The Growing Self Blogger Award

I am honored to be nominated for the Growing Self Blogger Award by no other than the awards creator- Roda!  It means a lot to me.  I have enjoyed reading Roda’s blog and especially reading about her farm.  Maybe the next time we are in Western Michigan, we will take a side trip and stop by the farm.

What is The Growing Self Blogger Award:

“The Growing Self Blogger Award has been created to acknowledge and celebrate amazing individuals, in the blogging community, who are persevering through life’s challenges not only to GROW as individuals,  but to reach out and help others GROW as well.” ~Roda

How Does It Work:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank the individual that nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Describe the award and mention the creator: Roda  – Growingself.blog
  • Nominate up to 5 blogs.  Remember, the purpose of this award is to specifically celebrate those individuals that make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Give 1 reason why you nominated each individual.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

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I am honored to nominate the following bloggers:

*I understand that not everyone chooses to be a part of the award nomination process. By nominating the following blogs, I am able to show thanks and appreciation for the joy, knowledge and laughter these individuals have brought to my life. If you choose to take part, that is fantastic! If not, no worries! Just keep writing…

 

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An epiphany

There have been two feelings I have had my whole life.

The first feeling of restlessness.  I have always felt that there is a whole world out there to see.  So much history and culture to absorb.  Different people with different routines and traditions.  

I had only left New England seven times before I went to study in England the fall of my junior year in college.  Three of those times had been to Canada (New Brunswick, Quebec City and Montreal), two had been to New York (NYC and Niagara Falls with a side trip to the Canadian side) and one trip to Gettysburg, PA and one trip to Washington D.C.  The flight from Boston to London at the age of 21 was my first time flying on an airplane.  I have since seen more of the U.S. between my involvement in the Young Republican National Federation and my parents purchasing an RV.  I have seen more of the world due to Bryon and my love for cruising.  And I don’t plan on stopping.  I promised Bryon I wouldn’t stop.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do love my small Maine town.  I miss Maine, especially the people and the ocean.  But I always felt like there was more in the world and I wanted to experience it.  Maine did feel so isolated.  The only cities you could travel to easily by car was Boston and Quebec City.  I always wanted to be close to more US cities.  I love Boston (my birthplace) and Quebec City but I love having the option to do weekend trips to other cities.  

I still feel that urge to see the world.  It doesn’t matter if it is a back country road or a big city.  I just love to see new places.  I love historical sites and museums.  I love trying local food.  I love shops.  I love scenery.  I want to see it all.

The second feeling I have had my whole life is that I have always felt like an outsider. That I am on the outside looking in.  I never felt included despite being involved in sports, clubs, and later politics.

This brings me back to high school and college.  I always worried where I fit in.  I wasn’t cool but I wasn’t uncool either.  I wasn’t particularly included but I wasn’t excluded.  I had friends but I wasn’t invited to the cool parties.  Though looking back, I am sure some of that was me.  I didn’t have the wisdom to know how to be as open to friendships.  Being open to friendship is something I only started to do when Bryon got sick.  

I followed my same social patterns in college.  There were two major groups in my college dorms.  The theater/art/music majors sat on the left side of the cafeteria and the athletic and Greeks sat on the right hand side.  There was one row of tables that was right in the middle near the salad bar and an ice cream cart.  I was friends with people on both sides and would sit on either side.  If I was by myself (something that didn’t phase me, especially after studying abroad and going to Paris by myself) and I didn’t see any of my friends, I would just sit in the middle.

When it comes to my writing and purpose, I come back to these two feelings that have plagued me my whole life.  

I have so many ideas for blog posts in my head and no idea where to start. I have so many ideas of what I want to accomplish, but I don’t know how to get there.  Now I have Paul Simon’s Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard stuck in my head.

I think about the concept of having a niche when writing.  What kind of blogger and writer am I?  Trying to find what writing niche reminds me of my high school and college years where I was trying to find the right table to sit at in the cafeteria.  My half-marathon training has been suffering due to my poor time management skills so I am definitely not a running blogger.  I don’t travel enough to be a travel blogger.  I write about life, but I am not a lifestyle blogger.  Trust me, if you could see how messy my living room is, you would know why I don’t post pictures of my house.  I write about death and grief.  It is important for me to share that part of my story as our society has a twisted view on death and grieving and we need to talk about it.  But I don’t want Bryon’s death and grief to define me.  I am still a person who has a lot of living left to do.

I need to make a difference.  I need to help people.  

I need to talk about grief to help widows, especially young widows because the world thinks of widows as being elderly.  

I need to talk about grief to help those who have lost loved ones, not just widows, but anyone who has lost a child, family member or friend.  

I need to talk about rebuilding my life to help those whose life and sense of security  was shattered, whether it was by death, divorce or job loss.  

I need to talk about my struggles in parenting to help those who are single parents.

I need to tell my story of surviving to give hope to those who are struggling to carry on.

I need to talk about the problems in our healthcare system so people can advocate for themselves and their families.

It dawned on me today that instead of worrying where I fit in, I need to just blaze my own trail.  Not just with my writing, but in my life in general.  If I truly want to be open to new people and new experiences, then I shouldn’t be focusing on trying to put place myself in a niche or group.  If I do that, then I inadvertently narrow down who I meet and my opportunities to make a difference.  I have spent my whole life waiting for others to define the path I am to take.  That is silly because no one other than myself can know my true life purpose.  No one else can understand what I hope to get out of life.  If I wait for others to define my path, then I am limiting my potential.  

I need to blaze that trail even if I don’t know where I am going.  Besides being a wife and mother, the other two times I felt accomplished in my life where when I took risks and did something scary.  The first was my semester in the UK and the second was my years in politics.  They were the two times in my life when I felt like I was out experiencing life the most and my experiences were the most rewarding.  I pushed ahead and did things out of my comfort zone.  I didn’t let fear stop me.  I need to remember this as I blaze a trail forward.

Liebster award: discover new blogs!

So back in the beginning of May, my friend Britt nominated me for a Liebster award and I am ashamed to say that I sat on it.  A grief wave hit me hard and I just didn’t do it.  Sorry Britt.  And now Jessica has also nominated me.  So now I am just feeling silly that I never followed through the first time.  So I am going to answer both sets of questions and do two sets of facts.

Jessica’s questions

  1. What is your favourite childhood memory?

          Playing with my cousins at various family parties.

  1. Do you have pets? If yes, what are they?

         I have one black cat named Boehner.

  1. Best way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

          Relaxing while my two year old takes a nap.

  1. Favourite TV show?

          How I Met Your Mother.

  1. Do you dance?

          Not well and usually only when I have been drinking.

  1. You’re going to a deserted island. What three things are you going to take?

         My cell phone, running shoes and a knitting project.

  1. Favourite painter or painting?

         I like ocean landscapes so I would say Winslow Homer or Andrew Wyeth.  I do also            like French Impressionism and enjoy Renoir.

  1. Country or city?

      I truly appreciate both but I would want to live in the country.  It’s my dream to live in an old farmhouse.

  1. What food do you seek out when you’re blue?

Mexican food or coffee ice cream.

  1. Weirdest word you know.

Maybe not weird but my favorite fun word is “parapluie” which is French for “umbrella.”

  1. Is the ‘u’ in colour necessary or just odd?

I find the “u” charming.

Britt’s questions

  1. What inspired you to start blogging?

I wanted to share my story about grief and resilience because I wanted to empower others who may be in a similar position.  I also wanted to tell my story to help people understand what it is like to be a widow and an only parent.

2.What is one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you before starting your blog?

That my readers will always surprise me.  The posts that I think are going to be popular aren’t always the ones my readers want to read.  And other times, posts that I don’t expect to perform well will.

3. What is the most memorable vacation you have ever taken and why?

So many to choose from but I am going to say the time Bryon and I went to Colorado and (a little) Wyoming.  It was in 2010 and all our other trips up until that point had been brief weekend trips that involved political conferences.  That weekend did involve a political conference but we took several extra days and went on some adventures in the Rocky Mountains.

4. What is your go to fuel – Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate or some other glorious provider of energy when needed?

It used to be a Starbucks Venti Iced Americano with an extra shot and cream and sugar.  I have recently given up sugar and am cutting back on dairy so now it’s a Starbucks Venti Cold Brew with coconut milk.

5. What is your favourite social media platform, and why?

Facebook because I am addicted.

6. If you could design your ‘perfect day’ what would it look like?

My perfect day would consist of my two year old daughter letting me sleep in, a house that was already cleaned, my daughter napping and maybe a nearby adventure with friends.

7. In what ways do you inspire yourself to come up with new content?

Usually I write about something emotional that is bothering me.  Don’t know if I would call that inspiration but I am motivated to sort those feelings out through writing.

8. What is the one app on your phone you couldn’t live without?

Facebook

9. What is your favourite band or artist?

Right now I have to say Hall and Oates.

10. What is your favourite childhood memory?

Playing with my cousins at various family functions.

11. Do you have any major blogging goals for 2017? If so, what are they?

Just keep plugging along.

I was supposed to do 11 facts.  I am going to be ambitious and try for 22 since I was nominated twice.

  1. I was born in Boston, MA and lived in the suburbs until I started high school and then I moved to Maine.
  2. My favorite subjects in high school were Social Studies and French.
  3. I rarely eat cereal but when I do, I don’t put milk in it.  The thought of soggy cereal actually grosses me out.  My late husband was appalled when he learned about this.  He called me “un-American”
  4. My first airplane trip was at the age of 21.  I flew from Boston to London to study abroad the fall semester of my junior year.
  5. Before I went to England, I had never been out of the Northeast of the US (with the exception of a few trips to Canada but when you live in Maine, that doesn’t count.)
  6. I am American (see #1) and my ancestry is roughly ¾ Irish and ¼ Acadian with a strain of Native American (MicMac).
  7. I lived in Maine for 8 years before I tried lobster.
  8. I only learned how to properly cook a lobster last fall.  My friend is the wife of a lobsterman and she showed me how.
  9. My parents have a black bear who lives behind their house.  His name is Bob which stands for Big Old Bear.  But Bob isn’t just one bear and he isn’t old.  He is likely the young bear who is kicked out of the den to make room for the new bear cub.
  10. I once ran (unsuccessfully) for State Rep in Maine  in 2006.
  11. My favorite ice cream is coffee oreo.
  12. I totally have a crush on Marco Rubio and am still in mourning that he didn’t win the Republican nomination.
  13. I grew up with dogs and thought cats were pointless.  Then I got a cat and I love him.
  14. I plan on getting a Golden Retriever for my daughter when she’s a little bit older.
  15. When I was a kid, my mother’s medicine of choice for me was Pepto Bismol.  
  16. I bought some Pepto Bismol on a trip to Mexico and it had lumps in it.  I still used it because (duh) heartburn.  And I lived to tell about it.
  17. I might have GERD.  And I know GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.  I can say it but I had to google it to spell it.
  18. I once stayed at a youth hostel in Dublin, Ireland and it was infested with bed bugs.  So the phrase “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” makes me itchy.  I am itchy right now.  (And don’t worry, I left them in Ireland)
  19. I have asthma.
  20. I have been to the Easternmost point of the US (West Quoddy Light House, Lubec, ME) and the Southernmost point of the US (Key West, FL)
  21. I watch too many crime shows and they make me paranoid.  
  22. The first movie I ever saw in the movie theater was Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back.  The second movie I ever saw in the movie theater was Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  The last movie I saw in the movie theater was Fifty Shades Darker and it was the first movie I left in the middle.  It was that bad.

The bloggers I would like to nominate are 

  1. Kathy http://deathanddyingchronicles.com/
  2. Julia https://lacrossewidow.com/
  3. https://firstsbeyondthefirsts.blog/
  4. Emily https://readysetgrieve.wordpress.com/
  5. Erica https://ericaroman.me/
  6. Emily http://justplayinghouse.com/
  7. Megan http://www.blondeisthenewwidow.com/
  8. Roni http://stillhistimesforever.blogspot.com/
  9. Jodi http://extragracerequired.com/
  10. Ella http://ellawallprichard.com/
  11. Nik https://www.niktebbe.com/blog-1

All of these blogs are about grief and most are widows.  I thought that would be fun.  But really it is because I think our society has a strange, almost archaic view on death and grief and it leaves a burden on the grieving to educate the non-grieving.

The questions I am going to ask the nominees (should they choose to accept this nomination) are

  1. What book is on your (proverbial) nightstand?
  2. What is a place you have always wanted to go to but haven’t made it there yet?
  3. What are your hobbies?
  4. In what way has grief changed you?
  5. What is your favorite holiday?  Why?
  6. What is your favorite childhood memory?
  7. If you could give one piece of advice to your high school self, what would it be?
  8. If you were in a new city and you had to choose between going to a professional sports game or a museum, which would you choose?
  9. What was the last concert you attended?
  10. How do you take your coffee?
  11.  We are all geeks in some way or another.  In what way are you a geek?

Thank you for nominating me Britt and Jessica.