Pandemic Life II

Here we are in the midst of change again as some states in the U.S. decide to try and reopen its business and resume life. I am still trying to get used to wearing a mask while I am out. I do not have a problem wearing it but man this thing is hot and itchy. I mostly stay home. I have gone to the grocery store and to a local farm to get supplies. NO! I have not stock piled on toilet paper. I did have to pick up more paper towels though. I do not have a ton of disinfectant wipes or cans of Lysol. I have what I normally have. I am still using the masks we bought last Fall for our outdoor work and allergies. I clean my house the same way I did before. The only difference is that now I have more time to clean and it is time to Spring clean! I will sorely miss going to buy my plants for the planters but will still work in the yard and see just how creative I can be. I am going to call some church family and friends and ask if they would like to thin out some of their Black-eyed Susans and Bee Balm. I will divide hostas for some areas and finally plant my hydrangea that I got for Valentines Day.

I do not like tuning in to see so many deaths and people without food. It really makes my heart sad. I still do not understand the depleted store shelves and panic that I witness over social media. It is bad and may get worse. Take precaution, stay still and reach out to others. Get to know your neighbors; to which you can do and still respect social distancing. We cannot police everybody. Some people you see will not wear masks or gloves and we cannot control them. We can only protect ourselves as many believe that the protective measures are out of proportion. What I do know is that I will take the precautions given and stay home as much as possible without complaining. And yes, I am unemployed like millions of others. I chose to cancel my Hulu, Netflix and magazine subscriptions but decided to keep my Apple Music and Audible for now. I even washed my own car, did my own hair and prepare foods from scratch in many cases. Leftovers are put in containers and packaged as meals that are labeled, dated and placed in the freezer. This is in an effort to stop wasting food. We were throwing out way too much food!

Do not let my contentment fool you into thinking that I do not miss some aspects of life before. I sorely miss camping and traveling and entertaining in my backyard. So everyday I make sure I sit outside and listen to and watch the birds. I go for a walk and trying to increase the distance and time so that I will be able to resume hiking when it is due time. I choose to be content. When this is over, I plan to be the best me possible to face whatever the journey that is ahead.

Two questions that I get asked almost everyday now are: What are you doing now that you are not working and why are you not making masks? To the former question I remind folks of who I am. I am a goal-setter and certain routines are my friends. They help to keep me on target and remind me why I set the goal in the first place. I took my three most urgent goals and set a morning and evening routine that would support them. The hours in between will allow me to do other things. This way I keep first things first. To the latter question of mask making, I refer the answer of the first question. It is not a part of my initial goals. To accommodate that would be to let something that is a higher priority go. There are a lot of people making masks and commoners like me can use many household things to make masks. I checked to ensure that my family and friends had masks and we ordered some if necessary. I appreciate the fact that before others would buy masks from someone else, they would check with me to see if I was selling them. If I was, I would probably give them away or charge a very nominal price to cover supplies.

When you choose to be pleasant and positive in the way you treat others, you have also chosen, in most cases, how you are going to be treated by others

Zig Ziglar

Friday Feature: Ida Keeling Autobiography

Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down is the title of Ms. Keeling’s Autobiography. At the beautiful age of 103, Ms. Keeling; still vibrant and active, penned her life story of triumph, tragedy and overcoming. The daughter of immigrant parents, she comes during an era that I personally call ‘The era of American Grit’. During this era, people appeared simply not to possess the ability to lay down and quit. To me, there would have been plenty of resolve to do so but the example of resiliency ran strong across the country and superseded race, location, and gender. Not that those things were not a factor, but those factors seemed to propel them into a greater sense of purpose, determination and growth. From 1900-1950 there were huge shifts in the American culture -from agriculture to skyscrapers; from horses to subways; from peace to war; from small homes to huge apartment buildings and then on to suburbs and the ever evasive thief of racism. Life, even today, consists of one main thing: change.

Ms. Keeling’s book gives a view into her past that will help us to truly appreciate her life today. At the writing of this post, Ms. Keeling should be 105 years old as her book states that she was born in 1915. I was first introduced to her while doing a google search on ‘aging actively’. I then went to YouTube and sure enough -there she was in several videos (to which I am trying desperately not to spoil it for you). Not thinking her life then or now as extraordinary but rather one filled with obstacles and the resolve to press on because she simply knew no other way. Staring at life in a new country in the Burroughs of New York, racism, the depression era, fighting the poverty line, divorce, single-motherhood and the murder of her two sons are a few of the major obstacles in her life. Interestingly, her focus is more overly on the God who saw her through the circumstances. God would prove time and time again that she had what it took make it again and again.

Growing up in a Christian household and holding to those values when she married and had her own children, she fondly tells of her favorite biblical character and his story -Job. Job, a man upright before the Lord, lost everything he had within 24 hours. He struggled, but his faith remained in the Lord. Job would later gain many times over what he had lost. Ms. Keeling would remark on Job’s character and strength not realizing that one day she would be able to sympathize with Job on a new level at the loss of her sons just a few short years apart. This would lull her into a deep depression. Her daughters saw her despair and were troubled by her blood pressure that skyrocketed and would not come down. One day, one of her daughters would ask her to come run a 5k race with her. Ms. Keeling was very active and walked a lot and her daughter knew she could do it. So at the ripe, young and tender age of 67, she laced on a pair of shoes and began to run her way out of her depression. It is almost unfathomable that that first race was well over 30 years ago.

In her many interviews that I watched, a quote that resonated with me the most was: “God gave you your body and it is your responsibility to take care of it”. I also loved her resolve that even though she was slowing down and some days were hard, she was still doing more than the couch potatoes that were half her age and filled with complaining and excuses. (I realized that she was talking to me because i was almost exactly half her age, sitting at my desk, lamenting -needlessly!) She has a exercise routine that she follows and has always eaten well. She is well aware that life if fleeting and wants to do as much as she can just like the people she admired who trod along before her like Harriet Tubman and Toussaint Louverture.

After reading the final chapter, I put my book down, laced up my shoes and went for a three mile walk. My crisis? My health. This is my body that God gave to me and it is my responsibility to take care of it.

Well done Ms. Ida. Well Done!

Thankful Thursday

Ever notice how rain and cloudy days are often looked upon as bad days. Rainy days really do serve a purpose besides replenishing the earth’s water table. Have you ever considered how a child would have no puddles to splash in if it never rained? It is often the simplest of things that bring joy to so many. For rain, water puddles and children’s laughter, my heart is truly grateful.

Pandemic Life

Like many of you, I am finding an new normal in the midst of chaos and uncertain times. Not because it is something I wanted to do but it is a survival mode. It is -learning to be resilient in the face of the unknown. In January I began to notice the word Coronovirus. It was just a blurp because I am horrible with keeping up with current events. Therefore; I was not knowledgeable about what was really going on around the world. As the virus spread across the world, I began to hear ‘virus’ in almost every conversation. One morning while having breakfast at a local restaurant, there was a rather large group having a discussion at the next table. One lady adamantly informed that this was just a virus and that there is nothing you can do but let it run its course. She went on to state that this is just another version of the flu. I would later that same week, overhear a nurse practitioner state that everyone should just calm down and let this thing pass. It was not until a dear friend, who has family in Milan, Italy would really bring this into focus for me. Only then could I began to grasp the sheer breathe of what we were really facing. I had heard the TedTalk given by Bill Gates and I remembered the warnings brought forth under the Obama Administration about ‘super virus’ and here we were. What amazed me even more so was that we as a country was not nearly prepared as we should have been. We had not heeded the warning and we were not prepared.

On Sunday March 1, I made a decision to change the course of my life. I was actually living what I’d like to call ‘upside down’. My goals and purpose received very little of my time and attention. My job, procrastination and  bad health were deciding where I would go and what I would do and I was going in the opposite direction of where I was supposed to be going. Whenever I start a new job or position, I take inventory and set goals with fixed deadlines. Though they are fixed, they are also fluid enough to allow the Holy Spirit and wisdom to flow through. I set a goal for myself for month 6, year 1 and year 3. By the time I hit year 2, I knew I was not going to be where I wanted and needed to be by year 3. As a matter of fact, I was so far off track, I would have to work very hard over the next year to get myself turned around and headed back in the right direction. For two years, I have allowed someone else or something else to direct my footsteps. I had left the One who truly sets my purpose, lights the path and orders my footstep. There are so many Scriptures that I could insert here but I will spare you this time. Monday, March 2, I decided to resign from my position as Communications Liaison at my job. Beginning April 1, I would begin substitute teaching and working on my own business and paying some real attention to my health and writing adventures. Substitute teaching would not bring in a lot of money but I truly believed that this is the path I am supposed to be on. The admission of my resignation would have to wait another week and a day, as my manager was out of town on vacation. During this time, COVID19 would move closer to home and devastating results were forming.

As time would progress, things would grow dire. My last day was set for March 20th and I would grow excited and peaceful with each passing day until about March 12. Events around the nation were being cancelled or postponed. Anything with a group over 100 (initially) was cancelled. We were headed to the Highland County Maple Festival when we received notice that the festival was cancelled in the best interest of the safety and health of everyone. We still went to Highland County and to the Douthat State Park but it was a ghost town. Returning, we would soon find out that all schools in Virginia would close for a few weeks or month. A few weeks later, the governor would declare schools closed for the remainder of the year. And just like a puff of smoke, substitute teaching was off the radar. I, however, still had peace and I still had calm. For I truly felt and I still do feel that God is in the midst of this craziness and he has called me out to follow Him on this path. I do not know all he answers but I know, I must be obedient and faithful no matter what it looks like. I will trust Him. In the meantime, I have work to do.

It has always worked out that when I am transitioning I am able to run down to Mississippi and visit my parents for longer than a few days. This was previously a rare treat because when you work you are only given a small allowance of days off per year and in the private sector, they are usually not generous with the days. Now that time did not appear to be an object, I gathered my niece and we drove down to Mississippi and spent time with my parents. Dad has dementia now and Mom has some health issues that are keeping her from moving about as she desires. As my visit progressed, I realize that I am in another new reality -a sandwich generation, of sorts -helping with young adult children and elderly parents. We spent two weeks with my parents before heading back to Virginia. I returned to hopefully wait out COVID 19 or until we flatten the curve and try to return to some functioning measure. I will probably return to Mississippi around May 1 and stay for the entire month. There is much to be done to help aging parents get use to their new reality as well (this is a post topic all on its own that i will share soon). But for now, this is Pandemic Life. I will follow up Monday of next week to let you know what projects that procrastination has accumulated and the strides I am making for changes that will sustain my goals. I will answer the one question that I have been asked 500 times since resigning my job as well as what my new routine looks like. In the meantime, what does your Pandemic Life look like? Did you have to make changes? I would love to hear from you.

Until our next blog time, be well and stay safe. I need you!

It’s Morning!

Most mornings I normally begin to stir around 3:30am. The alarm is set to chime with the sound of birds at 5am. I use my phone for an alarm as I have no beside alarm. My retired military husband uses a digital alarm that is on his bedside table. It squawks like an injured crow in the mornings and he hits snooze 3-4 times. For some reason, the sound of his alarm will wake me as if someone snatched the covers off the bed and dashed artic cold waters on me. It doesn’t bother him and he falls right back to sleep. He can also jump up, hit the bathroom and showers and shave then dress himself fully within 25 minutes. He then goes downstairs and do some light exercise while preparing his coffee. He lets the dogs out and prepares his lunch. Comes back upstairs and kisses me goodbye. Oh! Did I mention I am still on the side of the bed staring at the wall? Lol!

How important are morning routines to our daily lives? I think they are very important …at least they are for me. If I get up out of bed at 3:30-4:00am, I am usually either well rested or my mind is on high alert with thoughts and ideas and wonders. I dress cozy and go downstairs and make a cup of tea and settle down at my desk for some prayer, Bible study and meditation. I can easily spend two hours right there and will have a hard time tearing myself away to finish my morning. At head upstairs when I hear my husband walking around after being awaken by his squawk box. To keep myself focused and on task, I listen to audiobooks and/or podcasts. But, if I turn on the TV, I will NEVER leave the house on time. If I listen to the news, I have the propensity to be flustered and tense. If I turn on the radio and listen to my grooves, I will leave later than I want and often speed to work and guaranteed to leave some vital to my day. I know, I’m a little weird but what can I say.

I am a thinker and my mind is always flitting. I must find a creative outlet that will inspire but also allow me to focus on the days tasks or I will fall prey to every whim that infuses my mind. Big brainers and thinkers must be careful to guard their minds more than the average. I avoid situations, movies, music etc … that produce an excessive amount of profanity and violence and action. It will seep into my thoughts and I don’t have time that. My family and I went to see a movie where the main character was in a high drama, action-filled scene and ended up under the water trying to defend his life. I remember being tired and out of breath when the scene was over. Later that night, I woke up trying to breathe because I was reliving that scene. When it was time to get up the next morning, I could not get myself together! Lol! I sat on the side of the bed too long. Yes I made it to work on time but I was out of sorts mentally and physically; and all during the day thoughts of that movie came to mind. I wondered, what did the producers mean to convey? What message was I supposed to glean? My mind just could not absorb this information properly. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to watch movies. But they must be inspiring on some level and it total helps if the scenery breath-taking.

So, my mornings are actually affected by my evenings as well. And while my mild mannered easy hubby seems to be an easy going guy, I have found that if I am too chatty in the morning, it throws him off. He also arrives to work super early and sits in his car and nap or listen to his music. This is how he unwinds after driving in morning rush hour traffic. (Isn’t it something to need to unwind after only being awake for 2.5 hours?). Morning can often set the tone for the rest of the day. I see some people riding to work with the music blaring and they are singing loud and proud. And I love to watch it! But if that was me, I’d drive straight past work and keep going until I found an adventure that matches my music via personal concert or on to the next thing that I am sure does not include a desk, fluorescent lighting, desk phone or no windows. Find your own stride and be YOU!

Favorite Morning
Favorite Morning!

Volunteer to help someone

Recently I completed CASA training. A CASA volunteer is a Court Appointed Special Advocate who is a voice for children who are going through a tough time in their lives due to neglect or abuse. I love mentoring, coaching, writing and bringing out the best in others. This was a great fit for me. Can you spare approximately 1.5 hours to help a child? I also mentor with The Up Center. Look up those two organizations and let me know what you think.

Merry & Bright

During Thanksgiving we usually travel to Mississippi as this is where both my husband and I were born and raised. We journey down for a 16 hour ride by car. Nope, we don’t fly. The real adventure is being locked in a car with family for hours and arrive in one piece and still like each other when we get there. This year, some of us (my family because we arrived last) had to stay In a hotel because there was no room at the inn (sorry couldn’t help myself). We stayed at the newest hotel in Cleveland and it’s in a great location. The Cotton House Hotel which is aptly located on Cotton Row in Cleveland, and a welcomed treat after a long day with family, food, fun and laughter.

What was interesting to my hubby and I was that we did not have to plan logistics for children, teenagers and young adults. We were exploring new grounds and quickly getting fond of it. Sharing the holidays with family and grown children is actually very nice. Especially if you know how to stay in your lane and realize that no matter how crazy the conversation is with that teenager or radical uncle or religious grandma gets, you will always have the power, option and choice as to how you respond. Life and time are often shorter than we would like so why not maximize every moment great and small. So this Christmas season, take that photo with your niece, play a game of uno with the children, tell the Christmas story, sing Christmas songs, give generously to the unfortunate, sit with someone elderly and let them fill you with wisdom and love, walk and look at those lights. And always remember that no matter what anyone says about the holiday season, Jesus is the real reason we really celebrate Christmas. So while we were at the hotel, we took the picture (kinda weird not having to herd teens and young adults for a photo for the Christmas postcard). We ate at the hotel and admired all the local products that were produced in the state. We walked and took in the sights of the beautiful lights on the green directly across the street from the hotel. We took time to talk to locals and admire the transformed beauty of the hotel due to the Christmas season. Nothing and no one who has an encounter with Jesus remains untouched or transformed and that includes Christmas decorations -warm, merry and bright. Go ahead and smile. I know you want to. Merry Christmas All!