Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why, Revisited

Well, with a second house showing under my belt as of today, I'm pleased to announce that I have another showing scheduled for tomorrow and yet another one for Monday!

At this rate, I'd better start looking at apartments...

I do have a few in mind. My mom offered to check some out with me so I don't have to go alone.

I keep trying to picture myself in a different home... it's difficult to do that just by looking at photos on the internet. Ideally, I'd live somewhere really close to my job so I wouldn't have much of a commute and no worries in inclement weather. Another bonus to living really near my job is that my parents live a block from it. Always good to have family around in a pinch, and my parents have certainly proved they are always there for me during this past year.

Actually, I keep trying to picture myself in all kinds of scenarios... possible futures... different outcomes. If only there was a crystal ball or a way to flip to the end of the book.

But I guess that wouldn't be much fun.

8 months ago, I was writing about crying in restaurants and dealing with beeping smoke detectors in the middle of the night all alone. I was asking with tears and anger, "Who's going to kill spiders for me?" I was leaning my head against the wall of a restroom during a bathroom break out to dinner with my parents, asking WHY. Why this is my life.

Interestingly enough, last night I had to deal with a beeping smoke detector again. I remembered how distraught I was the last time. How something so simple threw me for a loop back in the first weeks after Rick died. Everything was WHY. Why me? Why this? Why now? WHY? Why is this my life?

Well, tonight - 8 months later - I still don't have the answer, but I have to say... I'm glad this is my life.  I'm going to enjoy the ride.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Still Afraid

There's something about putting yourself out there to make you feel totally, utterly afraid and totally comforted at the same time. To open yourself up... to be vulnerable... to share something completely personal and unknown... well, it's both devastating and devastatingly intense.

I've always been an "open book" kind of person... but the truth is, even for us "open book" types, there are secrets.

My Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You book is going to get left in the dust one of these days...because apparently I'm on a path of fearlessness. Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am thinking or doing. It's fun to play this game of life, but sometimes I'd rather just take a deep breath, fall, and be caught. I get tired just like everyone else. I get scared.

I get lonely.
I take risks.
I employ strength.
I overthink.

But even despite my fearless nature, my determination to leap, and my resolve to keep doing what scares me.... I'm still afraid sometimes. Really afraid.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Looking For...

I have another showing on Saturday morning! The bad news is that I can't sleep in. The good news is that my house has been on the market less than a week and people are coming in to see it.

Based on the information I have, I am still prepared to have to wait quite a while to move, but at the same time, I suppose I'd better start giving some thought to renting an apartment. I need to start looking more seriously and have some places in mind. 

It's funny - I've always been a planner. I prepare in advance for everything. But now, with this huge decision to sell my house... with a move on the horizon... I'm suddenly feeling spontaneous. 

I don't get it. It's times like these when I don't really understand myself. To my surprise, I found myself this morning at work telling a co-worker friend nonchalantly that I would figure it out. That I was on an adventure. That I had nowhere planned to go, but didn't care. She seemed incredulous.

Those don't seem like things I would ever say. Especially not about something as big as a move. And yet, I'm essentially shrugging my shoulders and saying, "It is what it is." I guess I'm waiting to see what presents itself. What feels right. I just want to have fun with it. Could be a bad plan. Who knows. Maybe it's a good one. 

Truth is, I'm in this weird kind of role - I have no attachments. No kids, no significant other. Soon I'll have no house. It'll just be the cat widow and her cats... looking for adventure. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Time to Show

My house has its first showing tomorrow. I got the call today. Can't believe it.

Tomorrow, while I'm at work, people will be in my house.

I'm grateful for my friend Jennifer who will be looking out for the catkids afterward.

This is a whole new process for me and it's not a big deal, but it's also a very big deal. Hard to explain really.

I'm sure it will be one of many showings. But it's the first. And so I am a bit nervous as I dip my toe in this particular river.

Here we go.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Where Do I Go from Here?

Lately, I've been picturing myself standing in front of one of those big maps and finding my location in the...everything. You know, those maps that have an arrow saying, "You are here."

That's what I see in my mind's eye.

I let my eyes dart around the map, looking not only for where I am, but for where I want to be. Where do I go from here?

I don't think a map can tell me the answer. There are so many different directions. So many paths. So many destinations. So many choices. So many reasons to do or not do something. So many compounding circumstances. So many signs. Signals. Warnings. Questions. 

My eyes open in the morning. "You are here."

My eyes close at night. "You are here."

What is "here?"

Where do I go from here?

I have to admit, as strange as it sounds - even to me - I'm having a good time figuring it out.

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Story

I try to own my story. I am a collection of stories really. I'm a culmination of little tales and big ones, woven together in the weirdest, most haphazard way. We all are. 

I was a baby, a little girl. I bounced around, I wanted to be an actress. I used to talk to anyone who would listen. I used to dance and sing. I loved everything. Everything. I didn't even know the expression back then, but I can tell you: I thought the world was my oyster.

A little later, I thought I'd be a writer, an art teacher, a mother. I had a slew of friends, an eye for clothes and shoes (even in elementary school), and if I knew the answer, then you can be damn sure I raised my hand.

I loved school, hated sports (one of my pretty little black flats once flew off my foot and across the field during a game of kickball), and life was mostly good. Whatever came my way, I could cope. I had the self-reliance, the gumption, the eternal optimism and creativity.

And then came middle school. "Outgoing" changed to "reserved", "opinionated" became "accommodating", "present" became "hidden", "vivacious" became "subdued", "filled" became "starved".

I retreated into myself. I became a prisoner of my own fears and worries. Of adolescent suffering. And suffering became so familiar that I clung to it, used it to cope, used it to keep myself in check. It became my way of life, my new personality. And sadly, as I remained that way for years to come, it was the Arielle that everyone knew.
I was shy. Quiet. Waiting for others to speak for me. Waiting for someone else to take the lead. Reserved. Unsure.

My high school friends saw this girl. 

My college friends saw this girl. I inflicted punishment upon myself in the form of a ripening eating disorder.

But before this girl existed, there was another girl. The real Arielle. The one waiting inside. The one who was actually born into this world. The vivacious, curly-headed, smiling, leader who was ready for the world to be her oyster.

Somewhere in my last year of college, along the edges of my recovery from an eating disorder, among my decision to audition for the Vagina Monologues on a whim and later perform the role I snagged, between the pages of a 90+ page undergraduate senior thesis I adored and best friend who cared for me and coaxed me into flesh and blood instead of a shell of a girl, I started to get the real Arielle back.

My husband Rick never met the shy, reserved version that had been wrapping the authentic Arielle like some flimsy paper for so many years. He met a bold woman with kind words and a flair for writing, a woman who at first glance looked as though she was coming into her own, getting started. But really, she wasn't getting started. She was going back - GETTING back - the Arielle that got lost. She wasn't reinventing, she was revisiting.

I was never able to be a mother. Circumstances wrote a different story. I like to consider myself a writer in the non-occupation sense, but rather than use my degree in English to move to a big city and find writing opportunities, I got married and became a licensed masters level social worker instead. In my application essay for grad school, I wrote: 

"For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to help others. My interests have changed over the years, but my drive to do something good for this world has not. As a child and young adult, all I ever wanted to be was a writer. Until recent years, I never realized that my ability to put feelings and knowledge into words and my desire to help others could blend together to create a beautiful union. My personal experiences have only made stronger my desire to help others and at this point in my life, pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work is the next step in my journey."

I meant every word.

I get to work with different populations. I do work in the eating disorder field and in the field of aging. I try to stay creative. 

That person...the person I was before Rick died was the real me. But folks, she's gone. All those stories still remain as part of me...leading up to this bit...this current slice of Arielle life...but it doesn't stop there. I'm an evolution of the former me... New stories have now been added to the mix. I lived through my husband's suicide. I planned a funeral at 29. I stamped that label WIDOW on myself and ran with it. I started a new blog. I cultivated friendships. I am living alone. I am throwing fear out the window. 

And maybe now, as these new stories are added to the rest of my story,  I'm more of a writer than ever. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Unmentionable

You know, there's something I never write about here.

Probably because it falls under the category of TMI (too much information) and most people aren't interested (except for maybe other people who've lost a spouse in some way, whether by death or divorce or whatever). Probably because my family reads this blog. Probably because it can be a little too personal of a subject.

But sometimes I get REALLY frustrated just never mentioning it. Because then it just remains a thing that no one ever talks about on widow blogs and grief sites. Even though it's kind of a big deal sometimes. So in the spirit of Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You, I'm going to talk about it.

I'm talking about sex. Physical touch in general, really. I know that people who go through a loss or a transition of some kind feel this way. I know it's not just me. I'm only 30 years old, for God's sake. I want to be touched. I miss kissing. I miss a man's embrace. I miss all of the other stuff too.

I'm never going to be the kind of woman who goes out and has one night stands (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's just not me. So I'm just physically very lonely until the right opportunity presents itself.

When I see other couples together, I am jealous that they get to sleep together in the same bed at night. When I see the Valentine's Day stuff out in the stores, I feel sorry for myself. When I watch romantic scenes in movies, I kind of want to rewind them and replay them over again.

I don't need suggestions - I know what sex toys are, I know how to write down my phone number for someone who asks for it, I know how to say thank you to a compliment from the opposite sex, I know how to play the game. It doesn't change the fact that I'm lonely.

Why does this make me different from anyone out there who is single and lonely? I don't know... maybe it doesn't. Except that I'm talking about it. Except that it's probably more taboo in this weird society for a widow who lost her husband to suicide more than 8 months ago to talk about how much she misses physical touch and intimacy.

And maybe one more thing - as a young woman, I endured yet another loss when I lost my spouse and my former existence at age 29. I also experienced the sudden loss of my sex life. One second, young and energetic, with needs fulfilled... the next second, nothing.

It's kind of tragic really, because I'm a very sensual person. Why does no one ever say these things? What's the big deal? Where's the shame? I don't see it. I've written about some ridiculously personal things here on this blog... but never touched this subject. I was kind of afraid when I started the post, but I'm not anymore. Because I know you hear me. I know you get it. I know a bunch of you are nodding along, because you've felt this too.

This is the first blog post that's made me cry in a long, long time.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Confessions of a Note Lover

I'll be honest about something. When I came home yesterday to the note on my kitchen table from my realtor, I chuckled. I shared it on Facebook, because I thought it was funny. But since the time I found it yesterday afternoon, I've left it there. Right where it was. Because I like to come home to a note on the kitchen table.

I like to pretend for just a second when I enter my door and see it waiting there, that someone wrote something for me. Something for me to come home to. I like to pretend that someone was there. That I'm not all alone in the house every day and night.

To me, the note on my kitchen table is as cheerful as a vase of flowers might be.

It is, in a way, kind of pathetic. But coming home to a note used to be one of my mainstays... and it's one of the things I miss the most. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Quiet

The quiet comes and I receive
A message from what I believe
Are angels and the Universe -
Making better what's turned worse.

My heart is sore, but I return
To all the things I need to learn
And try my best to contemplate
My actions and my thoughts of late.

And though I cannot always see
The mission that's been set for me,
I know enough to push on through
And I'll learn what I thought I knew.

(c) Arielle Lee Bair

Thursday, January 22, 2015

For Sale

Well, it's a go. Tonight, I signed a contract with Re/Max. Tomorrow, the realtor is coming to take photos and plop the For Sale sign in my front yard. My house is officially on the market...

I just spent the evening cleaning my house, de-cluttering, and organizing... basically making my house as photo-ready as possible. I never realized how much work it could be just to make a home presentable enough for picture-taking, and my house was pretty clean to begin with. 

My kitties are going to become friends with realtors and potential buyers. They'll be holding down the fort while I'm at work and people check out the house. 

It's not a bad feeling knowing I've signed on to this journey. It's just WEIRD.

It's a matter of time. I don't know how long it will take... but...

I'm getting out of here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writing the Way Home

All my life, I've been a writer. I'm not sure what that means exactly, except that I've always written. It seemed a natural course of action to begin chronicling my widowhood only 6 days after Rick killed himself. I took to paper (well, more accurately, I took to screen), because paper always listens without judgment. It's also like a mirror. It shows you what you put there, but in a special light.

Whether poetry or prose, I feel better while I'm writing...and then even better after. I find pieces of myself wedged deep inside of the reservoir of my pieces of broken glass I can put back together, to make a new work of art. I can dip my pen in the well of emotion that waits within...and something happens. Seriously - magic happens.

Writing has gotten me through some seriously bad times, but it's also helped me reflect (I'm a master of self-reflection), allowed me to express joy, and given me an outlet.

There is so much power. I pour it all out of me, but then I get to drink it all back up.

When I think of "home," I think of writing. As long as I can write, I know I'll have a home. 

I wrote this poem a few years ago, but I can't get over how true it rings for me today. Almost precognitive, as though I knew I'd read it now.


I jump, jump, jump
From one year to another
A hopscotch game
The numbers getting higher

My feet slap the ground
As I make my way
Patent leather buckled shoes
With lacey socks
Keeping a quick and shaky rhythm


The thud of adulthood
Echoes through my legs
And my high heels
Make the game less quick
But still shaky

My arms keep my balance
As if they are steadying
The air that surrounds me
My eyes seek a safe spot
To land

I lose my footing for a moment
And falter
And in an instant
I am out of the grid
The hopscotch game has ended
I’ve lost

But then I realize
As I see my two feet on the ground
That I can live outside the lines
And exist without jumping

I let my legs adjust
To the security
Of standing on my own two feet
And finally
I can stop only looking down
In order to move in that endless game

Now I can look up…up…up

I do

I see the sun
And know I’ve won

(c) ALB

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Best of Me

Several months ago, I wrote this post.

The strong theme of that post I called "The Mess" was that no one was getting the best of me, because I wasn't yet on top of my game again.

Well, I read that old post today and I realized something:

It's happened. I can give the best of me. Have been for a little while, actually.

Whoever wants me, you're going to get the best of me.

Whoever spends time with me, you're getting the best of me.

I can give my all. 100%. It's happened. I can really give my all.

My zest for life, while never gone, is back full force. Full swing. Full steam ahead.

I can give the best of me.

In fact...not only can I give the best of me, but I think this is the best I've ever been.

Monday, January 19, 2015


I feel I've written versions of this before...

So many people strive for success. This elusive concept: success. It's a word that's said so often, so though it's a given that it's what we should all be after.

Success to me is learning to love yourself. Success is accepting what you cannot change and changing all the things you can (and want to change). There is no real criteria for success. There’s no such thing as giving yourself too many chances. You yourself are the only one who can give YOU as many chances as you want or need. There is no limit to chances. There is no maximum.

To look straight into the face of pain and declare that you will prevail is not merely a display of courage; sometimes it's a true necessity. Getting thrown about in the waters of life is a circumstance that presents you with two options: thrash and swim and fight and reach shore OR let yourself drown. There is, actually, a middle option, but it's only a temporary solution. It is, nevertheless, better than drowning. And it is this: thrash and swim and fight and STAY AFLOAT until you can make it to shore.

Sometimes the shore is quite far away—off in the distance, glimmering like an unreachable mirage, so you can't be expected to reach it simply because you want to reach it. But in time, you'll make it—if you manage to stay afloat and not give up.

So these are your options. Choose wisely.

Bravery and boldness are the essence of being able to prevail. Bravery and boldness will not just follow you. You have to channel them. They won't seek you out and they won't appear out of thin air. They may, in fact, seem to escape you when you need them most. You can't keep them in your back pocket, ready to pull them out a moment's notice.

Despite how elusive they seem, bravery and boldness can be learned—or found. And they can grow to be a part of you, so that the most you will have to do is tap into them when you have to fight your way in that troubling sea.

The thing is, you have to realize that they exist—and that they exist for YOU. You're not an unlucky one—you have access to bravery and boldness, even if it's been taking you a while to find them. You have to think of bravery and boldness like a limb or some part of your body; they are part of you. Our arms are always there, but sometimes we don't use them. Bravery and boldness are like that. When faced with a difficulty/problem/pain/trying situation/despair/depression/failure/fear—you have to REMEMBER that bravery and boldness are there.

Just like your arms or your legs.

You know how people get so scared that they can't run?—even though they have legs? Or how people get so scared that they can't speak?—even though they have a voice?

Bravery and boldness are like that. We cannot forget to use them.

Life throws all kinds of things our way. It's inevitable that we will feel pain, sadness, and even emptiness at points. Sometimes those feelings will last longer than we feel we can bear. But bravery and boldness are the keys to a successful life. Even when I'm feeling at odds with the universe...or myself...or as though I'm just blending in to the mundane backdrop of the world around me, I remember that I am brave. And I am bold. And those are the traits that make me smile a real smile.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Teaching the Process

8 months ago today, Rick left this world. As I said to a friend yesterday, most of the time it feels like it's been 8 years. Other times it feels like it's been 8 days. I try not to go back to that day in mind if I can help it. I try to keep the momentum going. I don't want to live in a revolving door of work and home and memories. I am living for everything the world has to offer, trying to maintain my resolve to be unafraid.

This blog has held so many emotions, triumphs, events, and ponderings. There are times I peruse the long list of post titles and am just amazed by the sheer volume of writing here. Daily posts add up to quite a lot over the course of time. 228 posts so far...

From meltdowns relief reconciliation my morning process meaningful misery acceptance what's best fearlessness going with the flow, I have given my all to the process and have also given in to the process. Life circumstances have educated me more than anything else I've been taught in this life. I have learned more these past 8 months than in the entire 30 years of my life.

One of the ways I know I have learned a lot is that so many people are considering me a teacher. A teacher of this whole grieving thing... this whole living thing... this whole positivity thing...

I think in a lot of ways, people who looked to me as a role model of positivity and light always wondered, "Well yeah, but what if she's faced with something really bad? What then?" And then the terrible happened. The most terrible. The worst. And I'm still here, being open and real, able to dig for the silver linings and beauty that exist in this place we call our world. So people are putting stock into it. It's like they're saying, "We always wanted to believe what she said... but now we know she's not all talk."

My words are just pieces - fragments - of what I want to say, and do, and live. They're here on this screen, because I'm here - figuring it all out as I go, just like the rest of you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Fast Forward

Sometimes I want to press the fast forward button on my life, just to see where I end up. I don't want to race there, I just want to speed ahead so I can see what's there and then rewind back to now. I know it's not the way life works, but curiosity/impatience/control/anticipation gets the best of me now and then.

Still, I know there's a reason why we don't all have a fast forward button. I know there is a reason why we aren't supposed to see what lies ahead. I know we're meant to make decisions based on the information we have. I know we're meant to experience each day as its own special entity, not projecting into the future too far. I know we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves.

When I start to think wishfully about a fast forward button, I try to re-train myself to imagine life as a choose-your-own-adventure story instead. I saw a great quote recently:

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.”
Norman Cousins

I want the best life - inside and out. And it's important to remember that every path leads somewhere. There are no dead ends in real life. If you keep going, there are always destinations, new paths, and hidden treasures. There is always a somewhere. And fast forward buttons just don't work with choose-your-own-adventures stories.

Friday, January 16, 2015


A little over a month ago, I braved my basement and spent some time down there going through...stuff. I found boxes of things from long before Rick and I were married. Things that had traveled with me from when I moved out of my parents' house. Things that I had kept for years and hadn't looked at in quite some time.

In one of the boxes, I found a small pile of handwritten journals from my high school days. I perused them briefly in a sentimental fashion, but placed them on a bookshelf in my living room until tonight.

As I passed the bookshelf tonight after getting home, I glanced at them again and picked one up. And then, on a whim, I decided to find out what I was doing 15 years ago tonight. I flipped through pages of my own handwriting until I found January 16th, 2000.

With a lump in my throat coupled with a smile, I read the first line. "I'm so incredibly happy." And I was. I really was. I had fallen in love with the only other person besides Rick I've ever loved. And as silly as my teenage ramblings may be in retrospect, despite my young age, the emotions on the page were startlingly, beautifully real, and I could close my eyes and admit to myself that I have real experience with what true happiness feels like.

Maybe I'll let my younger self show me the way.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's On

Well, my meeting with the realtor wasn't the best. He was great, but it turns out that there are 7 houses in my townhouse development that have been for sale for up to a year and only one house has sold. They are also listed at prices MUCH MUCH MUCH lower than what we paid for our house 7.5 years ago. Like $50,000+ less. So it's a big hit. And I won't likely walk away with much if anything... even though I've been paying a mortgage for almost 8 years...but what feels worse than that actually is the wait I might be in for.

I had made up my mind to go. I was ready to get out. And now, it looks like my house might hang out on the market for another year. With me in it.

Nothing sets my house apart from the others exactly like it in my neighborhood. 

I felt a loss of momentum. A disappointment. 

So I talked to my mom. And my dad. And Rick's brother. Complained. Sighed. Discussed scenarios. Felt stuck.

Then I got in my car, played my music loudly, scream-sang all the way to Target, and walked around until I made up my mind and felt positive again. Then I sang my way back home. 

The Universe has big plans for me, so a pain-in-the-ass house situation isn't going to stop me. 

No one ever got anywhere by sitting still.
I have nothing to lose.
Guess I'll list it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fairy Tales

Life is not a fairy tale. I think there are times, in our heads, when we paint our lives as fairy tales. We make them seem like more than they are, sweeter than they are, more idealistic than they are. We tell all the good stories and leave out the bad. We try to convince ourselves of feelings we see in movies or in books. We cling to the hope that we can somehow mold and morph our lives into fairy tales. 

It's not that good lives aren't happy in a lot of ways. It's just that they aren't fairy tales. No matter how good our lives become, they will never be fairy tales. Because we are real. And because we are real, we hurt, we get angry, we become defensive, we are sometimes treated badly, we fight, we cry, we fail, we embarrass ourselves... 

Striving to live a fairy tale is an impossible goal. And pretending life is a fairy tale will only continue to impress upon you that you're not being honest with yourself.

There have been times in my life when I've painted a fairy tale. For myself. For others. Sometimes when I was feeling conflicted, I still clung to the fairy tale. 

And when I look back on the past year, I could make a list of all the bad things that have happened. All the terrible things. In fact, my list probably has on it some of the shittiest things that can happen to a person... but the strange thing is that now that I'm not painting a fairy tale, not that my every day is excruciatingly and awesomely authentic, I see so much fairy tale material everywhere. At work. Here. In my own life. 

Isn't that ironic?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just Around the Riverbend

Maybe one day in the future I'll write a whole book called Disney Princesses: A Guidebook for Widows. There are some good analogies and inspirations there, kids. I posted over a week ago about wanting more, likening myself to Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Well today I had the song "Just Around the Riverbend" in my head for no real reason... and I began to think of myself like Pocahontas, swishing and swooshing my way through a fast river and down waterfalls...

What I love most about rivers is:
You can't step in the same river twice
The water's always changing, always flowing
But people, I guess, can't live like that
We all must pay a price
To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
What's around the riverbend
Waiting just around the riverbend

I look once more
Just around the riverbend
Beyond the shore
Where the gulls fly free
Don't know what for
What I dream the day might send
Just around the riverbend
For me
Coming for me...

There are days when I have this overwhelming feeling that I am on the cusp of something...that something is about to happen...and it will all depend on which course I choose in this crazy river of life. There are moments when I sense that I'm on a crazy ride, and instead of worrying about the waterfall ahead, I just let go...and I enjoy it all. If there is stuff waiting just around the riverbend, I'm not going to let it happen without me. I'm going to sail on...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hello, Realtor

Well, in the interest of Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You, today I called a realtor.

I felt like a different woman entirely when I said, "Hi Tim, I've decided that I'm going to sell my house and I don't know where to begin."

I kind of paused and thought for a minute: Wait, was that me? Did I just say that?

I have lived in this house 7 years and 8 months... almost 8 years. In this house. This memory-filled little townhouse. I've never sold a house before. I don't know what I'm doing.

But Tim, my new realtor, is coming over on Thursday to meet with me. Thursday. Thursday. As in this Thursday. As in the Thursday that is in this very week. Yikes.

First step in saying good bye to my house is saying hello to a realtor.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Time Will Tell

Needless to say, I skipped another night of blogging last night. I was in NYC all day and night for my best friend's Bachelorette Party. I could have posted earlier or made arrangements to write a post ahead of time and then post it at night, as I've done many a time before when I've been out of town or otherwise occupied, but I chose not to.

It's always great to have a fun time with a bunch of great people. And when it's all said and done, even though last night wasn't about me, it's impossible for me not to go back in time and remember my own Bachelorette Party. Seven years ago, I celebrated my own Bachelorette Party. It honestly feels like a life time ago. I feel like another person entirely. I look at photos and I smile, I laugh, and I remember, but it's like I'm looking at another girl - a person who no longer exists. It isn't a bad thing. It's just a thing.

7 years can be a lot of time or very little time, depending upon how you look at it. What's weird is that I look upon that time of my life almost in the way I look at photos of myself as a little girl. I might as well have been 3 as 23, for how far away it all feels.

But I feel good about where I am. In the same way I wouldn't want to be 3 again, I wouldn't want to be 23 again either. It's actually becoming pretty interesting to look at my life with different eyes and get to choose a future all over again.

I remember when my best friend was my Maid of Honor...and now being hers, it's hard not to compare how much has happened in the span of the 7 years separating our weddings. Life keeps throwing things at me, at us, at everyone. We just never know what life holds for us...

But it's so comforting and so amazing to know that no matter what happens, no matter how many years pass, no matter who's getting married or who we're celebrating, best friends never go away.

I didn't know what life held for the 23 year old woman in the photos from my Bachelorette Party 7 years ago...and looking at the photos from last night, I can't say I know what life holds for the 30 year old woman I see in these new photos either... I guess only time will tell.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Personal Ad...Revised

A few months ago, I posted a personal ad (poem). Tonight, I re-wrote it.

30 years young with knowing blue eyes;
Single and hard-working;
Will take you by surprise.
Sometimes hair's straight, but usually it's curls;
Pretty much an open book;
Not like other girls.
Looking for adventure; looking to live -
Not just into wasting time;
Really likes to give.
Needs to have coffee, needs to have cats;
Friends are so important;
Loves clothes, shoes and hats.
Writer at heart, with an old soul;
Pretty damn relentless;
Happy with a goal.
Going with the flow, waiting to see;
30 years young with knowing blue eyes
Seeking what's meant to be.

(c) ALB 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Going with the Flow

I'm admittedly not very good at going with the flow. I like to plan things. I have always been this way.

Ever since I was a kid, I felt the need to know what I would be doing every hour of every day on a vacation. I couldn't just relax and enjoy. I hate being late to anything. I overcompensate with time to get from point A to point B, because I account for any and all possibilities. I have a system at the grocery store - a plan. I have a system at amusement parks - a plan. I pack for trips, even short weekends away with a friend, a week in advance. I like a plan. I just like to know. I like to know everything I can.

All of that goes against going with the flow. My whole life, people would use that phrase - "go with the flow" - and I'd marvel at it. Who goes with the flow anyway? I would think. Do people really do that? If you don't know what you're doing tomorrow, how can you sleep at night? I mean, I get that it's pretty humorous on my part, but I really thought that way.

I guess I used to think that going with the flow meant that I would be out of control, flighty, flying by the seat of my pants, so to speak. And I am not a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal. Going with the flow also kind of felt a bit too passive for my taste. I'm a "make it happen" kind of person.

But over the last year or so, I've realized that going with the flow isn't what I thought it was at all. It isn't the spontaneous kind of devil-may-care attitude I envisioned all this time.

Going with the flow isn't about just letting stuff happen to you. To me. It's not a "whatever" viewpoint. It's a collaboration! A collaboration between all the stuff (the world, the energy, the universe, etc.) and me.

Going with the flow is about responding to what happens to me in each moment. Each day. Going with the flow is about trust. I have to trust the process, the stuff, all of it... and not try to control it. There's no way to "plan" a life.

Going with the flow isn't about surrendering yourself to the craziness of life - it's just about letting go of worry and control so you're not so caught up in the "plan" that you don't give certain things a chance (or notice them at all!).

Going with the flow is about being FREE.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's Happening

Ta-da! I did it again. I skipped a night of blogging last night. This time, I did it on purpose. I decided what I really wanted to do was relax, eat pizza, talk to someone important to me for hours, and go to sleep.

So that's what I did.

Tonight, however, I'm blogging to say:

I'm finding happiness. And laughter. And excitement. And fun. And smiles. And dreams. And jokes. And memories. And plans. And mistakes. And courage. And bravery. And reality. And wonder. And curiosity. And words. And questions. And reasons. And music. And light.

You know, I used to fear the unknown. But these days, I don't at all. There's a kind of secret magic to not knowing what will not knowing where I'll be in a year or two or not knowing what's in just believing that feeling in my gut that says - no, sings - "Everything is happening the way it is supposed to happen!"

Monday, January 5, 2015


There are moments now, when I look at my walls... the sun coming in through my bedroom window... my car in the driveway... and I think: my time here in this house is coming to a close.

It is more of a feeling than a decision, even though a decision was clearly part of it.

I don't need or want this anymore. This house. A lot of this stuff.

Sometimes I feel like I should be darting around my house, singing that song from Disney's Beauty and the Beast - the one in the beginning where Belle runs through the scenic outdoors going on about wanting more than this provincial life and longing for adventure.

There are moments now, when I look at my walls...the sun coming in through my bedroom car in the driveway... and I feel as though I'm looking at photos in a photo album, part of my life that's now done. And I'm just itching to see what life has in store for me.

I don't belong here anymore.

I want more.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Ride

I actually learned quite a while ago not to plan things out specifically, because they just never turned out the way I planned. I used to sort of look 5 years into the future and picture my life. And the thing is: I have always been wrong. In fact, I've usually been way off base.

I never in a million years thought I'd be married already at the age of 23.

I never in a million years thought I'd marry a much older man.

I never in a million years thought I would have reached 30 years old and be childless.

I never in a million years thought that I would go to and complete graduate school.

I never in a million years thought I'd be a widow.

Or write a daily grief blog.

None of those things have been on my agenda. Or part of my game plan. And yet, they are the very things that have shaped me, given me deep experiences, and taught me what I want and don't want in life.

Lately, when I look out at the expanse of my future, I see it changing...morphing before my very eyes.  And I give up the 5 year plan once again...because life is just more fun this way.

What I've realized is that I don't need all the things I used to need. I don't need all the answers. I just need to live in the now. And I really like the exciting ride of life.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Momentum of Forgetting

Today I'm blogging about the fact that I didn't blog. Last night, I didn't blog. Last night, I forgot to blog. It wasn't due to circumstances, such as being so busy or involved in something that there was no time or energy. It wasn't due to a conscious decision, such as a resolve to skip a night of writing. I actually just forgot.

So I'm writing about that.

Truth is, I woke up in the middle of the night - around 2:00 am - with a warm cat on either side of me, pinning me under the covers like a sardine...and my eyes flew wide open. I forgot something, I thought. And I realized it. I forgot to blog.

For me, there's always something to it isn't as though the well of things to write about had run dry. I guess the "need" just wasn't there.

It's not that I expect to blog every day for the rest of my life... but it has held such purpose and meaning that it was odd to wake up in the dark in my bed and realize that I had just forgotten.

I've been thinking about fear. I got that book Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You on December 6th, 2014...but I realized that I started living that book before I bought it. My friend Jennifer encouraging me to buy the book was kind of like the inevitable next step in my journey. It coincided with what I was already beginning to do. In November, I did a lot of scary things. A lot of them. I didn't post all of them on the blog, but certainly a few of them I did post were: taking off my wedding rings when I knew it was time, driving places I used to be anxious to go, being Manager on Duty for the first time since that first fateful weekend Rick died, taking a trip and flying alone for the first time...

That was all in November. Before the book. See, the shift was already happening. Stuff was already at work. The book presented itself as if to say, "Yes. You're on to something. Keep going. Here."

And now all of a sudden, somehow it's January. 2015. January. 2015. January. 2015. This seemed so far away back in May. It seemed like an impossibly far off month...year... and I think it's because in a lot of ways, I was waiting for things to happen. I was just waiting for the months to pass, the seasons to change, the days to begin and end. I was just waiting for that normal progression, that crawl to 2015. And somewhere along the way, I stopped just waiting. I moved. I dreamed. I lived. And with less and less fear in my life, there's just more momentum. So that's why all of a sudden, somehow it's January. 2015.

And even when you're not really DOING anything, but this strange and cool momentum has taken hold, it's actually pretty easy to forget to blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Astounding Year in Review

You know how book reviews have blurbs from readers or other authors? Do you read those comments in quotes on the book jackets?

Well, today when I was thinking of my 2014 in review, I thought of comments like those. Like... who would write a blurb of my life this past year. What they would say.

And I realized, there actually are a lot of blurbs about me, my life, this process, this blog...because there are literally hundreds of comments that have been left here on my posts (not including Facebook and email!). So tonight, I give you my 2014 in review... in the words of others who have faithfully read this blog since its inception...

These are just a smattering of the beautiful comments I've been blessed with over the last 7+ months, but they really do sum up my year. No words I could use would adequately show my sincere gratitude  and the depth of my emotion...and there are no better words than those below I would rather showcase to begin 2015:

"I'm so sorry life events have necessitated a blog like this. The positive part of this is your wonderful writing ability, your insight and your willingness to share. I may have met you as a student....but Arielle, you continue to teach me and amaze me. I'm so glad the universe connected us."

"Arielle, Thank you for sharing your life with Rick with us. Although I did not know him personally, through your writing I felt I did. May you feel the love and support from near and far from those of us that you have loved and supported. We are here with you."

"My heart goes out to you, from dark bedroom to dark bedroom, tonight and every night from here on as you endure what no soul who loves another should ever have to. I only know you through a friend's high praise and kind words but I hope that one more voice here will be one more candle in the dark. You have my deepest sympathies for your loss, and my utmost respect for your courage in the face of it."

"I live on the other side of the world. But through your writing I feel like I know you. I have no idea if you would even read this comment, but if you do... I would like just to say you that pain and greaf are all emotions that are a part of our lifes. And thou I know how badly you feel know, just remember that this is a challenge, a new journey. You will get wiser, you will know see the life so differently. But you also will be able to appriciate much more and much deeper. Remember that Rick is always watching. And now he does not feel any pain, just peace. I know that it will get better. But memories - good, warm memories will always be in your heart. Just be strong! I pray for you! You are one of the gratest and smartest and strongest people I know. With love, a stranger"

"You aren't alone - all the love and compassion you've given over the years is coming back to you."

"I've followed you since 2009, I think. You were there supporting me through my darkest days, when I was drowning in anorexia. When I had no hope, you gave me hope. I'm recovered now, and you helped with that. My heart broke for you when I heard of Rick's passing. I cannot understand the depth of such loss, but I want you to know that I am supporting you in thought and in prayer. Although I do not usually comment, I read your blog every day. I do not know how to comfort such pain, but I hope there's comfort in knowing that some random woman who watched your Wednesday videos for years (and has been helped by them) is now silently cheering you on, praying for you, thinking of you, and loving you through this time. Sending love and light your way. "

"I sat here reading these tonight, sobbing...mostly because I tried to kill myself twice, and my husband never knew how afraid and lonely I felt. He was so wonderful, but I didn't want to make him feel like he was doing something wrong. He wasn't...He was light, but I was still in so much pain. I'm so sorry that you are missing Rick. There is nothing I can say to make that pain go away...He loved you probably more than his words could ever express, but still he tried to let you know. His written words are such a gift. You are loved. <3"

"Arielle, I have been following you and your blog for years. While we have never met in person, you have touched my heart, and were a huge motivator for my own personal struggle and recovery. While I did not lose my spouse, I lost my mother, and I want you to know that my heart is with you. That every day that you get out of bed, you look in the mirror, and make the decision to keep moving on with life, that I am thinking of you, and supporting you. I am so proud of you for writing this blog, for letting the world know what an amazing man your husband is, and for sharing your memories."

"Just wanted to say how glad I am I found your blog. My beloved partner died at the beginning of June of metastatic colon cancer, and while I'm no stranger to grief, this kind of grief is new to me. Thank you for sharing your journey, for helping me to feel less alone. And my utter and complete sympathies for your loss."

"I love this blog so much, Arielle. I read it every night. Your words are with me always."

"I read every day and sometimes I find it difficult to hear you going through so many of the things that I did, both feeling for you and reliving for me. And sometimes, like today, you teach me something that helps as I look back on my grief journey and look forward. I am glad that this is helpful for you, you are doing good work here for others as well."

"Dear Arielle, I was thinking last night how we have so many bad things happening in the world we live in and then i thought of you and how strong and positive you have been with what you are going through you are right we need to express ourselves and feel our feelings and be thankful for what we have its people like you that make a difference in the world we live in thankyou once again for sharing your wisdom with us."

"Dear Arielle, you are really brave you still find positives with all that you are going through truly inspirational I don't know if you realize how much of a impact you have on our lives. I know you don't know me I feel like I know you because you share your life with us which is a priceless gift you do everyday you teach us endurance and there is always hope even when you are struggling."

"You inspire me to live. Since I was just in high school you became like a sister friend and mother. When I first made a step to recovery and when I decided to live and make choices to be brave and face my fears I think of all the words and messages you gave like to the girl. And I'm making another step today and hanging out and climbing up my own hill for that girl who cried and hid away from the world."

"You are getting there. You are making it. See the crowd of friends and family walking with you. Surrounding you and cheering you on each day; making this journey with you."

"I'm an old friend and we haven't spoken in quite some time...but I've been reading your blog here and there and my heart is with you. You are a role model of strength and beauty and courage in the face of pain. I wish you didn't have to be... but thank you for inspiring me."

"You will know the new you someday.... but it takes time to get to know anyone. And you are ever evolving through your journey. And you will be loved again, and will continue to be loved, just as you are now."

"I feel the shift in your blog, and I'll still read it, whenever you update it <3"

"You and this blog are just 2 of things I am thankful for this year. You are such an inspiration, I'm so happy for you to be taking this next step."

"I don't even know you, but I've been cheering you on from afar. Lately, I want to pump my fists in the air and shout 'yes!' when I read your posts. Your Wednesday Warrior videos meant a great deal to me in the past and now you continue to inspire in a very different way. It is clear that you will continue to shine your light no matter where life takes you."