Kennebunk, ME loves Widows

And we love Kennebunk!!!

The weekend of October 14 - 17, I spent in Kennebunk, Maine with the AWP at an inner peace getaway. It was certainly a weekend to remember, as are all the AWP trips I've been on. This organization is such a God send to a military widow and I am so thankful something like this exists.

I've spoke of the American Widow Project before (probably quite a few times) but in case you didn't know, AWP is an organization created by Taryn Davis that is by military widows, for military widows. It's a peer-to-peer org and it's main focus is getaway trips where widows can go and be with other widows and for a few days at least, just be widows without having to worry about... well, anything (you can read my article on Taryn and the AWP in DStripped Magazine). My first AWP trip was to Tybee Island, near Savannah Georgia. I was 5 months into my widow journey at the time, and it was my first leap into accepting my new "W" status. I met so many awesome ladies at the first trip and had such an excellent time that before I was even home I was looking forward to the time I'd get to go again.

A little over a year later, I was headed to my second trip. As you may have seen in a previous post, it was full of travel debacles, but I made it. I entered into a house filled with widows, some familiar faces, some new ones, and I instantly felt at home. That feeling of belonging that I so often fight with - where do I fit? - the question just disappears for me on AWP getaways, because I fit and belong with these women. For one weekend at a time, I get to be surrounded by gals that totally get me, that completely understand this journey and it's amazing.

The trip to Kennebunk was full of amazing surprises.
First, I want to thank Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and the people who live there for being so accomodating and hospitable to us. We stayed with a lovely woman, Sue, in her gorgeous home. She went out of her way to make sure we felt welcomed and at home, and I know thank you is not nearly enough to express my gratitude to Sue.

Because of my travel issues, I arrived late in the evening, and missed the lobster bake, but I heard it was wonderful and the ladies were so excited to learn how to pick and eat their own lobsters. There were plenty of delicious leftovers to fill me and my travel buddy's tummies upon our late arrival. Then we spent the rest of the evening chatting and catching up.

The next morning, we woke up early and took a small school bus to HB Provisions for a delicious breakfast, completely donated to us by the owners. The food was soooo yummy, I had a complete breakfast (eggs, ham, hasbrowns) on a bagel. I could probably live off that sandwich for the rest of my life. We met George H. Bush the scarecrow. After breakfast we headed into the little bus for our first surprise. We were escorted onto the Bush family compound and spent the morning with former president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara. They were absolutely wonderful. It felt like we'd already known them, they were so warm and friendly, not at all like you might expect political leaders to be. Their property was breathtaking and I'm planning on moving in next summer (ok, not really, but a girl can dream, right?!).

After our meet and greet with the Bush's it was back to Sue's house for a quick breather before we met with author Ellen Sue Stern (Elle) for a writing exercise. Elle helped us get deep with ourselves by prompting us to write. I highly enjoyed this part, and learned quite a few new things about myself and my own grieving process. It was great to share with the other gals and be encouraged to feel things that I hadn't realized I had been feeling. It's so nice to be able to talk about these things with grief and have those grieving right next to you to hold your hand and give you a hug of support and love. It was emotional, but it was much needed and I'm thankful for the adorable little journals Taryn had made for each of us to bring my new written feelings home with me.

A CNN camera crew spent the majority of the weekend with us, as Taryn has been selected as one of CNN's Heroes of the Year (go vote for her!!) and our weekend will be included in a segment on the awards show on December 11. After our writing and reflection time, we did some interviews with CNN and had some quality girl time before getting ready for dinner. We had dinner in a fancy little Italian restaurant with delicious food (where Porto was on the dessert menu!) and had a trolley car take us there!

The next morning, we woke early for our surfing lessons! Yup, I went surfing in the ocean in October in Maine. The frigidity of the water on my face reminded me that I am alive! I don't think I've had anything make me feel that alive and invigorated in a long time. Aquaholics, the local surf shop, hooked us up with our surf gear as well as over a dozen surfers to instruct us. I was paired up with Mark who was super encouraging. I actually stood up THREE times! I face planted quite a few as well, but let's focus on the positive. Of course, I can't find a photo for proof but believe me, I stood (might not have been for long, but I HAVE surfed and can cross off another thing on my bucket list!) After surfing we prepared for the Wicked 5K, a 5K Race where people wear Halloween costumes. Taryn and I dressed as scarecrows and biked through town. I felt like a kid again, and it was fun to be totally carefree and just laugh.

Dinner that night was hosted at Beverly's house, a lovely Kennebunk resident who owns the antique shop in town. We were each given gift bags with items from the shops in town. It was clear the people of the town really went out of their way to show us their appreciation for our sacrifice. My favorite part of the bags were the hand written notes that people who donated included. Notes of encouragement and thanks, from complete strangers who just wanted us to know we are appreciated and loved. Thank you Kennebunk, I can't express how much those bags really mean!

Beverly's friend Martha cooked for us that evening and it was a delicious gourmet meal. I decided Beverly's house in Maine on the beach was my dream house and didn't really want to leave (haha).

That evening, we went back to Sue's and had smores by the fire. We all went around and told every other person what we learned from them that weekend. Many people told me they appreciated my humor and how I keep people laughing. It may seem like nothing or silly to some, but that's one of the biggest compliments I can receive. I love to make people laugh and smile, especially a group of people who might need a few more giggles in their lives. I always think if you're not laughing you'll just go through life crying and who wants to spend their time crying. I thank each and every widow at the getaway that weekend for showing me something new, and touching my heart. The bonds of widowhood are thick. No one wants to be part of this life but having you women by my side makes it much more bearable.

I think outsiders looking in would be surprised by the amount of laughs that we shared that weekend. You might imagine a group of widows to be a sad thing to observe. Sure, we cried. Sure, we hugged and had "moments." But the thing I remember most of the weekend is how much we laughed, how freely we were silly, and how much we all embraced life together. From death we have risen and are finding new ways to embrace life, survive, and thrive.

To each person who was at this getaway, thank you. Thank you for finding the strength to accept your "W" and be there with us. Thank you for accepting that you are alive and choosing to live and to laugh. Thank you for sharing your stories and your husbands with all of us. Thank you for letting each of our heroes live on through our stories and our laughter and our vivaciousness. Thank you for letting me just be me. Thank you, with all my heart.


  1. Once again, you've written nothing short of a phenomenal post.

  2. I am so glad that weekends like this are available for widows... despite the reason you became part of this group of women I am glad you have people to share with who truly do understand!

  3. I think the AWP is such an awesome organization! I'm glad you've found a group of people you actually feel at home with. :) I can't believe you went surfing in cold ass water though! hahaha!!!!

  4. I'm a Mainer and I have to say that I'm very proud of my state (well, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport) for being so welcoming and accommodating. Sounds like a lovely weekend filled with relaxation and growth. So glad that Taryn created such an amazing program for you amazing ladies.

  5. Thank you for sharing

  6. I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to Maine. That is where I was born and raised (in the Kennebunk area to boot). People there are pretty amazing and I am glad that they were welcoming to you and that you were able to really relax and enjoy yourself.

  7. I'm glad you had such a well deserved, amazing get-a-way!

  8. That's really cool that the Bush family took the time to meet and talk with you all :) I'm not too fond of their politics but regardless of that, you HAVE to respect them for actually taking time to talk to actual real people and not just elitist politicians. So glad you had a good weekend!!

  9. I'm sitting here reading and almost tearing up by the generousity of the people of Maine to show you love and appreciation. That is wonderful!!

  10. So good to hear you had a great weekend..and getting to meet the Bush's, that's awesome! Kennebunk sounds like such a welcoming place :)

  11. Unless you have lost a loved one, most people do not understand the grieving process. I love that you young women have this group to support each other! No, it is not what anyone would choose but you are making the best of a bad situation and I applaud you! Yes, you can laugh - laughter is healing. That doesn't mean you grieve any less it just means you are coming alive after a traumatic experience in your lives. I so admire you young "W"s and I pray God will bless you for the sacrifice you have made.

  12. Sounds like a truly amazing weekend.

  13. It sounds like such a beautiful weekend. I'm glad that you had such a relaxing weekend and were able to enjoy yourself! And I agree, you do have a wonderful sense of humor - it shows in your writing!

  14. I'm so happy for you that AWP exists and you have such a great support system. I love the way you light up (in writing- does that make sense?) when you write about it. And I love how the town went all out- that's so sweet!

  15. I creep on too many blogs to count, but have NEVER posted on one...until now. I think your blog is my favorite. You are upbeat and inspiring, and you write very well. Thank you, and God bless you.


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