Category Archives: Life

The Year That Was

Pardon me for using the most frequently uttered word of 2020 here: but what an unprecedented year this has been. For me, for you, for all of us. All because of a virus, whose name shall not be mentioned because I know we are all sick of hearing it.

I am ready to usher in the new year, as I know we all are.

Beyond (or in some cases because of) this pandemic, plenty of unprecedented things happened in my world the last 12 (or should I say 9?) months:

I unexpectedly lost one job and gained another. Now I’m back to running a food pantry again, a job I never knew I could love so much.

We bought a camper! It was as much as “seizing the moment because we’ve always wanted one and who knows how many moments we have left” as it was “now we have the security of a home on wheels if we need to flee the country”.

I broke my first bone! On account of falling onto the pavement due to a rare combination of poor judgement and general clumsiness. I was fortunate in that the bone healed up pretty darn well after wearing a walking boot for 6 weeks. Who knew that in 2020 I’d gain such an appreciation for wearing two matching shoes?

I learned that sometimes gifts I give to someone can wind up being a gift for myself and both sides of my family as well as my spouses side. Yep, I got Rabbie, that kid of mine who studied history for almost three years at a state university, a subscription to Ancestry.com for Christmas. Now on the daily we are hearing fascinating stories about how my great great great great great great great great Grandmother Mary Chilton came over on the Mayflower. And other stories like how brothers Ira and Samuel Dickenson (Ira being my great great great great Grandfather, on my Dad’s side like Mary), came upon a bear in the woods in 1832 and proceeded to beat it with a cane. Word is their beating of this bear led him to become so docile that he became an exhibit at the zoo.

Don’t be surprised to read more stories of my ancestors adventures as 2021 unfolds.

Then there was the death and resurrection of Karl the cat. Back in November, he came down with a double ear infection. Poor little dude. Shortly thereafter, despite having started antibiotics, he developed pneumonia. Apparently it may be true that cats have 9 lives, because this one actually died on the couch one morning when I was at work. Hubs came to the rescue however and performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on him, inflating his little kitty lungs with enough air to revive him. He was rushed to the pet ER where he spent the night on oxygen. He came back home sassier than before, ready to climb on everything and taunt Radar.

All in all, it wasn’t for me the worst of years I suppose. It surely was an interesting one though. Let’s hope 2021 is interesting too. But in different, better ways, right?

Happy New Year!!

***Header image courtesy of https://cdacmohali.in/goodbye-2020-welcome-2021-images-quotes-wishes-status-whatsapp-dp/

Recuperating from The Christmas Crunch

I realized between Thanksgiving and the first week of December that something had to give. Often after my workdays I was too exhausted to do much of anything. Yet, with Christmas on it’s merry way, I still had things that needed to be done. Like purchasing all the presents. Making the cookies. Sending out the Christmas cards. Sending out the cookies and presents. Coming up with gifts and clues for “Secret Santa” week at work. Decorating the house. Wrapping the gifts. Planning the menu for our holiday feasting.

The “something” that had to give was writing and publishing blog posts. It was time to chill out about blogging. Put it on the back burner for a bit.

I wrote one post where I put a happy spin on it all…because I do sincerely enjoy every part of doing all this. And I wanted to share the merriment. But now it’s over and I’m (I am wincing as I write this) glad. Part of me feels that makes me sound like a horrible person. A bona-fide Grinch. But most of me chocks it up to being human. Putting it all together on top of working full time (yep, I’m up to 32 hours per week now) was exhausting!

The only non-exhausting part was watching all my favorite holiday movies. “Love Actually” continues to be my favorite (not just for Christmas but Of. All. Time.).

Yesterday morning, I did something I haven’t done in godonlyknows how long: I slept in until after 8 a.m. and then thoroughly stretched out all my limbs and laid in bed, my mind going gently from one thought to the next. I marinated in the fact that at least for this one day, time was of no consequence. There was simply nothing that needed to be done beyond a bit of grocery shopping, though certainly no one here was going to starve if I chose to skip that chore.

How delightful this was. Pure, unadulterated lounging. I think this was the Christmas present I needed the most.

So, I’m back, folks. I don’t know that my streak of publishing two posts per week will continue; however, you can expect a weekly post for certain.

For the rest of this weekend and into next week, I shall be thinking about the future. What changes 2021 may hold for me and mine. But it’s also the time to ponder what 2020 meant to me, what it taught me (in spite of the general suckiness of it all thanks to Covid-19). The words I want to focus on in the new year.

Right now, there’s just one in my mind:

Image courtesy of https://www.pixtastock.com/illustration/14556836 It was the best of the few I could find that were not attached to that Disney movie.

Embracing The Merry

I think for those of us that celebrate Christmas, whether in a secular way, a non-secular way, or a combination of both (like me), we can all agree that this year the holiday season is different.

Obviously, the reason it’s different this year is because of Covid-19. No in-person holiday parties like in years past. Worries about loved ones who may be alone for the holiday. The inability to travel and employment uncertainty.

Out of spite, as in “screw you, Covid-19, I’m not going to let you steal my joy”, I’m embracing this Christmas even more than I have in the past. Like it’s a life boat. Doing this, I think, is a healthy coping mechanism for these times.

We here in this house are gorging on all the Christmas movies. Not so much the cheesy, predictable, brainless Hallmark channel varieties (though they do certainly have their place). I’m talking the classics: “A Christmas Story”, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, “Elf”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Christmas Vacation”, “Love Actually” and more. The ones we all know the best lines to. The ones that fill us with a giddy joy and warm our hearts.

Our little townhome has been properly adorned with all the Christmas decorations inside and soon Hubs will be putting up the lights outside. We’ve even chosen to string multi-colored lights along the periphery of our living room and around the windows. We didn’t do this the previous years we lived here.

All of the Christmas cookies have been made to send to our loved ones in three different states. The presents have been purchased (online) and received. Names have been picked at work for our “Secret Santa” exchange.

Special desserts will be made. A drive through the local holiday light display for charity is happening this year.

One of my blogger friends, Crystal, wrote this lovely post which prompted me to read Luke. I was compelled by the passage in Chapter 3:
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”, to do a quick clean out of my kitchen cupboards to donate to the food pantry I now run. I think it’d be so cool if others did the same.

I’m determined to suck the marrow out of this Christmas season.

Who’s with me?

**Header image circa 1984 posing with a friend as Christmas elves/mannequins in the front window of Bonnie’s Clothes Bar**

How I’m Rolling These Days

I’m in a funk mentally and tired physically. Covid-19 has worn me down. No, I don’t actually have it. Thank God.

Both my eldest and my sister had it though. Both have recovered. Thank God for that too.

Wearing a mask all the time bites the big one. I get overheated and my nose is always itchy beneath it. Working more hours is sapping my energy for all the other things I want and need to do. But I am employed at a place that does amazing things to help those in need and I have wonderful, hard-working co-workers. Thank God for that too.

There are no fun plans on the horizon for me and mine because of Covid-19. But I’m certain there will be fun times further ahead, probably next summer when we have had reasonable adults in the White House for a bit who believe in science and ensure everyone has been vaccinated against this monster. Thank God for that!

I’ve not been as consistent as I like to be with writing and publishing blog posts lately because my energy is going elsewhere. But I managed to write this today. Thank God for that?!

I can’t see my church friends I miss in person because of Covid-19. Yet our pastors and talented musicians and volunteer tech support has come a long way with their ability to put together a virtual service over these past several months. I plan on watching the service this morning cuddled up on the couch with Hubs and Radar. Thank God for that.

Despite not spending as much time blogging these days, I’m still getting views, comments, and followers. I am so grateful for that. It’s heartwarming for me. Thank God for each and every one of you.

I wish all of you a blessed day. I hope you are all well and are able to find things to be thankful for in your lives. Even if you have to work through the things you are not so thankful for first.

Please share with me how you are “rolling” these days. You know I love to hear from you!

What Can We Agree On?

The seed that sparked this post was a comment made recently on one of my blog posts. In that post, I simply stated “Yay-Biden/Harris won”. Now those aren’t fighting words, are they? Yet, another blogger chose to tell me they were glad that I expressed this. Because then they could “block” me.

I found her comment humorous and ridiculous. When I read a blog post and don’t agree with what the blogger is saying, I tend to keep it to myself. Choose in silence to not follow them. It was the first time I can recall that anyone on the interwebs stated they would not follow me because of my political persuasion.

Of course, my response to this blogger was not helpful at all. I said “You do you, Sweetheart!”. That was admittedly snarky of me and later made me feel like a jerk.

But here’s the thing: aren’t we all in this together? Aren’t we all Americans? Aren’t there some basic things we can all agree on?

The extremism is really pissing me off these days.

Yes, I am very pleased that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be our next President and Vice President. I think they are earnest and are going to try their best to unite us and enact policies to put us all on a better path. I’m not going to take that back.

But there are almost half of us that don’t agree with that, which of course is their right. But is it helpful that a percentage of those folks are digging in their heels and refusing to acknowledge that Trump really truly lost this election? Doesn’t it make sense for them to put down their weapons, so to speak, and acknowledge reality?

I sure think it does. I’m hoping that they agree with that before long. It’s in everyone’s best interest, regardless of what particular political party they are aligned with.

For those of us on the other side, many of whom were often spouting re: Trump “well he’s not my President” after he was elected in 2016, they need to stop gloating. It is not helpful. While I was unhappy when he got elected, I didn’t go around saying “well, he’s not my President”, because I did not think it was helpful in any way. And it wasn’t the reality.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this blog is not a political one. It is however, my blog. And since I see my blog as being running commentary of life from my perspective in the here and now, it would not feel right for me to keep my politics completely off the table.

Ultimately, I want to be helpful here. I want to engage with others and lift them up. I want to be radically hospitable and open minded within this blog and in my real day to day life.

So, that leads me to this final question: what do you think we can all, as Americans, agree upon?

I think answering this question is a way to start healing. To start coming together. We have to start somewhere.

I will go first with: I think we can all agree that (more) change is coming in American society, whether we welcome it or not. We are all going to have to accept that. We’re going to have to get off our high horses for the greater good.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: O is for Optimism

Here begins the final entry of my Alphabet Soup Challenge.

There are lots of words that start with the letter “O” that I could have chosen to write about. Like “options”, “objectives”, “opportunities”, “openings”. Which, ironically, all have an optimistic bent-don’t you think?

But this is “Pollyanna’s Path”, right? I chose that title for my blog when I started it about 4 years ago for a reason. Because I am an optimist. And my optimism is what I’ve always aimed to share in this space.

Hey, I’m still publishing posts on this blog despite not having as many followers as oodles of other bloggers, right? I continue in part because I am optimistic that my blogging will get better. I also remain optimistic that this blogging habit will become more interesting with time-with how and what I’m writing and with whom I’m connecting via this platform.

So, for all of us who continue to blog; doesn’t it stand to reason that we are all optimists?

As Noam Chomsky once said: optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.

Doesn’t that make a ton of sense?

It’s important for me that you understand that my optimism is not foolish. I do not shield my eyes and ears from the harsh realities of this world: a warming climate, white nationalists acting upon their (based on fear) hate of the “other” in violent ways, immigrant children held for prolonged periods of time in detention centers, incompetent leadership in the White House. These things and more are happening in real time and it makes me sick; though mostly it makes me angry.

But here’s the thing: I think by and large we Americans are smart. There has been much we have overcome and changed for the better since the establishment of this country. We are problem solvers. My fellow optimists surely see it this way too.

But we have farther to go. We just have to be willing to step it up, imagine something better, and work towards creating that reality.

Because the glass for me is always half full. Key word there is “half”. We need to work collectively to fill that “glass” up to the brim with the good stuff that we all can benefit from: cleaner air, a robust education system, compassionate and smart policing among other things. We must do better and I believe we can and that we will.

Because, as Jennifer Mara Gumer puts it in this article (which I highly encourage you to read), optimism is “the truly rational viewpoint”.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.magiccrate.in/blog/parenting-tips-toddler/teach-child-optimism/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Z Is For Zumba

On the off-chance that you’ve never heard of this fitness craze, let me break it down for you.

Zumba is a group dance workout that utilizes world music. It’s high energy and fun. It gets your heart pumping and tends to cause profuse sweating.

I participated in Zumba classes for a few months back in Wisconsin about 8 years ago (mentioned in this post). I absolutely loved it. That’s not to say that I was “good” at it. I’ve been told that I’m a great dancer-but not on the Zumba floor. Because Zumba requires one to mimic the moves of the instructor. At a very rapid pace. My arms and legs don’t work together very gracefully unless I’m doing my own thing. Free-styling, if you will.

During the few weeks between my last job and my current job, I made a pact with myself that I was going to use that time for some self-improvement. I decided that I would start with improving my physical self by getting in some regular exercise.

So I found some videos of Zumba classes on YouTube, pushed my coffee table back a bit, and got my groove on.

Things did not go as I hoped they would.

There didn’t seem to be as many full class videos on You Tube as I thought there’d be. So I was going from dance to dance, different instructors each time, with ads between. Plus Radar was around, getting in my way. In fact, one time while I was “zumba-ing” I jumped on his paw because I didn’t see him there and he yelped in response.

After three attempts at my in home Zumba experiment, I came to the realization that it was just not gonna work.

But I have hope for my future with Zumba. One of my WIPs (Wildly Improbably Goals, a coined termed by writer Martha Beck) is to become a Zumba instructor. With the caveat that the classes I lead are only for those 50 and up. Who are beginners.

I would include simple choreography. Not too much jumping and not too fast-paced. I would have the best soundtrack, but it would not be dominated by world music. Maybe some, here and there. Mostly we would be zumba-ing to a variety of classic rock with a little adult alternative in the mix. The songs we all grew up with and the cool songs of the moment. The ones that have a good beat, making them easy to dance to.

Free-styling will be part of each number we do.

This WIP of mine is obviously not going to happen anytime soon, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions on group gatherings. But that’s just fine by me. I’ve got my plate just full enough at the moment, with running the new food pantry and this blog.

Lucky for me, I’m able to get in plenty of exercise in my work day at this point in time.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/194006696430951042/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: U is for Unexpected

Don’t you think that with age many of us handle the unexpected circumstances in our lives better? I think it’s a result of having more time here on earth than others. We’ve simply had a larger number of unexpected things occur in our lives. We’re wiser.

And I think that is awesome.

Not that when a curve ball presents itself we don’t freak out a little. We’re still human after all.

It’s just that we’ve got experiences behind us that tells us we’ve gotten through some shit. We’ve survived. Heck, sometimes we have even thrived after the unexpected invades our realities.

I had two unexpected pregnancies. In the span of two years. I feel like an idiot when I tell people this, but it’s true. And I wouldn’t change a thing about how it all played out.

I was on the pill when I got pregnant both times. First pregnancy was a pleasant surprise. Sure, we (as my mom would say), didn’t have a pot to piss in; but we were newlyweds in love. We made enough money between the two of us to pay our rent and buy groceries and we had the love and emotional support of both sets of parents.

Then, after living in Texas with our baby girl Amanda while Hubs took graduate courses in meteorology and did some student teaching for a few months, I missed my period. Scared out of my mind, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. As Clark Griswold would say, I was more shocked than if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.

Decisions had to be made. Staying in Texas would have meant that Hubs would have finished his Masters and put himself in a position to work at his (then) dream job: Professor of Meteorology at a major university. With people, the guy has the patience of Job, so I was confident he would rock that career path. The flip side, however, is that I would have to apply for Medicaid (we were poor, young,and dumb and had no health insurance at the time) for myself and baby Amanda. Then we’d be there in Texas, knowing only a small handful of people (and not very well), raising two babies under 2.

The decision we made was to move back to Minnesota. Where we’d have the support of two loving sets of grandparents to cope with this unexpected turn of events. The guilt I felt (in hindsight, this was wasted energy as it does take two to create new life) for “making” Hubs quit grad school to move back to Minnesota and find employment in his field lasted for years.

However…

While the three of us bunked with his folks and his teenage sister in (thankfully) a 3 bedroom apartment for a month or so, Hubs managed to get a job with a private weather forecasting company and we found ourselves a nice two bedroom apartment.

After Rabbie made their arrival during that hot as hell summer, Hubs got connected with a supervisor in the National Weather Service who hired him as an “intern” (a position that no longer exists) making $18,000 per year. This was sooo exciting! At the time. $18,000 to us in the early 90’s felt like a pretty good darn chunk of change. Only thing was, we had to move to International Falls, Minnesota. The “Icebox of the Nation”. Another unwelcome and unexpected thing.

Nevertheless, we made the best of it. Struggled, stressed out, but we pressed on as a team. As a family.

And now, here we are, married for over 30 years with two great kids in their 20’s and a smart as heck 6 year old grandson. Living in Colorado and as ready as we can be for whatever unexpected thing comes next.

What unexpected circumstances have happened in the course of your lives that changed everything? Please share in the comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://designpress.com/inspiration/32-fascinating-greys-anatomy-quotes/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: L is For Laughter

Back when we were living in Wisconsin, I attended a church sponsored women’s retreat. I recall being outside among the pine trees and cool spring air with a couple of other women. We were chatting away and for whatever reason the subject of humor came up. One of the women, a beautiful brunette with big brown eyes, stated “I’m not really a laugher”.

What a surprising thing to hear someone say, right? This was a person who was essentially admitting she didn’t possess a sense of humor. I never could get my head around that.

Around the same time, I participated in a couple of “Laughter Yoga” classes at our church with several other women (not the brunette). The theory behind “Laughter Yoga” is that laughing, even if it’s completely fake, is beneficial both physically and mentally. So we would do some stretches then we’d be invited to randomly call out something happening in our lives and then heartily laugh about it as a collective. I remember thinking that if anyone walked into that room they would think we had all lost our minds. Here we are, stating out loud things like “my daughter is in love with a loser” or “my dog is sick” then laughing our heads off.

I wonder if this is still a thing?

Anyway, my point is that laughter is important. Especially in these abnormal times. It releases endorphins and relaxes your body. It is essential to one’s well-being. It’s what gets us through, don’t you think?

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Since I’m not aware of any “Laughter Yoga” groups in these parts, I rely on other methods to evoke laughter in my day to day life.

Here’s a sample of the things that are making me laugh right now:

I recently finished the final season of Schitt’s Creek, and I’ve got to say that Catherine O-Hara’s “Moira” is on the top of my list of best comedic characters ever on t.v. Here’s a little clip so you can see why I say that.

The other day, I read the funniest blog post I’ve read in a very, very long time. It was so witty and original! The blogger, Christine, has a knack for comedic writing, which you will see if you peruse her blog posts (which I highly encourage). Check it out if you want a good snicker: https://imsickandsoareyou.com/2020/09/26/i-read-an-amish-romance-novel-so-you-dont-have-to/

This dorky woman cracks me up every time I see this commercial:

I shared with you all recently that I started a new job. What I don’t believe I shared though was that our organization also runs a thrift store on-site. All of the money made goes directly back to programming for low income families and individuals. Pretty cool, right?

Recently, I came across this interesting piece of nostalgia at our thrift store that I found hysterical. It reminded me of the big productions produced for company employees, as featured in my favorite documentary “Bathtubs Over Broadway” which I wrote about here. If only I had a basement with a bar….

So, Pals, what is making you snicker/chuckle/snort-laugh these days? Please share in the comments!!

***Header quote/image courtesy of Yakov Smirnoff

Alphabet Soup Challenge: A is For Aging

I think it’s funny that when we read the word “aging” we picture older people. Maybe you think of your parents who are in their 70’s or 80’s. But really, we are all aging. Babies, kindergartners, 30 somethings. All of us who are alive–we are aging.

What’s the big deal? Even more importantly, what’s the alternative?

This is the alternative

As I age beyond 50, I see many benefits. Sure, there’s the drawback of not being able to as quickly recall names or past events. The drawback of seeing little gray hairs sprouting in my eyebrows and along my hairline. The drawback of more aches and pains and possibly some arthritis.

However, if I knew 20 years ago what I know now about how edging closer to senior citizen status would feel for my spirit, I wouldn’t have dreaded it.

Because I’m 53:

I have a lot of funny stories about mistakes I made when I was younger. You know, the shit I survived.

I am much better at self-care because I have developed more self-respect.

I communicate more directly, as I now know that it’s better in the long run if I ask what may be perceived as a stupid question instead of assuming the answer and acting upon that assumption.

I am less fearful of failure.

I am more accepting of my personal faults.

I am more willing to ask for help; not seeing it any longer as a sign of weakness, but rather an acknowledgment that what I’m trying to achieve is more likely to become reality if I enlist the help of the right people at the right time.

I’m more accepting of my limitations and more comfortable saying “no” or taking a break from an activity that is stressing me out.

Those are some monumental benefits, right? I don’t believe in actively fighting the aging process, you see. I believe in embracing it with the right attitude and keeping in mind what the alternative is.

So, fellow upper-middle-agers: what did I miss? What benefits have you experienced from aging?

***Header image courtesy of https://sixtyandme.com/quotes/