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How I gained confidence by traveling after the loss of my husband

After my husband died and the widow fog started to clear I began to feel anxious about doing just about everything. I wanted to get out and travel.  I wanted to not be a sad and lonely widow.  I just had a difficult time taking that first step.

I had always made the coffee in the morning but suddenly found the process overwhelming.  Did I make the pot for 8 cups or only 4 now?

Going to the grocery store while usually mundane became a mine field of memories and panic would set in.  What is it that I like to eat? I had been cooking for 4 and now it was just me.

One time when I decided to “be a good mom” and fill up the car with gas for my son’s trip back to college, I was surprised to discover both the inspection and registration were overdue, there was a nail in one tire causing a slow leak and the car needed an oil change too. Thankfully the station helped me take care of this but you can see how one begins to lose confidence in handling life after the death of a spouse.

The to do list had been ignored since I had  trouble thinking but slowly I started to do what needed to be done. I began simply by writing a list of only 3 things to do each day. I figured I could manage 3. Sometimes I would put walk the dog on the list. He liked that one and I did too.

Fear was a constant and I avoided being alone. I made an effort to accept invitations and visited with my neighbors on a daily basis.

But at night I had trouble sleeping.  I would relive that last day over and over and try to change the ending.  If only I had done this… or why didn’t I do that.  The guilt can be devastating.

The first holiday after my husband died was the worst.  I planned ahead to avoid being sucked into sadness. After realizing how difficult the holidays could be after the death of a spouse, I was bracing myself for the upcoming milestones.  There is the first birthday without him, our wedding anniversary date and of course the one year anniversary of his death.

For his birthday I planned a family reunion away from home to Cape Cod and New Hampshire.  We could drive there and spending the week in a different place surrounded by loved ones seemed to be a good idea.  It worked out well and other than the time when my mom decided to take photos of all the couples at the adults only dinner, the trip was good.

But I really started to get anxious about the one year anniversary.  I had plenty of time to be sad and cry.  I had been grieving just fine but I wanted to runaway.  I wanted to avoid the pain and do something totally different.  I would do it all by myself and have time for some soul searching.

So I planned a trip to Thailand.

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The 9/11 Memorial Museum: what to expect

We all have our own memories of that day.  I was teaching in a school 40 miles away, but I remember seeing the darkened sky and the fear on everyone’s faces as parents came to take their children home from school that day.

Memories about this tragic attack on our country is a wound we will never completely heal from. After 18 years, it still brings tears to my eyes and is one of those things that we need to remember.

Freedom tower World trade center NYC

World Trade Center NYC

Be warned, you must be prepared for what you will see and how you will feel.

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42 Reasons to Visit South Africa – on Safari and More

You don’t have to be a recent college graduate to have the adventure of a life time.  I just got back from 2 weeks visiting South Africa.  After winning a safari at a fund raiser last summer, I began to plan our African adventure with 3 friends from my book club.  We mapped out a few days in Johannesburg and a few days in Capetown to book end the 6 day safari in Zululand.  The things we saw, the people we met and oh those animals will be with us forever.  Here are just a few highlights of what we saw and why you should go too!

1. Seeing the lion cubs nurse n play

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2. Feeding and touching the huge elephant’s tongue

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My New York Beach Wedding

As a 55 year old widow I never thought I was going to have so much fun getting married again. It has been a whirlwind of a time and now with fabulous photos to share I need to share about my special day.  It’s never too late for another amazing adventure in life!

The Proposal

It all started with a proposal back at Thanksgiving. We went out to dinner and he surprised me with a beautiful diamond and sapphire ring.

Unlike most brides to be, I immediately booked our honeymoon. In fact since I wanted to go to Greece I thought maybe I’d just get married there.

That turned out to be expensive and in several ways too difficult to get an official marriage license.

And then his great niece volunteered to be a flower girl so we adjusted our course.

Having both been previously married I wanted to do a lot of things differently.

For starters, we would not be getting married in a church.

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23 reasons I loved my honeymoon cruise in Greece

I’ve been blogging for 3 years now about my life and the challenges of becoming an unexpected widow.  I started dating 2 years after my husband passed and just as unexpectedly fell in love again.  As a teacher I waited until the weekend after school let out and had my dream wedding on the beach followed by my dream honeymoon to Greece.  Today’s post highlights taking a cruise in Greece – not for everyone but I loved it!

Why?

1. You only unpack once

Being a minimalist is not my thing.  I need a few outfits and shoes to match.  I need a couple of different bathing suits and coverups and of course hats to match.  It is nice to move into a space and unpack for the week.  You can find everything and the suitcase is stored out of the way.

2. You travel, but the ports come to you.

I love to travel.  But packing my bag and waiting for planes and trains can be time consuming and a bit boring.  On a cruise, you get the itinerary and can research as much as you want about the places you are visiting. The ship often offers several excursion choices for when you disembark so new adventures are waiting!

3. Open bar

This is something that I must admit I may have indulged in on our recent trip.  Some high end cocktails cost a bit more, but you don’t have to drink them.  At dinner, someone is always ready to refill your wine glass, and if you want happy hour in your own room, room service will deliver.  So fun!

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Can Widows Have a Big Wedding?

Well, basically, she can have any kind of wedding she wants.  She has been to hell and back.  It was not easy to bury her husband.  And after all the support and love waned, the loneliness was bound to seep in.  It’s like a slow flood.  Being alone and sad and crying sucks.  She can really drown in that flood. But somehow she managed to find love again and if marriage is the way to celebrate that love, she can have any type of wedding she wants.

My approach was to runaway after my husband died, thus the title of my blog.  I kept busy with new plans to travel.  I maintained my full time job which, as a kindergarten teacher, keeps me on my toes.  My two sons were away at college but still accepting of my love and support during these past few years.  I was also able to stay in my home, manage the finances and do the home maintenance and repairs that needed attention.  It has been a busy almost four years.

However, sometime between that busy lifestyle and the loneliness that was encroaching, I was blessed to find someone special. A few dates.  A few getaway weekends and he felt like home.

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Guided Tour of Iceland – Good for Widows and Solo Women Travelers

Reynisfjara - Iceland

After my husband unexpectedly died I was overwhelmed and confused. I took some time off from work to adjust and then tried to get back to normal. It takes a while and there is more heartache and tears than I want to revisit right now.

As the one year anniversary of my husband’s death drew closer I felt the need for flight. I needed to runaway, far away, so I planned a solo trip to Thailand and it was great.

I began to obsess less on what I coulda, shoulda woulda done and focused more on the good life I had with my husband and plan more adventures for myself in this new life.

So here I am, three and a half years later, visiting Iceland in the winter with my sister and having the most amazing time.

We spent the first 2 days on our own in Reykjavik. It is easy to walk around and fun, especially if you stop at the Blue Lagoon on your way from the airport to the city.

We met our G Adventures guide and the 13 people we would be traveling with during the next four days. 12 women and 1 husband ranging in age from 22-75 listened to our young Icelandic guide named Saga explain where we would be going and what we would be doing while she drove us, cooked for us and regaled us with Icelandic facts and fables throughout the trip.

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Iceland: What to see in Reykjavík for 2 days

Reykiavik Iceland

With a week off in February and a dream of seeing the Northern Lights I joined my sister on an adventure to Iceland.

We met Saturday afternoon at JFK airport and had a bite to eat in the newly renovated terminal 4. Our flight left on time at 9:00 pm and we hoped to catch some shut eye on the 5 hour flight. Our pilot was great and got us to Iceland in only 4 hours. With the time change it was now morning and we had one hour before our bus reservation to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal hot spring landmark.

The short drive to the site resembled photos of the moon. As the sun rose on dark lava rocks sprinkled with snow on a treeless landscape we knew we were no longer in the States.

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Loss of a Spouse: After Year 1

life after loss widowhood year 3

Walking through the construction dust and garbage bags filled with clothes, I pause to reflect on my journey after the loss of my husband.

It’s been a little over three years since that life changing event happened to me and my children.  The horrific details of that night I have forced myself not to dwell on and trained my brain, for my own sanity, to redirect my thoughts and keep moving forward.  I have done that pretty well.

Surprisingly, I still have moments of melancholy and stabs of aching pain in my heart.  It just doesn’t happen as often as it used to and I lead a pretty normal and good life most of the time.

Year 1 was really a blur.  I lived through it.  I cried.  I dealt with paperwork. I walked around in a FOG.  I clung to family and friends and familiar situations.  I tried to escape. I dealt with more paperwork.  I started a lawsuit for a wrongful death.

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Hamilton in NYC – what to expect

Hamilton tickets New York City

I love to give and receive the gift of a memorable experience, doing something and spending time with my loved ones.

This year I treated my fiancé to tickets to the hottest show on Broadway: Hamilton. It is so popular that tickets are almost impossible to get. The fact that I bought them over a year ago and had the best intentions to surprise my love was sure to be met with cries of glee!

The day I bought the tickets I was prompted by a friend to get on the computer at precisely this one moment and order.  It worked.  We were both so excited.

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