~ notes from an uncommon journey ~

Things I Accomplished in 2012

Near the close of many years in recent memory, I've felt disappointed and probably have even berated myself that I haven't accomplished much if anything toward certain life goals. Only relatively recently have I realized that one of the major reasons these goals have stayed largely out of reach relates to a health issue. Realizing this has helped me be a lot kinder to myself overall; perhaps that's one of this year's best accomplishments.

Anyway, while this year I've felt a bit of that familiar disappointment, in addition to being a little kinder to myself about it, I thought I'd make a point to note what all I have accomplished this year.

So here are some of the things I accomplished this year that I'm proud of:
On my other blog, I highlighted size prejudice (here, here, and here) and started a new series. I also created a Facebook page for the blog.

I attended both Camp Widows--East and West. This included driving from Ohio to South Carolina and back--by myself, thankyouverymuch--for East and surviving a horrendous travel experience getting to San Diego for West. At West, I did my friend Judy's makeup for the banquet. Not incidentally, it was in a Camp Widow West session that I started to actually have hope that I might be able to find love again.

I bought myself a widow's ring, which helps remind me that Ron is always with me and helps strengthen my identity as a widow.

I left my part-time job at Bare Escentuals. This is an accomplishment because, while it was difficult to do (as I really loved that job), it reduced my stress and increased my free time.

I redesigned and expanded the scope of this blog.

I read and reviewed the book Therapy Revolution, which taught me how to hire a good therapist and what the therapy process should be like, and which led to being featured on the authors' blog Therapy Soup.

I read a bunch of other great books. Standouts include Evolving in Monkey Town and A Year of Biblical Womanhood, both by Rachel Held Evans; along with several memoirs of Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals who've experienced doubt.

I started featuring my own photography here.

Except for stocking stuffers, I made donations for all of my Christmas presents.

Looking at all of the above, I can honestly say I'm glad I've noted my accomplishments instead of simply regretting what I didn't get done. It's a good thing.

* * *

And now, because all the cool kids are doing it, here are my most popular posts of the year:
  1. Why I'm Leaving Bare Escentuals
  2. Camp Widow East 2012: The Glass is Both Half Empty and Half Full 
  3. Big Changes Coming to This Blog
  4. The Widowed Blog Slam
  5. Books That Made a Difference: Therapy Revolution
* * *
Do you ever wish you'd accomplished more during the year than you did? What did you accomplish this year? If you did a year in review on your blog, where can I find it?

How You Can Help Newtown

I'm no longer comfortable doing--essentially--nothing...except be devastated, avoid the news coverage ('cause I "take it in" too much), type a condolence message, hit Send.

If, like me, you want to do something to help the people of Newtown, CT, and to work toward preventing future violence in our world, here are a few ideas.

Help send the book It's Okay to Cry to the 700 Sandy Hook students.

This is something that has the potential to truly help these precious children...and can be embraced regardless of political persuasion.

Eleven-year-old Tatiana Grieve Oliver lost her father when she was 2 years old. When she was nine, she wrote It's Okay to Cry to help other grieving children. She has written a letter to the children of Sandy Hook, so I'll let her tell us more:
I know what it feels like to lose someone. I watched my daddy die. I wrote IT'S OKAY TO CRY when I was nine. My little sister, Keira, illustrated it, and my Mommy took the photographs and helped me publish the book. It is about the things I went through after my daddy died. The feelings I felt. And the things that have helped me find happiness again. It has activities and helpful messages. I really hope it helps you get through the hard times.

My Mommy, Keira, and I are ordering, signing, and sending 700 copies of IT'S OKAY TO CRY to you because I want each of the children at the school to have one. We have faith that all of the people who want to send you their love will donate enough money to cover our expenses. No matter what, we will get them to you.
From Tatiana's mommy: "We will be getting all of the books to Newtown, Connecticut by December 31st with a note that includes each of your names." You can help get these books to Newtown by donating here. (Look for the Paypal "Donate" button.)

Are there other ways you know of that we can directly help? If so, please link them up in the comments.

As for working toward prevention...

If you think we need focus on gun control, partner up with organizations working to end gun violence. Here are two (each logo is linked to that organization's action/get-involved page):


If you think gun control isn't the answer, feel free to simply choose a different method to help.

If you think we need to focus on improving access to mental health care, get involved with organizations working on that. Here are two of those:


I'm sure I've just scratched the surface here. As I said above, if you know of other ways to directly help the residents of Newtown, or if you know of other ways to work toward preventing violence, please link them up in the comments.

Note: This post is not about arguing about gun control. Please respect the spirit of ways-to-help in your comments. Thanks.

"Well, Every Family's Dysfunctional!"

dysfunction: abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group. (source: m-w.com)

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with Cassie, one of my widow sisters. 

Cassie and I have a lot in common, not the least of which is the fact that we both lost our significant other and experienced significant trauma in childhood. (I'll write about experiencing multiple traumas in a future post.) We were talking about our backgrounds, and at some point she pointed out that many people, when you relate that your family of origin was dysfunctional, are fond of saying, "Well, every family's dysfunctional." 

But here's the thing: I know people who grew up in homes where grace ruled the day. Where there was no impossibly perfect standard to live up to. Where the children were allowed to be themselves, to develop and grow naturally. You might even call it...functional.

We have conflated dysfunctional with imperfect. Yes, every family is imperfect. But when the whole dynamic is abnormal or unhealthy, that's another thing altogether. And to tell someone who's experienced true dysfunction, "well, every family's dysfunctional" is to--in effect--minimize their experience. Don't do it.

Wordless Wednesday 12/12/12

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