Friday Thoughts

I had big plans for this month. Working from home gives me so much more flexibility that I could easily squeeze in the time for a blog post every day. Right?

Apparently not. Last week, I was furloughed from my job with the hope of them bringing me back in January of next year. It has taken me a little while to get used to this new reality. From filing for unemployment to coming up with a new daily routine, it is all a bit of a shock to my system. All last week, I went to bed wondering what I did that day. Did I accomplish anything? And old habits are hard to break. I still wake up at the same time and automatically pick up my phone to check my email–only to remember that I am locked out of my accounts, and I have no meetings today.

But, I am thinking positive. I know I’m going to land on my feet and be fine. I have a large network to tap into and people have been generous, kind and willing to help. Right now, I’m technically still employed and my benefits are intact. But, I’ve never been in this situation before. It is bizarre, and naively, I didn’t think it would happen to me.

Happier News

Today is Chloe’s “gotcha” day. We adopted our poodle four years ago, and I can honestly say she has made our family complete. During quarantine, she has been by our side, putting smiles on our faces and up for some short-term snuggling when we are feeling down. I’m so happy we have her in our lives. Happy “Gotcha” Day, Chloe!

Back to School

Our daughter heads back to college in two weeks which leaves me with mixed feelings. I love having her around the house. It’s like she never left. If this was her freshman year, I’d encourage her to go to our local community college to take her gen eds. But, she has had her taste of sweet freedom and there is no putting that genie back in the bottle. To be honest, I’m betting on her being back upstairs in her room taking classes by October. I can’t see how this on-campus life is going to work, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Meanwhile, our son, Andrew, will be a junior in high school. This is a big year for him, and I want him to have the best set up to succeed. For me, that would have meant in-classroom learning. He is much better in that environment than reading off a computer screen. But, the school board recently decided to go all virtual for the first marking period. No fall sports which is a shame, but at least, we are not on complete lockdown. He can see his girlfriend and core group of friends at a social distance, of course. People are upset with this decision. Mostly because we all thought we had options between sending them back in person and online learning, but the school board decided for us and in a way that gave none of us a voice in the process. While that is frustrating, frankly I’m relieved not to have to make this decision myself.

For the record, there is no right answer when it comes to sending our kids back to school. Whatever decision you are making for your kids – keeping them home, sending them back, doing a hybrid – it’s the right decision. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. This is hard, and I support you.

Blog Update

Our fearless leader of the Ultimate Blog Challenge recently asked what our plans are for our blogs in the future. My plan is simple – to keep writing. I didn’t get in all 31 blog posts like I wanted to do. Oh well, shit happens And it really hit the fan here this month.

I will keep writing. I hope you keep reading.

Stay healthy and safe everyone. Wear a mask. XO

 

Stay-cation

As I made my way from household items to the electronics section at Target today, I passed through the travel accessory aisle. Unlike some other aisles in the store like cleaning supplies and hair dye, this one was full of products. From luggage to fanny packs to travel pillows, it was all there. The aisle was packed with goodies, and I realized why.

We aren’t going too far from home this summer. Some people may be taking day trips to the beach or long weekends across the state line, but basically no one has a need for those little travel shampoo bottles and sleeping masks for the airplane ride. For the most part, we are staying put.

I certainly wouldn’t mind escaping for a few days from the walls that have been closing in on me since March. But, I don’t have anywhere to go. Yes, we were invited down south with another family to an Air B&B in the Outer Banks. I wanted to say yes so badly. Going on vacation with these friends would be the best vacation ever! But I was too afraid to put money down and then back out on them because of the virus. I wish I was the kind of person that threw caution to the wind and take chances. I’ve never really been that person which probably means I’ve missed out on a lot of fun.

Instead, I’ve planned a wonderful staycation of…

Reorganizing my kitchen:

Plowing through my “to-be-read” pile:

Visiting the local parks:

Trying on a new post-quarantine look:

It’s not North Carolina, but I’ll make the best of it. If you are going somewhere fun this summer, have fun and stay healthy.

Friday Thoughts

I’m trying something new today. One of my blogger friends does something called “Sunday Scribblings”, where she posts random thoughts, stories, links and more. I love this idea because it creates a space for whatever is floating around in her mind and needs a home.

I hope she won’t mind that I have created my own version of this awesome idea. Welcome to Friday Thoughts.

Let’s begin.

Just Do It

What do you want to be when you grow up? How many times were we asked this question when we were little? And more importantly, how were we supposed to know? When I was nine years old, I wanted to be a teacher. I would walk around the neighborhood with a clipboard going door to door to see if anyone wanted to come to my “school.” If no one enrolled, I would recruit my younger sister and assemble a class of Cabbage Patch dolls to be my students. Back then, I was trying on my dream job.

Forty years later, my answer to what I want to be when I grow up is completely different. I want to be a writer, an author, and a storyteller. I am using my linguistic skills for a higher purpose – to raise awareness and funds for good causes, to share my own story, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and let people know they aren’t alone. Prior to the pandemic, I would complain that I never have any time to write. Now, I have nothing but time and writing is my dream job.

My point is that 2020 may suck on so many levels, but it has also given us the gift of time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do in your life or career that you’d like to pursue now? Do you have a passion or a bucket list item to fulfill? Next year, what is it that you would like to say you accomplished? When you come up with an answer, set a goal, and get moving. Now is your time.

And if this has inspired you to take the next step forward, hold yourself accountable by putting your dream in the comments section below.

Damn Mosquitos

Spotted lanternflies are the evil summer dwellers everyone talks about in my neck of the woods. But, I want to talk about mosquitos. Specifically, why they seem to feed off of me and no one else in my family. There is not enough bug spray and citronella candles in the world to keep them from attacking my arms and legs every night. All I want to do is sit out on my deck with some Rita’s water ice and a good book and relax until the evening chill sets in. But, I can barely make it 30 minutes before I start scratching. And it isn’t just in my backyard. I went three doors down to another friend’s house for a social-distancing cocktail hour and had to ask for ice and a wet paper towel to wipe down my legs. Eventually, I asked for a blanket just to cover myself up.

An old boyfriend once told me applying meat tenderizer stops the itching. I’ve also tried digging an X into the middle of the bite which sometimes works. If you have read this far, my friends, please give me your best mosquito bite prevention and treatment tips in the comments. I’ll try anything!

NewsLadies

I’m sure we all have our favorite newscasters these days. While I am a big fan of Anderson Cooper, I think women make the best interviewers. I see many newsmen give in too easily when politicians circumvent the questions posed to them. But not the women anchors. They fact check people on the spot and call them out when they are caught lying to the public. From Nicole Wallace to Nora O’Donnell to Joy Behar, these women push back and push back hard. It is so fun to watch the mansplaining taking place and how women show them that they don’t have time for that shit.

There is only one woman that I can’t stand to listen to and that is Rachel Maddow. I know she is a favorite among a lot of people – my mom included. It is hard to explain, but I like to get my news from women that don’t talk down to me. Rachel Maddow is a bit of a know-it-all. I also think she is going for the sensational story instead of trying to get the answers that I want to know. Her questions also seem more philosophical and esoteric rather than practical and all-inclusive. She isn’t my cup of tea.

Who do you like to get your news from? Please don’t say Fox News. 🙁

Final Thoughts

  • I bought a month of Disney+ so I could watch Hamilton. Best $7 I’ve spent this summer. If you decide to sign up to watch Hamilton, I highly recommend turning on the captions. The story moves so fast and there are so many nuances that you won’t want to miss anything. Every time I sit down to watch it, I see something new.
  • If you are looking for some other great blogs to read, here are a few of my favorites. (I wish I could list them all!)

    Check out Sunday Scribblings, book reviews and other great stories from Lady Who Reads Writes
    Need dog training tips? – Read Doggone Healthy Choices
    Looking for the best colors to wear? Don’t miss Life In Color
    And I am really enjoying this happiness blog from Cindy Rae. She always posts something that lifts my spirits.

  • We are not going away on vacation this summer and while I’d love to get out of this house for a few days, I’m relieved. I don’t want to watch the cases in the area where I’m going. I don’t want to stress out about traveling, public bathrooms, and eating out. I want to relax on my deck with a good book and a black raspberry Mike’s Hard Lemonade – and bug spray.

 

 

 

 

Mask Etiquette 101

Yesterday, I went to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up two hampers for my kids’ bedrooms. They have been using my laundry baskets as an unacceptable substitute, and I needed to do something about it. As I walked toward the cash register, I passed by a young woman and was taken aback. There wasn’t a hint of a mask hanging off her ear or around her neck. Her entire face was uncovered. She confidently walked past me with a look as if she was daring me to call her out on it.

It was such an odd moment. For 49 years, I’ve seen people sans mask in front of me without experiencing a sense of panic. Now, four months into this pandemic, I expect everyone to wear one in a public place.

Is that too much to ask?

And then, I wondered why no one else asked her to put a mask on. We were at the back of the store which means she must have strolled by a few employees before she reached me. Why didn’t anyone say anything? Where is the “mask” police when you need them?

Five minutes later, I remembered I was out of deodorant and made a pit stop 😉 at the beauty aisle. It was there that I saw an older woman bent over the personal fan kiosk talking on her cell phone. Her blue disposable mask served as a chin rest leaving her nose and mouth in plain sight. I wanted to tell her that people can still hear her when she talks through her mask.

But again, I said nothing. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to get into an argument with these people. I certainly don’t want them yelling in my face spreading their droplets everywhere while pointing out that our president doesn’t wear one so why should they. I just want to politely ask them to respect others around them, not to mention abide by the signs posted everywhere on covering your face.

In these difficult times, it might be helpful to have a manual for wearing face masks and talking to the people who refuse to put them on in your presence. Here are a few do’s and don’ts, I’ve come up with.

Do wear a face mask in public places.

Don’t wear a face mask only on your nose or just your mouth. It has to cover both areas. And FYI, covering your chin doesn’t stop the spread.

Do ask your friends and family if they would prefer you to wear a mask when you come to visit. Don’t assume that they are okay with you not wearing one.

Do stay home if you aren’t feeling well.

Don’t go to Urgent Care without a mask, open the door and yell out to the receptionist – “Do you do COVID testing here?!” (This actually happened to me).

And finally, don’t wear your mask like this – as my son expertly demonstrated to me over the weekend.

Self Care

Mother’s Day weekend 2010.

I remember that it was a gorgeous weekend. The sun was shining, and it was the perfect weekend to sit outside and watch Andrew play baseball. As I walked toward the field carrying the mandatory lawn chair, suntan lotion, Gatorade and snacks, I looked down at my phone to read a text. The next thing I knew, I fell into a large ditch and twisted my left ankle. My belongings scattered except for my chair which I landed on and was now digging into the small of my back. The popping noise was deafening. The pain was real. I tried to stand up but couldn’t move – partly from the throbbing and partly from being in a slight state of shock. Other parents came to my rescue. One person recognized me and ran to get my husband who was coaching just a few yards away.

Baseball would have to wait. Mother’s Day preparations for our annual barbecue would have to wait. We drove to the hospital. I was convinced my ankle was broken, but the x-ray proved otherwise. They sent me home with crutches, a boot and a daily regimen of ice and Advil. Weeks later and still in pain, I went to a sports doctor who diagnosed it as a high ankle sprain – an injury that many athletes endure. He said I was in good company.

Lucky me.

I spent two more months in the boot and then I was cleared to go on with my active life. Ten years later, I can report that my ankle has never been the same. I can’t count how many times I have walked with friends, and my ankle turns inexplicably. I laugh it off and chalk it up to wearing the wrong shoes or tripping over nothing, but it kept on happening. And then a few weeks ago, the dog got out, and I chased after it. Long story short (too late? 😉 ), I fell again and the pain and swelling reappeared.

This time, I didn’t go to the hospital. I made an appointment at the Foot and Ankle Center. These people truly specialize in this area, and I wanted the best. After an MRI, I found out I tore my anterior talo-fibular ligament or ATFL. It was probably already torn from the original injury and never treated properly. Now, I’m going to physical therapy and may or may not need surgery.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, it makes for a good story, but it isn’t just that. This was a transformative moment or as we like to say to our kids a teachable moment. There is a lesson to be learned here.

In hindsight, I should have insisted on an MRI and a second opinion, but I was too busy. Too busy taking care of my young family, working a full-time job, and putting everyone else’s needs before my own. Self-care was never top of mind. But, as I get older, I am making it more of a priority. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, I need to carve out the time to take care of myself.

Just in case you busy moms out there have forgotten, self-care is any activity we do deliberately to take care of our physical, emotional, or mental health. It is not selfish or indulgent. And it is not a one-time thing. It doesn’t even take a lot of time, and it’s so important to our survival. What it does is recharge your battery, build your resilience, and help avoid burnout. And in my case, it could have saved me years of aggravation dealing with an injury.

Self-care is hard to do, and I’m a “walking example” of that. If you think you are too busy to go to the doctor, you aren’t. Make an appointment. If you think you don’t have time to visit with your friends and family. You do. You have to make the time. If you think you shouldn’t waste time pursuing your passions and interests, you are wrong. If you’ve always wanted to do something for yourself, but never get around to it, ask yourself why and then make a plan.

Self-care is about giving people the best of you, not what’s left of you.

What does self-care look like for you? And how will you carve out time in your schedule for it?

Bookworms Unite!

I have this stack of unread books sitting on my nightstand. Sometimes, I feel them watching me, no begging me, to pick one up and start reading right now. I silently tell them to BACK OFF! They have to be patient. I’m only one person with one pair of eyes, and I can’t read any faster!

The real problem is that I have already overcommitted myself to a separate pile of books. According to Goodreads, I’m in the middle of four different books right now. And on Audible, I am listening to two more. And my book club is meeting this week, so I am really focused on one book right now – The Giver of Stars, by Jojo Moyes.

Mind you, none of this stops me from the vicious, yet fulfilling, cycle of reading book reviews and summer reading lists and then downloading more books or frequently “supporting” independent bookstores.

And here’s why: What if the books I already own disappoint me? Shouldn’t I have “back up” books to fill the void?

Do I sound crazy? Probably. But, don’t worry. I don’t need any kind of cognitive test to tell me what I already know. I’m a bookworm, and I won’t apologize for it. When I was little, I’d go to bed with a Nancy Drew mystery or a Sweet Valley High book and a flashlight under my pillow and read way past my bedtime. Some kids wanted Barbie dolls for their birthdays. I wanted B. Dalton gift certificates. Years later, not much has changed. I still go to bed with a book and a flashlight; it’s called a Kindle.

I always have to have a book in my purse or in my car. I can’t bear to waste valuable time sitting in a waiting room or a carpool line not reading. And now, thanks to COVID, People magazines are no longer available anymore for communal reading. Therefore, I must be prepared for any reading emergency.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good story. How about you?

 

 

 

Quarantine Projects Update

My first “before and after” quarantine project!

On March 10th, my office closed indefinitely and all employees were told to work from home. I was thrilled to give up my commute and spend more time at home with my family during this crisis.

I also had big plans for organizing my home. I thought to myself ‘FINALLY! I’ll have time to declutter and reorganize. I can cook three healthy meals a day, get some much-needed exercise, and lose a few pounds. My house will be so clean, and my to-do list will pare down to a few items.

So, how is going? Honestly, not so great. Things were promising to start. I cleaned out the toy closet in our bonus room (see photo). My kids are 19 and 16 years old and have outgrown the games I was inexplicably holding onto like Hullaballo and Chutes and Ladders. I gave my sister-in-law a bunch of Disney movies and kid-friendly musicals on DVD. My six-year-old niece is a big fan of Mama Mia and – thanks in part to me – she knows all the words to Dancing Queen. The closet has since been repurposed to house bulk items from Costco, cleaning supplies, and my growing collection of jigsaw puzzles.

I also started reorganizing a spare closet in my bedroom and came away with a lot of old clothes and a pile of books to donate. I threw away about 20 magazines that I thought I would read in-depth but never got around to – but I went through each one first and tore out articles I plan to read later. Somethings are hard to give up completely. I even organized random photos and threw away the duplicates.

Side note: Why in the world did we ever print doubles of photos? What a complete waste of money!

I have other quarantine projects to tackle, but I’ve put them on hold for now. This is mostly because I’ve come to realize that keeping up with laundry, cooking, and cleaning takes a lot of time in itself. And if I don’t do it, no one else will. Am I right? As I write this blog post, I am staring at a sink full of dishes and the dryer buzzer just went off.

Four months into this quarantine and I am now lowering my expectations. I may never get to cleaning out the dining room breakfront or the kids’ closets – a task I have been putting off since 2015! I do have a life to live, and the books on my nightstand are not going to read themselves! So, I’ll move the attic cleanout to the first snowstorm of the year and give myself a well-deserved break.

What household projects have you completed during the lockdown?

An A-Z Bucket List

One of my go-to moves to cure writers block is to make a list of something. So tonight, I decided to create an alphabetical bucket list. Has anyone done one of these before? Was it worth it? What’s on your bucket list?

Afford a month-long vacation in Italy

Baseball games at all MLB stadiums

Connect with people from my past who made a difference in my life and thank them.

Disney Backlot Tour and…

Eat at every restaurant in Epcot (seven down and lots more to go!)

Find a job I love

Get to my goal weight (and stay there)

Hear Billy Joel play at Madison Square Garden

Improv class – I think I’d be good at it. 🙂

Jerusalem as an adult. I went as a teenager and know it would be a completely different experience now.

Kind acts every day

Learn to swim and be able to enjoy water parks with my family.

Move somewhere else and live there for a while. I’ve lived in the same area my entire life.

Never stop learning

Own a BMW

Participate in a writers retreat weekend

Quit watching TV reruns for an entire year and see what I can accomplish in the time I gain

Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

See the Northern Lights

Tip obnoxiously and anonymously

Understand a second language

Visit every state in the U.S.

Write a book

(E)Xpect and deal with anxiety about things, but don’t let it stop me from doing what I want to do.

Yellowstone National Park

Zone out and be satisfied with how something turns out.

In A School Daze

“I’d rather have a life of “oh wells” than a life of “what ifs.” 

One of my Facebook friends posted these words of wisdom on her page recently. And believe me, I’m not judging this philosophy. I actually envy it. And, how I wish it was that simple for me to live in such a carefree way. But, unfortunately, I am dealing with this pandemic with more anxiety than positivity lately.

Like many parents, I desperately want our kids to go back to school and return to some sense of normalcy. Andrew does so much better in an interactive classroom setting than reading from a screen. Jenna can be a successful student either way, but obviously prefers attending lectures on campus to learning online. As their mom, I hope they are able to enjoy their youth and all of the milestones that come with it.

But, there is a flip side. The virus hasn’t disappeared like some people would like us to believe. As I write this post, CNN is reporting three million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. THREE MILLION! That is some hoax!

(P.S. – it’s NOT a hoax.)

I hate to admit I have concerns. I would much rather have a c’est la vie‘ attitude. While I have been incredibly impressed with our school superintendent, local officials and the governor, who is thankfully not beholden to the president, all the precautions in the world may not be enough. On the other hand, what other choice do we have? I don’t want to be confined to our homes indefinitely. In some ways, life must go on and school is a big part of the process. As parents, we have all done our due diligence by reminding the kids about handwashing, social distancing and mask-wearing. Schools have put a lot of provisions in place and made changes for a safe return and are still working tirelessly to address other issues.

But, this is some scary shit. Am I right? The curve has not flattened and yet we are going from 0-60 – from lockdown to small groups at a social distance to being thrown into crowded schools. In my neck of the woods, restaurants are still limited to take out and outdoor dining only. How will schools do it any better?

I’m clearly in a daze when it comes to this unusual back-to-school season. We are dealing with things we have never dealt with before and on a global level. Hopefully, the plexiglass, hand sanitizer and temperature checks will protect all of our kids until a vaccine is discovered. In the meantime, I will pray that it all comes to an end soon enough.

Anti-Coronavirus Activities

I’m sick of talking about this virus. Talking about it and listening to the news is like a plague within a plague.

So, I’m not going to write about it either. At least, not tonight. Here are some wonderful distractions to keep me from talking or listening or reading about…well, you know.

Let’s see…

I’ve become quite the competitor on Words With Friends–so much so that I had to delete the game from my phone because I was getting nothing else accomplished.

In other exciting news, I am one entire book ahead of schedule on my 2020 Goodreads challenge. I’m hesitant to recommend any of them to you though. Not because they weren’t fantastic reads, but picking the books you want to read should be up to you. Everyone has their own taste, and there are so many to choose from. Having said that…if you don’t have The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides on your list, you must buy it immediately.

Just sayin’ 😉

if you have followed my blog for a while or are one of my Facebook friends, you know that jigsaw puzzles bring me much joy and a zen feeling many of us might be craving these days because of… oops, never mind.

I’ve lost track of how many of them I’ve done since March. All I can say is that I know I’ve ordered more puzzles than I’ve finished. My TBC (to be completed) tower of puzzles might be just as tall as the TBR pile on my nightstand.

Oh! I was so bored one day that when Staples sent me an email requesting a review of my purchase of Wite-Out, I couldn’t say no. Perfect timing! How did they even know I was a writer?! I told them I’d be happy to. I thought it was pretty creative, but you tell me.

“Seriously? What can I say about Wite-Out? You don’t know you need it or remember that it even exists until you mess something up, and it is literally the only thing that can come to your rescue. Great texture. Same horrible smell. Not too tasty. But, it worked like a dream. Does it really need to come in a two-pack? I only needed one bottle.”  

Sadly, this might be the highlight of my quarantine life. That and spending time with my family, of course.

What are you doing to distract yourself these days?

 

 

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