author moments, featured

Gratitude and Goodbye, 2020

Despite all the crappiness of 2020, I had a decent year. I learned a ton. I adventured some. I said hello to new friends. I watched as some friendships faded with COVID. I traveled a little stateside. I tried many new things. I hit some goals. I mapped out some new goals. Overall, a successful year in the books.

I am also grateful for my opportunity to write. From journals to picture books to blog posts and beyond. I truly get to enjoy my creative side in many ways through words, pictures and experiences. Many may dream of this life. Few will take the less traveled path. For me it’s part of the journey. 

The learning experience. The sharing of life’s ups and downs and all that is hidden in between. Sharing my lens view with the world from my digital device. Leaving a time capsule for my future grandkids. 

Chipping away at the 1095 Days project that has so much depth the cutting room floor will literally be covered. Years in the making amidst a pandemic of all odd things. So many twists and turns. Editing will not be for the weak at heart.

Thank you to all who follow this blog. Click through to our website. Like our posts. Share our stories. You are our inspiration. From a tiny town in small town USA to a high-tech suburb in Germany. You are appreciated. To all those new countries we reached this year, thank you for popping in to our virtual world.

I may not make it to your home country but hope you visit our site often. We can be virtual pals. It’s the cool thing of 2020. You never know what post is part of our bigger book projects or how we will flip a switch and cover some new topic you were not expecting. Some stories are about adventuring. Some hit on tough life paths. Some hit on the life of a parent. Some even cover emotional states. We offer depth. We over variety. We offer inspiration.

Our site is free to our readers. No ads. No big frills. Just 2 chicks writing their way. Today. Tomorrow. Into the future we go. Just like that. Keep following. A goal every year is to reach a larger audience. We continue down that path because of you. Just one forward. Just one repost. That’s all it takes to multiply our readership. Help us make 2021 a big reader year and share our stories if they touch you in a special way.

*The list of countries above is not all inclusive. However, it’s a snapshot of some of areas of growth in 2020. With travel restrictions limiting international travel it is great to know we virtually put our mark on at least some readers abroad. 

Wishing everyone a happy, sane and safe 2021.

dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.

 

 

 

adventure

Spring’s Simple Pleasures

Is it just me, or is this the longest spring season in recorded history?

And no, this isn’t really a post about how difficult it has been to be cooped up indoors a lot, separated from friends, missing out on events, and so on.  (If you’re looking for that, try these posts.)

I don’t remember spring ever lasting this long because it is usually lacrosse season, celebration season, end of work season, and so on.  We are often driving and juggling and cheering and volunteering and working nonstop.  And I love and miss a lot of that.  But this season has allowed me to notice and enjoy spring in new ways. I have always loved fall above all else, but I’m now seeing that spring has its charms.

Couple that with my commitment to be more intentional about spending money and I am finding myself relishing small, simple pleasures.

I’ve mentioned the morning reading that has replaced my sometimes frantic commute.  Quiet, candle, coffee and a book starts my day most of the time.  You’d think a librarian would read a lot, but I honestly don’t make the time for it that I should.  Right now I am going into my physical building to work for a few weeks, so reading time is short but I try not to miss it.

Bike rides.  What would I do without my bike?  I’m sort of obsessed with it.  I keep it on my car pretty much all the time and biking on the back seat inside just in case the opportunity to ride presents itself.  Cruising new paths in the sunshine with my riding partner is happiness and adventure when going very far from home isn’t happening.  It feels like a mini-vacation and is one of the few times I feel truly care-free.

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I am a farmer’s market fanatic.  The pandemic has caused many local farmers to revamp their business models.  I’ve been able to order flowers and farm boxes and pick them up safely.  I actually love that I can order what I like and have it held for me.  It’s frustrating to drive all the way to the market only to find they already sold out of my favorite sungold tomatoes or, later, September Wonder apples.

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Which reminds me, it is almost tomato season here where we live.  I look forward to these summer veggies all year.  Right now we are in the heart of strawberry season. I found an hour the other day to drive out to a strawberry farm and pick a couple of buckets.  If you have never had strawberries straight from the vine (or tomatoes for that matter) you are missing out.  It’s a totally different taste than supermarket berries.  And the experience of picking them myself in the hot sun was sweet and reflective. Fresh strawberries are one of the sweeter things in life. It’s been great to share them with people who appreciate them.

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What simple pleasures have you rediscovered in these hard times? Walks?  Game nights? Family dinners?  Tell us in the comments.

 

dare to be different

Life is Tricky

What does one do when they have extra time? For me I have cleaned a ton. I shopped more than I should online. I made headway on many house projects. I did many arts and crafts projects. I worked on my budget planning and even took a financial survey (results below). Kept up with workouts including group challenges virtually and so much more. The point is I’m still planning ahead with the actions I’m taking! I’m not living in the past or in the darkness. I’m looking at what’s ahead on the horizon.

One area that has caught my eye a bit is slowing the life pace down. Smelling the fresh cut grass. Listening to the birds chirp. Playing games and adjusting to a much slower work pace. By no means am I not working but everything seems in slow motion of sorts. It won’t last forever but it’s given me time to pause and appreciate surroundings. Microsoft even told me my email chirps have been slowed the last 14 days so I have confirmation from big brother!

My pause could be a walk outside during a work day. It could be doing 30 sit-ups an hour in between phone calls because working at home nobody cares if you do a workout at your desk, right? It could be hand written note from a friend I get in the mail or writing one to a person in need.

As I’ve adjusted to a new normal, a new routine has set in. I stay up later. I sleep in later and everything in between is arranged in alternate ways. There are many things that I do differently or less of, etc. in lockdown. There are things I thought I would miss that I don’t. There are people I miss greatly and some I don’t. How will I re-enter society when bans are lifted? That’s the big question and why I think life is tricky.

45 days ago I was on a fast-paced rigid path. Now I’m on more of a yellow brick road skipping down the path in a more carefree manner. Where will I go tomorrow? I’m leaning toward climbing a hill or mountain of sorts.

Time to change it up and see what sticks and what doesn’t. Time to broaden the horizon and be thankful for the new or refreshed look on life. Post-corona will look different for many. I plan to adjust to my surroundings, truly live more in the moment and focus on what’s in front of me while keeping an eye on the big picture.

I plan on helping those around me weather the storm. There are many young people coping with real struggles now. There are many elderly with different struggles and everything in between. Just like my days look different so do others. What was normal before corona will not be the same. In time life will adjust but in the interim I plan to adapt and help many in my own way.

I’m getting excited to see how high the mountain is along with the terrain. I never choose the easy route. I always look for the bumpy road with twists and turns. The terrain will make me stronger in my mind and hopefully in body and spirit. What tools will I need or have for my journey?

Hang tight! The all clear will come soon for many in stages. We just need to continue to exercise our patience muscles.

What will you do different post-corona? Life can be tricky. How will you adapt to life’s curveballs? I can’t wait for the fresh start. Maybe I will see more of you on the other side of corona or maybe not.

awareness

Need Help?

In today’s ever-changing world many people need help. Maybe from the stress of what’s in front of them and maybe the stress that is indirectly hitting them.

This post is meant to be a resource page. It may not help everyone who reads this post but it’s meant to offer hope in what is a challenging time for many.

If you were impacted by recent storms in the southern United States, the above number may be helpful.

If you or anyone you know is having trouble coping with the stress relating to managing life during COVID-19, this suicide prevention help line may be a resource worth sharing.

If you reside in the great state of Georgia, the above COVID-19 support resource list may be just what you need access to.

Remember we are all in this crazy mess together. Taking advantage of a free resource or passing on such information is prevention education. It’s a way to offer hope in a challenging time.

2 Chicks and a Pen consider mental health of utmost concern these days. We do our part to write online to motivate others as well as offer hope when needed. If these resources don’t cover your geographical area, find some that do and pass the information on.

You never know who is struggling in silence. With many forced into reclusive environments a lifeline resource can be a life-saving option.

Hugs and love from 2Chicks. We are smiling big at you!