The second week sure is harder than the first! I was so proud of myself last week, getting everything done that I needed to. But now, I find myself slipping back into the morass. So, if anyone is reading this, post me a kick in the keister!

Already done today: Not much! I got N to school, but that's it.

Still to do today:
  1. Get dressed! (jeesh)
  2. Ellipticise
  3. 15 minutes in the back room
  4. Fold laundry
  5. Vacuum family room
  6. Clean kitchen floor
I'll write more later...

Updated, 10:45 p.m. -- I had a really productive day...

  1. Got dressed! (But first I washed my hair)
  2. Folded the laundry, except for what is in the dryer
  3. Vacuumed family room AND the downstairs hall AND the laundry room AND the stairs up to the living room AND the entryway
  4. Scrubbed kitchen floor AND the dining room AND the hall to the playroom
I still have to work on that back room, and I didn't ellipticise -- grrrrr -- but I did get a good workout playing/roughhousing with the boys.

Good night, folks.
I guess I didn't feel like doing much over the weekend! At any rate, I certainly didn't feel like posting. I did manage to get those pesky finances done, but mostly I just took a few "down days" with the boys. It was nice.

Already done today:
  1. Boys dressed, fed, and off to school
  2. Garbage to the curb
  3. One load of laundry in the wash
Yet to do today:
  1. More laundry to wash (duhhh)
  2. Lotsa laundry to fold (sort socks? naaaaaaaaah)
  3. Volunteer in 2nd-grade classroom
  4. Ellipticise
  5. 30 minutes clearing out "the back room." I really should post a photo of that room, so you appreciate what I'm dealing with here!
I've had some interesting thoughts the last few days... about control as part of grief, about moving beyond "active" grief. I'm not quite ready to articulate them, but they are percolating. TTYL.

Updated, 8:35 p.m. -- ***Sigh*** One of those days where I just couldn't get anything done. Phone calls and interruptions. I washed lots of laundry, but didn't fold any. I volunteered in the classroom, which was excellent, but I didn't ellipticise. And I spent no time on "the back room."



Friday. Both boys in school. No errands to run. Just me, my coffee, the newspaper, and some chores. Oh and my computer! After one week, I'm pretty pleased with the effectiveness of this blog to Motivate Me. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it seems to be getting me off my keister!

Already done today:
  1. Both boys off to school, fed, dressed, and kissed
  2. uhhhhhhh ... that's it!
To do today:
  1. FINANCES grrrrrrrr -- enter receipts, balance checkbook, reconcile Visa statement, pay bills
  2. Ellipticise
  3. Scrub pans from last night **sigh**
  4. Clean master bathroom
  5. Clean boys' bathroom
  6. Clean downstairs bathroom
  7. Clean powder room
  8. Schedule installation of new fireplace doors
  9. Fifteen minutes clearing out "the back room"
Updated, 8:35 p.m. -- I said in my first post that I often have clear thoughts while scrubbing floors... I should scrub floors more often.

It struck me that part of the work of grieving is about regaining control. This time last year, I felt utterly out of control, like my world was spinning out of control and it was all I could to hold on for dear life. I crashed and went on anti-depressants. Right now, getting OFF the anti-d is my biggest motivation for renewing my exercise program.

I almost didn't scrub my bathrooms today. But I thought about this blog and knew I had to do it. I almost quit before doing all the floors, thinking I could do the floors tomorrow. But I said, "No dammit... I can do this NOW." And as I was scrubbing the bathroom floors, it felt GOOD. It felt GOOD to have chosen to DO something, as opposed to simply letting them slide.

I don't know if I can articulate the apathy and inertia that take over during the worst of grieving. But by CHOOSING to clean the bathrooms at the end of the day, by CHOOSING to scrub the floors instead of leaving them undone, I feel like I have taken a huge step on the WidowRoad. That's not to say I expect housekeeping to be a nonissue from here on out... but I have a greater understanding of how grief works -- in me at any rate.

By the way, I am SO BUFF!!! I ellipticised again today and worked up a good stinky sweat.

Two things remain undone: my finances and "the back room." There's always tomorrow.
I've been very busy already!

Of course, my productivity started at 4 a.m. -- such is the life of a sleepless widow. I created an online calendar for all the widow gatherings. It should make it easier for people to find events/groups that they want to join.

Other things I've already done:
  1. Received kudos for the calendar!
  2. IMd with various widder friends
  3. Nagged N to death about finishing an assigment that I didn't find until after he was in bed
  4. Made his snack and lunch
  5. Driven him all the way to school -- I swear I am too good to that child! Grrrrrrrrr
  6. Made yummy sweet potatoes for S's breakfast
Yet to do today:
  1. Send my fabulous beef stew recipe to a hungry widow (anyone else want it?)
  2. Change the sheets on all the beds
  3. Sounds like more laundry to wash!
  4. Post instructions for using the new event calendar
  5. Put ALL of the Christmas boxes away properly
  6. FINANCES: Enter all my receipts into Quicken
  7. Ellipticise
  8. Think of something witty or wise for my evening update

Updated, 8:56 p.m. -- Buff! Buff! I am buff!

Still not done by the end of the day:

  1. Enter receipts into Quicken
  2. Think of something witty or wise
On that note, dear friends, good night!

A day that starts with snow can't be all bad

Snow! Snow! Glorious snow! I love the snow!

We got only flurries, driven by fierce winds, and the flurries are gone, but it was enough to make me smile through the get-the-kids-ready-for-school stuff.

You've probably noticed that my to-do lists are fairly short. Why set myself up for failure? If I can do the daily maintenance of preparing meals, washing dishes, picking up messes AND one or two important household things, then I can breathe a bit. And if I can add exercise to that, I can feel good about myself. I work so hard keeping the boys on an even keel, I really feel that if the household stuff slides a bit, that's okay. The problem is when it slides a lot. Can you spell avalanche? (Continuing the snow theme here!)

Anyway... this morning I had the routine of getting both boys off to school:
  1. Make N's breakfast
  2. Get S's bottle -- I know, I know... he's too old for that. But right now, anything that makes life a little easier for me is FINE with me
  3. Make N's snack and lunch
  4. Make S's breakfast
  5. Get S dressed
  6. Make N wear his big coat (it IS snowing, jeesh)
  7. Drop N off at the corner and take S to school
  8. Get home and find a message from N on the answering machine. Only problem is he didn't wait for the beep, so I have only the last 3 words: "... volunteering. Bye Mom."
  9. Go to the kitchen and see N's homework folder: Aha! He wants me to bring him his folder when I go in for volunteering.
  10. Phone in renewal of antibiotic for dental appointment premedication
The day is a busy one for me, with lots of running around...
  1. Volunteer in N's classroom (don't forget his homework!)
  2. Pick up prescription
  3. Dental appt for cleaning ... first cleaning since Nick died ... this will not be fun
  4. Finish taking ornaments and lights off the tree
  5. Drag tree to curb for recycling tomorrow
  6. Take all the garbage and recycling to the curb
  7. I really do need to get on top of my receipts and bills... we'll see how the day goes
Updated, 9:45 p.m. -- Well, I got every thing except the finances done. Lots of running around. There's a lot going on in various parts of life, but nothing I have energy to think about or write about. another time....

Life is like a load of laundry...

Nothing special is going on today... thus far I have
  1. Gotten N off to school, after convincing him that Yes, he has to go to school today and making his lunch and snack
  2. Had my chimney inspected
  3. Plunged a clogged toilet -- gotta get those boys to tell me about it WHEN it happens; it's really disgusting to discover it 12 hours after the fact
  4. Read a book to S, snuggling cuddling smiling
The to-do list for the day is pretty straightforward. Aside from cleaning the kitchen, I need to
  1. Run two loads of laundry
  2. Fold four loads (sort socks? naaaaaaaahhhhh)
  3. Take another container of ornaments off the Christmas tree
  4. Find and deliver packing materials to my neighbor who is moving
  5. Ellipticise
  6. Vacuum the bedrooms
Nothing profound for today. ttyl.

Updated, 9:04 p.m. -- Looking for profundity? I folded all my laundry this evening... yes, all four loads... and I was thinking that maybe laundry is a good analogy for widowhood. You wash and fold and feel proud of your accomplishments. Then along comes your 3YO to unfold everything you worked so hard to do. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. And your 7YO seems to delight in rubbing yogurt into otherwise clean pants, so he can't wear them 2 days in a row. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. And there's laundry detergent in the dryer. And you're out of bleach. And the dryer vent is clogged again. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. And suddenly you have four more loads of laundry to wash, fold and PUT AWAY dammit. Don't just leave it on the floor! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

And maybe that's why widowhood is so damned irritating -- I mean, aside from the fact that the love of my life is gone... it all seems so pointless. Why do I keep on keeping on, when everything I've done is going to get undone or need to be redone? Maybe that's why I hate doing laundry? Because it reminds me of the futility of my widowed life?

And then I remember that I've ALWAYS hated doing laundry. And another good analogy goes out the window.

By the way, I accomplished everything on my list today, including ellipticising. Go, me!

What a difference a day makes

As awful as yesterday was, this day has started lovely-ly. My 7YO has no school today, but my 3YO is in daycare. So far, I have:
  1. Washed my hair.
  2. Gotten the 3YO off to daycare.
  3. Made cinammon biscuits with the 7YO.
  4. Enjoyed his homemade lemonade.
  5. Read him a book.
  6. Enjoyed my first cup of coffee.
  7. Talked to a friend whose SO was given 3 months to live... 8 months ago! And all is well!
Today, I need to:
  1. Get some of those ornaments off the tree!
  2. Vacuum the family room.
  3. Ellipticise.
  4. Spend quality time with N... he's really having a rough time these days.
That's all for now. More later, I'm sure.

Updated, 4:17 p.m. -- Wow... sometimes it feels like it just can't get any better than this. Not only have I put away an entire storage box of ornaments and vacuumed the family room (AND the guest room AND the downstairs hall AND the laundry room), but I also managed to combine numbers 3 and 4.

I didn't ellipticise, but N and I took a nice long bike ride through the wetlands park at the end of our street. We were out for over an hour, and it was just nice US time. I even saw glimpses of his old smile... relaxed and not forced. There was comfortable conversation and simple enjoyment of each other. How awesome is that!

Maybe there's hope for us yet.

Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.

'Cos there's something in a Sunday,

Makes a body feel alone.

And there's nothin' short of dyin',

Half as lonesome as the sound,

On the sleepin' city sidewalks:

Sunday mornin' comin' down.

In the park I saw a daddy,

With a laughin' little girl who he was swingin'.

And I stopped beside a Sunday school,

And listened to the song they were singin'.

Then I headed back for home,

And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin'.

And it echoed through the canyons,

Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.
-- Kris Kristofferson

I should be at church right now. The boys should be in Sunday School right now. But I have no interest in it. I'm struggling with this... a lot. My faith has been at the heart of me for so long, my church community such an incredible support it's hard to believe that I just don't care about it.

What I need to figure out is whether it's laziness on my part or a genuine component of my grief. I'm inclined to think I'm just being lazy. The boys and I have been to church only twice since the start of November. The 3YO and I were sick all November; then the 7YO got sick and I was still feeling crummy; then I was out of town, followed by the madness of the holidays. We didn't even make it to church on Christmas Eve because S was sick again. I could have left the boys with my mom and gone... but I didn't. At this point, I'm out of the habit. It is so nice to relax into the day.

On the other hand, the shared expression of our faith was at the core of our marriage. We both had so much love for our faith, for the liturgy. When I do go to church, it is so healing, so tender. I feel closer to Nick at church than anywhere else... his spirit lingers there more than at home. It breaks my heart all over again, and I don't know what to do.

The other hard part of going to church is the socializing afterwards. I just don't want to be there. It's too hard to deal with everyone. I suppose I could and should go for services and not go into the hall, but but but... it's just so damned lonely. I am so lonely.

I miss him so very much...

Anyway, on to the day! I have a few big jobs to get done today:
  1. Assemble chest of drawers for N's bedroom.
  2. Take at least one-third of the ornaments off the tree.
  3. Enter receipts (especially from Florida) into Quicken.
  4. Balance bank statement.
  5. Pay bills.
  6. File all those financial papers stacked on my desk.
  7. All those other little things that have to get done every day!
Wish me luck. I have to figure out how to get through this Sunday stuff.

Updated, 6:10 p.m. -- I might as well update now, because I'm not going to get anything more done today. I did manage to assemble the furniture for my 7YO, but he had a total screaming fit about it. He doesn't want new furniture. He doesn't want more room to put away his things. He wants everything back just the way it was. [Translation: Including my dad!]

That episode sucked the life out of me. I was miserable all morning, struggling with the church thing, and it felt really good to build the dresser (gotta love Ikea). But I've had a sinkhole in my heart all afternoon.

I just want to stop grieving. I want to stop hurting. I want my beloved Nicholas back.

I love Saturdays!

... mostly because I give myself permission to do not much of anything but be with the boys.

I so enjoy starting the day slowly, savoring my first cup of coffee. The Abbster will be here in a little while, and I'll make French toast and savor my second cup of coffee.

After she leaves I'll get my day going, but there's not a whole lot on my agenda:
  1. Scrub kitchen floor
  2. Vacuum family room
  3. Secure cable to the wall
  4. Ellipticise (my new word, created to mean "exercise on my elliptical trainer")
  5. Take Christmas decorations down from the staircase.
Last night was wonderful! It is always great to be with the widders, but I was particularly glad that last night was on the books. Having the dinner to look forward to made the postBago blues a lot easier to deal with.

We are such an interesting mix of people. Last night, there was a musician whose wife had died just 8 weeks ago -- I wasn't even functioning at 8 weeks, let alone socializing! Two widows in particular really touch my spirit, women with whom I have very different things in common. One lives an hour north, the other an hour south. I wish they both lived closer! But we're going to work on seeing each other again. They both have boys close to N's age, with a passion for Legos-Bionicles-Transformers; it will be GREAT to get them together!

Being with the widders strengthens all of us... you feel the energy building, you see the desire for life sparkling. I particularly enjoy the reactions of people who have never been to one of our dinners before: Their anxiety melts away, and you see the tension disappear as they find themselves connecting to "total strangers." But the truth is that we are NOT strangers to one another: We are walking the WidowRoad together, and though our paths are very different, they are also painfully similar. Hugs to all my widder friends. You mean more to me than words can ever say. TTYL.

Updated, 7:00 p.m. -- Well, the only thing on my list I did not do is vacuum the family room, but I made up for that by cleaning the playroom. I'm pretty pleased with myself actually. After a wonderful morning over shared coffee, I went outside and played with my 3YO, riding bikes in the cul-de-sac. Such simple moments of pure pleasure are hard to come by. When he took his nap, I did it, I did it, I actually did it! I ellipticised!

Now, that may not sound like much of an accomplishment, but that was the first time I'd exercised in longer than I care to think about. I bought the machine at the end of October, and it was delivered the first weekend in November -- right when I started getting the cold that turned into acute bronchitis. The bronchitis was followed by holiday madness and then some sort of re-injury to my knee. So today was the first time I had used my brand new elliptical trainer, and I love love love it. I worked up a good sweat, raised my heart rate, enjoyed an episode of Babylon 5, and just felt so good!

I was ready to pat myself on the back and call it a day, feeling so proud of myself... but when I thought about coming back here and reporting that I hadn't done any of the housework... well, I couldn't bring myself to do that! The blog is having its desired motivating effect!

Let's Get Started

I'm going to cheat with my list today and include the things I have already accomplished:
  1. Made breakfast for my boys
  2. IMd with some widder friends (Hey! Don't laugh! That's important!)
  3. Made lunch for #1 son
  4. Written out my grocery list
  5. Gotten the boys to school
  6. Counseled widder friend on the phone
But you know what? It's not cheating for me to include those things. I think sometimes we shortchange ourselves when we look at the mundane parts of our lives. If I hadn't done all the stuff necessary to get the kids to school -- who would? So, my first post of the day will always start with what I've already accomplished before allowing myself to sit down and have this playtime. Kudos to Pentha for getting her day started!

Okay, there is a big widder dinner tonight; I've got a babysitter coming -- and hopefully one of the most adorably insane people I know -- so I have a lot to do!
  1. Eat breakfast -- I didn't sleep last night, so I really need to eat something or I'll be really crabby all day long
  2. Wash the dishes (including last night's pans)
  3. Run two more loads of laundry
  4. Fold all four loads of laundry (sort socks? naaaahhh)
  5. Get #1 son's Hot Wheels track out of the living room -- it's been there since Christmas
  6. Christmas? Hmmm... maybe I should put away some of the decorations? Okay, I'll put away the nativity set
  7. Swiffer the living room floor and hallway
  8. Exercise: 50 minutes on the elliptical trainer -- this one's really important
  9. Secure the TV cable against the wall -- I'm finally getting tired of tripping on it
  10. Go grocery shopping -- I must get a jar of cherries for tonight!
  11. Go to the liquor store
  12. Make dinner for the kids
  13. Go party with my widder friends!!
I know I'll discover other jobs with my name on them -- uhhhh... that would be ALL the frickin' jobs in this house! I'll report back later.

I've done one more thing today, while typing this -- perhaps the most important thing I'll do all day -- I've been IMing with a weeping widow, letting her know she's not alone, holding her in my heart, listening to her, comforting her, wishing her a measure of peace today.

Updated, 11:07 p.m. -- Well, I actually did fairly well with my list today. I folded only three loads of laundry, not four. And I swept the floors instead of Swiffering them. Unfortunately, the tv cable is still flopping around the floor, and the elliptical trainer remains unused. I'll write more about my need for exercise later ... not tonight, because I managed to do the last item with great gusto!

The widder dinner was great: A fabulous restaurant (filet mignon cooked to perfection), with 27 widders talking and laughing for four hours. And my adorably insane friend drove down to join us. It was all terrific.

Tomorrow's list will start with the cable and the elliptical. Really.

All About Me

That's what a blog is, right? All about me?

There is a phenomenon known as "widowbrain" -- the loss of normal brain functioning in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. I am a widow, and I suffer from widowbrain, the inability to remember things, to think clearly, to motivate myself. Doing the simplest tasks can require the greatest effort, as thoughts wander down the hallways of my heart and mind.

So why this blog? The http is "pentha's list," after a post I wrote in another forum. I was taking a weekend getaway and I had 20 or more things to do before I could leave. I started my day by posting a list of everything I had to accomplish before I could travel in good conscience. Throughout the day, I scratched jobs off and added ones that I had previously forgotten or that cropped up unexpectedly -- like unclogging the toilet in the wake of my 3-year-old's adventure with Northern 2-ply.

It was energizing to make the list and scratch things off, and doing it "in public" kept me going. It would have been so embarrassing to have posted that list in the morning and not have scratched anything off by day's end. But that night, it was so satisfying to look at everything I had done, to see that I had done everything I set out to do -- and more.

To my surprise, my friends on the forum LOVED my list. They popped in all day long, offering words of encouragement and telling me how they enjoyed watching my progress. In fact, several people were annoyed that I actually did the last item on the list: "delete this self-indulgent post."

So why this blog? I need motivation. It is so hard to make myself do things around the house, to make myself take care of myself. My kids sure don't care if do! I plan to post a list every morning of the things I want to accomplish that day... and then report back -- even if only to myself. I know I won't have the readership I did for that one day last week, but just the IDEA that someone might read this and see how far short I've fallen of my goals for the day is enough to get me moving.

But I promise this will be more than a mere to-do list... I'll add humor and nonsense, as well as the insights I gain from this unusual attempt at self-discipline. I've also found that I do some of my best thinking while scrubbing floors, so I'll use this place to process some of that thinking as well.

I will welcome your contributions ... your encouragement, your humor, your kick in the keister when I'm being lazy. So, with no further ado....