family, perspective

Bad Things Happen In Sets of Three

I have been told over the years that things happen in sets of three. Mainly it’s been around death that I was told groups in threes. I haven’t really dwelled too much about it over the years because it hasn’t been so close to home.

This week life shook me a bit. First the death of a colleague from a not so distant past. He lost his battle with cancer. In his prime he was healthy, fit and the life of the party, many gatherings which I attended with him. As I watch the tributes to him online I have both happy and sad emotions. Why did the world lose such a bright spirit? Why did he exit in what seemed like a long and painful way?

Only a few days after, one of my bright-spirited friends lost her dog. This passing may seem trivial to some but this was her child. The trusty companion had been through schooling, marriage, death and even a pandemic over some 15 years of dog life. I’m sure age was the factor here but it doesn’t make it easier. Saying goodbye to a life companion is hard. So very hard.

Hours later as I write this entry my dad is clinging to life in his own aging battle with dementia. The word is that his time could come in hours or days. Just not sure. Is this the third in the set of three this week? Does knowing make it easier? Are we ready for the passing of such an important family member? So many questions.

Death is unfortunately part of life. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. As I deal with the loss of the week and the pain of life I also thrust forward to see new light. What’s around the corner? What can I be thankful for? How can I keep pressing on?

I don’t shift focus to diminish the loss, rather I use the experiences to strengthen my stride in life. To live as much as possible in the time I have ahead of me. It’s these defining moments in time that I have to find a way to make an impact to honor the life lost. There isn’t really a roadmap to doing so. I just follow my heart.

The clip below spoke to me as I wrote this post and thus I am sharing it with you.

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As I think of funerals today and how they are so different I opted to write this short story to honor not only my connections who have suffered losses but all those who endured a loss and pushed through the new normal of saying goodbye in these pandemic times. Whether it was a zoom wake/funeral or immediate family only gathering, grief and goodbyes are never easy.

In closing, I hope my dad musters the strength to push forward for selfish reasons, but in reality I want him to spread his wings with the angels to take away the pain and suffering of his final days. If he becomes three it was meant to be.

inspire, perspective

Excitement

Who doesn’t like a little excitement in their life? Who doesn’t get excited on a regular basis?

A big vacation starts tomorrow. The feeling of excitement hits you and sleep is no longer an option. The first day of school is upon you. Many emotions pass through your mind but one is definitely excitement to see what the day will hold. A birth of a new family member. Nerves are a-blazing but excitement is in the air. The examples are limitless in my mind.

Excitement is around us. It’s a word but also a feeling. Some show it visibly differently than others and that is okay. For me excitement is easily visible and can even be contagious.

My eyes light up. My curiosity is sparked. My brain fires on all cylinders. I engage others around me. Excitement is a stimulant to me in a way that many may not understand.

I feel excitement in my core and it radiates around me. I can wake up excited for the day where others are slow off the block or need coffee for arousal. This is what I mean when I say I feel excitement in my core. No dusting off needed to arouse my excitement, it sits at the core of my existence.

Some days it’s shaken and stirred. Other days the excitement becomes an inferno. It’s somewhere in between the reckless inferno and shaken when my mind works the best.

I am excited today and thus I decided to write. I often write in the morning when my senses are awakened with excitement. Content flows. Ideas go into the journal. Plans are made. Action is taken. Most of which happens before one gets up and has their morning coffee.

I am fond of the word excitement. It’s part of my aura. It’s part of my story. For now I will take my excitement off this page and into the world as it awaits. And there are some folks out there in the world that don’t appreciate my excitement. I have to assume it’s because their life is boring but I waste no time on that negativity. I just do me. Exciting me whenever possible.

I hope the word excitement has sparked some thought for you today. The post was meant to send you in that direction of excitement.

perspective

The Elevator

You will find this gem of an elevator in a building in downtown Atlanta, GA. It serves a purpose of hauling freight, equipment, people and so on up and down throughout a day. Sounds simple and practical, right?

Of course it’s simple and practical but I wonder how sanitary it is in the corona age we live. Do these surfaces get the wipe down we see at the front door? I am probably sure I know the answer to this. Is there any smell lingering? Is it vile piss or fragrant flowers? Are there any foreign bodies stuck to the walls?

The long forgotten access door. Is it the gate to hell? It’s designed to be a work horse. It gets the job done but it’s ugly and borderline creepy. The mystery behind the door and all the folks that crossed its path has struck my curiosity and thus you are reading this post.

Tucked away from the main stream of day-to-day hustlers. Abundant scratches, gouges and scuff marks showing its wear and age. The abuse this elevator sees in a day. The laborers that visit it during the day. The dirty jobs that pass through behind the scenes like trash disposal for example.

If this door could talk what would it say? What would be on the surface of the buttons if somebody tested it today? Is it a safe area to pass by? So many questions about the door to the elevator. The spooky door.

I stare blankly at the dirty door of mystery and a million questions run through my mind. Would there be blood from somebody jamming their finger lingering? Would there be snot from a recent sneeze or cough? How many dirty doors like this are in back alleys, basement buildings and so on?

just a random post for a random day.

perspective

Stripping the Fun Stuff Away

The return to “normal” has begun.  Gyms, restaurants, hair salons, sports leagues, bowling alleys, summer camps and a host of other businesses have gotten the green light to open their doors. Yay! (right?)

Of course, nothing is really normal and the “new normal” has already lost it’s luster (if it ever had any). Opening business doors often comes along with an eye-popping list of new restrictions.

Both the chicks have recently given their views on restaurant dining.

Like restaurants, for many businesses, industries, and institutions, it’s still a strange time. We are all figuring it out on the fly, customers included.  I’ve noticed that in some cases, we are stuck trying to do the hard parts but the fun parts are what we miss now.  Here are a few examples:

Gyms are starting to reopen.  But, I never really stopped working out.  I’m still exercising in my basement or on the pavement most mornings due to financial and work constraints. Some lifting, some cardio, some basic bodyweight movement, Heroes on Mondays. I get my exercise in one way or another.

Is it the same?  Yes and no.  Yes, I get my movement in.  But some of the most enjoyable parts of the gym experience are gone.  I don’t see friends and like-minded people.  I don’t get coaching.  I don’t get to use all the great equipment. I don’t get the occasional coffee and breakfast after with friends. Sure, I don’t miss certain things about the gym, but some of the parts that made it fun and special (and the hard parts less hard) can’t be replicated in my home.

My work is a similar situation.  I am a librarian that teaches in an elementary school.  We left school for a long weekend in mid-March, not knowing that students and most teachers wouldn’t return this year.  Instead, we’ve been teaching and learning online for almost 9 weeks.

Are we getting the job done?  Yes and no.  Yes, there are lessons and many teachers working extremely hard to connect with students and families.  Yes, there is learning happening.  But, some of the parts that make school fun and meaningful are stripped away.  Field day. End-of-year culminations of work and celebrations.  Social time at lunch and recess on the playground. Working shoulder-to-shoulder to finish a puzzle or create something together. For me, it’s just walking through the library with a student and helping them find a great book.

Or reading a funny or suspenseful picture book to a live Kindergarten audience, laughing and responding together in that moment. Nothing replaces those. And those are some of the things that make school worth going to for many kids (not to mention food, etc.)  Instead, online school often seems like a lot more of the work and a lot less of the fun stuff that makes school special. (And yes, this is about the teachers, too.  I miss the energy of my students! Computer screens, while helpful, don’t cut it for connection!)

On the flip side, there are also students and families who aren’t built for distance learning.  Some have limited or no access to technology. Some need the structure and surroundings and encouragement of others working.  Some need the social benefits.  Some need the food and care that come along with being at school.  Some parents are working from home while also trying to manage multiple children learning online.  It is all extremely stressful.  School isn’t working for many, and it is definitely not the same even for those getting by.

Then, there are the fun things that are just not happening anymore at all.  Most notably for me are travel plans for myself and my family, and races I was training for.  Pleasure travel by anything other than car seems risky (and if you take a road trip, where do you stay overnight?)

I was sad that the triathlon I was training for got canceled.  They can’t guarantee safety and I am sure liability is also a big part of that decision.  Would I have wanted to participate in some sort of sanitized race?  I had mixed feelings about the virtual 10K I ran recently. Although it wasn’t terrible since I was able to do it with friends, I missed the trip to Nashville, the mass of runners, all the spectators and the thrill of race day. It just wasn’t the same. I may still do a virtual version of the triathlon at some point since I am already training.  But, some things just can’t be replaced.  You can’t take away some of the most fun and challenging parts and expect a similar experience. Again, some of the most fun stuff of life is stripped away.  And it is hard not to be bogged down in the frustration and sadness of it all.

You can’t recreate the Mona Lisa with a Magic Marker. It just isn’t the same.  And will it ever be the same?  What do I expect? I don’t know. I know many people are trying their best.  I know many people disagree about how all of this is being carried out.  Frankly, between dealing with that personal and political drama and the abundance of the day-to-day changes, I am exhausted at times. The fun stuff buoys me along and there is so much less of that.  Nonetheless, I want to try to find the celebration in the irritation.  Today, I realized I would have never bought my road bike if I hadn’t set the triathlon as a goal.  My bike has been a huge part of my sanity through the stay-at-home orders. So there is a bit of sunshine.

It’s hard not to wonder when things will get back to some kind of regularity.  What will things look like on the other end? When can we plan a race, some pleasure travel?  When will I be able to read to kids again?  When is the finish line of this mess?  I can budget my energy if I have a finish line in sight.  But now we are in the long middle miles when it’s hard to stay energized and forward moving.

I think it’s ok to pout as long as you don’t wallow in it.  Acknowledge the loss then move on.  It might be easier if we knew the story had a happy ending.  I can deal with suspense as long as it gets resolved.  I have to believe that day will come.  Maybe not quite happily ever after, and maybe this is a heck of a long chapter, but it will be resolved.

 

 

 

 

 

health, perspective

Fresh Outlook

Clean crisp air floating through my mind translates into a natural high. Outdoor air may seem foggy to some yet it’s clarity to me. Pre-Rona, mid-Rona and as Rona wraps up the outdoor air is where I have done some of my best thinking.

It could be on my bike, it could be on a run, it could be on a casual stroll. No matter the tempo of my stride the clarity in mind is fresher with the outdoor air. I use technology to jot down my notes on my phone no different than I log my workouts.

The air I breathe may seem toxic to some, but my breathing means I’m alive and that gift of living spurs thoughts of growth. What adventures are on the horizon but also which ones are curtailed due to pandemic interventions. I’m not worried about the ones postponed as I will get to them in time.

Whatever the path I get to take, that path is mine to enjoy. As I have said before, my path may look different but that doesn’t mean it’s a negative reflection. Rather it means new opportunities.

Sceneries change when you ride a bike, travel on boat or go for a run. Scents in the air change as well. Sounds seems more peaceful if you listen. Nature is a stomping ground many may take for granted. However I feel I ignited those senses during corona when all else seemed to be muted.

What I figured out is less is more in a way. Less chatter and complaining can be replaced with birds chirping or wind whistling. The stressful days can can replaced with a long walk. Big decisions can be contemplated on a hike with switchbacks or steep climbs to help you anticipate challenges and overcome fears.

Our mind is a machine and a mystery. When you can figure the mystery in your mind your machine can make almost anything. If your machine has been out of production it’s time to dust it off and put some fresh air and positive vibes in it. You can ignite passion if you awaken your mind.

Get to moving that mind in new directions. Seek more adventures. Tune out what seems to be clutter or brokenness. As a new sun rises be settled for the new day. Time to kick some post-corona ass. Mind fuck Monday wisdom right here.

perspective

Where’s the Disconnect?

Everywhere, all around, it seems connections are breaking down.

Big & small.  Local & global.  Things we never think about, things we take for granted, suddenly aren’t working anymore.

The news is so puzzling it makes my head spin.

First, food.

Almost every night on the news, there’s a story about the lines at food pantries and other food giveaways that wrap around buildings and through parking lots.  People are spending hours in line to get basic necessities of all kinds. Families that were once secure are quickly, unexpectedly in need.  And families that were teetering on the edge are now hanging on for dear life.

I guess it’s not that surprising, in light of how many people have lost jobs.

What turns to shocking is when I read a story about how farmers are burying onions, cracking thousands of eggs, dumping milk out and more, all before they get to consumers. The loss of restaurant, hotel, and school outlets for food has turned demand on its head.  Or that the closure of meat processing plants due to COVID-19 infections means many animals will be killed and never make it to market.  Staggering. Unimaginable.  The resources, so desperately needed, will be destroyed.

Hungry people on one side, supplies of food on the other, being wasted.

Where’s the disconnect? Why is it so hard to fix this, if the supplies of food are there as well as the demand?   While scientists are busy developing and distributing tests, I hope logistics experts are working on this food issue. I feel frustrated and helpless in it.

Second, human connection.

A similar disconnect may be true in mental health.  The worries about loneliness, isolation, and more stream through my news and social media feeds. All of that is a concern.  Some people cry out and are hopefully heard and reassured.  But then it’s the people who are invisible, who aren’t speaking up, who may live alone or are in unhealthy situations who can be the most worrisome.  People who may be losing hope, losing connection. I think we are all eager to connect.  Demand is high, and I believe supply is, too.  Still, being physically separate is a challenge.

I can’t drive a semi to Iowa or Idaho and get all that good food and bring it to where it is needed.  I am grateful to Publix and Kroger and other organizations who are trying to reconnect supply and demand in whatever ways they can.  In my own life, I can talk to those who may be having food or financial struggles and offer to share what I have. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.

I can be even more direct with the mental health worries, though. I can reach out to people I know.  And especially try to think of people who may be having a hard time.  People I haven’t heard from in a while.  People who might be lonely or afraid. Disconnected. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.  Check in.

Keep looking for ways to connect people with the resources they need.  Be the connection.

perspective

Special Deliveries

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I am a huge Amazon fan.  Like, huge. Maybe too big.

Me and Amazon go back a long way. I peeked in my decades-old email inbox and saw my oldest email from Amazon.com is from 2003 when I had a baby registry there.  I know I was a customer years before that though. I loved Amazon when they just sold books and  spending 25 bucks to get super saver shipping was the coolest. Prime wasn’t even a thing.

I loved Amazon when it was losing money and people didn’t think it would survive. (Yes, there was a time when Amazon did not make money!)  I was a college student then, busy falling in love with knowledge and reading and all that nonsense, when Amazon was the place for all my little philosophy and poetry tomes, long before Amazon baby registries.

I do know that Amazon isn’t everything. Over the years I have learned to seek out and shop small businesses when I can.  Local bookstores, hardware stores, boutiques…I try to shop them often.  But still, there are some times when Amazon’s selection and even price and return policy can’t be matched. (Not to mention you can shop them in your pajamas when you just think of something you need and voila!  It’s there in 2 days.)

Of course, the pandemic has caused retail pandemonium. Even more people are shopping online. Delivery services are taxed to the max. Amazon didn’t escape this fate.  My little reliable Prime symbol doesn’t even mean 2-day shipping anymore. Only “essential items” from these categories would be delivered quickly: baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.  Everything else was in slow motion.

I guess this didn’t really sink in for me for a while. Here I am, spending most of my time at home, many businesses closed.  Times have truly, deeply changed, both in a global sense and in a personal sense. I’ve been using my hour once spent commuting to the gym and work to read every morning. Of the many changes I’ve taken on, that has been a bright spot.  But, my book supply was small, and reading for nearly an hour each day has me flying through books quickly.  A visit to the local Barnes & Noble isn’t an option. Libraries are closed (?!?!?)  So, of course, I ordered a couple of titles from Amazon.

FOUR WEEKS.

It was going to take four weeks!  And one is a best seller!  Geez.  Another sign of the times.

I see Amazon trucks scurrying everywhere through traffic and their delivery people running up to doors.  I know people are working hard.  I’ll survive.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was granted a hundred dollars from our school PTA to spend on classroom supplies earlier this week. I had to spend it quickly, so I just piled a bunch of colored copy paper in my Amazon cart and hit order now.  I knew we didn’t have any at work and I knew we wouldn’t need it anytime soon, since we won’t have students in the building until the fall.  It was just a simple thing to stock up on and Amazon usually has decent prices.  I clicked it and forgot about it.

Then, VOILA.  What shows up on my doorstep in less than 24 hours?  The 8 reams of paper I didn’t really need for months, in a large box marked “HEAVY.”

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I was shocked.  Really?

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the books I ordered weeks ago, the items I truly needed now – or even last month.

I guess this probably sounds quibblesome to many.  A definite first-world problem.  Maybe it’s selfish of me to wish I could have somehow deemed my books essential items.  After all, they are what I am using to work on my mindset and my future wealth.  I get that books aren’t at the top of many people’s priority lists. Screens are more an essential for most these days, and others have said that focusing long enough to read in these troubled times is impossible.  But for me, books have been a saving grace.  And for those who are isolating alone, I can imagine books can be essential for some.

Still, I can wait.  What was sillier to me was my heavy, cumbersome box of Atomic Orange copy paper, which I didn’t need anytime soon, zipped to my home address like it was on the Pony Express.  Can I find a way to trade my priorities?  Or somehow push the paper down the delivery list so the urgently essential items (whatever those are) can get to their destinations more quickly?

But in the end, who decides what is essential?  And why? It’s different around the world, and not without controversy.  Amazon, who started out in the book industry, now has books as non-essential items.  Amazon, you’ve forgotten where you came from!  (The conspiracy theorist in me says, of course they don’t want us to read!  Reading means we can think for ourselves!  They’re trying to limit our access to information.  And did I mention that the LIBRARIES ARE CLOSED??!?)

Calm down, Beth. Really though, it’s probably not much more than another shuffling sign of the times in the age of corona.  And it brings a new appreciation for the conveniences I took for granted. And a whole lot of neon-colored paper collecting dust in the cupboard.