was nice to return to a restaurant of ‘yesteryear’ (neither one of us had been there in years) and to a dinner that was warm to the heart and tasty to the tummy.
Dog Walking/Activities with Neighbor(s) ~ Every day walking the dog, taking in the fresh air is a pick me up no med could provide. And, to be escorted by the neighbor who is just that kind of nice person is a special treat of comfort, kindness, and companionship.
Back on Treadmill/Orangetheory ~ Back on the treadmill, again of course, I will need time to rebuild the endurance and training I have lost, but how happy it feels to also be back in class at the local fitness studio (and please, no one look at my data). I felt bonds of friendship I did not even realize were there until the warm welcome I received upon my return.
Race ~ Well, let’s just say, it was on my radar that day. Wind chill in the negatives did indeed scare me away.
A Few Finished Garments ~ Believe it or not, even knitting requires endurance. I have turned (temporarily) to smaller projects, pictured here, again hoping to build my endurance of concentration and focus to the longer, more tedious projects I am used to. I don’t have photos yet of the easy, fashion garments recently finished, but they are beautiful and ready for the wear whenever I am ready to wear them.
New Furniture ~ Yep, a fresh start needs a pick-me-up in the furniture department. Mostly, the living room and bedrooms received the new pieces (area rug not in, yet). Modern looks, clean lines, and neutral colors fill spaces otherwise filled with memories of recent loss of life.
Fix-its ~ Mostly, learning how. Keeping water level where it needs to be for proper steam to warm the house, sump pump adjustments, endless plumbing understandings, door(s) removal, paint and staining here and there, becoming familiar with garage and its advantages, ~ all in a home owner’s day in a life. But, it is feeling very different with the responsibility falling solely on me.
Making New Friends ~ Here is my new mantra. It’s ok to make new friends. Female and male. Purposely going out even when it is dark and cold, signing up for activities never done before, getting together with friends of the past and friends just met, finding and going to new places to dine trying out new foods (Octopus salad for me the other night), allowing myself to feel the companionship, warmth, and life of another is ok.
Was it a great holiday season? No, not by a long shot. Do I have living alone all figured out? Hardly. Do I feel guilty about simple pleasures, smiling, and enjoying life, again? You betcha. In reflection, these activities and purposeful moves helped me to cope with this holiday season. I know I have a long road of recovery ahead of me. I figure with healthy, intentional steps with awareness of the positives, this is an avenue that can lead me back into the game of life.
18 responses to “Highlights, Yes, there were some”
Holly, you are so thoughtful to write like this about your journey. I think finding these moments where it isn’t horrible is important to your mental health. As someone above said, knowing the path through deep grief and recognizing it is one thing. Living it is another. I wish I was able to be closer to help you, I am so glad you have old and new friends nearby who are there for you.
And your childhood tree was lovely. It’s something you might not have had if that flight had gone.
Sarah, thank you for your always heartfelt responses. Life is getting a bit easier for me but continue to need and to hold dear those friends and family who are literally life lines for me.
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I am so glad you have those friends and family. It will get easier and then backslide, and I think you know that is normal.
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Yes, just yes. I love the path you’ve chosen and thank you for sharing.
Terry, thank you for all of your notes of support here and there. Please stay tuned as owl shawl is taking shape. And, congratulations to you on your very near retirement. I refuse to get bitter, have met some amazing, kind friends who are accepting me in this transition mode and for that, I am extremely grateful.
I’m sorry your plans were thwarted, and glad you were able to make the most of what you were dealt with.
One thing is certain: 2018 can only be better, even if only a little bit. Take care Holly, and stay warm.
And thanks for the snow picture, reminds me of Canada.
thank you, Agnes. It was a pretty painful realization at the time. Yes, 3 cheers to 2018. Hoping all is well with you and your family.
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Holly, you always impress me with your perserverence, honesty and ability to adapt. You are one of the most unique friends I have had in my life and I count myself richer for knowing you.
Here’s to 2018!
oh, Joanne . . . thank you for your very kind words. I refuse to let this, any of it, get me angry and bitter. Life is already very different for me and life lessons abound in every direction. I am very grateful for the people around me who are supporting me through my pain and remarkably not being scared away because of it. I don’t really know how it is I have found these supportive friends, but feel very blessed that I have. Here is to 2018, for sure.
Your movtivation and your positive spirit is impressive, Holly. The majority of us would probably get in a passive mode and allow self pity to fill our thoughts. You are inspirational!
Thank you, Jan. I refuse to get negative and bitter and I so do not want to sit alone for the rest of my life. I’ve found that there are people who really do want to help and it is up to me to accept their kindness.
You appear to fully understand grief and how to cope with it – but the grief journey is still extremely difficult even if you understand it. Yes, you must keep plugging along. And yes, sometimes guilt shows up when you’re having a good time. So many new challenges – and the realization of how many things were previously just taken care of. Not that you took them for granted…just that you didn’t have to deal with them on your own before so they probably never even fazed you. Grief can pop up at the craziest moments. You’ll be doing just fine and dandy and all of a sudden, when the doggone burned out light bulb won’t come out of the socket, grief crashes all around you in the form of anger, tears, frustration, etc. Losing your life partner is the WORST grief. You’re doing a great service to others by writing about your journey on this blog. I wish I would have had your “guidance” when I went through it 15 years ago.
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and, at this point no need for a frustrating moment to let grief come a-calling . . . watching a movie, sitting on my couch, shopping at Tops, I just want to cry. Thank goodness, friends in my life are allowing me to do that and are offering to hold me for as long as I want. How did I get so lucky to find these people?
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Thinking of you, Holly, as you share your thoughts and feelings.
thank you, Karen. Life lessons continue.
Thank you for sharing your heart and vulnerability. I have always enjoyed seeing your beautiful knits and the gorgeous photography. Somehow reading these posts speak to my soul even more. I hope that 2018 brings you peace and joy.
oh . . . I don’t even know if you’re welcome is appropriate as this moves me, so. I am indeed looking for an upgraded 2018, that is for sure. Be well and Happy New Year to you.