The Next Chapter

Well so far, 2015 is not going as planned, as I came down with a yucky head cold on New Years Day and have spent the past few days in bed, wishing Dan were here to fuss over me.

blog_sick.JPGI had such grand plans of spending the last few days of my Summer holiday enjoying time with my family and friends, hitting the gym to start shaking the couple of kilos that crept on over the month of December (damn socialising making me fat!) and working on a few projects around in the house.  Instead I've been laying around, drinking tea, next to an ever-growing pile of snotty tissues, watching the Real Housewives of New York City.

It's been so hard not to slip into a depression knowing I've had to put my plans on hold and wait this cold out, but I keep trying to remind myself that there will always be roadblocks when we least expect or want them and this is a temporary set back.   2015 will still be there in a few days when I'm back fighting fit.

Just because I didn't get to start the new year with all guns blazing, I'm still hopeful that it will be a good year and I have some pretty big goals waiting for me.  In a few weeks time it will have been 18 months since Dan passed away unexpectedly.  As I look back I can't help but marvel at how far I've come. 

This time last year I was still in shock and taking each day, one at a time.  My goal for 2013, after his death, was just to survive.  Then, as I made my way in to 2014, my mantra was 'healing'.  I dedicated the year to keeping life simple and working on my my personal growth - improving my physical and mental health, reducing stress, finding my 'hope' and being gentle with myself while learning my new limits and boundaries.  It's certainly not what I had planned, as we had hoped to start a family in 2014, but I had to let go of that and accept my new life.

Some big achievements in this past year of healing included attending a national conference here in Australia on suicide post-vention; organising a get together with a group of widows I met online who travelled from all around the country to meet up in person; my first visit to USA for Camp Widow West in July (which was a real turning point); and surviving some significant firsts - including what would have been his 35th birthday, our first wedding anniversary and his first death anniversary. 

I weeded out a friend or two who I realised weren't supportive or positive influences in my life and spent a lot more time with the people who were.  I accepted that I don't have to worry so much about pleasing others and started learning to be more assertive without the associated feelings of guilt and selfishness. And finally, I put more time and effort in to self care, incorporating more activities like meditation, yoga, massage and a bit of old fashioned pampering into my life.

As 2014 drew to a close I felt really proud of where I was.  I am a better person, calmer and more positive.  The healing will be an ongoing process and one that I continue to work on for the rest of my life, but I felt ready to shift my focus to a new goal. 

Happiness.

This is what my heart now craves.  I am generally happy most of the time, I find joy in the small things and don't often dwell on what I'm missing out on.  But I feel ready to take some bigger steps forward in 2015. 

One of these steps will hopefully be the launch of a not-for-profit organisation here in Australia to support widowed people through the grieving process after the death of a spouse (and Michele from Soaring Spirits has kindly been mentoring me with this project).  Along with some wonderful widowed friends I have formed a steering committee to work towards this goal, under the guidance of an executive coach. 

It's a huge (and often overwhelming) task but we are determined to bring together some resources to help those following in our footsteps.  We are close to hitting some major milestones and I'm very excited that my vision looks like it might just come to life.

Another 'happiness' goal I have for 2015 is to try dating again.  For a long time I felt ill at the thought of even holding another man's hand but over the past couple of months I've started feeling differently.  I think I'm beginning to understand how it might be possible to open my heart again while not losing any of the love I have for Dan, but rather, carrying him forward with me. 

I'm yet to dip my toe in that pool and know it will be challenging but I'm feeling more ready than I have in the past.  Unfortunately, it's not as simple as making a decision and then waiting as the eligible men form an orderly queue. I have no idea how to go about meeting someone special (let alone explaining to them that I come with some pretty complicated and heavy baggage) but for now, just being open to it feels enough.  I'm hopeful that if I continue to work on taking steps forward and staying positive, Dan might just put someone in my path.

But anyway, we'll have to wait and see.  If Dan's death has taught me anything, it's that we have no idea what lies around the corner - good or bad.  All the planning and preparation and dreaming means nothing if fate has plans that are out of our control.  I try not to focus on that niggling, worrying thought that 2015 might hold some challenge or sad news that I don't yet feel ready for, because I can't stop or control that either.  I just have to be.  And trust that whatever this year brings, I'll be ok.

So, come at me 2015.  I'm ready for a new chapter... just as soon as my nose stops running and the sandpaper in my throat buggers of!


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