Then I hit the shower and went to an evening seminar. I was excited to hand out business cards that included something other than my name, phone number, LinkedIn profile and areas of expertise. I had an accomplishment, something tangible to prove I was doing more besides job searching and volunteer work.
When I started JoyReturns, so many websites were 3D – dark, dreary and depressing. Those sites keep a person stuck in grief, stuck in a “woe is me” attitude. I wanted to inspire, encourage, motivate widows to move forward through grief and build a new life because life is too short and precious to spend it stuck in grief’s muck.
I believed JoyReturns would not only help widows but would educate society about grief and life after a spouse’s passing. The best way to accomplish my goals was to share the story of my life after Joe, including the good, the bad, and the ugly as well as the joyful.
About two years ago, I lost the desire to blog when putting together the “10 Years A Widow” series. It felt like someone stuck a straw in me and sucked all the life out. That is when I started publishing only a few times a year.
Then a few months ago two things happened to reignite my blogging. First I noticed I would finish this year a few posts shy of 1,550 and knew I could not let that happen. Secondly, either in November/December of last year Rush Limbaugh was talking about how he does not do social media as his radio show is what he does best. I told myself to listen and learn from Rush. Focus on what you do best – blogging.
God whispered “widow’s website” in my ear in mid to late 2010 so He called me to blog. He will equip me to do it and since this blog has been read in 161 countries according to WordPress’s map, He’s spread my words far and wide.
What type of posts and how often will I publish now that I am back? Starting this weekend you will find the return of Weekend Wisdom which will be uplifting poems, quotes, and scripture. There are about 6 weeks worth of wisdom already put to bed.
On Wednesdays, there will be a blog post about various topics. The general theme of the Wednesday posts was 52 ways to have a joy-filled life. I do have topics for the first quarter written, but not the blog posts.
I am working on a series that will hopefully provide joy and encouragement to get you through the election season. This series would start after the Democrat convention (losing party gets to have their convention first). Not sure how this series will work out if it will work out.
Finally, there will be spontaneous posts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and/or Friday. These posts will be topics that unexpectedly pop into my brain and would make a good blog post. While I will be writing them in advance, you probably will not see them until April.
The first 9 years would not have been possible without continued support for you my dear readers. So I humbly and gratefully say thank you. You are a blessing to me.
A Blessing To All
And so the journey begins through the next 9 adventurous years with a renewed interest in blogging and the desire to make JoyReturns the best it can be so that it is the salt of the earth and a blessing to all. (reading of the prayer “Regeneration” read below.)
It is December 28th and as I contemplate 2019, Nicole Nordeman’s Every Mile Mattered starts playing on my Windows Media Player. It is from the CD of the same name. I highly recommend it.
Every Mile Mattered is a good title for this post as every mile literally traveled by foot, in my car or figuratively day in and day out mattered.
My “Miles” In 2019
This year brought about a renewed interest in blogging, thanks to being only a few posts shy of 1,550. I could not let 2019 end without at least reaching that goal and preferably surpassing it, which I did. So I am heading into a new year and new decade well on my way to my 1, 700th blog post – the goal I will reach when 2020 is in the history books.
Jobwise I am still a virtual logistics representative and for the third year in a row, was part of Santa’s logistics team. I work, eat, sleep and attempt to keep the house clean – a very routine, predictable and somewhat boring life. This lifestyle has it’s advantages as you will see in Mile #5.
The end of the year still sees my marital status as single and I am fine with that status. My life became a train wreck a few years ago and it would not be fair to bring a man into this mess and expect him to help clean it up.
I discovered how much a local radio station LOVES to play Bob Seeger’s song Turn The Page. Every Friday during Lent I went to the local diner and as I was eating my shrimp basket, that song would play over the radio. Huh?! What are you trying to tell me God? Do I turn the page in the Bible or is it a page in life that I need to turn?
When I went to the diner after Lent, I would still hear Turn The Page. Even heard it on trips around town as I was running errands.
Well, I guess He was preparing me to turn the page and start blogging more but then again… He had a hand in Mile #5.
Because i have a routine, predictable, boring life I have this in my garage. This photo was snapped the day I bought it. My 2004 Pontiac Grand Am bit the dust after 4 1/2 years of driving like James Bond. So I had no choice but to buy a new vehicle.
Thank you boss for the $5 an hour pay raise last year. Otherwise I would be walking everywhere.
And of course, thank you God as your hand was visible that day. Thank you also for the wonderful people at the dealership and my friend who let me drive her brand new vehicle to the dealer.
My Miles During The Past Decade
As I contemplate the end of 2019, I find myself focusing on it being the end of a year and do not think much about this year also being the end of a decade.
I could go on about the miles I’ve experience during the last decade but I’d rather not. The career ups and downs, the finding out who true friends are not, the learning new rules of job searching are all things that are thankfully in the past – and I want to keep them there.
The biggest and best mile of the past decade was starting my blogging career by launching JoyReturns.
Let me explain how this got started for those of you new here (and I know there are a lot of you). One morning in the second half of 2010 I heard “Widows Website” whispered in my right ear just as I was starting to wake up.
Startled, I opened my eyes and looked up at the ceiling and said “Are you crazy?” “Joe did not teach me about websites before he died.”
So I did what any “good” Christian would do – I blew God off. However, He kept nagging at me and sometime later that year, I googled “widows website” and found lots of dark, dreary and depressing websites. I knew God had chosen me to create a website and it had to be cheery-looking, with uplifting content but also not shy away from the tough issues as they need to be addressed as well.
And so JoyReturns was born and started her travels through 161 countries (so far).
Here I Go
So here I go getting ready to turn the page on 2019 and face 2020 planning on traveling. I hope you will join me on this road trip and experience each and every mile as they all will matter.
Take a plate of cookies to a widow along with the recipe.
I rarely bake anymore. However, if someone was kind enough to bring me a few cookies they baked along with the recipe it might inspire me to get out the cookie sheet. Plus it would warm my heart that during this busy time of year someone thought of me.
It might only be baking but it gets you trying something new and life after the loss of a spouse is filled with doing new things, so you might as well start somewhere.
Send a grieving person a Christmas card so they know you are thinking about them.
Christmas can be a lonely time for widows and other grieving people. The focus is on kids and their toys. There are lots of lonely, grieving people who feel invisible and getting a simple card in the snail mail will brighten their day.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Bah Humbug!
My first Christmas after Joe’s passing, I was in a locally owned grocery store and heard this song as I went down the chip aisle. Then as I am walking down the baking aisle, it came over the loud speaker again. Finally as I walked up the dish soap aisle and headed for the check out line, yet another dead singer was crooning it over the loudspeaker. Three times in the 30 – 45 minutes from the time I entered the store until I left. After barely making it home, I laid down on the couch and had a meltdown.
Let my heart be light? Nope! Troubles miles away? Nope!
So lower the music and let the grieving person and other guests can focus on and enjoy conversation.
Invite A Grieving Person To Your Holiday Party
But do not expect them to stay the whole time. There comes a point during the festivities where it is just too much merriment for the widow. The length of time they can handle the merriment will vary because each widow is unique. It is alright for the widow to leave early. Just appreciate the time and effort it took for her to step outside her comfort zone and attend.
Speak about their deceased loved one.
It is alright to speak about the deceased loved one. We want to know they are not forgotten. It comforts us to know that people remember him. Society wants widows and other grieving people to put there loved in the ground, walk away from the grave, and act like the deceased never even existed.
So think and speak fondly of the deceased.
Do Not Quote Any Bible Verse or Get Theological
This is simple. If you look in the mirror and see Billy Graham staring back at you, then go ahead and use Bible verses and theology to comfort someone. However, when you look in the mirror you will not see Billy or even Franklin Graham staring back at you -so zip it.
Do Not Say “If you need anything, let me know.”
By saying this you are placing the burden on the widow or other grieving person to wrack there brain about how you can help them. They have enough on their plate.
You have a house and know what tasks need done everyday and the tasks associated with the different seasons so just call a grieving person up and ask “Who is shoveling your driveway this winter?” or “Who is raking your leaves this fall?”
Go to GriefShare.org
The GriefShare program helped me immensely after Joe’s passing. It is Christ-centered, Biblically based program by Church Initiative. I looked forward to Monday nights. Those nights were more important to me than church on Sunday. Those Monday meetings became my rock, my foundation for the week because I was with other people who were grieving.
While we all lost different loved ones and the causes of their passing were different, we all knew the pain of grief and supported one another. The conversations we had after viewing a different video every week for 13 weeks left us uplifted and encouraged that grief was survivable and our joy would return.
This is not the entire list of advice for helping grieving people but it is a good starting point. Below are links to additional blog pages where you will find links to books, websites, articles, music and recipes.
May all this information help you this Christmas season whether someone you know is grieving or you yourself are grieving.
He owned a limo company and chauffeured a couple to Reunion Arena for the Frank Sinatra concert. They had two extra tickets and would James like them? He called and told me of this opportunity and I said: “I’m changing clothes right now.”
No way was I about to turn down a chance to see Sinatra perform. My dad taught me about Jazz and Big Band music when I was young so I realized that Luck was being a Lady to James and me.
Frank and those of us in the audience were not Strangers In The Night just exchanging glances but we were sharing love the whole night through. Both James and I savored Sinatra’s singing and the overall experience as we knew this was a once in a life time event for us.
Throughout the concert people would shout “My Way” from various parts of the arena. The request came from our side, then after the next song a voice would shout “My Way” from the left end of the area, then another voice would shout from the right end of the arena and so on through out Frank’s concert.
Then came a time when a gentleman sitting down front said “My Way” Frank said “We had something else.” and “Your wish is my command.” The band started playing My Way….and the crowd went wild.
I never forgot Frank saying “We had something else.” and “Your wish is my command.” because I knew he hated singing My Way. However, he was there to give us a remarkable evening and that meant once again singing My Way.
As Time Goes By
Fast forward to November 2019. Every day I get up and stumble groggily through out the house preparing coffee and oatmeal and then get ready for work. Most days are very mundane and routine. They are indistinguishable from all the rest. Just another day getting yelled at by customers and delivery drivers. My way of life is not exciting.
However, on November 8th, 2019 I happen to find out it is the 50th anniversary of My Way, the 1969 album that forever changed Frank’s career. I about fell out of my chair when reviewing the tracks on the MP3 version as the last bonus track was My Way – Live at Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX, October 24th, 1987. After recovering from the shock of that magical night being recorded, I purchased the MP3 version of the 50th anniversary album.
Listening to that track brought back fabulous memories of that extraordinary night.
As with anything else in life there are some thank you’s (grazie) that need to be said.
Paul Anka for writing the song
Frank for recording it and singing it that night
Don Costa for the wonderful arrangement
to whoever decided to record the concert at Reunion Arena
Finally, thank you God for orchestrating all the events in my life that lead up to James and me experiencing that wonderful night. Please give James a hug and a kiss from me as I know he resides in heaven with you.
Now I can say my clapping was recorded on a Frank Sinatra album. It is the little things that unexpectedly make you feel so young and bring joy to life.
If you want to hear my clapping – and some exceptional singing, please click here. You must get the MP3 version as the CD does not have the Reunion Arena concert on it.
May your life always be blessed with Doobee, Doobee Doo(Strangers In The Night) moments and remember The Best Is Yet To Come.