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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Tomorrow begins a “season of sacrifice” in my life that will last for the next few weeks. It is not the first time that I have gone through a period like this, and it surely will not be the last time. Everything gets busier this week with rehearsal requiring more time, leading into an intense tech week (next week) and opening weekend.

My focus for the next two weeks and the next four weekends will mainly be on the play, The House on Haunted Hill. Being in a play is not only thrilling, invigorating, and fulfilling, but also extremely time-consuming. Therefore, many of the tasks or activities that I had planned for this period of time have either been cancelled or put on the back burner until the dust settles and my schedule opens up again. In fact, my hubby and I are no longer entertaining the idea of participating in the Zombie Run in New Orleans on Saturday morning. However, we are still planning to attend The Psychedelic Furs concert at Tipitina’s on Saturday evening. I must practice daily self-care, which includes eating well, walking at least 20 minutes per day, reading, getting enough sleep, and incorporating spiritual practice throughout the day.

This week is also October’s full moon or the Hunter’s Moon. This would be the perfect week, dear reader, to read Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf or watch its movie adaptation, Silver Bullet. Kelsi and I recently chatted about both the book and movie which you can check out below or on Kelsi’s YouTube channel. We also discussed how we are both doing with our Halloween Fun Lists since hanging out together earlier in the month.

Recently, I have been thinking about my future self, specifically my future self at the start of 2022. Regrettably, I realized that I had not reflected on the third quarter of the year which is due in large part to Hurricane Ida. Briefly scanning my 21 for 2021 list, I must acknowledge that I have abandoned many of the items that I had good intentions of completing this year. We are now in the fourth quarter of 2021, and I cannot see myself completing, much less even attempting to complete, the majority of the items on my list. Therefore, I am letting my list go until I am finished with the play (November 13th). At that time, I will evaluate my list to see if any of the tasks can be completed by mid-December, moved to my 22 for 2022 list, or tossed completely. Then, I will do a year-end review of what I accomplished throughout 2021 and start planning for 2022. I feel this is realistic, and my future self will thank me. In addition, I purchased some whimsical journals (Don’t Break the Chain Habit Tracker, Know Yourself Better Journal, One-Sentence Journal) for my future self this morning from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project that I want to use in 2022.

I have a great deal going on in my life right now, dear reader. If all goes well, I should have a new roof on my house by the first week of November. Completing the roof allows us to start repairing Andrew’s bedroom. My hope is Andrew will be back home before Christmas, our backyard will be cleared of all tree debris by the end of the year, and we can finally put Hurricane Ida behind us. Despite a hectic schedule and experiencing some overwhelming moments, I remain grateful and hopeful. My wrist seems to be healing with daily medication and wearing the brace. Having Fridays off has made a huge difference for my well-being. And, I was given the opportunity to participate in a show that allows me to explore my creative side. I may be in a “season of sacrifice,” but it is temporary, and I will navigate through it with grace and a grateful attitude. Happiness!

“Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring, it is not taking things for granted, it is present-oriented.” ~ Sonja Lyubomirsky

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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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Autumn officially commenced on Tuesday and brought cooler temperatures with it. While the summer of 2020 was not how I originally envisioned spending my break, thanks to COVID-19, it turned out to be fairly pleasant. Back in June, I created a list of acceptable activities I could participate in while following the constraints mandated as a result of the pandemic. With the exception of planting new flowers in my garden (still weeded and watered existing plants), I participated in all of the activities on my list and added some additional ones. 

Bushwacker

Bushwacker

Social distancing limits socializing with people “in person” which is difficult for me because I greatly enjoy socializing with people in person; however, I did get to spend some “in person” time with my parents and a few friends. My hubby and I had a couple of drink nights with Shelly, her hubby, and additional guests (her mom, Mr. Mike, and our friend Karen). In June, we drank bushwackers (not a new cocktail for me, but new for my hubby) which are super yummy because they contain ice cream.

Jaguar Juice

Jaguar Juice

In August, we had two drink nights which featured two new cocktails, a Strawberry Cream Martini and Jaguar Juice. In addition to in person hangouts, I attended quite a few virtual improv hangouts this summer. And, thanks to my friend Brian, our improv group recently had two celebrity guests attend our hangout for Q and A sessions. One Tuesday night, Greg Proops hung out with us. The next evening, Jonathan Mangum joined us. Both have appeared on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and shared so much terrific information and encouragement with us.  

I scrapbooked a fair amount this summer on Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. I have some journaling to complete on a few of his Ireland pages as well as his Wales pages, and then I can move on to his adventures in London.

Rock of Cashel

As I wrote in my last post, I enjoyed my “Summer of Poe.” Even though I didn’t get to read Poe’s entire body of work this summer, I plan to read the remainder of it in the near future. 

Chicken TaquitosChicken QuesidillasI did try my hand at some cooking this summer. I made chicken quesadillas, baked chicken bacon ranch taquitos, cranberry pecan chicken salad, crispy air fryer chicken tenders, and meatloaf with brown gravy. Yes, I know…lots of chicken. The recipes that I tried are basic (not many ingredients) because I don’t really enjoy cooking. Also, whatever I cook needs to also appeal to Andrew’s taste buds. Thankfully, he is not as picky as he used to be as a youngling. Out of everything I tried, he did not like the chicken salad which Barry and I absolutely loved. Since the summer is over, I have no desire to try any new recipes for the remainder of the year. 

Chicken Salad

As for exercising, I stuck with walking all summer. Rain or shine, I have not missed one day since I started back in March and hope to continue my streak. As for my weight loss journey, I wound up not taking it, even after all the preparation to start on June 1st and attempting to recommit in July. I also haven’t done much running. I dropped the ball, and I have had to reconcile myself with the fact that it may not happen this year. I’ve felt fragmented since all this COVID stuff has started, and I haven’t been able to focus on any one area for any length of time. I have too many irons in the fire, and I know I need to schedule my time better in order to get to everything I want to accomplish both personally and professionally. But, we all know, dear reader, that time management is my kryptonite. In fact, instead of taking items off of my plate and putting them on the back burner for a little bit, I have added more items which requires more time.  In addition, I’m not doing so hot on my 20 for 2020 list. Although, I still have a glimmer of hope that I can knock a few items off of my list in the remaining quarter of this year. We’ll see what the next three months have to offer. 

Despite not seeing friends I usually see, not doing activities I normally do, or not meeting goals I generally meet, I am grateful that I still had a summer break. My summer was different, dear reader, but much of it was also restorative, relaxed, and simple. And, sometimes, that is the blessing. Happiness!

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory, and, like a dream, glides away.”     ~ Sarah Helen Whitman

Kentucky

at my Uncle Manuel’s home in Nicholasville, Kentucky

 

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Today is National Positive Thinking Day. 2020 has been a doozy of a year, and it just keeps on giving and not in the most positive ways, so we could all stand to benefit from a bit of optimism. According to an article on optimism in Psychology Today, “Research shows that, on average, human beings are hardwired to be more optimistic than not.” Optimism significantly improves experiences, especially unfamiliar ones.

I consider myself an optimistic person which is not to say that I have never experienced the doldrums. However, I actively seek out opportunities or implement routines centered around positivity. Thinking positively helps me persevere during the rough patches that spring up from time to time.

Here are a few ways I cultivate positive thinking in my life.

Develop a Gratitude Attitude

Gratitude JournalPracticing gratitude or exhibiting a gratitude attitude is a terrific place to start with implementing more positivity in your life. It is quite difficult to be pessimistic and grateful at the same time. Keeping a gratitude journal and listing 3-5 items daily is a wonderful way to reframe a “bad day” since focusing on the good as opposed to the bad makes for a happier outlook. The majority of items that I list in my gratitude journal do not always reflect major experiences from the day. Many days I am grateful for the ordinary, the mundane, or things we take for granted. Hot showers, ketchup, the sound of birds on a morning walk, and a smile from a stranger while he/she holds the door open for you at the post office are all reasons to celebrate a feeling of gratitude.

During the summer, I started listening to The Gratitude Diaries podcast hosted by Janice Kaplan. Kaplan spent a year exploring gratitude and eventually wrote a book about her experience. Her podcast episodes are short (5-7 minutes) and air every weekday with a range of topics and useful tips that will help you start your day with a gratitude attitude. Being grateful equals feeling happier and more positive.

Daddy Nail GunExpress your gratitude towards others. It could be as simple as a verbal thank you, a note of gratitude, a small token of appreciation, or springing for lunch or dinner. Expressing thankfulness through words or actions is a positive gamechanger for both you and the recipient of the gratitude. My Daddy came over yesterday and helped my hubby install crown moulding in the entryway of my house. I always appreciate my Daddy (and my hubby) and his talents, and I make sure he feels that appreciation. Since the crown moulding has been installed, the bookcase that my hubby built for me will be put in the entryway, providing me with more shelf space for my large book collection.

Monitor Your Thoughts

Reframing your thoughts about a situation can lead to a more positive outlook. Sometimes life gets hectic whether at work or at home, and the demands during that period get overwhelming. Burnout, negativity, and a feeling of helplessness can creep in easily. If I am not careful, I am susceptible to falling prey to the negativity demon; however, I now view these times as a “season of sacrifice.” This point in time is temporary, and there is eventually a light at the end of the tunnel. Generally, I mark the ending date of my all-consuming task on my calendar to give me some clarity. If the season of sacrifice is at work, I may give myself permission to lower the bar at home. Taking pressure off of myself in another area of my life keeps me on track to complete whatever needs my immediate attention at the time. I may have to say no to some things to allow time to recharge my mental batteries.

Right now, we are experiencing a global season of sacrifice. My hubby and I have not been to a movie theatre since 26 January when we went to see Doolittle. Today, we are going to see Tenet, and I’m over the moon. Yes, we have to wear a mask, but I don’t care. It is a small sacrifice to make in order to experience an activity that I enjoy immensely. Having a type of entertainment to look forward to is a huge happiness boost and keeps dullness at bay.

Don’t catastrophize! Instead, embrace the unknown. Try to focus on the unexpected blessings that show up along the way. While the pandemic had us sheltering in place for longer than we could ever imagine, it also gave us an opportunity to evaluate the aspects of our life that are really important and valuable, such as relationships, while allowing us to slow down to notice the wonders of nature or rekindle an appreciation for being at home.  I started walking again and haven’t missed a day, yet. I love walking outside. Sometimes, I listen to a podcast or music, and other times I listen to the natural sounds surrounding me. I always feel happier and hopeful after a walk.

Imagine the Possibilities

Engage in activities that will allow you to think more positively. Here are a few examples of activities that make me happier.

  • Develop a spiritual or religious practice.
  • Develop a self-care routine that makes you feel physically and mentally strong.
  • Read books, watch programs/films, or listen to podcasts about happiness and positivity.
  • Do a nice gesture for someone.
  • Cultivate relationships with optimistic people.
  • Explore nature.
  • Create something!

Life is short, dear reader. Yet, we can choose how we live that life. Even though today has been declared National Positive Thinking Day, we can live positively every day. So, how do you choose to think? I would love for you to share your thoughts and any tips you have for thinking positively. Happiness!

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ Winston Churchill

Kat in Kentucky

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Just when you think that 2020 can’t get any worse, Mother Nature decides to send not just one hurricane to Louisiana, but two. What the heck! The school I work at has only been in session since 05 August, and we face being shut down for an entire week to weather the storms. Marco arrives sometime on Monday followed by Laura on Wednesday. Do you think it’s possible that the storms could take out COVID when it rolls in and out?

On a happier note, a good friend of mine has started a blog. It’s called Kelsi Explains It All. She’ll be writing about her passions which include: the 90s, Halloween, horror movies, cartoons, TV show binge-a-thons, and much more. Her first post features a Halloween movie marathon list that she created, and it includes some helpful links and resources to help other folks create their own marathon lists. I have already subscribed to Kelsi’s blog and plan to use her Halloween movie marathon list starting in the fall. Mwahaha!

For my dear readers who enjoy podcasts, I have two new recommendations.

Desert Island Discs is the first one. Guests are invited to the show as a castaway and choose eight recordings, a book, and a luxury item that they would like to take with them on a desert island. While discussing their lives with the host, a snippet of each recording is played and the guests explain the reason it was chosen. Before the guests are cast off to the imaginary island, they are given the Complete Works of Shakespeare, the Bible (or other religious/philosophical work), name their luxury item, and indicate one of the eight songs they would save above all if the discs are swept off the island. I’ve absolutely enjoyed learning about the guests and listening to some terrific music. I’ve even added some new tunes to my playlist.

The Gratitude Diaries is the second one. The host, Janice Kaplan, provides practical tips on how to add more gratitude to your daily life. She touches on gratitude in every aspect of your life. I find listening to this podcast on my way to work helps me to get in the right mindset to tackle whatever craziness will happen that day. School life amidst a pandemic is difficult even on a good day, so having a little pep talk about facets of your life that you can be grateful for prior to facing the day helps immensely.

Even though all of my plans have been cancelled in 2020, I will soon be embarking on an unexpected adventure with my Daddy in a couple of weeks (unless the two storms interfere). He asked me to drive him to Kentucky to see his older brother. He has been wanting to visit my Uncle Manuel for quite some time, and with my uncle’s wife passing away a few weeks ago, his desire to visit has become more urgent. Therefore, on 03 September, our journey to the Bluegrass State will begin. I’m sure the road trip will be exciting, albeit terrifying and arduous at times; however, I’m up for the challenge (I think).

In Other News:

Good News! My BFF Shelly does NOT have cancer. It has been determined that her damaged heart is the culprit that caused the pleural effusion on her left lung. She is not completely out of the woods and will eventually need to have surgery to repair her heart; however, NO cancer is awesome news, and she is feeling terrific. Sophie’s tail is healing properly, and if she continues to cooperate with her wound care, her tail should be back to normal soon. As for my dental issues, I had my barrier removed this past Monday afternoon. I have been pain-free all week. My next dental appointment is in early November and will likely be the start of the implant process.

Before logging off today, I want to express how grateful I am for all of you, dear readers. The Kat Files: Finding Adventure in Everyday Life has turned 10 years old. I’m in the process of thinking about how I want to celebrate this momentous milestone. A HUGE thank you to everyone who has been on this ride with me. Happiness!

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie.

white house beside grass field

Photo by Brandon Randolph on Pexels.com

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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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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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