Archive for the 'Intentional Day-to-Day Life' Category

What’s Your Covid Coping Style?

Be Productive! Be Still! Reach Out! Dig In! In the 36 days of my quarantine, all of those messages and more have shown up in my head as well as my social media news feeds.

Is there really a BEST way to respond to the most unusual time of all of our lives? Whose message is the right one?

As with most other things, you are the best expert on you. What serves you well during any other time of uncertainty or duress?

We all have a resume for tough times and hopefully got through most of them still standing. What had worked in the past for you? There are many right answers for how to cope.

Sorting Photos

For some of you that will be taking on projects: Clearing closets or basements, categorizing books, organizing photos, sorting recipes.

Maybe learning new skills is your coping M.O. Someone I know is learning French with Duo Lingo, another is baking bread for the first time. Trying something new uses part of the brain that also makes you feel good. An extra bonus right now.

Baking!

But if you’re not wired that way, you will likely only feel frustrated.

Maybe, adding SLOW to your day to day is most lifegiving. Stopping to smell the roses even if they’re not really there yet. Letting go of the pressure to perform even if it’s just in your own kitchen. Sleeping later, going to bed earlier, taking long walks, does that sound like you?

Walking into Spring

Many have reported that the early days were filled with novelty then intensity then calm. My own response followed those lines. The first few days felt so surreal then I started making lists. Part of my coping plan for just about everything. Then I modified the list as it was stressing me out!

What was essential to you? What can you let go of? What always works for you? What never works? Even the best ideas of someone else might not work for you.

One thing that does work for almost everyone is to laugh more! We are watching Seinfeld for the first time ever to guarantee times of laughter. 30 year old episodes but works every time! Last night we checked out John Krasinski’s SGN (Some Good News,) hilarious and heartwarming. https://bit.ly/3crfC9A

Even though we are well into these days with more on the way, figuring out your best Covid response  will serve you well for this and the inevitable next crisis.

Hope for the Best.

Tish

Eight Ways to Remember These Days

You think you will never forget these days. You won’t! But later, as life returns to normal, many of the details will get blurred with each new experience that comes in.

Not one of us has ever known anything like this when the whole world was personally affected and the days ahead full of uncertainty.

While the global drama is still going on, consider capturing the details in some way to keep your personal memories intact.  In the days ahead, you might want to go back and reflect on these surreal days.

I’m remembering how curious I was to know about my Dad’s WW2 experience. Like most men of that era, he didn’t talk about it much. I could and did read books and watch movies about this time in history, but I wanted to hear about it from one who was there.

If you ever watched the Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War, you would recall the personal experience snippets he included. I remember the excerpts from Mary Chesnut’s diary more than the facts he offered. Her accounts brought a whole new dimension to the historical era.

While you probably won’t write a book about these times, you will likely have an opportunity to tell a story to future generations about what it was like to live through a worldwide pandemic.

Here are a few ways to keep track of the days.

1. Journal: I start each morning with writing in my journal a few things about what is happening in the news, in my home, in me.

2. Highlights: Write down bullet points of the headlines of the world and your life. This can be on paper on in the notes section on your phone.

 

3. Photos:I started taking photos of closed signs on my walks and then added them to an online photo album. When I see someone else’s interesting photo on social media about the times, I save that too. I have snapped a photo of the mayor’s updates too.

4. Headlines: We still take a physical newspaper, so I’ve saved a few startling headlines in a folder. Cover page of news magazines can be saved as well.

5. Social media posts: I’m saving posts that are positive and encouraging on my computer. Easy to do, just look for the “save” feature.

6. Record: Smart phones have a “voice memo” app so you can use it to record your feelings or items you want to remember.

7. Email: Write yourself an email as you think of things you want to remember. Don’t worry about grammar or other edits. Just get it down.

8. Day by Day: Use your wall calendar or desk calendar to write in the white spaces what has gone on that day.

What is not written is not remembered. You won’t forget the facts, they will be readily accessed, but only you carry the memories of how the virus intersected with your world. Gather them up for an audience yet to come.

Hope for the best,

Tish

The Last Day of Normal

“Last Days” are sometimes so obvious. Which kid doesn’t know when the last day of school is at the end of the year? The retiree won’t forget the last day of work. Certainly, the last day of a near-perfect vacation is so hard to let go of. Often, we know exactly when that final event occurs. Sometimes though, we are blindsided by last days.

My “Last Day of Normal,” before the Covid 19 changed everything, was Wednesday March 11, 2020. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. Honestly, in spite of all the simmering news stories, I didn’t think it would happen so suddenly.

I saved my to-do list from that day just to marvel at how oblivious I was to the impending storm. Our darling granddaughter stopped by for breakfast and our weekly walk to her school. It was Wednesday and that’s our routine on Wednesdays.

My suitcase was out as we were traveling the next day to a conference in Atlanta. Tom was presenting on a topic that he was quite excited about. My plans were to soak up the sun and enjoy the time alone in the hotel along with seeing some family members nearby.

I love to pick up a “new” piece of clothing before a trip so right after the school drop off, I drove to one of my favorite resale shops and sure enough, found the perfect top.  Next on the list was my 11:45 exercise class for an hour. Last year, I started bringing my own equipment to avoid cross-contamination but was pleased that day to see a big bottle of hand sanitizer perched on the stage for the first time.

My manicure appointment was next, also a pre-trip ritual. No one was worried. I stopped into the library to grab the book I had been waiting for to read on the trip. Trader Joe’s followed on the itinerary and everything I needed was on the shelves. Same at CVS, my last stop.

Throughout that day though, our four adult kids were sharing their worries about our trip, often. I kept reassuring them how fine/not foolish we would be. They disagreed.

During my packing time, one daughter texted me photos of the quickly emptying shelves at Target. The other daughter chimed in with her photos of the same story at Jewel. I jumped in my car to my local grocery to get a few things to avoid the hassle after the trip.

That was the beginning of the not-normal. I never shop at night.

By 9:30 that evening, the trip was cancelled. I finished my packing hour by unpacking.

Before the end of the day, my exercise classes were no longer available due to closure.

Within a day the schools closed. No more walks.

The resale shop shut its doors. As did the library

Trader Joe’s and CVS are still open but I’m staying home.

I’m keeping track now with journal entrees and photos of the new normal. My first day was March 12, the day after the “Last Day of Normal.”

When was yours?

Hope for the best, Tish

My FIRST New Coat Purchase!

This is the one I got!

The snowy Midwest has been home my whole life and I bought my first new coat this week! I know, it’s hard to believe.

Of course, that fact wasn’t on my mind while I was limping around the mall one week before my knee replacement surgery. Fortunately, I landed a handicap parking spot with my new placard but there was no assistance for walking between stores. except my purple walking stick.

Let me mention, I don’t like shopping at malls, only thrift shops and cute little gift stores. On the rare occasions I venture into a mall, I get quickly overwhelmed by all the options as well as the prices. Somehow, shopping in malls often triggers envy and deprivation. I walk in feeling satisfied and suddenly feel lacking. How do I get by without all those items displayed everywhere?

But I needed a coat.

Don’t worry, I have stayed warm all these winters. My mom started buying me coats when I was an infant. There is a funny family story of how she put me in a snow suit for the 4th of July parade nearly two weeks after I was born.

They would just show up during visits. “Oh, I picked up a coat for you!” These were lovely coats in a variety of styles she located on the deep sales racks at the end of the winter. She knew my size and tastes and kept me supplied. Confession: I hardly wore the leopard print one though. She stopped coat shopping for both of us a few years ago when she could no longer get around.

Occasionally I would pick up a coat for myself too, at the resale shop, to wear in between seasons. Mom’s coats were mostly “dressy,” and I needed some casual outerwear for my everyday lifestyle. I did buy a few new jackets in my life but no winter coats. No need.

I started my coat quest early this fall by checking out all my usual (resale) shops. Nothing seemed right. Too long/short/wrong color or style etc. My goal was to land one before this surgery and now I was running out of time.

Runner-up

My daughter offered to help as she excels in online shopping, but I needed to see it, feel it and try it on. Thus, the trip to the mall. I was sending these pictures to her as I shopped!

Turns out, the experience was fun! I allowed enough time, money and energy and didn’t overspend on any of it.  I only looked in two stores and went back and got the first one I chose.  It was in my budget and then I found out it was on sale. I would have danced except I can barely move my knee ☹

A little sleeve alteration was in order and I was attended to by a lovely woman who probably had been doing this all her life. They will even send the coat to me after the mend for no charge so not having to carry it home was a plus.

It wasn’t until later that I realized it was my first coat buying experience ever! I think I will try it again in a few years.

Hope for the best,

Tish

Walking With a Limp These Days

Midway Airport

I surveyed the long concourse last weekend at the airport and realized I couldn’t make it to the gate without help. More help than my ever-present walking stick, aka cane, could provide. I keep pretending I’m out for a hike in the woods with my trusty blue stick except I’m really inside my house or nearby, mincing along.

So, I flagged down some assistance and climbed into a wheelchair to get to my gate. The view is different from the chair. I felt I could notice everyone more clearly and no one noticed me. Certainly no one noticed me for about an hour as I waited for a push to baggage claims when I arrived at Midway.

Hopefully, my limp should be resolved sometime next year after my November knee replacement but for now, it is a daily reality. After months of lament, I’m beginning to stop resisting it and getting closer to embracing it as the next big adventure. After all, what’s the alternative?

For sure, I would like to avoid this invasive surgery. Many prayers have been offered with much resulting peace and presence of God, but no healing has come. At least in my knee. Later on, I will likely be aware of something fresh from the Holy Spirit showing up or waves of gratefulness sustaining me during this season – another kind of healing of sorts. I do trust that I have been heard.

Meanwhile, I am scheduling loads of pre-op appointments, rounding up comfortable clothing for the couch days, reserving books at the library, freezing food for no fuss dinners, thinking about how I will decorate my hospital room (this is fun!) and taking my sweet time getting places.

But before that day comes in a few weeks, with my faithful stick in hand, I’m hitting the road again. Taking the train to New Mexico, the bus to Phoenix, the plane to Chicago, the train again to Quincy and one more drive to a retreat. Many steps for this damaged knee, but these events were on the calendar before the surgery date. I always long for some time to reset after a lot of travel so this time I will get it for sure.

Life is full of plans we make and plans that get made for us. I’m leaning into reaching for the available grace no matter what’s on the table. Well, some days at least.

Hope for the best,

Tish

Do You See What I See? Musings on Looking Older.

Circa 1990

“Are you old, Mimi?” one of my younger grandsons asked. “I’m older than you…and older than your dad, but inside I am young.” That satisfied him and we took off to play.

I really enjoy the age I am. Older, not old. Actually, I prefer “timeless” as what’s a number? When I reflect on my image,  I usually view the version of me that is inside:  Vibrant, full of life, childlike in a good way, “seasoned.”

Apparently, that view isn’t the one shared by my grandson or the grocery clerk at my local store. Tuesday is 10% off for those of us of a certain age and once again yesterday, the senior discount on my groceries rang up without me requesting it.  I wish I could say it was due to her remembering me, but she was new.

Same thing happened at the pharmacy later that day. When I inquired about my flu shot, the young associate quickly told me they were out of the ones for the over-65 crowd. Who told him I was over 65?? Sheesh, is it that obvious?

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the eligible discounts I qualify for and ask for them all the time. I just want to be the one doing the asking! My fantasy is that I am demanded to pull out my driver’s license to prove it. Hasn’t happened yet.

No judgement please. I am not trying to pretend I’m younger. I don’t use products that are “anti-aging.” I’m not getting any “work” done. I have a deep appreciation for all the years behind me and counting on at least 30 more to go.

All that I love so much in my life is NOW and wouldn’t have been possible in an earlier season. Of course, I have a museum of beautiful memories of the years gone by, but I don’t want to go back.

My lament is that my inside and outside no longer match. I miss that.

Oh well.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

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Bite by Bite: Lunch with My Mother

Birthday lunch a few years back.

Four women eating lunch around a small table on a beautiful October afternoon. Such a common event, one might not hardly notice a group like that. All around the large room, other groups were dining too. As expected, snippets of conversation filled the air.

Two of the four women just met that day. As one of the two newbies, I enjoyed meeting a new acquaintance, Deborah. We exchanged the usual info like our names, family details, and what brought us to this table. Turns out, the same events.

While we were getting to know each other a bit, Deborah and I were also feeding our mothers. The other two women at the table. Like my mom, Deborah’s mom also suffered a stroke some time back. Neither one was now very successful in getting the bites into their mouths without help. We continued chatting like this was the most normal thing in the world. For both of us, it was.

Before this season of post-stroke, my mom and I shared thousands of lunches over the years. Such sweet times over her kitchen table or later, mine. Some in restaurants like truck stops in Missouri others, in places like Harrods in London. Most somewhere in between.

The first few hundred, she was feeding me, just like I am her now. It all comes around. I wonder if she thought about then that someday our roles would be reversed. A thought I usually don’t have when I’m lunching with one of my girls now. Just as well, those musings would take away the pleasure of the moment.

After lunch, Deborah and I pushed our moms in their wheelchairs into the courtyard and mostly sat in silence. A wind chime filled the air with occasional tones and the breeze felt good. I think Mom liked it. Sitting outside was always one of her delights.

Meeting Deborah was lovely. I hope we lunch together again sometime. Another unexpected gift from this season to add to the pile I have already opened.

No one asked for these events but much grace is present.

Resting in the courtyard.

Hope for the best,

Tish

I’ll Take the Train! (Part 3) The next generation.

Aaliyah’s first trip, age 3.

As a lover of train travel, I couldn’t wait to introduce my children to the wonders of the rails. Taking the car was cheaper with that many tickets needed so we didn’t go often on the train but with my parents living on an Amtrak line, it wasn’t long before I ventured out with the four of them.

We all did take the train on December 26 for many years during the middle years as part of our Christmas visit. The most memorable year was in 1983. Our car wouldn’t start due to the below freezing cold, so our neighbor gave the six of us a ride downtown. We never dreamed it was too cold for the train to go too!  While figuring out our next move, my wallet was lifted from my purse. It all worked out and we got to Quincy on the next train and my driver’s license was returned to me eventually.

Familiar station!

Fast forward to 2009. I’m still taking the train often to see my mom. Our grandson (age 1) was quite sick and needed to go to the hospital. Jesh asked me to watch Aaliyah (3) and I offered to take her on the train with me to Quincy. So the grandchildren adventures began! She and I have returned every winter to Quincy on the train and just had our 11th trip this year.

Aaliyah (13) reading “Becoming.”

Two years later, I started taking her brother too. My criteria was 3 years old and toilet trained! Judah and I now go every year too. Lots of Uno in the snack car!

Judah’s first trip at 3 and recently at age 10.

Four more of the other nine have also traveled on the train with me but with a parent along. I have traded juice boxes and crayons for books and games:)

Granddaughter # 3 enjoying the view.

          Granddaughter # 2 keeping herself busy!

Of course plenty of snacks come along too!

I’m leaving again tomorrow on the early train by myself. I always bring more books than changes of clothes but once again will likely stay fixed on the story just out the window. It never gets old.

All Aboard! I’m on my way once again.

Hope for the best,

Tish

I’ll Take the Train! (Part Two)

Why don’t you just fly? Is a question I often receive from well-meaning friends who don’t share my love of the rails.

In case you are wondering, I don’t have a problem with flying, just driving, and usually fly home from my trips.

Long distance trains provide transition time. I don’t know about you, but I’m always rushing at the last minute before a trip. I like to tie up as many loose ends as I can and usually dash to the airport mentally reviewing my check list. By the time I detach from all that and start thinking about where I’m going, we arrive and immediately land in the new environs. No transition!

Like Thoreau, “I love a broad margin to my life.” Rail travel provides that margin.

I settle into my seat, usually with a cup of tea, and let the rhythm of the train coax me into letting go of all the frazzle and undone items. As the small towns and countryside roll by the window, relaxation and calm soon replace the hustle. Nowhere to go now, just sit back and enjoy the ride. By the time I get to my destination, I’m all set for something new.

The most delicious train travel involves a sleeping car. I loved reading about sleeper cars in my many novels and envisioning what that would be like to stroll to the dining car and then return to my own little compartment for the night In my many decades of train travel, it finally happened! The experience was more exquisite than I even imagined!

To the left is the tiny roomette I stayed in a few months ago on the way to Gallup, NM.

The train attendant converts these two seats into a bed and stops by the next morning to revert to the seats.

For this trip, I boarded in Illinois, dined in Iowa for dinner and then fell asleep in Missouri.  After waking up in Kansas, breakfast was served in Colorado.

Most of the books I brought along stayed in my backpack as the trip itself was more fascinating than words on a page.

A community also develops on a train if you are open to that. I always am! Amtrak fills each table with diners who may or may not know each other. Little chit chat ensues and sometimes a longer conversation. I still exchange Christmas cards with a woman I met on the train several years back.

Sometimes the unexpected occurs. The first time I travel across country, a delay caused the train to be 12 hours late arriving. I think I was the only person on the train who had an “oh well” or perhaps “Oh goody!” response as it was MORE time on the train.

Another time, someone died on the train. In the middle of nowhere, the train suddenly stopped and finally word passed down that a man had a heart attack and we had to wait for the coroner to come. Hours past but the train community was very engaged by the time we resumed travel. A collective sigh of “I’m still here” pervaded the whole line.

Then there is the tunnel! I make sure I’m awake for the only one on the trip west. The Raton Tunnel is the pass from Colorado to New Mexico and just as fun as you would imagine.

 

I’ll finish up part 3 next time with introducing train travel to the next generation.

Hope for the best,

Tish

I’ll Take the Train! (Part One)

From the time I was a girl boarding a train in Quincy, IL to go the 25 minutes to Hannibal, MO on the Mark Twain Zephyr, I fell in love with train travel.

 

From Rail Merchants International site

Pretending I was on a long trip, I was always disappointed in a very short while to get off. My grandparents were waiting and probably called my mom, on their party line,  to say I made it.

Fortunately, my university was on an Amtrak line and my hometown is too, so I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of riding the rails. Still never enough.

At 11 years old, I took my first big trip from Quincy to St. Louis with two other girls. No parents aboard, we thought we were so grown up. Of course, a family member was waiting at the station. We got all dressed up as you can see! Look at those little purses 😊

Training at 11 yrs old.

I’m still waiting for an Orient Express (sans the murder) but my son and daughter and I took a 24 hour train ride from Beijing to Hong Kong in 2009 so that was my version on an “orient express.” We played Skip Bo for many hours and dined on snacks we brought along. I still can recall the sites from the windows. Small farms and even smaller houses.

Always ready for another train adventure, in 2012 I persuaded my beloved to take a train ride to Seattle instead of flying for a family reunion. I’m sure I loved it more than he did but we had fun cruising through Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington. Sadly, our hoped-for ride through Glacier National Park was in the dark as there were delays along the way. No worries, we eventually got there another year.

2012 on the Empire Builder.

 

As I walked down by the tracks at Chicago Union Station a couple of weeks ago to board the Southwest Chief for the 30-hour ride to Gallup, NM, I was so excited I started singing. I couldn’t wait to get on! All my train fantasies were about to come true.

Come back next time for Part Two of this story!

 

Hope for the best,

Tish



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