When Chris died he was 7 years and 4 months older than me. My mantra since shortly after I began my time as a widow has been to live as though I only had 7 years left. I want to honour Chris with the life that I have, to live it to the full. So when I am faced with opportunities and choices, I ask myself one question:
If you knew you only had 7 years left, what would you do?
I don't mean this in a negative way. I use it as a positive force, to push me through fear, or what if's and my default state of anxiety to find what my heart really desires. To guide my decisions and think about what I really want.
If you only had 7 years, would you stay in the job that stresses you and keeps you away from your family or would you launch the business you dreamed of, or look for another job?
If you only had 7 years and you found the perfect house by the beach, would you follow your dream or let the fear of starting over hold you back?
If you only had 7 years, what would your answer to this opportunity be? How would you want to spend your time? Does it align to your values, what would your priorities be? Where would you go, who would you see, what would you do? Would you publish the blog?
Would you buy the shoes? (Well, ok, maybe that's not the widow effect!)
In the last 2 years, I have done things I would have (and indeed previously have) let myself be talked out of. For example:
I got a tattoo. It was of Chris's signature from a birthday card, on my wrist
I bought a campervan!
I was asked to go and do some noise monitoring in Dubai, and so I went.
I quit my job with no job to go to, and decided I would start my own business and work as a freelancer/contractor acoustic consultant, after I had given myself some space to feel my grief, and declutter my home.
I was offered the chance to see U2 in Singapore and have a long weekend with my wonderful cousin in law who lives in Malaysia - so I booked it. (And as a result I got to very briefly meet the Edge!)
I booked Christmas in Australia for me and my daughters and stayed with my best friend who lives in Melbourne.
I found a house by the beach, and with no fixed geography of a job to keep me in Reading, and my daughter about to change from school to college anyway, I bought it.
I started practicing yoga and meditation. I made a conscious decision that if I needed self care I would provide it. On days when the grief is overwhelming, if I need to take the day off, then I do. There will be good days to make up for it.
I decided that I would start to write about my experience of becoming and being a widow, both personally and professionally.
It remains to be seen whether these were all good decisions, but so far, no regrets on any of them.
And as for year 3 - since overseas travel might be off the table for a bit I am thinking about a hot air balloon ride. I am also considering a skydive, but that might be a step too far!