reclaiming joy

Beauty Leads to Serenity, Peace and Joy

May 9, 2019
living room view

I have always loved beautiful things—who doesn’t?—but beauty was not essential to my happiness until I was widowed. Perhaps because of the drudgery involved in settling the estate and learning Lev’s business after his death, I desperately needed to be in light-filled, tranquil, soothing space to fill the emptiness and mitigate my pain. I describe those early months of grief in Reclaiming Joy: There was …

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Throwback Thursday: Remembering Sri Lanka

April 25, 2019
Indian Ocean 1/1/05

The Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka reminded me of the two weeks I spent there as part of a construction team one year after the 2004 tsunami. As I wrote in Reclaiming Joy, “the people’s serenity as they faced the future without loved ones, without homes, and without other possessions awed me.” I was the cook and travel guide for a group from First …

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The Journey to Easter Joy

March 14, 2019
journey to Easter Joy

Though the observance of Ash Wednesday, Lent and Holy Week was not part of my faith tradition growing up, today even Baptists mark the journey to the cross and on to the empty tomb. For me, this period on the church calendar marks the approach to the anniversary of Lev’s death. I look past Good Friday and death to the joy of Easter. I want …

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Home Alone in the Kitchen

March 9, 2019
cucumber finger sandwich

After three weeks of travel—eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in restaurants—I was glad to get home to my kitchen. The refrigerator was empty; the pantry shelves, bare. Without taking time to find recipes or make a grocery list, I headed to the store because I was committed to bring finger sandwiches to a meeting the next day. It’s been years since I’ve made finger sandwiches …

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What Is Your Travel Profile?

February 4, 2019
Travel Planning Tools

Lev and I always loved to travel. He was a travel agent when we married, and though the volume of summer travel business precluded our enjoying vacations in the early years of marriage, we still found many opportunities to enjoy the perks of being in that business. Lev planned our honeymoon—I don’t think I had any input—a glamorous trip to Mexico City in December 1962, …

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How Do I Make 2019 Better?

January 3, 2019
The clock strikes 12

That’s the question I will try to answer in four speeches this month—Resolved: To Reclaim Joy in 2019. I know the answer—that’s what my memoir is all about—and 2018 was hardly joyless. However, I let the publication and media attention surrounding Reclaiming Joy to take over my life. I want 2019 to be better. I first wrote formal New Year’s Resolutions at the end of …

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Banishing the Ghosts of Christmas Past

November 30, 2018
Ghosts of Christmas Past

Lev relished the persona of being gruff and grumpy, and he welcomed the grandchildren’s nickname for him—Grumps. Come Christmas, he played the role to the hilt when they were around, going around muttering, “Bah! Humbug!” like Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As choreographer of our Christmas rituals and traditions, I encouraged him, setting the stage with Dickens-themed Holiday decorations. We remember the story: …

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You Don’t Have to Be Home Alone on the Holidays

November 23, 2018
December anniversary dinner

How do you handle life’s transitions as the older generations age and the young ones grow up and marry? How do you maintain family connections, especially those time-honored holiday traditions and rituals? The aggrieved, widowed sister wrote Carolyn Hax, Washington Post advice columnist: Our extended family—siblings and kids—has always gathered at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last week I got a text from my sister saying she …

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Ready to Party?

November 15, 2018
Dinner for 3

Tennyson may be right that “In the Spring a young man’s [and woman’s] fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”[1]; but in my stage of life, fall too often turns my mind to thoughts of loss. The shortened days depress me. While I thought nothing of going out after dark with Lev, nine autumns later I am still uncomfortably surprised by the darkness when I …

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Taking Time for Joy

November 8, 2018
Dallas Arboretum

The unseasonably cool, gray, wet weather in October left me feeling like Mrs. Noah aboard the Ark; and shorter days added to my growing dissatisfaction. I had a mild case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which has plagued me each fall since Lev’s death. With too little light, I struggle to be happy. This fall I had my garden plans—indeed, I had removed the dead …

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