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We made it through the first holidays without FIL. That feels like a weight off shoulders.

Attended one holiday service and that was a lot for DH. Still "too big" a space even though he knows most of the people there.

All of us made space for a massage. I wonder if it should have been two -- one before the holiday crush and one right after? I could have used it.

Christmas was mixed. Better at a different in-law's house and not the old family homestead like Thanksgiving. We also showed up last and left first. DH is sticking with his 3 hour limit and it's working for him.

Youngest DD told me that she saw people overloading her dad and him not being able to say "no." He's got to work more on that. He's not the free therapist for his grieving siblings. I think they are all struggling somewhat but that doesn't mean unload on DH. Or if they ARE going to do that, do it just them, maybe even like online group session with a grief counselor. I can suggest but I won't organize that. He and his siblings have to find their way. Either together or separate or both.

Even though he was initially resistant? Probably because of anxiety? DH agreed to hotel if the others wanted it. So I made it happen.

We left the party and 15 min later were checking in. He liked our suite and cheered up that he didn't have to drive long distance again so soon. We had plenty of party leftovers and brought a holiday tin of popcorn. There were hotel toys to play with if people wanted --- pool, gym, 24 hr mini shop, etc. Everyone holed up to watch holiday movies and just sleeeeeep. We all had our own beds. He told me got the best sleep he's had in all this grieving time. I think part of it was having a comfortable bed and part of it was being past holiday events with his family where he keeps getting cornered by siblings. There's deathiversary and then all the "firsts" are done.

Youngest DD told me she was cranky still but a lot LESS cranky. She loved having a hotel. She loved her dad being able to decompress.

For me it was a mixed bag. My body appreciated splitting the long drive so we didn't have to do it all in one day. And I'm glad it made it easier on the other two even if it made more work on me with the holiday cooking and hotel reservations and being emotionally present. Both thanked me for doing it, and that is appreciated but I'm pooping out on grief support.

We did my family on Boxing Day and that was a lot more chill. Dad is definitely slowing down and less verbal but seemed to have a good time. I think next year I want to do my side first and in-laws second. Start suggesting everyone do Christmas on their own and gather together for New Year's or something. Like mix it up already. A lot of the things we did/do as a family are actually leftovers from MIL and FIL who are now deceased. Sitting around for hours eating -- that was needed with elders with oxygen tank and canes and all that. There is only so much they could do and feel included. But can't we do something ELSE now? Go ice skating or meet up to do holiday lights and walk around? Mix it up? More active things?

That's what bothers me. Sitting around on the long drive. Then sitting around some more once there. Then sitting around on the long drive back. I get all stiff. I need to MOVE. So yeah. Hotel was a good idea this year. If we do that again I need to take better advantage of going down to sit in a hotel hot tub.

Declined a large New Year's party in favor of low stress snacks and games with EarthMama. Just the 2 families and they hosted so I offered to do the big snacks and she did smaller stuff like chips and salsa. We all got so involved chatting and catching up that we never got to the games. It was a lot of fun and "right size" venue. Before pandemic we use to get together for family board game nights so we will try to bring that back slowly.

I also attended another New Year party for my women's group. That was a lot of fun. First time for youngest DD and she REALLY loved the vibe of "no boys here" and how women just all pitched in to do stuff so it was not all on one person. She told me it was her favorite holiday activity.

There was a recent widow in the group and she really appreciated being in community as she was navigating her own set of "first holidays without." Another one is a caregiver and she's navigating "might be the last holidays together" which has its own burdens. While we were washing dishes she was telling me how last year she made a list of all the things her spouse could do in 2023. She told me the list is going to be very different for 2024. She's coping well -- accepting they are in a new phase of life and trying to be present in it and grateful for what is still here.

I had plans with a new friend that got canceled because she got sick but we'll try again when she's well.

I called up Rose and she's been struggling with winter depression but said she was up for getting together after new year so I have to follow up. Daisy is also up for getting out to brunch and figuring out what day works best this semester for our weekly hangout.

I have my new book group tonight -- enjoying the selections so far.

Work is going smoothly enough. My new volunteer group -- enjoying doing what I said I'd do and NOT taking on more. Skipping/reducing my volunteer group that I'm meh about. I still haven't been to some of the other new things I wanted to try but one thing at a time.

DH joined me for at home yoga last night. I needed it.
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Daisy has to miss group lunch this month beause she was playing D&D but she and I got together for a whole day of window shopping instead. No particular plan -- just flexible all day long walking and looking and chatting til we felt done with the mall. That was fun and restful.

EarthMama also missed but we have plans for coffee next week instead.

Still haven't had time with Rose 1:1, but I'll follow up. I gave her some plants when I saw her at group lunch. I had picked up some for my garden and got her some for hers since that's a hobby we both share.

At the monthly group lunch, Spark ended up sitting beside me. She made nice. So I matched the energy and made nice back. Talked about how the holidays went.

At the end of lunch people started making plans for other stuff like usual. Those who want to keep socializing can. Those who are done, go home. Let's just pick the place for next month and then breakout into smaller groups.

The usual organizers, including me were silent. I don't know what's going on with Rose and Babs but I'm exhausted from family holidays and I have no desire to be the social secretary friend this month. But there was this silence for a long time. I wanted to go home so finally I said "Look, let's just do a repeater like the Italian place and call it good enough. And next time we can all bring ideas for a new restaurant. It doesn't have to be new every time." So that solved the monthly lunch thing for March so people could leave.

Babs invited us all to her house for a tea somewhere in March. Holly was acting kinda mad that the tea wasn't going to fit her March calendar. Then Holly blurted out that she wanted to bring back the coffee thing. That used to be an additional monthly gathering I used to organize that I quit doing ages ago. Instead I've just been getting coffee with Daisy or EarthMama 1:1 because I don't feel like chasing down the big group. I don't remember what Rose and Babs said to Holly. My initial thought was "Ok. No tea. So what's stopping you from organizing a coffee? Take a turn already. "

It's like both Spark and Holly are just now realizing that they have had a habit of just relying other people being the "organizing friend." And get mad organizers are taking a break rather than thanking them for organizing for so long. It's like the lonely coming out sideways or something?

Later in the parking lot Spark wanted to give me some stuff for the food bank and wanted to talk so I hung back and just listened. Because I had mentioned navigating first holidays without FIL at lunch I guess it hit something? Spark was talking about her struggles managing her depression/mental health over holidays and trying to come out of it better. I really hadn't planned on hanging out that long so I told her I could do lunch next week if she wants to talk more 1:1. I haven't really talked to her authentically in like 18 mos but if she's ready to be more real, I'll listen.

Both Spark and Holly need to unfunk themselves, man. The mental and emotional labor of being the "organizer friend" is the same issue in dating if you end up being the one who always plans/suggest the dates. And I don't sign up if I don't really want to go. So I'm willing to do a 1:1 lunch but past that I'm done.

Me? I am doing ok for my social wellness.

Hanging out with calmer friends is better. Daisy and I are going to try to do some online gaming. I'm looking forward to EarthMama coffee and we have another full family gathering in the works. Maybe this time we'll actually play the board games. I missed a garden tour I was doing on my own because I got a migraine but I'll hit the next one.

DH and I tried a "medium" open floor plan for our lunch date and errands. He suggested the lunch place. I suggested the errands shopping places to free up some of our week for other fun. It was a bit loud at the restaurant, but ok. So we might be ready to add that location back in our rotation.

He's busy with his video games, music, learning Spanish. I went to drum class, did my Feb book group and ready to change to reading the March book. I'm planting veggies in the garden and still riding my bike. We are going to a charity party next weekend. A wine and cheese thing. Some small concerns about the environment being "too big/too loud" but I've got ear plugs in my purse and he's got his 2-3 hour max rule that's working for him. Worst that happens is some drinks, we make the circuit doing some shake and howdy and then duck out if it gets too loud/big. Not a huge deal. We're not the hosts.

DH suggested catching a play at one of the smaller theaters for our next date so I'm looking up tickets.

DH was funny. I told him I was rethinking "comet relationships" and he was delighted with the phrase where I was surprised he didn't know it. Like he knows what it IS, he just didn't know that particular phrase. He also listed several phrases I used recently to "snapshot" a concept. We were talking about politics and I said some colorful things and he started to laugh because it encapsulated the whole situation in few words. He was going down memory lane some too. At the end of our date he was cute. "Thanks. The food was great and the company was even better." Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. He was making me laugh and I told him to quit doing weird stuff. Which made him laugh.

I'm glad he's moving out of grief and returning to wellness. I hope Holly and Spark start to figure theirs out better.

The whole house is in lower power mode. Dad is in hospital and trying to support Mom. But so tiring! DH and I carve out space for mini dates or lunch dates. I went to do some things for myself too. But tiiiiiiiired.

Dad is home and doing ok, but when I was over there last the seniors wore me out.

I have plans tomorrow with EarthMama and later in the week with Daisy. I am going to try one more time but trying to get a hold of Rose is frustrating. I don't know what she has going on, but she's def hermit-like lately and not responding to calls or emails. I'm starting to worry.

Last two weekends DH and I enjoyed our couple date time. He's working on his health things and sensory issues. I was initially worried about the new restaurant noise level but he loved the food and the space. It's def one of those "date night" kinds of places so very busy/noisy on a Saturday night. I timed our reservation to be on the other side of the crush. By the middle of our meal it was thinning out. I think next time I'll make it for 9 PM and push it back even more.


Leaf wrote me again. Holiday trigger for Mother's Day. I matched the energy and then ignored. But jeez. We've been doing this variation for 10 years already. We've been inconsistent friends for 35 years. Most consistent through the teens and school, drifted apart some in college, came back together for 10 years, then Leaf went down in their mental health and will NOT seek help so I had to cut them off somewhat. I cannot be around unmanaged people.

I went out with Daisy to a new bar-with-food opening. I say it that way because it IS that way. Like drinks menu? Several pages. Food menu? One side of a paper. It was a cute place, but super loud in that "industrial design" decor way. Just no rugs and no ceiling sound tiles and too loud music and too loud people trying to talk over the too loud music. I'm nerdy so I pulled out my sound meter app and the noise in there was hitting levels for a factory floor! Both of us decided to bail after the last tapas dish came out and went over to the Italian place down the road for desserts. Rugs, sound tiles on the ceiling, more chill on the music, way easier on the ears and we could actually converse rather than shout at each other. We agreed it was fun to go to the opening to do new stuff but our fav tapas place which is food-with-bar is our fav for a reason. Better and more food choices, less drink choices, and still kinda loud but better loud than THIS. We talked about hobbies, books, vacation she just got back from, etc. We've been friends in a mostly consistent way for 19 years.

I also went out with EarthMama for lunch and we had a great chat and aired out our eldercare problems and college kids problems. The problems of being in the "sandwich" generation. We made plans to do something else soon and NOT talk about elders. She invited me to a concert she had tickets for but I declined and she asked another friend. Had I not just done the factory floor bar-with-food I would have been tempted. But two very noisy things in the same week would just do me in. We've also been friends in a mostly consistent way for 19 years.

Rose frustrates me sometimes. She admits when things happen she goes all hermit and hides from the world. And it is not good. I still can't get a hold of her. I'm worried. I have to go call or check on her very soon. We've also been friends in a mostly consistent way for 17 years but this last two years she's been really erratic. So like 17 good and 2 wonky?

My elderly parents? They are being so extra right now that I don't want to talk about it here. Honestly? I still would like them better divorced and I could deal with them individually. But they aren't, and won't, and dealing with them together is so dysfunctional at times. So that relationship is all my life. And the only time I remember being ok with it was before 12 because I was too young to see how messed up they were.

DH and I had a couple of dates and we have mostly figured out his needs for space/sensory. I took him out to two new places and he did fine. Both were medium size and one was noisier than the other and pushing his limit but he did fine.

He's got medical coming up and he's still shaky sometimes but doing better bit by bit. Instead of daily or weekly, his anxiety tremors in his hands are becoming rare. Which means he can be in larger or more challenging spaces bit by bit. I told him he still would have HATED the bar thing Daisy and I went to. Neither of us have sensory issues like DH and both of us were way overstimulated and just DONE in there. One hour was more than enough.

I was amused. It prob stemmed from talking about the elders and end of life planning but DH told me he loves me and hopes when it's his time to die it's because we're having hot, nasty sex.

"That's going to be rough on kids finding dead us this way."

"I don't care. I'm dead. That's my preference. We go out with a bang. Literally. If you go first, I'll be sad for a while and then I'm seeking companionship."

"As you should. I've always told you that. I'd be doing same."

He started going down memory lane and told me I challenged him, in a good way. He could have seen himself sticking with monogamy because it's what he'd known. He didn't know about poly til me. He also told me it wan't that he wasn't happy. He was.

It was NOT like his teeth but very much like the teeth. It wasn't til he had a difficult pair of teeth removed that he realized how much pain he'd been living with, gotten used to, and normalized. So this was akin to that.

It wasn't that he wasn't happy back then. He was. But until our relationship, he didn't realize he could be happier. All this stuff he used to do or worry about in relationships was gone or just not necessary to do. He liked that. And he liked that we can talk about real things and nobody has to wig out or have a cow about it. He still would identify as very "poly friendly" and question mark on polyamorous himself. He doesn't think he has the bandwidth. And I still would support him either way -- he wants to date other people or not. I was a game changer for him. I'm not so naive to think I'd be the only one he'd ever encounter.

But it was an interesting conversation. We also talked about our parents and their marriages. What they taught us either explicitly or implicitly. What affect THEIR parents may have had on them and their abilities.

It led me to think again about the QUALITY of relationships. People as individuals have their different maturities. But I think relationships do too.

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