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!

 

 

 

 

 

awareness, balance

Boredom Rings at Odd Times

2:40 am and the house is super quiet. Not a creature is stirring, but I seem bored.

My mind is racing but on much of nothing. What am I going to do tomorrow? Nothing big? What can I do? Nothing big? What should I do? Nothing really?

I doubt I am alone but what are others worried about? Food, shelter, essentials and how to support themselves. Maybe that what’s keeping me awake.

An acquaintance in the restaurant industry that is a server. His livelihood relies upon customers, tips and his restaurant being in operation. None of those things are available currently. This impacts his ability to pay his rent, buy food and basically survive. I am worried for him.

The two young adults learning to navigate early adulthood living on their own. Living paycheck to paycheck. Having no cushion for next week let alone a month. Both hourly workers in an industry cutoff by the corona virus. How will their mental health fare during this time? Will they springboard and value the importance of saving for a rainy day?

My friend’s family owns a restaurant. My friend is a hair dresser. My friend is a mechanic. My friend owns a gym. They all have families, budgets, bills, and employees. They have to make hard decisions to survive. Some are in states with mandatory shutdowns of their business. Business is always risky but nobody forecasted the world halting like it did recently. How will this impact these friends in the short term and the long term?

Those caring for elderly. The heightened scare for their health due to underlying problems. The isolation. Will this solidarity kill them? Will they give up on their own because it’s just too much to cope with at their age?

I think I worry about the mental health of many connected to me. The stress, the anxiety, the unknown all hinges on fear. When fear is constant on the news, on the internet, in the government, on the radio, in the desolate streets one needs to have coping skills. And I’m not just talking about phone a friend because you need multiple options for coping and navigating these unchartered and turbulent times. One friend can’t solve or take on that burden themselves.

You may need to call a doctor. You mean need to reach out to a phone hotline. You may need to research stress relievers for your type of triggers. You might need to take up a hobby like cooking. It’s also critical to include exercise. Sometimes exercise can be overlooked in this type of crisis, but exercise can be a form a stress relief and add mental clarity.

I am working out at home daily. Inside or outside depending on the weather. Different movements than usual and maybe more bite-sized packets of workouts than long hard workouts. Mostly depends on the day and what I have to knock out.

I can’t forget to mention two friends in two different parts of country suffering from cancer. Both mid-stream in treatment. Extensive treatment that absolutely requires isolation. They live in fear of not only their cancer but now the virus lurking around them. Their risk is so much higher. Their stress has to be maxed. Their family full of endless worry. My heart bleeds for these folks.

My friends on the front lines. The nurses, doctors, x-ray tech, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, and others involved in care giving in the present. They are all handling their duties so well, full of pride and boundless energy. I am full of gratitude to those of you I know near and far. Keep working hard.

I guess when I started this blog I noted I was bored. In reality I am probably just worried. Troubled mind thinking of others. Clearly I can’t cure the virus or solve the problems of all the folks above. I can however offer hope, kindness and positive vibes to those I interact with.

I will find little ways to brighten people’s day around me. Even if brief it’s my contribution. My efforts that I can control. Today their are many things out of my control but I choose my attitude. I choose my efforts. I can make an impact. Small maybe but if I motivate one person I did something.

Even if we are on lockdown we can all offer hope to others. I guess I should have named this post hope not boredom. Signing off to sleep a little more now that my mind is at peace. What a wonderful method of relaxation, writing. That’s a little tidbit for you. Grab a journal and write your thoughts down while you navigate this challenging time. Writing is therapeutic from my perspective.

challenges, dare to be different

5 Words Fast

Find 5 words quick that sum up your identity. Do the exercise quickly. If you are not done yet, you took too long.

Now that you have five words, drop 2. I bet that was hard.

Drop another word off the list. I bet that was harder.

Now you reached the crossroad! You have two words left. You must drop one more word. What did you choose? Is it accurate?

This a great activity for a family, a work group, a group of lifetime friends, or just your spouse.

I did this within a business setting for a work activity. It was interesting. My word was experience. I liked my outcome. My life experience defines me. These same experiences shape me. This activity was a good one and this why I am sharing.

I did this with my daughter who is a teen. It was confirmation of how she views herself in that awkward life time. I did the exercise with a few others and the outcomes were eye opening for some and predictable for others.

No matter what the outcome, I encourage you to try this exercise on yourself. Pass it on to somebody new. You may learn something cool about yourself and others.

Embrace the awkward and go for it. 5 words. Just five words. Now remind yourself on a calendar for one year from now. See if your five words change.

When you are cooped up for a while and the board games get boring try this activity to shake it up. You can also change the five words to five things you can’t live without given the state we live in currently. Be flexible and remember to revisit this exercise in a year. It will be great to see how your mind may shift in time.

Good luck!

friendship, health

My Photo Reel is Real

Recently I looked back on my photo reel for multiple reasons. I needed to showcase a moment. I needed to cherish a memory. I needed proof of something with a date stamp. So many reasons with purpose.

Having a photo reel is as real as it gets. It’s a book of pictures. My memory reel. Having this at my fingertips on Instagram, Facebook or my iPhone is confirmation of the digital age but also purposeful.

No need to dig through boxes to find the right year and month. I can just scroll online. Such a time saver. Such a space saver too. Then the assembling of photos to make a tribute is equally amazing. With today’s digital age we can add music and edit as we wish.

For those out there that say too many pictures are annoying I say screw you. My online catalog of photos is my photo reel for my real life. I plan to use these photos when the need arises.

Everyone has a purpose. In my purpose work I connect on many levels. Photos and videos are part of my connection. As I wrote about taking the class and read the book in the past, I am choosing to add one more dare: TAKE THE PICTURE!

Capture the moments. Save them your way (public or private). Use them when you need them most. Don’t be shy. I loved polaroid pics back in the day and the instant gratification they provided. Today my thrill rolls ahead with time and is captured in my growing photo reel(s). I also love that my friends know how I much I like pics (see above).

My life is worth sharing. I choose to share my photo reel or a portion of it. Say cheese!

In today’s turbulent times, make sure you capture the time you are spending in isolation. Create a virtual friend group and connect with photos and videos. I know I am actively doing this with my private groups to foster community and share smiles. It’s very therapeutic and may be vital to some in isolation.

Use technology to your advantage today, tomorrow and the next day. See the clip below from a recent friend share:

 

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friendship, inspire

The Card Collection

I love me a good card on a special occasion. What does a good card consist of? There isn’t a perfect answer as many cards fit the good quality measure. Especially when given at the right time.

I have some memorable cards that I have received as a sports coach over the years. The content made me so proud that I treasure them.

I also have some cards from those I have mentored over the years. The heartfelt messages of gratitude are fuel for many years ahead and I cherish those cards and the memories involved.

Then I have the birthday card collection. Over the years I save a fair share of these from all the special people in my life. Some funny. Some direct. Some mysterious. Some are even weird.

The ones who took the time to find that card that suits me all so well may just be my all time favorite to hold on to. Luckily I have some amazing people in my life who know how to give me the right card at the right time. These are extra special for many reasons but mainly they are signed and personalized by my dear friends.

With a recent birthday passing I was able to reflect and smile thinking about how lucky I am. I even like a hand drawn card.

Oh I even have a few special cards from my aunts who are no longer alive. One is a Christmas card that was sent to me but written to somebody else. This is a classic card to save. Who knows maybe I’ll rehome it one day for giggles. Then an inspirational card from one of my favorite aunts who just took time during a challenging time in life to send me words of comfort sharing her story of challenge and how she overcame obstacles.

I have anniversary cards and sweetheart cards that all cover so much history. So many cards over the years. I wonder how many people have a card collection like mine? I also love those little note cards that hold powerful words of inspiration.

Customizing a card takes very little time. Pass on a little gratitude today in a note or pick out that special card for somebody important in your life. I’m sure they will appreciate the kindness. They may even collect cards like me.

Enjoy your day today and live like a super hero. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

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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celebrations, coaching

Growing Up Fast

They may not be fully grown but they represent a few of my maturing players. Many team colors over the years but the same great kids and lots and lots of memories.

I have known this group since they were in elementary school. I wasn’t their only coach but I was fortunate to have them with me for a few seasons, reasons, tournaments and so on.

We built strong bonds. We built trust. We giggled. We traveled from state to state many times and boy do we have car stories to tell. They got better in the sport they love. They had their glow up. Now they are in high school. Almost ready for college.

They are now working as volunteers to pass their knowledge on to the younger kids coming up in the ranks. Something they probably didn’t imagine when they first suited up in their lacrosse gear for the first time. This picture was taken in the state of Alabama about 5 years ago.

I have a front row seat in watching them excel as leaders on and off the field. They don’t get paid. They work hard. They are role models. From brace-faced young girls to whistle-blowing officials. These girls have grown up all things lacrosse. They are now choosing to volunteer in the sport that has afforded them so much. This gem of photo was a first 3 v 3 tournament in the Sunshine State back in 2016.

These girls may not see the value of what they are doing today but they are leading by example. Those they are mentoring and will later mentor others. They will springboard off this leadership experience as they head off to college. Their team bonding will crossover into the workplace one day. This keepsake photo was after a hard fought championship game in sunny South Carolina in 2017.

They are tomorrow’s workers. They have a solid foundation. They will be successful. I will enjoy watching them grow into greatness. How can I not include the toy soldier photo from a holiday tournament held in Georgia every year. One that is festive and full of crazy costumes and most notable is the cold temperatures and bad weather that comes with a December tournament.

This is why I coach. I love being a part of these girls’ stories and I love having them a part of mine. From costumes to travel and beyond the sport of lacrosse has bonded these girls for years. They are there for each other when times are challenging and they push each other when the need arises.

As many of my lacrosse girls approach adulthood, this is my big thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I remember so many of my coaches throughout life and the lessons they taught me. I hope my players remember me one day and the memories we made.

So many hurdles for these girls and other athletes who had their seasons interrupted because of the Coronavirus scare. Uncharted territory. The closest reminder for me was 9/11 however none of these girls even remember 9/11 as they were not born yet. What a crazy reflection in this growing up post.

I now feel old and experienced in life having seen the Gulf War, 9/11 and now Coronavirus. Crazy to think my parents talked about the potato famine and I get to tell stories about the toilet paper famine.

This post is for my three musketeer trio and those junior coaches that paved the way before them. You know who you are.