Monday, January 31, 2011

Dating And The Overthinker: Not The Best Combo

Isn’t it interesting how the idea of dating seems to send our little widowed brains into overdrive???

Dating earlier in life...I never gave it a second thought.  I never wondered, “Am I ready?  Can I do this?  What do I have to offer?  What if I say something I shouldn’t and the conversation just...stops????”

Back then I just wondered if I should order Miller High Life or if my date had enough cash in his wallet to spring for a Bud Light.

It seems like as we get older and our experiences change, evolve, and sometimes explode...we get more and more worried about entering the dating world.  I mean, I will admit...after I was married, I debated a little more about whether or not I should date.

That was a joke.

Do you think we overthink it?  I know I do...but I am an overthinker by nature.  I overthink about dishwashing detergent I should use.  It was not a stretch for me to overthink about putting myself “out there.” 

There are obvious concerns about dating as a widow.  Now we don’t care as much about having lipstick on our teeth as much as we worry about starting too many sentences with, “So my late husband...” and making our dinner companion uncomfortable.  We’re not quite as concerned about wearing “the good underwear” as we are about bursting into tears when our date orders the same exact dinner our spouse would have. know you do this too ladies...there is that moment when the appetizer is served and we’re already starting to wonder where this is going to go.

Even non-widowed people do that.  The problem with our situation is that we can now picture the future wedding, house...and then a long, drawn out illness or the phone call that no one ever wants to get.  Because that’s been our previous experience.

Before we were married or committed, we knew the risks that came with dating.  We knew it was possible to get hurt.  We knew there was a possibility that it just wouldn’t work out.  But in that pre-married, pre-widowed world, we knew we had the confidence and stamina to get right back on that horse.

Most of us had no idea that one of those “bad things” that other people talk about quietly to each other at dinner parties would some day become part of our own personal resume.  That not only would that horse buck us would kick us in the gut and step on us as it walked away.

That makes it a little harder to crawl back up there and ride off into the sunset.

It’s weird, isn’t it?  I know that we all have our own experiences tied up with our late spouses.  We all had our ups and downs.  But for a lot of’s not like our spouses left us because of some normal marital issue.  The hurt runs deeper than that.  They died.

It’s like we were cheated on.  Death cheated us out of life.  And then left us no one here to take it out on.

That’s a lot to overthink.

So...what are our biggest fears about dating?  That we won’t be accepted into someone’s life because we’re widowed?  That it won’t work out with the first person we meet?  Or that it will work out and we will be opening ourselves up to being that vulnerable again?

Okay then. 

Let’s look at this from a practical standpoint.  If for some reason you come across someone who finds you less desirable because you’re you really want to have anything to do with them anyway?  That’s not you being has nothing to with you.  That’s another person being an ass hole.  And you’ll heal.  He’ll probably be that way for the rest of his life.

See ya.

There is a VERY good possibility that it won’t work out with the first person you meet.  There is a good chance that it didn’t work out with the first person you met the first time around.  And then you kept going.  And eventually you hit paydirt.  If you can...think of it as “networking.”  It may not work out with the first guy...but one of his friends could be exactly who you’re looking for.

Ha ha.

And what if it does work out??  I don’t think there is one widow out there who is not scared of going through the same thing they’ve been through before.  It’s a very real fear.  We’re not the same people we were before we were widowed.  We can’t look at the future with the same rose-colored glasses we wore before.  We’re now looking at the world through scratched up glasses we found in the bargain bin at Kmart.  And the view doesn’t look as pretty as it did before.

And guess what?  There’s a good chance that, because we’re all older and have a little more experience under our belts...the other person’s view of the world isn’t as “rosy” as it once was either. 

Widowed or not, anyone who is taking a chance dating later in life is doing exactly that...taking a chance.  Whether or not they admit it...we’re all a little scared.  We’re all scared of the rejection.  We’re all scared of getting hurt.  We’re all scared of really putting who we are out there.

We’re all overthinking.

What I can’t figure out is...why are we all overthinking about the bad stuff??  Let’s try overthinking about this:

A holiday dinner where someone just leans over and squeezes your hand.

A walk when you’re so comfortable you don’t have to say anything.

Sitting in front of the TV together, blissfully watching The Golden Girls (  That was “wishful thinking”).

I don’t know about you.  But overthinking about that stuff makes me a little less nervous about taking the next step to getting there.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Week In Review and Going Forward

I won’t lie...I’ve been a little crabby this week.  All of that talk about our astrological signs changing...I think it’s a load of crap.  People who fall under the Cancer sign (me) are known to be moody and emotional.

I know that about myself and I embrace it.  No one can tell me now that I’m a Virgo.  They’re too nice.

This week, I was excited to receive in the mail the magnetic badges I had ordered for to put on my car.  They look really good and I was so thrilled now that everywhere I went, I could let people know that we are out there.  Every time I stopped at a stoplight and saw someone on their cellphone behind me, I imagined that they were immediately calling their friend in Texas or somewhere, telling them about this miraculous new website.

That optimistic outlook lasted for about 4 hours until I realized I better start paying attention to how I drive.  Because then I started envisioning someone writing into The Denver Post saying, “Have you seen that minivan from  That woman is a menace the way she drives!”

I thought my driving should become friendlier due to the advertisement I was wearing.  Because it always seems like it’s the people with the “Coexist” bumper stickers who cut you off in traffic and steal your parking spots.

I decided my driving should be more “giving” in a way because of my new badge.  And I’ve decided not to dwell on the incident yesterday when some idiot passed me and about 50 other cars, swerving over a double yellow line...while I yelled at him and laid on my horn, scaring the crap out of my kids in the backseat.

Now that I think about it though...that really did make perfect sense.  The way he was driving he was probably about to make someone a widow somewhere.

Anyway...back to my crankiness.

I woke up this morning thinking, “I’m going to make this a good day.  I’m going to go get a Starbucks and actually read the paper this morning and take some time for myself.”

On my way back from taking my youngest to school, I thought, in an effort to make it a good day, I would stop and get a carwash so that I could actually see the people I was cutting off with my new badge.

I whipped into the carwash, dashed into the grocery store to get my Starbucks, and at the last minute decided to treat myself to some fresh flowers.  I was feeling so very “Meg Ryan-ish” as I walked back to my car, Starbucks in one hand, cute little mums in the other, when I noticed something.

The badge was gone.

Damn car wash.

All I could think was, “Well...there’s $5 down the drain.  Literally.”

But no.  This was not going to squash my mood.  I was going to make this a good day.  I have an extra badge.  It’s okay.  Not a big deal.

Hopped back in my car to head home and then it hits.  And I mean hits.

Huge rock + windshield = large chip.

I will admit at that point the F word did cross my lips...and not as in, “Fank you.”

So now here I am...doing what I really enjoy...writing to you.  And trying to make it a good day.

Of course, in the middle or writing this, I got the “blue screen of death.”

“Fank you” again.

I’ve been thinking about doing something a little different with my blog for the month of February.  Almost every day I post a quotation on the Widow Chick Facebook page.  Sometimes people like them, sometimes they don’t.  Most of the time I try and find quotes that I think are applicable to our lives now or can make us think of our lives now in a different way.  I like to post things that are funny or that might just make everyone feel good at the start of their day.

And then some days I’ll post something I know some people will disagree with.  Mainly because I think it’s important that we can share our views and I know that every once in awhile someone will post a comment that will make another person think, “Huh.  I’ve never thought about it like that before.”

And I, personally, love it when that happens.

I sometimes wonder, though, how many times someone will hit “like” without really thinking about why.  I mean, sure, there are always quotes that just upon reading them you know they’re right or meaningful.  But I really wish everyone would take a minute and think about why and how that quote applies to them on a more personal level.

So, for the month of February, I’m going to write about quotes that stand out to me and why they do.  It could be a story about my past.  It could be something I hope to do in the future.  And, as what happens with most of the blogs I write...who knows where it will go?

I’ve done this exercise before in writing seminars.  What’s usually interesting is that everyone has a time limit (like 10 minutes) and you just have to write what comes.  I am constantly shocked at the things I write and have learned so much about myself and my thought processes.  And it usually hits home when I have to read it out loud.  I end up thinking, “Did that really come out of my head??”

I encourage you to do this with me.  You don’t have to write, just think about it a little bit more than you have in the past.  If you’d like to, feel free to write how you interpret the quote I’ve posted and how it applies to you.  I find it interesting that one simple sentence can sometimes say so much about who we were, who we are now, and who we want to be.

So, to get us started, I’m posting a few quotes that I’ve posted in the past that seemed the “most popular.”

Just think about it.

"May I never miss a sunset or a rainbow because I am looking down."
---Sara June Parker


"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else." --Charles Dickens


"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
--Steve Jobs

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Carpool Lane Dos and Don'ts: A True Test of Patience

You all know that I am attempting to live in the moment and let the little stuff go.  But before I go and abandon the more “bitter me” altogether, there’s something I need to get off my chest.

The carpool lane.

Now, if you’re lucky, this blog may not apply to you.  Either your kid rides the bus, they’re old enough that the carpool lane is nothing but a painful memory, or you have yet to experience the joys of sitting in your car, breathing in exhaust fumes, twice a day, in multiple lines.

For those of you who might possibly be sitting in one of the 300 cars waiting to pick up 250 know where I’m going with this.

This blog was inspired by a comment I made recently on my personal Facebook  page about a woman who was dropping her kid off in the morning, wearing leggings as pants which, in the bright sunlight, looked a lot sheerer than she probably wanted.  In that status, my recommendation was, that if you’re going to wear leggings, please find a good friend who will walk out into your backyard with you and tell you that she can see everything you have to offer.

And then throw them away.

That one little comment sparked a small discussion on “Carpool Lane Etiquette” that I now feel it is my obligation to write.  My sincere hope is that this blog goes viral, not for my own person fame or fortune...but because there are a lot of stupid people out there who need to know that they are pissing off a lot of other parents. 

Fasten your seatbelts....

  1. When there is a line of 50 cars, waiting to pick up kids...please do NOT pass all of those cars in order to hurry up and get a parking space so you can get out of your car and grab your child.  ESPECIALLY once school has let out.  Did you not notice that you are now driving into oncoming traffic and causing what can best be described as a “clouge” of epic proportions?  Not only that, but if you’re in that much of a damn hurry to get your should have been there 20 minutes ago before the line formed.

  1. I’m going to sound shallow when I say this, but I’m just going to let her rip...because I know all of you are thinking it as well.  Pay a little attention to what you’re wearing if you are actually going to physically get out of the car to drop off or pick up your kid.  You’re walking past a HUGE line of cars with people in them who are bored out of their skulls and have nothing better to do than people watch.  I’m not saying you have to dress for the Miss American pageant.  I’m just saying you should be aware of this fact.

  1. For all of my hard working teachers out there...PLEASE stop frantically waving at us to pull forward.  When the car in front of us moves, we move.  If we’re out of it enough to not pay attention to the car in front of us moving, chances are we are not going to notice that you look like a windmill having an epileptic fit.  I have yet to see a carpool line held up because a teacher wasn’t waving us through.  Trust me...we’ll go when we can.  We’re good.

  1. When the carpool lane is backed up, school is letting out, and there is now traffic leaving the school...please do not choose that moment to show off your amazing parking skills by backing into a compact parking spot in your Ford F350.  You are now blocking incoming and outgoing traffic, you moron. 

  1. All of us waiting in the carpool lane would greatly appreciate it if you would put the child you are picking up in the most convenient seat in your car to be picked up.  Believe me...we are all watching you while you, for some unknown reason, throw your Highlander into park, get out of your car, and open the tailgate to let your child spend 5 minutes trying to climb his way in.  This especially irritates those of us who were practical enough to buy a minivan for carpool lane purposes.  Shoot...with my automatic doors, I don’t even have to stop my car.  One push of a button and the teacher’s aid can just throw my kid in.

  1. Please, on your way out, do not block traffic by stopping your car alongside a car that is coming into the parking lot so that you can roll down your window and catch up with someone you haven’t seen in years...but who lives in the same neighborhood you do.  I have just picked up my kid who, upon strapping himself into his booster seat, has informed me that he has to pee and is not going to make it.  Move your ass.

  1. This is just parking lot etiquette in general:  While walking to your car...please walk to the side.  Don’t walk right smack in the middle of the aisle where 20 other cars are trying desperately to get through so they can miss the train of 30 busses they don’t want to be behind.  I’ve been sitting in this car for 20 minutes, I have a headache from the exhaust fumes, and, kid has to pee.  I’m in a large moving vehicle and you’re not.  Get the hell out of the way.

  1. For the lady in front of me with the bumper sticker “Hang Up and Drive!”...get off the phone.  It annoys me when I glance up from my Pottery Barn catalog. 

  1. Feel free to drop your kid off a little bit away from the door.  You know...back in the day...we actually walked to school.  So it is possible to let them out more than 10 feet away from the handicap button that they’re getting ready to push because they can’t fathom actually opening the door.

  1. As I’m letting my kid out of the car...just be a smidgen more patient.  I realize that “The Today Show” won’t watch itself, but you can wait the 5 seconds it takes my kid to get out of the car.  There is really no need to try and drive around me in a drop-off lane that is only one car wide, thereby really blocking the actual drop off line that’s trying to move.  I guess you need one of those teachers out there waving at you so you know when you can go.

I give you these tips with love in my heart and lead in my foot.  Drive safe everybody and just remember...there are people like me on the road.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We Won?

Tonight was really upsetting to me.  I am a huge Steelers fan.  And the Steelers won.

Yup.  You heard me right.

I wasn’t always a Steelers fan.  In fact, I wasn’t ever a fan of anyone.  Truth be and I have a very sketchy past.

I went to high school football games because I usually knew someone on the team.  Never because I was a football fan.

I had a great friend in high school (who was also on the football team) who would spoil me with amazing seats to Broncos games.  I stood up when he stood up.  I booed when he did.

And all that time he probably never had any clue that I didn’t know what was going on.

About two years into my marriage, I was watching football with my husband (the Steelers fan) and another couple (Packers fans).  The Steelers were on the forth down no where near the goal.

And I stood up.  And cheered.

There was a dead silence as everyone turned around and stared at me.  At which point I said, “Forth down.  That’s good.  Right??”

My husband looked at me and said, “Do you mean that you’ve been sitting here for years and you don’t even know how this game is played?”

No.  Wait.  Awkward moment.

Then I replied, meekly, “No?”

The room erupted.  Suddenly everyone was around the dining room table with Chex Mix and Cheez Whiz trying to diagram a football field and explain to me why a forth down wasn’t something to cheer about.

It seems dumb that I’m telling this story now.  I think I’m just trying to relive it for me a little.  Maybe I find it odd that the girl who watched football for 22 years without knowing what the hell was going on...should find herself so invested in it now.

My husband’s team played tonight.  They played and they won.  I probably could have given a shit about it when he was alive (which I feel bad about) but I take it personally now.

I want them to win.  I want them to win because I know it would have made him happy.

But when they win I wish so much he could be here to see it.  I wish that he could be here talking shit with his roommate from college (I just don’t do it as well.  After the first half I felt bad for them.  I thought about it later and my husband would have been rubbing salt in those wounds).

I want to hear him yell.  Hear him laugh.  Hear him use inappropriate language in front of my kids on the phone.

They won, B.

They’re going to the Superbowl.

Am I the only one who gets so sad about a winning football team?

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Get Outta Here, Worry. There's A New Sheriff In Town that quote me in a nutshell.  I shudder to think how many years I’ve wasted worrying.  But in order to think about it, I’d have to live somewhat in the past and that’s something I’ve decided not to do.

It’s been a really interesting last couple of days.  Every time I catch myself starting to freak out about something, I mentally give myself a slap and say, “Snap out of it!”  (Apparently, the mental me acts a little like Cher in Moonstruck.

I know I’m not the only one who is attempting to make this change.  I’ve gotten lots of comments and emails from you all, saying you’re ready to go with me on this.

Yeah!  I love a party.

Yesterday I did the most amazing thing.  I haven’t been sleeping well for the last couple of weeks and with the kids out of school for a couple of days this week...yesterday morning was the only time I had with ALL of them in school.

So I dropped them off, came back home, and got right back in my bed.

It’s not that I’ve never done this before, but normally I feel so guilty about it, I’ll lay there for about 20 minutes and then decide to get up.  But yesterday I fell blissfully asleep.  I woke up, I stretched...and I smiled.  Not one ounce of guilt.


This whole idea of just letting life flow and what will be will be is exhilarating in its riskiness and completely freeing at the same time.  This morning, when I woke up at 4 AM and started to freak out and worry about the fact that I hadn’t paid my credit card bill yet and obsess about having a late fee, I literally stopped, took a breath, and said to myself, “If you have a late fee it’s there already.  Starting to worry about it now isn’t going to do you a damn bit of good.  Pay it when you get up.”

And then I rolled over and went back to sleep.

God, life is short, isn’t it?  I’ve started thinking about the years I can barely remember with the kids because I just wasn’t there.  Sure...that first year after my husband died...that’s understandable.  But I think I’ve always been that way...even before he was gone.  

What a damn waste.

The other night, as I was pondering taking on this change, I was listening to my kids playing and laughing and it suddenly occurred to me:  I’m going to blink and in one moment the “potty mouth” phase will suddenly be the “is that pot I smell” phase and then they’ll be grown.  And I’ll be kicking myself for saying “I can’t play right now” because I thought the laundry needed to be folded right then.

The other day, my therapist mentioned that I’m an over-thinker.  That’s why I posted the comment on Facebook about how life really happens one second at a time and when viewed at that angle...there really is no such thing as the future.

I know...not a nice thing to do to my friends on a Monday.

I’ve always been one (and I fully admit this) to “borrow” trouble.  It’s not enough for me to worry about what we have going on this week and how we’ll get through it.  I have to worry 6 months, 2 years, 5 years down the road.  I stopped doing this for awhile...I would say probably for the first year after he was gone...because I had gotten a glimpse of what a crapshoot life is and I didn’t see the point in worrying about anything.

But after the first year had passed, it suddenly occurred to me that I was responsible for everything.  I couldn’t not care about taking care of the house...because the kids and I had to live in it.  I couldn’t not care about our finances because, at 5, 3, and 1, my kids were too young to be sent out into some child labor force so I had to think about what the future might hold.  I couldn’t not care about the laundry because now that I was caring so much about our finances...I couldn’t just run out and buy clean underwear whenever we ran out.

And all of that caring scared the shit out of me.

Worrying about the future as a widow is completely different than worrying about it as an attached person.  Some people have embraced their independence and they like the fact that if they’re going to succeed or’s all up to them.  Others don’t like the fact that if something were to go wrong...they’re trying to paddle that boat upstream alone.

I can relate to both sides.

But if I can look at my life, second to second, and realize that one second I could be sitting here and suddenly win the lottery or one second I could be sitting here and get life-changing news...either way you slice it I shouldn’t be wasting a moment.  This moment.

There was only one time yesterday that I really allowed myself to think about the future.  And that was as I was driving to pick up my daughter from school.

I couldn’t help thinking about the hug I was about to get.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Top 10 Reasons I Think I'm Getting Old

10.  I can’t leave Walgreens without buying at least 5 things.

9.  Hard alcohol gives me indigestion and cheap alcohol makes me wish I’d never been born the day after.

8.  Comfortable shoes are the most important thing in the world and orthopedic shoes really do go with anything.

7.  When someone calls me past 9:30 I wonder which one of my wild-ass friends is up that late.

6.  Poor grammar is really starting to get on my nerves.  And Ke$ha...”sexified” is NOT a word.

5.  I would rather sleep than do just about anything.

4.  I will do anything to avoid driving in the snow and Florida in the winter is starting to sound pretty damn nice.

3.  I’m starting to think that the reason I watch The Golden Girls so much is that I relate to them more as contemporaries.

2.  Not only do I not understand most new technology, I have no desire to learn it.  In fact, I think I’ve been accidentally “Tweeting” for months now and I had no idea I was doing it.

1.  I am getting less and less concerned with what other people think about what I do.  Mainly because    I don’t remember that I do half of it.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

i'm DONE

I think I’m in a writing rut and that I’m starting to sound like more of an after-school special and less like a blog.  And it’s pissing me off.

I’m kinda done with it.  I’m ready to just let ‘er fly.

So for all of you who are wondering if, with any little comment, I’m talking about you...if I’m still talking to you...there’s a good chance you’re safe.

I’ve struggled for so long with how I write.  Mainly because most of the great writers I know (or have read) will say, “Write as if no one will read it.”

Well.  Bully for you.  But what happens when they do?

And most of the writers who said that are dead anyway.  Fat lotta good that does me.

When I normally write, I write, edit, and all the time that 3 kids, a job, and random crap will allow.  Which, frankly, if I really examined it...that’s a helluva lot of wasted time on a blog about my life that should just write itself.

I think and re-think.  I plan ahead and look back at the same time.  I spell check while I’m putting in a load of underwear.

And now I understand.  The underwear has to be done.  The spell check doesn’t.

I’m doing the best I can to live in the present.  And many times, while I’ve been writing this blog...I’ve been living in the past.  But I’m tired.  I’m tired of feeling wrong about something that happened 10 years ago and that, quite frankly...probably no one else thinks about but me.  I’m tired of looking so far into the future to try and teach myself something that my experience doesn’t match yet.  And I’m freaking tired of trying to parlay the express line at Wal-Mart into a life lesson that, if I were wiser, I would have understood 5 years ago.

Can you see how mixed up my brain is?

Today was my first day.  My first day of living in the present.  It’s a huge conscious decision (every time I think about it).  Instead of worrying when the kids would do their homework...I just made dinner and listened to them laugh over a game.  Instead of wondering what my finances would look like in 6 months, I enjoyed cooking.  Instead of worrying how I came across during some conversation that the other person probably hasn’t thought about in 3 years...I’m letting it go.

Today is when it starts.  Less over thinking.  More living in the now.  If I feel like shit...then I’m going to feel like shit.  If the sun is shining...I’m going to enjoy the light.

And...heaven help you all...I’m going to write the same way.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If Communicating Is Something That We All Do...Why Can't We All Do It The Same Way?

I often wonder what my relationship would be like with my husband right now.

My “wondering” usually comes at a time when things aren’t going great in my life.  As I sit and stew, trying to figure out what I should do next, I wonder, “Would things be better if he were here?”

I know that sounds like an odd thing and most peoples’ immediate response would be, “Of course it would be better!”  But I always put that question in context with what’s going on with me, how I’ve evolved, and what’s going on in the world.

For example:  I wonder, in this economy, if he would be laid off right now.  What would we have done?  How would we have handled it?  Would it have brought us closer together or further apart? 

I know that a lot of my personal change and growth has happened in the last few years because he died and I was left to pick up the pieces.  But I often wonder if some of that growth would have happened anyway.  And, as many of us think about...what would he think of the person I’ve become?  Would we have been as compatible as we were before? 

Could we have handled this growth together?

I know I’m not the only one who ponders this.  You don’t have to be widowed to grow.  You don’t have to be divorced to have your needs change.  You can very easily be happily married or in a good relationship and then wake up and realize that you’re not who you were 10 years ago when you made that commitment.

Now, my husband and I had a good marriage and a constantly evolving relationship.  We had good times and bad, arguments that could be settled and arguments that could not.  Laughter, joy, and times when we just wanted to poke each other in the eye and be done with it.

In many ways...I think we were a pretty normal couple.

I’ve always said that we grew up together.  We didn’t know, when we got married (me: 20, him: 24) that we weren’t who we were always going to be.  At that age, all we could think of was being together and we were confident that the rest would just fall into place.

Now that I think back on it...I’m pretty sure that we both went into that marriage with our eyes wide shut.

It wasn’t our fault.  We were young and in love and at that point in our lives the divorce rate wasn’t as high as it is now...a blinking neon sign that you better know what the hell you’re doing before you put on that white dress. 

At that age, I never thought about communication at all.  I certainly never thought it would become as important as it was.  I was still in the typical female mindset that if I just looked at him a certain way, he would know exactly what I wanted him to do and say.  And I think he was in the typical male mindset...that he would rather just not make eye contact so that he wouldn’t have to do or say anything.

What I still keep trying to figure out is...if good communication is the key to a successful relationship...any relationship...why do we all communicate so differently?  If nature was going to make us all gain weight after we got married...why couldn’t it give us a better understanding of each other to balance it out?

I was married for 11 years.  I was with him for 13.  And it’s just now occurring to me that the way I became used to communicating with him is the way I communicate now with everyone.  I knew what worked and what didn’t.  I knew that my husband had a short attention span so if I had anything to say to better be in about 5 minutes or less or he would find something shiny to look at.  I knew that our relationship, my comfort zone, would ebb and flow and that there would be times we could communicate and times we couldn’t.  But I also grew comfortable in the knowledge that when things got bad...they would cycle around again and be okay.

This is going to sound incredibly ignorant of me, but it just never really occurred to me how much of an impact my marriage would have on the way I would communicate in the future...without him.  But after 11 years of trying to really understand one specific’s hard to reverse what you know, start all over, and try to successfully communicate with other people. 

It seems like, more often than not, what happens in relationships (and this is true of personal relationships, friendships, and family) is that we don’t clearly state our expectations of each other.  And then we’re bitterly disappointed when those unknown expectations aren’t met.

Saying what you want, what you truly need is so hard.  Because we don’t usually figure that out until things are wrong.  When everything is going well, we don’t usually say, “I’m so happy!  But this is what I think we should work on.”

We wait until we’re in the middle of an argument or a hiccup in a relationship before something suddenly clicks on our heads and screams, “THIS ISN’T WORKING FOR ME!!!!”

Not the best jumping off point for some soul searching.

For all of us to expect each other to communicate in a way that fits our own pretty unfair.  That is, unless we make those needs known.  Otherwise it’s like playing tennis with a blindfold can keep whacking away and every once in awhile get lucky and hit the ball.

And if that’s the way you want to play the and who you’re trying to play with are going to be pretty damn frustrated.

But when we can successfully say to someone “this is what I need” the blindfold comes off and we have a better chance of successfully playing the game.

Until that’s not fair to expect anyone to return your serve.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

If Life Is Made Up Of Choices...Then How In The Heck Did I Get Here???

When I left the house this morning, I was itching to just turn around, sit down at my computer, and write what was on my mind.  And...this often happens to me...the events of my day sent my mind in a whole different direction.  So my blog about the humorous things I have had happen while internet dating will just have to wait.

But it gives me something to look forward to (tee hee).

When I left this morning, my destination was a luncheon with a group of professional women who meet once a month here in Denver.  I just joined this group (the Alliance for Professional Women of Denver) last fall because I felt like fate was leading me to them.  Not only has my own sister been a longtime member, but my web designer, estate attorney, and writing coach all belong.  So I felt like the planets were telling me to go forth and network.

Never one to question how the planets are aligned, I have gone forthed and lunched.

I signed up for this luncheon because I thought the speaker today sounded interesting.  Her topic today was:  “Is your BUT getting in your way?”  Meaning...what are you doing, what are you telling yourself, that could possibly be keeping you from getting what you want.

The speaker was fabulous...funny, thought-provoking, and had my mind racing.  Some of the things she brought up, I think I have in check and I’m doing the best that I can to set myself up for success.  And...even though I know you alll think I’m perfect (ha ha), some of the things she brought up I know I need to really work on.

But the thing that had me really thinking the entire way home, can really be summed up in one word.


I’ve always considered myself a pretty self-aware person.  I mean, it’s not like I go through my entire day thinking about every decision I’ve made on an elevated level.  For example...I don’t sit there in the drive-thru at McDonald’s and ask myself, “Now, why did I choose an iced tea over a Diet Coke?  What does that mean?”

But I do for the most part try and think about what I’m doing and what it has to do with the bigger picture.  So, I guess I could have answered myself, “Because Diet Coke has a higher sodium content and you really don’t need that.”

I know.  I’m weird.

I’m careful about the people I choose to really let in.  I think who your friends are and who you choose to have influence over your life say a lot about who you are and what’s important to you.  I have chosen to keep my circle of friendship small and powerful in a positive way. 

That’s not to say that I only answer the phone when a select 3 people call.  I love people and nothing makes me happier than meeting new people.  And...the truth is...many times you can’t determine your inner circle until you get out and meet a lot of people. 

You can’t find who you need in your life without a little trial and error. 

There will be people who make the cut and people who don’t and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Your life is constantly evolving and choosing those people who can evolve with you is not a decision that happens overnight.

Since my husband died, I have been very aware of my choices in the past.  I have reflected a lot over the last 3 years about my life and what choices I have made that have led me up to this point.  I am a big believer in taking responsibility for my own life and, for better or for worse, dealing with the outcome.

Because, the truth one is responsible for the life I have now more than me.

Now...don’t get me wrong.  I don’t try to rationalize the fact that I’m widowed.  That was a situation that was out of my control and I really had nothing to do with that.  There is a big difference between placing blame and taking responsibility. 

And there is very little time or energy that should be given to placing blame in a situation.  It really doesn’t help anyone.

But if I want to be really honest with myself...I did choose to get married.  I chose to get married at a young age.  I chose to have children and build a family.  And benign as that sounds to most people...I chose open myself to love and to be loved. 

Which means that I also chose to accept the possibility of losing it.

At 20...I was not completely aware that I was making that choice.  But I’m dealing with that loss...I am very aware.

As I choose to move forward and date, I realize that I’m choosing to open myself up, yet again.  And as a pretty self-aware person and knowing what I know now...that must mean I’m choosing to risk all over again.

That also means that love was important to me then.  And it must still be important to the “new me.” 

When I think about my professional life, I can think back (again) to when I was really too young to realize what a conscious choice I was making.  I chose to major in English for a very good and valid reason:  I couldn’t take multiple choice questions.

Now, I’ve blown that off for years, saying that I chose to major in something I knew wouldn’t get me flunked out of college.  But now that I think about it...wasn’t I choosing something I knew I would do well in?

I didn’t know, as I was madly punching in numbers on the phone in my dorm room, trying to get into the classes I needed (pre-online scheduling, of course) that I was choosing a path that would dictate how much of my life would be spent.  I didn’t know where it would lead.

And where has it all led?  Here.  Widowed, not by choice, but because of the path I chose to take.  Writing, opening myself and my life up to you...which has completely changed my life and how I look at the world.  And as “random” as I make starting the Widow Chick Facebook page and then sound...I was making a choice to help people and be helped in return.

The concept that we can choose our own lives is huge.  And I don’t ever want you to think that I believe we have complete control over what happens to us. 

What I do believe is that we have a choice about what we do next when an out-of-control thing happens.  How do we deal with it?  Where do we go from here?  How do we digest the fact that our lives are completely different...and then move forward so that we can still live? 

Yet again, I feel like we have a choice to make.  We can either be completely overwhelmed with the thought that we always have choices to make.  That alone is a thought big enough to paralyze most people.  Or we make little choices...right on who we are now and where we would like to be in the future.  Do we want to be happy (no small task)?  Do we want to start building toward a new dream?  Do we just want to feel good for an hour so that maybe someday we’ll feel good for two?

And how are we going to get there?

I want to leave you with one of the best things the life coach talked about today.  When you’re driving at night...your headlights only allow you to see about 50-100 feet in front of you.  You navigate the road a little at a time.

And then get to your destination.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

If A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words...Then My Heart Speaks Volumes

I don’t take a whole lot of pictures anymore.

This wasn’t a conscious decision, but it is a big change from the person I used to be.

In my early days as a mother, I was a huuuuge scrapbooker.  I did what every typical mother does.  I took one million pictures of my first born, around 500,000 of my second, and by the time the third one came around I took about two a month...just so she would know she wasn’t born as a 5-year-old.

I used to be one of those people who, not only took pictures at events...I took them at every different angle so I knew that I would have at least one, good “croppable” picture (I know...I just invented a word.  But if Sarah Palin can do can I).

However, in my new, too busy, crazy widowness (take note, word)...I click, no more.

Now, part of the reason for this is because I lost my camera and after 2 months of looking...I still can’t find it.  I can, however, remember putting it someplace and thinking, “I bet I’ll forget where I’ve put this.”

Does anyone else do that?   All I can think is that it’s probably keeping my glasses company...which I lost a short time after the camera while thinking the same thing.  And that they’re both probably nestled in a comfortable mismatched sock nest.

Anyway, I rationalize the fact that I have not purchased a new camera with the fact that I now own a phone that takes pretty good pictures.  The problem with that is...I have no idea how the damn thing works and I can’t figure out how to get the pictures off of my new-fangled phone and into a usable format.

Needless to say...I have issues.  But you already knew that.

I will admit that I began to take less and less pictures as the kids got older because I just didn’t have the time.  It’s one thing to take a picture of a single child lying on her belly in the middle of your living room floor when she’s pretty much immobile.  But trying to get 3 kids to look at you and smile in some sort of normal fashion when there’s an elephant at the zoo who’s looking like he’s getting ready to poop (sorry...we’re in the “potty word” stage at my house) pretty much an impossibility.

And these days...I pick my battles.

I’ve felt guilty for years about my “lack of documentation.”  I was so good about it for so long.  I have a scrapbook that documents every moment of the first year of my oldest child’s life.  My son’s is half done.  And my youngest is probably going to think she was hatched.

One of the things that makes me the saddest about giving up on “memory making” is that in the back of my oldest daughter’s scrapbook, she has a beautiful message written to her by her dad and then a separate one from me.  I was surprised...when I asked my husband (the engineer) to do much time he took.  It’s obvious that, at 12 months old, his daughter had his heart and he told her so...before she was even close to understanding it.  And when I (the English major) read what he had to own letter paled in comparison.

Thanks to my short attention span and (later) considerable lack of free two other children don’t have that.

For me, scrapbooking was more than just a way to be creative and get together with my friends.  I have always enjoyed listening to my grandparents talk about how things were and what was happening when they were growing up.  Scrapbooking became more about journaling to my kids (and their future kids) about what was going on in our lives, than it was about the actual pictures.  There is a big part of me that is so sad that I’ve let that go. 

Unfortunately...picture-taking just wasn’t quite the same after my husband died.

I think for awhile...I just couldn’t stand the thought of taking pictures of events he was missing (and now that I say that out makes absolutely no sense).  For the most part...I was in all of the family videos because he was the only one who knew how to work the video camera.  But he was in all of the pictures because I was the only one who remembered to take them. have him suddenly not in anything...that was a pretty huge gaping hole while I was trying to document our family history.

I’ll be honest...after he died...I didn’t even download pictures for 3 months.  Oh...I took them...I just didn’t download them.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that that would be the last time I downloaded pictures of him.  I know to a lot of you...that may make no sense. 

But to this still makes me sad.

When I finally did get up the guts to download them (mainly because I was worried that my memory card would rebel at some point and just flush them all), it was such an emotional experience.  I downloaded 250 pictures...from 2 weeks before he died in July to Halloween. 

That is still my hardest “folder” to look at.  There is nothing that drives home the fact that he is gone, more than a series of pictures where one day he’s there...and the next he’s no where to be found.

I’ll be honest.  I’ve decided to let go of my guilt in the picture-taking department.  I try and journal because I want my kids to read about what I went through...what they went through...and how special they are to me.  I want them to know that even though they think I’m perfect (there is laughing in my head right now)...I have always just been human. 

I want them to someday know that being “okay” with life didn’t happen overnight.  It’s a long, slow process and that in the game of life...almost nobody draws a full house. 

I have no pictures of the first moment I saw my husband.  But I can picture it like it was yesterday.

I have very few pictures of the fun times we had in college (and the ones I have, I should probably burn.  You know who you are).  But I remember being so completely happy.  And thinking, “I can dress him better.”

Our ride, alone, from our wedding to our reception...there are no pictures.  But I remember looking at him...being so happy...and wondering if my hair was coming down.

Mad rushes to the hospital where we would meet our next member of the family.

Driving in the mountains where we would get lost because I can’t read a map.

Just an every day family dinner.

Holding his hand as he left me.

I still take pictures every once in awhile so that we can remember occasions...but not at every angle hoping to capture every second of life.  Because I know that the most memorable moments...good or bad...are usually never documented with a picture.

They’re documented in our hearts.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oh, How I Wish All Of My Thoughts Would Start Running in the Same Direction. They're Causing A Traffic Jam.

I’m not working on what I’m supposed to be working on right now.  Shhhh...don’t tell.

I’ve had something on my mind all morning and I don’t really know why it’s been pressing on me so much.  But you know me...if I don’t vent I might explode and I don’t think that’s a headline any of us want to see.

“Widow Chick Spontaneously Combusts in Office Because of Thoughts She Couldn’t Get Down on Paper Fast Enough.”

Okay, okay...I’ll work on it.

I started thinking this morning about why I wanted to start  And although this has been a labor of was really born out of total frustration.

I started the Widow Chick Facebook page around June (I think) and by July we had around 200 people checking in every once in awhile.  I started to feel a motivation like I’d never felt before.  I felt a little lighter when I woke up every morning...mainly because I was making new friends who would always say, “I understand.”

No matter what my problem was, that was the answer I got.

Even when I would have down days, I would know that I had a place where I could go to find a friend.  I knew that even though I was coordinating the page, I didn’t have to be “up” all of the time and I found comfort in the knowledge that if I posted something about not feeling “quite right” I would have a few other people saying they felt the same.

My level of frustration started rising when people started asking me how they could connect with each other and I had no answer to give them.  There are other wonderful websites out there who can put people in touch with each other, but for some didn’t seem like enough to me.  You see...I know what it feels like to need to talk RIGHT NOW and it seemed like there wasn’t a place anyone could go and know that someone would be online any time of the day and they could talk or chat instantly.

And let me tell you...I don’t like not having the answer.

Then one day, I had 3 people I know well actually call me and ask me the same question:  “Where can I tell someone to go who wants to connect with other widows?” 

That’s right.  Three people.  In one day.  And once again...I didn’t have the answer.

My frustration finally peaked when someone posted a comment on the Widow Chick page about a Texas mayor, a widow, who had killed herself and her 19 year old daughter in mid July of 2010. 

Now, most of us will never know why someone has taken their own life or ended the life of someone else.  And this woman left no note indicating that the reason why she had done this was because she was a widow.  But most of us who know how low we can sink in the depths of grief and depression know that she didn’t do this because she was late paying her Visa bill.

I sat there and stared at that posting...angry, upset, and shaking.  Even now, when I think back...I still tear up. 

Why?  Why???  Didn’t she have anyone she could talk to?  Didn’t she have a friend she could go to and say, “I can’t go any lower.  I don’t know what to do”? 

And I knew, because at that point I had encountered so many people out there desperate to find a friend who could understand what they’ve been through...that she probably didn’t.

There are a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, can’t really say what they’re feeling.  It may be because they don’t want their in-laws to read it.  Or someone at work.  Or post something while they’re really in the throes of grief...only to have it thrown back in their faces at some point. 

And I’m betting that a mayor can’t just go knocking on someone’s door and say, “I’m feeling completely alone and suicidal” without it getting out somehow.

I couldn’t stand it.  I literally couldn’t stand it.  I immediately called my best friend and said, “What if we made a place where someone could go?  What if we made it so that they didn’t have share any information if they didn’t want to?  What if they could make up their own name and vent, rant, and cry as much as they wanted to?  What if, when someone couldn’t sleep, they could get online any time and hear the words we all want to hear?”

I understand.

The second the words left my mouth, he said two words:  “Do it.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I know that a good friendship can’t take the place of professional help when it’s needed.  Lord knows I don’t know where I’d be without my therapist.  And if someone is really low...sometimes a friend doesn’t have the resources or know-how to get you out of that slump.  You can’t put a price on good professional help when you need it.

But it’s also nice to have a friend who really understands what you’ve been through who says, “I love you and I’ll always be here for you.  But you need more help than I can give you right now.”

I couldn’t stand the thought that some people didn’t even have that.

Now, taking on a project like this is easier said than done.  To make the way I wanted it...had never been done before.  All of the elements of theWiddahood are out there...but they’re on separate websites.  No one had ever really created a website that had all of the things we have combined. 

And no one has all of the things I still want to do.

But I’ll tell you what really sealed the deal for me.  While I was going through the process of interviewing and hiring the people I needed, I sat down with a web designer who was probably a little younger than my mom.  She listened to me as I explained my vision, taking notes, and quietly nodding her head.  At the end of the discussion she looked at me and said...

“You know...I was widowed in my 20s.  This is personal.  I really want to work on this project with you.”

As I sat with an attorney, going over the finer points of what it would take (and cost...OUCH) to get this done, she sat there quietly in a stuffy conference room in her business suit and took notes...she really didn’t say much at all.  At the end of the meeting, I thought, “She’s going to tell me this is a terrible idea.”

But she suddenly looked up at me and quietly said, “You know?  Every once in awhile I have a client who comes to me with an idea and I feel like there is something bigger than us handing it to them and saying, ‘Take this.  It’s what you’re meant to do.’  That’s what I feel is happening.”

I felt it too.  I still feel it...only in a different way.

This time it’s me saying it to you.  Take this.  Run with it.  I’ve created the space but you can help me create the network.  TheWiddahood is only as strong and as powerful as we make it. 

This’s not mine anymore. 

It’s ours.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'm Feeling Funky

I’m in a funk.

I know, I know...everyone is going to say I shouldn’t be happens to everyone after the holidays.

But it’s surprising me.  So stop saying, “I told you so.”

I’m not quite sure why I’m experiencing this post-holiday let down.  I know I used to go through it as a kid (in a BIG way), but as an adult...I’m usually just as happy to see the holidays go.  Especially because the older I get, the more it seems like I blink and they’re staring me in the face once again.

I think the major part of my funk is that it’s already the New Year.  Where in the hell did my fall go???  One minute I was in shorts and the next I was wrapping Christmas presents.  I just recently put my cover on my grill because it occurred to me that I might not be dining al fresco for awhile.  The football game we talked about going to months ago that seemed so far away, was suddenly over today. 

And I didn’t even buy tickets.

Even though I swore I wouldn’t overbook myself over the holidays, they zoomed in and out and I now I feel like I’ve been involved in a hit and run, courtesy of the Christmas Spirit.  I’m dazed, confused, and medication may be needed. 

Truth be told...I didn’t expect much out of the holidays this year so I can’t really figure out why I’m feeling this huge let down.  Don’t get me wrong...I finally felt like things were getting back on track after my 3 previous Christmases here in Widowdom.  But I’ve also learned to lower my expectations just a teensy bit so that I’m not disappointed when my deceased husband doesn’t show up at my front door with keys to a new car and tickets for a cruise that leaves in 4 hours.

You know...I’m trying to be a little more realistic.

I did my best to give my kids and myself a low-key Christmas this year...that was my present to me.  In fact, my oldest spent most of her vacation in her pjs and can probably recite every word of every Hannah Montana show ever made.  Yesterday they all spent the day in their pajamas and I was too damn lazy to make them change...even when we went to the store.  But I figured...if you can’t wear your pjs and robe to Walgreens...where else can you?  And the bottom line just wasn’t worth the battle to make them change so that I could buy Motrin and some microwave popcorn.

Again...I lowered my expectations.

It amazed me how utterly exhausted I was this holiday season.  And for the life of me I can’t figure out why.  I spent Christmas exactly the way I wanted to...with my immediate family and a requirement that everyone had to wear elastic.  We had one little hiccup on Christmas Day when I realized that the 20 lb. turkey I had purchased for 4 adults had not thawed at all in the 6 days it had been sitting in the fridge.  So we ate a little later than we thought we would as my mom and I battled it out with Bob the Turkey (my daughter informed me that we had already eaten Tom over Thanksgiving) to get him to cooperate.

No toys had to be assembled until 3 AM on Christmas Eve.  I didn’t have to set the table for 26 people I didn’t know.  I didn’t host any parties and I really didn’t go to any.

So why in the hell did I spend December 26th unable to do anything except watch 5 movies back to back?

My New Year’s Eve was spent relaxing and chatting with people in theWiddahood.  My New Years Day was spent...actually I can’t even remember how it was spent it was that eventful.  (Was that just yesterday???)

So why am I sitting here tonight, feeling...a little let down?

Sometimes I hate growing up.  I’m watching my kids who are so excited to go back to school and see their friends tomorrow as I sit here staring at my electric bill that I forgot to pay in all of the holiday “excitement.”  They can’t wait to tell everyone about the presents they got while I’m trying to figure out which kidney I should sell to pay for them.  They are tucked away in their beds, sleeping blissfully until the morning when the biggest decision they’ll have to make is whether to have Corn Chex or Cheerios for breakfast. 

I’m sitting here trying to decide if I should take a Tylenol PM tonight or treat myself to half an Ambien.

Right now I’m feeling the pressure of all of the things I’ve put off until “after the first of the year.”  I know this next week will be hell as we try and get ourselves back into the groove (I dread trying to get the kids out of those pjs in time for the bus).  The bills will come.  My Southern Living will be a little thinner because after the holidays...what is there to decorate for in January?

I’m doing my darndest to give myself something to look forward to in the near future.  But I keep getting weird looks as I try and sell a “Martin Luther King Jr. Party” to my friends and family.  I enjoy the Superbowl, but that’s not enough to get me out of my funk.  And even though the rest of American seems to be obsessed with the upcoming Royal wedding in April (I know...why do we care so much?)...that’s certainly not enough to get me motivated.

If anything I look at that cute girl and want to hide back under the covers with my stale Christmas cookies and some corn chips.

I don’t know.  I spend forever telling you all that if you get in a don’t have to jolly your way out of it.  There are some days that are just not as “sparkly” as others.  So I guess I’ll just relax in my funk (okay...that just made it sound like I really need to take a shower) and live to sparkle another day.

Until then...I may start working on a menu for that Martin Luther King, Jr. party.  I know my friends.  Wave some free food in front of them and they’ll come around.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2011