Tuesday, July 16, 2019



Being Adventurous: Courage to Choose!



“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” Mark Twain

Being adventurous is not always traveling alone to Fiji. It can start as simply as dinner out by yourself for the first time ever. Going to the movie…alone. Letting yourself pick and chose what YOU want to do. In marriage, we are bonded to our soul mate forever. We can’t even begin to imagine a life alone. We don’t want to and for the longest time, we don’t have to. But in Widowhood, we find ourselves ALONE. Sometimes for the very first time ever. All of us, no matter where we are in our lives’ journey should learn to be with our selves alone. We should learn about ourselves. Find out more about ourselves. Push ourselves to grow and learn and laugh. And to be adventurous. We deserve it.

“Everything happens for a reason, and part of that beauty of life is that we're not allowed to know those reasons for certain.” - Aron Ralston, Between a Rock and a Hard Place

While I never ever lived alone a single day in my life until I lost my husband, my first attempt at being adventurous happened in my teens. I lost my soul mate first boyfriend to suicide at the age of 16. My mother, my rock and my sustainer, was recovering from major surgery. I was on my own to figure out what to do with all my feelings. One thing I knew about my mother was, that although she came to America from France on a freighter with my father, she was very afraid to do things alone. So, I took on that inherited “fear” and made myself do things alone after Philip died. I went to the movies alone. I went on big riding adventures on my bike alone. When I was older, I even went to dinner with myself at a nice restaurant – alone – hugely pregnant with twins on Valentine’s Day no less. I think we must make a serious commitment to do some of our favorite things alone.

When we’re married, or with family, we are seldom alone. We make all our decisions and share our adventures with someone else. However, doing things alone, from road trips to restaurants, makes you learn more about your true authentic self. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? What do you feel like eating? What concert would you go to alone? I have gone to many! Alone!!

When we set expectations for ourselves, and align them with real goals and time lines, the results are our adventures. We can do anything we chose to do if we do it. We must be smart about it. Think about it. Plan it. Prepare for it. Save for it. Give it a date and a timeline. Then just DO IT!



 “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney

I love to walk in the park near my house. There were days after work, I would just stop and go for a long walk. I always carried a minimum – careful to lock my belongs in the trunk and always have my key and cell phone. Connecting with nature, for me, gives me great peace and balance. It helps settle my thoughts and organize what all I need to do in an order I can work with. But you do have to think outside the box to find ways that help you be you. What works. What doesn’t. While I love adventure and most exercise, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find my jumping out of an airplane or going on a zip line. But then again, I said I would “never” go on a cruise, and I did go on a cruise and it changed my life. Forever and for good! It was important for me to be adventurous in order to learn that about myself.
Many of you know that I did go to Fiji alone. I met a friend the 2nd week, but I wanted to go alone for me, and honestly, for you too. I wanted to see how I (WE) did. What would scare me? Would I enjoy it – the long flight – the complete solitude, the planning adventures for each new day alone, every single meal alone, cooking for one, or going out to restaurant or bar for HH… scary stuff. But I enjoyed it and I was proud of myself for doing it. Nyla went to Hawaii for two weeks to celebrate her anniversary -- alone. She did it! She always inspires me to greater heights – she drives all over the country on adventures all the time. She is careful and she plans, and she stays in touch, so people know where she is, but she has a blast! She is a great adventurer. She wanted to see Paul McCartney perform and so she found a concert in Dallas, she got one ticket, jumped in her car and she went. She said it was fabulous! She has no fear of traveling alone. There are many of us, as widows, that have dared to be bold and adventurous and have stepped out of our comfort zone to Be Adventurous.

The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” 
-Aron Ralston, Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I’m following Oprah and Deepak’s Meditations these next three weeks on Miraculous Relationships. Today’s meditation was on Miraculous YOU! It’s perfect! Oprah shares that:“The One thing that is REQUIRED for any relationship to flourish: Knowing who we really are.” 

It is the secret to your freedom. Widowhood is a chance, we never choose, but to truly become who we really are. Now. Who we want to be. Who we dreamed we could be. All that we are; just as we are. Once you take the time to really get to know yourself, you will start to love her all over again. And she can be anything you want her to be…

I encourage you to start small. What is it you want to do? Pick something. Anything. Like I said, a movie, a meal, a hike, or a trip. Just pick it and plan it and do it. Let me know how you feel when you get back. Share with your fellow wisters. Keep us bonded together tighter in unity to remember there is power in our connection and that you will inspire and encourage others around you.



“The One you are looking for is the One who is looking.” Francis of Assisi

We are the summary of our choices. We didn’t choose to be widows, but we do make many choices in our widowhood. Those individual decisions lead us to the life we are living. We can change them. We can adjust them. We can expand them. We can tighten them… It is up to Us and Only Us to decide what is best for US. You must do YOU. No one else really can. And you owe it to Us for You to be YOU! It’s up to you if you to decide how you want to live this new life we are creating. You can stand in Fear or you can stand in Faith, but you can’t stand both places at the same time. Become the Woman you’ve always wanted to be. You can be adventurous by just daring to be authentic you! I dare you to choose to be Adventurous!

“I am becoming the woman I've wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that's known bitter
but, past it, got better,
knows she's a survivor--
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
weathered basket.

I am becoming the woman I've longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons
and sunrises.

I find her becoming,
this woman I've wanted,
who knows she'll encompass,
who knows she's sufficient,
knows where she's going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she's precious,
but knows she's not scarce--
who knows she is plenty,
plenty to share.”

― 
Jayne Brown


Tuesday, July 2, 2019






A Happier, Healthier You…
Some tips from my Maman!

“Her soul is Alive. And we are drawn to her.”

- Captivating – Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, John & Stase Eldredge

 

As we focus on health and healing this month, I must consider and share some of the healthy tips I’ve learned from my Maman.  Michele Darroquy Ichon is 90 and she is my hero, my mentor, my solid rock. Always there for me, no matter what. She is quiet, she is humble, and she is filled with a silent power, tenacity and beautiful resilience I can only hope to mirror. She’s a widow too.

She was born in 1928 in France. She survived World War II with her family. She met and married my Father in St. Jean de Luz, a tiny fishing village in the south of France and came to America with my father on a ship after they married in 1956. They had nothing and began to build a beautiful life here. She became Vice Consul at the French consulate, where she served over 30 years.  She raised three successful children and has 5 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, with two more due this fall.

“We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil.”  - Captivating – Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, John &  Stase Eldredge

 

When she rescued me during Hurricane Harvey, by giving me shelter in my childhood home for several months, I learned much about her daily rituals that have kept her healthy, both inside and out. I think we could all learn from her applied wisdom and gracefulness.

Here are some lessons I learned from her:

She sleeps till 8 every morning. She gets up, makes her coffee, sets her breakfast spread in the dining room to watch the birds and she overlooks her lovely garden. She prefers not to be disturbed until after her breakfast, no earlier than 8:30 or even 9.

She goes outside and walks her garden every morning after breakfast. If there are weeds to pull or flowers to trim, this is the time she does it. She is always working in her garden and it shows. It is always a sheer delight to see all the glory she has there to behold. But it takes time, devotion and dedication. She told me long ago when she lost my dad, and after I lost Kevin, she reminded me again…"Go outside in the garden and dig, dig, dig. There is healing in the soil. It will help you.” Her garden is her sanctuary. I call it “Church of the Great Outdoors.

She bathes and dresses for the day, every day. Not the yoga pants I often find myself wearing until I must go out in public. No, she puts on slacks and a nice top, shoes, and some jewelry. Every day and mostly to stay home.

She exercises every day. I’m not sure how many times, but several times a day, between chores and reading, she walks the hallways of her home. Up and down the halls, over and over at a nice clip. She walks well, sometimes using a cane, which she tends to drag behind her…

She stands tall, shoulders back and never slouches. Something she taunted me with since my childhood, and I still must remind myself most days.

She reads. She is an endless source of information; from history, fine art, classical music, French cooking, gardening, world politics, child-rearing, and life coping skills, she’s learned along the way. She reads a variety of books, at least two at a time, for hours a day, to keep updated, and informed and always learning, growing and sharing her knowledge. She has the best vocabulary of anyone I have ever met, even if she speaks with a strong French accent.

She stays calm. When she realizes she can’t fix or conquer something out of her control, she lets it go. Period. No sense worrying any about something you will not be able to change. We could all learn from that.

She eats well and cooks for herself. You should know that my Maman became a widow at 53. The same age I did. While I lived on my green couch for about three years eating peanut butter from a jar with a spoon, or making an occasional grilled cheese, or egg, she cooks a nice meal for her lunch every day! She rarely eats bread. She treats herself to one or two cookies or a piece of chocolate. She buys a little filet mignon once a month, as she is on a very limited income, but she treats herself. Her only medication - one high blood pressure pill.

She stays in touch with family and friends. She’s not a talker and doesn't enjoy being on the phone, however, she does always speak with her family in France and her friends here. She stays connected. When she is invited, she goes. There are so many things she is interested in that she is always thinking, planning and attending interesting events. Concerts in Roundtop at Festival Hill. She taught French for many, many years at the Harris County Precinct Tracey Gee. She took Spanish. She’s in a French literary group. She meets once a week with friends from the French consulate she worked with years ago, as well as fellow friends from her church, St. Cecelia, where she has belonged since I was 4.

She listens to the French news, at 5pm, which is focused on World news, much more international than anything we see here with our local news. It keeps her informed, up to date and this is another hard “do not disturb” time that she doesn’t like to be interrupted. Don’t call during the 5pm news!

She has a scotch at 6pm every night. Whether she is here, or in France, it doesn’t matter. It’s time for her scotch. Period. If she goes to a party and they have bubbles, she drinks the champagne. If we go out for Mexican food, she orders a margarita. Only one, and only on occasion. Moderation is her constant.

She goes to bed later that I do. About 10:30 or 11:00 she goes to bed. She may read, she may not. But she has had a good full day and she makes the time to rest. She sleeps well. She is peaceful. She is calm and she prepares herself for the next day.

My Maman is an inspiration to me. She has lived a good, healthy life, filled with lots of love. However, she has overcome a lot to be the wonderful woman she is. I’ve learned so much from her. I’m not recommending you adopt all her tips, but I am challenging you to set your own standards, determine your personal guidelines for health, and make your decision to stay committed to living a happier, healthier life!


“A woman is a warrior too. But she is meant to be a warrior in a uniquely feminine way. Sometime before the sorrows of life did their best to kill it in us, most young women wanted to be a part of something grand, something important.” - Captivating – Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, John & Stase Eldredge





Wednesday, May 15, 2019




Galveston Bay - West End at Sunset
Nesting - Beyond the Sea


Rachel Hollis
Girl Wash your Face!
Know this one great truth: you are in control of your own life. You get one and only one chance to live, and life is passing you by. Stop beating yourself up, and dang it, stop letting others do it too.

I got to spend some time on the sea recently. The gray clouds touching the sea, drawing me in, pulling me forward into the tumbling tide, towards the moon and back again, to the shore and life, life past, life present and finally life future, sunrise leading the way before me. I stood there in awe of the wave’s majesty and how the moon can push and pull us. How the sun breaks through the sky, like the birth of a new babe. Calling us, showing us to step in, to stand tall and to begin again and again. Over and over and over again… the grays, the sea, the sun, the sand the salt. I stood there just beyond the sea and reflected the light of all that surrounds me and all that is in me.


It is no coincidence that it was my turn to write for Modern Widows Club this month. I’m nesting for sure! In a strange new way. I’m moving out of my home of 30 years just before this trip to the beach. Packing and touching every single part of me. We bought this house when our twin daughters, Claire and Nicole were 4. It is the only house our son, Chris, has ever known. I dreamed of this house when we bought it and now, I’m letting it go, to be loved again by another man, joining another family beginning a new chapter in another story.

Beyond the Sea - 
Thomas Love Peacock

Beyond the sea, beyond the sea,
My heart is gone, far, far from me;
And ever on its track will flee
My thoughts, my dreams, beyond the sea.

Beyond the sea, beyond the sea,
The swallow wanders fast and free:
Oh, happy bird! were I like thee,
I, too, would fly beyond the sea.

Beyond the sea, beyond the sea,
Are kindly hearts and social glee:
But here for me they may not be;
My heart is gone beyond the sea.

I’m moving into a new house! Amidst all my boxes, I'm letting go of the past and moving boldly into the future. I find I want less. I need less. I want more experiences than books, more moonlight strolls than paper goods. More spending time with loved ones than the clutter that kept me captive for at least three paralyzed for years. I want to live the new life I have created.

I’m reminded daily by how our choices define us. We are the result of our decisions, our commitments, our lessons teach us new realities. Many of us became alone not by choice, but by fate. The loss of a loved one, a lover or husband that walks away, our children as they grow and move away - and here we are.

We are called to do our own “nesting” and to touch and feel all those items that used to bring us Joy--as Marie Kondo teaches in the "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". We have nothing in our homes, nor our souls, we didn’t collect along the sandy beach called life, and we have taken these material things into our hearts and our minds to keep, to hold onto and to remember forever all the memories they held- both the good and the bittersweet.

Carolyn Moor, fervent, resilient leader of MWC came to stay with me a few days a couple of years ago. We were out and about all day, on television, lunch at the fancy, beautiful Petroleum Club, Happy Hour with some of our MWC members, then finally she passed out roses and shared her story at our meeting. We came home exhausted and tumbled into bed. I had been “preparing” for her visit for months - spending time organizing, cleaning and decluttering, as you would for a royal visit. 

The next morning, I made Carolyn breakfast, and she quietly took it all in. My home. And she responded. "This is not YOUR home, this is the home our raised your children in, it is your FAMILY HOME, but it doesn’t reflect who you are when you are out. You need to make this Home YOUR home. Now. It’s time." Those words wounded me straight to the core, but only to realize she was right, ohhhh so very right. 

I realized that I had become a captured prisoner in my home, all the memories and all the clutter; a list of what Kevin had eaten for the day which I kept only because I believed that by keeping it, somehow, I could continue to hold on to him. It was a Lie. And as Rachel Hollis says in her book “Girl Wash Your FACE!” it was one of the many lies we tell ourselves that keeps us stuck in a cold, dark space.

Nesting is about making your space YOUR space. Let go and get rid of what you don’t want, don’t need. Make some room for comfort, for healing, for hope. It is time to make your house the new you home. I bought a couple of chairs from Pier One, a bright new tablecloth that made me happy, Let go of some of the books and moved some of my favorites to my bedside, coffee table for easy access.

Many of you know I lived on my green couch for 3 years. I’m letting it go. My friend is taking it so I can come visit her and reminisce. But honestly, I don't’ want to “sit” there anymore. I want to be beyond the sea, on a new shore, in a new home, waiting for new experiences in my brand-new life.

I challenge you to take a chance and make the choice to make some changes. It is easy to get overwhelmed. 

Here are my tips:
  • Stay calm
  • Choose a room
  • Set a time for 15 minutes - if you want to do more, you add another 15
  • Start in a corner, or a drawer or a tiny space you want to change
  • Sort = Keep, Donate or just Throw away
  • I threw away my Jr. High autograph book because I realized I only look at it when I clean
  • I never come home from work and say “Gee I feel like looking at my Jr. high autographed book k tonight”
  • Think of all those you can bless by getting the bags of stuff you don’t need to someone who does
  • §Find a charity you want to support --there are so many. Many services will come right to your front door.
  • Pick a date, make an appointment and set your goal on freedom from clutter.
  • It won't happen overnight, so take your time. And make sure it’s YOUR timeline not someone else’s
  • No one’s schedule or reason is yours but your very own
  • I promise the uncluttered space is so refreshing, renewing, and rewarding. It will give you calm and peace

Galveston Bay - Sunrise


Beyond the Sea
Somewhere beyond the sea 
Somewhere beyond the sea 
It's far beyond a star
We'll meet beyond the shore
I know beyond a doubt
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands 
And watches the ships that go sailing
She's there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high 
Then straight to her arms I'd go sailing
It's near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt 
My heart will lead me there soon
We'll kiss just like before
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing
My heart will lead me there soon
And we'll meet, I know we'll meet beyond the shore
We'll meet just as before


Just Do it - Not because I say so, but because you want the freedom it brings. Stick with it. Plan to work on certain spaces and mark it on your calendar.  You can’t do your whole house in a weekend, but if you mix hard work with something fun, you truly can get it done. I will work in the morning and treat myself to a walk in the park with Sadie after lunchKeep it simple, be consistent, but DO IT.

Just beyond the sea, the sky is calling you
Stand firm in the sand. Let the moon guide you home…
Beyond the sea; just beyond the sea.
Just beyond your clutter, a new life is calling
Reach for it, baby! I beg you! Reach for your new life.
It is there waiting for you!!!







Tuesday, February 12, 2019





Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - A Living Museum,
Sarasota, Florida

The Road Less Traveled... a Year of Possibilities

You Say, Lauren Daigle
I keep fighting voices in my mind that says I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know 
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh 
You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe 
What You say of me 
I believe
The only thing that matters now is everything 
You think of me
In You, I find my worth, 
In You I find my identity, 
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe What You say of me
Oh, I believe
Taking all I have and now I'm laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You'll have every victory,
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe
Oh I believe, yes I believe
What You say of me
Oh I believe 

Songwriters: Paul Mabury / La
uren Ashley Daigle / Jason Ingram

It's time to ACT... Authentic, Committed, Tenacious - My "Word" for 2019!

New Year's Eve always comes on me like a sleeting, snowy mixture of to beautiful snowflake filled days and bitterly cold nights - it's a time to reflect and course correct. 2018 has been a year of great growth and change for me. But like the cocoon unsnarled in his nest, to emerge and to move forward, is like a rebirth both beautiful and painful at the exact same moment.
I think as widows, because we loved, we have learned, and because we have learned, so we grow. As with any new birth, we are excited, hopeful and so in love with the future, and at the same instant a small tug from the past tries to hold on and pull us back to the warm lull of our womb, our past, and for me the comfort of an old green couch...
As most of you know, this has been my year of YES! 2018 marked the 7th year of Kevin's passing, three years after a long hard battle with cancer. I needed to do something different. After watching my beautiful daughter give birth to her amazing daughter Charlotte, while struggling with her own health and life on the morning after they lost there beloved home with a sweet little nursery for this babe, moving into my home for refuge, as I moved to my Maman's home, worked part-time at a circus, a church and a  choosing my daily wear out of the back of my car, while helping to take care of my dying father in law in Austin, and my mother in law who had a stroke the day after we finally got my daughter out of the hospital... I cashed in all my chips and flew to Fiji in January of 2018. And so began my amazing year of possibilities...


Boat on the Beach, Taveuni, Fiji
My life has changed so much since then it is truly unbelievable.
I began dating a "platonic Photography friend" I met John thru my dear friend Nyla, our Modern Widows Club Houston Chapters Leader, in a French Cooking Class she invited me to. We started dating and traveling and sharing our lives together. I got a job. I really starting living as a brand new me. It's different and not everyone likes it. It is hard on many. I have less "free" time to share with family and friends. Between my new love relationship, a new job, and taking care of myself for the first time in forever, I have had to make some shifts and shimmies to make life work. But it is working. It has been a breaking out of the past into the new... that moment of truth when the new child emerges all covered in new birth, to be caught, and cradled, and clothed to be all clean, and loved in new life. Again. 
2018 was truly a wonderful year of wonder, of wisdom, of growing and learning. The road less traveled for sure. I could never imagine the places I've been, the wonderful beautiful family and friends I have met because of John, and the new "we" we are creating. Since he is a widower too, after many many years of marriage he gets "it" and most of all, he gets me. He actually loves the brand "new me." Wow!

"To be in Love Again with a Man that Loves Me for the "New" Me! 
I wrote the card shared above during Jodie Rodenbaugh's retreat. I found it in my nightstand while decluttering the other day... My heartfelt prayer was "To Be In Love Again with a Man that Loves ME for the 'New' me.

Wow. I had totally forgotten the note until I found it. Then I realized it was real. It was happening. I am living it. I cried when I reread it. Now. Changed. Loved. Transformed. The Vision is Real. We are standing in the middle of it in faith.  And I believed. 

Now, its a new year of possibilities...

It's time to ACT... Authentic, Committed, Tenacious - My "Word" for 2019!

When I counseled with Carolyn Moor, one of the things she tells us is to choose a word that describes how we want to feel at the end of the year...instead of setting goals first, you choose your perfect word to describe how you want to feel. 

gave up my FEAR in 2016,
I wanted HOPE in 2017
In 2018 I wanted to be LOVED again!

My Word for 2019 is ACT; Authentic, Committed and Tenacious. I'm Holding on with all my power! 
As widows united together through MWC, we are moving forward, arm in arm.  We are finding our wings. We are beginning to take flight. We will hope again. We will love again. We will live again. I promise.


Martin Luther King, Jr. said so eloquently, 

 “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” 

We never lose love. We may miss love, but it lasts forever. It never really leaves us. We can only add love. Take a chance. Make a choice to take a chance to make a change and don't' look back. In other words, ACT! We shall overcome and live, and laugh and love again. It's true. Don't be afraid to see where the road leads you. You may want to consider a road less traveled. No matter where your journey takes you, I wish you all the best. 
Remember Love Lasts Forever. Always.