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 didn't like to do things some things alone - like eating out. 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 timelines, 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 gives us a chance 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 --the new "you" 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