April is National Gardening Month!


It’s National Gardening Month

For those of us who wish to explore the meditative, emotional healing that comes from horticultural therapy, we are in luck! April is National Garden Month. All around America there are offerings for gardening classes and creative uses for the things we grow. These are both live and online. Feel yourself relax as you gain inspiration from tours of local farms and home gardens. Adopt a garden at your local school so that children in your area can learn about sustainable living that also protects their souls. If you already have a healing garden and you’d like to share, sign up so that others can come for a tour. Here is a website with more information (click the underlined words).

We love you daisy

Daisy

 

National Gardening Month!

 

Horticultural Therapy


Healing with plants

Horticultural therapy is the science that describes the healing that comes from working with plants. At some point after my husband died, I began gardening. It wasn’t something I expected to enjoy. After days spent at bedside in the hospital, I didn’t like the feel of the sun on my skin.  I didn’t want to leave the cocoon that was the inside of our house. It where, I felt, his spirit lingered. Inside our house, I felt safe.

In the beginning, gardening was just something that needed to be done. I could not afford to pay my son’s private school tuition and a gardener. But I also couldn’t let my home run down and go to weed (in Los Angeles, homeowners can be issued citations for not maintaining their properties). My inadvertent, horticultural therapy started with me cutting the grass each week with a Scott’s Classic mower. In 2007, it cost just $99 at my local home store (you might find a cheaper one on eBay).  I specifically searched for that brand and model when went looking for a mower. It was the one my widower father had used back in the 1970′s. I felt a sense of solidarity each time that I cut the grass.

After weeks of simply cutting the grass, I decided that the shrubs at the front of my house needed to be trimmed. As more time passed, I decided to spend a bit of time on the back yard shrubs.  Then one day, I suddenly realized that weeds were choking my once prized roses. I felt that I simply had to do something about that. Without my being aware of it, I was slowly spending more and more hours each Saturday working in the garden. I even got my son involved in my homegrown horticultural therapy program.

He wanted yet another video game. The news was rife with child development articles suggesting that kids should do extra chores to earn pocket money. So… He was a bit outraged when I first set him up with the mower. It was tough going for him in the beginning.  He was 8 years old and only weighed about 65 pounds. I “paid” him $2 to cut the grass in the backyard. If I were feeling generous, I would allow him to share in my weeding fun :)  We had an emotion-improving summer together under the healing, California sun.

My son has since returned to his video games.  However, I still work in the garden.  On days when I have little time or simply nothing special planned, I just go outside and touch the plants.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were practicing horticultural therapy. Therapists who work in that field, design gardening programs (and in some cases “homework”) to help the bereaved and mentally wounded heal. Some American universities teach horticultural therapy. Certification programs are available so that horticultural therapy practitioners can help others heal. There are also national associations in the United States and Canada.

Here are some links to sites relating to horticultural therapy in the United States. To visit the sites, click the underlined name.

The Horticultural Therapy Institute in Denver, Co

American Horticultural Therapy Association

University of North Carolina, Chapell Hill

Horticultural Therapy Certificate; Portland Community College

California Horticultural Network (of therapy practitioners)

The Ohio State University Horticultural Therapy Certification

Scott's Classic "throw back" mower

Scott’s Classic Mower. A favorite of my father.

 
 

Widowed Life Story


Write a new life story.

Your “life story” as a married person was that you are half of a couple. As a widowed person, you begin a new life story. It starts by recognizing that you are more than “just a half.” Every time you face a new and often ever more monumental challenge, remind yourself that this is a chance to decide who you will be in your new story?

Scary? Yes. Fear is only a problem if it stops you.

Never underestimate the value of you.

 
 

Widow Support Group


Widow Foodies

I watched an episode of, “My Grandmother’s Ravioli” called, “Mary Gray and The Golden Gals.”  Mary and her pals Lillian, Estelle, and Frances are a lively widow support group in Fishkill, NY.  They met following the deaths of their husbands.  When Mo asked the pals whether their grown children were happy that they’d all found each other, he received a resounding, “Yes.” One of the widows joked that participating in the group keeps them from bothering their kids.During the episode, the widows each spoke about the importance of their support group.  After their husbands died, their married friends drifted away and eventually stopped coming around. Many of us, myself included, know how that goes. Without the treasured, widow-pal support, the ladies would have been left on their on, or to whatever visiting time they managed squeeze out of their kids and grand kids. Mary teaches Mo how to make pierogi early in the show.  There is lots of grandmotherly teasing that Mo and the crew shamelessly lap up.  Then Mo and the widows head off to a restaurant where they show him how merry widows properly “do lunch.”  When the group returns to Mary’s house, they prepare a large meal that is later shared with the widows children and grandchildren.The widowed support group helps the friends honor their lost husbands by choosing to continue to live. And they are living quite well.

Share stories about your widower or widow support group.  What are some of the fun and supportive things that you do?

 


Widow’s Kiss for a Happy 2013!

Here’s a Widow’s Kiss for a happy New Year!

Widow’s Kiss Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 ounces Calvados or applejack
  • 3/4 ounce Bénédictine D.O.M.
  • 3/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse (can use green, but it’s stronger)
  • Stir for at least 30 seconds. Strain into your favorite cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry. Sit back. Consider yourself KISSED.

 

-History of chartreuse, click here.

-History of Benedictine Liqueur, click here.  
-History of Calvados, click here.

-Discussion of Calvados preferences from Chow Hound’s culinary groupies, click here

-Wiki has 32 results for where to buy Chartreuse (green, yellow, or melon) Liqueur.  The prices range from $25 to $150 per liter.  Click here to view.
-Bing Shopping found 49 brands of Benedictine liqueur. The prices averaged $5 to $50. To view their options, click here.
-Bing shopping found a list of 54 Calvados options.  The prices ranged from $20-$420 per bottle. To view their list, click here.

 


 

Inspiring Widows Club

Today I watched my first episode, of what I believe to be Mo Rocca’s fourth show, on the Cooking Channel.  One must admire the loyalty of The Cooking Channel brand in how they stay with and constantly re-brand their Chefs and On Air Personalities (it seems that once you are with them, you can count on always having a job).

This episode of, “My Grandmother’s Ravioli” was called, “Mary Gray and The Golden Gals.”  Mary and her pals Lillian, Estelle, and Frances met and formed  their own, widows’ support-group following the deaths of their husbands. Estelle tells us that her husband died only two weeks after Mary’s.  When Mo asked the pals whether their grown children were happy that they’d all found each other, he received a resounding, “Yes.” One joked that the group keeps them from bothering their kids. Then everyone, very seriously, explained the importance of their friendship.  They said, after their husbands had died, their married friends drifted away and eventually stopped coming around. Without the treasured, gal-pal support, they would have been left on their on, or to whatever free time that they could squeeze out of their kids and grandkids. Many of us, myself included, know how this situation goes.

In the first segment of the show, Mary teaches Mo how to make pierogi (she is American-Polish).  There is lots of grandmotherly teasing that Mo and the crew simply wallow in.  One of the cameramen was caught smiling in one of the shots. In the second segment, the pals take Mo around to a favorite restaurant and to a wine store in their hometown of Fishkill, NY.  They show him how to properly “lunch.” Next they return to Mary’s house for group cooking and then a meal with the ladies’ families.

It was a fun episode.  I can easily believe that Mo truly was very close to his grandmother during his growing years.  I’m glad the pals found each other. They are definitely helping each other honor their lost husbands by choosing to continue to live and live very well.

 

For more about the show and the episode, click here.

Feel free to share with us about your widows or widowers club.  Tell us about the fun and member-supportive things that you do?

 


Choosing To Live


Choosing to continue living “afterwards” is an active decision for each of us make. Be determined in your choice. Don’t just fade away. When you feel like giving up, remember we honor our lost loved ones by choosing to live.

 

 

Keep Going

 

It’s hard to keep going once widowed. The loss feels like abandonment. Know that your spouse didn’t abandon you and they want you to continue to feel loved. Consider is this:

 

Your spouse walked beside you for as long as they could? When they could go no further, they used the last of their hopes to hurl you as far forward as they could?  You don’t want to give up.  You want to make sure that their efforts were not in vain. They would want you take time, when needed, to rest and recharge and then keep going. Be gentle with yourself when needed, but keep going. We honor our lost loved ones by choosing to continue to live.

 

Winding road after sunset. Keep going.

Winding road after sunset. Keep going.


The Unwinding Image

The Unwinding Image

The composite photograph is designed to temporarily distract your mind.  While your brain tries to figure out how the image is composed, it’s drawn away from its focus on unrelenting bereavement. With this change in focus, pressure is relieved, but only for awhile. True bereavement work has to be done to restore your mind.  However, when things get tough, look at the unwinding image and give your mind a break.

 

 

The unwinding image gives your mind a break from grief.

The unwinding image gives your mind a break.