Sunday, November 29, 2020

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?


It could be argued that I am retired so what do I have to worry about when it concerns time management? The truth is, life goes on, or as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you are making a plan." No, I may not have supervisors telling me this is due or that is past due and meetings to be on time for anymore. However, what I do have is a home to run, right along beside my retired husband. Also, the mundane things that, at least to me, seem boring have to be done and as they are done, how do I get my motivation back to refuel my energy to do what I love to work on? 

It is all in a plan that I put out on a 'To Do' list. It is comprised of all the things that I would like to get accomplished for the day. Laundry, dishes, Dr. appt., sweeping out the leaves that blow into our patio, making the grocery click-list, grooming dogs, etc. I could add more and more, as I am sure that you could do the same. For me, if I prioritize and put the things that need to be completed on a list and work really hard to get these things done, I must be sure that I add in ways to refuel my energy every single day. Some of the things on my list are actually things that bring me joy so they count as part of my refueling.

One way is to be sure that I get enough sleep. Being sleep deprived is not a good way to start out my day. So if our furbabies get us up before we are ready, it is important to pencil in a brief time to take a nap. WOW! Some people think that is a lazy way to refuel your energy. I find it invigorating. 

When working hard on writing, researching, reading or taking care of household chores, I find it very important to take a refreshing break once every hour. It can be 10 - 20 minutes of doing something that I love doing. A time to sit back, close my eyes and just meditate and breathe correctly that will help to quiet my mind and relax me more. If you start by asking, "Who has time for that?" You are missing the whole point. When you take these short breathers you actually will find yourself becoming more productive.

Another activity to help motivate yourself is to practice appreciation and actually savoring it. Take a moment to write down three things that comfort you because you appreciate them so much. It could be 'things' or it could be 'people.' Be sure to add on why these things or people comfort you and be specific. If it is a person, then let them know how you feel through a phone call, an e mail or a text. Sharing your appreciation is a two way street. 

No matter what position that you have in your life, we all can be drained by our emotions with all that is going on in 2020 and Covid-19. We all need to find the strategies that prevent emotional exhaustion to be sure that we are taking the time to refuel. 

With that being said, knowing that time management is so very important for all of us we do need to schedule in refueling breaks. Things that bring us joy and realizing that what brings me joy may not bring you joy. I actually have a friend who tells me that ironing brings her joy. She says that the crispness of the sheets when they are ironed makes her feel good. I don't understand it, but I don't judge it either. Whatever floats her boat. She probably thinks the same thing about me and my joy and love for cooking everything from scratch. It is all ok. Just schedule a time in our days to  do things like taking a walk, painting, having a quiet cup of tea, doing a crossword puzzle. 

Just this morning, I had scheduled in (and yes, I do have to look at what is on my calendar) a shower with my hair being washed. Because it takes up a huge chunk of time to blow dry my hair and style it, I started hurrying and panicking. WHY? I have choices. I could cut it much shorter and not have to deal with it. That would not make me happier. Or, I can let it air dry and just be curly and that is an answer some days. Today, I just wanted to blow it dry straight. Once I took deep breaths and talked myself down from hurrying, I asked myself, "Why rush?" Everything will be waiting for me when I finish and I will feel good about it. Let's just say it works for me so I thought that I would share it. Steve tells me that he never has to worry about time management because I manage it for him. So happy that he loves me.

It is a case of reshifting your mindset because you do have time. Things will get done. Thinking in these lines remind me of a quote by A.A. Milne: 

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there, someday."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

When You Think You Have It Bad


There are people who would love to have your bad days. This is a fact. A reality that I need to keep in my mind when I am feeling sorry for how bad things are going my way. Some of my last week brought this to my attention when I complained out loud about things that go wrong usually happen in threes! First, we had Xfinity go whacko. We have the bundle package so we had no landline phone, no cable tv and no internet. If you ever have had to deal with calling Xfinity and getting non-humans for the first 15 minutes, and holding, you know how frustrating it is. Finally, a live human came on the line only to tell us that it was no one else in our area that lost the signal so it was in our home only. They could send out a technician on Wednesday. The landline I can do without. Actually, the only one who uses it is Steve when he calls overseas and at least 4 - 6 robo-calls come in daily. Almost 3 days of no internet was driving us crazy. I had to use my IPhone(which has At&T internet service built in for a certain amount of money) to order groceries and really to do most everything else. The print is a bit small for me to use it successfully. (By this stage of writing this blog, I am feeling like a spoiled brat!)

 Next,  we had our pool pump go out and therefore the top of the pool was looking like the floor of a forest...leaves everywhere, which was turning the water a bit murky. Of course this happened on a Friday afternoon. Our pool company closes at noon on Friday so there was no way to get in touch with them until 8:00AM on Monday. 

 With a bit of a chill in the air, Steve turned on the gas fireplace. That always takes the chill away nicely without turning up the heat. When he went in to his laptop, he noticed that the fire was out and asked if I turned it off. I had not, so he quickly went over to it and switched that off. He put in a call to our Fireplace Company and talked with the owner. He could come out on Tuesday evening. We have electric heat so this was not a 'must have now' situation. By the weather forecast we should only have a couple of chilly days to use it so I think we will be fine.

I was just thinking to myself how many people would trade their problems for mine. I have a pool, I have a beautiful gas fireplace, I have computers, Wi-fi, Xfinity, Disney channel and 200 plus more?

If you remember, I started this blog by explaining things that happen usually come in threes. Well, Friday, the fourth thing happened. Steve and I had our yearly eye doctor appointments. His eyes have not changed. I knew that I needed a little stronger lens and my eyes seemed to not be responding to the dry eye drops that my doctor wrote a prescription for. Well, to make a long story short, there was a reason for this. It is called cataracts. In both eyes. I am not sure why exactly, but it hit me hard. I felt like I needed to be given a moment to digest it all. My eye doctor is a wonderful man and explains everything in terms that I can understand. I still needed to let it all come together in my head. So what did I do? Steve and I got in the car to go home and I just cried. How crazy is that? It is a relatively easy procedure that people go through all the time with great success. Even to the extent of possibly not even needing to wear glasses/contacts. How good is that? 

Being the kind of google person that I am, I went on line and there it was in black and white. Yes, things were going blurry on me. Reading and doing crossword puzzles were becoming a chore which was driving me crazy. However, I was under the belief that I was just needing a new prescription. 

Fourth event in my life causing slight difficulties. I am now using the word slight. Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. It takes a person to stop being negative and talk about all of the joys and gratitudes that they experience. I may not be able to calm whatever "storm" is going on in my life but I can stop trying to and just calm myself instead. This too shall pass. No matter how good or bad I have it, waking up each day just being thankful for my life. Somewhere there is someone who is desperately fighting for theirs. In other words it does not matter if the glass is half empty or half grateful that I have a glass and that there is something in it.

Even in the present time that we are living in we need to put our own problems in perspective. I did come across a great quote from Teddy Roosevelt. "Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining." It is ok to give yourself the acknowledgement that there is a problem. What is more important is to find out if there is something that you can do about it or feel about it. We all have gratitudes to be thankful for.

 With Thanksgiving coming up this week, we will most likely be celebrating it in a different way than all the years before. There are ways to stay safe from COVID-19 and start some new traditions. Find what works for you. We are zooming with family and picking up a curbside dinner for the two of us, along with a little champagne. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

You Are What You Wear


We are all in a whole new normal with the global pandemic affecting our lives in a variety of ways. I thought about how many ways it has changed my life. Today I am going to focus on what we wear as we are stuck in our homes a lot more than ever before. 

First of all, I am retired and I write and paint at home. I could be in my pajamas all day long. Who would know? The most important person who would know would be ME. So many people must work from home now and unless they have to get on camera for Zoom meetings, who would know what they are wearing.

Let me go back a really long time ago. When I was growing up, I had a Mom and a Grandmother who would not step foot out of their bedroom, much less the house to go out in public, if they were not dressed appropriately, which included hair and make-up. So maybe it is just the way that I was brought up. 

I just know that I have always been that way. I believe that you receive more respect when you are out in the public and are in clean and neat clothing, along with it being appropriate. There is no need for it to be expensive, but there is no excuse for it to be dirty and sloppy. Stick with the classics that have worked for years. This includes having more self-respect for yourself when it is just you at home. 

There are some people on TV, such as sportscasters, meteorologists, reporters, that are on camera and need to dress for their job. (And sometimes, I wonder why they chose what they put on for in front of the camera, but to each their own taste.) How many of you remember the episodes of "Some Good News" featuring John Krasinski at a newscaster's desk. He had on a nice shirt, tie and sports jacket. It was not till the end of the show that he stood up to walk away and as a joke he would have on shorts, or a tutu, something unexpected, that is for sure. 

Those of us at home can pretty much get by with any old thing, unless you understand that the way you dress also affects your very own mental state.

A clinical psychologist, named Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, wrote a book called You Are What You Wear. (published in 2012)

Even a study from Northwestern University  concluded that the influence of the clothes we wear affect what our clothes are saying to us, not about us. This, and along with how they make you feel. The good friend that comes to your house and tells you to just snap out of it and get dressed and you will feel better was really on to something. When we dress in a certain way, it helps to shift our mindset. Think about watching makeovers, as well as how actors feel when they get more into the character as they dress in the costumes. It is true for everyday life as well. I came to the conclusion that we should dress not how we feel but how we want to feel. The clothes we wear are sending messages not only to those around us, but also to ourselves. 

There are ways to dress comfortably and yet still be a positive image to ourselves.

Dressing at home and for occasional trips out we don't always need to put on the suit or sports jacket or the little black dress. That would be a bit over the edge. 

Let's just say that dressing affects our attitude and confidence. I could safely say that if I went out in a nice jogging suit and sneakers, that I would feel very confident that I have the right attitude and all the confidence that I need. It can be a polished and put together look, as can jeans.

Based on all kinds of studies, the conclusion that one of the best, most immediate and effective ways was to feel better on the inside is to look better on the outside. In fact, it has been proven that when you look good, you feel good and then you DO good.

As it turns out all of the above leads to us helping people which makes us feel even better. Doing kind things for others comes a little more naturally when your self-confidence is boosted. Focus first on yourself and it seems to spread to others. Based on Nathaniel Branden's Six Pillars of Self-Esteem basically explains that there is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity." Taking it to a level of a completed circle simply states that looking good leads to feeling good, and feeling good leads to helping people, and helping people leads to...feeling good. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020



Anyone who says they can live without friends is truly cheating themselves out of wonderful experiences. These friends can be from our childhood days, to college roommates, to neighbors and even those that we meet in our workplaces.

In our younger years they helped us learn how to be patient, wait our turn, and try new hobbies. As we get a little older, we learn that friends help us to weather the ups and downs in life. They may help us decide on a career or even perhaps become a mentor for us. We realize that friends provide a sounding board and a place for us to grow. They help to create a purpose in our lives.

The people that we bring into our lives show us how to forgive, laugh, cry and make conversations. These are components to all relationships. Through interactions with all people, our friends help us see that many of us have different worldviews. If you have chosen good friends, they teach you that it is ok to agree to disagree. It would be a very boring world if we all agreed on the same thing all of the time. Sometimes we must take a step out of our comfort zones and listen to other viewpoints. 

A recent study conducted at Harvard concluded that having solid friendships in our life even help to promote brain health. Why? Friends help us deal with stress, make better life choices, which in turn helps us rebound from health issues and disease more quickly.
Let me add that of course, the choices in our friends make a big difference. Choosing positive friends can help us change our outlook on life for the better. We are happier when we choose to spend time with happy people. Does this mean that everyone should walk around like a big yellow smiley face all of the time? 

We would not be human if we did that. Everyone has a moment that we need to help friends acknowledge and know that it is ok to have these feelings. Feelings can't be swept under the rug. Acknowledge and accept them and then ask if feeling this way going to help solve the problem. The answer is always a resounding  NO! Some good advice is to give yourself or your friend some time to think it through and then decide what is something that you can do about some kind of negative problem.

Friends can't completely cure loneliness but they can help us during lonely times. Learning how to accept kindness and knowing when to reach out when we need help is a key to this hurdle. Each friend will bring something special to our lives. When we have down-to-earth, positive people in our life we will be more mindful of gratitudes and doing nice things for other people. It is contagious. We don't just live when we have healthy friendships, we thrive.

It is easy to think that we are living in gloomy times when we see heartache and worry around. It can bring out the negativity in any one of us. Yet, there is so much good in the world, as much as it has ever been. It is the small things that lift our hearts. Things like hearing the song bird sing when you step outside, hearing children laugh and play, walking through a garden admiring the flowers, listening to your favorite songs, and the list can go on and on. Concentrate on the positive and you will notice something or someone who will lift your spirits. 

And I have some of the BEST!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

When Your Baby is Sick


To those who are not pet owners, this may seem trivial. I can tell you that there are so many emotions going on inside of the furbaby parents when their babies are sick or hurt that it can make everything you do ache for them. First, let me make this clear. We are parents of real live human beings and yes we have been through tough times with them being ill or hurt. Also, there are others who have gone through worse times than we could ever imagine. For now, I just feel like writing about what emotions we are going through for our eldest doodle, Davis, who happens to turn 4 years old on November 8th.

This all started with a stiff limp to avoid putting pressure on his right front paw. Lately, he had this little limp after each full day of Doggie Day Care. After a day it got better, and both of us know how he is never still a minute there. He runs and jumps and really uses all of the energy in him. Afterwards, when we pick him up he is out like a light and usually naps more than usual the next day. He really does need to expend that energy level within himself. Our youngest one loves to run and play, yet does not seem to have as high of a physical energy level. Her energies are in the realm of barking. Letting us know when the mailperson, FedEx or other delivery service is bringing us a package or a neighbor has the audacity to walk or bike down her street. 

Back to the limp. In August, his limp seemed to be worse and did not go away, so we set up an appointment with Dr. Taylor, his vet. She took x-rays and after the radiologist read them it was determined that he had inflammation around a toe nail and that it looked as if at some point he may have injured that nail. We went away with anti-inflammatory meds and a supplement to help. As we were running low on the meds and supplement, Dr. Taylor and then one of her partners refilled them again. We were feeling confident once her partner told us that he totally agreed with her diagnosis. There were times that Davis was not limping at all and then times when he seemed a bit stiff after laying down for a while. Still...we could see improvement and we only let him run around our backyard and kept him from his favorite thing in the world...Doggie Daycare. We did not want to take chances that this would return until we saw nothing of a limp.

Fast forward to last night. All of a sudden there was no limp when he walked. It was hopping like a rabbit to avoid putting that front right paw down. We assumed perhaps he aggravated the toe area. He let us touch his paw. He even continued to play a little, although not as much, with his younger sister.

Sunday morning we both got up and could not go back to bed because of the worry about Davis. It just is not right to see your 65 pound doodle, hopping around like a rabbit or kangaroo when he had to move. I got his supplement (which requires a bit of food on his tummy) and a hard boiled egg that I make just for him. I also gave him one of the pills that Dr. Taylor gave us to keep him calm so that maybe he won't be trying to move around too much on it. That worked, although, in reality, we should have given one to Maggie Mae also. She still wanted to play and would now and then grab hold of his tail or an ear, as if to say, "Come on Davis, let's play." When Davis wanted to just crawl up on the sofa to be comfy, Maggie did not want to give up her spot so she actually made a  growl at him. We took care of that in a New York minute. Down she went and up came Davis. She knew that something was up and seemed to have a little more empathy for her big brother.

The Clinic is closed today, but we will be ready to call first thing when they open to get an appointment. If no appointment then we will have to be ready to go in as a Walk-in. If that means we miss our hair appointment with Shanon then so be it. That is at 2 and we don't know yet what we will be told tomorrow. We will have to let our hairdresser know as we learn what is going on ourselves.

It will be a long day of worry and to some people this may seem crazy. A parent just never wants to see their babies hurt. At the top of this page, there is Davis napping with his calming pill helping to relax him. Then there is a picture that shows the love and trust in his eyes as he looks at us. We just don't want to ever let him down.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Perfectly Polished Routines


Really, I want to ask if there is such a thing as a perfectly polished routine? In my opinion there is not. At least, not to the point of becoming monotonous and boring and no longer meeting your needs and goals. 

First of all, in the days that I was working Monday - Friday 7:30 - 5:30, there had to be some kind of routine in order to survive. Things such as trying to get to bed close to the same time every night, getting up when the alarm goes off, having clothes picked out for the day, breakfast and lunch planned and made, along with the evening meal mapped out. My husband was a big part of this type of routine also. We helped each other and planned together. It mattered on how our days would play out. 

Both of us had jobs that once we arrived to work, routines were thrown out of the window usually. We nicknamed them "fire drills." He could have a brief meeting and have everything that he had worked on blown out the window, only to start all over again. I could pull into my parking spot and barely get in the building and have 2 parents waiting to see me immediately, 3 teachers walking with me down the hallways to tell me urgent situations such as their classroom was not cleaned last night, or they needed more time before having an evaluation, or who could cover their room for them to go to a doctor appointment. There were multitudes of issues from all sides and I had not even made it to my office. It became my "routine" to prioritize each problem, which usually did not make very many happy but there was one of me and anywhere from 6 - 12 issues for me to deal with that were not on my plate until I pulled in to work. I swear that there were days that I handled 25 issues in less than an hour of arriving to work. Truly, I am not bragging, just giving you the facts of an administrator's job at a school.

This changed minute to minute in my former work life.

As you can see, it was important to have a routine during the week. Yet, I can tell you we would throw in a 'deal breaker' just because we could and we should. Such as making a date night in the middle of the week just to break things up. This was not usually involving a movie. Why? Because quite frankly, neither of us could have stayed awake. Sad but true! There were times, when we were younger PLUS, let me add before work for both of us changed also. Senior management cut employees and did not replace them so everyone was doing their old job and part of someone else's. It was at times so overwhelming. We all felt the same level of stress but on different levels.

The weekend was the time to let ourselves step out of our routine mandated type of life. We could afford to stay up a little later and sleep in a little longer. Go out for a brunch. Go to a matinee or concert and then out for dinner. We all have to have comfortable routines, not ones that confine us. It means that we must have a little disruption once in a while.

Rituals are also a big part of our lives. Both of us start our day with a positive mantra and post it on FaceBook. That night, we usually write about it and how it helped impact our day by holding that thought in our heads. We also had our own way of meditation, which is the way it should be. Exercise also has to be individualized for when it works for each one's schedule. I already got up at 5:30 to get ready to be at work by 7:30. There was no way that I was getting up earlier because to receive my 8 hours of sleep would have meant to be in bed at 9:30. That was not happening.

There are several ways to shake up your routines. You can break up the old routine and create a  totally new one, or you could update the old routine and polish it up until it shines again. Set up a time to unwind from the daily grind so that you can get a fresh view on things. We all need some creativeness  and to work on the balance of work, relationships and play. (The problem with work - life balance is that it always seems to start with work.) Be willing to reevaluate in order to shift and change. I read in an article written by Meg Selig back in 2010 that routines are like the old song by Kenny Rogers: "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." Always make room for spontaneity. Always be willing to think bigger.

Now that both my husband and I are retired, we do not have to have standard routines. There are no more major deadlines and major obligations. It is a little easier to get into a different routine pattern and one that still must be reevaluated once in a while to be sure we don't get in a rut. 

We are in a global pandemic so that even changed our routines. The two of us do not go out to many places at all. We have found our creativeness here at home with our two goldendoodles. They love to go out and play around the pool chasing each other when Steve is watering the flowers or when it was warmer and we were in the pool. We channel our creativity into finding exciting and healthy new recipes to try. The prep time does not matter because we have all the time in the world. We order groceries and the store brings them to the car and loads them, we go to the drive-thru pharmacy and the few times that we eat out it is curb-side pick up. Even though restaurants have opened with social distancing and mask wearing employees, we are still leery of going inside to eat. 

I can't tell you how liberating it is to do the laundry when it is convenient for us, as well as other household jobs. Stuff needs to get done but we are not on a time schedule. I like to start my day with some stretching, my positive mantra and some meditating. From there, the best thing is to enjoy a cup of coffee. If Steve is up and dressed, he usually brings our furbabies back to where I am dressing and doing my hair with a hot cup of coffee. 

The one important thing is to always be kind, not only to yourself but to your partner and/or friends. The groups that the two of us used to go out with for lunches have been postponed until this Covid-19 gets under control. It still is important to reach out with a call, mail, text...whatever way works. If one does not take care of themselves, then they are not able to be kind and take care of others. 

This is perfect opportunity to take those long luxurious bubble baths or long steamy showers. Make up your own facial routine. Give yourself a little manicure.

It is my belief that with a little meditation and imagination that we can work on polishing up our routines by adding in a bit of creativity and switching things around. This pandemic seems to have some benefits, and that is bringing us all to the realization that there are gratitudes for all of us to be thankful for.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

It Can Be Complicated Married to a Brit


In all fairness, I could have titled this it can be complicated being married to a Yank (which is what all Brits call us in the US). Since I am the author of this blog, my title stands as is. 

There are just a few areas that I am going to focus on today. Let's start with the language. We both are supposedly speaking English, however, there is a difference between English and American English. At times it can become confusing. Even though we have been together about 19 years, he still (and so can I) come out with a word or phrase that one of us have never heard before. It can even be spelled the same but pronounced totally differently.

These words have the heavy accent mark in different places. Sometimes a whole syllable is left out or a letter or two which makes it sound like a totally different word.

Zebra (z is said zeb - ra)               Zebra

Al'u min yen                                A lum'in um

Mas'sage                                     Mas sage'

Herb                                           Erb

Aunt                                           Ant

Gar'age                                       Gar age'

Ei-ther                                        ther

Ad ver' tise ment                         Ad' ver tise ment

Trainers                                      Sneakers

Jumper                                       Sweater

Car Park                                     Parking Lot

Knickers                                     Panties

Trousers                                     Pants

Nappies                                      Diapers

Loo                                            Bathroom


Driving speaks for itself. It is just plain on the wrong side of the road. And all of those 'round abouts' just  blows my mind. How do you know if and when it is your turn to go? If you are crossing the street, we look left first. Do that in the U.K. before stepping out in the street and a car from the right will flatten you like a pancake. I even did try driving once. I kept reaching for the stick shift with my right hand. I suppose eventually you would get used to it. However, there are still times that my darlin' husband goes to the wrong side of the car to open the door for me when it surprises him that I am standing on the other side of the car.

Then there is the food. Usually it is the title that will throw you off. It just does not sound very appetizing. When sometimes it is quite good.

This is a full English Breakfast minus the grilled tomato and Heinz baked beans. The bacon does not look, nor taste like ours and it is not called bacon, usually, it is called rashers. The sausage links do not even taste like ours and in this picture that is hard to see is actually black pudding. Trust me, you don't want me to explain what that is. 

Mainly the restaurants there in the smaller towns and cities are pubs. So their menus have pub foods listed on them. Fish and chips most definitely was my 'go-to meal.'

It is served with tomato sauce (ketchup) and/or salt vinegar and some lemon wedges. No tarter sauce. The fresh cod is so delicious, that even I did not mind. It helps to have someone that you trust to eat with so that you know what exactly you are ordering. I will say that the British get a bad reputation for their food. Many things are quite good. They do loaded jacket potatoes quite well and most puffed pastries.

Last thing of today that I want to touch on is British humor. Really, I find that sort of an oxymoron. British humor reflects the typical reserved nature of the British society. They prefer to use irony, so much so that it is a part of their daily interactions. More of a subtle approach rather than letting the sarcastic tone come out loud and strong. Sort of the absurdity of everyday life, which as we all know can be a bit pessimistic at times. Through puns and innuendos  they joke about class systems, sexual taboos and deadpan sarcasm poking fun at one's self is their norm. Many of their comedians could not say what they say on American television, even in today's times. American humor is more about being upfront and straight forward, direct and to the point. It is almost like a conscious effort to let others know that they are joking. Satirical shows such as "The Simpsons" pokes fun at American politics, traditions and authority figures. America's Funniest Home Videos is a kind of popular genre that shows pranks and blunders. 

It is curious Brits love American comedians, people like Alan Alda and Robin Williams. However, Americans genuinely don't appreciate British comedians, with the possible exception of Monty Python.