Starting a blog when I went to Thailand last summer seemed like the thing to do after the loss of my husband. As a runaway widow I wanted to keep in touch with family and friends while I was away. Experiencing such a different culture and country inspired me to write.
I have appreciated the support from readers who have sent me comments about my stories. I would like to continue writing and traveling in 2017. My initial thought was to be a travel blogger. Many travel bloggers are young people in their 20’s. Oh, how I remember being that age. Fortunately, I engaged in some travel adventures back then and I am looking forward to finding more places to visit and blog about even at my ripe old age.
Marriage, motherhood and teaching full time limited my travel opportunities. Raising children was the best, most rewarding job ever. We did take a few family vacations, but work and school sure took up a lot of time. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
Now I am in a new stage of life. My kids are away at college. I am not ready to retire but I have time to learn something new, like blogging. I love traveling. I always have. The idea of retiring early and traveling as I write a blog seems like a pipe dream. But wouldn’t that be awesome?
So I called myself Runaway Widow this year because I kept going to different places. If I was invited, I went. If family was available, I said let’s go! I planned ahead to be away during trigger times, like the one year anniversary of my husband’s birthday and death, I was out of here!
The year unfolded the way it was meant to. Working full time makes it hard to be a travel blogger but maybe my perspective on living your life after the sudden death of a spouse is more my niche. So what did I learn from these runaway escapades?
10. Atlantic City, New Jersey: Atlantic City is in sad shape. Many of their casinos have closed down or are closing down. The wide boardwalk divides the beach and the hotels and casinos. The beach seemed nice but I was surprised how few people were actually visiting. I learned that when you get a tattoo, you should pick a cool one that you don’t mind people seeing and means something you need to remember. Mine is a Thai sign for breathe. Sometimes I need to remember to do that. What happens in Atlantic City sometimes stays on your wrist
9. Hilton Head, South Carolina: If you live in New York, you need to find someplace south to travel in the winter, even for a few days. Road trips can be fun with a friend. Take turns driving, eat out, visit some sights, talk to people and be sure to visit Savannah, Georgia for a ghost tour. I learned that getting away from the cold in New York is really important for your sanity and that some vacation pictures are better not shared. 😉
8. Islamorada, Florida: Take a 3 hour flight from New York to Miami and then drive an hour into the Florida Keys which are a series of islands stretching south of Miami, Florida. I stayed in one of the older, now renovated hotels with a friend and her 2 teenagers. Most hotels are water front since the Keys are pretty narrow. The most amazing part of this trip was that one afternoon as I was snorkeling, I looked to the right and seriously saw a giant sea turtle not more than 15 feet away from me, in the wild. He was beautiful. We made eye contact. I swam next to him for a bit then he dove down deep and our moment was over. That was magical. I think I learned that Mike sends me messages that he is still here and maybe that sea turtle was his way of saying Hi.
7. Ithaca, New York: One son is at school and my brother lives in this small city upstate New York, about 5 hours from Manhattan. Visiting family is always a great way to spend a weekend. Ithaca is known for hiking the beautiful gorges and the stunning waterfalls. We spent Thanksgiving together and gave lots of hugs. My puppy even accompanied me on a visit in the fall and hiked with us at Robert H. Treman State Park. I learned to lean on family when I need to get away and that they will always be here for me. Still Running
6. Cape Cod, Massachussetts: I ran away from the 4th of July at home because that is Mike’s birthday. My mom, brother, and sister and our families had a family reunion that week. We stayed at a nice hotel on Cape Cod by the sea. We took day trips to Chatham and Provincetown. We watched fireworks, took walks and had a barbecue on site too. I learned that I am blessed with patient and awesome sons for tagging along with me to visit relatives and friends so I could be distracted.
5. Jackson, New Hampshire: My sister and her family joined me and my kids and my cousin’s family in New Hampshire. We enjoyed hiking the rarely touched trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The mountains are quiet and we didn’t see any other hikers the day we climbed. It was a bit rainy which made the trail, which was quite steep at times, very slippery. After the hike, we swam in waterfalls and dined in a place with moose heads on the walls. I learned that I enjoy nature but I am not really in the best shape for hiking up mountains and need to work on that!
4. Montauk, New York: It is never a bad time to hang out in Montauk. Summer is of course the best. The sun is shining and the ocean is warm enough to swim in. Most hotels have a pool as well. Riding bikes from the south side to the north shore and having lunch at Gosman’s Dock was a fun day adventure. We had lobster and clams as we watched the fishing boats return. We made new friends at the Memory Motel when we heard a live band playing. We did silly things and ate good food. Sitting on the beach with friends and swimming in the salt water waves soothes the soul. I learned that taking naps in the afternoon is often a good idea.
3. Chester, Connecticut; Forever Family Foundation offered a retreat for people who have lost a loved one. I signed up. It was a healing weekend with speakers, Reiki healing, drums, mediation, 3 meals a day, and 3 mediums who did readings with small groups of 12 people. I was fortunate to have good psychic medium readings with each of the 3 group sessions. I learned that my loss is awful, but there are people out there who are dealing with terrible loss as well. It was really hard to hear their traumatic stories but this experience helped me learn to have more empathy for others.
2. Winter Park, Colorado: My son and I spent 3 days downhill skiing at one of the best ski resorts in Colorado. The conditions were amazing and the trails are so vast that it seemed we had the mountain to ourselves at times. Fresh snow every day and sunshine. We had fun eating good Mexican food. One of my best friends from childhood invited us for Easter dinner, I met up with an old college friend at the ski area and we had lunch with my 90 year old aunt and cousin before we left. Colorado is awesome! I learned that I should visit that state more often!
1. Thailand: So happy that I followed through with my idea to runaway from home and avoid my wedding anniversary and Mike’s one year in heaven anniversary. Some people thought I was a bit crazy. Traveling to the opposite side of the world by myself. Who does that at my age? I had an amazing time and an important time of healing Celebrating my wedding anniversary with the elephants! I enjoyed writing about my adventures and started this blog on that trip. I learned that I am looking forward to traveling next year so I can continue to blog and experience life.
The best day was playing with the elephants in Thailand. I had so much fun. You can see a video on this link. TBT…playing in the mud with the elephants in Thailand. Widow therapy.
Blessings come to us all the time. My year has been sad at many times. Grief is ongoing and doesn’t really go through stages. It just keeps hitting you over and over again when you least expect it.
It is like walking through life with unexpected potholes along the way. Anything can trigger your emotions. The pot holes surprise you a lot in the beginning, but slowly they get smaller and not as frequent.
I have done a lot to work to help me get through it this year. Grief therapy, a bereavement group, yoga and meditation, reading and journaling. Sometimes I make a few steps forward, and then slip slowly back into a rut. I keep busy and engage with others when I can.
What is working for me is to plan things to look forward to. Sometimes my plans are small, but this year I did do a lot of traveling and I know that Mike was there with me, in my heart, as well as in many signs that I am beginning to notice.
Thank you for following my blog and I wish you all Peace and good health in the New Year.