Sunday, August 30, 2020

A Totally New Way of Shopping


Now that we have all been in this pandemic with quarantining and CDC guidelines for months and months, I added on to my new 'norm.' I try not to use that word 'norm' often. Because, in reality, what does that look like? It changes all the time and will continue to change the way that we live our day to day lives. 

For my husband and myself, we have made special efforts to try to do all of our shopping on line. We wore our masks and went out when we thought it would not be so crowded, alas, other people apparently do not have to follow the rules. We wear our masks to protect others, as well as ourselves. Are they comfortable? Hell no. Many people say they have a medical condition that prohibits them from wearing a mask. My question then is then do you really need to be out among the public with your condition and the virus is all around? If your condition is that you are claustrophobic and not comfortable then we just have to get over that. Maybe I should have more empathy, but I find it hard to feel it for you if that is the case.

Our shopping early on was going from store to store trying to find essentials such as toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, hand soap, Lysol, bleach. Stuff that we were hearing about people hoarding and we just wanted enough to get us through a week or two. People were not abiding by guidelines whatsoever.

Then, we got a brilliant idea. We started ordering on Amazon whatever we could not get at Kroger due to high demand. Even at Kroger, we did the ClickList, where you order on line and tell them what time you will pick up. You never knew what they would have in stock and what they would not. A guessing game! So instead of waiting them out and ordering again in a few days, we simply looked for it on Amazon and it worked. 

I have learned that I can even order birthday cards for our family when I need to. No need to go to a card shop. Or inside the local pharmacy to pick out a card. We can do drive by prescription pick up and never go inside. 

Yes, there are times that our front door looks like this. Luckily, we are home usually and can get them in before anything happens to them. And I love it when the delivery people actually take the time to see and read our door mat with Maggie Mae's and Davis' pictures on it. They do NOT need to ring the doorbell and cause a huge ruckus. The dogs already know they are on our front porch.

In many ways, I miss picking out our own foods and items that we need to keep our house running smoothly. Something happened this past week that I never in a million years thought that I would do. 

We spend a lot of time in the downstairs study. It overlooks the front of our home. We live in a cove and when at my desk writing, painting or reading, I can see the comings and goings of neighbors, as well as wildlife. My husband put out special songbird seed and hummingbird feeders and I love seeing all of the birds right outside the double windows. As, well as the silly squirrel who comes to try to jump over on the feeders, and usually falls. The dogs seem quite entertained also.

In the evening, my husband and I have taken up watching movies on our big screen wall mounted Smart TV. There is a love seat there and it certainly gets used an awful lot. It is time for it to go. Some furniture stores are open and people do still go in them, some with masks and others? Oh well. Do we dare purchase a love seat on line? Especially one that is custom made and nonrefundable? Well, the important thing is to choose a reliable source. I thought that I had found one, but something just did not seem right. Even though I spoke to a very professional customer support person on the phone who answered all of my questions. As I went back to the web page and continued to read and browse, I saw that I was misinformed. The only assembly, so I was told, was to put the feet on the bottom. That is not a problem. But when I read questions from other customers, it turns out you need a lot of tools or a handyman to assemble it. We did not want to go to an IKEA type store. I want it to be delivered to us in one piece. I love IKEA for certain things. Furniture is not one of them. 

Back to the drawing board looking for real furniture stores who would deliver. Steve actually found a Chesterfield love seat that fit our size, and actually gave us more sitting room, took up less space than the one we would have to assemble and is much higher quality and therefore much more expensive. The old saying that you get what you pay for is right. We need this love seat to be a long term investment in the quality of our lives. As with many things, this will be made for us so it will take time before we have it.
Unfortunately, they do not haul away the old one. Not to worry. A very dear friend gave me the phone number of a store that is related to Habitat for Humanity and they will come and get the old when we are ready. 

Shopping in a pandemic safely can be done. The landscape of how we shop is changing. It will continue to evolve. Just go with the flow.................

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Bon Appetit


To be honest, both my husband and I really have always loved to cook. Don't get me wrong, we also very much loved going out to eat for date nights too.  We usually work as a team, he will do the main cooking and I will be the sous chef or vice versa. He had some really good British meals, and yes, contrary to the opinion about there is not any good British meals - I beg to differ. It really is in the name of their dishes. Once I had an explanation of what I was eating, then I knew that it would be edible or not. Yorkshire Pudding, just the name is not appealing, however, it is scrumptious. It has nothing to do with pudding. It is like a pastry cup that is filled with delicious steak and gravy.


Shepard's Pie, sometimes made with lamb and the way that I like it, with ground beef topped with mashed potatoes and cheese melted on top.


Another good one. Welsh rarebit? Spotted Dick? Heinz, even though American, could not sell his baked beans here, but made them famous in the UK. They really are nothing like American baked beans. Probably why they did not sell here. Sort of like someone put in way too much ketchup or tomato sauce. Let's not even get into the Steak and Kidney Pies or Black Pudding. I can tell you that when my British husband saw a new store going in called, "The Pie Folks," he was thrilled. I tried to tell him they would not have steak and kidney pies or any kind of meat pies. They would be chocolate or cherry or pecan. The disappointment on his face was priceless. Reminded me of how I felt when some kid told me about Santa Claus. 

          Welsh Rarebit (grilled cheese with Worcestershire Sauce)

            I cook more of the things that my Mamaw                  taught me such as Fried Chicken, Cheese Grits,          Turnip Greens, Chess Pie, etc. 

            One of our sons said that we should open a                  restaurant and call it The Brit and The Belle. Not          a bad idea if that is what we felt our calling was.          Alas, we enjoy cooking for ourselves and family          and friends, definitely not late into the night and          weekends.

      Then we got a good idea to change our lifestyle of        eating and go the low-carb route. This was all              well and good. There are loads of things out in            restaurants that we can get or have modified to          meet our tastes.

     And BOOM! The pandemic hit. As we all were told,      we needed to stay home as much as possible              except for essential things such as groceries and         prescriptions. No large gatherings. Restaurants            closed but soon were allowed to have curbside             service for take outs or deliveries. After watching a      pizza delivery at a neighbor's house take place with      the delivery guy sneezing into his hand and then         picking up the box of pizza to take up to the house      and hand to the unsuspecting neighbor, we both         nixed the idea of delivery or take out. We now are        in the phase of dining out, better if it is outside.

The image of the pizza delivery guy in my head did not make me crave to go out to eat anywhere.

          This is how it all started for the two of us. Both of us joined up with googling low carb recipes. Lots are out there. Once we got the hang of it, we were even able to substitute things such as white flour or whole wheat flour for almond or coconut flour. So many choices to make. And since we really had no particular place to go, except later in the evening watching Netflix, or Amazon Prime or Disney, we had all the time in the world.

There are a few things we learned along the way. Have fun with this. Get some creative aprons to wear, as it can get quite messy. Keep staples in the pantry and fridge and have a good set of pots and pans and cooking utensils. When planning some recipes, it is essential to write your grocery list out, or as we do, tell Alexa to add it to the shopping list. Then, remember if it is something fresh,  you have it and use it before it goes bad. 


 As you begin each recipe, it is so much easier if you have all of the ingredients measured and available to use right away. 


Something that my husband gave me a couple of years ago is an Aerogarden. It has come in quite handy for our style of cooking. I have grown our own romaine lettuce which was very nice because it kept getting recalled from the groceries and at one point you could not even buy it. Also, I tried herbs and cherry tomatoes. Not an essential yet it is one more thing that is fun to do and brings me JOY during these crazy times we live in today.

Below you will see some of our creations that we were quite proud of:
Egg Salad in a Tomato with Avocado Slices

Chicken with Eggplant and Mushrooms

Lettuce Wraps

Italian Chicken Dish

Shrimp and Greens

Pepperoni Pizza

Surf and Turf

As you can see, we do not go hungry and we are losing weight the smart way. No diet. It is a mindset and a lifestyle change. Something that is very doable.

We even can have a little wine, just count those carbs in and with an app on our phones, we can put the food in and it does the counting for us. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Joy To The World


Truly, I did not start out to trick you into thinking that I was ready for Christmas, although that is not a bad idea. Considering how 2020 has been going so far it could be a great distraction.  Lately, I have been having some tough moments dealing with the issues of COVID-19, the election, the riots, the rallies, the racism, basically, all of it. I guess, it all just seemed to be overwhelming and hitting me from all angles at once.

Usually, I handle these kind of issues fairly well. Lately, not so much, so I decided to go back to the basics of what I read from Life Coaches and watch on webinars. I realized that I had lost my sense of focus. I knew that I needed help to guide my way through this messy chaos.

First of all I know this is mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining and I was feeling as if this is what was happening to me. Time to jump on this fast to find my joy. And to any naysayer out there, yes, there is joy. Yes, there is good news. Yes,  there are positive events happening all around me. I just was not responding to these things, instead I was choosing to deal with the negatives.

For myself, I already knew that I had given enough time and energy to focus on the problems of the world. Now, I needed to focus on ME. That is not selfish to do so. I know our thoughts move to actual action. The challenges that I face will move me forward because I grow by my responses. I have the power to make my own decisions. So stopping for a moment and simply asking myself if moping around and feeling as if the world is going to hell in a hand basket, I had to shift my attitude and create something new instead of staying down. A different kind of energy must be used to do this. 

It is appreciating what I have and knowing that staying in the fog of uncertainty was not doing me any good. I believe that I just finally had had ENOUGH of reading social media, editorials, and listening to the  "hatred" in the words that had woven their way into my brain. So I made the choice to limit news time and social media time so that I do not have to be drawn into the gloom and doom. Why? Because it is not all gloom and doom. Together we all will survive. 

This is not how I want to respond. There are so many good things that bring me joy. Setting up a positive ritual for my mornings. Thinking about what it is that I want to accomplish and go for it. A dream without an action behind it means nothing. When I feel joy, I feel good about myself. Joy is an emotion and emotions are wordless. 

Music brings me such joy, and all kinds of genres. Three Dog Night was a fun band growing up with in the 70's. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see them perform live. One of my favorites is Joy To the World. It is a happy, feel-good song. I did find out that it was written by Hoyt Axton and the band never knew that such a happy, silly song would hit number one on the charts around the world. If something brings you joy then you automatically smile. Obviously, I am not the only one who feels joyful when I hear it. It was in the movie, "The Big Chill," then recorded by Mariah Carey, as well as others and is played at the end of every Denver Broncos home victory which means when they played in Super Bowls and won it was played again
. It also was referenced in several other movies and magazines. I know that when that song comes on I will be singing the words right along with them. I don't trust anyone who can't belt out 'Bohemian Rhapsody' or 'Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog' when they come on the radio.

Finding joy is not only about music it can be about finding projects that bring you joy, maybe organizing, learning a new skill or reviving an old one that you never seem to have time for. Now in the pandemic there is time!

Engaging in inspirational and enjoyable activities that are not necessarily goal oriented but just plain fun is a great way to find joy. It is a way to help me relax. Petting our dogs is a wonderfully relaxing way to let go of the stress in the world. Cooking has also become one of my go to's, as well as painting. I have decided to paint a shirt, like the one that I saw on a Nataly Kogan webinar on Happiness. She stood up and showed everyone after being asked about it. It made me smile. She is the person who actually got me back into painting. Never have I attempted a shirt. With a smile on my face, I plan on challenging myself to accomplish this with no judgment on my style.

Saying the word, "Joy" can even bring me joy and the more I say it in different voices and tempos, the more I laugh and I can feel relaxation taking over. There is one job that we all have and that is to take care of ourselves. If we don't take care of ourselves, then we are of no good to those we love.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Why Worry?


Take it from a "could be" over-worrier. Some worrying is normal and can even be good us. Then there is the excessive worrier. Let me differentiate between the two. Good worrying could come from stressful events such as preparing to take a test or a job interview. Worrying to an extent about these events could help get a person ready by pushing a bit more studying for the exam or preparing more for the upcoming interview. On the other hand, an excessive worrier may react to an event too quickly or in such an intense manner that one becomes irrational and not able to think clearly. It has been proven that people with high anxiety levels have trouble shaking off their worries and that is when physical symptoms come into play. 

With excessive worrying, you focus on what might happen, as your mind just takes off on its on into overdrive. If chronic worrying begins to affect your every day life and spills into your job, relationships, sleep, appetite and lifestyle, then there is a problem. That is when overeating or undereating, smoking, drugs or alcohol come into the picture. There are ways to help solve this problem. There is no shame in asking for help. Worries are a normal part of life. It is when it begins to overtake our lives that we need to take action. Our brains can actually be trained. 

In our newspaper the other day, I saw a comic strip called, "Pearls Before Swine" by Stephan Pastis. The title of a paper that Pig was writing was called, 
'My Daily Worries Broken Down By Percentages':
40% - Worries about things that have happened
30% - Worries about things that will happen
20% - Worries about things that may happen
1%   - Not worrying that I'm letting my guard down

Then Rat enters the picture and says, "Fun Day!" This is when Pig replied, "I worried you'd say that."

    There are negative beliefs about worry and positive beliefs about worry. If you believe that your constant worrying is harmful then more than likely it is. On the other hand if you believe that your worrying helps you avoid bad things and prepares you for the worst, you may be causing other problems. You may even be trying to convince yourself that it is the responsible thing to do. Actually, once you realize that worrying is the problem, not the solution, you can regain control of your worried mind. There are steps to take to train our brains.

  • Have a specific worry period and use this time to write down your worries, think about them and allow yourself to worry for a reasonable amount of time
  • Distinguish between what is a worry that can be solved and those that are unsolvable. If it is solvable then brainstorm ways that you can take care of the problem. If the worry is not solvable, accept the uncertainty. Most chronic worriers try to predict what the future has in store for us. Thinking about all of the things that could go wrong does not help. Worst case scenarios will stop us from enjoying the present.
Always tune into your emotions. Accept them, don't sweep them under the rug. Know when it is time to move on and interrupt the worry cycle. This can be done through meditation, exercise, doing something that brings you happiness, deep breathing and even talking to someone about your worries. A good way to know if talking to someone is helpful or not is to be able to know if after talking to this person do you feel better? If not, move on to someone else. Perhaps a life coach or a therapist if there is no one close to you that you feel that you can trust and count on to be there for you. The one person that you want to avoid is another chronic worrier. 

Training our brains is possible. It is not a negotiable to be happy. Our emotional health and our happiness is not a bonus. While navigating life's ups and downs, we need to understand that we won't feel positive all of the time. We are human beings and we have a full range of emotions. Practicing happiness is a skill. Challenges are constant but struggle is optional. Get in the mindset of practicing happiness. 

After your worry period that you have allowed yourself, be sure to find the little things that you are grateful for and things that bring you joy. Practice kindness not only to others but self-kindness.

Life is not about being perfect. Practice! 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

What Could Be Good About 2020?


So many people have said that they would just like to start this year over again. Well, unless someone has a magic lamp from a genie to rub and make a wish, this is not going to happen. It seems that we started out ok, at least for most of us. We were not in the know of the coronavirus looming out there unless we were part of a scientific team of doctors monitoring what was happening in China. Some say they warned the appropriate people and others say they did not heed the warning. That is irrelevant now, as that is all hind sight. 

It was not really until sometime in February that reality began touching most of our lives. Talk of symptoms, how to avoid getting COVID-19 and possibly shutting down everything except for essential workers started to gather momentum. Groceries, pharmacies, hospitals for emergencies only were about the limit. Eventually, some food establishments were allowed to have curbside pick up for food, however, no dining inside. Wearing masks was encouraged, as was staying home or at least no larger groups of 10 in any location, plus 6 foot distancing from one another. Schools went to virtual learning. We were in a global pandemic. 

It is still very important to not see this as the end is coming. There must be some hope and not to minimize the severity of the pandemic there are some good things happening. It is important for our mental well-being to focus daily on what is something good happening in our lives. Things that bring us joy.

First of all, just know that it is ok to not be ok right now and just do our best to get us through this unprecedented time. I have heard this from a USA Today article written by the director of the American Psychological Association all the way to Nataly Kogan, the author of Happier Now.  

The first stage is to know that our brains will create a very dramatic and sometimes negative story. We have the ability to chose to go along with it or to stop it right there in its tracks and practice recognizing that we are in charge. It is a very liberating feeling. You may ask how do we do this? It becomes empowering simply because we have chosen not to judge ourselves if we are feeling negativity. 

Instead, accept and acknowledge this feeling. Knowing that you feel this way and being aware of it allows you to then make a choice to shift out of the negativity by asking yourself, "Is this helpful?" First of all, there is always only one correct answer. "NO!" This is the moment to think about a specific grateful anecdote and say to yourself, "During this challenging time I am grateful for....." It must be specific. Instead of saying you are grateful for your family or home, hone in on one small thing, such as perhaps your husband made you a cup of coffee, you have a beautiful rose bush in bloom in your garden. The more detailed, the better. This, according to Nataly Kogan is using your gratitude lens.

The next step is to do a kind act. Actually, this helps you more than it does the other person. It helps us feel connected. Send e mail notes or snail mail notes, phone calls to loved ones...just blast away at acts of kindness. I became aware of just how much happier I was when I practiced these small but major steps through this pandemic. The important thing is to realize that empathy does not mean that you are forgetting about your issues. It is caring and understanding of others. One must not just tell someone to think about what they are grateful for. It is important to validate what they are feeling and accept them for how they feel (and this of course, includes yourself). Whatever is breaking you down will also be what helps you shift your mindset and will open you up to practice gratitudes and acts of kindness.

Some of the good things that I found happening all around us are listed below. I am sure that everyone could add a list at least this long or longer. We will get through this together! How is this for an opener? 
  • A 103 year old grandma beat COVID-19 and celebrated with a Bud Light.
  • Drive-in movie theaters are making a come back either showing movies or being the stage for concerts while participants stay in or around their cars.
  • Drive by parades to celebrate graduations and birthdays virtually.
  • Restaurants are sharing some of their secret recipes for us to create at home. All we must do is try to watch the pounds sneaking on from all of this good food.
  • John Krasinski made the news from his home with SGN (some good news, which only focused on good things happening in the world)

  • T

  • Two lovable Labradors, Olive and Mabel, gave a sports-less world some "athletic" competition in videos narrated by British broadcaster, Andrew Cotter. Turns out they got a book deal.
  • There was a beautiful quartet symphony performed to an audience of house plants in Spain. After the performance, all plants were donated to essential health care workers at nearby hospitals.

We have all been swamped on social media with precious pictures of babies and puppies. All adorable! Even the one who stole a pair of dentures and one who thought he was a dolphin.

 Americans rushed to adopt and foster pets in need amid this pandemic.
  • Netflix and Disney have become very creative and have brought on movies before they had to, just to help entertain us. Also, talk show hosts have become creative in broadcasting from their homes and sharing steps of handwashing while singing a nursery rhyme. 

  • Stanley Tucci teaching James Corden how to make a specialty drink. As well as Ina Garten sharing the recipe for a gigantic cocktail.
  • Brad Paisley brought together other artists and some of the general public to be in a video (filmed virtually, of course) and creatively wrote the song, "Ain't No I In Beer."
  • Then there is the hair thing. When salons closed, we all had to live with gray, with hair that needed tended to, even Ryan Reynolds grew a ponytail. 

  • Along with the pandemic is a time of trying to rebuild diversity and a way to get us all together and acknowledging that this is something to share and talk about. Crayola crayons came out with a new box of crayons to help children use their own creativity.

  • Books out for us to read to help us all know how to start difficult conversations.

    Happy stories coming to light in the news such as a FedEx worker disinfecting a package he delivered to a home once he saw the sign on the front door that someone in the house had an autoimmune disorder.
  • Grandchildren visiting on FaceTime or Zoom or even outside of their windows.

  • Through all of this I truly have one person who I respect and has remained steadfast in trying to share his knowledge, some of which changes as he and his immunology team learn more of COVID-19.
  • OK, I had to place this picture in because I just found it funny. Brad Pitt does resemble Dr. Fauci somewhat in this picture.  
There is one thing that still to this day I can't understand. 

Somehow through our human spirit, we will get through this together. My heart goes out to all of those across the world who did not survive or are living with the left-over symptoms of contracting the virus. We must come together and work as a team. It is not a political or racial disease. This is a serious pandemic and requires us to ALL take it seriously.