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Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

Happy Birthday, Aunt Carolyn!

Typically, November is the month that plenty of us pause and reflect on our blessings. The celebration of Thanksgiving stirs up the soul to think more deeply about who and what we are most thankful for in our lives. 2020 has been a challenging year for many with the global COVID-19 pandemic, numerous natural disasters, and the presidential election in the United States. I’m sure there are some who would scoff at feeling grateful amidst so much suffering and loss. However, counting our blessings every day, not just during the month of November, is a wonderful way to navigate through a stressful period of uncertainty. 

I chose November 2020 to visually count my blessings with a gratitude project on Instagram called A Month of Gratitude. If you are interested in my project, you can follow me on Instagram @katherineloyacano. Each day, I post a black and white image of someone or something that nurtures my grateful heart. I am fully aware that 30 days will not cover everyone or everything that I am most grateful for in my life, but it is a wholehearted starting point towards being more mindful of the gifts I receive daily. Today, I am grateful for my Aunt Carolyn who is celebrating her 80th birthday. What a terrific person! I wish I could be with her today celebrating such a huge milestone. She has a special place in my heart. 

Undeniably, there is a great deal that stinks about 2020. It has been a year of loss in so many ways. Loss of life, loss of jobs and financial stability, loss of hopes and dreams, as well as the loss of security to name a few. Nevertheless, when you peel back that layer of discontentment, worry, and fear brought on by loss, there is a fresh layer of hope ready to replace all those negative feelings with comfort, calmness, and contentment. This year also celebrated babies, marriages, graduations, and birthdays. In addition, this year has shown us resilience, living in the present moment, and our true priorities to ourselves and others. Those are all something to be grateful for during uncertainty.

It is never too late to develop an attitude of gratitude, dear reader. It is a simple habit that costs nothing to cultivate. With a little time, you will immediately reap the benefits. A grateful heart is rooted in joy. Take some time today to plant some seeds of gratitude and see how your life blossoms. Happiness!

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Today’s post centers around reflection. When allowed a moment for contemplation, circumstances that appeared daunting and overwhelming lose its seriousness in the dawn of a new day. Revelations blossom from the stressful experiences providing armor for the next wave of challenges that will surely be faced in the future.

The last few weeks have been physically uncomfortable for me. I had my back bottom tooth on the left side of my mouth extracted on 22 July because it had a fracture and caused pain every time I ate a meal. It was replaced with bone and barrier with the intention of getting an implant in a few months. I’m experiencing pain daily from the barrier which will not be removed until 17 August. I’m not a fan of prescription pain medicine, so I have resorted to taking Ibuprofen when I’ve had enough discomfort. Then on 31 July, while making my way to turn off my alarm clock at 5:30 in the morning, I tripped over Sophie (it was dark and she was not sleeping on her bed) and fell hard on both elbows and my left knee. Needless to say, I could never be a stuntwoman because I cried like a baby for about 10 minutes and prayed that nothing was broken. Thankfully, Sophie was not hurt, and I did not break anything; however, I still have bruised elbows.

Prior to this (7 July), my BFF Shelly was rushed to the emergency room in Florida because she could not breathe. She had a pleural effusion on her left lung which had to be drained and biopsied. Now, she is on the path to determine the culprit, cancer or her heart which was damaged by radiation received when she had Hodgkin’s at 16 years old. This is weighing heavily on my mind. Although, each test that she has is leaning more in the direction of the heart, the results are not conclusive. And, there are more tests to be run and information to gather in the next few weeks. Concern is playing on the periphery of my mind like background music.

Sophie 8-4Mix in a wound on Sophie’s tail that turned out to be a growth that needed to be removed because it wouldn’t heal on its own. She is 12 years old. The procedure to remove the growth was performed on 30 July. She did well, and came home that afternoon. Unfortunately, she made it difficult to clean her surgical site (even though she is sweet, she can be ornery), and the decision to bring her back to the vet on 05 August was made on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, 05 August, I dealt with Sophie on top of worry for my friend, my own physical pain, and going back to work in the midst of a pandemic. School looks extremely different this year. One of my duties is morning carpool. I now take students’ temperatures before they get out of their car. My first morning carpool duty was Wednesday which happened to be the first day of school. My husband left to go out of town on Monday, so I had no truck to transport Sophie to the vet. My BFF offered her vehicle, but she could not drive because she had an angiogram the day before and was unable to drive for 48 hours. I had to drive. More stress added because driving her vehicle is like driving a bus. Andrew had to go to SLU at 10:00 that morning, and I needed him to help lift Sophie (she weighs 72 pounds) inside her kennel into the vehicle. Therefore, I had to leave work immediately after carpool duty, drive to Shelly’s house to pick up Shelly and her vehicle, drive to my house to pick up Sophie, drive to the vet and drop Sophie off for an extended stay, drive back home to drop off the kennel, drive back to Shelly’s house to drop her off with her vehicle, and then drive back to school to work for the remainder of the day. Oh, and I failed to mention that after work, I had to drive to Metairie to see my dentist so he could remove the stitches in my mouth.

Wednesday was an extremely stressful day for me due to the number of events that was happening that day and the logistics surrounding them. I’m no Superwoman; however, I made it through the day and accomplished everything that needed to get done. That evening, I cracked open a can of Bad Seed (fruited gose) and ruminated on the day.

Revelations:

  • I am responsible for my anxiety. Don’t catastrophize.
  • Although rather slowly, I can drive Shelly’s vehicle. It was not as scary as I thought.
  • I survived the day despite all that unnecessary anxiety because I allowed myself to lean on others and trust instead of thinking I had to do it all myself.
  • Gratitude trumps stress and anxiety. I’m grateful to Shelly, Andrew, Julia (my co-worker), Dr. Davis (our vet), and Terri (my administrator and friend) for helping me get through Wednesday.

As I’m writing this post today, dear reader, I feel silly that I worried so much. I’ve marked this day in my calendar so that the next time there is a day in my life that seems insurmountable, I can remind myself that I’m not expected to be Superwoman. I’m blessed to have people in my life who are always willing to help me. I just have to ask. Happiness!

“If we could remember the miracles God has done in our past, we would not so easily fall into worry and fear when we have new challenges to face.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Bad Seed

 

 

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A few changes or a parting of ways of sorts has taken place in my household in the last couple of weeks. Ending relationships are generally associated with people or organizations; however, I think you can also end a relationship with things that have performed an important function in your life. And, while the loss of the relationship with an item may not be as impactful as with a person, the attachment to that item, especially if the relationship with it was lengthy, can elicit a slight pang of melancholy at the point of separation.

This past Wednesday, I parted ways with my lower back tooth on the left side of my mouth. I had been having discomfort with the tooth since the beginning of March and had every intention of going to the dentist at the end of that month. COVID had other plans, and my dental visit didn’t occur until the end of May when I received the delightful news that my tooth had a fracture and would need to be extracted. Two months later, my tooth is gone and has been replaced with bone and barrier with a possible implant in my future. Even though parting ways with my tooth has been painful these last few days, my future self will be grateful to no longer feeling discomfort after every meal.

2005 CorollaParting ways with my money is almost as painful as saying au revoir to my tooth. However, when an special opportunity presents itself, you let go of the dough. My friends were selling their 2011 Mazda3 for a good price which meant Andrew could drive a newer car. Therefore, last Friday, we bought their car for Andrew which left us needing to get rid of the car he was currently driving. This past Friday, Barry and I parted ways with our 2005 maroon Toyota Corolla at A & B Motors, a salvage yard in Amite. It was a bittersweet moment as we pulled away from the parking lot. That Corolla (a car that we owned the longest of any vehicle) was a fantastic car that provided many miles (261,163 to be exact) of enjoyment and reliability.

And, while we are on the subject of parting ways with our moolah, my hubby and I had to shell out some cash for a new water heater; because after 21 years, ours decided to call it quits. Like our Corolla, it provided us with many years of enjoyment (love those hot showers) and reliability. Thankfully, I married a handyman who with the help of Son #1 could install the new one.

The last item or items that I have parted ways with this week are the 19 pairs of running shoes that have been residing on the floor of my master bedroom closet. Yes, this is the same closet that I have been needing to clean out and reorganize for the last two years. A friend of mine at school needs shoelaces for a science lesson, so I decided what a wonderful way to jumpstart the organization of my master bedroom closet (#19 on my 20 for 2020 list). By finally getting rid of all of my running shoes that have accumulated in there over the last couple of years, I have made a small dent in the mess and have ignited a flame of inspiration to complete that task and will hopefully carry over to other areas of the house (pantry and hall closet).

Parting ways with my tooth, the water heater, our old car, and my worn-out running shoes, not to mention the money to replace them with newer or better ones, has made me more grateful for the gift of service each item provided for my family and me. An attitude of gratitude is a lovely frame of mind to embody in everyday life. From the ordinary to the extraordinary, dear reader, gratitude can produce happiness and joy. Now, if I could just part ways quickly with my excess weight and credit card debt… Happiness!

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Running Shoes

 

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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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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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