Camp Widow Tampa

Hey… could you help a girl out?

My plans for the next 2 1/2 years involve being in school… a LOT.

Timing for Camp Widow San Diego & Camp Widow Toronto SUCK for 2015 & 2016.

But… if I had the money… I could go to Camp Widow TAMPA in 2015.   It’s…. like… 2 months away.

Could you help a girl out?    Spare a couple $20 bucks?   Little more mebbe?

Camp Widow has been so pivotal in my journey, and I know I won’t be able to attend for the next two years… so this is one option to go until I’m out of school.

If you can?   Click HERE

IF I don’t raise enough to get me there – the money will go straight to Soaring Spirits for someone else to attend.   So if you can help… it may be me… or it may be some other widow you’re helping out.

Either way… the money goes to getting someone to Camp Widow.

Well Loved 2014

Hope Matters

Apparently today is #givingtuesday.

I don’t know exactly what that means, beyond we give to something that is important to us.

What I do know… is that Hope Matters, and without Soaring Spirits… I wouldn’t have had the hope I do for my future.

Soaring Spirits is changing the face of the widow.

Soaring Spirits Andrew Soaring Spirits Luke Soaring Spirits ME

Soaring Spirits and Camp Widow gave me hope.

Adventures of Camp Widow Toronto – pt 6 – Home is Where the Heart Is

Sunday morning at Camp Widow involves a buffet breakfast, packing up and saying goodbye.

While chatting with various people, part of my focus was on making sure I didn’t have to pay for the cab myself… it was ridiculously priced.  They had a board that was set up for people to share a cab, and I connected with Miri from Vancouver.   Sadly we weren’t on the same flight, and we weren’t even in the same terminal so there was no waiting together.

Then we connected with Debbie.  Fantastic woman.  Love her and her resiliance.  She had already pre-ordered a cab to take her back to the airport and agreed to let us join in with her.    So instead of a $65 cab ride it was $25 each or so.

Michele made another very lovely speech.   During the speech she announced that there would be a delay because the road was closed and we needed to make sure we got to the airport on time.   I talked to Miri and Debbie and we all agreed to leave at 11 so we could all make our flights.  I had the longest wait – their flights were sooner than mine.

I made the rounds, getting pictures with people.   I didn’t get as many pictures this year.  I don’t know why.

Ann-Marie & Me Kelley & Me Michele & Me Sarah & Me Stacey & Me Taryn & Me

I had volunteerd to help take down things after breakfast.  With the road closures, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t leaving anyone stuck – so I checked with Diane.    Things were ok.  There wasn’t much left to pack up so I felt ok about being able to leave.

I went back to the Camp Store… bought a couple hoodies (one for me, one for Mom) and then it was time to get ready to go.

Connie and I headed up to the room to do final packing and be ready to go.   I packed up my stuff, and headed back to the lobby.

Usually, when I leave a hotel room, I do a sweep – under beds, in the bathroom etc.   But because Angel & Judy were staying another night, I didn’t think to do it.

I left my angel cards behind 😦

I was meeting Debbie & Miri in the lobby for 11 so that’s where I planted myself.   Connie wanted to run down one last time and say goodbye.

Last year, I missed out on saying goodbye to Carrie – this year, I missed saying goodbye to Connie.

I choose to believe it’s because they’re meant to be in my life and that I’ll see them again.

The ride to the airport was an awesome one for getting to know each other.  I sat in the front, Debbie & Miri in the back.  We were actually in a limo type car, not a cab.  It was quite luxurious 😀

We got to the airport, and started looking for our gates.

Miri was the first to go – hugs all around and she headed off.

Debbie and I had longer to wait, I figured we could wait together and chatter and get to know each other, but it turned out that my flight was out of terminal 2 – which was a trainride away.

I bought us coffee – she’d never had Tim Horton’s coffee before – and she looked up and saw that it was the Tim Horton’s 50th Anniversary.  Another sign from her husband and son.   She was so tickled about it.

Timmies for Two

We had to go our seperate ways.  She was leaving later but I had further to go.   We hugged, and said our goodbyes and then it was off to terminal 2 for me.

The wait and the plane ride were uneventful.  I managed to get to where I needed to go almost exactly when I needed to get there.  Had I left the hotel any later, I might have missed my plane.

My Kathy was waiting for me at the airport.   I was heading to her house for the night – getting some Kathy time in.

I offered to drive – she doesn’t like driving in the city much.

For the first time in… ever… I managed to get turned around.  Seriously.  Everything is marked.  All the signs are there.  I still managed to go the wrong way.

We hooked up the GPS, and it took us right past Vancouver General Hospital – where Mark died.

Same time of day.  Same car.  Same route.  After Camp Widow.  And I go past VGH.   Made me smile, this time.   No tears.  Just a hello to Mark and the memories.

We got to Kathy’s house and had dinner.  I miss her so much.  I miss my friend and the connection we have.

As a bonus, Michelle showed up!   She was supposed to be at derby but she ended up showing up at Kathy’s so I got a bit of a visit with her as well.

Morning took me back to Quesnel and back to my home and family.

One thing I noticed…. things changed.  Or I did.  But everything felt different and I expected it to all look different… but of course after all of 5 days, it didn’t.  It was just me.  Camp Widow does that to you.   Changes things inside you so that you see the world differently.

I miss my Camp Widow peeps.   I miss the ability to just “be” and not worry about who I might upset or make uncomfortable with my feelings.

I’m grateful to have had the Camp Widow experience.

I’m hoping to go next year.  There’s Camp in Tampa in February, San Diego in July and Toronto again in September.   Financially – it doesn’t make sense for me to go.   But emotionally – I know I need to.

Home is where the heart is.  But Camp is what keeps me sane.  Camp lets me feel normal again.

Well Loved 2014

Adventures of Camp Widow Toronto pt 3 – Friday

I had volunteered to man the registration desk on Friday morning.   For me, it was a nice way to give back, to meet the widows coming in and I didn’t have anything else to do in the morning since that block of workshops didn’t appeal to me.

Fred and I sat there, working together to get everyone checked off and given directions.

Registration Desk

There was an initial rush of people between 8.30 and 10 and then it trickled.  Sarah showed up with Timbits.   Awesome breakfast, Timbits.   She was wandering around on a sugar high, offering them up to anyone interested.

Around 10.30 I asked Fred if he could handle the remaining 20 or so left to check in, and at his assent, wandered off to find where the workshops were.

My first workshop was a round table:  Widowed by Illness or Diagnosis.

Out of 30? 40? people there… I was the only one whose spouse did not die from cancer.

The only. one.

I listened quietly for the most part while people talked about the cancer, about the horrid-ness about the disease, about how awful it all was – and could not relate.

Mark didn’t have a terminal illness.   He was supposed to get BETTER dammit!!!

Finally at one point, one gentleman asked about hearing so much about the disease and I kinda lost my mind.   I don’t have a “disease” or an “illness” foundation to volunteer for or give money to for research to prevent it happening to another.  And that frustrates me.

That was towards the end of the round table.

My next workshop was Signs and Synchronicity.  It’s heartwarming to hear the different signs, the different ways that our loved ones come to us and let us know they’re still around.

My last workshop of the day was the Heart & Soul intensive with Taryn Davis and Rae Patterson.




I am so blessed to have met Taryn last year at Camp Widow – and meeting Rae just enforced the path I feel that I’m heading to.

I’m not going to lie.  When I first saw that it was a workshop run by two presenters, I was a bit disappointed.  The workshop with Taryn last year was SO freaking amazing.    And then I got “stuck” with Rae and working with her when they separated the group into two.   And I was disappointed because I was SO hoping to work with Taryn again.

But things happen for a reason.  They happen for a purpose.  And I am SO grateful that I got to work with Rae.   She is amazing.  She is phenomenal.  She is a woman that I am SO blessed to have met and worked with.

I can’t even describe the workshop – but it allowed us to get in touch with our hearts, open things to a greater level of love.   I left the workshop feeling slightly dazed, slightly overwhelmed with the energy and emotion that came from that workshop.

It’s been just over a week and I don’t really remember what happened at dinnertime.  I’m trying to figure it out… but it seems that my brain has just blanked on that point of the day.

But after dinner, we did a mini-release at the water feature outside.   I hadnt’ planned on it – but I ended up helping one lady with her lantern.   In helping her, I realized I really did want to do a mini-release and quickly put together a lantern.

It was beautiful.  The water flow kept the lanterns all in one place just in front of us.

Lantern Release

I was off, emotional.  I wandered over to the labrynth beside the water feature and walked the labrynth for a while.  I submerged in the emotions of being a widow and wondered where and when I would surface.




I surfaced at the hotel bar.

I was still in the emotions of widowhood, feeling weighted down, when I realized I couldn’t get into the room I was staying in.   I didn’t want to disturb the women I was staying with – they were out having a good time, so I decided to have a drink with the people who stayed at the bar.

I sat there, having a drink or two with other Camp Widow attendees.

Side note: that’s one thing I love love love about Camp Widow.  I can be miserable.  Sit down beside other widows.  And they will TALK to me. INCLUDE me.  HUG me.  LOVE me.  And laugh and cry and just BE with me.  Everywhere.  Everyone.  We’re all included.

I started chatting with the guy next to me.  He wasn’t a widow – he was the son of a widow.   There volunteering his time.

We talked.  We laughed.  We got silly.  We flirted a bit.

We went on a random walk to 7-11 for hot dogs.   Tried to break into the pool.  Worked out in the weight room.   Talked some more.   Dangled our feet in the water feature.   Checked out the raccoon that was hanging out in downtown Toronto.

Talked some more.  Laughed some more.

I don’t remember the last time I just laughed and had fun and did not worry about anything.   I don’t remember the last time I was just me.

It was 3am before I realized I needed to go to bed.   At that point, I realized my roommates were probably all asleep… and I didn’t know how to sneak into the room without waking them.

Finally, at 4am, I went to bed.   I carefully opened the door, stealthily grabbed jammies and ducked into the bathroom to change.

Came out of the bathroom to climb into bed and there was Angel, thinking I couldn’t get in.  Scared the CRAP out of me.   Good thing I didn’t yell out.

Sleep came quickly.

Quite possibly that was one of the best nights in a LONG long time.   I am so grateful for Jeremy being there to help me remember that yes, I can have fun.  Yes, I can enjoy life.  No, laughter is not dead.  It’s a beautiful, rare thing for a widow to forget for a little while how much is missing in her life.

However… 4am is NOT my friend… I almost missed breakfast… but that’s for part 4.

Adventures of Camp Widow Toronto – pt 2 – The Spaghetti Factory Dinner

We arrived at the hotel around 7pm after Angel & Sarah finally got off the plane.   We had to go FIND the car rental place, get the vehicle she was renting and THEN drive to the hotel.

Dinner reservations were for 8.

So we get there, say hello to everyone, check in to the hotel and then back to the lobby while we figure out how to get to the Spaghetti Factory.

There were about 15 of us.   A few more than would fit in the 8 seater vehicle she rented (which was oh so awesome to ride in, yo!)

I want to say 7 or 8 of us decided to walk.  It wasn’t that far.  Only 5-7 blocks.  The fun part is that I got cursory directions, looked at a map for 30 seconds and then I became “THE ONE”   You know – the one who knows where I was going?

<insert maniacal, hysterical laugh here>

I’ve never been to Toronto before.   I get lost WITH a GPS.   Seriously.  And I’m in charge of trying to get us there??

We head out.  My lovely friend Sarah, whom is a Canadian by osmosis (married one, birthed one, but never became one herself) and visits Canada a LOT, was on the lookout for where to buy ketchup chips, and if there was a Tim Horton’s coffee shop in the vicinity (for Timbits, don’tcha know! – they ARE different from whatever y’all have in the US)

As luck would have it, our route took us past 7-11 AND Tim Hortons.   So we knew.  We knew where to get the coveted items.

Several times during the walk I was asked… “Are you sure you know where you’re going?”

<I didn’t, but dont’ tell them.  I was hoping I remembered enough to get us there>

Finally… we arrive.   (In my head I’m going “YAY!!! I didn’t get us lost!!!)

We have this awesome spot in the restaurant that’s set up like a carousel.  I SO wanted to ride the horses… was convinced otherwise by people wiser than me who knew they wouldn’t hold…

I was sitting beside two awesome men.  (favourite place in the middle!!)


Arnie & I(photo courtesy of Arnie – his camera)

How do I describe Arnie?   Big, boisterous and someone you’d be blessed to have in your life.   Widowed just over 2 years.   Full of love to give.   And a flirt.  OMG such a flirt.   I had fun with him all weekend.

And David:

David & I(photo courtesy of Judy Kaan)

David was so amazing.  Widowed only a few months prior and here he was, in another country connecting with other widows/widowers.   I’ve been the one lost and alone before so I made sure to chatter with him and pay attention to him.  He was quiet, understandably so.   He was so sweet.   We agreed to share a bottle of wine, which turned into two, which turned into a lot of fun chatter and conversation.  I read his blog after and he had had a good time, which is what I’d been hoping for.

It was a good time.  Lots of fun, lots of laughter, lots of life and LIVING.

Spaghetti Factory Dinner

We had our dinner… and then came the walk back.

Yeah.  The walk back.

Did I mention there was a Tim Horton’s a block away from the Spaghetti Factory?

Yep, there was.  And it was closing at 10.   We had 15 mins to get there.   And Sarah and I RAN! LMFAO

Get to Tim Hortons, descend on the poor lady working closing (what do they do with the leftovers?  I’ve never been around a Tim Horton’s that wasn’t 24 hours??)  And ask for timbits.

How many?  She asks…

All of them.

There’s this confused look on her face….  A..a..all? of them?

Yep.  All of them.  We’re going to take ALL of them.

86 timbits.

She was nice and only charged Sarah for 80 of them.

But yeah.  She bought EIGHTY-SIX timbits at 10pm.

And then proceeded to eat them on the walk home.  Shared a few with a homeless lady (Gawd Arnie… really? she’s diabetic???)  and headed back to the hotel.

It was a night SO full of laughter, memories of people we’d lost but mostly laughter for me.   I know another woman, Angel, was honouring the 3rd anniversary of her wife’s death and Judy was honouring the 3rd anniversary of her husband’s death.    And we all had losses or birthdays near… but it was so lovely to just BE.

And be silly like clearing out all the timbits in the store.

And skipping along on the walk home.

And flirting with men I’d only see for the weekend and then not likely again for at least a year.

And smiling.

And laughing.

And forgetting for a moment… just a moment in time… that I’m different than everyone around me at home.  That I carry the weight of loss, the knowledge of death, the uncertaintly of life with me all the time.   But at Camp Widow… I get to forget that because WE ALL do.

The next morning… the timbits made their rounds…. but that’s for part 3…

Adventures in Camp Widow Toronto Part 1

So my first day of adventuring to Camp Widow acutally starts the day BEFORE I arrived in Toronto.

It started when I got on a plane in Quesnel, and flew to Vancouver.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

I arrived at 9.30pm, not looking forward to my 10 1/2 hour wait to board the next plane.

After about an hour of blah and meh, I decide to see what the likelihood of me sneaking on a plane BEFORE my scheduled flight was… yanno – just arrive in Toronto in the morning and enjoy the day there.

Yeah.  It wasn’t going to happen.

Not only that… I apparently didn’t have a flight at all.

You see – my mom and I were making this trip together.  We were going to be in Toronto together.   We were going to hang out together.

And a week before the flight out – she blacked out and couldn’t fly/drive or travel in general.

Prior to that, she’d booked her flight using aeroplan miles.   And mine was her companion flight.  Because she needed the escort and accompianment.

Guess what?   You can’t fly without the person you’re escorting.

So I texted my mom.  We made a plans to call Aeroplan at 4am – the office opened at 7am EST.   I headed to the general waiting area, found a place to curl up and with my backpack (not packed very well) under my head and my suitcase handle in hand.. I set my alarm on my phone and tried to sleep.

A note about the alarm on my phone.   It’s set to vibrate twice.  Then play duelling banjos.

I put it between my boobs.

I jumped a friggen foot when it went off at 3.45am.

I think I woke the guy sleeping on the next set of benches.    He got up, wandered to the bathroom area and came back, asking me if I had gotten any sleep (must have, I jumped when the damn alarm went off!!)

We exchanged a small amount of chit-chat and he went back to sleep.

I on the other hand, had a phone call to make.

After almost an hour on the phone… the answer was no.  I could not fly without my mom. We could not transfer my mom’s ticket to me.   And while we COULD cancel both tickets and rebook – I wouldn’t be able to fly for 23 days.    That’s fricken useless.

I had a small mental breakdown, posted on FB that I wasn’t going to be able to fly and that was that… I figured.   My friend Kathy would come pick me up and I’d spend the weekend with her.   Win for me either way.

But an angel came to my rescue and bought my ticket to Toronto.   Seriously.  An angel.  I will pay it back or pay it forward, whichever way the world allows me to.

So at 8am… I was in my seat, taxi’ing towards the runway.   Looking forward to Toronto.  Still in shock that I was actually GOING.

Did you know that when you fly West to East the day is REALLY long?  Like SUPER long?  And that you lose an ENTIRE DAY when you fly that way?

Yeah.   So I arrive 3.30pm.  Get my bags.  Get myself over to international flights.   And meet friends flying in.
(they took FOREVER to get their bags and get out to the waiting area!!!)

And we drive to the hotel to get ready for dinner at the Spaghetti Factory…   which I’ll tell you about tomorrow… because that’s a post in and of itself LOL

camp widow

Camp Widow Canada 2014

I think I’m in Camp Crash.

I think that the emotions, the connections, the feelings of “normal” and the smack of reality have finally hit.

How do I explain to those who’ve never experienced it how incredible it was to be at Camp Widow?

How to I articulate to the overwhelming emotions, the incredible people, the ability to go from dancing the night away to being there for someone in need to just hanging out as just RIGHT?

Camp Widow is something most people will never understand.   My man, my new love, he doesn’t get why it’s so very important to me that I go each year.  He’s concerned about money, about bills about all this other stuff but Camp Widow?  That is something that makes me feel normal again, just for a while.

I stopped in briefly to visit friends on my lay over.   One of them said that I should hit up RollerCon – that it was amazing, awesome and something not to be missed.

I’d miss it for Camp Widow.

And I *love* roller derby.

Over the next few days, I’ll write more about the bits and the days and the moments.  But for now…

Long Live Love…

Well Loved 2014

The Man Who Changed My Journey

Widowhood is a club that no one wants to belong to.    You’re welcomed with open arms and love and compassion, but we’d rather you didn’t join us. 

I didn’t want to be a part of this club.  I didn’t want to be a widow.   It’s romanticized in movies and they tie everything up into a neat little package at the end of the movie where everyone is happy and grief is overcome, and life is grand. 

That’s so much bullshit. 

Real widowhood is full of pain and grief and loneliness.   Real widowhood is having your world rocked to the core.  Real widowhood is having the ground under you (so solid one moment) disappear.   Real widowhood is feeling like you are completely alone. 

And then, I met someone. I posted on one of the websites I found… that I was hurting and sad and in pain.   

This man reached out to me. 

He talked to me.  We talked.  We emailed.  We texted.  We became friends. 

He sent me flowers on Valentines Day.    

And then he did something incredible for me – he made sure I could go to Camp Widow

camp widow

He found his second chapter.   They got married this past summer.. and I am SO happy for both of them.  I love them both dearly.  They are amazing awesome wonderful people who are incredibly suited to each other. 

My life has been incredibly busy the past 6 months since Camp Widow.   I went on a road trip, packed my house up, moved, helped my boyfriend get his kids back.   Everything has been incredibly focussed on *my* life. 

I haven’t been as good a friend as I would have liked to be these past 6 months.   So I just wanted to say… publicly, how much I love and appreciate you Cory. 

By being there for me at the beginning of this year… helping me get to Camp Widow… you changed my journey through widowhood and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without your support. 

You and Beth are incredible together.   I love watching your life unfold on Facebook… it brings joy and love to my heart.   

Thank you, for being a part of my journey.  

Friends Bacon Bits

Breaking Through

I was handed an arrow.  An honest to gawd, wooden arrow with a metal tip and a notch in the end to connect it with the bow.

I was told to place the metal tip against the softest part of your throat, place the other end against the wall, and walk forward.

I did… and I took a step forward.

The arrow shattered.

If there’s nothing else I’ve taken from this weekend at Camp Widow West 2013 – it’s that moment after the arrow broke and I realized I could do anything.

We had spent time meditating, visualizing, and finally, we broke an arrow. Courage

Knowing that I can change anything… knowing that the pain will be temporary… making that shift from the pain to focussing on what I want… That was priceless.

And to think, I almost ditched that workshop in favour of the pool.

The workshop was so worth it.  I cried… in ways that were not so much debilitating grief, but more a release of the emotions and allowing the joy and the love to bubble up from the depths of where they were hiding.

In making that shift… I was able to see that there’s nothing I can’t do.