giving

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

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Since we’ve been at home more in recent days (following social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines), passing the time has presented challenges. Yup, to put it bluntly, at times we are just plain bored.

My daughter had been asking to go shopping for painting supplies for about a month, well before the virus hit our home state. Then, like many other families, we went from extremely busy to having very little to do, but unable to go out and get much of anything that isn’t truly necessary.

So, I started rummaging.

And out came…watercolor paints (metallic, matte, at least 4 sets!), watercolor pads (in 2 sizes!), paintbrushes, pastels.  Voila! Art is possible.

Where did it all come from? When my kids were younger, in addition to the toys and candy-stuffed eggs, I would always put an art supply or two in their Easter baskets. Who knows why?  Just to balance things out.  Most of these art supplies were left on the living room floor along with the torn candy wrappers and cracked plastic eggs.  I’d eventually tuck the artsy stuff in a drawer along with the ones from the year before and all the other art supplies I’d collected through years of teaching, student-ing, and projects galore. Now, it’s all coming out to play.

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In these times of slower pace and waiting, many people are taking up old-fashioned pleasures.

Friends are asking, too…the group chat question about sidewalk chalk…so many people are chalking messages of encouragement or just drawing on the driveway with extra time.  And, lo and behold, of course I have a shiny unopened box of 48 Crayola sidewalk chalks! (I’ve probably had it for 5 years!) Sure, I will share them! Don’t thank me, thank the Easter bunny! (and, okay, my hoarding tendencies…which this whole situation does not help, by the way. But that’s a different post.)

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(Seriously, that big box of sidewalk chalk is in this Easter photo from 2011. Yes, 2011!  Over a decade ago!  Yikes!!!)

Add in a long-ago purchased rolling table from Ikea that I never set up and presto, it’s our own little mobile art station.  And we’re using the portion of the chalk we kept to cheer up outside.

Making stuff and sharing art and time are doing our hearts and minds good.  When I think of Easter coming in a couple of weeks, I am not sure what it will look like.  But for now, we are celebrating and sharing with creativity, with gifts from Easters past that are suddenly gifts all over again.

How are you passing any idle time, in old ways or new? Board games, card games?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

balance

When Life is Subject to Change Without Notice

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Competing in next week’s big game.

Carefree time on the 3-day weekend.

A long planned-for (paid for!) international adventure.

Taking in the beauty of the first farmer’s markets of the season.

All things to look forward to.  Now, all on hold.

When the Coronavirus started to rapidly unfold in America last week, I said to a new friend “it feels like everything now has an asterisk next to it.  Everything is to be announced, subject to change without notice.”  I didn’t know what that meant then, a few short days ago.  So much happens each day.

Not only are the things we have to look forward to either canceled, postponed, or up in the air, even the basic routines of life are disrupted.  Will I go to work next week, and if so where and for how long?  My daughter is unexpectedly doing school online for a while. How will that go? You’d think she would be thrilled, but she groaned when I told her.  She said she will miss school, even with the ridiculously early wakeups and late nights getting home from practice.  She loves her teams and her friends and being with people.

That’s really it. We look forward to people. Experiencing and sharing life with them.

Now it’s all social distancing. Abundance of caution. Flatten the curve. A curve ball I wasn’t anticipating.

I’ll admit, the uncertainty has gotten me glum or a little anxious at times.  Even though I’m sometimes overwhelmed by my typically busy life, I love what I do.  I’ve started to reflect and appreciate the joyfully-packed life I get to lead most of the time. And I know it will return.

At the moment, I am living in the present more so than I have in a while.  The calendar is suddenly much emptier than it was.  The urgency of a lot of things is gone. It’s very strange, living in the time of to be announced.

As for healthy hacks? What helps me today is focusing on what I can control.  Exercise. Nutrition. Cleaning. Routines. Basics. Patience.  Taking some time to get outside to appreciate the signs of spring that are popping up (see the pics!) Nature has a rhythm that continues and comforts in times of upheaval. Keeping the amount of news and social media I consume at a reasonable level.  I have had a rocky time with several of these already, but I’m trying.

I choose focused over frantic. Present over pessimistic.  Peaceful over panicked.

Choose daily.

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challenges

Friday the 13th Meets Coronavirus

It’s Friday the 13th. Lock yourself inside. Hide. The world is under attack of corona. Not the beer, the virus.

Pause the youth sports activities, indefinitely. Talk about dealing with sad kids. As a coach this is uncharted territory, to see seasons cancelled. This is an emotional change for kids and most coaches are not prepared to guide their athletes.

Resume school via digital learning. Locking the kids up at home. I can juggle but what about parents with kids who can’t. Panic will set in. Sheer panic.

What about the people who rely on food pantries. Will people forgot to make donations? Those kids may not get the free lunch they are used to at school. Digital saves one problem but creates another. Creative solutions in some places bring hope. If kids can’t take the bus to school for lunch, the bus will bring the lunch to them.

Postpone group meetings, team picnic, conference and various other events with multiple people. People still need to work. How will commerce keep moving? How will people meet their contract deliverables if commerce is halted?

Pray for all the college students abroad on spring break that may be stuck for a while outside the US. Think about the emotional state of coming back from spring break to be told to remove your belongings immediately from dorms. This is happening!

Cancel spring break flights stateside. Or maybe not. Some will take advantage of cheap flights to escape the madness. The tourism industry is going to take a hit.

Don’t dip your hands in the chalk bucket at the gym. You might catch something…

Just hit pause on life.

Check in on friends quarantined from cruise. 14 days in a barracks at 80 years old. Wow just wow.

Watch the news or not.

Write a blog about the chaos and hysteria.

Buy toilet paper if there is any left.

Why isn’t there a soap shortage?

Shouldn’t we be washing our hands?

Listen to people thrust their opinions on you of why we are in the state of hysteria relating to coronavirus.

Go wash hands again.

Find new shows to watch on Netflix.

Answer stupid text questions from people who appear to live under a rock.

Continue living in a bubble.

Try to stay positive about the economy.

Shop online and hope FedEx still delivers.

Clean the house.

Wash hands again.

Pray for all my fellow small business owners who will suffer because of this craziness we are living in.

A big thank to the humorists in my life….

 

healthy hacks

Hydration Challenge

We all know water is good for us.  I’ve heard a huge range of amounts we should drink.  Our body weight in ounces, half our body weight in ounces, a gallon a day, on and on.

I’ve come a long way since I was drinking 6 – 8 cans of Diet Coke a day and basically no water unless it came to the restaurant table before I ordered a Diet Coke.  But, upping my water is still a challenge.  The truth is, I get just plain bored with just plain water.

How to change water up and make it more interesting and drinkable?  For a long time, I was on the lemon water train.  Then I changed it up with lime. Both are refreshing but it didn’t take too long for me to tire of them.

I changed jobs about 18 months ago and one of my favorite things about my new school is infused water.  The flavors change each week.  Sometimes it is blueberry pineapple, sometimes cucumber mint, sometimes even a citrus blend of orange, lime, and lemon.  I started drinking 2 cups a day at the beginning and end of lunch.  Then, I decided to try to finish my coffee a little earlier so I could move on to water by 10:00 am.  Now I’m drinking three or four 16 ounce cups of infused water each day.

I’ve even gotten to the point where I infuse my first insulated tumbler of water at home in the morning that travels with me to work or the gym.  A chunk of pineapple and a few raspberries adds just enough flavor to make the water craveable. I don’t really crush anything, just throw it in there. I don’t eat a ton of fruit anymore, but I get a lot of flavor from these fruity infusions. The pop of color from the raspberries makes me smile, too.

When I get home at the end of the evening, I switch to sparkling unsweetened water.  I still love carbonation and it gives me enough of a change to keep drinking throughout the night.

Another little healthy hack from the 2 Chicks. What tricks have you used to increase the amount of water you drink?  Cheers from Chick 2!

 

celebrations

What a Craptastic Day

Today was a challenge from start to finish but some how late in the afternoon I made the day my bitch! That’s sort of the irony of headline word craptastic.

The dictionary states the word means remarkably poor quality which is true of my day. However I look at the word a little different. To me it’s a fusion crappy and fantastic which is really what my day was like. It started crappy and then I hit a patch allowing it to elevate to fantastic. The end of day net result is the smushing up of the two words.

Quirky explanation I’m sure but that is me in a nut shell. There were obviously many factors that made the day a trying one. It started with my doggie having an accident at 6am when I was rushing to the gym. One phone call/email after another I seemed to hit obstacles. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t give up. I just kept pushing through. Very much like I pushed through all my burpees this morning!

Boom there it was. The successful piece of the day I needed. It hit a little after 4pm out the blue. That little nugget allowed me to springboard into finishing the day strong. There were times I didn’t think I was gonna get out of the hole I was buried in, but with a little good luck, positive attitude and hard work I escaped the crazy.

Shit happens all day, everyday to lots of people. It’s really up to each individual to react to their individual shit pile or shit mound. Whatever degree of doo doo you have handed to you, you can choose to let the shit pile up or get the shovel and clear the path.

Today I cleared the path. Tomorrow may have a different outcome but I can’t worry about that. I’m too busy celebrating that I slayed the day and cleared the shit. Even if it’s temporary, I won the battle today. The impossible day became my bitch.

As I rise some days the doo doo starts with me knee deep in the muck of it. I’m still here ready today. How about you? Training my mind to deal with the poo pile of life.

author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.

adventure

Relax Was All She Typed

RELAX!

The one word received by text before I left the country for vacation in the beautiful island of St. Maarten. “Relax”

 How that word sat with me on the plane ride to my destination and beyond. Relax. 

How does a high strung, fast moving girl really relax? Is it possible? The questions that ran through my mind. The soul searching that would happen over the next few days as I figured out if I am capable of relaxing and what relaxing really feels like.

Routine went out the window first thing. No up early to workout. This was a first change of routine in over 4 years. Is this relaxing or was I stressed because I was breaking my routine? I did a shoulder shrug to myself repeatedly when I thought about this change.  Instead of working out hard core, I opted for a casual walk to a quaint little bakery kiosk where I was greeted by a bubbly island girl each morning. A creature of habit, I ordered the same thing each day. A plain but buttery croissant and a jug of orange juice. Both of these are not normal items I would have in the morning or in general but this week was about doing things differently. I was choosing to select differently while on vacation. Maybe not the best choice for balancing carbs / fats / proteins, but for this vacation break I was not worrying about what time I was eating and so on. Just like I wasn’t worried about writing on my blog. I was “checked” out on island time.

Island time is interesting. Everything moves slowly. People are extra bubbly and social. It was easy for me to go to bed early and sleep late each day. I had nowhere to rush to. No deadlines to meet. No bosses to answer to.  I enjoyed the sunsets, the spectacular views, the fresh smells and the people of the island I was on. I had no reason to stress over technology, business or life. There was no rushing to sports practice, no to do list, no deadlines to meet, no bosses to answer to. It seemed there were smiles everywhere. Workers smiled and greeted you at every interaction. Guests were cordial even if there was a language barrier. Island life is definitely slow. It seems to take 2-3 hours for a meal. Food is fresh, service is slow but pleasant, atmosphere is always “happy.”

At last a relaxing time of do something, nothing or whatever strikes my fancy. I snorkeled, enjoyed fish and shipwrecks in the waters below, ate many varieties of food, tasted a new drink called “ting,” rode a horse in the ocean, enjoyed a massage, and met many friendly faces. A few notable friends are described below:

New York – A sweet and sassy woman from NY whom I shared giggles with on my snorkeling trip but then found out she stayed at my resort. We bumped into each other multiple times making us new friends. 

Nix – A bus driver that was a bit quirky. He didn’t smile much and had a long face. He said the word “WOW” a lot. His quirkiness was memorable and his driving skills were interesting to say the least.

The New Zealanders – An older couple I met on a tour. A whole day spent with strangers who had a funny accent but enjoyed learning about our cultures as much as we did theirs. They arrived by cruise ship, us by plane. A chance encounter but one that left many memories. I especially enjoyed eating lunch with these new friends while we learned so much about our different countries. Again, a chance encounter that was very insightful.

John – A taxi cab driver turned tour guide. He picked us up in town at random for a ride back to the resort. He shared his cooler of drinks and gave us his card for his side hustle (tour guide). We booked a tour with the kind gentleman and spent another full day learning about the island from him. His charm, his humor, and his knowledge was a big part of our trip memories.

The cookie man – There is a cookie man and he works in a cheese shop. It may sound weird but he serves the freshest almond paste cookies at the cheese shop when you check out. These cookies were so amazing we went back for more a few days later. He was all out but he offered to make a special batch the next day. We couldn’t wait. We went back out of our way to meet the cookie man at the cheese shop to buy tons of cookies to bring home for our families. Do you think any actually made it home?

AJ – The jeweler, the joker, the hard worker. The friendliest jeweler in town. Oh, how he added to my memories this week. AJ was another chance encounter. I met a wonderful older lady on my plane ride to the island. She had been visiting this island for years and mentioned I should visit AJ should I desire any jewelry this trip. Of course I had to check out AJ and see what all the hype was about.

As you can see from the post above, I relaxed and enjoyed my island vacation, but more importantly I met new people. The kind souls that made my memories will be forever cherished. Some I will never see again, while others I hope to see sometime in the future should I make it back to this island. I never set out to meet new people nor did I have a specific goal in mind for my trip. In the end I had a great time and have an awesome memory book of the time spent on St. Maartin.

My travel time was just right. Enough time to enjoy the relaxing life yet not too long to miss out on all that requires my time on the daily on the home front. I am thankful for many things after this week. Too many to list. As thanksgiving has recently past, I will just say I am thankful for the “relax” text as it set The tone for my week. Thank you, Kim, for the one word text! I appreciate you.

My vacation time was spent on the friendly island of St. Maarten. I spent most of my time on the Dutch side, however I did visit the French side as well as visit Anguilla and Prickly Pear on the British side. I highly recommend travel to St. Maarten and I encourage you to fly a big airline vs. a discount airline. If you make it there be sure to visit the beach by the airport to watch the planes land. It is definitely an experience.

I am leaving you with a few snapshots of my trip. It is my hope that you find some peace in the tranquil pictures. They are meant to spur thought of relaxation and happiness.

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