The Year 2020 – or, the Year that Pooped in the Pool

No Poo Pool Please

For those who know me, you know I’ve got an honorary PH.D in Positivity. No matter what happens, even if initially I’m devastated or bummed or just ticked off, eventually I come around to the belief that I’m better off because of it. Maybe not richer, or younger, or cooler, but deeper, more compassionate.

And then the year 2020 fell on all of us like a kid who pooped in the public swimming pool. We’re all there trying to learn how to swim and have fun and now we all have to get out of the water and walk home wondering if we have poo particles in our hair. How far do the particles go when they’re in water?

So I’m here stuck at home again in Texas because we’ve got over almost 6,000 active cases of confirmed COVID19 in my county alone with 65 confirmed deaths and a whopping 138 new cases just yesterday.

It all came into perspective yesterday when my three year old wailed that he hadn’t been to the ball pit at IGI Playground in TWO DAYS! I was like…sweetie it’s been 5 months. It has been five months since my kids have seen the inside of an indoor play park, the mall, an outdoor concert, Target, or a StarBucks. We take them to the outdoor parks when it’s open, and we escaped to Rockport (6 active cases) beach a few weeks ago.

And you know what they’re doing right now? Playing tea party together. For some reason Benji is the dog, I’ll try not to read too much into that. The point is, they’re making the best of the situation. They’ve grown closer together, they never complain about missing crowds, and they’ve grown three inches. We have Netflix and clean water and lots of ice cream.

Despite all this, and I don’t want to come across as whiny but….I DO miss the crowds. I miss shopping in person without feeling embarrassed I’m risking my life to buy those cool new stripped socks I saw from the window. I had to cancel a trip home this summer. I just miss people being happy, too, I think. People are scared. And the angry anti-mask people are the most scared of us all.

I don’t need to get political. That’s what a facebook rant is all about, am I right? (You know I love you!)

Point is – we’re all feeling that big, heavy poo in the middle of our really clean pool. And taking the turd out of the pool in November is only the first step. We need to clean the water, too, before we can jump back in.

That means taking a good, hard look at ourselves. Are we actively searching out ways to be a better ancestor? Are we detoxing ourselves from the turd-particulates? What are we doing to keep ourselves coping in a healthy way? Do you even know when you’re off balance? (Hint – taking a pic of the license plate of the rude person who gunned their engine and roared around you dangerously to cut in front of you in line at the Starbucks drivethru and then posting it on Instagram is funny and feels good in the moment, but also probably a sign you need to do some anti-stress work.) Yes. I am talking about me. What? You thought I was perfect? Come-on, Man! We’re all human.

Look, there’s a turd in the pool right now but it doesn’t mean we can’t clean it up, be that neighbor and friend we’ve always wanted to be, and make the world a better place. As Peter Jackson said in ‘The Hobbit’ – Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found it is the small things. Everyday deeds from ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.

My only advice on this would be, don’t wait around for someone else to clean up their corner of the pool. We all have to pitch in. In that spirit, I will remove the Instagram post. I will try to be better tomorrow than I was today. If we all did that – it’d be a really cool world to live in.

Vacationing During A Global Pandemic

Vacationing during a global pandemic is not for the faint of heart. Having said that, I am aware how very lucky I am to still have a job, and have the financial resources to have a little get-away. These are blessings I do not take for granted.

Now – onto the tonnage of Nervous Nancy and Judging Judy’s rumbling down on me for traveling during a pandemic, let me explain.

First – and I can’t stress this enough – this is not going away people. The 1918 Flu lasted three years. Do I think we’ll have a vaccine ready and available widely enough to make a difference? All signs point to…maybe…probably eventually, possibly by next summer.

Second – we had over 4,800 people with COVID19 in my county alone. the day before we left. Where we booked a little weekend getaway? Four at the time we planned it – six by the time we got there three weeks later.

If anything, they shouldn’t have let us come. All I can say is, we were respectful of the opportunity to get away and followed all the requirements asked of us by our hosts. It was the very least we can do. Stop The Spread, eh?

So – How We Managed It:

We planned it around the kids natural ‘down-time’ in the early afternoon and Benji slept most of the way. We ended up having to stop once for potty but it was close enough to our journey’s end I felt comfortable there weren’t too many cases around. Still, the kids wore masks in and they weren’t allowed to go touching chip bags and fondling the stuffy/tourist item racks like they normally do. In. Out.

When we first arrived we sanitized with a lysol spray sanitizer and as per hotel requirements, we didn’t have housekeeping in the room changing beds and cleaning while we were here. If we needed new towels or sheets we’d leave the old ones outside the room and let them know. All staff wore masks.

We wore masks (even my three and six year old) inside the hotel and in public areas. You may be wondering what kind of crazy overprotective mom does that to a kid – well, me.

They’re home-made with fun designs and not only do they not mind wearing them they often forget to take them off. If they were fighting me on it, that would be another story so no judgement, none at all, if you can’t get your 4 year old to keep one on! This be a judgement free zone here people! Unless you’re an adult and you’re not wearing the mask – RUDE. Rude play my friends. Just put it on. Unless you forget it, I’ll try to remember this is a judgement free zone.

In any case, we took them off in the room. I carried hand sanitizer wherever we went and we washed our hands when we got back to the room.

We alternated our eating and swim times for when there would be less people. Luckily our two young children wake up at the crack of dawn so we were down at the pool at 9:01am when it opened. We had the pool to ourselves for a good three hours before anyone else showed up. And then we left.

We were able to plan our weekend getaway to extend over a ‘work-day’ and went to the beach on Monday morning, avoiding the weekend crowds and again as soon as they opened. We spent the morning frolicking in the ocean, totally alone until around 11am when people starting coming. Once our 10-15 foot bubble was broken we left – quite happily as it was almost 2pm and we’d been there since 9am.

What about restaurants, you may ask? Most were take-out or eat outside (which was lovely as we were on the beach). The ones that were eat-in we made a judgement call – if we couldn’t eat outside or if there were more than three other couples we left and found a restaurant with less people.

If it sounds like a lot of work…it wasn’t. We behaved the same way there (even though there are far less cases of COVID19) as we did back home. If we needed an HEB run, one of us would go and one of us would stay with the kids so we didn’t have to bring them in with us. Having two parents during a pandemic is another blessing I am acutely aware of. Don’t judge moms in the HEB with kids people – she may have no one to leave them with.

To sum up – wearing a mask didn’t impede my joy or diminish my freedom – it allowed me to do what I want while still being respectful of others. I could have COVID19 and have no symptoms – and I don’t want to risk getting an elderly person sick or potentially ending up in an ICU alone. I don’t need that on my conscience thank you!

In any case, there are a few simple things I can do while I live my life as (mostly) normally as I always do. Wear a Mask. Wash my Hands. Wind Down At Home. (Unless you’re on vacation, then Wind Down In Your Room By The Beach).

Once we got back – we notified friends and family where we’d been and left it up to them if they wanted to stay away from us for 14 days to be safe. Some did, some didn’t, but they all appreciated the heads up. It just comes down to respect for others.

Really lastly – I feel like we all just need to get comfortable with the changes this pandemic has brought us – it isn’t permanent and it’s the smart thing to do. Life is not the same right now. And that’s okay – we count our blessings and like Dory says ‘…just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’

Next time let’s talk about school re-openings – that should be fun, right?

Black Lives Matter

Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

I’ll start with a quote I like from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Your goodness must have some edge to it. Else it is none.”

There are times to speak and times to stay still. I haven’t said much publicly, at least not here, about the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd in particular. Both because there are smarter, better, (black) voices we need to be listening to first. And still. And always. As a white person the only reason to take up the limelight here is to shine it on the people who are struggling and hurting right now.

I have also been waiting for my outrage and hurt to harden into resolve. I’ve been waiting for this hot mess inside my heart to sharpen into a will I can use to carve out practical, concrete steps to ensure this kind of thing never happens again on my watch.

All mothers, everywhere, you have been called. When George Floyd begged for his mama because he couldn’t breathe…my heart, your heart, broke. Every mother in the world needs to answer that call. It is time. We have stood by in neutrality because we’re raised polite. We’re raised to assume everyone has an opinion they are allowed to shout at the rooftops while we bend over backward to soften the edges and quiet down the controversy.

Well, that’s not our job anymore. Saving someone else’s baby – that’s our job now.

Our job is to make sure no more non-white boys and girls need to be scared they’re going to be the next one to be murdered in public. If that feels strong to you, it should. This is a problem that has gone on for hundreds of years. It isn’t okay. It’s never been okay, and it needs to stop. https://time.com/5851855/systemic-racism-america/

Here are the concrete ways we can stop this:

Move Money – We don’t need to call a police officer carrying a gun for a homeless man outside a Wendy’s, or a person who may or may not have known he was carrying a counterfeit $20 bill. We don’t need to pay police less – we need less police crack down on minor crimes. No one deserves to die for a broken headlight, vagrancy, or ‘attitude’. There are social programs who can deal with mental health, vagrancy, and other minor, non violent crimes. If we can find the money to fund them properly.

As an aside – I’ve seen a police car exactly once in my neighborhood in the 5 years I’ve lived here – and you know when that was? When we had a door-to-door (black) man selling books for his university. The police car pulled up to my driveway and he called from the car ‘You Okay Ma’am?’ Yes. Please carry on. And what were you saying about white privilege my friends? FYI it doesn’t mean you were born rich – it means you were born white.

Black neighborhoods are disproportionally over policed while their social and community programs are gutted in congress and fail for lack of support and funding.

Move Legislation – There are way smarter people than me talking about how we can make lasting changes to the laws in our land. From barring choke holds to reducing prison sentences for minor crimes to introducing rehabilitation programs to giving the Fair Housing and Equal Credit laws upgrades.

Not sure what I mean? Please see links below:

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2019/08/07/472617/systemic-inequality-displacement-exclusion-segregation/

https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=45004

Move your Butt – If you can’t get out and protest safely you can read a book:

How to Be an Antiracist By Ibram X. Kendi (https://www.ibramxkendi.com/how-to-be-an-antiracist)

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander) Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad.

Lastly – we may not ever be able to convince the Karen’s of the world that black and people of color’s lives matter but we can confront our own inherent racism. Once you accept you are a part of a system of oppression that has hurt millions of people, only then you can start to make things better for everyone. This isn’t just a Black Lives Matter movement – this is a Human Rights Movement and until all of our children are safe, none of our children are safe.

Really lastly but certainly not least, we can speak up when we see racisim in others. Because avoiding a confrontation over race and racism? Yeah – we’re not doing that anymore.

Morning Glories will Get You Feeling Glorious

Ah…Morning Glories. They really ARE glorious, aren’t they? I’m kind of in love with them. There has been a resurgence of heirloom varieties of flower and plants, and with it, some new problems.

Apparently there have been issues with teenagers getting high on the seeds. I KNOW. Teenagers, is there anything you won’t do to kill those brain cells your mama worked so hard to grow? Inside the seeds there are high levels of lysergic acid amide (LSA), an ingredient in the seeds that is similar chemically to LSD.

Who knew my beautiful morning glories propagate by shedding their little felony-class seeds all over the place?

I love heirloom flowers. I mean, I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t like I was walking around one day and was like…daisies? BAH. Fugetaboutit. I want me some HEIRLOOM flowers. None of this pansy new-pansies for this lady.

No. That’s crazy talk. And everyone who knows me knows I don’t follow trends, or even notice them, although that doesn’t mean I’m not affected by these trends. I’m sure because of other people being all ‘with it’ in the gardening world my local store starting stocking them. Did you know the Aztecs used them? The Chinese too, to the tune of about 3,000 years ago for their medicinal properties (laxative, not LSD although you never know).

I digress. I saw them on the packet and threw them in my cart. I didn’t even know if I could grow them. But I DID. And they come back, every year, and I can’t tell you how much THAT makes me happy. (Very. Very happy). You see, at heart I am a lazy gardener and anything that says…’you chill out Ange – I got this. We’ll see you next season and you don’t have to do a thing’ will always get my attention.

So, they are beautiful, they come back every year without me lifting a finger, and if I ever need to test my man-hood with an LCD inspired dream journey, I’m set! (I’m kidding, please don’t do this). Also, I’m not a man so there’s no need to test things.

In any case, that’s all folks, my little interlude, have a good weekend, eh? And don’t be eating those morning glory seeds…

Is This Thing Working?

So, everything quit on my this week. My phone is buggy, this new website is giving me trouble (did I lose all my old posts? Noooooooo!) And Corona-life is past ‘fraying at the edges’ and is full-on crises. But a slow crises. Slow-drip crazy is happening globally and the worst part is, we have no idea when things will start to get better. My usual, customary, no-fail optimism is at critical breaking point. I know. It’s an issue.

So, tears in my tea this morning. Tears of frustration from Benji (we weathered another epic tantrum the cause if which I am still not sure of). Even the SKY is crying today. At one point during the tantrum Benji was screaming, Ellie was crying/screaming, Bill was arguing with me about the best way to handle it, and the DOGS were yowling.

So what do you do when everyone around you has completely lost their mind, and nothing is working the way it is supposed to? (Also, it’s way too loud and you haven’t had your coffee yet?)

The crazier it feels, the deeper you have to go to find that calm and strength inside you. And if you can’t find the calm (and you can’t even find the coffee!) take a time-out. Remove yourself from the situation until you can get a grip on your own emotions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and as long as (if its a baby) they’re in the crib or a safe place, it’s better to go take a couple deep breaths, get a handle on your own emotions, then you can jump back into the fray a calmer, more level-headed person.

Times are stressful people, for everyone. Some people are dealing with tragedies the likes of which I think will only start to come out as the months and years go by.

Have compassion for yourself. When you feel like your emotional stock-piles are getting pulled on, make sure you put some back in. And you do that by taking care of yourself. Go watch a kitten video, cuddle your dog, and for goodness sakes go get some coffee!

“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed. Doe Zantamata

Spring, Feral Children, and Juggling

Ah, springtime. 

I may be juggling a teensy bit of resentment…but first, no matter what is happening to me personally, or to my community as a whole, it is beautiful in Texas in May. That’s just a fact.

It is getting unbearably hot in the afternoon but the mornings and evenings are perfection. Heaven distilled. Pure, sweet joy.
There’s nothing the kids and I enjoy more than releasing ourselves to the wilds and comforts of the backyard. It is green, and brown, and blue, and glorious.
There is nourishment in being outside that you only feel when you get still. Even the kids feel it after a few minutes. They get along better, they laugh more freely, their eyes are bright and their small bodies get far from me as they explore on their own.
It’s like we’re tethered, any time they get too far (or too quiet) I look up from my garden, or my book, or my laptop, and track them down and check in. They’re usually not getting into too much trouble outside, unless I accidentally leave the hose on, then they are making mud and jumping in it. Then throwing it around for some reason? They may be going feral.

Covid-19 is serious and terrible, and being sequestered at home is both a blessing and a curse. It feels awful, and special? I love all this extra time with the kids. At least, I love it when they’re peacefully asleep and I get a chance to relax and let my brain unfurl the day we had.
At one point this week I had my laptop in one hand, earbuds in, recording a Zoom meeting and holding Benji back from hammering Ellie’s door with my left hand while I held the dog back with my foot and (after muting) assuring Ellie I had Benji under control and she can come out of her bedroom.  Talk about juggling.
Meanwhile Bill is serenely chuckling at something someone said on his call, which he is of course not expected to have children interrupt. I get it, I get paid less, and let’s be honest probably less terrible things would happen if I get distracted and hit the wrong key.
Still. I think all of us moms out there who are working at home with or without an added paycheck need to be held up high.
We. Are. Crushing. It.
Even when we’re not, you know why? Because we are there, day in, day out, doing what needs to be done.  And we don’t hide in offices (for long) and we don’t sleep in (often) and when we’re all sitting on the couch watching a movie, it is mom who gets asked to bring the snacks, am I right?
So, yeah. Good job guys. Hang in there. Take pictures. Sleep well. While you’re at it, swap the jammies for a high-powered suit or dress on a random Wednesday. And if anyone asks, it’s Fancy Pants Day. Why? Because you FEEL GOOD when you’re dressed up. Then it FEELS SO GOOD to get into your jammies again! Yesssss!
Much love to you all, hang in there, you got this, dress up, and wash your hands, eh?

Emergency Sanity Saver

How is everyone doing? I swing wildly between
‘I was born for staying inside all day in my pj’s! Yah! I’m so grateful I can spend this special time with my children – thank God for all the medical workers, the essential workers, all the people out there risking the lives of not only themselves but their loved ones to ensure our supply chain is strong and our sick friends recover.”

To:
‘LET ME OUT!’ I don’t care if I have to run over razor blades just someone let me into a bustling Starbucks so I can sit down at my laptop and happily tune everyone out and write by myself. IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?
Also, next time I hear someone say ‘cherish this time with them’ – I’m going to punch them in the big toe.
Look, I get it, I’ve even said it myself. Heck, I even actually feel that way a fair amount of the time. Especially for my littlest guy, who I was feeling conflicted about going to ‘school’ full time anyway. I’m quite happy we are ‘forced’ to have this special time together.  They are thriving, mostly, with us both around and the long days spent cozied in our little family cocoon. We’re mostly grateful we are able to do this and still put food on the table. We’re grateful we’re still healthy.
Like a lot of people with young kids around though, they’re both our salvation (can’t stay in pj’s eating ice cream all day with these bouncing beams of joy) and our ruination. (Can’t you get along with your brother for TWO STINKING SECONDS?)
Or, my favorite mom-phrase that I get to say 17 times a day…”BENJI DON’T RUN WITH A SPOON IN YOUR MOUTH.” Or, this new one, “Benji don’t chase the dog with the balloon.”
There’s also timeless classics like, “Benji don’t pour water on the floor. Benji do NOT run through the water on the floor. BENJI! Benji are you alright? That’s why we don’t pour water on the floor then run through it. You’re ok, there’s no blood. Carry on.”
This one I get to say about 25 times every hour. “Benji stop kicking your sister. Ellie do NOT hit him back. It’s okay to be mad, it is not okay to hurt someone.”
I get to say this one usually right before nap-time. “Benji stop pulling Toby’s tail. Throw them a toy or something. No, do NOT put that dog toy in your mouth. Gross. Benji take the toy out of your mouth. BENJI!!!”
I used to say this one about seven times a day. “Benji – please go put some pants on.”
Now it’s “Benji go…just…at least put your underwear back on. And not on your head this time.”
And then, realizing I haven’t seen or heard from Ellie in 45 minutes:
“Ellie? Where’s Ellie? Oh, you’re here, sitting quietly in your room and organizing your gem and rock collection. Very well. Carry on. No. No, Benji you can’t be in here with food. Wait, what are you eating? Benji where did you get that cookie? The COUCH? How long has that been…let me see – alright there’s no mold. Carry on.”
So, yes, I get the ‘cherishing’ bit and I’m doing my best but we can’t ignore the reality that staying home 24/7 is not the way to a peaceful, happy parent. It just isn’t. This is why they invented grandparents and IGI Playgrounds people.
I digress.
What was I saying? Oh yeah, it’s hard to focus with kids roaming around your house all day seeking that to which they may devour.
Well, there’s always cake, am I right? Now where did I put that recipe for the triple layer coffee-chocolate cake with the lava vodka center? Ah, here it is, under ‘E’ for ‘Emergency Sanity Saver.’
Stay sane my friends.

And if you’re going to get the mail – put some pants on okay? Everyone else is home too and we’ve got nothing better to do then to stare out the window any time we see someone outside. At least, put underwear on. At least you’re not putting it on your head. 

What was I saying about staying sane? Oh yeah…try to stay saner than me. That’s a low bar right now, I think you can manage it. 

The Brothers Cuomo

Recently Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that New York state is a microcosm of America. They’ve got the big city of New York, but also rural upstate New York where ‘we’ve got more cows than people’.
If New York is a microcosm of America, we are in for a steep ride my friends, one that at this point, none of us personally can do anything to stop. That just sucks, doesn’t it?
But if New York is a representative of the rest of the country, the Cuomo brothers are too. For my Canadian friends, Andrew Cuomo is the Governor of embattled New York state. His brother, Chris Cuomo is a television journalist for CNN and if you didn’t catch the press conference from yesterday, here is the link from NBC:
If that doesn’t work try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTljxQBDr0 or search YOUTUBE for ‘Andrew and Chris Cuomo Argue’.
Chris confirmed he had COVID-19 three days ago, and they talk about what it’s like mid-sickness.
At times funny, sad, loving, anxious, clearly worried about each other, yet resolved to get through this. It was so nice to see a leader being honest, vulnerable, and humble. The main take away was… ‘Don’t kick a brother when he’s down’, and we’re all having weird dreams.
My heart goes out to all of us, really. Each person locked inside alone, every family with young kids, all of our older people risking their health and life to get groceries.
I have young kids at home, and I’m trying to settle into the role of ‘crises-teaching’.  I can’t call this ‘home-school’ because I didn’t spend months researching and planning for it, laying out and debating lesson plans and deciding which home school group I wanted to join. I don’t have group trips with other home schooled children planned and competitions between our kids like spelling bees and math games.
Thankfully our pre-school is offering online support and sends me the lesson plans already made up with sheets to print off for the week. We’re muddling through, but it isn’t pretty. I’m ‘crises teaching’ – filling in the gaps the best I can, and having compassion for them and me in our weird new world.
I am worried about our teachers – are they healthy, are they able to pay their bills?
I’m worried about our community doctors and nurses who are on the front lines.
If it hasn’t hit you yet, it will, and hopefully not to the extent Yew York is currently experiencing. 
It isn’t what anyone signed up for but our doctors and nurses are there, pushing through – putting their lives on the line – risking their own families – for strangers. We’re horrified, and grateful. Not to mention the thousands of truckers on the highways making sure our food supply stays up, and our grocery clerks who certainly didn’t sign up to risk their lives to bag bread. Our hearts, everywhere, globally, are hurting.
Here in Texas the recent data has suggested our peak is still up to three weeks away. I feel like we’re on one of those old-timey wooden roller coasters with the frayed seat belts and we’re clicking our way inexorably up a steep mountain. 
And when we finally come down on the other side, who will we be? Who will we be as individual human beings sharing this planet and who will we be as countries, as nations?
I think we decide here, now, who we want to be.
We take one crises at a time. First this, the health crises, making sure the hardest hit areas are getting the most help. They need staff, PPE, ventilators and beds. Then we move to the next crises and the next state. And it is as simple and as daunting as that. One crises at a time. One step at a time. It’s all any of us can do. Like Anna sings, ‘Do the next right thing.’
For me it means staying at home, it means washing my hands frequently and disinfecting the most used surfaces of the house daily. It means not watching the news in front of the kids. It means not hoarding supplies and it means taking this seriously.
It means remembering where my eyes follow, there too my heart. I’m watching the news, it makes me feel anxious now when I don’t, but I’m choosing my news carefully. I am making sure what I’m watching is credible, fair, and transparent.
I’ve been watching Andrew Cuomo every day. Maybe it’s nice to see a leader who isn’t bumbling, ranty, self absorbed and misinformed. (Tell me how you really feel Angela) Maybe it’s nice to see a leader getting things done, and doing it with integrity, honesty, and humbleness.
It’s nice to see a leader with real human feelings, who doesn’t get personally offended by tough questions from reporters. 
I didn’t realize I, as mentally strong as I think I am, needed to see a leader…leading. But I did. And I know this because I felt so much better after watching the brothers banter, one with COVID-19, one running the sickest state so far. For the first time in a long time I thought, if these two guys can get through this, and still have a sense of humor, maybe we can too.
You don’t need to ‘chin-up’ America, or any of that macho garbage. You just need to ask for help when you need it. Then do what you always do when it matters – you step up and take care of your neighbor.
Stay home, stay safe, wash your hands, and stay together by staying apart.
Much love,
Ange

The Gift Of Nowhere To Go

Hiya my friends – look – I don’t know if anyone other than mom and some uncles and aunts back home read this but, in case you’re out there too, I wanna talk about butterflies.
Just kidding, I want to talk about what we’re all going to do now that our lives have been disrupted by Corona.
Listen. Do. Not. Panic. Freak out, okay. Cry on the phone to your mom, cool. But panic? No. We do not panic here in this blog.
All of these closures are scary – it’s unprecedented, so, yes, scary.
But let me tell you why I am relieved.
I am relieved because the people in the position to make wise, intelligent decisions…are making them.
This social distancing will slow the spread of the virus and hopefully allow our medical infrastructure (ie the physical stuff like enough beds and ventilators to the nurses and doctors available and healthy enough to work them) are not overloaded. They will be able to handle the cases they do get and we will all be better off. I don’t want one ventilator and two aunts with breathing problems to choose from, you know?
So, now is the time to stay home (but not stuck inside) and rest. Bake. Weed the garden. Dance. Meditate. Do art. Heal. Pray. Learn how to make soap with the kids. Catch up on laundry. Do some online classes.
Seriously you guys I have not been caught up on laundry since…well since I had kids let me be honest.
Let’s take this historically unique opportunity in time to put away the panic (it will be there if you need it, trust me) and take your coffee on the patio. The news can wait until you’re awake, you know?
Listen to the birds. Sip it slow. Revel in the new dawn because there are things you can count on – like the sun rising and setting, like your kids being bored after two minutes, like that we humans are resourceful and wicked smart, and we can take this time to do things we don’t usually get to do.
This can be a time of transformation, of taking stock of the important things, of staying in our pajamas for days on end. This isn’t all terrible people, really.
Not to get all Martin Luther King on you but, if there’s one thing this can teach us, it’s that we are all connected. ‘Tied in a single garment of destiny.’
From Wuhan, China to Moncton, NB, from Italy to Texas to Vancouver to Iran, we share our future together, all of us, and although we are social distancing we are never alone. We are important parts of this grand ocean called humanity and our actions although they seem small to us, have global consequences.
When the danger has passed we will grieve our losses and go back into the world and help each other heal. So stay strong my friends, and enjoy this strange stepping-off from regular life.
Cuddle your kids. Write a poem. Wash the dog. Now is the time to clean your closet, heck, everyone’s closet.
And for God’s sake leave the toilet paper alone. We’re going to have enough, I promise. In fact, stop buying it and start investing in the toilet paper companies – their stocks are doing just fine.
Oh, and here’s some practical stuff – links to youtube workouts I like, etc.
Pamela Reif – I love her so much – she doesn’t start the video chatting etc and wasting my time and each segment is 30 seconds and she has a timer counting down which appeals to the lazy in me. Also I like the music. Anyway she’s got tons of awesome (short) work-outs for everyone from beginner to 20-mins AB work-outs for those of us who are already ripped. (I know, I literally don’t know anyone with abs anymore but apparently they’re out there)
Pamela Reif – 20 minute full body work-out – Beginner Edition
Here is a Kundalini one I like – great for older people or if you’ve got injuries or if you just want a nice relaxing 20 min mat-work-out.
Short and Sweet Kriya to Get Your Energy Moving by Kristen MacPherson
That’s it – that should get you started – thanks for reading and don’t forget to pet your dog. Or cat. It reduces blood pressure, eh? Maybe don’t try to pet the fish I don’t think that will lower anything but your goldfishes’ opinion of you.
 **Picture courtesy of kellyrunsforfood.com**

The Merry Mammogram for Me


It was a clear, sunny morning in The Woodlands, Texas. The air was cold enough to warrant a hoodie, jeans, and my favorite faux-leather boots, not enough for a jacket too.

The hospital was fine as most hospitals go. It was square and colorless, with wide, clean windows and smooth tan walls.

“Hullo!” I say cheerily to the woman behind the desk. She smiles and looks me up in the system as she’s helping another patient sign in. She was professional, pleasant, able to multitask with ease. ‘Where am I?’ I think as I sit down in the posh waiting room at the MD Anderson Breast Center Care offices with Memorial Hermann.

I fill out my form, hand it back and wait. After three songs and five pages pages of my book (American Eden by Victoria Johnson) they call me to the intake area.

The woman behind the desk was friendly and efficient, and I gamely fill out more forms.

When I go back to the last waiting room, the one where we all sit in robes and pretend we’re at a spa, I drink coffee they’ve provided and look around me. I can see effort has been made to make it feel spa-like. I’m sitting in a large open area with soft, comfy chairs. My white bathrobe was in a warmer until I put it on. There’s free coffee and tea. I’m impressed until I go over and there’s no tea but English breakfast, and of the 12 drawers of coffee, they’re all empty but one, dark roast. Bah.

When I sit down in the soft comfy spa chair I notice there’s a rip in the cushion, on the right where it meets the right armrest. It seems effort was made initially, but follow-up has been lax at best? The paintings on the wall are nice. It’s a marsh, could have been Amherst, a small town not far from where I grew up.

Of the seven women here I’m probably the youngest. Forty is the base-line year, the time to get your first so we have something to compare it to. Breast cancer rates drop after 50, usually around menopause. I’m not too worried here, if you know me well you know I went through premature menopause at 18 and with my low levels of estrogen I’m not likely to have to worry about this kind of cancer, at least.

I digress. Most of the women are older, a few my age. One lady about ten years older than me, bald head wrapped in a stylish head band smiles at me on her way out. I almost chase her down, wait, no, I should be the one smiling at YOU in encouragement! But she’s gone.

I am called quickly into the scanning area. It’s a younger woman with a few small tattoos peeking out of her long sleeves and under her neckline. I can’t tell what they are, a heart around a sword, maybe. I admit it’s my first one, she tells me what to expect. A pressure-pain but not sharp needle-pain. One picture about 5-6 seconds on each breast, two different angles.

“Hold your breath,” she calls out. As if I needed the reminder. She’s got my right boob squished in a vise. I’m not breathing until this thing lets up.

I’m thinking about Angelina Jolie, about how she went through this very thing, probably in a much fancier hospital in LA, and then she went through everything after including total removal and breast reconstruction. I’m amazed again at her chutzpah, her bravery. Thank you Angelina!

I’m also thinking of a friend who I just found out had breast cancer in her late forties. I will not name names, obv.

Anyway, she had gone through the diagnosis, chemo, breast removal and reconstruction and is now doing well. She’d gone in for a routine mammogram, and it literally saved her life. She’s got two youngish kids – under 12 – and she is the reason I agreed to do this myself.

I know if you’re my age, 35-45, you think…no. I don’t wanna. And I would be the first person to say…I get it. But listen to me now…if you love anyone in your life, a mom, a dad, a daughter, an aunt, you need to get this done. People are counting on you. It’s just a baseline. You won’t need to do this again for two, maybe even three years.

Does it hurt? I mean, squishing your boob one at a time between two plexiglass plates isn’t awesome but, it’s better than the alternative.

The tech who did my mammogram was efficient and funny. She was like…’Do you want to see your boobs?’ and I was like…’Yeah!’ I got to see what they look like in 3-D- which was pretty cool. At the end of the day, I can be a woman without my breasts, but I can’t be anything if I’m dead.

On my way out there was a woman sitting in one of these comfy chairs with no hair and a black hat. I used to wear a black hat too on my bald-head when I was 17 and I was struck by memories – she could have been me, twenty years ago. She was crying a little, into the phone. I wanted to reach out to her but, of course, I didn’t. I wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be okay.

I didn’t because, she was on the phone and she didn’t meet my eyes but I’m telling you, whoever you are that’s reading this…everything’s going to be okay. And knowing is always better than not knowing…trust me.

That’s it – this was pretty heavy but I know you can handle it…because you’re a woman, and you’ve handled plenty of harder things before this.

If you’re a man…I’m confused but stoked. Drop me a line and tell me how you found this post. Love you guys, eh!?