Thursday, December 24, 2020

Difference Between Alone and Lonely


 This blog came early because I was in the mood to write about how we all are celebrating Christmas 2020. Apparently many of us did not heed the warnings of family gatherings outside of the regular household members for Thanksgiving. Our U.S. Covid-19 new cases, deaths and running out of beds has gone to new levels. This is not a good thing. I am not here to point fingers at anyone. What I hope to do is to write about ways to enjoy being alone at Christmas and the holidays. Whether it is you all by yourself and perhaps a pet or whether it is you as two or a few more such as live at home children it will be a Holiday season where all of us need to become more creative. 

Here is the truth about Christmas 2020. Most of us are alone this Christmas and that is okay. Move on to the next step which is to decide how you want to jump forward from there. Depressed with the blanket pulled over your head? Or taking steps to enjoy the holidays with an awesome human being. Yourself! (And possibly some of the usual family that live with you)?

We were thinking ahead and mailed packages to children and grandchildren way in advance that we knew we would not be able to celebrate with in person. There was no vaccine being distributed at that time and even though one has now come out, there is not enough time to take the two rounds and wait a month. Next best plan is to use FaceTiming, Zoom meeting and Video Chats. We will watch our granddaughters opening gifts and will be able to enjoy their spirits of the holidays. Every household in our family decorated for Christmas, including us. And why shouldn't we have some holiday decorations out. We deserve to enjoy the festivities, if only in a smaller celebration.

We made the choice to be grateful for what we have. Find joy in whatever way is possible during this pandemic. We have checked out the magical neighborhood light displays, picked out Christmas movies to watch together at night, played Christmas music throughout the day and for dinner. Other little treats such as sending out more Christmas cards and then receiving more cards than usual really boosted the Christmas spirit. We have little gifts wrapped for the neighbors in the cove to be delivered with a mask and standing back away from the door with a wave and a, "Ho, ho, ho!"

For the two of us, it is not the first time that we have not had anyone else except the two of us here for Christmas. We truly can enjoy a houseful or just the two of us. Whether this is your first time ever to be alone or your twentieth...just think about what you can do to navigate happily through the holidays. We decided that it would not be such a great idea to spend the days with all of our normal family foods for dinner. So we compromised. We have a wonderful place in our city that bakes traditional foods and freezes them for customers to order and come to pick up curbside. We ordered a few things and each day: Christmas Day and Boxing Day, one of us will make a dish to celebrate in our old fashioned way. 

Think of it as a way that this year there will not be a shortage of ovens for everything to go in to bake, the timing of all the goodies to be done at just the right temperature. In other words, in all respects become your own version of Santa Claus, just down-scaled a little.

Some other ideas that the two of us have come up with is to binge watch some shows that we have missed, read more books, paint or get into creative adult coloring and holiday card making, playing a few games together if there are a two or more in your household, if not? Then get on line and sign up for some free games to play. Start a workout video by streaming yoga or a workout class, making sure that afterwards, you take the time for self-care as in a scrumptious bubble bath perhaps with a glass of wine. Even play spa day and give yourself a facial and manicure. Taking care of ourselves and finding what brings us joy is important for our mental state.

So find your ways to relax and just enjoy being happy in the holiday celebrations.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

When Everything Goes Wonky!


Being married to a Brit, I learn new vocabulary every day. Wonky is just one example. It means askew or unsteady. So let me tell you about my wonky day.

Sometimes it seems as if it may be me against the world. When I find myself asking, just what else could possibly go wrong, I regret asking that question. It is my own dang fault, but not always. I do believe that I handled the first part of my wonky day fairly well. 

First of all, let me say that I was working on 6 hours of sleep which is never a good thing for me. Those of you who are insomniacs, I apologize. I do not function well with this little sleep. I am a 9 hour is perfection sleep kind of person. I can deal with 8. I had an appointment that was what I thought to be a simple, uncomplicated doctor appointment. I worked my brain into thinking how wonderful everyone told me about this easy and quick surgery. Quite frankly, after the shock of being told that I needed this, I had to agree. I thought that my eyes were just needing new lenses. Wrong! The cloudiness would not go away, even if my prescription went stronger. 

The appointment was called a consultation appointment. I figured that I would be there 30- 45 minutes. Let's say 3 1/2 hours later, I was set free. Steve went with me and sat in the car with his book for all of this time. I wish I had known more about the surgery so that I knew better of what to ask. One of my many faults is that I do not like too much information being tossed my way. I need visuals. I loved the surgeon who would be doing the actual operation. His assistant worked on the measurements of each lens. He checked it over, and then yet another technical person checked my eyes out. I kept being moved from room to room for the different machinery.

All of the staff was very friendly and very professional yet they had so much information coming my way that I was feeling as if my brain was on overload. Sort of the way I felt when I was in high school geometry class. I did not get it the first go round and only because the second go round had pity on me for at least trying to grasp the concepts, I was passed on. 

It was at this time that the last person who saw me gave me a book, a pamphlet and papers with the surgery centers from which I could choose to go to and the COVID testing sites to go to. I must also call them to set up that test on the day that I go in again to surgeon's office 5 days before surgery to  double check their measurements of my eye. The surgeon's time was given to me, so I need to get the testing place close to that time. 

Also, told that the surgery is only about 10 minutes long but the pamphlet stated on being there 3 hours. Once we got back to our home, I just had to put it all aside and let information sink in to my head slowly.

The next part of the day was really wonky. We purchased a new sofa and had the old one picked up two days ago, based on their schedule for when they were in our part of the city. We figured that we could make it for two nights without one. We would go into the Reading Room and sit to enjoy music and just read and talk. 

Going back to the fact that I had only had 6 hours of sleep, and how long we were at the surgeon's consultation appointment, I could not get a nap in because our window for delivery of our sofa was 2:30 - 4:30. I read and waited and waited. This was a Friday. I figured I would reach out to the number to send a text to the delivery guys. No reply. It was coming up on 4:30 and I was getting nothing back from the many texts that I sent to them. We now had to find a Plan B for dinner that was spoiled due to this wait and not not knowing.

Panic was starting to set in. OK - so there are times I can be rightly called a drama queen. I was seriously doubting we would have a sofa tonight and perhaps not even till Monday. I decided to take action and I called every number of every person that was on my receipts. The main office, the one in VA, the delivery office, the customer service office...the designer consultant told me that they would most definitely be there. She has never had one not be delivered, but sometimes they run into problems. Just be patient! Finally, at 6:30 I sent a text to let them know that I have called everyone at their company. I now receive a text that stated in a very clearly that they will set up a time for delivery. What? I had a time!

Now, I am so far beyond wonky, even The Wonky Donkey can't help. That book is endearing to me because he overcomes only having 3 legs, thus his name. Then a miracle happened. My phone rang and I recognized the number as being the one that I had been texting. It turned out to be the delivery guys supervisor. He was so apologetic because he had told his driver and assistant to reach out to all of the customers to tell them how late they were running. They did not do as he instructed. He said that he has them tracked now and they should be at our home with the sofa in 30 minutes. 

Sure enough, he was right. They were at the door. I showed them where to place it. They got it in and placed and I signed for it. 

Certainly many people have had much worse days than I had today. Yet we all need to give ourselves the freedom to have wonky days now and then, as long as we can get over them. I do believe that each thing that I go through that there still are reasons to be grateful. There is no situation where everything is wrong. You either need to find another solution alone or with the help of someone else. It is important to remember that as long as I am living and breathing something good can come out of this.

My belief is that the squeaky wheel gets the oil still holds true. Let me add that the squeaky wheel does not have to be ugly about it. Just let others know what the problems are and how they need to help. Why? Because to weather storms, no matter how significant or insignificant they are: "This too shall pass."

Now for two nights, we have enjoyed our new sofa and I have questions lined up to ask at my next visit to the eye surgeon before my surgery. All in good time and because I did not make a fool out of myself, I can go in with my head held high. 

Lessons learned?  ~ keep your wits about you
                          ~  stay strong and be creative to find those who can help you solve the problem

Gratitudes?          ~  I will soon have my good sight returned to me .
                          ~  We have a stunning and comfortable sofa.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Is a Simple Thank You Enough?

Yesterday was my birthday. Steve and I really celebrate each of our December birthdays as two separate days, as they should be. Sometimes, having a December birthday can be not so special. When you have one, you know how it sort of feels a little weird to get your Happy Birthday present wrapped in Christmas paper. Would you do that to someone who has a July birthday? I think not. We make sure that does not happen, ever. 

Both of us were overwhelmed with well wishes from friends and family through texts, phone calls, FaceTimes, snail mail, delivery services and social media such as Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter. 

The words, "Thank you," come to mind, of course. Yet it doesn't feel like it truly expresses my gratitude. It is so heart-warming to see so many people take a few moments out of their busy days to wish me well. Sometimes I don't know what to say or how to thank people who wished me a Happy Birthday. It is such an expression of care or love, whether it be a simple HB or written in some kind of message on a card. The fact that it made my day so special and put a smile on my face is all that mattered.


It was so overwhelming that I just had to write a simple thank you to each and every person who took the time out of their day to make my day so extraordinary. Just to let you know that these were the best birthday wishes ever. Even though, I am aware that we are lucky in having at least Facebook for letting us know each day who has a birthday from our 'friends list.' So I really would like to give a BIG shout out to Facebook for helping you to remember it was my birthday. (And for helping me know when it is yours.)

I know that is something that I try to check each day and find a moment to tell that person to have a Happy Day.

Some are long time friends, even if we don't get together much at all. We remember each other from school days. It is always nice to talk about old times and catch up with each other concerning kids, grandkids, jobs, etc. Some are friends of friends that I may have met or been introduced to one time. They still made an impact on me, whether I watched them perform in a play or just chatted about mutual friends at a party.

To be showered with awesome birthday wishes just makes me think that a simple thank you is somehow not enough. These were good people who cared enough to reach out and say have a great day.

Then, there were calls from granddaughters who sang Happy Birthday to me, children who reached out to tell me Happy Birthday because we could not celebrate in person due to this strange Covid year! This gave me a chance to tell them how much I adored their thoughtful gifts. And just as I was finishing up the last call, in came another call from my brother down in Texas. Well, he could have been at his cabin in Arkansas hunting, yet he took the time out of his day to give me a call.

There were mixed feelings coming on in my brain on the eve of my birthday as Mother Nature was adding another year to my age. The special ways that so many reached out came through my thoughts and changed everything about how I viewed another birthday. The way I look at it, is that it is only a number. A number that I can change to whatever and whenever I desire. And if the truth be known, I will admit that I have told little white lies about my age that I don't even know my exact age. Once, I had to take out my phone's calculator and subtract the year I was born from the current to be sure. (The only time that this is important is when I am at the doctor's office. Otherwise it is fair game to take ten years off.) It apparently works, because I have so many people who do not believe that I am on Medicare. There! Now it is out in the open so everyone knows it is at least a starting point in guessing my age! 

Best of all was the way the love of my life treated me on my birthday. Actually, he is this thoughtful all the time. I kid you not! Those who know him, are aware of this fact. Yes, he is a keeper! He brings me coffee in the morning and on this special day made some cheese scrambled eggs for me.


We just spent the day together reading and playing with the furbabies until it was finally time to take off for our curbside pick up dinner, to the champagne he served to the very thoughtful gifts that he wrapped for me. 

I am one very lucky woman to have him in my life, our special children and grandchildren and extended family, as well as all of the special friends who wished me Happy Birthday in texts and all of the other social medias. It is my belief that as I get a little older, I tend to appreciate things on a deeper level. It truly is the little things that count and mean so much to me. I like to believe that I celebrate every day, but I celebrate my birthday more because it is the one day I can see that I was in the thoughts of so many. Thank you for remembering me!

THANK YOU knowing that my words may not be enough to convey my elation but, what I really want to share with you is just how grateful I am to everyone who reached out. YOU bring me JOY!

JOY      JOY     JOY     JOY     JOY

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Moving Christmas Forward


(a little early is just fine)

There is one thing that I noticed more of this year. Christmas decorations and such come out early every year, not just this year. The majority of people, including myself, simply ignore it. In my mind, and sometimes out-loud, I just say, "Let's get through Thanksgiving first." The way that this year of 2020 has been so full of 'negative stuff', it has seemed to be so different that many people, including myself, began earlier for holidays.

There actually have been studies that prove there are psychological benefits that the early decorating helps to fight the gloom and doom of 2020. I noticed more people putting outside decorations up earlier and many others followed suit. The theory is that it helps us in a way to reclaim traditions - at least to give us some form of control. Twinkling lights and bright colors make people feel happy and really does bring back happy memories and can offer distractions. Sort of like when planning a vacation helps one's mindset almost as much as the vacation. Christmas will not be the way it was in previous years. At least remaining safe and staying home, yet putting out decorations that bring back the nostalgia of how it was and will be once again once the pandemic is under control. 

Is it a false sense of happiness or real cheer? For me it is the real thing. Sensory elements of light, color and sound work for me, as they do with many people. It has the ability to boost our mental health and mood. Nostalgia plays a huge part of the positive vibes when we decorate. It is almost an instant boost with a positive view into the future. Thinking into the New Year gives me hope. Something to look forward to.

If the idea of putting up holiday decorations does not bring you joy then please don't despair. There are other ways that you can bring joy and hope into the New Year. Think about getting some new throw pillows or a new comforter for your bed, reorganizing kitchen counter tops. Add a little pizazz. 

On the other hand if it makes you feel good decorating then go for it. Send out more traditional cards that have a personal message written in it. Shipping off packages and presents to loved ones that we can't be with during the holidays. Plan on zoom times, video chats or FaceTimes for opening presents or setting the mood for the holidays. Most importantly is to stay safe so that we all have the future to look forward to.

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.