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Archive for March, 2020

Greetings, dear reader! We have made it through the second week of social distancing and staying home in an attempt to keep everyone safe and stop the spread of the Coronavirus. And, while all seems to be going relatively well for my family and friends in our little bubble of the world, there are other parts of our world, country, state, and local community where our neighbors are not faring so well. It’s unfathomable at times that we are experiencing this horrible situation which, if I’m not careful, leaves me feeling raw emotions and vulnerable. I’ve gotten to where I only check the stats on the Louisiana Department of Health. I don’t listen to the news and read very few articles related to the virus. It’s not that I don’t care, because I care a great deal; I cannot mentally handle the negativity. Instead, I choose to pray, work, and maintain a routine of normalcy. I’m trying to rely on my faith instead of focusing on the invisible, silent monster that is lurking in our world ready to claim any one of us as its next victim. I feel as if we are living in an episode of the Twilight Zone where at any minute little Timmy will banish us into the cornfield.

 

What have I been doing to cope with living in the Twilight Zone?

Purple Flowers

Flowers spotted on one of my daily walks.

Walking with Levar Burton: I think I have begun a streak. I have walked at least one mile every day this past week. I pair my walk with listening to the podcast Levar Burton Reads. Most of the stories that Burton reads are fantasy, speculative fiction, or science fiction. This week I listened to episodes #33-#36 and three live performances (interviews with the author are included after the story). Good stuff! I enjoyed all seven stories; however, “Singing on a Star” and “Asymmetry” were my favorites.

  • #33 “The Cell Phones” by Karen E. Bender
  • #34 “Singing on a Star” by Ellen Klages
  • #35 “Yiwu” by Lavie Tidhar
  • #36 “Morning Child” by Gardner Dozois
  • LIVE! in Brooklyn: “Playing Nice with God’s Bowling Ball” by N.K. Jemisin
  • LIVE! in Austin: “Asymmetry” by Kendra Fortmeyer
  • LIVE! in Atlanta: “The Vishakanya’s Choice” by Roshani Chokski

Instagram Live: Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Kraft have been hosting a live chat each afternoon (Monday-Friday) called “Coping with COVID-19 Conversation.” Enjoyable distraction.

Listening to Podcasts: I listen to podcasts every day. They are part of my daily routine, and I pair them with completing certain tasks. Some of my podcasts have daily episodes while others have weekly episodes.

  • Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam (time management)
  • Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau (side hustle stories and advice)
  • Happier With Gretchen Rubin (happiness/productivity tips)
  • Happier in Hollywood (happiness/productivity tips)
  • Office Ladies (companion to the hit television series The Office)
  • The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos (science of happiness)
  • Fueled: Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball (wellness and nutrition)
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations (spirituality and inspiration)
  • Talking Like Normal People (acting)
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz (stories about the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds)

Connecting with Family and Friends: Every day, I am reaching out to family members or friends through phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media. It has been comforting to me to stay in contact with my peeps. Admittedly, I have been spending more than my usual amount of time on Facebook. I’m having fun cutting up with my friends and taking silly surveys, posting pictures of beaches and my fur babies, watching scrapbook layout videos and videos of animals at various zoos, and wishing friends and family happy birthday blessings.

Reading/Scrapbooking: I LOVE to read, as well as scrapbook. However, it has been kind of hard for me to focus for very long on either activity. Strange, I know. I did start reading a book of short stories by Joe Hill. The book is titled Full Throttle. I have read the introduction to the collection and a story called “Throttle” which he wrote with his famous dad Stephen King. As for scrapbooking, not too much going on there. I have trimmed some photos, ordered some specialty paper, and talked about it with my BFF Shelly.

Turtle

This little guy greeted me Saturday morning when I let the dogs out.

As you can see, dear reader, I am trying to participate in activities that are positive and uplifting. I leave the house only when necessary because it does cause me anxiety to go out. I feel like I need to take a decontamination shower before entering my home. This upcoming week I want to continue walking, meditate using Hope in Uncertain Times, and work on completing some of the items on my 20 for 2020 list. Even though we are facing uncertainty right now, we do still have much to be grateful for in our lives. How are you coping through this trying time, dear reader? Please connect with me if you want to share your tips for coping with COVID-19 or if you just want to chat. Happiness!

“Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm, and genuine people.”     ~ Tena Desae

 

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BromeliadSpring has sprung! Daylight Saving Time is in full swing. Plants are springing up and are abloom. The sun is making more of an appearance, and temperatures are getting warmer. This season should be a time of celebration and new beginnings after encountering dreary weather and limited daylight hours. Instead, our world has been exposed to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and is facing an uncertain future. Understandably, this is leading to fearfulness and anxiety. Stress levels are rising with the temperature. And, this is only the beginning. What is the new normal, and how long will it last? For starters, social distancing has been strongly recommended by government officials to limit the spread of this disease.

My household has completed its first week of social distancing. My school closed on Friday, 13 March. The faculty, staff, and administration met throughout the day on Monday, 16 March to discuss the plan for continuing to educate our students during the time we are closed. Hence, remote learning. The educators at HGCS have all stepped up and are doing a phenomenal job. My job is to help the teachers and administration. Thankfully, I can work the majority of the time from home.

As for the rest of my family, they continue to navigate through their obligations, taking one day at a time. Son #1 came home safely from Singapore on Saturday, 14 March. He had been working there since 22 February. He had to report to work (locally) on Thursday. He does not currently live at my house; however, we remain in touch via text messaging and phone calls. My hubby drives a chemical truck for a living. He works out of town during the week. Thankfully, this past week he was able to find accommodations and places to purchase food. I expect as the weeks progress, this will be more challenging for him and other truck drivers. Andrew and his roommate were notified on Wednesday that they could no longer stay in their dorm at SLU, and they officially checked out yesterday afternoon. Therefore, Andrew is back at home, and I’m relieved. He will continue the spring semester remotely. My parents and my mother-in-law are doing well and are in good spirits, and they remain in contact with us daily.

Love LeafSo, what is next, and how am I handling this new normal? Basically, I am following my regular routine with a few adjustments. While I enjoy going out and socializing, I also like being at home. Many of the activities that I enjoy happen at home: praying, reading, scrapbooking, writing, organizing, watching television, listening to podcasts, talking on the phone, computer games, social media, coloring, puzzles, cuddling with Puar and Tooty. I can also go outside to garden, play with my dogs, or go for a walk. During the work week, I will stay in touch with the faculty and staff at HGCS and help them in any way that I can. I will do my part and stay home, only going out when absolutely necessary. I’m hopeful that this is a temporary situation and pray continuously for everyone affected by this virus.

With that being said, I’m extremely grateful for the men and women who must be out working in our community and pray for them daily: medical personnel, grocery store/gas station/restaurant employees, truck drivers, law enforcement, military, and sanitation workers. I’m grateful that my family, friends, and myself are feeling well. I’m grateful for our government leaders who are trying to keep us safe. I’m grateful for running water, electricity, food, shelter, and the ability to communicate with others.

Dear reader, I will be praying daily for your safety and well-being. How are you handling this difficult situation? Keep in touch and let me know what you are up to while engaging in social distancing. If you want to add a happiness boost to your day, check out Gretchen Rubin’s website. Try to remain calm, hopeful, positive and grateful during this uncertainty. Happiness!

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”     ~ Isaiah 41:10

 

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FlowersThe first week back to work after a week-long vacation went by rather slowly. I think I am suffering from the onset of spring fever. Thankfully, today begins Daylight Saving Time. For me, the next eight months should feel glorious with the extended daylight in the evenings. I’m hoping this is also the end of my personal “canary in the coal mine.”

In Episode 144 of the Happier in Hollywood podcast, Sarah and Liz reveal their personal “canaries in a coal mine.” Back in the day, coal miners brought caged canaries in the coal mines with them. If the canaries became ill or died, the coal miners knew they should not venture into the coal mine since it was not safe for them. Mercifully, this practice was stopped in the late 20th century. However, today, it is being used as a metaphor for comparing canaries to the warning signs of something stressful or alarming that is amiss. The canary is there to tell you that you need to practice self-care. In Episode 147, Sarah and Liz revisited the subject and shared some of their favorites from listeners. After listening to both episodes and pondering the revelations from Sarah, Liz, and several listeners, it dawned on me that I have my personal “canary in the coal mine.” Drum roll, please! I actually have two canaries, sugar and procrastination. And, they go hand in hand.

Basically, when I am anxious or feeling overwhelmed, instead of taking a walk or productively completing a task or project, I consume a sleeve of cookies while playing Words with Friends or scrolling through Facebook for two hours. And, lately, I find myself doing that more and more, and it only adds to my anxiety. I LIKE being in control, and right now I feel out of control. Instead of being proactive, I self-sabotage myself. I feel like I am in a state of paralysis. So, what am I anxious about these days? What is overwhelming me? I actually have a list.

  •  Taking my acting career to the next level
  •  Sonic and his health issues (perianal fistulas and new thyroid issue)
  •  Finances (cost of Sonic’s impending medical care)
  •  Disarray of the house from remodeling
  •  Barry, Jr. working in Singapore and his time over there being extended
  •  Feeling like I don’t have the time to work on my goals
  •  Feeling like I’m running out of time to reach my goals

Surprisingly, after writing this list down, I’m feeling a little better. Lots better, in fact! Looking over my list, the situations that are overwhelming me right now are temporary, and they are not life-or-death issues. What action steps can I take today to alleviate the anxiety that I’m feeling about each of these items on my list? I can start with taking a deep breath, praying the Serenity Prayer, thinking of five aspects of my life to be grateful for, and releasing my canaries. It is time for me to practice some self-care and take action.

Dear reader, I am grateful for you and the joy you bring to me. Thanks for reading! Do you have a “canary in the coal mine?” What behavior reveals you are more stressed than you realize? Take heart because you can always release your canary once you have identified it and taken the necessary steps to extinguish the stress. Happiness!

“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” ~ Walter Anderson

 

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Since I was off from school for Mardi Gras break, my hubby decided to take vacation also. We opted to spend our vacation this past week at home. Our only commitments for the week were to take Comet (aka Tooty) to the vet for a dental cleaning, bring the hubby’s truck to the Toyota dealership to be fixed (recall issue), take Sonic to the dermatologist to evaluate his bum, and get our taxes done. This left plenty of opportunities to spend quality time together and complete tasks on our never ending list concerning our house. I also gained more time for reading, watching movies and anime, and puttering in my scrapbook room.

I am almost finished reading The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (horror) and The Keys to the Kingdom: Mr. Monday by Garth Nix (fantasy-adventure). Currently, both of my protagonists are in peril, and I’m hoping their stories end well; however, I’m not too optimistic at the moment. For those of you that do not know Joe Hill or his work, he is Stephen King’s eldest son who writes novels, short stories, and comic books. Like his famous father, he writes horror and dark fantasy. He also writes science fiction whereas King writes supernatural fiction and an array of other genres within the realm of the macabre. As for Garth Nix, he is an Australian author who writes fantasy novels for children and young adults. Mr. Monday is the first book in The Keys to the Kingdom series that recounts the adventures of twelve-year old Arthur Penhaligon as he navigates his role as the Rightful Heir of the House.

Rug 1At the beginning of the week, I purchased another table for my scrapbook room. This allowed me to move my Cricut machine to its own table. And, I can still have a friend come over to scrapbook with me. This also led me down the rabbit hole of looking at rugs for my room. The hubster and I spent a couple of hours driving to various stores around Hammond looking at rugs. Unfortunately, they were either, too large, too small, too expensive, or not the right color. Later that evening, while watching a video posted by a member of the group Craft Room Organization with JenniferMaker on Facebook, I noticed her lovely rug on the floor of her crafting space. I inquired as to where she Rug 2purchased it (Wayfair), and my mission to find a rug continued. By Tuesday afternoon, I tagged 41 rugs that had potential. Andrew dropped by and helped me narrow my choices down to eight rugs. I asked the hubster for his opinion and settled on four choices. I would make a decision the following day. I ordered both a rug and a rug pad on Wednesday. The rug pad was delivered Friday, and the actual rug was delivered on Saturday. I am beyond pleased with both items.

Overall, our staycation was wonderful. We did have a couple of disappointments. The part needed to repair my hubby’s truck was not available like he was originally told, so the dealership had to keep his truck. We are not really sure when he will get it back. The silver lining is the dealership provided him with a rental truck at no charge until his truck is repaired. We also did not receive the best news from Sonic’s dermatologist. Sonic’s perianal fistulas have resurfaced. And, the doctor is concerned that Sonic’s thyroid is not working properly; therefore, he ordered a blood test to check out his thyroid. The silver lining is the perianal fistulas situation has been caught early. Sonic’s oral medication has been increased, and we will continue keeping his anal area as clean and dry as possible. Hopefully, we will hear something soon about his bloodwork.

GrapefruitsSome other highlights during our week off that gave me happiness boosts:

  •  Eating boiled crawfish with our neighbors
  •  Barry making progress on the utility room
  •  Seeing my friend Michelle when picking up the Girl Scout cookies that I ordered
  •  Lunch with my parents
  •  Bathing the big dogs (finally had a day warm enough and without rain)
  •  Driving around town in Son #1’s beautiful, black Mustang (he’s in Singapore)
  •  Working on Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook
  •  Fried oysters, a stuffed artichoke, Cajun crawfish pasta
  •  Watching anime (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) with Andrew
  •  Picking the remaining grapefruits off my grapefruit tree

Dear reader, I must admit that the biggest happiness boost of all this week was owning my time. Having time off to relax, recharge, and reflect has been joyful even with the stumbling blocks we had to maneuver around this week. As we march into a new month and through the season of Lent, let’s be grateful for those moments of respite from the daily grind and make a point of carving out time for reflection and renewal. Rejoice, for our new month also brings daylight saving time, and that dear reader is cause for celebration. Happiness!

“Taking time off will help you spend time better.” ~ Julian Hall

 

 

 

 

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