“… we are all shapeshifters and magical reinventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves.” ~ Diane Ackerman, Poet
When I read this quote in a newsletter about using habits to be more successful in one’s life, I stopped in my tracks.
I’ve written a lot about re-inventing our lives after losing a spouse. Especially for widows who are over 60 years old. This quote is a new way of looking at reinvention. A fun and exciting way.
As I faced my “new” life after my husband died, I was keenly aware that I can’t fool around anymore.
I didn’t have all the time in the world to make my dreams come true or achieve a long-desired goal. If I truly, really wanted to experience a cherished yearning, then I’d better get off my duff. It was time for me to stop wishing and start doing.
However, fear kept showing up when I thought about what I wanted to experience in these last years of my life. And I’m optimistically looking at living many years ahead. Yet, I’m aware that there is no promise that I’ll have years ahead.
Hence, I feel an urgency to bodaciously live the rest of my life in delightful and unexpected ways.
What was I fearing?
It couldn’t be that I might fail. Who would know aside from me?
Was I worried about what my family, friends, and business associates would think? Not really.
Yet, I did feel the cultural pressures invading my thoughts about how I should think, suffer, and act as a grieving widow.
My grieving started before my husband died. He had Alzheimer’s, and I had to put him in a memory care facility. I couldn’t take care of him any longer. Even though it was the best for him (and me), I also knew he would never come back home. That he would die there. I just didn’t know how long or when that day would be.
It’s called the long goodbye. Mine was for eight months. Each day I visited, my husband lost a little more of himself. At each visit, I lost a little more of my husband. My grief grew deeper and deeper.
About five months into the “long goodbye”, I started questioning what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. I couldn’t bear the depression and grief I was feeling any longer. Yes, I didn’t want my husband to die like this and so soon. This was a fact of my life and his. Yet, no amount of grief, tears, and sadness was going to bring him back from the clutches of his Alzheimer’s.
It was necessary to save me — to save my life from the spiraling depths of despair. Like flight attendants advise — adults put on their oxygen masks first. Then help their children or others. If I didn’t take care of myself, how could I care for my husband in his last days?
So, I needed to lift my chin, straighten my shoulders, and look straight ahead. I couldn’t let society, handed-down beliefs, or culture determine how I would live the rest of my life. I needed to travel my own path. To become the woman I could and CAN be. To live the bodacious life I’ve craved.
Without time on my side, I can’t talk myself out of “going for it”. Be damned the risks, ridicule, and rejection I may encounter. Those are all based on what others think and perceive. I can’t control their thoughts. I can‘t control the life situations I find myself in. What I can control are my thoughts and actions. As such, I must diligently guard my thoughts and self-talk. Otherwise, I may end up like others who are filled with regret when on their death beds. Instead, I want to come to the end of my life knowing I fully lived and enjoyed every moment from this moment on. (note to self — find the meme about chocolate and wine)
Understanding that we humans are “shapeshifters and magical reinventors” makes choosing for our inner call to adventure much easier. Like Kicking Bird can declare that Stands with a Fist’s mourning is over in Dances with Wolves, I can declare my mourning is over. (As well as all widows can.)
I can also declare that it’s my time to listen to my inner calling to go on the quest of my lifetime. To choose to be that lover, artist, rebel, and reinventor. To deliberately choose to be uncomfortable with the unknown and delight in the “caravan” of exciting possibilities awaiting me.
May my bodacious journey be long and wonderful.
Here are links to some of my writer friends -whose stories I think you would enjoy: Tim Maudlin JeffHerring.com Brenda Christopher MaryJo Wagner, PhD Dr Mehmet Yildiz Vickie Trancho Jesse-Melva Johnson Sunita Pandit Peg Duchesne Trapper Sherwood Kathleen N Hoagland Phil Brakefield Margaret Eves EricAsbeck.com Larry Nowicki William McPeck Steven Zabronsky Jane Gardner Bill Todd @CandyChris Hallett Brian Basilico Marjorie J McDonald Ntathu Allen Benecia L. Ponder John Kremer Jacquelyn Lynn Kelda Ytterdal Phil Truman Nomanono Isaacs Ellen Mogensen Dave Kwiecinski Joan Kent, PhD Roger Himes Esq. Terri Ward Nancy H. Vest Dr Jeanne King PhD Cynthia Charleen Alexander Henery X Thomas Anderson Casi Mclean Tom Antion
PS I’m a widow who refuses to live a life filled with grief but, instead, I live a life filled with joy, happiness, and love. I’m allowing my bodaciousness to direct how I will live the rest of my life.
© 2021 and beyond by Linda Kay Halladay. All rights reserved.
I’ve written about my journey out of grief and into bodaciousness. If this story helped you to alleviate some sadness or grief, I invite you to read my other stories about life and the possibilities to experience joy once more.
An Unexpected Calming Benefit from Death Cleaning?
Avoiding cleaning out your husband’s things can keep you trapped in the past and in your grief much longer than you…
We widows still have a life to live. Holding onto our husband’s possessions will not help us, nor will they bring him back. The book and my guide will help lighten some of the heaviness of your grief.
This story is brought to you by Linda Kay Halladay. Find out more about my travels through grief in my introduction: