Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grief work

I have been staring at my blog for the past 15 minutes realizing that I should write something soon. Some may be wondering how I am doing and others may be more interested in knowing what kind of fibery insights I may have to share. I do not have much to tell except that I am doing well.

I feel the pain of my grieving is getting less as I have passed the 3-month mark. There are moments that I miss Walter and I encounter things that trigger tears and sadness of him not being here, but I am learning to accept my situation more and move on.

As I get through the widow’s work of figuring out the paperwork associated with insurance, and financial settlements, I am feeling more confident. I have learned so much in a short period of time about insurance and IRA’s than I care to, but it is necessary to my survival, especially in these low economic times.

My work continues to be all consuming, as I struggle to add more management responsibilities to my all already overwhelming work responsibilities. I suppose I should feel good that my boss feels I am capable of doing the work, regardless of my loss. However, I have had to force myself not to take work home, as I need this time for me and my grief work. It becomes a shaky balance.

In thinking about grief, I realize we ALL do some kind of grieving in our lives. Everytime we have a disappointment or a loss of some kind whether it be personal, physical, relational or an object, some part of us not only feels sad, but it can cause a little part of us to die with it. Some of it can be resurrected and healed and others cannot. This means it is all part of the cycle of life and we should not hide from it but face it head on. When we do this, it may help us get through it quicker.

So my overall objective is to find “Joy” in life. Even our trials can be considered joyful. How? You might ask? Last Sunday, our teacher/pastor mentioned a Bible scripture, “Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever, you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4”. What a profound thought!

On the fibery front, I am getting ready to sort out my very large fiber collection and get rid of some of it. I must make room for my son and his family to move in, and I grieve the loss of my fiber storage places in our two spare bedroom. Nevertheless, it must happen and I will need to be selective as to what to keep for my projects. I am still working on my Friendship shawl from the fall issue of Spin-Off Magazine. My goal is to finish by Christmas.

With the holidays around the corner, I am looking forward to them. I love to have family around. Holidays are the times everyone comes home to rest and relax. I want to keep that tradition as long as possible and hope that it will continue to renew our peace and love for each other.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finding Joy

I’m on a quest of finding “joy”and beauty in the world. I am trying hard to keep my spirits up without any medicinal aids. If I am going to get through this process called “grieving”, I cannot solely rely on medication that would give me artificial joy. I feel I must first explore things that surround me already that I can choose to find joy in.

One of the places I decided to start with is my bedroom. I needed a change. I have always loved patchwork quilts. I guess it’s the crafty/artsy part of me. It is also the pioneer woman spirit in me to marvel at the advanced thinking, planning and working out a pattern that is pleasing to one’s eye that one has the talent to do. So I decided to go on an Internet search for a patchwork quilt. Unfortunately, there was not many choices displayed. Most were very drab color combinations and I felt I needed some rich color to wake me up with joy!

I happened to be browsing through Walmart the other day, and decided to see what the Bedding section had to offer. Lo and behold, something caught my eye and held it. It was a beautiful Shooting star quilt in bright reds, blues, yellow and greens. The main color was red, which is my favorite color. Red represents love and passion and life. I spent all evening dismantling my heavy waterbed by myself to put on a new bed skirt and comforter set. It is absolutely beautiful. It was well worth the effort. Even though, initially, I thought about buying something feminine and “girly”, as I didn’t have a man to compromise with, I think this pattern can be very neutral. I know Walter loved red and would have been happy with this bed cover. Now, I am thinking…….perhaps a little new paint on the walls to bring out the color……..

Next week I will have my sons help me move my recliner in my bedroom, giving me a quiet place to read, knit and think when I want to. I am also working on a Thomas Kinkade puzzle called Make A Wish Cottage. I have always loved Thomas Kinkade paintings of cottages. This one also has lots of color and light. When I am finished with it, I will frame it and hang it by my recliner to gaze and dream at. I dream of having happy grandchildren around to love. I imagine myself sitting in this recliner with one of each side of me listening to me read them a book. I dream of smiling faces wanting to spend time in Grandma’s room to play and find secret hiding places to play “hide and seek”. I dream of having them nap in this room when they are tired from the day’s activities in a quiet place away from the TV.

Happiness is finding “joy”!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down (A Carpenter song)

The weather has changed to fall. Days are cooler, the sun sets earlier and rises later. I suppose some feelings of melancholy are inevitable. Soon it will be three months since Walter passed. I am missing him more each day. The rainy days seem so much more lonely and quiet. The thunder fills the house with empty echos. I curl up and cuddle up to a pillow instead of him. However, God has planned a change.

My son and his family with my two very active grandchildren will be moving in with me for awhile. There are a lot of reasons for this and it seems like this is the best solution for everyone concerned. Still, it will be an adjustment. I will be giving up my quiet and solitude. It will be harder to have privacy and quiet. I will need to find a place of sanctuary within my home. This is a place I can retreat to find my inner peace and listen to God and knit away my thoughts and dreams.

Much has to be done to get ready to have five more people living in the home. I will have to buckle down and get rid of the lifetime of accumulated things. I have saved them, hoping to have them useful someday. I’ve come to a point in my life that “someday” is now past. The things have outlived their usefulness and now these things are just in the way. With Walter’s death, it has become very enlightening to me that you can’t take these “things” with you when you die, so why am I keeping them? Yes, some things are still sentimental and I keep a few because they hold a special memory tied to them. So…..I will be passing some of those “things” around…..some to those who have their own memories to keep and remember, and to those who will make new memories of the “things”.

My new focus will be people and relationships, not “things”. God will provide what I need. He always has. This focus was not easy before, as Walter was somewhat anti-social, but God has given me a second chance to “serve mankind”. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that God isn’t finished with me yet and I must not give up hope. I still can do some service in this world, whether it be in my work, in my friendships or in any other encounter. I am sure God will lead me to the opportunities to minister to people and in this process, I will find a healing from my grief. I have always felt better to be needed and feel an increased self-esteem if I can fill a need.

So as I contemplate the “rainy days and Mondays”, I have hope that after the rain, there will always come the sunshine, and I will be on “the top of world” (a Carpenter song) looking, not down as a God would, but “over” as a helping partner. This is my dream. Is it too much to ask for?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Getting on with Life: Lambtown USA 2010

Several weeks ago, I made a trip to Oceanside with some friends. It was Walter and My Wedding Anniversary. I feel I survived this well enough to feel confident to attempt a trip a little further away from home.

Lambtown in Dixon, CA is an Annual Sheep and Fiber Festival. I asked a friend to go with me this year. This was also a festival that Walter and I enjoyed going to. He liked the animals and I liked the fiber competitions. One year, I had been bold enough to compete myself and came in a decent 3rd out of about a 10 contestants in the Spinning Contest the first year they had this contest. My friend C, is a widow, too, and I felt it would do us both some good to get away and do something enjoyable. Although she wasn’t as interested in fibercrafts as much as I, I think she enjoyed some of it. We were a little disappointed that some regular events such as Mutton Bustin’, Sheep Dog Herding Trials, and Sheep Shearing Competition were cancelled. However, there was still a lot going on and I hope you will bear with my commentary on some of the events.

Lovely Gentle Alpacas

Sheep Ready for Competition

Ungroomed sheep: Ready for Mischief
Jacob sheep
There were a Sheep Show and an Alpaca show. Several breeds of sheep were competing. I especially liked the Jacob sheep that had brown, black and white spots with horns. These are called Jacob sheep because of the Bible passage in Genesis 30, where Abraham agreed to only claim the spotted sheep from his father-in-law, Laban’s, flock to build his own wealth.

My friend liked the Alpacas. They were very cute and gentle. They make such gentle cooing sounds, nothing like the baa-ing of a sheep. There were two or three barns of the alpacas in various black, browns, tans and white colors. Their fur is one of the softest, warmest fiber and is used to make nice comfortable garments.

Weaving a Shawl in the Sheep to Shawl Competition

Judging the winning Shawl: I love the colors
The Sheep to Shawl competition had three groups competing. Only two groups finished on time in 4 ½ hours. The wool this year was CVM (California Varigated Mutant). They created a beautiful shawl. It was fun watch the seven team members, card the dyed fiber, spin it, ply it and weave it on a loom.

A Very Fine Orenburg Lace Shawl: Amazingly Fine
The Vendor hall was full with a variety of Fibers, yarns and accessories for sale. There wer e also some beautiful fleeces to buy and it was very hard to control myself from buying another fleece. I still have some fleeces I purchased a year ago that need to be processed. I may have to send them to get processed professionally. I ended up getting some beautiful BFL/silk blend roving and 2 ropes in the colors of reds and blues of merino/silk and merino/bamboo roving to spin. I was simply fascinated with the Carding demonstration of a Patrick Green production Supercard carding machine. If I ever wanted to process fiber in great qualities, this would be ideal. Alas, I will have to be content with my Patrick Green Deb’s Deluxe for small projects.

There was a Best Spinner Contest this year made up of 5 contestants. The prize this year was a Spinolution Spinning Wheel. We watched as the contestants were given different mystery fibers and demonstrated their spinning abilities. We didn’t stay for all the competition but enjoyed watching what we saw.

Handspinning Competition
The music on the Stage was very enjoyable. They had some Christian, Dixieland, Blues and Bluegrass groups, as well as demos from children’s Dance studio and Karate clubs. We spent a lot of time listening to them.

One of the best things this year was the Food. There were several vendors and a rule this year was that each one had to sell at least one lamb product. After watching a Lamb cooking demonstration, we dug in and bought a BBQ Lamb Sampler: loin, chop & ribs from Superior Farms Vendor. It was absolutely delicious.

A Very Creative Display of Dyed Skeins of Handspun Yarn
Lambtown was a nice weekend get away. We survived it and enjoyed each other’s company. I feel like another hurdle has been crossed. I am still alive and look forward to the next adventure.

Widow's Work

One doesn’t realize that being a widow has a very unique list of tasks associated with it. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs there is….

Basic Survival: When a loved one dies, a widow may not be aware of her own needs. She has been so focused on taking care of another, especially if the loved one was ill, that it may take some time to realize that she is still alive. Once this sets in, careful attention is paid by others or oneself to ensure that these basic needs are met, i.e food, shelter, keeping body well, enough sleep, etc. Yes, “life” goes on…..

Safety: A person takes for granted her safety needs while her spouse or loved one is alive, knowing that she can call upon them to help her feel secure and safe, even when not physically present. She knows that she has someone to come home to. She feels protected. Once, that spouse leaves or dies, she has to rethink her resources for safety. Never again will she look at her house and surroundings in the same way. She has to be more vigilant as she enters her residence or arrange to have backup friends, neighbors, pets, family on speed dial or quickly available to help her when her safety is compromised.

Psychological-Love & Belonging: Connecting with other people is vital. Established friendships need to be nurtured and new friendships established. If there are few resources available from family or acquaintances, this is where support groups are helpful. A widow has a lot to deal with psychologically. To get a handle on it, having a friend or family member she can share with, and support her emotionally is so important to moving through the phases of grief. I am trying to send thank you cards to all who took the time to send me a card, do something special for me, or gave me a gift. This is my affirmation that I am loved and cared for. It’s a small task of acknowledgment to send a thank you, but so important to moving through my grief and connecting with people.

Self-Actualization: Building confidence & Self-esteem—Now the hard work of widowhood begins. On the task list: making calls to family, friends, employers and businesses, making claims for life insurance and benefits, planning a budget, getting bills paid, making decisions about living arrangements, taking trips and celebrating holidays/special days without your loved one. As some of these get taken care of, one may also explore doing different and new things that was not done with the spouse. These are all things that build that confidence and work through the grief. I deliberately did not say “ease” the grief. Everyone has a different intensity of the grief they experience and one person’s grief does not fit all. However, building one’s confidence and self-esteem will make life much more worth the living.

Some people are saying that I am doing extremely well with my widowhood. I feel blessed that I have had the very best of resources to support me, a loving family, committed friends, a sense of security and a confidence in my abilities. I know, however, that there will be times of insecurity and emotional instability but, I am blessed with a God, who loves me and will take care of me. My faith in Him is very strong and unwavering.

My supports….

My Traveling friend

My family

My Bible Study friends