Posted in Thoughts

It’s Like a Bad Movie

Well, here I was all ready to write about the various visits from family, when suddenly there’s new words in my vocabulary and a (hopefully temporary) new way of life.

I don’t watch the news anymore; I haven’t in quite a long time since there’s really not a thing I can do about what’s out there anyway. But when it directly affects me and mine, then I read as much as I can, avoiding the sky-is-falling sites, and go from there. This COVID-19 thing affects me and mine.

Suddenly it feels like we’re in a really bad sci-fi movie. We are, for the most part, confined to our homes. Playgrounds and beaches (beaches!) are closed. Shopping centers, amusement parks, theaters, gyms; you name it, they’re closed. In fact, unless you’re a grocery store or restaurant that can offer take-out, you’re closed (or will be). Even the almighty Amazon has had to change the way they’re doing business, focusing now on getting the essentials to those who absolutely need them and relegating the inessentials to an unknown distant delivery date. Bad human behavior has shown itself to be as diverse in its volatility as any B movie could conjure up. In fact, if someone had written into this movie that across the globe people would be hoarding toilet paper, would you have believed it? Wouldn’t you have wondered, ‘Who writes this crap’?

I just read two disturbing things regarding human behavior. In the first, a woman deliberately coughed, sneezed, and spit on $35,000 worth of food in a grocery store forcing the store to dispose of it. And this was intentional! The second involved a masked customer who was irate because he felt that an associate was ‘giving him attitude.’ When asked to leave the store, the man removed his mask and yelled and spit in the manager’s face! Really?

At the same time I read heroic and inspiring stories of the selfless men and women in healthcare and public safety who, despite their odds of contracting this wicked virus, continue to do their jobs day and night. I hear of the good neighbors willing to share what they have. I’m enjoying the plentiful impromptu videos musicians are sharing online just trying to ‘do their part’. Thankfully this list is long and encouraging, if you look for it.

While I can’t say this is the avenue I would have chosen, some of the consequences of this vile thing are not necessarily bad. Interestingly enough, the ozone is healing, there is little or no smog in the formerly polluted air around the world. Families are spending unprecedented time together, people are working from home and kids are learning online.

Will this be our new normal? Outside of the inconvenience of not having our swimming pool, card games, and social activities available, outside of not being able to see my family and friends right now, it’s been rather interesting. Gas is cheaper, traffic is lighter. Will people realize perhaps some of the good that has happened? Look at the projects getting done, the new hobbies taken up or rediscovered, the creativity that is drawn from having to find new and interesting ways to keep kids occupied. Parents are on social media sharing ideas and commiserating with with each other. We’re so used to ‘plugging in’ when things get to be too much that we forget what it was like before this technology arrived that has robbed curiosity and creativity. I’ve seen more interesting and creative ideas on social media than I ever did before! (Now if I could just find a store open for supplies…)

Check this out for some perspective:

Posted in Randomness

Well, 2020 hasn’t disappointed yet.

  • 1/1/20 Happy New Year!
  • 1/5/20 Mom arrives after six-hour delay out of Traverse City.
  • 1/6/20 Learn we have an accepted offer on a new home in Plantation Oaks.
  • 1/10/20 Phone interview for new transcription job.
  • 1/11/20 Notified that my condo tenant committed suicide and now prepping condo for sale.
  • 1/13/20 Job offer with Allegis Transcription.
  • 1/15/20 Start date with Allegis coach x three days (keeping in mind said coach and entire Allegis support team is on Pacific Standard Time).
  • 1/20/20 Released from coaching and offered remote transcription position as independent contractor, minimum 100 pages per week.
  • 1/20/20 House closing.
  • 1/22/20 Let’s move NOW – First night in new home.
  • 1/23/20 Making earnest attempt to get required pages in while moving and unpacking.
  • 1/26/20 Small birthday celebration at new home for friend.
  • 1/31/20 Brian and Laurie stop by on their way north.
  • 2/8/20 Pretty settled in now. Up at 6:30 and working till 10:00, finally able to breathe.

And so now it’s time to relax a bit, enjoy our new home knowing it’s our last move. I relish having my 93-year-old mother here for the winter and take great pleasure in watching her with her great-granddaughters. She sleeps late, plays computer bridge, does crossword puzzles and reads Danielle Steele to her heart’s content. We’re on the second go-round with the entire Downton Abbey series (thank you, David). I know this time is precious, and I want to be present for all of it.

Posted in Moving forward, Randomness

Goodbye 2017. Let us never speak of it again.

Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a year end as this one. Maybe I say that every year; I don’t know. But 2018 HAS to be better than ’17.

It started off well enough … mini-vay-kay in January at Reed Ranch with all the family; I so enjoyed that. Met a very nice, very fun but rather self-absorbed man who I pretty much knew immediately wasn’t going to be forever, but what a sweet-talker – and he loved to dance! Made for a very fun birthday. Hibernian party in Michigan in March. Not a bad spring. Work was going okay; I got a new boss that I rarely saw, and I got a raise.

Then … karma? Bad ju-ju? I don’t really know. June came, and everything fell apart. The man thing fizzled as fast as I could say the “M” word in response to a question that had absolutely nothing to do with him. Heart-hurt and confused, I tried looking forward but with too much hope and too little confidence. Ann, my cohort, left Kindred, work became more stressful. Met a few nice guys but no spark anywhere. I did buy my own condo, and I got to see my kids in August.  And then hurricanes, condo repairs, floor floods, identity theft, unexpected slights by former friends, an overly-stress-filled job, my Anita moving away; meets and break-ups faster than a speeding Bonanza causing me to again question myself, my appeal, my worth.

I just want it over. I know there’s no guarantee that 2018 will be any better than ’17. I realize that. I understand it’s what we make it and even more what’s in my head. I know all that intellectually. I do.

But 2018 holds at least some promise:  A new floor!  Ireland in March!  A healthier, more active me. And Meg is closer, though only through February.

I actually have no idea why I think 2018 will be better. It certainly starts off with a bang, at least through March, but then … but then?

It’s funny (not?), but part of me so wants a relationship with someone who will love me for me and want to share in my life. Another part of me wants my independence, my quiet, my space. Where is the balance? What is it? People do it all the time, but can I? I used to see myself either in a long-term relationship or even married again; I thought that’s what I wanted. But that was in the long run. When does the long run begin? I was presented with the possibility just recently in a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ scenario. I was offered the world and more, but I’d have to leave mine. Part of me wanted to pick up and go. Just go. But another part of me…the deep-down part of me said, ‘Wait a minute.’  While it all sounded good in theory, I just didn’t know about giving up everything I’d worked so hard for these past years.

I wonder, to get what I think I want, do I have to leave this … my life … and go to ‘his,’ whoever he turns out to be? I’m not sure I want to do that just yet, if at all.

Posted in Family, Mom, Randomness

My Family. My Clan.

When I say my Family, I mean my growing-up family, my parents and my 10 siblings. Maybe there needs to be a name for that since, when I speak of ‘my family,’ people typically think I’m speaking of my own kids. But it could also mean the whole Clan which would include upwards of 85 people. 

At the beginning of January 2017, my siblings, spouses and I gathered at Reed Ranch in northern Michigan with our mother to celebrate her 90th birthday and spend time together over a long weekend. We rented two lodges within walking distance of each other, and we were lucky enough to spend some wonderful quality time together. For me it was memorable because, living in Florida, I don’t get to see them as much as I used to. I was able to spend quiet time with my older brother Chuck as we drove together to our destination. I realized how much I miss him; he’s a great guy. I had a blast with my sisters Kathleen and Molly playing cards and laughing. I enjoyed watching Pat ice fishing on Lake David. I got a kick out of Kevin’s cold-weather gear with his long coat and Russian-style hat. I was entertained by Brian’s witty responses to discussions held around the fire. It’s always special seeing Terry because he always reminds me of Dad. Sean and his quiet demeanor always surprises with his humor, and Mike’s sweetness and off-beat funny side adds so much to the mix. Danny didn’t make it, unfortunately, and missed out on making memories with mom and the rest of us. And mom was in rare form, thoroughly enjoying having her kids around her, rising mid- to late-morning to  that first cup of coffee (“The nectar of the gods!), coming out with her cane to dance to ‘All About That Bass,” playing the piano while we sang along, being thrilled with the amazing birthday memories made into books and posters. Meals were made and shared, stories were told, and laughter abounded.

It was wonderful going back to the Katy Lee lodge and sitting around the beautiful fireplace that brought back so many childhood memories, sipping that late-night toddy along with Chucky, Kevin, Brian and Laurie, Sean and Cathy. There’s an indescribable sense of belonging in a clan like ours that I’m not sure everyone has in smaller families. Oftentimes new members tend to shy away or get nervous about attempting to penetrate this crowd, but repeatedly we’re told how accepted they felt by everyone. Maybe that’s because there was always room for one more with mom and dad, and so there was never a question of not accepting.

I have to remember to cherish those times and tuck then away for the future. Right now, we’re all pretty happy and healthy. Now at 92, Mom is no doubt silently wishing she could join her Charlie, but we’re all still glad she’s here and in good form. I added up her grandchildren and great-grandchildren: 63, with one on the way. 63 extended offspring! She and Dad could never have known what they were creating all those years ago. Yes, there were certainly challenges coming from such a large clan, and that’s only from my perspective as the third born. I can’t even imagine the challenges my parents faced! But I consider myself one of the Lucky 11, three girls and eight boys, with spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

My family. My Clan. Those words conjure up quite the memories.

Posted in Moving forward, Randomness

Time flies…maybe too fast.

October 23rd.  I’ve been in my condo a little over a year now. How well I remember a year ago leaving my cute little house and a very dysfunctional relationship to start a new chapter in my life; it’s been an interesting year, for sure.

Muhly grass

Fall ushers in the best time of the year in Old Florida. The temperatures are cooler, I can have all the sliding doors open, turn off the a/c, maybe catch the sunrise at a more decent hour. Though I’ll miss the vibrant green vines of summer that cover like a deep snowfall, I love when the beautiful rows of muhly grass turn a vibrant shade of pink and wave in unison in the breeze. The beaches empty, the RVs caravan south, and the area preps for an increase in its population.

A lot happened this past year.  I was able to spend three precious months with my mother, months I would not trade for anything.  I saw two fabulous concerts; Bruce Springsteen with Drew, and Rascal Flatts with Meg; unforgettable, both. I shared the tragic loss of a nephew to suicide and, in the circle of life, met my beautiful new granddaughter Audrey. I discovered the joy of ballroom dancing and as an added benefit met some wonderful people.  I lost my Sadie this past Labor Day that brought an additional heartbreak with it.  My job has had its share of unmentionable challenges with the ups and downs and office drama that only a large corporation can offer.  I tried online dating and met some lovely men and a few not-so-lovely ones, made a great friend, and am more hopeful than I’ve been in awhile. I survived Hurricane Matthew, and in doing so learned there are many angels walking around here on earth.

I can only imagine what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to a quick but much-needed cruise with Meg next month. I’ve started working virtually for a transcription company in the hopes of having an exit strategy when the time comes to leave Hospice. I’m eager to spend time with my mom and siblings at Reed Ranch in January, see my Oklahoma kids and grandkids again. Next spring will bring another opportunity to go to Michigan, hopefully with Meg, and see Audrey and her parents.

It has been a surprisingly good year; I have no complaints. I’m grateful for my many blessings; I’m excited about the future. I know we can’t stop time, but perhaps we can slow down a little now.

Posted in Randomness

Shall we dance?

Arthur MurrayA million years ago at a New Year’s Eve party I was asked to dance by a young man who knew his dance moves. It didn’t matter that I didn’t. I was able to follow him like I knew what I was doing. We were swing dancing, spinning, matching step for step. At one point he said to me, “Are you ready?” I said, “For what?” He yelled, “Hook your elbows through mine, back to back, and when I say, ‘Jump!’ you jump!” And I did! He flipped me backwards over his head and I landed on my feet like we’d been rehearsing it for weeks! I was hooked.

Since that night I’ve wanted to learn how to dance. Granted, I’m not interested in doing backward flips anymore. But that wonderful feeling of dancing with a partner is something I’ve been looking for for quite awhile.

Enter Arthur Murray Dance Studio, new to Palm Coast, with the wonderful young Russian couple 13569018_1379894012027846_6514564640992986896_oSasha and Magda. These two exude the joy of dancing, and they want to share their excitement with anyone who is interested. I had my first ‘trial’ lesson over a week ago and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. Sasha claimed I was a ‘natural.’ I take that for what it is, but I will admit I felt comfortable learning the different dances and was able to move through several types in less than an hour. The next night was the Dance Party where anyone who is a member can come for group lessons, and so I spent the second hour of the night dancing with everyone. It’s so interesting dancing with different partners, seeing how it is going from one to another.

My first paid lesson was tonight, and I left feeling invigorated, my mood elevated! There’s another Dance Party tomorrow night, and I’m really looking forward to it! Sure, it would be great to have a partner to go with me and learn alongside me. But I don’t, and it won’t stop me, because I’m having a wonderful time simply dancing!

Posted in Randomness

Mr. Shaw said it best…

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.”

I took one of those silly tests that occasionally pop up on Facebook. This one was, “What is your pet peeve?” I clicked the button and it apparently analyzed my Facebook page or something. The answer that popped up surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. “Lack of humor” was the response.10400245_1064119489617_1162_n

The reason it surprised me is because it is so true, and I’ll put this squarely on my dad. The way he was, the way he made us kids laugh around the table with his silly “Outhouse” joke or his crazy stories and witty one-liners…that sense of humor was passed down to all 11 of his children. He was the life of every party. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be the word “Smile” in his handwriting along my wrist. He made everyone smile and taught his kids the value of laughter.

Audrey Hepburn said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” 

I agree. Humor can get you through so many hard times in life; a disagreement with your spouse, a difficult workplace, challenging kids, financial hardships. I try and find the humor wherever I can, because if I take life and myself too seriously, I find it’s easy to succumb to negativity. That doesn’t mean I’m not serious about issues, but if I can find the humor – however deep it is buried – I can get through anything. I believe humor is God’s way of keeping us humble. If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” 

George Bernard Shaw knew what he was talking about.

Posted in Randomness

My baby’s baby

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My baby just had a baby. Well, he and his wife did, my daughter-in-law, the mother of my baby’s baby. I have three grandchildren by my oldest child that I enjoy tremendously, even though due to distance I only get to see them a couple times a year. Their dad and mom are a hoot, and so are the kids, and they get more fun every time I see them.

But now my youngest son has a baby girl. Audrey Jean was born June 17th. She has one of those palindrome birthdays: 61716. Reads the same both ways. And her parents are so in love with her already I don’t think they know what hit them. As a parent you can tell them about that kind of love, but they’ll typically either shrug it off or think you’re just being ‘mom.’ I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think that anymore.