Banana Bread and Supertramp

Today I was inspired by 4 overripe bananas to bake my healthy banana bread. ๐ŸŒAs I went to look for the ingredients, whole wheat flour, coconut oil etc., it occurred me that this was the first time I baked since Robin died. ๐Ÿค” I was amazed how depleted my cupboards were of the old standbys. About 3.5 years ago, I started exploring baking in a more whole food kind of way. I was intrigued to make desserts taste good but also keep them as pure as possible.๐ŸŒฟ Robin and Isabelle were my guinea pigs and I would say that I had a 25% hit rate. ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿป I played with granola, black bean brownies, raspberry squares and various fruit cobbler dishes. I would say the ones that actually made it to repeat performance was the banana bread and granola. I never let my poor performance get me down as I was going to figure this out and become a cross between Martha Stewart and Dr. Joel Fuhrman. ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿณ

It was nice using my mixer again and made me feel more like my old self. I even laughed a bit thinking about the story of how Robin and I decided to buy this $400 Kitchen-Aid Mixer. ๐Ÿ’ฐWe went through a phase for about 6 months where we were obsessed with watching In the Kitchen with David – QVC. We were riveted to the TV as he sold everything from vegetarian burgers, juicers to very ugly dishes (those showed up on every show). ๐Ÿฅฃ Maybe it was David’s slicked back pompadour hairdo or the strong resemblance to Cam on Modern Family, nevertheless we found ourselves getting completely sucked in – kind of embarrassing. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ This guy was good and we became frequent buyers for things we probably did not need. The only stipulation Robin had was that we did not buy unless the shipping was free. ๐Ÿ“ฌ It bugged him when the shipping costs was equally expensive as the product. I have to admit that his strong disdain for shipping cost did abort some potential sales for QVC from us. In regards to the Kitchen-Aid, I actually needed a mixer and hmm’d and haw about the cost. I had inherited an old one from my mom and it had to be about 50 years old and the cord was frayed and a house fire was inevitable if I continued using it. I also did not think my baking skills were worthy of a purchase at this magnitude even if free shipping was offered. But we did it anyways and looking back, it has served me well and glad we made that spontaneous decision. I really did have fun with Robin and we enjoyed the most ridiculous activities together! We always laughed and embraced our weirdness such as watching QVC on a Saturday afternoon. ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿ‘ป

I guess the whole point of the unending story about the banana bread and the mixer is that I am healing and getting back into my old groove.๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿป I am definitely a changed person and feel very proud of my accomplishments over the last year. Let’s face it though, the bar was kind of low.๐Ÿฅ‰However, Isabelle and I have survived and maybe even thrived a bit too. It is such a crazy experience and there are days that I cannot believe that Robin is gone and this is how our life turned out. It is nuts how you picture your life going a certain way and it just does not always happen…. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

So this is my 51st post and as I look back at a year, it was so interesting to review my highs and lows. ๐Ÿ„๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธThe truth of the matter is that time does heal however the up’s and down’s don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. I believe it is our new reality for awhile and I guess that is ok… I wanted to make sure that Isabelle and I really experienced the loss and grieve as authentically as possible.๐Ÿ˜ข I think it is important to honor Robin and embrace that our family was forever changed on July 23, 2018. Yet now we are able to think about things fondly (well at least 80% of the time) without falling into the ugly cry. ๐Ÿ˜ญ I guess that is progress and as I see Isabelle buzzing around back into normal teenager activities including not cleaning her room, forgetting everything I ask her to do … I am kind of glad. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

As I reflect about everything that has happened, I am sitting on the couch and the banana bread is baking and it smells delicious. Isabelle continues to text me asking when it will be ready. The downside of baking is that healthy recipe take like two days in the oven – why is that? ๐Ÿค” So as I wait for the the bread to be done, it kind of reminds me of our early happy times – sitting on the couch with the pugs as they sleep and I listen to Supertramp – Take the Long Way Home. It was a good day and hope for many more to come… (by the way – colonoscopy went fine and apologize for taking it out on all of you in the last blog – not my finest writing I could never be an anorexic )

Higher Energy and Savings Bonds

Today, I am trying to figure out how to stay productive while prepping for a colonoscopy and I guess writing a blog post is a safe activity considering some of my limitations – ha ha. ๐Ÿคซ So I sit on the couch expecting many natural interruptions and try to be inspired to write about “energy.” ๐Ÿ’ฅ

Since Robin has passed away, I have felt different – kind of lighter (not body weight – unfortunately๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿป) but my spirit. I worry less and walk around with more of appreciation of the goodness around me. ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผIt’s weird considering you would think I would be feeling down and depressed. Don’t get me wrong, the loss of Robin can be overwhelming at times but I just feel more connected with a higher source and him. It’s hard to explain without sounding like a wack job.๐Ÿคช๐ŸคชIn my effort to get a better understanding of what is going on in my life, I have taken a new obsession with learning about death and the afterlife. ๐Ÿ˜‡ ๐Ÿ‘ This is kind of embarrassing to admit on a public blog, but what the hell – I am sort of scrambling for material anyways. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Have I mentioned that I have 2 more blog posts to go after this? ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค— My reading list consists of Spirited, Psychics, Plan B, Answers About The Afterlife to name a few. Probably not the most uplifting selection for the neighborhood book club but I find it fascinating. Basically, all these books except Plan B (gotta read my girl Sheryl Sandberg) support this belief of energy and connection. Our bodies may die but our spirit does not and I believe it as I see evidence everyday. My connection to nature, my home, friends and Robin are different. I no longer carry this self imposed weight on my back. It is totally weird and feels like I turned a knob on a radio and am playing at a higher frequency. An alternative explanation could be the CBD oil – nah its not THAT GOOD!๐Ÿ˜Ž

With my new status as widow, I have been drawn to different people than in the past. Now don’t feel bad because I love all my friends the same but I am definitely feeling a pull to Tramayne and Laura. One of the themes that all these spirit books have in common is that there are no coincidences in life. The universe brings people to you that you need in your life.

Our coincidence happened when Tramayne, Laura and I joined Hershey in 2010/2011 and I am sure it was because of the fabulous recruitment. ๐Ÿ™ƒ We instantly hit it off and were driven by a common mission to help the company broaden their business globally. We are three people who grew up in completely different circumstances, times and families, yet we are drawn together. We ended up leaving Hershey and going our separate ways yet stayed in touch. However our connection in the last year has grown stronger. It is so interesting.. Although we enjoy our snide little stories of the past, most of our discussions tend to be about exploration, growing and contentment. Now, I know this sounds nutty – cause it does, but there is something that is so fulfilling about this state of being. ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธAnd in the wake of lots of changes in all our lives, we are all gravitating to the same place. There are no coincidences – we were meant to be together right now. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป

Ok, went deep there๐Ÿค”, time to come back to reality as the middle part may have been a snooze fest. ๐Ÿงธ So changing gears, I was reading my AARP magazine (another embarrasing moment) and there was an article about how to claim abandoned property. I was intrigued and signed up in both PA and MI. After about 3 months without updates and then a sudden request to upload a form, I received my unclaimed property from MI (still waiting on PA – have no idea what it is). It turns out that we had a safety deposit box and there were US Savings Bonds that were given to us when Isabelle was a baby. It was exciting to discover that there was a potential to deposit more money in Isabelle’s college fund as it is right around the corner. ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐ŸŽ“I flipped through these bonds like I was rolling in the dough. There were $50, $100, $200 … wow. I went onto Treasury.gov to verify their worth. I mean these had been brewing for about 17 years. With a little disappointment, I realized the worth of the bonds were just slightly more (barely) from the face value. I quickly learned that all bonds are not created equal. There were I bonds that you don’t actually purchase them for face value. Many of my $50 bonds are worth $36.50. There were a few that actually acrued impressive interest and doubled their value (but all and all) kind of a wash. Well, this is not a big deal since it was extra cash and a gift. I called my credit union to see if they redeemed the savings bonds and unfortunately this was not a service they provided. I was directed to other banks but I don’t have an account with them. Then someone told me that I could redeem them on line with the treasury department. Well this process is not easy either because I need to find a certified agent to watch us sign the bonds and he/she is to provide a seal. It is not a notary public but some other role that I am sure my credit union does not offer either. Well, 2 hours later after screwing around with these bonds… I am not any further along and completely annoyed with them. This gift is a real pain (thank you – I do appreciate it) and it sucks. ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿป Ugh… maybe it is laxatives or the fact that I am on an all liquid diet and feeling crabby… but grandmas and grandpas… give us a check instead please!๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ต I canโ€™t wait to figure out the Israeli savings bonds next…๐Ÿ˜˜. Maybe I should wait to write when I have food in my system.. sorry if blog post is ๐Ÿ’ฉ- no pun intendedโค๏ธ

There is No Playbook

I am inspired by my childhood friend – Dena Miller Peters who always says she doesn’t know what to say to me. I am writing this post to share my opinion (and did seek a bit of advice from a few others) around what has worked for me and what has not in regards of comforting words and actions. ๐ŸงMajor disclaimer — I do not speak for all widows or those who have lost loved ones. I can only tell you how I feel and really isn’t that what matters since this is my blog?? ha ha. ๐Ÿคช But really, I still struggle to figure out what to say too… it is totally awkward and uncomfortable. So here is my best shot at what made me feel good and what did not. ๐Ÿคญ

THE DO LIST

TALK ABOUT HIM/HER: It is important for me to keep the memory of Robin alive and it makes me feel really happy when people tell me how much he mattered in their lives too. As a widow, I want to hear about Robin as he was pivotal in my life. So please speak his name and share your experiences and thoughts about him with me. Trust me, you are not going to open old wounds by bringing his name up. I think about him all the time and I am coming to peace with my situation. ๐Ÿ˜‡ I have been very comforted with funny stories and hearing that he was important to you too. You don’t have to make him out to be a saint – he wasn’t – just keep it real and treat the conversation as if he is still with us. For example, his friend Doug went to their high school reunion this weekend and took a Chicago Bear’s jersey in memory of Robin – that was so sweet and touched my heart. See picture above and I hope Dougโ€™s head is not chopped off (canโ€™t figure out this app sometimes ugh)๐Ÿ™„

BEING REAL: Not knowing what to say is authentic and I am ok with it. I appreciate you acknowledging that you are uncomfortable because I am too. It is a also a good ice breaker. โ› Here are some good pointers, ask me how it is going and let me know you are around to listen and provide emotional support. You don’t need to give advice, just knowing you care and are there for me is enough. Sometimes less words and being compassionate is better than a bunch of words that don’t mean anything. It always made me feel good when people shared that they were thinking of me and cared especially during random times. For example, my friend Marla sends me texts with cute emojis or sayings. I have no idea where she finds this stuff, but it is heartwarming and special. ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Doug sends me pictures of the sky, rainbows and random shots when he feels Robin is with him. ๐ŸŒˆ

JUST DO IT: I really appreciated when people stepped in and helped me out without waiting for an invitation. Most of the time in the first year, you have no idea what is going on and don’t really care about the day to day things. You are just trying to survive. Gilma and Tonya took over logistics and home matters in the first few weeks after Robinโ€™s death. I needed his office to be sorted out and it was a huge pressure off me when they handled it. My colleagues took on all my work to allow me to take the time grieve. My friend Raphael called and told me he was getting dinner for us at his favorite Middle Eastern restaurant. Kelley and her family sent us soup on a cold day for dinner. My friend Stacey sent a running vest after reading my blog about jogging in the pitch black. My lawn service took away a bunch of debris from the backyard that was too heavy for me to carry alone. The point of the matter is you do not have to spend money, just taking action and not asking for permission is really nice. There were many more kind gestures that I truly appreciated.

POSITIVE ENERGY: I was depleted and very vulnerable emotionally after losing Robin and still have days and weeks that I am down.๐Ÿ˜ข I need to be picked up without any expectation that I can reciprocate in the near future. ๐Ÿ˜•It is important to have people around that can lift you up and help you see that north star. โญ๏ธ My best friends, Marla, Debbie and Renee just were there for me and kept me grounded and calm. (and drugged – just for the first week) ๐Ÿฅณ Tramayne and Laura hopped on a plane just to be here for me and consistently call and text. They make me feel so optimistic, zen and provide me an avenue to just say what I need to say without judgement (at least I think entry donโ€™t judge) ๐Ÿง

Now on the other-side, there are a few things that don’t really work. With that being said, don’t be embarrassed, we are all guilty of these including me. So here they are in no particular order.

THE DON’T LIST

CLICHE PHRASES: I am so sorry for your loss, there are no words etc.. really are quite awkward and whitewash the whole situation. I mean Robin was your friend and or relative, it feels cold and weird. Those cliche lines only work well if you lost something not someone. I know this makes you cringe cause we all say it – me too guilty. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ What works best for me were lines like, I am so sad that Robin is gone – he meant alot to me and I wanted you to know that this is a big loss for your family and us too – he is missed already. If you did not know him, here was a comforting line after the funeral – I wish I had known Robin, he sounded like a great guy – I am so sorry that he passed. โ˜๏ธ

HOW CAN I HELP? This was also a very popular phrase gifted upon me from time to time. And I think …. you meant it (did you)? The truth is that I have just gotten kicked in the gut and I am down and out, I don’t know how you can help. It is hard because you put the burden on me to figure out. As you know, I try to find humor in any situation, so at the shiva I was sitting with Caroline (She is sort of my sister-in-law, I will go with that) and after she heard a few, how can I help questions, we began to think about how could I take them up on their offer. Here are some things that came to mind. Could I call someone up and share that I was craving a corn beef sandwich from Zingerman’s on a Monday night at about 7, would it be awkward to ask for them to drop everything and pick it up for me? ๐ŸฅชFor those that do not know, this deli is in Ann Arbor and about 1 hour plus away. If I needed my house windows and screens washed, does that qualify? ๐Ÿ  You get my drift! Thanks all for the great chuckle and bonding moment with Caroline. I did appreciate the offer but it was one that I could never act on. ๐Ÿ˜˜

RELATING TO THE SITUATION: I know people are well intentioned but it is difficult when people say, I know how you feel and then provide a story that does not relate in comparison to the magnitude of the loss. When the EMT was wheeling out my husband’s body, he said, I know how you feel, my dad died too. This was a guy that was about 40+ years old. This is a slippery slope when you are trying to share grief. I would say, rule of thumb, don’t say stuff like this unless the situation is similar. Losing a parent is not the same as losing a spouse and losing a child is far worse and not the same as either mentioned. You may want to stay away from this all together because it is not comforting and may in fact challenge my thoughts about your emotional intelligence (just kidding – maybe) .. ๐Ÿค“ Lighten up everyone! – trying to be funny too!!๐Ÿ˜ƒ

RESPECT MY HEALING: Everyone has been great about inviting me out and including me in social events. I can’t tell you how much it is appreciated. I would say, please continue to invite but give me the latitude to bow out early or cancel if I need to in that moment. Sometimes sadness or things trigger me and I just want to remove myself from the situation. I tend to be an introvert and there are times when my biggest comfort maybe staying home and being alone. Everyone grieves different and unfortunately it is a confusing process. For example, I was actually feeling very good for many months but right before the one year anniversary of Robin’s death, I became very bummed out. I just lost energy and wanted to stay at home and not go out too much. ๐Ÿ›It is really hard because sometimes you do want to get out and go! ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธIt is truly a roller coaster of emotions and you never know when you will be up or down. Don’t take it personal, it’s me (and this time that is not a line)๐Ÿ™„

WRAPPING IT UP

I realize that many of you may feel that you fall into both categories and if I was being honest, in the past, I would have been more in the don’t list than the do. ๐ŸคญI want to reiterate that my family and friends have been incredible and I feel very blessed to have such a strong support network. I believe I am one of the lucky one’s because I hang out with a high quality group of people (that of course is all of you). ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€โ™€๏ธAgain this is a tricky topic and I was trying to be real. I also have found myself even in the last few months saying stupid things to comfort others grieving .. so I suck at this too. ๐Ÿ˜ฌI don’t have all the answers but hope to shed light on an uncomfortable topic. And last but not least, if this did not work… let me know how I can help? Ha ha… peace and love โœŒ๏ธโค๏ธ

Blog post 49…. 3 more to go๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿฅณ

Isabelle Is Coming Home

For those who did not know, Isabelle took her first international trip and visited Bulgaria and Israel. She has been gone a month, exploring the world, making new friends and growing up. I am so excited to see her tomorrow and get more insight about her trip since her communication with me was limited yet my Verizon bill tells me a different story. I had a small heart attack when I saw the first invoice come in. Let’s just say it was more than my trip to PA. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Before the trip, everyone was concerned and asked if I was going to be alright with Isabelle being gone a month. I was not worried at all about it since I wanted her to have an amazing time and my motto is “when she is happy so am I.” ๐Ÿ‘ The truth of the matter is the time away went fine as I had anticipated. I made a personal commitment to focus on myself and of course hang out with my favorite pugs in the world. ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ I set some goals including working out more, eating better, purging junk out of the house and refocusing on work. And for the most part, I would say I achieved a solid B+ on my efforts. Oh well… ๐Ÿ†

It is so funny, I thought I would have a ton of time to take care of those nagging chores that you just never have time for .. and guess what? I still did not make time for them. ๐Ÿ™„So purging the closet is still on the list – ๐Ÿ‘š๐Ÿ‘™๐Ÿ‘—๐Ÿ‘ก๐Ÿ‘›…well there is always Christmas break. I also decided I would work out more frequently which I did – averaging about 4 times a week – ok not perfect but getting better. I decided that I needed to build my core and committed to do a plank everyday. ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธI had been reading Prevention magazine and thought I could handle this challenge. I started out with 30 seconds and have not moved up to a solid minute in a half. The only problem is my left shoulder hurts and sometimes feels numb – but definitely have seen an improvement in my stamina. ๐Ÿค” I also see my 3 to 4 pack emerging – haha. As all of you know from a previous blog, I also decided to taking a short trip, which I did, to visit my friend Laura. For more information on that – see my post “Chickenless Soup For The Soul.” Oh and last but not least, I really dialed into my job, trying to pick up the pace, get my team on track and crank out an onboarding project. This is still a work in progress but making headway.

In any typical womanโ€™s goals, it involved dropping a few pounds with better eating – especially from my garden. However, I can honestly say that I only ate 3 salads in the month. ๐ŸŒฟActually to be specific, I had lettuce, chives, one green pepper (Erma – may she rest in peace) and a lot of dill. Timing is everything when you grow your own and I still did not get it right. The tomatoes should be ready in 2 weeks, just in time for the lettuce to end the season… should I say more? Now back to the point about losing weight. I did not so much, but I am proud to announce that Ella Borr – our pug is the one that ended up looking svelte. When we went to the vet several months ago, she topped the scale at 23 pounds and was wheezing which concerned me. I did not want her to have to go on a puppy C Pap Machine, so Lisa (friend and second dog mother) and I limited the cookies and started to increase the frequency of walks – and ta da…. she looks awesome. My healthy and hot puppy….. ๐Ÿ‘™

So upon reflection, it was a nice month where I was able to detach and chill. I do think being alone gave me time to think and comprehend all that has happened over the last year. I was so busy trying to survive and move forward since last July that I had not given myself quiet time to process and to be honest… be sad. ๐Ÿ˜ขI think this was good for me and for Isabelle too… I hope she was able to think, absorb, connect and feel something special in Israel. I wanted this to be the trip of her life and maybe fill the void of not having Robin with us anymore. Also, riding a camel sounded pretty cool!!๐Ÿซ

I am excited to see her and give her a big hug and a sloppy mommy kiss. ๐Ÿ’‹It will be great to see how she has changed and hear her insights after this huge adventure. I do know after exchanging a text a few days ago with her that she was ready to come home. She missed me, the pugs and our routine. It’s comforting knowing our boring little life together is still desired even when she is in the holiest land in the world. Boy, what a difference a year makes for us… I am feeling quite optimistic…๐Ÿฅณ

In One Week – It Will Be One Year

On July 23rd, it will be one year since Robin died and I have to be honest that the last few weeks have been kind of rough for me. ๐Ÿ˜ข I am not sure exactly why raw emotions are emerging that are similar to what I experienced when he passed. Maybe as my friend Laura suggested, one year represents a sacred or suspended amount time dedicated to Robin and now it is coming to end. I suppose she may be right. I gave myself a year to mourn and now as it is closing out, I have to accept that I must go on without him …and the blog. On a side note, six more postings – but who is counting? (me) ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ I am getting super bored with it. ๐Ÿ™„

Ok, back to the sad story… ๐Ÿ˜˜ I can’t stop thinking that Robin has been gone an entire year – that is a really long time. It went so slow and at the same time so fast. There were some days and nights that were endless and yet now here we are. ๐Ÿ˜• I just don’t even know what to think or feel about it anymore. I wonder if our roles were reverse and I was gone – what would have happened? I am sure Robin would have been married to another lucky lady living off the hefty life insurance – haha ๐Ÿ˜‚ I know for a fact, he would not have written a blog for everyone to read. I am sure he is rolling his eyes in heaven at me…๐Ÿคช

As Robinโ€™s death date approaches, I try to remember what we were doing, thinking and feeling a year ago this week? I know Robin and I were spending a lot of time together as Isabelle was at camp. He was doing a ton of clean up in the backyard (reverse nesting? ๐Ÿค”). We were running errands together, trying new restaurants and binge watching Homeland (until he bailed half way through season 7โ˜ ๏ธ). It was a nice and relaxing being with him. I really felt that we were reinventing the marriage and very content. He was being emotionally available which I appreciated since I had bugged him about not being so present for over a decade ๐Ÿ˜†. I remember we didnโ€™t feel well and I stayed home from work believing we may have caught a slight bout of food poisoning. I felt better after a day but he was still not 100 percent and I did not think anything of it. Little did I know what we would be experiencing the following week. I remember Robin had a good talk with Isabelle as she decided to call him late one evening. I was jealous but glad they connected with one another. He, of course, gave me very little detail about what they discussed but shared it was nice. I remember cramming to get Isabelle’s bedroom organized and wanting to surprise her when she returned from camp, This is the loop currently playing in my head and questioning what could I have changed to affect the outcome. Hindsight is 20/20 and there were a ton of signs that I did not notice because I was not paying attention. What if I clued in earlier? What if I had called the doctor on Friday instead of Sunday? What if … What if…. ???

Even though I have regrets and miss Robin at the deepest level possible, I also have received many gifts and blessings in the last year. I am grateful that Isabelle and I have weathered the storm and our relationship is stronger than ever. โ˜€๏ธI am grateful that I have amazing friends who have stepped up to the plate. On a side note, Marla made me the most special scrapbook celebrating our 50 years of friendship (OMG – can you believe it! Most pictures are cute except a few when we clearly did not have good hair products available and we chose very bad layered hairstyles – should I even say more?) ๐Ÿ‘ญI am grateful that I did not have to worry about finances. ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐI am grateful for new friends who have supported me with the dogs, cooking and general household matters. I am grateful that I chose to look forward rather than obsess in the past (well except a few blogs including this one). ๐Ÿคญ I am grateful that I feel connected with Robin and have called him in many times when I could not handle something on my own and he has answered.โค๏ธ I am grateful that I finally figured out the water issue in the backyard (can you say hell ya!!).๐Ÿ’ง I am grateful for Laura and Ella who are exceptional and adorable puppies. ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ Most of all I am grateful that Isabelle and I are survivors, thrivers and we have grown from this whole experience.

So all and all, it has been a tough month for me full of many would ofs and should ofs … However, I don’t want to minimize these feelings and memories because Robin was just that special and worth it!!! I can handle some pain because our life together was pretty fricken awesome while it lasted. Love you honey always and forever. ๐Ÿ˜˜โค๏ธโค๏ธ

Chickenless Soup For The Soul

Nothing makes you feel totally at ease and relaxed like a good friend and a week of sun and a pool. ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ My friend Laura invited me to visit her over the July 4th holiday and it sounded like a fun idea. But as all you know, I enjoy staying in the comfort of my home and routine. However, one of the promises I made to myself was to start travel and get out there a little more. So upon the invite after a few hmms and haws, I booked a ticket to visit her in Reinhold, PA. โœˆ๏ธ

Laura and I met when I recruited her to Hershey. Who would have known we would become fast and great friends? ๐Ÿ‘ญLaura’s professional background was impressive to say the least, but the best thing is our ability to laugh (that deep belly laugh) about any random stupid thought that came our way. No one could quite understand when they found us in an office after hours hysterically laughing about nothing. Needless to say, I knew our time together over the holiday was going to rekindle our stupid antics. ๐Ÿ˜œ

Coincidentally, Laura also lost her husband this year, so we have been leaning on one another to get through this ordeal. It is so interesting that a tragedy in both of our lives would bring us back together, maybe a little divine intervention… who knows? ๐Ÿ˜‡Anyways, enough about the sad stuff, I packed a lite bag which mainly involved swimsuits as I knew we were going to spend the majority of time in her new pool. I was anxious to see it finally since I was there for its inception. I feel like this pool’s aunt. I remembered when it was only a dream, then the down payment, the poorly executed build and finally … it was here for Aunt Risa to see. And let me say, it did not disappoint…. โ˜€๏ธ

Laura picked me up from the airport, looking gorgeous and skinny. Figures mourning for her involved not eating where my situations was the exact opposite … ugh… We hightailed it to her gorgeous home. ๐Ÿ  Here I thought it was going to be a casual weekend and to my delight, I entered into “The Heaton Spa and Resort.” I kind of felt underdressed… yikes. She showed me around the house and shared stories about her art, statues and attention to incredible detail with her light fixtures, doors and decoration of her home. I had no idea she had all this in here – quite impressive. She is currently going through a “Turkey” inspired phase which involved a magnificent chandelier, towels and delicious jelly candies – yum – raspberry was my favorite.๐Ÿญ

We had a very specific agenda for the next three days; lay in the pool, laugh, lay in the pool, eat, lay in the pool and exercise with THE MIRROR (which I will get to later as we did not end up doing this until 30 minutes before I had to leave for the airport). There was no need to leave the house as Laura had everything one would need. She had an incredible garden with every herb, flower and plant you could imagine.๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒธ It was truly a farm to table experience. In the morning I was greeted with fresh fruit (on 4th of July, a red, white and blue ensemble) and home cooked meals continued to come. Laura was a vegan… way before it was cool and on trend. She is an excellent chef and whipped up these incredible dishes like it was no big deal (she knows how to do everything except connect a remote to the cable). ๐Ÿ˜˜ We dined on a lot of vegetables, fruits, vegan cheeses etc… everything was amazing. She even had reverse osmosis water served in these glass containers (which I quickly stole the idea and just received them today from Amazon). ๐Ÿ’งI never anticipated to be treated like a queen… and I enjoyed every moment.๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿป

Putting all that aside, the best part of our time together to reconnect and talk about everything. We spoke about loss, gratitude, hope, work, professional ambitions, personal dreams and other secrets that I will never tell. We had such an easy time together just being together even if it may have involved a lot of sleeping on a raft in a pool. It was pure heaven. Laura was the ultimate hostess and made me reevaluate my skills in this area – I think you will not get the same experience in my home. You will get a bed though…. ๐Ÿ›

Of course in our true patterns, Laura and I left all our action items for the vacation together to the last minute. One was to work out using “THE MIRROR.” It is a body length mirror that connects to live and recorded exercise classes. You can take cardio, yoga, stretching and other. I was excited to check it out. Unfortunately, Laura overdid it in cardio class prior to my arrival so we needed to take it easy and chose to do a stretching class. ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธIt was so cool and felt like a real class. Maybe part of the experience was enhanced because we worked out in Laura’s personal gym – which put my little exercise room to shame. It was so fun and I am actually tempted to buy “THE MIRROR” for myself… we will see…

My retreat came to an end on Saturday and it was bittersweet leaving Laura and her incredible home and of course adorable puppies (not mentioned previously but significant to this story – Stan, Nina and Louie). But the pugs were waiting and it was time for me to get back to reality and not overstay my welcome. All in all, I had such a great time and felt so relaxed. We had intended to drink and really booze it up but realistically we just hung out and found ourselves barely keeping our eyes open past 11 p.m. What wild gals…!! We did have a late night bonfire where I tried to teach Laura camp songs as she never attended as a kid. ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐ŸขHowever, she became quickly turned off with my rendition of the “Titanic Song”… It was sad so sad … it was sad too bad when the great ship went down to the bottom of the sea… husband and wives, little children lost their lives (I guess that is creepy when I think of it). Other than that, would not have changed a thing. This trip was truly “Chickenless Soup for the Soul” – no meat eaten or animal harmed during our time. ๐ŸฃNothing soothes you like great friendships, deep conversations and raft in the pol. Fabulous time… highly recommend the Heaton Resort … 5 Stars. โญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธ

The Nothing Post

I decided this month I was going to focus on myself while Isabelle is away for the summer. I was not sure how I was going to feel being alone but I gotta say, I am enjoying it. I am happy to know Isabelle is having an amazing time and hopefully learning to be more independent as she discovers this great big world. โœˆ๏ธ So as she is out and about, I promised myself to make the most of my time and work on me. ๐Ÿ˜›

Although I set goals to exercise, eat better and read, I am noticing that my first priority has become sleep. ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ดLast week, I slept great and enjoyed it. I did not realize how tired I was and knowing that I don’t really need to parent on a daily basis, it is fun to just f–k around a little on the weekend without a set schedule. ๐Ÿค— So here was an overview of today and it was awesome: 1. Slept in till 8:45 a.m – ok not entirely true๐Ÿคฅ (Isabelle woke me up by sending a picture from Bulgaria at 6:00 a.m., after a quick text reprimand) I fell back asleep. 2. Woke up and looked at my new phone app which showed me the pugs were still sound asleep in their bedroom – phew… 3. Took girls out and went for a quick walk before the humidity kicked in (which is killer for my little furry pugs). ๐Ÿถ 4. Went to Zumba and ran around with Gilma. 5. Came home and decided to watch a movie from my large selection off of Comcast. 6. The movie – Old Man and a Gun with Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek which got good reviews but was slow as hell. ๐ŸŽฅNever understood why he stole from banks (only that it may have given him a thrill); never understood why he wore that thing in his ear (maybe to hear the police) and then the movie ended – a real snoozefest. 7. Movie encouraged me to take leisurely nap with pugs on couch (something I never do). ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด 8. Watered garden again and attempted to prune dill and the tomato jungle that occurred because I did not manage garden appropriately. ๐Ÿ…9. Ran out to store for some staple food items as I was out of milk. 10. Back on couch watching “Good Bones” and continuing to be annoyed with the mother who is part of the design duo. She always does weird stuff with plants and junk found in the house prior to the redesign – which adds nothing to the show or the home remodel (she seems nice but her daughter is the talent).๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ง11. Write blog with pugs by my side and sherpa on lap, promoting another wave of sleepiness…

All and all in was a day of nothing that I thoroughly enjoyed. I am at peace, a little achy from back to back workouts but generally very content in my zen like moment. ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ I am glad to have the opportunity to just be… with no expectations or timelines. Boring to most… perfect for me! Time to get ready for bed.. ha ha just joking – NOT !!! Peace and Love – Risa out…๐ŸŽค๐ŸŽค

Bulgaria Bound

As I write this blog, Isabelle is flying to Bulgaria to embark on a summer in Europe and Israel. I am so excited for her and hope she has the time of her life but with that being said, this trip did not come without some anxiety. ๐Ÿ˜ง Isabelle really wanted to go away with her friends however as we hit almost the one year mark of Robin’s death, she is reliving the last moments with her father. ๐Ÿ˜ข She was nervous to leave me and her grandmother in fear that another tragedy would strike while she was gone. I am saddened to think she had concerns and maybe I exercised some bad humor by telling her that if anything happens, we will just let her know upon her return. Obviously this was not an appreciated comment but I wanted to ease the tension. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿค”I assured her that grandma and I would be very careful and that she did not need to worry.

Once again it is summer and very hard to believe that we are coming around to the one year anniversary of his death. This year was the most difficult of our lives and at times felt endless and really dragged, especially in the winter. But now, as July approaches, twelve months later without Robin, it feels like yesterday. I miss him so much and yet some of my memories of him are starting to fade, which is scary. ๐Ÿ˜ฐโค๏ธ I suppose it is healthy to help those grieving move forward but it also stirs up guilt when the stories from the past of him are getting foggy. Mourning and healing is so fascinating and it is true that time does heals. ๐ŸŒˆ Donโ€™t get me wrong, I am sad and wish he was still with me. I feel cheated that he left us so young and way too soon. Yet on the other hand, I am adjusting to my new future and it is starting to feel a little more natural.

I have gotten much more spiritual having gone through this experience and ironically feel a deeper connection with Robin. He is our protector and I now leave it in his hands to help us through challenging times and to step in when we need it. I don’t worry as much as I used to and that is a big accomplishment! I bet he is saying in heaven “she had to wait for me to die to stop being so nervous?โ€๐Ÿ˜‹ I know that he has our back and I am just a little more confident and certain more than I ever have been before. There are daily signs that let me know he is with and supports us. If it is the Robin Red Breast in my yard๐Ÿฅor certain obstacles miraculously working out, it is very comforting. I feel a little more secure as I maneuver life and parent Isabelle. What a guy I had? I feel more loved than I ever had before from him. ๐Ÿ˜˜ What we had was truly special and eternal and I am forever grateful. However, I also know it is time for me to get my life back too. โ˜€๏ธ

I hope over the next month while Isabelle is on her trip and having a positive life changing experience and growing up, I am going to start work on myself. It is time for better eating (as I stuff my face with the best vegetarian sandwich – tomorrow I promise๐Ÿ˜‰), more exercise ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธand getting focused on new goals to live my best life. Isabelle is watching and she needs to know that she does not need to worry about me…. Boy I wish Robin was in the picture… this is terrifying and tough .. but I am taking it on. Wish me luck !!!!๐Ÿคž

By the way, this is blog post #43. Nine more to go to fulfill my commitment to myself. After the last post, I will retire widows-diary.com as it has served its purpose. It is getting to be time. ๐ŸŽฌ

Father’s Day

When Robin and I were young parents, we decided that one of us needed to take the lead at home as it was getting tough juggling work and a baby. ๐Ÿฃ My career was taking off and Robin was not thrilled with his so it was a natural choice for us. This decision was not a popular one in our community but we knew it was right for our family. Robin did not care what people thought. He enjoyed being a dad and was happy to take on his full time role. He stepped into daddy duties quickly by taking Isabelle on all his errands in her baby carrier. If it was the grocery store, haircut appointment or out to lunch with his friends, she was his sidekick.๐Ÿ’ˆPeople would stop him to look at the cute baby and most comments were something to the effect of “well we certainly know who her daddy is” She looked just like him and their bond was undeniable. I remember feeling jealous at times that they had so much time together and actually enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ˜ก

Part of Robin’s daddy tasks involved taking Isabelle to Gymboree classes where he was the only guy there. He would sit in the circle, sing the songs and join in as if it was normal and no big deal. Once the novelty wore off, he became just like the other mothers. They would talk baby stuff, exchange recipes and gossip. It always amazed me how he could float between the world of poopy diapers and fantasy football with ease. ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿˆ

As Isabelle started going to school, Robin made sure he was involved and around. He was one of the parents you could really rely on. At Hillel Day School, he was a lunch dad and every week, he worked his shift with pride. He always said the only difference between him and the other mom’s is that he did not wear Lululemon pants and drink Starbucks.๐Ÿ‘„ He was a school favorite with the kids and moms no matter if it was in Farmington Hills, MI or Harrisburg, PA. Isabelle was always happy to have him around and seemed proud that he was very involved with her school.๐Ÿ–‡

Although Robin was the stay at home dad, there were things he also did that were uniquely not mom-ish. The two of them would wrestle constantly, play video games and on occasion Robin was known to send Isabelle to school with clothes on backwards. With that being said, he did teach her many things that staying at home with me would never have happened. Robin and Isabelle loved learning about the world, geography, politics and sports. ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡งI remember Isabelle went through a phase where she was obsessed with North Korea… ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ตnot typically on a young girls mind. For a year, she was obsessed with water buoys (I have no idea how this came about). Robin found a catalog that sold buoys and he spent hours going through the book and explaining the different makes and models with her. It was so darling and very bizarre too… he got it. โš“๏ธ

Robin and Isabelle shared a passion for sports.. specifically basketball. They would watch games together and he would teach her the strategy behind the game. When she made her school’s basketball team starting in middle school, he was at every game and cheered her one and of course, in true Robin style, also cursed out any referees with a questionable call. When Isabelle had a bad day or disappointing game, Robin knew how to handle her and make her feel better. He was also her first call when she was sleeping out and homesick. He would field the calls and settle her down. I must admit he had a knack with me too..๐Ÿ˜›

When Isabelle learned how to drive, Robin was the one who would take her out and teach her the rules of the road. He would take her to parking lots and spin the car and do donuts and probably other questionable techniques that I probably don’t want to know about. Let’s just say, Robin was an aggressive and fast driver. ๐Ÿš˜ She received her license with ease and happens to be a great driver.

Isabelle left for camp last year on June 21, 2018 and I remember Robin and I fought because it was really early and I thought he would be late getting her to the airport. I suggested I drive her and he would not entertain it at all. Who knew this was going to be the last day that she was to see her father alive. He took the picture shown above at the airport and sent it to me to make sure I felt included in the camp dropoff.

Isabelle’s communication skills at camp were basically non existent. We were lucky to get a one word text from her. Robin shared with me at about week three of camp that he and Isabelle had a very nice long conversation. Apparently, Isabelle could not sleep one night and wanted to talk with her dad. As she looks back, she is not sure why she decided to call him or how she had the urge but she is so glad she did. I personally think it was a god whisper. ๐Ÿ˜‡ Who would have ever known that he would be gone the following week.

So now back to the first Father’s Day we will be celebrating without Robin being with us. I remind Isabelle that she may be the luckiest girl in the world. Although Robin’s time on this earth was short, she received 16+ years of having what I would classify as the greatest dad. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘งHe was truly there for her and she was his priority. He took his role of being a dad seriously and brushed off comments when people questioned if he should be working instead of staying home (in true confession – I asked the question too). He raised Isabelle to do the right thing, be confident and kind. He made sure her values were anchored and she did not stray with the wrong crowd. He taught her to be curious and think beyond West Bloomfield. There is a whole big world out there and to this day her passion for global affairs and politics sticks. He also gave her a sense of humor and the courage to be her own person and not follow the pack. She is truly an amazing young woman because of her dad and by the mere fact that he made her his life work.โค๏ธโค๏ธ

Tomorrow Isabelle and I decided to have a happy day in honor of Robin. We are going to run a 5k (I hope that is fun for me), go shopping and hang out. We miss him and there is no doubt about it but we also feel extremely blessed to have him with us even if it was cut short. Isabelle knows that she had a dad that was “all in” and I know that his positive imprint will last the rest of her life.

Thank you Robin for shaping our wonderful daughter … I hope I can keep up your good work. Love You – Happy Father’s Day!!๐Ÿ˜˜

Robinโ€™s Unveiling Ceremony

Today was Robin’s unveiling ceremony. This is a service to remember him and reflect on the last year of being without him.

I wanted to make sure it was a casual and traditional service where our small group of friends and family could participate. Funny stories were shared including road rage incidents, disappointing customer service situations (Robin never stepped into a Meijers again as I banned him ๐Ÿ˜ฎ) and an aborted stakeout and undercover operation gone awry๐Ÿ˜Ž.

It was a very special service despite the fact that I had to sneak all attendees through the back gate of the cemetery because I did not realize it was a Jewish holiday and it was technically closed.. Yikes, so we had the joint to ourselves ๐Ÿ˜›. Note to self – Shavuot is a serious holiday and one should check the calendar first before sending invites out and having guests from out of town book plan tickets – whoops!

Anyways, shout out to acting Rabbi Debbie, one of my best friends, who led the ceremony and did an amazing job. Also thanks to everyone who traveled in including Stacey, Marla, Bob, Shiva Dog, Debbie, Kevin, Doug, John, Magnes and cousins Ellie and Sussie. Additional thanks to Michele P for providing me “How to write an unveiling ceremony for dummies” and giving me a heads up about the holiday violation. Ok one more acknowledgment and thank you to Marcy, Sheryl, Suzanne and Bev who made sure the luncheon afterwards was very special.

As I was preparing for this service, I tried to find the right poem for the event but struggled to find something meaningful to convey what an impact Robin had on my life. I decided to write my own and was a little embarrassed to shared it. I mean my mommy used to compliment me on my poetry when I was little but I never felt I evolved my 4th grade writing style. Anyways, everyone suggested I put it out on my blog. I agreed because it reduces the need for me to develop new content on a Sunday night ๐Ÿค—. To be honest, I am getting a little tapped out and lazy. This one year commitment to write a blog is starting to get old ๐Ÿฆ„

Here is the famous poem -enjoy!!!

MISSING YOU

Although I stand at your grave knowing your body is buried here in the ground 

I am not lonely because I feel your love and presence with me and always around 

Our lives have changed and things are different without you physically being here 

Yet I have full trust that you guide us even though the next steps are not very clear 

It is much quieter in the house and you are missed each and every day

I miss the buzz of MSNBC on the television and your political dismay 

I miss the bickering and your need to outsmart me in any marital debate 

I miss coming downstairs to get you for bed because you stayed up too late

I miss your laugh and your daily recaps of what happened on the Howard Stern show

I miss waiting for you when we needed to leave the house and you were  always so slow

I miss how you threw your underwear on the floor next to the hamper just to tork me up   

I miss Lindy endlessly licking your face and you were patient because she was your pup

I miss how you would tell Isabelle that there is nothing she can do that you have not done or thought of doing before

I miss your love for all sports including the Cubs and the Bears and the excitement when they made a big score 

I miss how you were a dedicated dad and shared the love of basketball with our gal

I miss spending time with you and doing normal house stuff cause you were my pal

I miss your compassion, charm, smarts, sense of humor and quick wit

I miss you defending my honor and not letting anyone ever give me shit

I miss your loyalty to friends and family and being available to always help them out

I miss your way of reaching Isabelle when she was mad and in her typical teenager pout

I miss how you looked at me, built up my confidence and made me feel strong

I miss how you would forgive me and  let things slide even when I was wrong 

I miss how you loved my family and fit right in as another brother and part of our crew

I miss how you would be there for me when I was overwhelmed, stressed and blue  

I know that the universe had bigger plans for us and we will never quite comprehend 

But each day with you was a gift and my heart is healing and slowly on the mend

I am grateful for our time together and that you gave me Isabelle –  our legacy in this life 

So rest in peace my love and know it was an honor to carry your last name and be your wife