The Table for One

 “We have a normal. As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” Robin S. Sharma

Suddenly my MOOD Changed

Within a few months of walking my #GriefJourney, I decided to go out to dinner on my way home from work. On my drive there, I started feeling a little apprehensive and agitated.

As I set foot in the restaurant, I was greeted by the hostess who asked me how many would be in my party. I told her I needed a Table for One, and as the words escaped my mouth, I realized I was officially in a bad mood. 

Couldn’t she tell that I was a new Widow? Click To Tweet


Didn’t she know that I was in mourning? Couldn’t she tell that I was a new Widow?



Only Doing Her Job

The answer to these questions was NO. It was not her fault that my husband was dead. She did not intend to hurt me by asking how many people would be in my party. She was doing her job, and I hated every moment as she guided me to a table. As we walked by the patrons, I grew more depressed. It was busy, loud with chatter, and apparently date night, which worsened this outing.


Just One of Those Days

I wanted to blame the hostess for my mood, as It was one of those days. You know, the kind. The kind of day that no matter where you look, there are ‘Happy Couples’ all around. It’s funny that I automatically assumed that the couples were happy. The realization hit me that after a #loss of a spouse, #partner, or an important #significantother, everyone else seems to be happy.  


Was it their date night as I watched a couple holding hands and laughing? Was it a special celebration, an anniversary, as one couple was drinking Champagne?

As I glanced around, I saw a pair that seemed to be flirting. Was this their first date, I wondered, and who planned this evening out?


This restaurant wasn’t the fanciest place, but it had good food, good service, and if you wanted to take a romantic walk afterward, the street had beautiful lights with plenty of little stores to browse through.

As the thoughts of a romantic walk entered my brain, I realized I needed to stop this scenario from playing. I quickly put an end to the idea and picked up the menu. The interesting thing was that I ate alone all the time, and it never seemed to bother me.


I used to travel cross country for work, often in different cities, eating my dinner alone. Over the years, that was the normal routine that I had grown comfortable with.

I would go to a restaurant, order my food, look at my emails, read a book, or play on my phone while I waited for my food to arrive.


Somehow, this was acceptable in my mind because I wasn’t judging that I was alone. I was only alone because of work, and I still had a significant other waiting for me at home.  

Seriously, Happy Couples!

 Since my loved one’s death, my routine was that I would order food from a restaurant and pick it up on my way home from work, avoiding the restaurant experience. This day was different as I didn’t want to cook. I just wanted to sit and order some food and not be bothered.

Everywhere I looked, they were there – all those happy couples. Click To Tweet


Everywhere I looked, they were there – all those happy couples, young, old, looking at each other with undivided attention. 


I recognized that going out to dinner alone when it was not work-related was not my choice. Knowing that I wasn’t on a work trip, this painful recognition reinforced how different my life truly was. The reminder of being alone and that I would be a Table for One for a while was difficult. So whatever I could do to embrace this unwanted change in my life would be important and necessary. Despite seeing the couples, I tried to enjoy my meal, having faith and tremendous hope that my feelings about dining alone would change. 

This is Now

It has been ten years since my loved one died and seven years since I retired. No more work trips or sitting in a strange city having a meal by myself. Enough time has passed that the vulnerability I used to feel doesn’t happen often.


Small changes began by walking into a coffee shop, ordering a vente latte with two Splendas while looking around for an empty table to sit and enjoy my drink. The steps continued to grow as I ventured to lunches alone.

Assertiveness Lead to Comfort

Today I recognize that I can sit alone in a restaurant at dinner and enjoy a good meal. Now I am able to walk into an establishment and tell them I will be a Table for One. My table will be by the window, French doors, or the garden so I can have a wonderful view of the passersby or the flowers. It begins by informing the restaurant that I don’t mind waiting for that nice table. Being assertive about how I wanted that experience to go made things a little bit easier. Things have changed as I don’t often get overwhelmed by couples like I used to, and now I look at them and see that they all don’t look that happy.   

Enjoying the restaurant experience alone doesn’t mean I want to do it on a  regular basis. I prefer sitting at a table with a couple of friends and enjoying great food and a good conversation.  It’s still good to know that I can do it.  

The New Experience

 Walking through grief hasn’t been easy. My past experiences have taught me that it always felt strange and unfamiliar whenever I tried something new. By practicing patience and allowing enough time to pass for healing, I was able to do many things that initially were difficult.  Now I find that these difficult things come with ease. The Table for One was my new something, my new normal, and I fully committed to hanging on long enough to see this change happen.  

Anyone who has suffered a loss can find their comfort zone. Click To Tweet

My hope is that anyone who has suffered a significant loss through #death or #divorce can find their comfort zone. May you navigate your new life with patience and tolerance until your Table for One becomes a reality.


The Perfect Timing

  “Life teaches you that you need to make decisions in the right time – not too early, not too late.” Jeb Bush

 And It Began

Through the years, I have heard that “timing is everything.” And at the age of thirty-eight, I finally figured out what I wanted in my personal life. But more important was who I would share it with. So when my loved one asked me to marry him, I said yes.

I was excited about the possibility of a different life filled with love, companionship, and support. Click To Tweet

Growing up in the sixties, being a single mom, I became an assertive, independent woman. However, this did not prepare me for being married. I was apprehensive about what being married meant. It seems that we did not have a clue about what the day-to-day expectations and responsibilities were, so after the wedding, we found ourselves “winging” it.

So merging our families, we each gravitated to roles that fit our personalities. However, the tasks and our roles needed to be adjusted as time passed. After floundering for a little while, we assessed our strengths. We came up with a division of tasks/labor that worked for us. We took a deeper look and now considered that I worked in insurance, was good with numbers, and was analytical. At the same time, he was a graphic designer and an artist with excellent artistic sensibilities.

Finding the Strengths

Due to his illness and inability to work, the timing was right to start following my career. We each made sacrifices as my career necessitated cross-country moves and frequent travel. Not having a traditional marriage, we embraced our strengths. My strengths included good analytical skills, the ability to make decisions quickly, and lastly, I was good with our finances. Well, I was better than the artist was.

Through the years, our primary roles stayed the same. But as his illness progressed, we had to modify our day-to-day tasks. His limitations prevented him from doing many of them, so my responsibilities increased.


However, after his death, I struggled to find my way with my newfound reality. My expectation was that I could handle everything and anything that came up, knowing it could be done under normal circumstances. But the truth was this was not my everyday life. The grief I was living through kept me overwhelmed, tired, angry, forgetful, and, worse of all, indecisive. I couldn’t concentrate long enough to analyze the pros and cons of any situation.

Is it Time for a Change?

So three months after my loved one passed, one of my elderly aunts called. She asked me if I would continue to stay in my home. This train of thought hadn’t even entered my mind. I was too overwhelmed with my everyday life to consider such a change. But as she spoke, she stated that they had discussed my situation. They feared I was too far from my neighbors and the grocery stores. That the weather was awful in the winter and that the house required too much upkeep for a woman who was all alone.

As I asked a couple of questions and it became clear that the “they” were three of my favorite aunts (all widows). They concluded that I shouldn’t live in my home due to its location and no familial support. At that point, the conversation veered to how much she loved me and only thought of my well-being.

After the conversation, I realized that moving, as an option, had not even been a consideration. I was painfully aware that I couldn’t even decide on the small things before me.

The thought of moving was too complicated to consider. Click To Tweet


But what this conversation did was show me the reality of my situation. I did live in the country, in New England. There was occasional terrible weather, and I was far from a grocery store or any store for that matter. I  was alone. But this was not my whole truth.

Twelve Years of Memories

I began thinking about what initially drew me to the house and what kept me there. The house was in the country on three and a half beautiful wooded acres that were magnificent year-round, especially in the fall. On top of the beauty, I was surrounded by the wildlife that crossed my property and gave me a deep sense of peace.


This lovely house was filled with twelve years of memories. Click To Tweet


These twelve years of memories were the ones that I shared with my love. Even though I physically lived alone, I knew I was not alone. My friends provided all the support that I seemed to need. At the time, I was still young and strong enough to take care of the upkeep, and this WAS my truth.

I knew that moving was not a decision I would make any time soon because of my day-to-day struggles. I needed to wait for more healing and listen to that inner voice telling me it was OK to do so. After my loved one’s death, I promised myself I wouldn’t make any life-altering decisions for a year. This would include potentially selling my home or moving to another state. My life experiences have taught me that as time passes, more will be revealed. Whatever decisions must be made, I will make them as I’m ready.

My Future

So on that long ago day, three months after my loved one died, I sat and focused on what was in front of me:

  • A home I loved.
  • A place where I felt safe.
  • The peaceful woods surrounding my lovely home.

However, I knew there would be another conversation at another time. When that time happened, I would be willing to look at possible options for moving to another place and home. And when I did consider a change, the moment would be right, and the timing would be perfect.


Is Hello A Dirty Word?

“‘Say Hello’ was inspired by optimism.” Nancy Wilson

You would think that saying hello would be easy, but during the last year, I have found it interesting and not what I expected to experience.

Depending on the weather, I get out in nature a few times per week. As I walk around the local parks, I find myself saying hello to strangers, and to my surprise, I am often taken aback by their responses.

I have found that people fall into the following categories: 

  • #FriendlyHuman,
  • #Don’tLookorTalkToMe,
  • #DogLover, 
  • #ReciprocatedHelloOnSteroids,
  • #Letmebe,
  • #LeaveMeThef***Alone.

Friendly or NOT

I am friendly and polite, but I wonder if this was always the case. Then I realized that it certainly was not. I was friendly to those that I knew, but that was not the case with strangers.  

Throughout my life, I have learned and adjusted my behaviors to my surroundings.  Growing up in Los Angeles, I would have never waved or said hello to a passerby. I don’t know if that was because of the underlying fear of strangers or simply growing up distrusting all others.  

So when did I become friendly?


Through the years, I moved to multiple cities. The journey began in Los Angeles, followed by Denver, Miami – Fort Lauderdale, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Port St. Lucie, Hartford, Daytona Beach, and my present home outside Farmington, CT.  


When I moved to smaller cities, my behavior toward strangers changed.  I specifically remember living in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, when a passerby waved to my husband and me for no other reason than to be friendly. 

This experience began a different expectation of the communities where I chose to live.  As time passed, I continued to walk around my neighborhood. I grew accustomed to waving and saying hello to strangers on the street. 

The thing about this behavior is that it has become an essential part of my personality. I enjoy being friendly, saying hello, and reaching out to friends and family, the butcher at the store, or my mail lady. 

After moving to my newest home in Connecticut, the walks began, and I found myself daring people to interact. I would do a combination of a wave, nod, smile, or simply say hello. What I was greeted with amazed me, and I have broken down my encounters into six categories. 


I’ve learned that the optimal encounter is obviously with the Friendly Person. This person is perceived to be kind and caring even though this is based on no tangible evidence except the smile.

So when I walk through my local park as the recipient of that smile, I feel comfortable and look forward to those encounters. 



There are two versions of this person. One gives off the vibe and would prefer to be ignored and left alone. As a social person, I must be reminded that this individual may be on another path. 

They may visit the park for peace, to enjoy the scenery, or clear their head. They might also be shy or lack the confidence to engage with strangers.   

While the other individual goes out of their way to avoid a friendly gesture and will move to the other side of the street as they see you approaching. This person will also prevent any eye contact. 

Many of these encounters spawned a deeper conversation with my son, one I hadn’t considered. People tend to react differently depending on who says hello. 

People are more receptive if it is a young child or a woman. However, the reactions can be completely different if the one saying hello is a male or a male of color. This fact is one that I want to be very aware of, as I don’t want to make anyone feel more uncomfortable than they already appear to be. 



The #DogLover encounter is usually one of the safest because it isn’t about them. It’s about their dog.

They understand that the dog get’s all the attention, so it is ok to say hello, smile and even ask where they got the dog or if you can pet them.  

This interaction results in everyone feeling comfortable. I have found myself smiling at a pet owner, and when they reacted nervous/unfriendly, all I had to say was, “What a beautiful dog,” and their reactions turned around. Again because it isn’t about them, they tend to be more receptive. 


Through my many walks, I have encountered a version of this person. They will often engage in more conversation than I ever intended.

So for me, “Hello, just trying to be friendly here” is the vibe I’m going for and what makes me comfortable.  


The #Letmebe category has two different personality types.  One is the please leave me alone as I’m outside for my health. The person at the park engages in the available exercise equipment and loop options. So I respect their wish and will altogether leave them alone.  

The other is the individual who is out for their 20-mile ride and can’t stop to talk; however, the friendly biker occasionally smiles, gives a small wave or nod, and, on a rare occasion, will say hello as they race by.  


This person gives off the vibe of You disgust me.  They are miserable in the park, at home, or at work. I’ve learned to give them a wide berth and let them contaminate the air around them, not me.  


So what’s the protocol for Greetings? 

My greetings range from a nod, smile, wave, or saying a simple hello. And if I am so moved, it could be a combination wave and hello. Through the years, I learned to read the oncoming person well. And depending on those first 5 seconds, I decide to nod, wave, say hello, or completely ignore them. Those 5 seconds set the stage for my feeling friendly or rejected.

I almost always say hello first and am surprised when someone else does. Acknowledging people is not only a friendly gesture but one that makes people feel comfortable and safe.

When I say hello to a fellow walker, and they make eye contact and keep walking without acknowledging me, I think how rude and unfriendly. But my Intent is never to cause someone to be uncomfortable. Well, ALMOST never.

There have been a few times that I got annoyed because of their rudeness. And on those occasions, I found myself thinking an explicative or sharing with my son that I would write a blog post titled “Look Up F***ER which always makes us laugh.  

However, most of the days that I walk, I am always happy that I did. On a good day, I can walk by someone in the park and say hello, wave, or smile; it doesn’t matter if they respond. But when they reply, it restores my faith in humanity, and I know in my heart that saying HELLO is NOT a dirty word.