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!

 

 

 

 

 

perspective

Flip Flopping Frustrations

This morning my frustrations were mounting.  The workouts I decided on weren’t what I expected.  My home gym equipment kept failing or falling over.  I wasn’t sweating enough.  The scale was up.  My morning reading time didn’t settle my mind as it usually does.  Another day of staring at a computer screen (aka working from home) was about to begin. Anger, irritation, all of it piling up, no end in sight.

Woe is me.

I had a come to Jesus with myself and told myself to quit griping.  Yes, a lot of the pandemic pandemonium sucks but we are making it work.  I told myself to make a list of my frustrations then flip them into reasons to be grateful.  Some remind me to be grateful for what I have now, others remind me to be grateful for what I used to have and will hopefully return to.  Here it is:

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It’s in the notebook I’ve set aside to chronicle this crazy time. I’ve read in several places that journaling, while always important, is especially valuable now, for mental health as well as historical reasons.  We are living history. I know I will add more pages of frustration as this time wears on.  I’ll keep reading it and reminding myself to flip my frustrations into appreciation.

Spring break begins today.  What would have been sweet relief and possibly getting out of town is not a shelter-in-place order that will last two weeks.  Our one week off of school will be followed by at least three more of learning from home.  I will spend time preparing my mind for these challenges this week.  I’ll also devote some time to gratitude to friends, family, and those who are serving on the front lines of this crisis.  And hopefully get out into the sunshine and nature often with those who are closest to me.

When you start to get stuck or go down the path of anxiety, see if you can flip your thinking.  Focus on gratitude and what you can control. What switch can you flip today?

family

What Was Taken?

Coronavirus has taken many things from many people but today it took my mom away from my dad of recent.

My dad lives in assisted living / memory care. My mom does not but she visits him daily. Due to all the health concerns she can’t visit him like she normally does daily. Hours of companionship lost. Talk about sad. On top of that she watches the news and sees messages of people age 80 and older will be left to die in places like Italy. I can’t even imagine her mindset.

This is traumatic for her and we can only imagine how hard it is on my dad. We have no way to tell him why nobody is there to visit. And if we did he may forget thanks to his memory. I mean sure he can get a message but he relies so much on the human interaction face-to-face. This process repeats daily and is vital.

Touch and visual stimulation of familiar faces vs. care workers is something that is hard to quantify but it’s part of his daily living. His days are limited. It seems like time is being wasted without visits.

I have to fly to visit. I am set to visit in a short time. Will I be denied access due to flying to see him? Will I even be allowed to fly as it seems each day gets worse.

Will he think we deserted him? Will his health decline? So many questions. No real answers. Time is all we have yet it seems like there is never enough time.

Coronavirus you have taken many things away from many people. Taking the elderly away from their family is just something I didn’t expect nor do I want.

Jobs will be lost. Financial woes are upon us. Small businesses will suffer. I am not one for negative vibes but this post is part of my own personal therapy as my normal has changed along with many others.

My blog is my keepsake of these troubled times. I may not want to remember but as long as I am able I will post away.

A big sigh from me as I wait with the rest of the world. My situation may be far less stressful than some but seeing anyone close to you suffer is never easy.

As one with Irish heritage, I post this today in hopes of good luck and good fortune for all. Happy St. Patrick’s day!

May this Irish wish grant you some peace or a smile. ☘️ 💋 ☘️

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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working women

Road Trip Woes

This month has been a whirlwind of sorts. Had to travel for work. Had to travel as a coach. Had to travel for personal events. This translated into lots of miles in the car and days away from routine and comfort.

Adding mileage to the car was the easy part of the trip. The challenge was having to find a way to get my exercise miles in for my fitness goals. I had to make friends or enemies with the hotel gyms over and over again. I had to make do with the options I had.

First trip leg was monsoon-like weather conditions. Heavy rains cause accidents and delayed arrivals. Leg two was just long and boring. Nothing exciting to report except arriving where the weather was much warmer. Hoping for a good night’s sleep in hotel #1.

Life on the road whether for business or pleasure always makes routines challenging. From getting to the gym, eating healthy and sleeping well you have to be persistent and self-disciplined. Nobody makes the time and effort but you. Trust me when I say this.

Hotel 1 had a gym that was a few buildings away as it was a shared campus setting with a couple of hotel brands. This was not the end of the world but it made me less likely to work out because of the distance I had to go. Excuse #1 on the trip.

Next challenge was group meals. Those who want to dine out, get dessert and and and. I’m going to have to put in some serious work when I return to make up for my travel diet. Meal prep, healthy snacks and access to my fridge and kitchen make a big difference. This is definitely a crappy element of travel.

Before I’m on to leg 2, I must admit I’m a fitness freak. A freak of sorts passionate about all things that equate to a healthy lifestyle. This trip was further confirmation for me personally. I was active, but my intensity level was diminished. My constantly varied fitness regimen was more limited to walking. Walk slow in a group or walk slow carrying a load. Either way my Apple Watch wasn’t dinging up the active points as easily.

Let’s add in stress. Environmental stress. Travel stress. Poop stress which is defined as the inability to consistently regulate one’s bowel movements compliments of poor eating choices when on the road. I would say this makes travel just blah, which is an irony I found in the form of a sign of bathroom stall at one of my business meetings…..wait for it:

Was somebody trying to tell me something? It’s interesting that I was writing this post mid-trip and boom this was front and center in the restroom. I guess that’s why I’m opting to share this wisdom with you. I mean who doesn’t like a good poop story anyway? 

And then the fire alarm at the hotel at 3 am sort of added a wrinkle into the trip. It’s hard to fall back to sleep after the extremely loud alarm is piercing your ears for many minutes. It could have been a real fire and a lot worse but the sound of crying kids above and below you in a hotel at that hour is not fun from the backlash of the alarm. Again it could have been much worse but it was still aggravating.

On the road again and guess what? Rain! It’s raining again. Not just a sprinkle, the monsoon-like raining that is a pain to drive in. Extra stationary time in the car, how fun?

Another hotel in the books. A little work. A little less play. On to another stretch of roadway that is pretty desolate. Miles and miles of nothing. Driving this stretch of road is similar to watching paint dry. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

A brief pit stop to see my puppy and relieve my dog sitter then back on the road again. Wasn’t I just on this stretch of road? Why yes I was. Same route, different destination. Add in a new playlist to spice up the road trip. Karaoke party of one here I come!

And who would have guessed? More rain. A lot more rain making road travel that much more of a pain in the rear. Back in the saddle I go for a few weeks until my next trip which is by plane in a few short weeks. Time to get back on my routine. My fitness and eating healthy routine. No excuses!

Thanks for being a passenger on my road trip to what seemed like nowhere. But I did go somewhere. And I have lots of memories some which I shared and some which I didn’t. I guess that’s the beauty of being a storyteller. I choose what I tell and don’t tell.

family, health

Getting Old Sucks

Getting old sucks on many levels. Your joints hurt. You become less flexible. Your hair either falls out or turns grey. You mobility eventually diminishes. And then your mind starts slipping. What doesn’t suck about all that?

Watching a loved one deteriorate is as debilitating as watching an addict dip deeper into their darkness. You see it in the coloring of their face. You see it in their gait. Maybe even in the speech or memory. You see it in their eyes. You see it. You live it. You hurt because of it. It’s a rippling and crippling effect if you let it consume you.

Its hard to watch whether near or far. Its challenging to not be consumed with the stress and worry as loved ones make hard decisions over and over again. Is it the right choice? Would I make that choice? Was enough money saved to cover the exorbitant care for seniors at a staffed facility? Will the staff take good care of your loved ones or is it more like sending them off to jail?

So many questions. No real answers. I don’t want to grow old for this reason alone. I want to stay as youthful as I can and live every day as if it was my last. In my experience elders of today don’t want to burden their adult children who live busy and hectic lives. I get that but then I think fast forward to when I am old. My kids grew up in a whole different world than I did. Landscape may be the same but the environment is so different. How will my kids handle me when I am older? I don’t even want to know the answer to that.

How will my family react when I reach the age of interventions and difficult decisions? I think it is time for a time capsule of sorts. One that will list my wishes as of today while I am of sound mind and body. Not my will and who gets what in my estate. What I need to remind myself of when its time to make the hard decisions that I might be too emotionally invested in to see the forest for the trees. One that can be a reminder when I am old and stubborn of what it was like when I was faced with the challenges of managing my parents’ future golden years and / or torture years as end of life nears.

Death is never anything one wants to talk about yet it is always something one should be aware of. Sudden death. Accidental death. Tragic death. Natural death. They all lead to the same harsh reality. And there is always a mess to clean up. A funeral. Tidying up of affairs. Settling unfinished business. Coping with the sorrow of loss. Moving on without that person(s). Wishing for just one more day. One more holiday. One more birthday.

I wrote this post before the tragedy involving Kobe Bryant and the others who perished in the helicopter crash (big news story). This would classify as a tragic and unexpected death. One that has lots of suffering for the ones left behind. Tomorrow is never promised. Make sure you tell those around you how important they are to you each and every day. You don’t want to live with the regrets if you are confronted with an unplanned death.

This isn’t a happy or sad post. Rather it is a matter of fact, in-your-face kind of think-out-loud post. One that may make you think of those aging close to you or maybe it may make you think of future planning or maybe it will even have you crying because of your past history. Whatever category you fall into, thanks for reading. This is just my vent to the world as I mutter my way through the life of aging with my once active folks who are now ornery, lonely, troubled, and at wit’s end with what to do next for 101 reasons.

I also thought I would publicly share that when I am old, I plan to be in the Senior Olympics. The event is still undetermined but I do plan to excel in whatever event chooses me. Betty White, an original Golden Girl, turned 98 about the time I wrote this post. The radio referred to her a sex symbol back in her day so I figure I can be a Senior Games athlete in my future. xoxo from cyber space