6.14.2014

Alone.

Life brings so many scenarios, situations, and opportunities to lay at our feet... 
literally asking "so, how are you going to handle this? who are you going to choose to be?"

An odd situation at work has me rather un-nerved.
Though I've joked about how sad I am that an elderly man is the first man to ask me out on a date since I was 17 (because my last 'first date' was when I was 17 and my late husband of 32 years asked me out), and the situation escalated to my feeling like I am being stalked, I actually am touched by this man's reaching out to another person. Even if it's me. Even if it's uncomfortable.

And in the aftermath of last night, I've made a mind-shift:
Instead of being 'weirded-out' by this, I have realized that there is a very real, hurting human being behind it all.

I'm part of a private group on facebook called 
'Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again'.
It's not all about losing someone to death, though that is part of it.
We can lose those we love in many ways, even if they still live on. Perhaps that is harder, in a way.
In any case, I have learned SO MUCH from the wonderful souls in that group.They have bravely shared their stories, thoughts, fears, and journeys with one another because that is part of any healing process...
telling our stories and having our experience validated.The group is moderated and founded by Christina Rasmussen, who authored the book 'Second Firsts'.

It has been an amazing experience to read her book and connect with others who are on a healing journey.
They've helped me look INTO a person instead of AT a person to discern what their real story is...
And what I see now when I look at this late-eighty-something man is not a desperate guy looking to hook up with a younger woman, but a hurting heart, and empty hours. Empty rooms.
Fearing an empty life alone.

I am sad for his loneliness. 
I am sorry that he has lost his life companion, because when that happens I know a person feels adrift and lost and alone and suddenly un-moored from all that they knew. I know that moments will come when he sees or hears or reads something that will cause him to smile, look up, turn his head, and open his mouth to share it with that person who has been by his side for 52 years - and she won't be there. He's having to adjust to a whole new life, existence, schedule, and definition of who HE is in her absence. Yes, he's still the guy who comes to the park and says hello and chats and smiles. But I've been told they used to do that together... so he feels her absence even there. No amount of smiles and visiting and hugs from guests and cast members can fill that void in the heart of this hurting man. I've been told he has other problems, which I would surmise makes his adjustment to his loss and his changed life MUCH harder. He's in pain. He's grieving. He's JUST two weeks out from losing his wife... honestly, the pain probably hasn't even begun to set in yet. He's in shock.

I've also been told that I look like a much younger version of his wife - and that opens a whole new door for me in understanding why he has expressed interest in me. I"m not really 'me' - I'm her. The love of his life. The way he remembers her. He's trying to connect to HER, not me. That just breaks my heart. When I was 15 and my grandpa died, I looked for him everywhere. I wanted to find him again. I 'saw' him in so many people.... years later, I even jumped out of the car at a stoplight and chased a man with a snow-white crew cut and khaki work clothes - because I SWORE it was my grandpa walking up the steps of a building. It wasn't, of course, but my broken heart wanted SO BADLY to connect with him again that my mind played tricks on me. I think this is the situation with this man. He misses his wife, his companion, and he thinks he sees her in me.

Because it is the best thing to do, I will not accept his invitation to lunch (nor any other invitations in the future), and I will tell him that in the kindest way possible. With compassion. But firmly and clearly, so there is no misunderstanding. Though I've been told I may have to REPEAT that explanation several times, due to his 'forgetfulness'  - and apparent persistence.

Meanwhile, I am asking myself "Why has this man appeared in my life at this time?"
Part of it is obvious to me: to help me reinforce my boundaries, something I have been learning about for almost three years now. I need to assert myself and tell him no. I don't need to accept the lunch invitation because I feel bad for him. But I DO want to be kind, and to reach out to a hurting soul the way that I feel my Lord would want me to. So when I see him next, I will kindly refuse his advances - and then ask him to tell me about his wife. I will validate his love for her and his loss, hopefully to help him deal with this huge shift in his reality. I won't take pity, or try to fix him, or put myself in an unhealthy position - all things I have done before - but I will respect him and respect myself by simply being kind to another person. With limits.

This is the new reality I am creating for myself, in the aftermath of MY loss: 
Deb will still be kind, but Deb will NOT be a pushover or a doormat, and constantly put other people's feelings ahead of her own.

On a related note, I have to say that line the from the film 'The Blind Side' REALLY means something to me now... When people 'have your back', and step up to protect you, it feels AWESOME! I work with the BEST team - from fellow cast members to leads to managers, they ALL jumped in immediately and did everything they could to remove me from a very uncomfortable situation onstage last night, to communicate kindly with this guest, and to keep things positive for everyone. Without me even saying a word. A fellow cast member went offstage and told the manager what was happening to me, and the team snapped into action.

I feel safe. I feel protected. I don't feel alone. 

In MY life, that's HUGE.
I am truly so grateful that I am where I am in life... I've experienced things that have been more painful than I could have ever imagined. And I survived.
 
Through it all, I have prayed that it wouldn't be for nothing. That something good can come from it all. 
Since this situation has landed at my feet, my goal is to take all that I have experienced and learned,
and to express the compassion I have for this hurting man following his loss in a way that opens the door to healing for him. So that he doesn't feel so alone with his grief and pain.

Because Alone is hard. But not impossible to survive. 
 

5.27.2014

Goodbye, Sweet Sweater Pumpkins...

 Since I first shared my original sweater pumpkins here on Hummadeedledee 
way back in 2007,  and so many photos have been pinned from those posts,
I wanted to share this announcement here, too...

 I have decided to stop making my original Sweet Sweater Pumpkins.
That means I am clearing out the storage unit of all of the stock remaining from last fall's 'harvest',
and NOT stockpiling thrifted sweaters to make more.... for the first time in six years. 

These sweet little pumpkins have been a big part of my life since 2008, when I first sold them.
I am VERY grateful for the opportunities they have created for me.
But it's time for me to let go of what I've done in the past and keep moving forward.
(Great advice from Walt Disney himself!)

Here's the BIG reason for selling them off right now:

My entire family is coming to Southern California at the end of July 
as part of our huge family reunion for my Mom's birthday...
I'll get to see my daughters and their husbands, my son, 
and my four grandchildren all at once again!
I want to help them get here AND go to Disneyland for a day, 
because having all of us there together on 'It's a Small World' is my goal!
So every cent I make from selling the last of my pumpkins
will go toward helping my family get here.

Thank you all for your wonderful support of my little business...
I have so enjoyed the connections I have made with you!
I hope you continue to enjoy the pumpkins and snowmen 
that you have graciously ordered from me over the years!

Please visit my HOMEWARDfound website to order

5.07.2014

Inspiration

I just finished a photo shoot and am editing images for my next HOMEWARDfound blog post, 
and thought I would share a 'sneak peek' image of a particular item... 
one that inspired what I was photographing today. 

It has a beautiful story...

Back in January of 2011, a sweet older friend sent me a house-warming gift.
[ Fran, of the wonderful vintage Christmas ornaments that I've shared here before ] 
When I opened the plain brown shipping box to find THIS inside, 
I sat on the front steps of my beloved island home and wept. 

It's the only Tiffany blue box I've ever been given, 
and the sparkling crystal votive holder is one of the most precious gifts I have ever received. 
Yes, it's lovely that it came from Tiffany's... 
but the true value lies in the message my friend was giving me when she chose it: 
I was worth it. 
Worth dreams coming true. Worth nice things. Worth the effort. 
Bless her sweet heart for loving me so...

I called to thank her, and cried some more.

Then I placed this beautiful piece in a small window by my front door, 
and lit a votive candle in it every day - 
offered up with a prayer of gratitude for dreams coming true (the house, and more.) 
Even when life was dark and stormy, I lit that candle. 
Sometimes in the morning to greet the day, sometimes late at night to pierce the darkness.

I did that every day,
 until the day that I moved out of the house that had been my heart's one true home.
The candle holder went back into the Tiffany Blue Box and into a dresser drawer
for safe keeping. Along with my heart and my dreams and my feelings.
Three months later, I brought it to California with me...

I have only lit it one time since the day I left that house forever, 
and that was on my 50th birthday. 
I just needed to feel connected to my friend that day.

I realize now that Fran saw and knew far more about me and my life
than she ever let on.
I remember the day I took her to tea to tell her I was moving away from Seattle... and why.
She was not surprised by the reason. 
She was MAD, and concerned - but not surprised. I think she always knew.
We both cried. And laughed. And prayed. And vowed to keep in touch.
I treasure this woman, I truly do.

And you know what? 
I just decided that while editing photos, 
I am going to light this candle and enjoy the light of friendship that sparkles within it. 
Now THAT's inspiring.

4.10.2014

It's A Small, Small World!

 Guess where I was this morning???
  At the 'It's A Small World' attraction at Disneyland!
( 3:30 AM PDT report time! )
Disney Cast Members, characters, and special guests 
gathered at Disney Parks around the world 
to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 'It's A Small World' attraction 
with a live sing-a-long of the sweet theme song on a live Good Morning America broadcast.
( well, live on the east coast and time-delayed for the central and western states.....)
 
I was one of one hundred cast members riding on the Disneyland Railroad train,
waving and smiling as it pulled into view in front of the Small World attraction.
I was in the back row of Car 2.
Car 1 had some VERY famous passengers: Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Daisy!
Minnie, Pooh, Tigger, and Chip & Dale were in Car 4.

 You can watch the Good Morning America segment here !

I just can't even BEGIN to tell you how MUCH being there for this means to me... 
I became an official Disney Cast Member just over a month ago, 
after waiting all of my life to do so....
The timing of this celebration couldn't be more perfect for me and my life story!

My grandfather was an electrician who helped to install the Small World attraction at Disneyland, 
and I could not be happier to be able to participate in honoring him 
and his part in the history of this attraction today.
  ( he was there with me - I had his picture pinned to my shirt, next to my heart! )

I will never forget my first ride on Small World when I was a little Debby of only five, 
with him next to me in the little boat, holding my hand and smiling at me as he whispered
" I built this for you, pumpkin "

Thank you, Grandpa Ward, for this gift 
that has touched every generation of our family...
I am a proud part of the Magic now, and I know you are smiling at me!
"It's a world of laughter, a world of tears.
It's a world of hopes and a world of fears.
There's so much that we share,
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all.

It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small, small world.

There is just one moon and one golden sun.
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide,
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all.

It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small world after all.
It's a small, small world!"