Woman in Mexican dress with hat sits in the shade of the carved pillars of the Pyramid of the Moon

Visiting the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. ©2018 Mara Jevera Fulmer

I was feeling nostalgic, and even a bit unsettled. In early 2012, just as I was preparing to go on a Fulbright scholarship trip to Russia, and was making the circuit of presentations for my doctoral work, Apple computer was making a serious update to their MobileMe platform. They were going to be shifting to iCloud and eliminating the iWeb software that had made it so easy to produce websites and blogs.

In the midsts of the swirl of activities in the late Winter/early Spring, I managed to have the presence of mind to archive five years of blog posts and podcasts to a corner of my computer for future attention. Unfortunately, events in life took a serious twist. In summary: I went to Russia, returned early due to my husband’s preliminary Stage IV cancer diagnosis, he died on 9/1/12 and I found myself redefined as a young(ish) widow at the age of 51, I finished my doctorate (10/2014), remarried in to my second husband (12/2014), welcomed a new grandson (12/2015), and built a new home (2015-present).

Needless to say, life has not stood still.

But for some reason, a trigger happened. I felt the need to reread these old posts, pull them over my head like a warm, cozy and familiar blanket. To close my eyes and step back a bit, remind myself where I was back then. The posts generally run from early 2006 to 2011 and cover the gamut, from art exhibitions and creative musings, to reflections on travel, being present, and just some funny thoughts. Overall, I enjoyed the time spent rereading and listening to these. They simultaneously gave me a sense of wunderlust and a firm grounding, a sense of being…where I am supposed to be.

Feel free to enjoy them at your leisure. – Old Blogs & Podcasts Revisited

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“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

~ Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

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Dear readers,

For the last three and a half months, ever since my arrival home from a shortened visit to Russia, I have been on a journey of a different kind, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. While in Russia, the family emergency I left early for was my husband’s preliminary diagnosis of metastatic liver disease – i.e. liver cancer that is not the “primary” cancer source.

From the moment I arrived home in late May, I focused on ways to help my husband of 30 years find the care he needed. Unfortunately, without the earlier symptoms to warn us (he was not a smoker… ever), his disease had already progressed before final diagnosis in early June. He waged a brave battle, attempting chemo but making it through less than 3 full rounds before his body could no longer bear the torture of that kind of treatment. Even eating became a chore since the cancer had already spread to his stomach and spine, with the primary suspect to be in the lungs and pancreatic biliary system. To watch a loved one die is to have the ultimate feeling of helplessness and yes, even failure, because we were partners, always helping each other out, caring for each other during those challenging times.

But this was one that I couldn’t save him from. The fates, God, spiritual being that guides us on our path, whomever you follow, had something else in mind. And so my husband, who made it to our 30th anniversary, just after his 54th birthday, passed away on September 1, 2012, at home with his daughters and me nearby. We were relieved that he no longer suffered, that he was at peace now, going onward to continue creating and building and making art – all the things he did in this life – now in the next. But we also grieved, as we had all summer, knowing what was to come. We grieved for the loss of a husband and best friend. We grieved for a loving father, talented artist, a generous man and natural teacher. We grieved for ourselves. And we will continue to do so, while we also continue to hold him in our hearts and souls, a part of him that will never die.

So, while my visit to Russia was cut short, life gives us many different journeys to travel on. It will take time. But I know that I will continue to travel, bringing you, and my husband and my family along with me… even if it is not always in person, but in spirit. And I will continue to share that journey, too. Because when the stories are shared, they live on, connect us to each other, helping each other along the way. And they help me, too… Because there is a lot of healing to do…

Thank you, Spasibo, Vinaka vakalevu, Muchas Gracias…

– Mara
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PS: Included above is a quote that a friend shared and which connected to me immediately.

PSS: If you are interested in seeing the talent and creativity my late husband had, his website will remain online at www.fulmerwoodworking.com. In addition, a scholarship has been created in his name: Keith E. Fulmer Memorial Art & Design Scholarship, c/o Foundation for Mott Community College, 1401 E. Court St., Flint, MI 48503. Contributions can be made payable to the Foundation for MCC, with note in memo “Keith Fulmer Scholarship”. Our hope is to nurture young passionate artists/designers who exhibit the same desire to incorporate beauty and craftsmanship into both form and function. That is the legacy through which we will continue Keith’s life’s work. With love, mjf

Trying out WiFi only for 24-hrs. Skype, iMessage and Email only... As long as I'm connected to a WiFi network!

In anticipation of heading off to Russia in only a little more than a week, I’m conducting a 24-hr experiment using WiFi only. My iPhone is set to airplane mode and I’ve updated settings for iMessage and Skype as available. So for those who want to reach me by either of those methods, you’ll have to skip my telephone number and just go for one of those other methods.

How ironic it is to realize that I’m feeling so “disconnected” already without regular cell-phone access and “limited” by my access to WiFi. Think about all those years when we lived without cellphones, let alone email. Now, with all the alternatives, I still have that slightly anxious feeling creeping inside about not being “connected” by instant access — no matter WHERE I am! But at “discounted” prices of $2.99/minute from Russia (if I pay the $5.99/mo Int’l call plan), and a similarly unpleasant price for text-messaging, I’m going to try the alternative – WiFi only delivery of calls and messages via iMessage or Skype. Of course FaceTime is also a possibility. So many choices! But they’re dependent upon others to know how to set up their phones, too. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how many are willing to do this.

As for the experiment? It’s a bit weird being out of contact except when there’s WiFi. Riding down the road with hubby, I couldn’t resist the urge to pick up the iPhone and start checking my email or messages. But, alas, no WiFi. At least not until I got home. I suppose I could have ducked into a McDonalds or Starbucks. I wonder what the Russian equivalent will be? I’m told I’ll have WiFi access at EACA and at the hotels where I’ll be staying. And, of course, security may be an issue. No logging into bank accounts while overseas. Apart from that, I don’t think I have access to any major secrets that someone would want to steal. But who knows?

Are you one who doesn’t know my Skype ID but want to get in touch? For colleagues, close friends and family, just send me a note with your Skype name and/or preferred iMessage email contact via this blog or my email and I’ll add you to my various App contacts.

To everyone else, you’ll just have to keep watching this blog to keep in touch!

I’ll post a comment below once the experiment is over to let you know how it went. Less than 12 hours to go for round 1.