After the Spiral…..

I spiraled Valentine’s week.  I am not proud of it, but it is what it is.  I know spiraling can be expected during grief.  Does not mean I was ready for it though.  It was a bad spiral.  I was not sure I was going to climb out of that rabbit hole this time.

I had a panic attack in Dollar General.  I barely made it through the check out, ran to my vehicle, and cried once I shut the door.  Cried all the way home.

Grief is rough.  On top of regular grief, trying to process your husband committing suicide makes you wonder how you function every day.

With the help of my therapist, I realized I was missing what might have been, and going down the What If rabbit hole.  What if my old vehicle dies?  What if I can’t fix the problems in my old house?  What if I never get my vegetable garden started ever again?  I have to re-till and amend the soil because I have not had a garden for 3 years.  What if I can’t do this by myself?  What if I can’t fix the potholes on my dirt road?

The irony is, the hope of ‘what could have been’ sustained me through my husband’s mental illness.  I always had hope his physical and mental ailments would be cured and we would grow old together as planned.  Now, after his death, the ‘what could have been’ was driving me insane.  Identifying this emotion, owning it for what it was, sure helped propel me to once again put one foot in front of the other.

Another factor playing into my depression was the weather.  Our region normally has mild winters.  We didn’t have particularly extreme cold days, but we had a wet winter.  Most times, there are nights where we can go outside, light a fire and have outdoor movie night.  There was none of that this winter because it was just too wet.  Not being able to be outside, on the land I so love, was much more draining that I ever could have imagined.

Fortunately, Saturday was dry and mild.  With my newfound grasp on reality, I was able to spend some time in sunshine and this lifted my spirits tremendously.  I felt empowered!

I tackled the yard, starting with cleaning up some messes.  Then, I learned how to drive our zero-turn lawnmower while wearing my bright pink Avon Mattitude Liquid Lipstick.  I also learned how to connect my headphones to my cell so I could listen to music while cutting the grass.

Progress!

I broke the lawnmower.

Not progress!

And as if widowhood wasn’t enough, a lizard got in my house.  I picked up a magazine, saw a little stick sticking out of it and proceeded to remove it, when said stick jumps on my finger.  Said stick turns out to be a baby lizard.  I shake my finger while screaming and hopping around.  The baby lizard scampers to parts unknown and can probably live in this house to adulthood because I am not picking it up.  I realized I should have known that wasn’t a stick because why would a stick be sticking out of my magazine?

Not so much progress, but that’s okay.

So heck on this day!  I went out for boiled seafood and $2 margaritas for National Margarita Day.

Problems not solved, but who cares when you can get $2 margaritas?

Sunday rolls along.  I decide to pick up sticks in my yard to burn, which gives me the idea that I can burn some oak logs in my garden area.  That would go a long way in amending my soil.

Hallelujah moment!  Garden problem partially solved!

Later, I went down my muddy dirt road, noticing my husband’s shovel that he kept in the woods to dig little trenches when the rain got bad.  So right there, in my good tennis shoes, I hopped out of my vehicle to dig a few trenches to drain some of the water.

Pothole problem temporarily solved!

I go back home feeling really proud of myself.  Now to clean my tennis shoes and take a shower.

And then….

I see that baby lizard in my tub.  I run out the bathroom, stop in the hallway, and say ‘time to man up, Gretchen.’  I march back into the bathroom with new resolve.  Taking the advice of one of my widow friends, I threw a face cloth over the lizard.  She said she heard little lizard screams as she carried it outside.  I am hard of hearing so I did not hear any little lizard screams, but I did feel it wiggling in the cloth.  I almost threw up.  I opened the back door to release said lizard, and it was clinging to the face cloth for dear life.  Before it could jump on my hand, I threw out the cloth, ran inside and locked the door.

Lizard problem solved!

Days later, when I know the lizard has left the face cloth, I will just burn that cloth in my garden burn pile.

Problem solved!

Man, it’s grand not to be stuck in a spiral.

 

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  My daughter and her husband are the sweetest Valentines I know.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

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A Mardi Gras Memory

The setting was Mardi Gras day on St. Charles Avenue, sometime over 46 years ago.  I do not remember my exact age.  But I remember the incident, and I remember it well.  I was sitting on the family blanket, in the family area my family staked out, probably eating fried chicken.  I was people watching.  The neutral ground was quite crowded with revelers.  I saw a man with a concerned look on his face approaching people and asking a question.  I saw the people all shake their heads no.  He wondered off and I continued whatever I was doing at the time.  Eventually, I saw the man again with his hand holding on tightly to a woman’s arm, pretty much dragging her behind him.  In my little child mind, I am thinking these people were old, but looking back, they were probably in their very early 20s.  The girl was beautiful and I liked her wavy hair.  (As I got older and remembered this incident, I compared her hair to Scarlet O’Hara hair.)  The man shoved her against a utility and pole and pushed her hard against it several times while he was telling her something in her ear.  I will always remember the look on her face.  No one in their group said anything to the man for doing this.  The girl sat on a blanket with other women and was quiet for the longest, while the man circled close by behind her.  Eventually, she was drawn into their conversation and started looking normal, so I quit watching.

In my active imagination, over the years I wondered about this woman. Did she stay with him, endure years of violence, bringing children into the fold and crippling their little minds?  I always hoped she escaped from him and moved on to a normal relationship.  Why didn’t anyone from their group stop the man from doing this?  Why did they sit by watching this woman be abused?  What happened to the man?  Did he grow out of this abusive phase and become a loving husband to someone?  I doubt it.  In my meanest thoughts, I hope someone dished out to him what he had probably dished out to that woman.

I never forgot this, and I was not even a part of this incident.  I only saw this one time.  To think, little children who are in a family of abuse have to witness this repeatedly.  My heart breaks.

I am thankful to have partnered with a company in which speaking out against domestic violence is part of the corporate responsibility.  In 2004, the Avon Foundation for Women launched the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program.  Speak Out builds awareness, educates, and develops and implements prevention and direct service programs. Some of these projects are global, focused on ending gender-based violence and strengthening domestic violence laws.  Nearly $60 million has been raised globally by this foundation to support its goals.

Did you know 1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence in her lifetime?  This staggering number shocked me. Does this number shock you into action?  You, too, can join corporations that are socially responsible.  I urge you to do your research and join the fight.  Your efforts are multiplied exponentially when you combine efforts with a socially responsible corporation.

Should you decide to partner with Avon,  you can do so in two ways.   You can shop Avon Empowerment products, in which a portion of the proceeds are donated to the foundation.  You can check this out at http://www.YourAvon.com/ghegwood.  (Search ’empowerment’.)

Or, you can join me as an Avon representative and spread the word.  Go to http://www.StartAvon.com and type in ghegwood as the reference code to join my team.  Our mission is to improve the lives of women globally. In our core cause areas of Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence, we aim to accelerate progress, accountability and discovery, while also reducing the social stigma that sometimes keeps these issues in the shadows.

I am sure when I titled this blog “A Mardi Gras Memory”, you certainly did not think this would be about domestic violence.  I do have many wonderful Mardi Gras memories, but this one really sticks.  I want to help decrease incidents such as this so that children can fill their heads with better memories, such as doubloons, beads and marching bands.