What is your thought process when you add the numbers 23 and 37 together? Some will say that 3+7 is 10, 20+30 is 50, and 50+10=60. Others will count up from 23 by 10’s three times (23…33, 43, 53) and then add 53+7 which equals 60. I am sure there are other ways too.

Ever driven to the store one way, but then taken a different route on the way home?

Remember in Forrest Gump when Bubba raved on and on about the many ways to eat shrimp? Let me refresh your memory. “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, and saute it. There’s shrimp kebabs, shrimp Creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.” That’s 21 different ways to eat shrimp. Have you eaten shrimp more than one way? How about potatoes, broccoli, or apples?

Of course, you have! So, you know, and can likely appreciate, that there is more than one way to do things. Yet so many of us often make others feel like there is only one way to do things? And by one way, I mean our way.

On this widow journey, I think we can all agree that there is more than one path to take. When it comes to wedding rings there are many choices one can make. Widows might choose to take their rings off, leave them on, wear it around their necks or on their right hand, or possibly create a new ring or necklace from their original.

A number of widows won’t get rid of a single thing that belonged to their husband. Many will part with some items, and still others won’t keep a single thing. They won’t even be able to have photos around. None of these choices are wrong. There is always more than one way to do things.

You might never, ever be able to date again. However, that doesn’t mean that no widow should ever do so. Or maybe you have found another love, and are happier than you have been in a long time. That doesn’t mean that others need to get out there and start dating.

I am fairly certain we would all agree that the world would be a boring place if everyone were exactly alike. So, I want to challenge each and every one of you to be more open to others doing things differently than you. Different is A-Okay! Obviously, anything that harms someone physically, spiritually, mentally or verbally is not okay, but other than that, encourage people to walk a different path than you.

And let’s be sure to be offering more empathy, kindness, encouragement, and support to others who are choosing to do things differently. We need to be handing those things out in spades to people at work, home, the grocery store,
on the internet, at church, school, the bank, the laundromat, restaurants, the DMV….you get the point. It doesn’t cost you a thing, and it looks good everywhere.

Get to spreading! 🙂


Dawn’s life was forever altered on December 6, 2018 when she got the call that her husband, Jeffrey, had passed away at his work. She quickly learned that Jeff died from a gunshot wound, and detectives determined that it was self-inflicted. Dawn still struggles to wrap her brain around that fact. She will tell you that most days she doesn’t think about that part of it at all. Her husband is gone. The manner in which he died ultimately doesn’t matter. Gone is gone. He will forever be 46. Jeff and Dawn started out as friends in the Fall of 1997. They started to date in January of 1999. On September 3rd, 2000, in front of a beautiful lake, Jeff asked Dawn to be his wife, lover and friend forever. She excitedly accepted, and on June 30th, 2001, they became husband and wife. Together, Jeff and Dawn had 3 children...Ali, Josh & Meghan. During the majority of their 17 years of marriage, Dawn was a housewife and Jeff ran a fencing company. The kind of fencing that keeps children and animals contained. Not the kind of fencing that uses a sword. After Jeff passed, Dawn went back to school to get her special education endorsement. She is proud to be a special education teacher. In her free time, she can usually be found spending time with family and friends. Reading has been her passion since she was just a little girl, but since Jeff passed, she has found it hard to focus on reading. While that is a negative change that has happened on her journey, one positive change is that she has been writing more. Dawn tries to be very open about her journey with the hopes that it will help even just one other person better understand grief. For years, Dawn has been passionate about spreading joy to those around her. She continues to be that way, and now she is very purposeful about trying to focus on the positive things even during a horrible situation. She moves forward on this journey with her mind focused on continuing to honor Jeffrey, as well as trying to raise their three wonderful children in a way that will make him proud. Her hope is to live a life that will allow her to see Jeff in Heaven. She wants to see his smile again and feel his arms around her. Of course, that will be after she hopefully hears her Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”