challenges

Upside Down or Inside Out?

Is my life upside down or inside out currently? Such a question to ponder but not a clear answer. Well I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe it’s because I don’t know what day it is or what time it is most days.

I thought about what I have lost recently:

– Time with friends
– Sports activities
– Public gatherings (birthdays, events, concerts, the list goes on)
– Business meetings / presentations
– A fast-paced lifestyle

I thought about what I gained:

– Time with family
– Time to clean
– Time to complete projects at home
– Time to plan what to do or not do when freedom returns to my world
– A subdued lifestyle 80% of the time

I thought about things I do different:

– How / what / where I eat
– Where and how I get my fitness into my daily routine
– My daily sleep / wake schedule
– How I manage my dependent’s schooling
– How I interact on a social level (virtually)

I circled back many times to passion, purpose and action. In this crazy time we’re living in, I believe I am settled in the fact that I can’t change the cards that are out in front of me but I can choose to shuffle them any way I want each day and still find my passion, my purpose and my actions or inactions.

That being said I get to choose happy or sad. I get to choose productive or lazy. I get to choose fresh air or indoor air. I still have all my freedoms to choose but my choices are just different today. They are different options than a month ago, a week ago or sometimes within hours thanks to the environmental conditions caused by corona.

I adapt to the environment. The changes. The yes and the nos. The stop signs. The temporary barriers. Then I think of all my life lessons.

How fortunate have I been this far in life? How can I learn from this experience and be better prepared for the next catastrophe? How can I live more in the present? How can I be more purposeful and passionate about actions I take each day going forward?

In a way I thank corona for turning my life upside down and inside out. We all need a good shake up now and again so we can appreciate our life in its normal state. Stripping down to the barest of bare just to rebuild the dream version of you.

I’m mindful of my health but maybe others will be more mindful of theirs because of this situation we live in now. Maybe my kids will appreciate their friends a little more. Maybe they will thank their teachers for that extra help they get in person next year. So many will see opportunities in this dark time. We all have that power to choose.

It’s important to look ahead. Stay positive. No matter how bumpy the road gets now. It’s just temporary. All good things come to those wait. We must wait patiently for this crazy time to pass.

Wonder if my life will go sideways, backwards, forward or stay upside down for the next 30 days? I guess there will be a chapter or two in my next book about the effects of corona in 2020 because it is definitely one for the record books.

Wishing all our readers near and far good health, comfort and smiles wherever you are. As many have idle time on their hands currently we are hopeful that our blog will help you pass the time in some way.

family

The Fog Rolled In Fast

It was a Friday night. A little chilly but tolerable. An outdoor event was on the agenda. All seemed normal until the riveting phone call shattered the ambient air.

A different kind of chill entered the air. A painful chill. A sudden chill. A heartfelt chill. A family member passed that chilly night.

Our beloved Axel the husky was killed tragically when he escaped from a fenced yard. A runner by design but loyal friend to the end. Axel was smart, fluffy and a joy to be around. He was the runt of the litter when we got him, overbite and all. He was just perfect for us.

Like most families we are less than perfect thus a pup with an overbite would fit right in. The breeder said don’t you want to pick a different one? Nope he was the one that we thought was special. We all loved him in an instant.

Year after year he played dress up and entertained the kids shenanigans and photo shoots. Pretty sure he made his way into many tiktoks over the years and he was always photogenic.

Axel never met a stranger. He was well-mannered but affectionate. This tragedy has left me in a fog since I found out about his fate. I can’t turn back time but I can honor his memory.

Axel was a therapy dog for one of my kids. He comforted him when rough times were upon him and he provided companionship when it was time to play. Dogs just know what their humans need.

Every time I run and want to quit, I would think Axel is running along side me in heaven and he wouldn’t quit. When I’m sad like I am now I will flip back in my photo reel and smile and say those are tears of joy not sadness as we had many good years and memories together.

When my family is sad I will support them as we work through this tough time together. The hurt will pass in time but I am forever thankful for my memories.

I do have other pets to help me soothe my sorrow because they know when their human is sad. I am grateful for this but anyone who has dealt with a tragic death knows all to well the ripping from ones arms is so very different than the death of somebody aging.

Unplanned. Unexpected. Unwanted. Those are the ugly U words that come to mind today as I sit in fog holding onto to memories. Say a prayer for my pup in doggy heaven as he chases squirrels or whatever he so chooses to chase. You will be missed Axel!

These bold blue eyes will forever be visible in our hearts. 💞 As with any loss of a family member one must mourn. This post has been sitting for a bit until I was ready share and honor his memory. Lost but not forgotten.

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.

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?

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!

balance, challenges

Abundance

It was my fourth trip to the grocery store in the past ten days.

Even in that long time, the scene was mostly the same.  Fruits and veggies were pretty well stocked.

But, canned goods were basically empty. Same with the pasta aisle. Fresh meat cases completely bare. Bread was hit or miss. Toilet paper shelves had tumbleweeds on them once again…ten days later.  Ten days!?!

It’s enough to make me anxious.  People walking around the store, shopping with masks and gloves, looks of mistrust.

Where did everything go?  Why is there nothing left?

Early on in this coronavirus crisis, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes.  I was still going in to my job at that point, so it was only a week ago (but wow it seems like so much has happened in that week).  I was listening to “8 Ways to be Calm and Prepared During a Crisis.”  It was number 8 that stood out to me the most: Keep giving.  Howes talks about how important it is to stay in an abundant mindset, even when (maybe especially when) things are scarce.

But it’s not just an abundance of things he is talking about.  He talks about time, energy, effort, love for people we know and even people we don’t.  He told a story about an exchange with a stranger in an elevator.  Instead of ignoring the person at this awkward time, he made the effort to talk to them and share just a word or two of general encouragement.  We are all in this mess together (even if we have to stay physically separated from most).

I took his advice this week.  Every morning as I was out riding my bike or running, I made it a point to say a clear “good morning” to everyone I passed.  I looked them in the eye. Many were surprised, but most responded.  During the day, I reached out to colleagues just to check in and say hello.  I tried to text my gym friends, since many of us have stopped going and I want to encourage them to stay active and connected.  I had longer talks with both of my brothers than I have had in months.  I wrote letters and started creating artwork to send to people I can’t see or who might need a lift.

Abundance happens to be a common theme in the book I am reading right now, too: “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.  More on that later, but continuing to work on my inner dialogue about what my purpose is and what is available to me is a big challenge. I do think I happen to be reading this book right now for a reason.  I have never had an abundance mindset, which is reflected in my home, my income, how much I eat, how much I spend, and all kinds of other ways. I have always been worried I will run out of things.  But, as I have been working on for years, I am rewriting my story toward a more magnificent ending. This is one doozy of a chapter for me, and for many of us.

How about you? How can you come from a place of abundance when we are faced with possibly having less, earning less, even trusting less and connecting less?  What do you have to give abundantly? We all have something, even many things.  Who can you lift today?  Share your story in the comments.