Sunday, December 30, 2012

My 2012

2012 has been a year of ups and downs, from the highest to the lowest, but one more day and it will be history. 

Most joyful moment:  Hearing my granddaughter, Gabriella, chant her Torah portion at her Bat Mitzvah

Hardest moment:  My son's stroke in June

Proudest moments:  Seeing my son's courage and determination to overcome aphasia

Goal achieved:  Contract for publication of my memoir, Stumbling Through the Dark, which will be released in 2013.

Biggest decision:  To move to a high rise for indepedent living to be completed in 2015.

Another goal achieved:  Publication of On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties in October

Most delightful surprise:  My sisters-in-law sent me my husband's baby book last week.

Best restaurant meal:  At the Lahaina Grill in Maui on a trip with my daughter

Best museum visit:  The Art Institute in Chicago with my son and daughter-in-law

Best book I read this year:  The Lost Wife

Best cultural event:  Orbit by the Houston Symphony

Favorite sports moment:  Roger Federer wins Wimbledton and returns to #1.

Most disappointing sports moments:  The meltdown of the Houston Texans

Scariest moment:  Coming home to discover a break-in at my home

Feeling sad about:  Needing a new phone system and losing my husband's message on the answering machine

Nostalgic weekend:  High school reunion and, on the way home, lunch at the Brenham, Texas airport

Favorite movie:  Skyfall

I could go on and on.  Instead, I'll just wish everyone a Happy New Year
and hope that '13 is a lucky number for all of us.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Site Review: Widowed Village

How was your Christmas?
For widows, the answer often is, "Lonely."
Holidays are rough, and that's not to say that many other days aren't, too.  Here's a site just for widows:  Widowed Village.  Chats, groups, blogs--here's a way to talk it over with others who understand.  It's a place to share your sorrows and successes.  Check it out.  Once you do, I think you'll want to be a part of it.
And Soaring Spirits, the sponsors of this website, also puts on Camp Widow yearly.  Here's your chance to meet in person, learn ways of coping, become part of a community.

Best wishes for the coming year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Story:

I post this true story every year.  Enjoy.

A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty

apartment window into the chilly December night. His 4-year-old

daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bobs wife, Evelyn,

was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy

could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dads eyes and asked,

"Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw

tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of

grief but also of anger.

 It was the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being

small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too

little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather

not remember.

From childhood Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did

complete college and married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job

as a copywriterat Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he

was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with

cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter

were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn

died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child for whom he couldn't even afford to

buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to

make one--a storybook.

Bob had created the animal character in his own mind and told the animal's

story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob

told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the

character? What was the story about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The

character he created was an outcast like he was. The name of the character?

A little reindeer named Rudolph with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas


But the story doesn't end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward

caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to

purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print the book and

distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards

had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph the Red

Nosed Reindeer. That same year a major publisher wanted to purchase the

rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an

unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all

rights back to Bob May.

The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and

Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from

the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn't end there. Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a

song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such

popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by Gene

Autrey. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and

became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other

Christmas song with the exception of "White Christmas." The gift of

love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to

bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his

dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different

can be a blessing.

Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Interview with Aline Soules, Contributor to On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties

Aline Soules contributed three beautiful poems to On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties.  Here's my interview with her:

TZ I was especially touched by your poem Apart, about donating your husband's organs.  

AS.  My husband experienced a brain aneurysm at the age of 54.  He was, in all other ways, healthy when he collapsed and his body continued for some hours after his collapse.  This enabled me to donate organs and tissues.  Everything was usable except his liver (he had been a chemist)--heart, lungs, kidneys, corneas, bone, skin.

TZ What’s been the hardest thing about being a widow?

AS I have a son, but no other living family.  This makes me alone a great deal of the time.  I miss our partnership, our love, our conversation, our intimacies of every kind.  I have no ballast.  I have no companion.  No one understands me in the way he did.  After 13 years, it's still a challenge.

TZ If you had to describe widowhood in a 6-word sentence, what would you say?

AS This is my final gift to my beloved--to endure for both of us
(sorry, more than 6 words!)

TZ Any advice for widows?

AS We are not unique.  Every year in this country, according to the U.S. Census, 13 million people are widowed every year, 2 million men, 11 million women. Each of us must cope; all of us must support each other. 

TZ Tell us about your writing background.  Have  you always written poetry?
AS I started writing as soon as I could hold a writing implement.  I write poetry, essays, short fiction, and have tried a novel or two over the years.  I earned my MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles and one of the many benefits was the opportunity to write in two genres, not just one.  I chose poetry and fiction and had a wonderful experience exploring the interface between the two.

TZ Advice for writers?

AS Every day--write every day.  If it's good, that's wonderful.  If it's not so good, write anyway and get up tomorrow and do it again.

TZ Are you working on something now?

AS I have completed a chapbook called Evening Sun: a Widow's Journey.  The three poems in this anthology are part of it.  I've sought a publisher for some years and am now considering self-publishing it.  I've come close to winning contests, finishing 3rd or 5th or getting an honorable mention, but never quite won the prize.  It's time to send it out into the world.

TZ Your work deserves to be out in the world.  It's beautiful. 
Here's where readers can see more of it:   Meditation on Women



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quote for the Week

What other subject is on everyone's mind today but the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown?  Dwight D. Eisenhower said it better than I could when he said the following:

There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Like all of you, my heart goes out to the people of Newtown, especially those whose children will never come home from the place their parents believed was safe.  At this darkest time of the year when people of all faiths celebrate the light, know that we are thinking of you and sending our love.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Problem Only You Can Solve

This is me
Yes, I am sad.  Why, you ask.  Well, I have a problem that only you can solve.  I get loads of visitors on this blog (I check daily, sometimes multiple times a day) and my numbers are in the hundreds.  But here's the problem:  almost no one leaves a comment.  I feel slighted somehow, passed by with just a glance.  Could you help me out and make my Christmas merry?  Leave me a comment, even if it's only a word or two, so I'll know my readers are real, not just mistakes on a chart.  Thanks, and Happy Holidays to all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The End is Near (According to the Maya)

According to interpretations--or misinterpretations--of the Mayan calendar the world will end on December 21...and darn it all, I was supposed to go on a museum tour that day.

Being a list maker, I decided I'd better make a list of things to do and not to do before The End. 

To Do List
Spend time with my family and make sure to tell them I love them.
Write notes to friends to let them know how much I've appreciated their friendship.
Cuddle with my cats.
Re-read favorite poems.
Look one more time at photos from childhood to now.
Eat as much ice cream as I want.
Finish my ethical will.
To Do If I Had More Time

Take a springtime bluebonnet trip.
Go to another annual lunch with colleagues who received the Tina E. Bangs Service Award from the Houston Association for Communication Disorders.
Go on vacation with my sister.

Not To Do List
Clean the attic
Pay bills.
Begin working on my 2012 taxes
Eat oatmeal, broccoli and other healthy foods I don't like, including anything with mustard or ketchup.
Pull weeds.
Repair anything.
What's on your lists?


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Story That Will Warm Your Heart

If you're a widow--or if you're not--this story will touch your heart.  To watch the video, follow the link below:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Senior Travel: Guest Blogger Michelle Rebecca

Going somewhere for the holidays? Today guest  blogger, Michelle Rebecca brings some tips on senior travel.
Oops, we don't want to look like this.  Let's try a different image:
Much better.  And here's Michelle:

Explore the World Safely as a Single Senior

Have you always wanted to travel the world and see the sights, taste the foods and experience adventures? If you’re a single senior, don’t let the thought of traveling alone turn you off from pursuing your dream. Discover ways you can travel safely and enjoy seeing the world as a single senior.

Consider Your Physical Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists worldwide health risks on its website. Check it before scheduling your trip and make sure your immunizations are up to date.

Before any vacation, clear your travel plans with your doctor. Make sure you choose a vacation destination that’s not too strenuous for your physical health. Likewise, refill your medications and pack copies of your prescriptions and health insurance information in your suitcase. These precautions help you stay healthy while traveling domestically and abroad.

Pack your Suitcase

Heavy luggage hinders your ability to navigate crowded public transportation and it increases your vulnerability to thieves. Pack as lightly as possible. You won’t need heavy or valuable items so leave your oversized novels, contractor accounting software and diamond watch at home.

In your sturdy suitcase on wheels, pack only essential clothing that’s climate and culturally appropriate. Remember to take comfortable shoes, toiletries, a cell phone and charger, medication and copies of your passport, ID card and prescriptions. Pack a small carry-on bag that holds your camera and money close to your body when you travel.

Arrive Safely

Your travel experience will be more enjoyable when you arrive safely at your destination. On the train, airplane or bus, sit near other people instead of by yourself. Keep your eye on your surroundings and look for suspicious activity. As you travel from the airport to your hotel, use your judgment before sharing a cab or entering dark alleys.

Explore the Sights

After arriving at your destination, you will want to explore local sights. Tell your tour guide or hotel receptionist where you’re going and when you’ll return. Keep your cell phone charged and carry it with you at all times. Additionally, carry a map and your hotel address with you in case you become disoriented as you navigate an unfamiliar town.

Give your loved ones peace of mind and leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member. Be sure to follow it and check in regularly. This precaution gives you freedom to explore the world alone and ensures someone knows where you are at all times.

Traveling the world can be a great experience, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of travel opportunities. Whether you go solo or join a group, follow precautions that keep you safe while you explore the world as a single senior.

Byline: Michelle is an aspiring writer and blogger with a passion for the Internet, specifically social media and blogging. She loves how social media connects people across the globe, and appreciates that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.
More about Michelle:
Blog:  SocialweLove
Here are some of her previous posts:
Why Should I Use an Internet Marketing Company?
Should You Blog About Your Kids?
The Meeting-Your-Online-Date Guide
4 Creative Ways to Display Your Prized Possessions

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Video: On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties

On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties is available from as well as on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quote for the Week

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. ~Arnold Glasow

As the year winds down and I reflect on 2012 and the difficulties it's brought, I can't help but feel how blessed I am to have friends who've supported me along the rocky path my family and I have walked and how much I appreciate them.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Books of November

As usual, my books are very different, but who wants to read the same thing over and over?
Afterwards by Rosamond Lupton uses a strange plot device.  After a mother and daughter a seriously burned in a school fire, they leave their bodies (yes, that's the plot device) and try to figure out who set the fire   I give it a B.

One of my book club selections.  Beautifully written, a classic, but 670 pages long and after around 300 I began to feel I'd had enough.  I'm glad I read it--now I can say I read what is considered one of the great books of the 20th century--but I confess I didn't understand it  and by the end I was annoyed with the author and myself.  But if you want to read it, have at it, and if you already have, please please leave a comment and explain it to me.

Interesting, engaging book about how important the subconscious is in our lives.  I enjoyed it but I don't think I learned anything new.  A-


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