Two podcasts 6 and 7 are live now. Grief the Real Talk – Abandonment and Relationship Changes After Loss, and Condolences – What to Say and What Not to Say to Grievers. I also want to share the most amazing and concise speech about grief as explained by Dr. Natasha Josefowitz, PhD. And I’d also like to thank Judith Barrow, Diana Peach, Stevie Turner, Smitha Vishwanath and Lisa Thomson for their most lovely and recent reviews for my new book – Fifteen First Times.
I will commence podcasting again, end of March.
Thanks to Marian Beaman emailing the link to this video of Dr. Natasha Josefowitz, PhD, bestselling author, talking the bare bones on grief at different ages.
Dr. Josefowitz talks about there being no right way to grieve, and about how Dr. Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief were originally written for the dying one, not the grievers. There is no law and order for a griever. Dr. J will tell us her own list of 7 emotional stages of grief, which is more like a griever’s life, no set pattern, many times revisiting, triggers, etc. This was like listening to me telling my life. Unreal. I am not alone. Everything she lived is me. So the good parts that she states, about when grief moves from her head into her heart, and suddenly the pain doesn’t feel as heavy, is the part I look forward to.
Also, I wanted to thank a few people here who have kindly posted new reviews for my recent book release – Fifteen First Times:
Review by Judith Barrow:
Fifteen First Times is a collection of short but evocative memoirs by D G Kaye. I actually wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started to read. All I knew was that, having read various other books by this author, and having always admired her intimate writing style, I was in for a treat. I wasn’t disappointed…
Review by Stevie Turner:
In this short but candid book the author D.G Kaye shares fifteen of her first times with us; from her first diet to her first menstrual period, her first high heels, her first love, and her first cigarette to name but a few. We also find out what happened when she decided to dye her hair red for the first time…
Review by Smitha Vishwanath:
‘Fifteen first times’ by author D.G. Kaye is a light, heartwarming read that will leave you reminiscing your own fifteen first times, sweet events you may have forgotten along the way as life took over and bitter ones that hurt you so much, that you buried deep inside of you- basically, all the experiences that made you into the person you currently are…
Reviewed by Diana Peach:
Kaye’s memoir Fifteen First Times reads like a conversation over a glass of wine with a bunch of besties. As I was reading, I could imagine the groans, laughter, and tender moments many women share in common as they navigate their teens and young adulthood—first kiss, first love, first car, a broken heart, the angst of menstruation, the first hair coloring disaster, and the first death that woke us up to the impermanence of life. Fifteen firsts…
A lovely essay style memoir, by D.G. Kaye. She shares fifteen of her poignant first experiences. Each one as touching as the next. Kaye makes herself vulnerable in sharing these very personal stories, including losing loved ones. My favorite were her stories of her trip to Europe as a teen. If you grew up in the 70’s you will doubly enjoy this book. Highly recommend!
Welcome to a brand new year! I thought I’d kick off the year with a post to remind us all to take care of ourselves to maintain good health. No time like the present to keep ourselves in check for a healthy new year.
The most important relationship we have first and foremost should be with ourselves. If our health isn’t in great shape it can hinder much of what we do. Did you know that emotional health can affect our physical health? It’s a fact. In relation to that statement, I’m sure many of you have heard the term – ‘stress kills’. Well, it can potentially be very harmful. Just ask me, one who has gone the gamut of doctors and tests for much of the fall of 2022.
It’s easy to overlook ourselves, especially when times are tense. I’m a living testament to what self-neglect can do. So yes, self compassion and self care is essential to live and thrive, not just to survive.
When my husband took ill, my complete focus was everything for him. Out with the old routine and scheduled self-care. While I was living on auto-pilot, I didn’t take the same care of myself I always previously did. Starting with poor diet and often, not eating. Not eating much led me to not taking my vitamins and supplements as I’d been doing for decades. My mind was solely focused on taking care of my husband. And when I’m living in stress, I’m one of those people who cannot look at food when in this mode – quite contrary to many who eat for comfort when they are stressed. Not living on a set schedule led me to random bites here and there, and often, food is required to take vitamins along with for absorbtion. Nothing to absorb left me forgetting to, and eventually, not even caring to take my supplements. So my body was becoming mal-nutritioned. Oh sure, I know better. But fear and anticipatory grief left me otherwise not caring. And there was certainly a price to pay in the fallout. So I can tell you from this experience that there is also no quick fix, but once getting back to a routine, it took many months to bring back my healthful levels in my lab tests. And still, it didn’t end there.
After losing my husband in spring of 2021, I wasn’t only an emotional wreck, but I was in poor physical health. Yes, even this good health advocate was caught in the spiral. And by summer’s end in 2021 I finally booked my overdue physical with my doctor. After she read back my labs to me, I was mortified at the results and all the changes my being had gone through. I lost a lot of hair for one. Many of my levels were red flagged. I was severely deficient in vitamin levels, especially Vitamin D. That was the biggee for me, as Vitamin D is so essential to our bodily functions, and fighting off cancers, where deficiency leaves us as an open target for cancer cells to develop. I also began experiencing ‘weird’ sensations in my heart. I often had palpitations and moments where I felt I wasn’t getting enough oxygen and I’d spontaneously cough. So I was sent to a cardiologist in the fall of 2021. I was put through a battery of tests and scans, and thankfully, nothing was diagnosed except stress causing my symptoms. The cardiologist asked me to follow up this past fall, and I did.
This time I was put through more and different tests, having me go back there and to the lab several times September until just weeks ago this past December. I was quite concerned, especially since a year had passed and my vitamin levels were brought back up by my good behavior, yet the heart symptoms were still lingering. And after the circuit of tests, I finally got a follow-up consult with the cardiologist. Thank goodness I was told there was nothing more serious going on, but I learned that there is indeed something called Broken Heart Syndrome. And though it is said that will eventually subside, it very much has the potential kill with a fatal heart attack.
There is a Japanese word for this syndrome – Takotsubo. This is a temporary form of cardiomyopathy. It can last weeks or months. Although this syndrome isn’t always fatal, it presents such symptoms of feeling tightness in the chest, palpitations, shortness of breath, and weakness in the heart muscle caused by sudden shock or acute anxiety. The body releases stress hormones which temporarily curb the heart’s ability to pump properly. Experts say that the coronary arteries that feed oxygen to the heart muscle, go into temporary spasms. Pyschological stress is a usual precursor to these symptoms. People in critical states are put on several heart medications for a temporary trial period of three months. I am grateful that I didn’t have to be prescribed such pills.
Stress kills, is a real thing. Stress comes in all shapes in forms and wreaks havoc in both our mental and physical health. We must never forget to take care of ourselves and our health, yet it’s so easy to do when life bombards us with unpleasant events, overwhelming things, and overly achieving schedules we put upon ourselves. Life is always throwing us curve balls in some aspect, so we must learn new ways to combat the overwhelming things in life. It isn’t always easy or preferred, or even thought about when we’re in the midst of a living crisis, because even when we forget about ourselves, our bodies do not forget the sins we’ve committed to them.
So what can you do to keep your healthy engines running? First and foremost, make it a point to have an annual check-up to get a scope of how well your bodies are functioning. When symptoms appear, don’t fluff them off until the “I’ll get to it eventually.” Pay attention to the signs that your bodies are sending you. Nothing happens because of nothing. There’s a reason for everything your body is telling you to pay attention to, not disregard until something escalates and potentially may become too late to repair.
In my case, it was (and is) ongoing ‘tragic’ grief that sent my body into a tailspin of symptoms. I was isolated in the depths of Covid and alone contending with my husband’s demise, and then, ultimately, the unraveling of living in that grief without him. We’ve often heard of someone losing a spouse and then not too long after, the other one dies. Grief is a stronghold that wraps around our hearts and suffocates. If it is not dealt with, it will cause a spiral of other symptoms, especially when self-neglect sets in. People who are left to wallow alone in their brokenness will ultimately pay a price somewhere with their own health. A good doctor will be so beneficial in this circumstance. The strong survive because they take action in searching for avenues that help them get through the difficult days. For me, my doctor gave me Valium for the short term to help numb the overwhelmingness I lived in. After my wake-up call with bad labs, it took about five months until my levels were back to normal again. I use meditations to take me out of myself when I feel the need. After a year, I joined a gym for both some physical goodness, and for social interaction. And of course, writing, writing is a great therapy for me, and it can be for many. You don’t need to be an author to be able to write in a journal to expel emotions, even if nobody else ever gets to read them. Words and thoughts that circle our brains sometimes need a push out of our heads onto paper. This can be quite gratifying and freeing to the soul.
It was a certainly a year of learning to get myself back into reasonable good health. The palpitations and shortness of breath moments have been lessening, but they aren’t gone yet. I take my vitamins religiously again. I also had an overdue colonoscopy a few weeks ago, and although nothing specific was found, the surgeon requested me to have more bloodwork done, and she informed me she took a few precautionary biopsies. Fingers crossed for that final result that should be back to me in a week or so. And so I shall continue on my journey of health, as I hope all of you will do the same for yourselves. 🧡
In memorium to my brother-in-law ‘Bill’ – William Gies who left a void September 13, 2022 – a legend in his time. ❣
Rest in peace my lovely brother-in-law. I will miss our conversations, and your checking up on me every few weeks as a dutiful brother-in-law and friend, and all the laughter we shared for years in our monthly card club get togethers, parties, picnics, and Christmases in those so very golden days.
After 27 years I had to service my car for the first time on my own, and first, find a place to do so.
For 27 years I didn’t have to worry or think about gassing the car, oil changes, car washes, tires, or brakes. My Puppy was the car man in every sense of the world. Then that ‘service car soon for oil change’ light began flashing. Where was I to go? The last time I took my own car in for a oil change was somewhere in the era of 1995. I paid $29.99 at a Speedy Auto – 30 minutes or it’s free. Ya, those were the days!
Back in the day, just pre, my husband, we were just switching over to self-serve gas stations. Gasp, I have to put in my own gas? Gone are the days when after another human put gas in our cars, the attendant would then bring a squeegee and wipe down all our windows. And maybe, if we were lucky, they may even open up the hood of our car to make sure we had enough wiper fluid. Yes, those were the golden days and how I grew up. The sudden switch over to self-serve didn’t have me liking the advance with the times. I learned quick to stop letting my cars go down to empty before a fill, and when the gage was hitting a quarter tank left to hit the gas station on a good weather day.
So, last week I returned from the gym and when I turned off the ignition, I saw that flashing message reminding it was time for an oil change. Oye! What a dilemma. Where should I take my car now?
I made some inquiries with friends. Most gave me warnings instead of suggestions. Don’t go here or there because they’ll rip you off and try and sell you things you don’t need. One friend offered me to call the auto garage she uses and didn’t even remember how much she pays there. I called, the person who answered the phone was kind of quick and rude, ballparking me anywhere from $80 – $130. Are you kidding me?? Did I mention the last time I took my own car in I paid $29.99? Had prices gone up that much??
I thought about taking it to one of the two dealerships my husband worked for. I know for certain the first one where he worked for 48 years, they charged too much because even when my hubby worked there, he’d take my car elsewhere for certain work or pay a service guy cash to do the work on his lunch hour, and all those ‘elsewhere’s’ I remembered, were no longer around. Then I considered where he last worked up until 2020, but that was a half hour drive away. So I then proceeded to visit my friend ‘Google’.
I knew for certain there were some automotive garages in an industrial area five minutes from where I live, which is incidentally, five minutes from the first dealership my hubby worked at. I know he did business with some of these places, and picked one to call, based on the many, many, five star reviews they were rated without a complaint in the bunch. Fair, honest, great, don’t try to upsell things, were just a few of the common themed comments I’d read. Bingo!
Before calling, I had to educate myself about information I’d come across that people were now changing over traditional oil to ‘synthetic’ oil because of better performance and longevity for the engine. I wanted to learn why that price was practically double than the traditional oil, and learned it had something to do with the refining process, and that once upon a time, when oil was discarded, the automotive places got paid for discarding their oil, and now, they have to pay for discarding it.
So, I decided my best option was to call Mr. Automotive, based on the fantastic reviews, close proximity, and maybe they knew my husband?
Nikki answered the phone. I asked a few questions, and before a few minutes passed, we were laughing together like old chums. She’d asked me for the make and model of my car so she could quote me the accurate price. Yes. I learned each model of car has different engines and oil requirements. But when she asked me more about my model, my response was, bwahahahha, are you kidding me? I don’t know such particulars. We laughed, and after two call backs of her checking the possibilities, I went down to my underground to search out the extra fancy initials and numbers beside the model name of my car for her. She then called me back with the quote – at which I gasped, but after doing my research, had kind of expected. And after checking with a few friends, they’d all converted over to synthetic oil.
Nikki gave me the price and assured me that besides the oil change they’d check all my car’s vitals: fluid levels, belts, tire pressure, wipers and more. And gratefully, they filled up my wiper fluid, because I don’t even know the difference between the wiper fluid and anti-freeze compartments. The car was remedied in an hour and the report came back that my car was still in mint condition, now with converted to synthetic oil, and all vitals reported fine. I felt peace of mind about my car, and that I now had a place to take my car that I could feel secure about the service and integrity and honesty and friendly service at Mr. Automotive. Sadly, nobody there recalled knowing my husband, but I’d landed in the right place anyway.
So, I often write about some of the goings on in my life and in my head/heart. Last Thursday was probably the best day I’ve had since I was in Mexico with my new wonderful friends.
Today, (the post goes live) is my ‘something’th’ birthday, and I probably won’t be answering your comments till much later tonight, because it will be my new best day because I’ll be spending it with my bestie, Banan, known as Bri in my books.
But getting back to Thursday – weeks previous to Thursday, I’d come up with the decision that I have to start expanding my horizons and decide what kind of group activity I’d like to join. The time is long overdue.
I’d thought about joining a grief group where I could be among ‘my people’, or joining a gym, women’s fitness – no men as I’m not interested in getting hit on. I couldn’t find anywhere close that had an actual, non online grief group. I’m at the point where I need to be around way more people, to find new friends that don’t live far away and whom I have things in common with – not necessarily grief – but a human or two I can connect with, someone who I can look into their eyes when speaking as opposed to chatting on a computer screen.
I talk to my friends online often in chat boxes, but there’s nothing better than real talk with humans face to face. I’m a people person and feel myself shrinking by spending too much time left to my own devices. I promised my two besties I was seriously going to join something when I decided where I’d feel most comfortable, and I decided to email a contact form for a Goodlife Fitness Women’s Gym, only ten minutes away, and went for the tour last Thursday.
Asal showed me around with a guided tour for over an hour. She was a sweet young girl. It felt great just to get out and talk to Asal (whose name that took me three tries to pronounce, and we laughed together). She asked me a short questionnaire – my goals, what I was wanting out of joining, any classes I’d be interested in. I told her my husband died a year ago and I’m taking my first steps in trying to rejoin civilization, mainly joining to take part in some classes for social interaction – Zumba and Yoga.
I’ve pushed myself to commitment and went back yesterday, to use the free pass to try out whatever equipment I wanted in the gym for however long I wanted, and they had great special plans to choose from at reasonable prices, and Asal was dropping the ‘joinup’ fee of $100, if I signed up then. I figured I’d try the two classes a week and use the treadmill and some of the weights, before I dived into machines. So I told Asal I’d like to use my free pass day Monday, (yesterday), and that I’d come while she’s on shift so I could sign up with her. So now I’m a member. For approximately $20 a week I can go whenever I want and to however many classes I want. I liked midday because there were people but not so many. I figured I’d eventually strike up a friendship with someone, it’s close to home, it’s only women, so what do I have to lose. And who knows, in the process, I could get in good shape. Sounds like a win/win. So this is my progress.
So, getting back to Thursday, before I got to the gym. I was on my way to the gym waiting for the elevator on my floor, where this attractive older woman was standing. I’d never seen her before, but then again, I’m picky who I want in my close circles in the building where I live, lol. I have a few friends from upstairs on my old condo floor, neighborly friends, but not real close. And there were many lovely greetings from what seemed the, ‘widow’s floor’ I’d moved on to, but nobody I felt a connection with. But today, there was ‘Marsha’.
My condo is, unfortunately, close to the elevator. I came out, locked my door, turned around and walked ten steps to the elevator. I saw the back of her and her pretty blonde bob before she turned around and asked, ‘Does it bother you living close to the elevators?’ I replied, not really. There’s no noise. I just feel like my door is vulnerable for quick break-in getaways if there were any, and have to remember not to talk on the phone near the door for fearing of being overheard.
We laughed while waiting for the usual long elevator wait. She told me she just moved in last month and gave me a short synopsis of her being twice a widow. She’s very attractive, and we shared a similar humor. I took her for her early 70s. I gave her my short synopsis, and after we got off on the lower level together, while I was going to the parking lot and she, to vote in our library, we both finally took a breath and were about to go our parting ways, when she told me her apartment number and added, ‘knock on my door around 645, I’ll show you my place then we’ll go sit outside in our park.
After I got back from the gym, my new good friend from Mexico, Shelley, Whatsapp video called, and we had a two hour catch-up and planning when I’m going to visit her and stay at her place for a few days. She lives in Brighton, Ontario, about a two-hour highway drive east of me. Me, anxiety highway driving woman. But, I made up my mind. I am driving to Shel’s. I’m not taking the train. That, my friends, will be an adventure.
We laughed about all our antics this past winter, and the things we’re going to do together next winter in Puerto Vallarta- definitely heading up to the best market in Bucerias. And we’re looking at late June for my first summer visit, as soon as it warms up to swimming weather again, as typically, our hot summer is now feeling like the cool of spring, and it looks that way on the weathermap for the next few.
My Bestie, Banan called while I was talking to Shel. I declined her call, texted her that I was on the phone with Shelley. I did call her back much later, almost dinnertime, of course no answer. I left her a text to listen to my long message about my surprising day. I told her to call me tomorrow because I had to make some dinner and I was rushing to meet Marsha. Banan was thrilled.
We caught up the next day. And I will end this here, and then I will reveal more about my outdoor meeting with Marsha and our walk to the coffee shop on Sunday, in next week’s episode.
I’m being bold and stepping back into civilization – baby steps, but it’s happening!
It was a year April 7th that I lost the love of my life, my husband, Puppy. And today is his birthday. I’ve been busy painting new rocks to place around his gravestone for his birthday visit. And went over to the garden center to pick up a lovely spring planter.
The sun’s rays were shining brightly in this photo
This past year has been one of The most difficult time of my life. Many days I find myself not coming to grips with anything. When you love deeply, you will grieve deeply. I am on my own way too much it seems and I know with certainty getting away for the winter was my saving grace, being around people – company, always someone to talk to.
Most of my days are spent reading, researching various things from the spiritual to online grief groups, and writing. It may seem I haven’t published anything for quite some time, but the writing has been plentiful and has given me much material to work with from my journaling and the many poems I have written. My procrastination, because of my newly acquired short attention span hasn’t permitted me to do anything concrete with any of it yet, but I’m slowly working on that as I struggle through each day with what feels like a never-ending grief who is my constant companion. I know though, that one day soon I will have much of my writing to share. My grief doesn’t just pop up randomly, but walks with me every minute of the day. Some days I can deflect it off ’till later’ and some days it just gets the best of me. So I continue to live in my mantra of ‘One Day at a Time.”
In my moments of distraction, I find myself running to Youtube listening to angel messages, Mediums, poets, from inspirational things to talks on the afterlife. I’ve been watching a lot of Youtube videos, getting lost in the 70s and 80s lately too. I can listen to that music because it takes me back to some of my most happiest times – the times before I met my husband, so those songs couldn’t set off yet another fresh round of grief. Somedays I find myself having to do anything to distract myself from doing anything productive as my grief is a staunch companion. I find myself always trying to gauge my emotions and watch where my mind goes. If I feel the need to abandon doing something constructive (like writing and getting back to edits so I can publish I book I wrote two years ago), when the weight of my grief reminds its presence, I need to do that in that moment. This is my coping mechanism taking over, and I must listen.
If my soul craves the need to jump over to Youtube to watch a video on the Afterlife, or a music video to take me back to a happier time, I do it. I’m alone much of the time and I thank goodness I’m resourceful because let me tell you, I loved living on my own when I was younger. I had the time of my life in those days with a very active social life. But this time ’round, both the calendar and the couch are equally empty.
I’m okay with music prior to knowing my Puppy, but not yet ready for hearing ‘our’ songs. I passed on the Luther Vandross video – So Amazing, that popped up on the playlist, the one I walked down the aisle to when we married.
I’m getting acquainted with, but not quite used to living alone. Being single in grief at a certain age is nothing like being single in my 20s and 30s, especially when you’re still trying to digest being in the digit ‘six’ club. If I didn’t have my writing to keep me sane, who knows where I’d be. Writing is my sanity, as it seems to have been my ‘go to’ since I was a child. I feel like I’m in a new learning phase of my life where I allow myself to follow my whims instead of putting them on the back burner for tomorrows – those tomorrows that sometimes never come.
But I’m always writing. I probably have enough writing for three new books. The only thing I haven’t yet got back to is my desire to do something with my words. So in the meantime, I keep writing. And I’m actually considering putting some of my writing in podcast that will eventually become part of the book on grief that I’ve been journaling about. The universe will guide me when the time is right. My heart is far from ready yet to reread the thousands of words I have written in these past two years.
My circles in life are considerably smaller. I am grateful for the friends in my life, especially those who’ve ‘stayed’. And equally grateful for my online writing friends here who keep check on me and keep me motivated, informed and entertained. I feel as though I haven’t found a direction yet, so I remain coasting along to whatever the days ask of me without putting pressure on myself. Grief is a strange animal that takes hold of me in a moment’s notice. It distracts, it chokes, it hinders, and somedays it’s just emotionally crippling for me, and it works on its own schedule. Too much alone time is not healthy for a griever. I am trying to work on that too.
I will finish off by saying that procrastination is a well known thing for writers as we often will look for a distraction when the muse isn’t fulfilling. But sometimes, in other aspects of life, procrastination is the very thing that soothes our insanity, and a diversion is just what the doctor ordered.
Well, it finally got me! After two years of playing safe, staying secluded, never without a mask anywhere, except for around people I know who behave with protocols, I let down my guard. Once.
I flew on a plane to Mexico, spent two months there, flew home and never caught the Rona. I never go to indoor closed events, keep a good distance from strangers, even with a mask, and then, the one time I decided to take my brother up on his invitation to a Passover dinner with ten people, who apparently all did Covid tests before the gathering, I got it.
As many of you already know, I don’t really have any family in my life anymore, save for one niece, one brother, and my husband’s siblings. You’ve read in a few of my vacation posts how people I thought were friends were no longer after I lost my husband. Well, it’s not just friends, but family who behave badly too. When you’ve lost the love of your life and your world comes crumbling down and you walk away from your husband’s gravesite mini funeral because of Covid, and get in that lonely limo by yourself to go home to be by yourself, you learn about who really gives a shit about you.
In all fairness, my younger brother had his Covid shot booked for half hour after the funeral. So he did come over to my place afterward. And besides my niece and her little one showing up, that was the extent of wonderful family. Also, not even a phone call then or since from so called family. This awakening once again reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Anne Lamott:
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ~Anne Lamott
But I digress, and that’s because I wanted to reiterate that my brother was there for me, and I felt I should make an appearance after so long and go to his house. And after a year of seclusion and coming back from my winter trip, and mask mandates loosening around the globe, I thought perhaps I should take a step forward and accept my brother’s invite to Friday night Passover dinner.
I don’t recall any one on one conversations in close quarters there, other than sitting side by side at the long dinner table of trust?
Monday morning I woke with a scratchy throat, indicating to me a cold was coming on. A cold? I haven’t had one of those in a few years! I had a bit of dry cough and a lot of sneezing. I took a Covid Rapid Test and was happy to find it negative.
By Tuesday my dry, head cold became a coughing event that could push up a lung and a runny nose. But my bones! I felt (and still feel) like I was severely beat up and had equally debilitating pain when lying down or sitting.
Wednesday morning I decided whatever was going on with me was far from a normal cold with bad flu symptoms and took another Covid test. I was making breakfast and while awaiting my coffee, did the test. Five minutes later, there was that welcoming ‘one red line’ telling me no Covid. I proceeded to eat my breakfast and ten minutes later when I went to put the dishes in the dishwasher, I went to throw out the Covid test indicator and there I saw it – two red lines had developed. I have Covid?
Only moments later I went to check my phone that I had neglected to even look at the day before, and saw a text from my brother. He informed me that two dinner guests tested positive on Saturday, and my brother and his wife both have the Covid. Apparently, my brother aced it and felt better in two days, but his wife had it bad. I proceeded to let my brother know I too had it.
Today is Day Four and I’m still feeling rough. Bones still ache, gone through a box of Kleenex and terrible sleep for two nights now. What have I learned? Don’t let down your guard when you’ve been doing a great job. In this global world of craziness dropping mask mandates and all the natives running wild like there is no longer a pandemic, this thing is farrrrr from dead.
I will continue with my own safety protocols, and it will be a long, long time before I again ever partake in an enclosed indoor gathering – family or not. I would also like to add that I take a lot of vitamins, including Vitamin D, C, and Zinc and supplements daily as well as immune boosting minerals and mushroom blend immuno builders, as well as three Covid jabs, and I’m sick as a dog and my ribcage feels like broken bones from soul-wrenching coughing. I would hate to think how I’d be if I wasn’t taking care of myself before this happened. Not hard for me to see how people can die from this virus. It’s not a joke, and it’s not just ‘a cold’ as I see many ignorant comments on forums that talk about Covid. People do die.
I’m just sharing my take and experience on the subject. Everyone has their own decisions to make when it comes to public exposure. Just hope your immune system is prepped to handle this beast if you choose to roam free so you don’t become a statistic.
It’s The Small Things That Matter that form the biggest memories.
Things I love about being in Mexico – Friends, sun and ocean. The technology break is – to be cliché – heavenly, and a little bit back in time – pre-distracted times. Nobody is attached to their phones. Conversations are meaningful. Minutia can become an engaging conversation when we aren’t ruled by the clock. Nobody is in a hurry. I can watch the dolphins and whales from my beach chair or balcony, many times a day there’ll be one in view. The whales come to the Bay every February to birth the babies in a safe, shark-free environment.
What’s so great about Puerto Vallarta? It’s sunshine, ocean, books and of course, Margaritas. It’s true relaxation, an escape from life. It’s a fantastic venue for the growing art scene with a whole lot of talent from painters and sculptors to music and plays. It’s a wonderful community of kind people. It’s watching the sunset on my balcony with a Margarita, and waking up to sunrise above mountains from my bedroom window. Massages to grind the stress from my body. Admittedly, it took two or three until the pleasure part came through.
Traveling during Covid, and alone, walking for miles, with much too much carryon stuff was how it began. For the first two weeks I was taking in the beautiful sun and re-acclimatizing myself into the word, relax. I knew a few people there, quite a few other regulars didn’t come back this year, still afraid of Covid. Most of the ones there that I knew, somehow became strangers.
With the exception of our Dakota friends there til mid February, I felt like a newcomer at a place that used to feel so familiar. I’d make small talk with whomever may have been sitting beside me at the pool, had enjoyable days, but I became concerned about being home by myself every night and wondered if I’d be less lonely at home. I wasn’t looking to fit in but rather, some human beings I could connect with enough to want to have in my circle and form a friendship with. And that happened, it seemed, shortly after Valentines Day.
I met Shawn and Bobbie from Ontario as they ventured down to the pool on their first day in PV, and saw me wearing a Canadian hat, which inspired them to come talk to me. I met Jerry and Wendy from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and affectionately renamed them Je and Wen. I automatically shorten people’s names. I started calling Jerry, Jer and he laughed, telling me only his ex wife ever called him that. I apologized, he laughed and said he liked it then proceeded to call me De. Tit for tat, I took off the ‘R’ and began calling him Je. Wendy became Wen.
When I connect with people, it’s an instant feeling when I know I’m with ‘my people’. Wen is a sweetheart and Je is equally lovely with a great sense of humor. Jerry is also an artist who I will be featuring in a few weeks at one of my Q & A interviews, so stay tuned for that. I met them in the pool and we all three instantly connected and laughed a lot. Through Wen and Je, I met a friend of theirs, Saul, also in the pool. Then eventually, a week or so later, I met Saul’s wife, Brenda, who I kept calling Wendy, mixing up her name with Jerry’s Wendy, until Brenda had had enough and began calling me Sheila. Sheila Tequila that was. We went out quite a few times for dinner after we became fast friends.
One of a few things I noticed that’s changed with the times there was that many restaurants didn’t have some of the older waiters that knew ‘old school’ waitering. Many restaurants had young staff – some quite young, who couldn’t even speak English. I discussed this with Jerry one day in the pool after a dinner night out we shared as a group at Tosca. Jerry told me he’d heard many waiters died from the Covid, hence, the rush on inexperienced waiters as tourism opened up. There, Jerry ordered an Olive Martini, a ‘nouveau’ restaurant in the new up and coming area of Versailles, which is literally a ten minute walk from our condo. The restaurant was nicely tucked under an open air – garage door-like open rooftop on a residential street. The place was recommended, so we thought we’d check it out. Besides the fact that it took an hour to bring us a drink, not comprehend menus without English speaking waiters, then another hour wait for what came, cold food, it was Jerry’s martini story that had us laughing the most.
I know my friend Jerry isn’t one to make waves. But when we finallyyyy got our drinks, Jerry commented that he was sure they forgot the Vodka in his martini. He was so perturbed he began passing around his drink around the table to Wendy, me, Brenda and Saul, and polled us all, asking if anyone smelled alcohol. After a unanimous vote ‘no’, a few began the taste test. It was still a resounding no. Jerry tried to communicate his concern to the young waiter, who had no clue what the issue was. The waiter went to another waiter to confer, with no results. Jerry called another who looked higher in command to express his complaint. That person went to consult with the bartender before coming back with a shot glass with Vodka in it. Gone was all the ‘Sorry Sir, let us make you another drink.’ Or, the customer is right and unhappy. We all had to laugh at the circus of confering going on before someone would believe him. It became ‘one of our’ standard jokes. After all that, the food was good. The service was lacking, the time it took to receive drinks and food were very long, and naturally, most food came cold. But in all fairness, the left overs were even better for next day lunch once heated up.
We had quite a few fun nights out together and other than one more crappy dining experience with Jerry, Wendy, Wendy’s sister, and my other new pals, Shelley and John at another ‘recommended’ restaurant in the same area, we were done with recommends. The still up and coming restaurant row had a long way to go before warranting the higher restaurant prices there. We were told there was a great Greek/Mediterranean restaurant in the same area. The food was average and below, my Margarita tasted like grapefruit and something. I know grapefruit. I don’t like grapefruit. But the stern, rude waiter insisted it wasn’t. Half the stuff on the menu wasn’t available. Jerry again, got a crappy fake martini. Anything Wendy wanted wasn’t available. My food was tasteless. We watched several tables who came when we did, eat and leave before we ever saw food. I asked the waiter if I could ask a question about something on the menu and he replied: “Hurry up, I’m busy.” We were all stunned at his brazen rudeness. When it was time for the bill we waited another hour. I kept asking Jerry and John to say something to our terrible waiter. Finally, the bills came – most wrong, especially Wendy’s charged for things she never ate or ordered. Wrong drinks on wrong bills and tempers flaring. We all paid without leaving a tip. Not surprisingly, I cannot find any photos from that crazy night.
I had planned on checking out a dentist while in PV. Many people I’ve heard from go there for cleanings, implants, root canals, etc. First, it’s much cheaper for dental work in Mexico than it is in Canada or U.S. There are many state of the art clinics with doctors and dentists from around the world in PV. I have my own dentist, but I’m concerned about some things I wanted a second opinion on and I was long overdue for a new nightguard, as the old one no longer fits my bite, my grinding is out of control, and they aren’t cheap. So I thought I’d check around for recommendations, and I didn’t even have to ask, when Wendy shared a story with me about dental work she’d been having in PV with an amazing dentist. Jerry went for a whitening there too and couldn’t say enough about this mother/daughter dynamic dentist duo – Drs. Lourdes Flores times two. A.K.A as Lulu Flores – both them.
The daughter is a dental surgeon. They work together, no hygenists, no secretaries, they do it all, and me and Mama Flores hit it off instantly. Like we knew each other from another life, it was uncanny. She too was a younger widow and my appointment took three hours because there was a lot of talking going on between both us! I had one of the best cleanings I could ever remember (and my gums reminded me for three days), but then they felt so much better. I got fitted for a new nightguard and had it three days later. Best nightguard! No hassle, just put it in, unlike my old one which required a hot water ritual. If anyone may be going to Puerto Vallarta and considering a dentist visit, or requires expensive dental work, I high recommend my new dental amigas, Drs. Flores and Flores.
Soon after meeting the Winnipeg friends – Wendy, Jerry, Brenda and Saul. I met John from my own province of Ontario, in the pool. We started yapping about everything and anything, and the next day, he introduced me to his wife Shelley. We became the three amigos and Shelley and I laughed and laughed all day long at the pool, and on our many outings together. Shelley was just a person I automatically clicked with and felt like I knew her for years. We spent every afternoon in the pool together, never running out of things to talk about. We shopped downtown together many times, sometimes with and without John, stopping for a meal and the odd Margarita for me and Sangria for Shel. There may have been many outings and drinks:
Shelley and I met a couple of girls from Edmonton, Alberta, at the pool. We had a couple of fun times with these girls, Carol and Sharon, who of course, were also dubbed nicknames, as it seems I had a new name for everyone. The four of us went downtown one afternoon and walked the Malecon, stopping along the way for some happy hour drinks and more laughter. At one of our stops, the tag in my dress was scratching the heck out of me. Carol to the rescue asked a waiter for scissors. No such thing, but he gave her his Swiss army knife. Below is Carol doing surgery on my tag at the bar. After that set of drinks we wandered down to Los Muertos Pub for some burgers.
And finally, to round off my new circle of wonderful friends, came Pat (Patty girl) and Jamie from Vancouver, B.C. I met this fun couple seperately at the pool and was delighted to find they belonged to each other. Pat and I began chatting in the pool and I met Jamie around the pool. And it didn’t take long before I renamed him Ukranie from Jamie.
Jamie was very engaged with the Ukraine situation and has relatives stuck back there. He had passed a Tshirt making place along one of his many investigative shopping travels and ordered himself a shirt, “I stand with Ukraine” was the intended slogan, but as he modelled his shirt at the pool, my editor’s eye caught a typo on his shirt. It said, “I stand with Ukranie.”
I laughed out loud and shouted across the pool, “Spell check much?” Jamie took another look at his shirt and came back telling me he showed the printer a picture of the shirt off the internet on his phone. Again, I asked if he believed everything he saw on the internet. The damage was done. He couldn’t wangle out of that one and now he’s forever known to me as Ukranie. A week later, he ordered some new solidarity shirts and below, we are modelling them:
The month of March seemed to pass a lot faster than the month of February. With all my new friends and my introducing them all to each other, there was never a dull moment between pool gatherings, shopping and dining, drinks, and laughter.
One day, Ukranie rented a car for the day and drove me, Pat, Shelley and John up to a fantastic market about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, up to La Cruz. We spent half the day up there at the beautiful Marina market, then stopped at some other smaller popular towns on the way back – Punta de Mita, Bucerias, Sayulita and Nuevo Vallarta.
Next week I’ll continue on about that crazy, fun trip with the five us, as well as some other jaunts, shopping trips, sightings, and, of course, more Margaritas!
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little about my wonderful friends and just a taste of some of our good times.