~ notes from an uncommon journey ~

What I Learned at Camp (Widow West '12)

Some of the unwedded widows at CWW '12: Renee, Melanie, Brandi, Laura, and me

It's hard to believe I've gone to my 3rd Camp Widow already. (You can read about my CW '11 experience here and my CWE '12 experiences here, here, and here.)

Besides the saga that was just getting there, the weekend was generally awesome. Here are some of the things I learned (or was reminded of) at Camp:
  • I'll remember more from a session if I actually bring my laptop with me to take notes. On Friday it was in my room...just not in my hands.
  • It's OK to leave a session and slip into another one if the first one isn't doin' it for ya. This is one of those things I already knew but was reminded of. And for future Camps I'm gonna give myself even more permission to just not go to any session during a given time period if I'm not feelin' any of 'em. Actually I've done that once already, and I enjoyed it. The whole experience is something I'm doing for myself, after all. There's no requirement to attend a given session. There's no need to force anything.
  • During the social times, while it's great to reconnect with friends from previous Camps, we can't forget to incorporate new attendees. During the welcome reception, a new friend told me it seemed rather clique-ish. This is not good. It's certainly the opposite of what the Camp Widow organizers are going for. Not everyone is a social butterfly like me, and I think it behooves us more-experienced Campers to make a point to seek out and include new ones.
  • Michele Neff Hernandez (Founding President and Executive Director of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation and creator of Camp Widow) led a session called "What the Grinch Taught Me About Love." The big idea I carried away from that session was: Not only are there great men out there (which Ron first helped me see), but there are great men who can and will treat my widowhood with a great deal of sensitivity and respect. And some of these men are actually not widowed themselves!

    I could name numerous examples of this, as I now know many remarried widows. But here I'll just mention Michael Dare, Michele's husband. Michael is the CWW photographer and as such he regularly travels to and helps with an event where he hears--over and over--his wife talk about how much she loved and still loves her dead husband. And he basically thinks it's ridiculous that Michele would do anything but continue to honor the man who meant so much to her. Can I just say? The man is a gem. Anyway--and this is huge--men like Michael give me hope.
  • The big idea I took away from Debra Morrison's session was: I can think about the things that already give me confidence--things I do well, have succeeded at, that I like about myself--and use those things to raise my overall confidence so I can better handle whatever comes next. Debra said: "If we can search for ways to embellish our confidence we will be stronger at everything." That's so cool. On one level this could seem like an obvious thing, but this was a new way of thinking about it for me.
  • I attended Deborah Tucker's session about PTSD. I don't think I have PTSD, but don't think I won't carefully review the comparison chart (grief/bereavement to traumatic grief to PTSD) to see if I'm right. Even more valuable, as it turned out, than the session itself was a conversation I had with Debra and another (retired) therapist later. This was on Saturday night. We talked a bit about a kind of therapy called EMDR. The next morning at the closing breakfast, that second therapist gave me a bunch of really helpful information about this therapy, and I am definitely going to look into it. 
There's still more I learned, but I'm saving it for a future post or two. All in all a great Camp!

Oh, and I didn't just learn stuff; I had fun too!

That's Taryn Davis (Founder and Executive Director of the American Widow Project)
as Darth Vader and Tom Schmidt with me

1 comment

  1. Indeed Connie the idea of boosting our confidence to strengthen us to tackle ANY area of our lives is basic, yet we humans tend to gloss over and not pay adequate attention to profound core principles.

    Widows and widowers especially have to "make order" of their chaos, so, yes keep remembering how VERY capable you are, how very gifted you are, how very important you are, how very accomplished you are, and how very loved you are, and you will indeed be "magically" given MORE...

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