Thanks to all those who entered the Summer Book Giveaway contest by guessing where certain vacation photos were taken. The three winners were Mary, Charlynn, and Chelle. (I picked the winners by counting up the total number of comments and used a handy random number generator to pick three random numbers.)
Also, congrats to everyone who correctly guessed where the photos were taken. I’ve reposted the photos below with information on where they were taken along with why we happened to stop at each particular place. Enjoy!
Photo#1:Shoshone Falls, Idaho. On our way up to Boise to see my sister and her family, she suggested we stop here if we wanted our kids to stretch their legs. It’s a nine mile detour off I-84 but well worth the trip.
Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Photo #2:Idaho State Capitol, Boise, Idaho. An unplanned stop. We were on our way to another part of Boise when my sister asked if we wanted to go check it out. Very beautiful and the entire building has been recently restored.
Idaho State Capitol.
Photo #3:Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho. Another unexpected stop and by far the most interesting place we visited. The kids enjoyed running around old cell blocks and “locking” themselves in cells. I got tons of ideas for scenes in upcoming novels and took tons of photos. The photo below was taken near the exercise yard.
The Old Idaho State Penitentiary
Photo #4:Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. I was surprised how popular this place was and how many touristy things there are to do in the Rapid City area. (Thankfully my sister gave us the heads up before we went there.) Fun to see and the Black Hills are gorgeous.
Photo #6: Devil’s Gate, Wyoming. To keep our devil-themed Wyoming trip, we stopped at Devil’s Gate, Wyoming. Actually, we stopped by Martin’s Cove which just so happens to be in the vicinity of Devil’s Gate but thought that this was a more interesting photo.
While I was on vacation, the subject of widowers writing about their loss sprung up on the DAW Facebook group and in my inbox. On one side there are GOWs and WOWs think their relationship with their widower is deteriorating because the book, blog, essays, or articles about their experience is dragging them back to the past. On the other side are the widowers who feel their project is important and what they’re working on is helping or will help others and either 1) want their girlfriends or wives to be patient with them while they finish it or 2) don’t think it’s harming their relationship.
I understand where both sides are coming from. When I was writing Room for Two there were days where Marathon Girl had a difficult time with me working on the book. In order to complete the project, I had to write it fast (it took 6-8 months to complete) and make sure Marathon Girl still felt like #1 during the project. If the book didn’t focus on rebuilding my life and my relationship with Marathon Girl, I don’t know if I would have got the necessary support to complete it.
So based on my own experience, here some thoughts for widowers who want to write or are writing about their experience (scroll down for advice for GOWs and WOWs):
If it makes you sad, stop. If your writing project is pulling you back to the past in a way that makes you depressed or causes you to withdraw from girlfriend, wife, or other activities that you’d normally engage in, then put the project on hold immediately. No book, essay, blog or anything else is worth telling if it’s going to stop you from moving forward and enjoying life.
Have a reason for your project. Answer the following question honestly: Why are you writing about your experience? If it’s to garner sympathy from others or using it as some kind of personal therapy, then you might want to reconsider the project. If you’re writing it to help others, that’s great reason but there are lots of blogs, books, and other resources on grief. What makes your story different or worth telling? If you writing it as some sort of family history for your kids that’s fine, but be sure to read the next bullet point below.
Know when to wrap it up. Writing projects can’t go on indefinitely. Whatever you’re writing, you should have a plan on when you’re going to wrap it and move on to something else. Set a reasonable goal and get it done then, if you still have the writing bug, move on to something more uplifting like horror novels or dystopian fiction.
For GOWs/WOWs who are dealing with or (barely) tolerating widowers writing his story, here are a few thoughts:
Don’t let jealousy cloud your judgment. Just because he’s writing about a chapter of his life that doesn’t involve you, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or wishes the late wife was still alive. Do a self examination and try to figure out if your feelings are internal insecurities or specific widower behavior.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you think his writing project is hurting your relationship, let him know. Keeping quiet about your feelings will only exacerbate the problem. When you talk to him, be specific about his behavior and/or moods after he spends time writing and how it’s damaging your relationship.
If you can’t tolerate it, end it. Everyone has deal breakers when it comes to relationships. If you can’t live with your widower publishing a book or otherwise sharing his story with the public, or feel like his writing is taking priority over your relationship then walk away. Life’s too short to live in someone else’s shadow. Go out and enjoy it on your own or with someone else.
Thanks to all those who guessed where various vacation photos were taken. if you still want to guess and win one of my books, you have until Wednesday night to do so. I’ll announce the three winners Thursday morning. You can guess here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Since we’ve been on vacation most of the last two weeks, our interaction with the in-laws has been minimal. As a result, we all still love each other and are getting along just fine. And it is nice to sleep in my own bed again even if it’s technically not my own bed.
So while things continue to go well with the in-laws, our short sale is not. The day before we came home the realtor called us and told us that it’s going to be at least more six months before the short sale is going to go through. Apparently more government “assistance” programs have popped up and the couple is going to apply for them. Never mind the fact they haven’t made a mortgage payment in approximately two years and won’t qualify for any of the programs. Instead it’s a delay tactic to stay in home without having to pay anything until the end of the year.
This puts us in a bind. Even though the in-laws have told us we can stay with them as long as we need to, that simply isn’t an option. We need to get our kids in a more permanent place before the school starts at the end of August. So that means we have to rent buy a new place. (The problem with the latter is that there isn’t much out there worth looking at.) Right now we’re leaning toward renting but don’t want to get stuck in a long term agreement in case something changes with the short sale which really limits our options. We’ve got eight weeks to figure out a solution.
Here’s the last vacation photo–probably the toughest of the bunch. If you’d like to win one of my books (your choice), feel free to take a guess where the photo was taken. If you haven’t already, feel free to guess the other photos here, here, here, here, and here.
Each guess will give you one entry into a drawing to win. If you guess correctly, you get a bonus entry. By the time my vacation is over, I’ll pick three random posters to win one of my books. Here’s the fifth photo. Look for the next one tomorrow. I’ll list the locations and the winners when I get back. Have fun and good luck!
Not sure how easy this one is. If you’d like to win one of my books (your choice), feel free to take a guess where the photo was taken. Each guess will give you one entry into a drawing to win. If you guess correctly, you get a bonus entry. By the time my vacation is over, I’ll pick three random posters to win one of my books. Here’s the fifth photo. Look for the next one tomorrow. I’ll list the locations and the winners when I get back. Have fun and good luck!
OK, this one is easy. I’m on vacation for the next week or so and will be posting the occasional photo of my travels. If you’d like to win one of my books (your choice), feel free to take a guess where the photo was taken. Each guess will give you one entry into a drawing to win. If you guess correctly, you get a bonus entry. By the time my vacation is over, I’ll pick three random posters to win one of my books. Here’s the fourth photo. Look for the next one tomorrow. I’ll list the locations and the winners when I get back. Have fun and good luck!
I’m on vacation this week. If you want to win a signed copy of any of my four books, take some guesses at where I’m at. (See photos here, here, and here. Look for another photo tomorrow.)
Since I’m not around to answer questions for Widower Wednesday, I’m posting a music video. Though not specifically about widowers the lyrics “I don’t want the whole world/The sun the moon and their whole light/I just want to be the only girl you love all your life” conveys a lot of sentiment I get from GOWs. Enjoy
Agree? Disagree? Have another music video that works better. Post it in the comments below.
I’m on vacation for the next week or so and will be posting the occasional photo of my travels. If you’d like to win one of my books (your choice), feel free to take a guess where the photo was taken. Each guess will give you one entry into a drawing to win. If you guess correctly, you get a bonus entry. By the time my vacation is over, I’ll pick three random posters to win one of my books. Here’s the third photo. Look for the next one tomorrow. I’ll list the locations and the winners when I get back. Have fun and good luck!
I’m on vacation for the next week or so and will be posting the occasional photo of my travels. If you’d like to win one of my books (your choice), feel free to take a guess where the photo was taken. Each guess will give you one entry into a drawing to win. If you guess correctly, you get a bonus entry. By the time my vacation is over, I’ll pick three random posters to win one of my books. Here’s the second photo. Look for the next one tomorrow. I’ll list the locations and the winners when I get back. Have fun and good luck!
I’m on vacation for the next week or so and will be posting the occasional photo of my travels. If you’d like to win one of my books (your choice), feel free to take a guess where the photo was taken. Each guess will give you one entry into a drawing to win. If you guess correctly, you get a bonus entry. By the time my vacation is over, I’ll pick three random posters to win one of my books. Here’s the first photo. Look for the next one tomorrow. I’ll list the locations and the winners when I get back. Have fun and good luck!
Sadly it appears to be something that unique Ireland and the UK. As far as I can tell they aren’t available for sale in the U.S. But if anyone happens to see them for sale in their neck of the woods, please let me know. I will PayPal you some money to buy them and ship them to me.
And this gives me one more reason to take a trip to Ireland.
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by GOWs and WOWs is what does it take for a widower to move on and love them as much as the late wife. I always tell them that the first thing a widow(er) to move on and start a new life is making a mental adjustment. They need to stop seeing themselves (and wanting others to see themselves) as a widower and stop feeling bad about they’ve lost. Instead focus on all the beauty and love this world has to offer and work hard to do what it takes to find happiness again.
The following was posted on my Widowers Dating Again Facebook group. I share it with the author’s permission. I think it does a good job encapsulating the mental adjustment widowers need to take in order find happiness.
Here’s Todd mental adjustment in his own words:
The day I decided to stop acting like a victim was the most empowering and life-changing day I’ve had since my late wife died. The first year or two I think a person basically has to go through the depression, the sadness for the spouse that they lost, for the loss of the marriage (so to speak) and then for our own personal loss. I think that we NEED to throw a “woe is me” pity party for a while to let ourselves feel and express the anguish.
However, at one point, it just gets to be a constant pity party. And believe me, I am one of the most guilty for having ridden that pity pony for all too long. Eventually I realized that I was no longer sad for her, I was just sad for me. I kept hiding behind the veil of “honoring her, and my love for her, by never loving another; by loving her and only her until the day that I die.” I did that no matter how long that is, or how depressing and lonely that makes me.
Then I realized that this was only an insult to her and everybody who loves me that was still around. I mean, if it had been me dead, and not her, I would have been pissed beyond belief had she gone through life that way. She loved life and loved to experience everything about life, never letting the opportunity for a laugh, a hug, a kiss, a party or a quiet supper pass her by. So how could I possibly think so lowly of her to subconsciously accuse her of being happy in some way that I was miserable, or that she would be in any way ‘dishonored’ if I were to live life to the fullest extent possible?
Did the dating come easy? Hell no! Did I have to deal with guilt and some bruised emotions through the processes? Hell yeah! Did I have to learn to take things slow, and slowly teach myself to subconsciously subdue the tendency to say her name in place of the dates’? Yeah, and that one I still am very wary of. Is it worth it? A great big yes!!!
We make the mistake too often, and too easily as widows and widowers to openly proclaim, almost with a tone of self-righteous indignation that when they died, so did we. Because of that we can no longer live. We tend to proudly boast of how we will never be with another person, and our lot in life is to grow old alone, always hanging ourselves on that romantic cross of martyrdom in some twisted form of “honor” to our deceased. We constantly accuse others’ pain as de-minimus, as petty, as grossly selfish because “they don’t understand what real pain or loss is”. After all, NOBODY could understand suffering like one of us, right? We wear this martyrdom as a golden badge of courage, when instead it should really be considered a coward’s cross of thorns.
When the time comes to let go and spread our wings to fly again into a new future, into a new journey, it’s scary as hell. Why would we risk losing again? What if he/she was the only person I will ever attract in that way, what if nobody else ever gets me the way that he/she did? What if I’m not good enough for anybody else? What if I fall flat on my face in front of the world? Hiding behind a couch of lost love is so much easier than stepping out into the room and dealing with living again. But there is no real reward in hiding there either.
I honor her now by living. In my heart, in my prayers, in words directed to the heavens and in visits to her grave from time to time I honor her. I do not constantly mention her to everybody anymore, as I think that does two things in the negative. First, it disrespects the woman I am with now, and second, it’s a selfish thing to do, because by constantly dropping her name, it’s a not-so-well-disguised cry for others to recognize me as a WIDOWER, and not just as Todd.
The other thing I would add is that making the mental adjustment is only the first step. Thoughts are worthless unless they’re followed up with actions. Any widowers who take this first step also need to walk the walk. Then you can start rebuilding your life. The results can be amazing.
This week I realized that Marathon Girl and I made one mistake when planning our stay with the in-laws. Since we were originally planning only staying three or four weeks we didn’t bring much in the way of toys and other things to occupy the kids. While we’re trying to get them (and us) out of the house as much as possible, there have been a time or two we’ve wished we would have brought over the Wii or some more toys over. Thankfully, we have a series of vacations and other activities planned through the end of the month that should keep us busy enough that it won’t be an issue through the Fourth of July.
And no, there’s no update on our short sale. We’re hoping and praying for good news soon. Maybe next week I’ll have an update.
Like all great addresses, it the message McCullough delivers applies to more than just their target audience. Whether you’re still in high school or long since put those days behind you, the message still applies.
No, commencement is life’s great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism. Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue. Normally, I avoid clichés like the plague, wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field. That matters. That says something. And your ceremonial costume… shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all. Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you’ll notice, exactly the same. And your diploma… but for your name, exactly the same.
All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.
You are not special. You are not exceptional.
“But, Dave,” you cry, “Walt Whitman tells me I’m my own version of perfection! Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!” And I don’t disagree. So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus. You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it’s “So what does this get me?” As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans. It’s an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.” I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best. You’re it or you’re not.
If you’ve learned anything in your years here I hope it’s that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning. You’ve learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness. (Second is ice cream… just an fyi) I also hope you’ve learned enough to recognize how little you know… how little you know now… at the moment… for today is just the beginning. It’s where you go from here that matters.
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube. The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life. Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow. The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil. Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem. The point is the same: get busy, have at it. Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands. (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression–because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.)
Read the entire speech here or watch the video below.
I wasn’t exposed to Ray Bradbury until high school. My junior year the Honors English teacher assigned Fahrenheit 451 to the class. I read the first page and was hooked. At the end of the year the teacher asked the class to vote on their favorite book we had read that year. I was the only one to vote for Bradbury’s classic. The themes in Fahrenheit 451 were something that always stuck with me and that book was one of the major influences for my novel The Third.
That summer I read a lot of Ray Bradbury books and enjoyed every one of them. Despite the deep messages that were a part of many of his works, there was always an innocent quality to his worlds and characters and a call to adventure that made me feel like a kid on a grand adventure whenever I read his novels. (Sadly, I don’t think any of that simple innocence will ever come across in my fiction.)
One of the great things about being a writer is that so long as someone, somewhere is reading your books, you never really die. So even though Bradbury is no longer with us in person, part of him will continue to influence readers for generations to come.
Rest in peace, Ray. Though we never got to meet in this life, maybe we’ll get a chance to talk in the next.