“I dream of wandering”
That was the simple, unpolished statement written upon my paper heart at Camp Widow. Sarah and I were a large part of the message release there...constructing the large heart, cutting out all of the smaller ones, mounting it in the banquet area, and being the first two to place our torn dreams in front of the rest of the campers. I knew what was to be asked by Michele, well in advance, and so when the time came, I had my answer swiftly.
I enjoy “wandering”. I love finding new places, whether on the road, or trudging through knee-deep mud. Very often, I will pick a dot on the map, and head “that direction” in the most wandering way possible. For me, the journey is truly part of the adventure.
I'm writing this a bit late today, but for a very good reason. As I type this, Mike and I are driving back from Toronto. For the past few days, we've been enjoying the company of so many beautiful, brave people here at Camp Widow Toronto... some of who may be reading these words.
If you've never been, I can assure you, this gathering of love and healing put on three times a year by Soaring Spirits is one that is lifechanging. I can still remember my first Camp. I was so cynical about going. It honestly sounded stupid – mainly because I was afraid of opening my heart. Cynicism is great for avoiding openness.
By the end of that first camp, I was changed. My heart was opened up, my cynicism gone. I didn't cry in front of people embarrassingly. Instead, we cried together. I made new friends who got all of it. I laughed probably harder than I had since my fiance died, too. I left feeling proud that the word “widow” was a part of me, because I'd spent the weekend surrounded by some of the bravest, most authentic, most loving souls I had ever met. I left that first camp no longer hating the word “widow”. I left feeling proud to belong to this club that no one wants to belong to, and have been proud ever since.
Fast forward a few years to today and now I am experiencing a new perspective. This time, I wasn't coming back because I was in that broken place and in search of how the hell to keep living and breathing each day. I wasn't coming with a cynical mindset about my grief. This time, I was here to give back, like so many had done for me, by teaching a workshop.Read more
On February 5th, 2015, I wandered into a Hotel in Tampa, Florida, not quite sure if I was supposed to be there. I had lost Megan less than three months prior, and I hadn’t honestly accepted the fact that I was now a Widower. In the year leading up to it, I had spent more time sitting next to my dying wife than anything else.
Like many of us, I was searching for answers to hypothetical questions. “Who am I now?” and “What am I supposed to do?” served only as constant reminders that, well, “I don’t know” was the only answer.
Almost three years later, and the questions, and the answers, are still the same. What has changed, and what I’ve learned in that time is that we will never know the answer, but we are always inching closer to it.
Last week I was anxious and annoyed (raging, actually) over the seemingly endless list of things I thought I could not do without Ben. At the time, the top of my list of stressors was the fact that I was headed off to Camp Widow where I would be attending a Saturday night Masquerade Ball, and I realized there was no one to zip up my dress. It sent me into a full blown panic.
Well, one week later and I’m here to tell you that I survived. Not only did I survive, but I thrived. Yes, I said it … I thrived. And I’ll let you in on a secret I have always known on some level but often refused to admit …
My Mother Was Right.Read more
I'm writing this from an AirBNB apartment in the heart of New York City, a loooong way from my home in Brisbane, Australia.
I flew out here for a holiday with a good friend (and fellow widow) after attending Camp Widow in San Diego last weekend, and we've been having a wonderful time.
This was my third Camp Widow and while Kelly Lynn spoke about the concept of 'Camp Crash' yesterday, I've found that for me, the crash has typically been delayed until after I've returned home, as the holiday element of my trip has provided a distraction from the return to every-day life. So I'm still waiting for the reality to kick in... but in the mean time, just going with the distraction.
I'm sorry for the late post, I'm at Camp Widow in San Diego this weekend and while I usually post by 5pm Saturday when I'm in Australian but I forget that with the time difference here in the US, my deadline is midnight Friday!
It's been a very different Camp Widow experience for me so far. For the first time, I'm here with four of my Aussie widow friends, compared to my previous two camps where I came from Australia on my own. It's been a lot of fun to travel as a group and see them experience the Soaring Spirits family for themselves. I think I've been so focussed on my friends and excited about their first Camp Widow that I almost forgot that there is something here for me, as a third-time camper, too.
Coming to Camp as a widowed person who is a new relationships has also affected me. I'm still very much learning about love after loss and what it means to be a widow and a girlfriend at the same time. I'm really missing my new guy, who is back in Australia. We've been talking on the phone regularly throughout the day and sending messages and while it's nice to be missing him (knowing I'll actually see him again in a couple of weeks, which is different to missing a dead husband!!) it's been a big distraction.
Sarah and I have just returned from Camp Widow, in Tampa. This was our third camp together, and our first time returning to Tampa, where we met last year. If you’ve read her sunday post, you know that we had great expectations of what this Camp was going to be like, and for the first few days, it seemed as if everything we had planned for went awry.
Until Sunday morning, we were both a little grumpy, especially me. Camp itself...the workshops, gatherings, and banquet were still helpful, healing, and emotional, but all of the “little things” we wanted to do that seemingly kept going wrong wore my patience thin.
Beginning sunday afternoon however, that turned around. I remembered that, for me, it’s the social aspect, and being in a comfortable, non judging space with others is what makes it so valuable to return to Camp. Yes, it’s still a break from work in a beautiful, warm city, but I can do that any time...we went to camp, not on a vacation.
Things are coming to a close here in Tampa this morning. We expected it to feel exciting to return back here a year later… except this time, so many things have gone wrong. The pool at the hotel has been closed, creating some difficulty to finding quiet places to talk with fellow widows. On Friday, we looked at the time wrong and missed the alumni boat tour. Which was the one thing we were looking forward to the most. We went across downtown to eat at yesterday at Nathan’s Hotdogs, which has been a tradition since the first year for me, and it was randomly closed with no explanation. The hot water only half worked in our room on the first night. And there were a myriad of other small things. And yes, they are small things. The irony does not escape me that - while attending a conference for being widowed - we have been letting all the small things get to us in a big way. How quickly that comes back.Read more
It’s been over a year since I attended my first Camp Widow. In less than two weeks, Sarah and I will be travelling to Tampa again to attend this year’s installment.
I’d be remiss to say that we weren’t incredibly excited. Not only do we get to see, converse, and connect with widowed friends that we don’t regularly see otherwise, we also get to leave the not-so-cold winter environment in Ohio and travel to Florida, together, for a few days in the warmth. It’s been a frequent topic of our conversations for the last month or two, and it is not just because of the fact that it is a mini vacation for us.
This past weekend, I remembered why.
The quest for peace, acceptance and happiness after losing my husband to depression has taken me to some unexpected places. It has lead me travelling (around Australia to meet with other widows and to the USA to connect with Soaring Spirits at Camp Widow), encouraged me to try new things, forced me to open myself up to ideas about life and spirituality and introduced me to some really wonderful and interesting people.
Recently, this quest took me on another unexpected adventure, to the Ocean Soul Retreat in Bali, Indonesia, where I undertook their holistic healing program.
Having never been on a retreat, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As an introvert and self-declared control freak (not to mention, picky eater), I was a little apprehensive about the idea of spending a week in the company of strangers and relinquishing my comfortable, but not-so-healthy, lifestyle to embrace a program of healing treatments, daily yoga and a very different whole foods menu. However, I decided to go all in and embrace the program designed – kale and all!Read more