I’m choosing the word “because” for this post in part because I’m not jazzed about finishing and publishing any of the posts in progress in my draft folders.
Also because I’m feeling relaxed and a bit lazy. Because Sunday is the Sabbath, after all, the one day of the week we are to refrain from work and focus on family/home/emotional well-being. Or for those of us who are not Christians (no judgement here), it’s the one day of the week where you best rest up and chill out so you’re ready for the work week ahead.
Because I am finding great enjoyment in watching “feel-good” movies these days, I’ve got a few to recommend. Ones I’ve seen very recently and ones I haven’t seen in a while but aim to see again soon.
I’m sharing these movie recommendations with you today because I care that you are exhausted from our new “normal” of existing amidst a pandemic. Because you deserve moments of time right now of pure enjoyment, because you work hard and have a lot on your plate. Because happy distractions like a good old fashioned “feel good” flick are good for you. They make you laugh, lift your spirits, and improve your outlook (if only for the short term, but these days maybe we ought to take what we can get).
I invite you to grab your favorite beverage and take a couple of minutes to let me tell you about these films.
It would so tickle me if you choose to share your comments on these or recommend other “feel good” films that we all should watch ASAP.
In the spirit of keeping things simple this Sunday, I’m going to share this via the numbered list method, with condensed explanations of what the movie is about or why I loved it.
“Kiki’s Delivery Service”: we watched this in honor of Kid #2’s 27th birthday. It includes awesome animation, but more importantly uplifting messages about conquering self-doubt, being courageous, and friendship. It’s a real treat; a film that can be enjoyed by any generation.
“Satisfaction Not Guaranteed”: a heartfelt comedy about taking chances, following your curiosity, and addressing life’s regrets. Stars Aubrey Plaza, who I loved as sarcastic under-achiever “April” in “Parks and Recreation”.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: this is very possibly the original “feel good” movie. Audrey Hepburn is ever so charming as “Holly Go-lightly”, making her way and finding love in the big city. If you haven’t ever seen it, I urge you to now. It is delightful and if you are a fan of late 50’s-early 60’s fashion and set design, you will adore it like I did.
“Hector and the Search for Happiness”: this one actually came to me by recommendation of our former pastor. It’s an offbeat, adventurous tale of an uninspired psychiatrists’ search around the world for the meaning of happiness.
“Little Miss Sunshine”: full of quirk, charm, and humor. It’s a fabulously cast (Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear) film that celebrates the weird wonderfulness of family. This is a movie I will happily watch any time.
“Blinded by the Light”: the first movie I watched on a plane. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the 1980’s of a teen of Indian descent living in England who becomes obsessed with the music (really the message) of Bruce Springsteen. There are marvelous musical and dance segments. It was a joy to watch.
“Bathtubs Over Broadway”: a documentary I love with my whole heart which I mentioned here. If you choose to do yourself a favor and watch this, I think, like me, you’ll find it very entertaining, joyful, and inspiring.
I hope you all get a chance soon (if not this very day) to give yourself some love by sitting down with no distractions and watch one of the above films or another one that you hold dear to your heart.
Because it’s Sunday, friends 🙂 In the U.S. anyway-my bad! Those of you living elsewhere, please take some time to refresh and be uplifted with a “feel good” flick on Monday or Saturday or whatever day it happens to be where you are.
I could just as well have used the letter “F” in this blog post. As in “F” is for Focus. Or “F” is for frustration. I say that because I’ve been frustrated and distracted these past couple of weeks, leading to a lack of focus on this blog of mine. Hence the reason I failed to publish a post last week.
But back to the word “distraction”.
When I googled it (you know, to help me to focus), I found two definitions: 1) a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else, and 2) Extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.
These days, I’m relating to both of these descriptions.
That’s because there is something, something very good mind you, that in this past week has prevented me from giving my full attention to blogging.
But in this post I can’t not talk about the turmoil going on out there in our country and our world. The “something very bad” distraction. The distraction that is exemplified by the extreme agitation of my mind and emotions right now: more black lives being extinguished by whites. The thought of Covid-19 cases spiking everywhere with all the protests that resulted from the sheer and justifiable anger of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis (and the multiple murders by police and white supremacists in other places in recent years). Chaos everywhere with more to come. And a completely inept administration at the helm.
It’s overwhelming and heart wrenching for all of us, most notably the black community. I’m working out how best to respond, because I feel it’s imperative to do so. To find a way to be a helper. To support the fight for racial justice and combat racism in America. I will donate financially to the cause. I’ve signed a petition online to demand an overhaul of policing in this country. And of course, I will keep praying about it. And I will remain open to suggestions on other ways to respond in a useful way.
So putting out a peppy little blog post last week wasn’t in the cards for me. And this week it’s a challenge, but as you can see, I’m doing it anyway.
The “something very good” distraction for me (and Hubs) right now, is that in honor of our 30th wedding anniversary and because we were itching to re-connect with our outdoorsy sides, we bought a new camper.
Yes, that one, physically tangible thing that I’ve had a picture of on my vision board since I first created it. It’s ours now. A second home, just on wheels.
So in the midst of this unprecedented moment in American history, we are blessed with the ability to be able to pack up our camper and head out to explore the wonder of nature in Colorado and beyond.
This is the part of the post where I was going to wax on about the responsibility of owning a camper. The time, physical, and mental energy that we have spent on obtaining it, getting it set up, and trying to find a storage unit for it as well as a campground that actually has openings in the age of Covid-19.
But in the scheme of things, that would be fucking ridiculous. I am white. I have a roof (now two) over my head. Gainful employment. The ability to safely exist in public. Health care. Essentially much of what too many in the black community don’t have. Which is completely unfair and needs to change.
It occurred to me whilst sitting on the toilet in our downstairs half-bath that capturing a photo of this was something I needed to do. It’s a weird display for sure, but it really got me thinking.
First though, it got me feeling. Overwhelmed at the concept of visiting 1,000 places before I die. A ridiculously tall order. Fortunately, I have perused this book just enough to know that I don’t actually want to visit all of them, or even most of them. Just a small portion. Maybe 2.5%. So 25 places, right? That might be doable. “Might” being the key word here.
Anyway, then it got me thinking if there were 1,000 places in my house right now that I could “visit” and capture photos of. And make a whole blog post about it. I mean, besides my workplace, right now I’m just here at home, thanks to Covid-19.
Then I realized that would be bonkers, not to mention excruciatingly boring for any of the dear souls who happened to attempt to read that blog post.
So that idea was scrapped.
With my down time these days, I’ve been trying to spruce this joint up. Ordered a few decorative items on Wayfair. Currently pondering a purchase of a cool looking framed map of the world to hang above the futon in our office. Created a list of small home projects for Hubs to do this spring. I’m aiming to give this place some TLC; to make it more “us”. Make it feel more of a sanctuary that induces comfort.
But I’ve also been day-dreaming about how things might be, if instead of living here in our small-ish Colorado townhome, we were living in one of our previous houses during this stay-at-home order. Some of those houses had amenities that I loved but would appreciate so much more right now.
Specifically, the spots in the last two houses we lived in where I could retreat. By myself. To do my own thing. Sit and think. Listen to music or a podcast. Paint my toenails. I think these days, for those of us living with others during this pandemic, having a special spot inside your four walls all to yourself once in a while is necessary for mental well-being.
Maybe it’s your bedroom. Maybe it’s your home office. Maybe it’s your walk-in closet. Maybe it’s whatever space is available when you need it. It’s a place just for you when you need to think your own thoughts without being interrupted. To collect yourself and get reacquainted with your inner self. To indulge in some healthy daydreaming.
This brings to mind the cover of a great old Beach Boys song, which was performed by Fiona Apple and Jakob Dylan for the documentary soundtrack “Echo in The Canyon”, which I had the pleasure of watching a few weeks back.
Do yourself a favor and take a listen:
The first house we purchased in Wisconsin had a massive deck attached to the back. If we lived there right now, I’d be taking regular respites on it to simply soak up the greenery, the peace and quiet, and the sunshine.
If we lived in the house on 30th Street right now, the fixer-upper “Grandma” ranch style house we bought in Wisconsin after selling the house with the great big deck, I’d enjoy “me” time on that groovy 3-season porch. I’d open the shades up to let the sun in. I’d use the large floor space to do some morning stretches and a few yoga poses. I’d sit on one of those comfy deck chairs with my feet propped up and read a book. And I’d have the option to grab a “zero gravity” lounging chair to catch some rays in the beautiful fenced in back yard.
How about you all? Do you have a space in your home to retreat to all by your lonesome? I hope that is the case for each and every one of you in this wacky time.
Don’t get me wrong-I wish Covid-19 and the stay-at-home order that resulted from it didn’t exist.
However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit having my life slow down as a result didn’t have its benefits.
I’d also be lying if I told you I didn’t miss getting a massage every couple of weeks (my shoulders and my right hip are killing me, people!). I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss going to church every Sunday and embracing my friends there. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t miss jumping into the car with Hubs and the kiddo to enjoy a cold brew amongst our neighbors at one of our local brew pubs.
I’d really be lying to you if I said I was not speaking from a place of privilege. My lamentations are merely temporary inconveniences.
So on that note, I’d like to share what I believe have been the positive results of the “stay at home” order since it began, what, 6 weeks ago?
I have a much deeper appreciation for going into the office Mon-Fri.
I ended up being quarantined at home for 2 full weeks which I wrote about here, due to a possibility that I had contracted Covid-19 from an individual that was present in the same facility as I was who tested positive. I never became symptomatic, thank God.
Because of this, my role at the agency changed essentially overnight. I was tasked to begin a new program, which we had recently acquired grant money for. It involves calling our clients to check in as a “friendly visitor”. Now, making these phone calls was quite enjoyable for me. And with Hubs working from home (until the end of the year actually) and the kiddo for the most part doing their own thing and working part time, the environment in this house was quite conducive for it.
OMG, you guys, I sooo missed seeing the faces of my co-workers. I missed organizing the food bank. Receiving donations. Handing out food (via curb side pick up) to our hungry clients. The damn Keurig machine. I missed dressing in my work clothes, especially as I had gone out clothes shopping prior to everything getting shut down. I had nowhere to wear my new frocks!
I made my triumphant return to the office last Monday. Woo-hoo! Fortunately, things were not in disarray when I returned. My co-workers and our lovely volunteers got the job done in my absence. And while I continued my new work project, I also was able to help with managing the food bank and procuring more food donations. While wearing my new duds and enjoying myself a cup here and there of dark roasted coffee courtesy of our beloved Keurig machine.
I have embraced my homebody tendencies.
I mentioned in a recent post how I had been getting re-acquainted with my kitchen. That has continued. The jury is out with the Instant Pot, but that is a whole nother story. With the temps increasing, the grill is starting to get more use as is our dear Crockpot. And Sundays have now been declared “Dessert Day” because it gives me something enjoyable to do while I jam out to my Google playlists and well…dessert.
We are also “family-ing” (a coin termed by my MIL) in a more intentional way these days. We have created some silly art:
We have spent time listening to music and strumming along with our guitar (Hubs) and ukulele (now mine). We have played games on the Jackbox TV app (Guesspionage was especially fun). We have played laser pointer games with our furry housemates. We have gotten outside with these darling creatures for neighborhood walks. We are having more meaningful conversations with each other. All things that may not have occurred had it not been for the Covid-19 stay-at-home order.
And seriously, thank the good Lord for the ability we have to video chat with our loved ones. Seeing their faces and hearing their laughter this mom/daughter-in-law/grandma is simply the best.
I am excited about the possibility that once summer is in full swing, we will be safe to venture out into the big wide world again (excuse me while I indulge my optimistic tendencies). But I do hope to maintain this mentally healthier balance between being busy (I dare you to recall the last time you heard anyone tell you how busy they are) and just being. Because this is the lesson I want to have learned from this.
The USPS is likely to collapse unless the feds agree to bail them out in the next few months. This is not a good thing.
The USPS is an American institution that we have relied on all of our lives. Plus I have a very close friend who is a “lifer” at a post office in Wisconsin. He and hundreds of thousands of other postal workers would lose their jobs, and their health insurance. During a pandemic.
Doesn’t seem right to me.
So I was thinking, what can I do to help? What can others do to help? To try to prevent this from happening? To me, it’s a no-brainer.
Let’s all pledge to start writing letters.
I know, I know, it seems like such a small and possibly futile thing to do. But for those of us who consider themselves to be writers, it should feel natural. Enjoyable. Cathartic, even.
I remember being in high school and getting the name and address of another girl in one of those teeny bopper magazines I consumed on the regular. Her name was Liz and she lived in Pennsylvania. We became pen pals. We wrote each other back and forth every couple of weeks for I believe about 2 years. It was fun. I would send her pictures of me and my friends and she would do the same. It was exciting to get her letters in the mail.
Wouldn’t it be fun to try that again, as adults?
Now I’ve got this sorta weird compulsion to purchase greeting cards. Especially if I’m in some kind of cute little gift shop while traveling. Or when I go to Trader Joe’s (did you know they sell fabulous greeting cards for just $1 a pop?).
Sometimes I pick one because of the art. Sometimes it’s the message. Once in a while, it’s both and I have conjured up the image of it’s recipient on the spot. Now that’s a happy moment for me.
Here’s a sample of what I’ve currently got on hand.
You do you, but what I plan on doing this week is picking one of these cards and writing a few lines to someone I care about. Let them know I’m thinking of them and hoping all is well in their corner of the world. And help out the USPS in the process.
Then, the next week, I’ll choose another card and a different person to send it to. Or maybe I will use the pretty stationary I know I have around here somewhere and get out one of my colored pens and have a go at it. Good thing Hubs purchased approximately 2 years of postage stamps on line the other day.
Things have changed in oh so many ways. And I suspect the changes in my life, both at work and at home, are going to continue, in wild and unexpected ways. For better and for worse. As all of ours will due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
I was banished from my workplace yesterday. It came to light via email yesterday morning that I may have had contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Not anyone at work, but an unknown individual (HIPPA prevents the employer of this person from publicly naming them) at a location where I was picking up items for our food bank.
While I donned a face mask during this pick up and am fairly certain did not get any closer than 6 feet from anyone else there, my employer gave me the rest of the week off (with pay, thankfully) as a precaution.
So here I am now, at home, overthinking everything and anything. Unsure what to do next. Determined to maintain continuous virtual contact with my co-workers, at the ready to answer questions or complete other tasks assigned to me that can be done from home (what those tasks might be remains to be seen, but I am determined to roll with it). In other words, I finally broke down and decided it is in my as well as my employers best interest to sync my personal cell phone to my work email account. I suppose I’ll be setting up a Zoom account on this phone shortly too.
All that said, I am, alas, at home today until next Monday (with maybe one trip to the store in the mix). So clearly I ought to take care of our little sanctuary. Do some cleaning. Organizing. It’ll make me feel better and it will increase our collective level of comfort.
But not until I engage in some serious ventinglamenting writing. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been fantasizing about just one day during which I inhabit the role of a full-on, at home, creative writer. One who furiously taps away on her Chromebook drinking an array of beverages all the while-starting with coffee and ending with a glass of fine Pinto Grigio. Wearing the comfiest of clothes , making sure to get up and stretch and/or dance to keep those muscles loose and the mental energy high.
So that’s my plan for today. I think anyway. Because I also know this….
Let’s face it: As bloggers and readers, right in this moment, we cannot exactly avoid writing or reading about the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has invaded all of our moments to some degree. Whether waking and/or sleeping. It’s getting all nestled into our psyches.
But we can control how we think of it. How we respond to it. Just like anything else (not like there is anything else to quite compare it to). We can control the amount of time and mental energy we spend on it. But we can’t (though I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s a part of me that just wants to stay in bed and wait for it to blow over) completely avoid this new reality.
Call me Captain Obvious if you must.
Now, my thoughts and feelings, and I imagine yours too, are subject to change on this matter. Because we are receiving new information on the pandemic faster than we can process it. This is messing with our heads.
We can go from looking at it as a circumstance that is bringing out the ugliness in people to looking at it as an opportunity for self improvement and noticing the good it brings out in others. I choose option #2.
We can go from focusing on our concerns for the well being of the loved ones who live far from us to the ones who are physically with us in the here and now. I, for one, intend to hug the two other humans and at least one of the furry beings I share my home with as often as I can. Once of course we have shed our outside clothes for our inside clothes (am I the only one who is intentionally shopping online for active wear lounge worthy attire right now?) and properly sanitized ourselves.
We can go from feeling sad about the length of time it may be before we can leave our homes and spend time in those public places we are missing so much to feeling enthusiastic about having more time at home to contemplate life and engage in activities that feed our spirits. Or starting to plan, say travel in the mid-summer that is more likely to occur than not, as I will be doing?
I think it’s of utmost importance for all of us to remember that we are all experiencing this together; collectively. Just from different perches.
There’s no doubt that it’s harder for some of us than others. It’s easier for some of us than others. We all have our unique obstacles in this time, but this pandemic is affecting all of us at the same time.
What lessons do you suppose we will learn?
I think we will learn what we truly value. Who we truly value.
I think we will learn what we are made of. How tough we are. How tough others are. What our weaknesses are, individually and as a society. What we’re capable of.
As an optimist by nature I’m finding the benefits of this partial quarantine. I have, as a matter of fact, rediscovered the joy of cooking.
Since the kiddo has moved in, I’ve fallen away from cooking our evening meals. It wasn’t intentional. It’s just that it turns out that in the years this kid was not living in our home, they learned the joy of cooking. And not the kind of cooking they learned from me (read: I am, until fairly recently, a strict recipe follower). The kind of cooking that is more organic. More intuitive. No measuring involved. They use more spices and a wider, and sometimes unexpected, variety of them.
And it turns out they are a really good cook. Quite a delightful surprise for this mom. The image of my mom pops in my head actually when I watch them whipping something delicious on the stove. Which always makes me smile. I think Bonnie would appreciate this.
A few weeks ago, before this partial quarantine (I am still going to work, folks), I remembered the meatball recipe I saw on my charming blogger friend Annie’s blog. And I decided we ought to try it.
Now, I wasn’t able to find smoked sea salt at the grocery store, so I used plain old salt. But I did find hamburger and italian sausage there. In fact, I picked up a pound of each, then split them up, putting half in the freezer for later. Because I assumed that they’d be so delicious I’d want to make them again. I assumed right.
Hubs and the kiddo raved about them. I thought they were scrumptious, though next time (despite my family’s opposition) I will cut down on the red pepper flakes just a bit.
Last Friday at work, we received a large donation of home chef bagged meal kits. So many that I ran out of room for them in our refrigerators. I decided to take a couple of them home and try them. On Sunday, as we watched the remainder of the newest “Jumanji” movie (recommend this if you want some true escapism), I planted myself in our little kitchen and got to work.
There was something about doing that that gave me such comfort. I was being productive and useful. As there was no instructions found in these paper bag meal kits, I was forced to use the ingredients as I saw fit. I used all of them except the kale, sweet potatoes (the kid made homemade treats for Radar with them) and something called “cashew crema”, which resembled the tube feeding liquid someone donated to our food bank once. When I asked Hubs how I thought I should cook the kale, his response was that it needed to be thoroughly washed…then put down the garbage disposal.
After an hour or so, we wound up with this fantastic meal of whole wheat linguine with flavorful marinara sauce (which I doctored up with the shallot and garlic cloves supplied in the kit, along with a dash of red pepper flakes). Accompanied by baked and seasoned chicken breasts smothered in the prepared pesto sauce with pine nuts and bursting-with-flavor grape tomatoes. And all of us, as Annie would say,”lurrvved” it!
So on account of Hubs and I not spending money on our planned trip to Florida with our friends, I decided to do a little splurge. I went online and bought an “Instant Pot”. And I’m determined this new toy of mine is not going to go by the way of the air fryer I bought a couple of years ago (which is now referred to as the tater tot maker). This sucker is going to get used, baby!
How about you all? Are you like me, rediscovering the joy of cooking? Or rediscovering something else that gives you joy with all this unexpected time stuck at home?
You may think I’m delusional, but there are silver linings in this pandemic situation, don’t you think? I imagine if we all gave it some thought (now that we have more time to think) we could all come up with some.
And I propose that we should all do it now, before the novelty of our new normal starts to fade. Because if we’re being honest, it will.
So I am going to strike while the iron is hot and go first:
Getting to know my co-workers better. Because we serve low income seniors, many with underlying health conditions, we have to band together to meet their needs in new and different ways. We are finding ourselves problem solving together on a moment to moment basis it seems. Like drive up service, which we started doing last Friday.
We are all learning to be more hygienic, washing our hands for longer, and more thoroughly. Did you see the video clip of Gloria Gaynor singing the 20 second chorus to her hit “I Will Survive”? Wouldn’t it be fun (and smart) to take that to the next level and find other 20 second choruses to belt out while hand washing?
Like this guy did:
We have more time to get stuff done around the house. The small projects, like cleaning the refrigerator and a bit of re-decorating, organizing file cabinets. Which can all be done at a leisurely pace, because we have the gift of more time.
We have more time for reading and expanding our knowledge base. That’s always a good thing, right people?
The leaders are emerging, which gives me hope. Not tRump of course, but others. Governor Cuomo comes to mind.
We all get to catch up on those favorite shows we have dvr’d and not yet had the time for. Mine include This is Us, Bless this Mess, and Shameless. What might you all have in the DVR hopper?
We get to enjoy live virtual performances from our favorite performers in their homes. Please feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.
We get to sleep in more. Huge bonus in my opinion!
More time to relax (read:cuddle)with our funny, furry companions.
I know there’s more I’m not coming up with. But I’ve got time to figure it out. As we all do at the moment.