Dealing with Delays in Life

I have again failed at being diligent with my blogs. I’m more frustrated with myself than anything else. So, I’ve got some explaining to do.

I found out that I have been in a depression cycle about this time last year. I wish I was more blasé about dealing with life changes than I am, but my father’s description of my personality being ‘intense’ was clever and on point. So I was able to get some help from my wonderful geriatric centric doctor, and have a better outlook on life as a result. I am careful about taking my Venlafaxine every morning.

I’ve had some bad dandruff problems for many years, and I finally got an appointment with a dermatologist about a year ago. We tried some simple things (AGAIN), and then a very expensive topical that my insurance made much more affordable. I try not to talk bad about a healthcare plan that takes good care of me; but the US really needs to address the disparity in healthcare coverage for all of its citizens. I hate to think of someone who couldn’t get that reduced cost that I have.

Anyway, even the topical wasn’t sufficient, so I now have the diagnosis of scalp psoriasis, and began taking Otezla, which has some warnings about weight loss (YAY! I need that), and depression! I found that I fell back into a numb funk, and had to pace my medicants so that there was less disturbance. This all happened at the same time that I was moving to a new home, so I’ve been really distracted since April with that move and all that followed.

I also have the wonderful blessing of taking care of a 6 year old grandson for an overnight visit every other Saturday to Sunday evening. My son has to work on Sundays because he works at a resort as Maintenance Supervisor. His manager takes the Saturdays. So at the age of most Great Grandparents, I am doing the grandparent thing, with joy and great exhaustion, chuckle. Toss in some chronic health problems that make me a ‘spoonie‘ and I just have to surrender to a limited list of things I can do in a day.

I’m still going to resume my list of thanksgivings very soon. But for now, I’m going to shout about how good God has been for me in all of this.

My new home: I went from a tiny apartment of 580 sq ft, to a bigger place of 750 sq ft! The rent is higher, of course, but not so very much higher that I can’t afford it. I have a garage as I did with the last home, but I also have my own washer and dryer here, instead of a shared coin laundry. I cannot tell you guys how much that blesses me! Not having to worry about someone else’s construction soil still residing in the washer when I take a turn is a big deal for me. I was pulling a white bra out with mud on it after washing! I love knowing I can wash a small load and reduce the water without paying for a full load of laundry, too. It’s also wonderfully convenient to wash something when I want to, rather than when I get the coins, or while waiting for someone else to finish doing their weekly wash, or having to dodge through the weather to go to the laundry room. Now, I do laundry in my nightgown if I want.

The other benefits of being in this new place are that I have deeper closets, and an area to place a dining table so I have a place to seat guests for a meal, instead of using folding tables that have to be set up and put away. Add the banquet room (available for rent), the indoor pool, and work out room for no cost, and I’m in renter’s heaven! I want to point out that the complex has families of all kinds and includes pets. So I’m not in a Seniors Only space!

I also have a spot that is just for the work hours that doesn’t invade my leisure places. This is really good for my mental health, as it means I can “leave” work for breaks or when I am signed out for the day.

As the previous tenant was here a long time, they renovated the apartment before I moved in. All but the clothes dryer are brand new appliances, and the carpeting is new along with the ac and ceiling fan in the living room. I have a private and spacious patio that I enjoy using when it’s not too hot (It’s been a really hot summer here in northern IL with most days in mid 90°F).

My neighbors are friendly and take good care of their homes, too. Add that I am now closer to family, and that I have enjoyed more visits with some of them than I did before the pandemic, and perhaps you can understand that my life feels surreal in a good way. I feel like I am living in the lap of luxury here, and in the mind set of “don’t pinch me, I don’t want to leave this dream”. This steals energy from me, and I tend to get a bit brain fogged by the evening hours as a result.

I am getting a Social Security Widow’s benefit from my late ex-husband’s benefits. Since we were married over 10 years, and I am not currently married to anyone else, I am eligible and add it to my job income. Since I am at full retirement age (66 made me eligible, but I’m 67 now), I will not suffer any restrictions on what I earn.

When I was informed that I am finally restored to a 40 hour work week (starting this week), I am over the moon with happy feelings. When the pandemic smote the land, I was reduced to 34 hours a week, and it was decided that I should work them in the later morning, coming in later rather than leaving early. I’m so glad to be back at work in the early hours even if it means a longer day. At least I don’t have to drive for an hour on the highways (58 miles each way) each morning and each evening, now that I am allowed to work from home. That saves me money on gas as well as energy for personal tasks after work!

So I’ve been really distracted with the changes in my life as spring segued into summer. I’m finding a more consistent stride and I’ll be better about making updates. That’s my intention at least.

Life is good! I sure hope you are in a good place, too, dear reader.

Aging With Some Grace

I’ve been reading a fantasy series called The Adventures of Maggie Parker (4 books) by Martha Carr and Michael Anderle and it’s been very entertaining. I’ll say no more than this: it’s a free read if you are a Kindle Unlimited member. If not, the books are reasonably priced in either paperback or Kindle versions.

I’ve read the first three: The Magic Compass, The Gnome’s Magic, The Elemental’s Magic, and am reading the author’s notes at the end of the third book. Martha Carr is in her early 60’s and as a person who is at the right age to be her older sibling (67 in four more days), I like what she’s been saying about her lessons in life’s journey in her author notes.

“I have a team who help me out these days. At some point, it’s a necessity. Plus, I wanted to change my old belief of ‘if I can do it, I should be doing it’ to something saner,” she wrote.

I have been learning that same lesson in the past few years. I get help to do big projects in home cleaning or organization. Sometimes, I get help decorating for the holidays, too. Lately, I’ve even gotten groceries delivered (Thank you Walmart+), instead of going there for a pickup order and bringing it all into my home by myself. Now that the pandemic is almost over, and masks are being left home by most shoppers in my area, I have been feeling a bit guilty about continuing to use the Pickup grocery service. That inner guilt trip that she spoke of, “if I can do it, I should be doing it.”

My quality of life is better when I don’t do it just because I can, though. I have more time for making a well-balanced meal, or to get a much delayed haircut. Am I lazy? I don’t think so. I still take care of the household chores, the laundry (that I can do myself with the machines in my new apartment, thank God!), and work a full time job with the administrative chores for an engineering team – from my home, thanks to the pandemic showing us that I can work from home in a reliable and responsible fashion. So I am not going to be compelled to return to the office, not even as a hybrid employee. Since work is more than an hour away, I’m grateful. I moved closer to family as a happy result. But – I digress.

I have long felt pressured to do what I can, and if I don’t, then I will lose some kind of badge of honor. Sometimes I have pushed so hard, I made myself sick or fell down on the work, and had to get help to recover. That’s not very wise, for sure. So, now I just schedule some help before I’m in trouble, and ignore the hissing of that voice in the back of my head. The only thing I want to win is a high quality life. Getting appropriate help, and offering a reward to that help is the right way to go. Sometimes I’ll barter a service, sometimes I’ll offer something else like a gift card or money that can help someone who has very little.

I always try to ask God for the right help to be available, or help me to know about a service that is available. While I might pay for services in my situation, I know that my birthmother was able to get someone to help her 20 hours a week, and it was paid for via Department of Aging, which is a Federal program. So if you find you need help but can’t afford to pay for it (and you live in the US), find out about the Department of Aging services in your area. See what they can do to help you. It helped my family not to have to be my birth mother’s servants when we went to her place for a visit. Instead, we could just visit!

When the caseworker is asking you questions about ‘what you can do when…’, my advice to you is what I told my mother after she lost her help for several weeks thanks to her answers to their questions. She told them about her best days when they asked what she could do. I told her that she needed to tell them about her worst days, in order to get the help she needed to live those better days, though. No lies necessary. Just tell the truth about your worst days, and you’ll get the help you should get.

Tell yourself the truth about your worst days, and be honest about needing help, too. Then, you can live out some of your best days more often.

From Those Who Aren’t Moms This Weekend…

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the USA. I wrote this many years ago, but it’s still where my heart is.

When my husband and I got married, many of our friends and siblings were also marrying within the same five year time period.  More than a few of those friends announced pregnancies soon after the wedding.  So we went from bridal showers and weddings, into baby showers and stories of Lamaze classes and childbirth experiences in about two year’s time.  Some of our unmarried friends were also getting pregnant, so we joked about how there was a lot of that “Egyptian Flu” going around (“nine months and you’re a Mummy”).

As time went on, we wholeheartedly celebrated each healthy birth with our friends, and enjoyed holding the new babies.  We mourned some still births and miscarriages with some friends, too.  Always, we let those new parents know that we welcomed their children in our home by having a collection of toys for them to play with when they’d come.  I had a sister with babies I’d borrow now and then, who lived in the apartment just below me. I also helped raise several younger sibs, so I had experience with kids. My husband had a daughter born to his first very brief marriage, so he had some understanding of life with babies as well. He was really great with dealing with those inconsolable crying babies, too. 

In spite of all of that, we rarely saw our parenting friends outside of activities or events like cookouts at their parents’ homes, church events (if they went to the same one we went to), or meeting them at some store or holiday event.  No matter what we said or did, no matter how often I’d call and chat with them, these people somehow decided we weren’t people that they were comfortable socializing with outside of their own homes. It’s not that I minded going to their homes; I just wanted to be a hostess once in awhile, too. 

After awhile, they were even too busy for having us visit their homes. I was beginning to think that, for reasons I wasn’t “getting”, that they just didn’t want to socialize with us anymore. I would have asked directly, but the one time I did ask “Is it us?  Did we offend somehow?”, I got a defensive reaction that was more like an attack. She sharply retorted, “You don’t know what it’s like to have no time to clean for company!”

“I don’t come to visit your house, hon.  I come to visit you.” I responded, carefully not mentioning that I knew she was having other friends over from time to time. She didn’t trust that I guess…cause it made no difference. I tried to tell her that I wanted to help if she’d let me, but that friendship died quietly after that conversation.

The other portion of our distressing social changes, was that we weren’t getting pregnant. We were trying; but it just wasn’t happening. I thank God that I never experienced multiple miscarriages, like some of my friends had. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of going from the euphoria of baby preparations, to the grief of knowing that life had died for unexplained reasons that can’t be remedied. After three years of marriage, I began carrying around a certain stuffed animal that was just the right size of a swaddled newborn. My arms needed a baby to hold, and I felt weird for doing that.

When we were married for four years, I finally went to a doctor to see what might be wrong. My husband had a baby by his first wife, so the problem clearly wasn’t his. The doctor checked me over and said that it was probably a variety of things that kept us from being a fertile couple. He was warm, nice, and encouraging that “someday” I might still manage a pregnancy since it all seemed to be healthy and well. 

I couldn’t afford the more intensive testing, so we just had to let it stand with his exam. Then he handed me a pamphlet that I wish I still had.  It was titled something like “200 reasons the human body can’t reproduce”. With all the teens getting easily pregnant when they didn’t want to be, it really did help to know that conception was more of a miracle than routine results for sexual activity. This was back in 1978, so it was just as the abortion debate had crescendoed into legalizing the procedure, and I was devastated. I knew that it would make it that much harder to adopt a healthy baby for a family with little money, but lots of love and desire for one. We would just have to come to terms with being childless.

During those years, we kept seeing that we weren’t considered a “family” as long as we were childless. All “family” activities were for groups of people who either had parents living with them, or were parents themselves. For Sunday School, we didn’t fit with the college-aged people, since we were married. Most of their conversations were of how to live as single people and dating.  We didn’t need that temptation when we were feeling unhappily married some days!  We also felt old when we were with the single twenty-somethings who were still living with parents and didn’t know what the trials of living on a tight budget were like. When we’d find some childless couples we thought we’d enjoy, either they soon became parents themselves and that mysterious detachment would once again separate us (even though we’d all mentioned that it is unfair when that happens before they got pregnant!); or they would move away. 

I know with Mother’s Day approaching, and Father’s Day only one more month behind it, that there are people right now, who are also dealing with being marginalized because they are either single adults without children, or married and childless. And they are reading ads about how a “mother found the secret to whitening teeth” – which seems to impart that only a MOTHER is able to really find good remedies for things in life. Or only a FATHER has the wisdom and strength to offer a younger person’s questions and problems. I am sorry that it happens that way. I want to hug and hold each of you, and let you know that YOU are important and have valuable gifts to give in life, even if you aren’t a parent. There honestly is so much more to life than breeding.

We all know that many people who are parents, aren’t any better people for having working wombs or fertile semen. So why is it that we segregate our social contacts apart from these people who can still enrich the lives around them?

To the caring friends and family members, and to church leaders who know they are guilty of not considering the childless persons: you can change that.

Right now.

Today.

Friends and family: You can accept their invitations to come to their homes, and just let your portable children learn how to enjoy some time in a new environment. Have the kids bring some toys, and let them show them to the new grown ups.

If you have a sink full of dishes, let the friend wash them while you diaper the baby and get them fed without feeling defensive or offended, please. Visiting friends just want to make YOU more comfortable and enjoy their company, too!  Let them help where they can, and don’t assume that they are criticizing you. They could do that just fine without getting hands in the dishwater, LOL.  Befriend them, unconditionally; so they can learn how to return the favor.

Accept their offers to help, too. Somehow I wasn’t allowed to do much by my other parenting friends; as if I couldn’t cook without onions if you’d just tell me that you want it that way.  Let friends bring you contributions more often. 

Childless people need to have the exposure to see life through a child’s eyes: share your children’s views more.  Don’t fuss about your house being clean enough.  I come for fellowship, not home inspections; ’cause being single or married and childless is sometimes just a lonely thing to deal with.

When we FINALLY got pregnant, I vowed to NEVER exclude a childless friend from our lives. I would walk behind my babies and let them show me what was in their reach when we visited childless homes, and it only takes a half hour of fun chat while I did it. Usually, the childless friend would come to my home more; but I always did everything I could to accept any invitations from them for visits. 

At church, I always speak up for “family” events to have activities for persons without kids.  C’mon church leaders! At least ONE event for the single folks who are part of the church family!  Let there be one for married people who ARE still a family, even if there are no kids. 

There are a few parents whose kids are grown and flown out there who also want some activities that they don’t have to find grandkids to enjoy.  I know that we need to lift up families with children because it’s challenging for them to find safe places to be social.  But it’s just as challenging for the single adults and the married without kids to find safe social activities TOO!

I know you will all do your best to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day honoring your parents.  But reach out to the other folks without kids, and let them know that they are important, too.  Even if they come without charming and demanding miniatures. 

Where I’ve Been – Moving

I was going to be better about posting some of the things I am grateful for, and one of them was my home. I love living here, and will miss it greatly when I move in May.

When I first came to my current apartment, it was a place to heal. I was rebuilding my life as an independent adult after living with my son in his apartment. I’d lost my job and then had to leave before I got evicted from my rented condo at that time in November of 2013. The weekend after my godson suddenly passed away. So many hurtful things that year.

In 2014, while living with my son and working at Walmart as a cashier (but only allowed to work for 33 hours a week so I couldn’t be a full time employee) I was deciding I had to move into my car within a couple of weeks if my son didn’t find a job. Yeah, he lost his job just before I moved in with him. Like I said, so many losses.

Just as I was discussing how I had to leave with my son, I got an email that led to my getting a very good job. It’s the one I am working at now, and I’ve enjoyed this adventure SO much! That year brought my son into several jobs so that he could meet his financial needs, and then a surprise pregnancy brought us all into a brand new world of infant needs and supplies! So he moved to be with Mom-to-be, and I moved here.

The first year was all about finding sanctuary – without being able to build one. I collected things I wasn’t sure I’d need and just huddled at home when I wasn’t going or coming from the job as well as working 56 miles away. Family was 50 miles in the other direction, so I couldn’t really consider moving closer to work. Plus, I had a lot of bills to pay, and now needed to get my health stable. I had some issues that had gone unattended in the many years I’d been without health care while working temp jobs.

The second year was getting better health, and embracing becoming a grandma. I settled into a more familiar stride in life, and began to build more of a home rather than a “flop spot”.

The third year I ended up with surgery on my knee, and doing what I could to keep my home clean and neat. It was really hard, though.

The fourth year, I hired help to clean my home, clean the carpeting, worked on my asthma a bit better. I was able to save some money and bought furniture that made life more enjoyable for my grandson to come over for overnight visits. We made so many good memories together!

Last year, I was doing even better with the health issues, and finally able to do more by myself than to hire help for projects. I was able to afford to rent a garage and have been thrilled to have one for the first time ever in my life – and I’m 66!

Then the pandemic hit, so I used funds I was saving for a trip to buy a better computer desk as well as a laptop computer. I was happily able to work from home near the end of April, and the long commutes were no longer something I had to deal with! My health kept improving along with my lifestyle. New storage furniture was bought and used, and there was a lovely cozy home to enjoy with or without my grandson visiting. I was finally enjoying life rather than just plodding along. The job made so many good things work out in my life that hadn’t been working before.

As time went by, and it looks more like we’ll be able to stay at home and work our jobs, I realized that I am still very inconveniently far away for my family to ask for help (whether it was me or them). So I thought and prayed and finally decided not to renew my lease this year.

I found an apartment nearer the family, and it will be a bit bigger (this place is only 580 sq ft, new place has 750 sq ft), with more amenities. When I arrived at full retirement age (per the Social Security Administration), I could claim full widow’s benefits, and that gave me enough funds to pay a higher rent. Once I actually retire, I may have a bigger benefit from working beyond my full retirement age, depending on the wages I made from now until then. I’ll probably retire at 70 if not before, if the job lasts that long.

So, I am planning a move, now! My sons are confident that they can move me in one day, and happy that I am on the first floor where I am leaving and where I am going. I have no heavy appliances or furniture to speak of, and I’m a good packer after having moved many times in my life. So I’m looking forward to the new stride and more social contact once the pandemic considerations can be lessened.

I’ve had family members come down with C-19, and thankfully all have recovered well and without prolonged health debits. We’ve all been as careful as possible with masking, good hygiene, and staying home as much as possible.

I am so grateful for free grocery pickup services!! On my sicker days, it made a HUGE difference in my life and ability to keep a stride going.

So, I’ll do what I can now that I finally found the right place to move to. The search was very distracting and I’ve been Zooming with family members since we can’t visit so much. These have been happy distractions, along with childcare for my son with my grandson every other weekend.

Life is full! Life is good, and I am a bit abashed to admit that I am thriving during this time. I guess I needed a year to rest and heal more than most. I’m honestly looking forward to the new home with a garage, washer dryer in unit (full size machines), dishwasher, and more kitchen counter and storage than I have here. There’s a work out room, pool and a banquet hall if I want to have a birthday party for someone special next November, hehehe.

I hope that all of you are safe and careful. I have friends I care about in Texas that have been working on getting through their challenges, and so far they are doing better than they feared. They’ve been melting snow over firewood outside for clean water, and they have small tents in their homes on the beds to keep warm. They charge their phones in the car, but they don’t go out on the icy roads unless it’s someplace very near and done very carefully.

I know that COVID is still a concern, but so is this unusual weather pattern here in North America. Be careful and make jokes that don’t fall into the hurtful places, k? Sure we can have fun about stuff out of the ordinary, but no taunting those who don’t have what you have to manage this kind of weather, is all I’m asking.

Bless you all, and stay safe, please. Keep helping others to make it through, as I know you are doing.

#7 – Hail to the Crockpots!

I really want to thank God for my CROCKPOTS.

It’s a bit of tease that I should own more than one, but there are solid reasons for needing each of them.  The first reason for the second one is that it’s perfect for taking to a pot luck or just to a friend’s home when we’re each providing a part of the meal.   That crockpot is decorative and the top can be secured so that it doesn’t leak even soup broth, so it gets to be on display on top of the cupboards.  The second one is my standard for everything else.  It has a simple timer, so I can set it to cook a pork roast in the morning for 8 hours of low, and then it will automatically shift to “warm” for about another 2 hours. It’s bigger than the other one, too.

I work from home now, but when I had to go to the office to work, a crockpot made a day that had me beat and tired turn into a wonderful night. Since it took me an hour to get to work, and an hour to return, the 10 hours I was gone could be very tiring, especially if the weather was bad for driving or I had a stressful workday.  Coming home and smelling a meal that’s ready to eat is like having a hired cook!  I could change into comfy clothes (or get out of winter wear) and make the side stuff in a matter of 10 mins or less, and have a hot meal within 30 mins of arriving home.  Wow! 

By the time I’d eaten and had some time to check Facebook and some relaxing coffee, I’m ready to put the rest of the meal into portions with some going into the freezer and at least one (maybe two) into the fridge for work and tomorrow’s meal. Nice!

I can make nearly anything in a crockpot, from baked chicken (stuffed!), to casseroles and desserts. I favor the meals that I can make while I’m gone (8 hours or more) over the ones that are done in 4 hours or less.  Those I might save for the weekend, or when it’s a holiday to stay home. Now that I am working from home, I might try some of those more often, but I’ve usually just chosen to use my oven since it’s right there and browns things up nicely. But I still enjoy making a meal in the crockpot and getting the whiffs of deliciousness it as it gets close to being done. Yum! I like to use it when serving family some food, too. We have more time to visit and the food is certain to be hot and satisfying for our dining pleasure.

I eat healthier when I have a crockpot resulting meal, even if it’s leftovers.  As a single person, I really need some help getting good meals going, and the crockpot does that!  So for today – it’s “Hail to the crockpot!”  Hurrah!

Final Note: I know some of my family folks really love their Instapots and the other brands that mimic them. My son with a child especially likes being able to make a roasted meat meal while his son does homework or takes a bath, and then having it to serve and save for another meal later.

If I had a family, I’d probably buy one, but it’s just me here, and I like to keep life simple. I’ll probably never learn how to use one or buy one at this point in my life. I certainly enjoy the meals I can look forward to when someone else uses them, though!

I Have Some Explaining to Do

Last year, I decided to post 100 things I am grateful for, and I even had the list from a previous effort on Facebook. I’ve been seeing the “Memories” when I get to Facebook these days, and I feel badly about only posting six things so far in 2020.

Found on internet

I’m sure there’s gracious understanding for the many changes in life that the pandemic has wrought, and I appreciate that understanding very much. I also was working with my doctor (mostly before the pandemic) to fix my out of control asthma and depression. I have suffered from cyclic depression since – forever. I was first introduced to the reality when I tried to kill myself at 24.

Not having any thoughts of ditching life, or even missing social responses of joy for interactions made me miss what I was missing this time. I finally figured it out from a question list of symptoms and have been happily surprised by the restoration of feelings. Like my hearing, I didn’t really know how much I was missing until I got it fixed. When my hearing aids were turned on, and I heard sound all around me, it had me weeping like so many of the videos we see of others who have had their hearing enhanced. It’s not normal sound, but it’s so much more than it was!

The same happened when I began my antidepressants. One day I finished a day of chores, and instead of feeling worn out and tired (and dreading the reality of recovering for a day or so from the work demands), I felt tired but happy about the difference my efforts had made. More than that – I loved looking at my sparkling home! I felt happiness and joy – and they were foreign for far too long in my life.

I was thrilled and grateful to get the approval to work from home. This meant I no longer had to drive 58 miles to work, put in a full 8 hour day, and then drive home 58 miles to arrive tired and beyond hungry (since I ate at noon and it was now 5-6 hours later). I happily bought a better laptop with the first stimulus payout, and set up a new desk in my tiny 1 bedroom apartment of 580 sq ft. It’s cute, and a great place to work with the nice chair and two monitors.

I now had time to make good meals, rest and relax after work, and even visit with some of the neighbors with social distancing being observed. I also had time (and the funds that I didn’t spend on gas, now) to organize my home and make it a better place to be.

My son needed a caregiver for his son on Sundays due to his workplace situation, so I was happy to offer to have the young man come over the night before, and spend the night. Then Dad could come over from work to enjoy a Sunday meal and a visit if desired when he picked up his son. I got to see the young boy lose his first tooth, and then the other three that followed by Christmas. I watched him go from preschooler to Kindergartener, and watch him go from Minecraft to Among Us in his YouTube joys. We’ve enjoyed books and so many other life changes – it helps me when I would otherwise be isolated.

There were no travels to places as planned. No municipal events to participate in, as each was cancelled due to the dangers of SARS-CoV aka Covid-19. I live in a resort town, and a favorite weekend visit for many people in our area. These cancellations have caused a lot of havoc in my area, and there’s a mourning process going on.

For myself, my doctor calls me “one of her fragile patients”. She assured me that if I caught the virus I might do fine in recovering. But the likelihood is that I would survive with some change that might damage my quality of life, too. So I wear my mask everywhere, observe social distancing, and get my weekly groceries via grocery pickup after ordering online. If I go to the store, I try to make it during times most people aren’t in the store, but that shelves should be stocked. This sounds simple and easy, and it honestly is as far as effort is concerned. But I am a social being and I miss going to restaurants, breakfasts with coffee and chatter, evenings in the park watching fireworks and going to carnivals and outdoor concerts this summer.

I keep reminding myself that this is not going to last forever, and thank God for a vaccine to bring us some hope for better. I still have all kinds of sanitizer in my coat pockets, purse, and on my shopping bags. I’m careful, so I’ll see that day arrive when we can all be less endangered by this virus.

It’s been hitting me hard, and I get worn out from the mental stress. I don’t have much creativity left after all of that.

However, I’ve decided to challenge myself in 2021, to live life more fully, and take the time to be grateful again. Seeing all of the posts I did in 2017 has shown me what an encouragement it was to me and some others, and that it’s worth the work.

So, I will resume my list, and begin with #7 later on.

#6 – My Commute to Work

I thank God for my COMMUTE TO WORK. Right now, it’s from my kitchen to the living room, but sometime this year, I’ll probably have to return to the office. I’ll miss the convenience of working from home, and the economy of not having to fill the car up with gas so much; but I honestly like the commute – most of the time.

I have quirks – and I know YOU have some too.  One of mine is that I love to drive to untie the psychic knots in my soul from time to time.  When I was young, we didn’t have air conditioning in homes yet, and when it got hot, we’d all pile into the family car and go for a drive to cool down.   There were trips to visit other relatives that lived in different towns, too.  I always enjoyed those drives with the family, because we’d sing or we’d have favorite landmarks to watch for (there is a castle that was perched on a hillside on the way to Grandma’s).

When I got old enough to drive, I especially enjoyed driving long distances when I got the chance to do it.  There is just something about following a long and unbroken freeway that just makes me feel better about life.  When gas got more and more expensive or when I haven’t got the funds for gas (unemployed), I was really feeling the loss of going for a drive.

So when I saw that my new job would be an hour away from home, I thought it would be like my other jobs that took that long to go to work.  Those other jobs were heading toward the Chicago metro area, and the commuter crawl of many traffic jams or gridlock were frustrating factors for a commute that was half the distance my new job was.  So, it was a wonderful surprise to find myself on a freeway for 20 or more miles with very few cars around me once I passed the nearest large town only 5 mins after I would merge onto the highway.  Never before could I set the cruise control on my way to work – but now, it’s the only way I go!

I drive from a resort town in Southern Wisconsin, to the moderate sized city of Rockford, IL, with a total of 56 miles for the entire journey.

I haven’t had much time to look around when driving toward Chicago, where all you can focus on is the car in front of you and others around you that might be potential hazards.  All of that is far different from the commute I enjoy these days, though!

At the beginning of my journey, I join a major highway that mostly travels through rural farm areas. The traffic is usually so light and well controlled that I have the time to notice the clouds and even how some homes are being worked on as I drive along.  My journey to work begins in rich and verdant farmland with well-kept farm buildings sprinkled liberally through the fields of soy or corn and the more rare fields of barley or oats as well as hay.  There will be the occasional antique farm building or silo here and there just to keep things interesting, too.

As I get closer to work, I have to join a tollway (so yup, I have one of those transponder things on the windshield) for the last 20 miles.  Now the traffic begins to pick up, but there are usually four or more lanes, so I can still set the cruise control, though I watch the other cars way more than the clouds or surrounding buildings at this point.  This gets me more mentally alert and ready for whatever I walk into when I arrive at work (only a few miles off of the tollway).

When I leave work, I’m all jazzed from the day, and the trip works in reverse. So by the time I get home, I have left the “jazzed” feeling behind by the time I have left the last town off the tollway and onto the freeway that leads into the farmlands.  I’m more relaxed and sometimes a bit tired just because I’m too relaxed by the time I get to my home town area.

So, my heart gets what it needs.  Respite from the workday demands, and a great time to pray.  God and I talk for most of those hours of travel time, even if I have tunes going.  I began doing that when I had cars that didn’t have working radios, so it kind of stuck with me when I got the ones with radios later on.  I’ve even turned off a catchy tune to pray about something that comes to mind.

When I saw that the sun is usually always behind me for most of my trip – either way – I knew that God not only got me the plumb job of my life – but He made sure I had a wonderful trip on my way in and back home, too.  Some might see my commute as excessive and costly, because of the gas and the vehicular wear and tear. It’s certainly a concern for me, but it’s balanced by the effects of the journey.  I have to say that God provided me with the job that can pay for the trips, because He knows what my heart needs even better than I do: a frequent long trip in the car, where I can unwind and relax, think and pray my thoughts.  [Blissful sigh]

Picture from internet search for Commute.

The Small Joys Tag

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First there are always rules. The official Rules and Regulations of this Tag are as follows:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. Mystery-opsis (aka Val) invited/tagged me to make this list and I want to sincerely thank her for making me remember the fun of blogging.
2. List fifteen of your small joys.
3. Tag five other blogger friends who bring you joy. [declined, as I don’t have 15 blogging friends – yet]
So here are the 15 small things that bring me joy:
1. As a female who had 8 parents and 13 siblings of one kind or another, family is a huge slice of joy.
2. My sons, when I get to hear them tease each other and talk about serious things as men.
3. My grandson who reminds me of innocence and truculence – and what influences they have in life.
4. Autumn – too rich of a season to refer to only in the mere word fall. I miss the odor of yard waste burning, but the colors and cool temps are still a wonderful influence on my cup of happiness.
5. Forests – my first friends. With their cool shade and mysterious tracks from creatures who live there.
6. Singing a song that my heart needed to share. Especially an anthem for the day.
7. Driving a winding road with no demand for timeliness, just a wander for the knots to unwind.
8. Decorative lights in trees. I love how people are using them more and more for festive occasions, not just Christmas.
9. Fireworks! Not for the sound, though that’s amazing when you’re close (I was a crew member for municipal firework shows in my middle ages, and I loved being close enough to change my heartbeat!). My favorites are the ones that have actions like swirling fireflies or glorious draping tendrils like fountains – that end with a crackling sound.
10. Christmas and all that comes with it. Advent wreaths for family worship, the decorated trees, the special ornaments and that gift that is exactly right to give that person who came to mind when you saw it. The church fests, choir cantatas, candlelight services – the whole shebang!
11. A good trail ride on horseback when they fit my stirrups correctly – on a cool autumn morning.
12. The first cup of perfectly brewed robust coffee in the morning at the perfect temperature for gulping and feeling it move down your body.
13. My comfortable home. It’s my sanctuary, and I love how cozy it is. I like being alone within it very much.
14. Hearing a beloved laugh – whether family or dear friends.
15. The smell of a good meal when I enter my home – even if I made it.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

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A big thank-you to Val at https://murisopsis.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for this blogging award.

Val blogs about her life and the different things she notices in her journey that catch her interest. These insights will often be preceded or end in poetry that is very often cleverly and intricately created. I admire how concise she can be when conveying something intricate.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community. Now, how does it work and what are the rules?

Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. (check)

Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. (check)

Nominate 11 new blog to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (Pending)

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog. (check)

 

Here are the questions Val posed to me:

  1. What famous actor/actress would play you in a movie about your life? Patty Duke because she looked the most like I do and our spirits are similar from what I’ve learned about her. I know she’s no longer available for acting parts, but it will never happen anyway so I get to pick whomever I wish, right?
  2. If you could change your name, what name would you choose? I honestly love my names, though I didn’t like having such a distinctive one when I was younger than 15.
  3. What event in your life would you like to “do over”? The good ones were good because they were rare, and the bad ones taught me a lesson I needed to learn. I’d offer the ‘do over’ to someone I loved if I was given the opportunity.
  4. If you had a prehensile tail would you keep it or have it amputated? I’d honestly lose it.
  5. You have just stepped into a time machine, what year in history would you visit and why? The last year of Jesus’ life, so I could meet him.
  6. What is your favorite comfort food? Too many to list. That’s how I got this big (blush).
  7. You can change your eye color (any color(s) at all), what would you choose? I honestly like my eye color (a tawny hazel green). I’ll keep it.
  8. You have been granted 3 wishes, what do you wish for? (more wishes is not permitted)

Wish 1: That I could have become rich in a way that was honorable, so I could be more generous to charities for foster kids.

Wish 2: That my beloveds would be financially secure and do things they love to do.

Wish 3: a cure for COVID-19 is found and life is restored to normal in time for school to resume again.

  1. Your pet can talk, what do you think they’d say about you?

Hmmm. I have no pets. But if I did, it would probably say, “She loves me.”

  1. How old were you when you got your “first kiss”?

Hmmm…  15 I think.

  1. (last but not least) Which would you rather be able to do – tap dance, juggle, or ice skate like an Olympic athlete? I’m a bit old for dancing or skating, so Juggling will have to do.

As for nominations, I don’t want to pressure anyone, and I don’t have many folks who follow me. Let me know if you’d like a nomination (and an award) and I’ll be happy to work on a list of questions for YOU!

#5 – My Home

7 - HOME - CopyIn my 100 posts of thankfulness I can’t emphasize this enough: I want to thank God for MY HOME.  I think Home is a bigger priority for a woman, since we tend to be more vulnerable and have safety considerations that many men don’t share.  But every human person needs a place they can call HOME, whether it’s shared or independent. We all need to know we have a sanctuary and that we have a place where there’s always a welcome.

A home is the place you go to feel safe and to find privacy as well as recuperation. A sanctuary from the stresses of the places we’ve been and the people we meet and work with.  As humans, we need to make sure that the people we live with are trustworthy and willing to respect our need for time to recuperate alone sometimes.  When you are what I call “couch homeless” this is nearly an impossible task, and the only real sense of sanctuary may be in a bathroom – until someone knocks.  This is one of the reasons Homelessness is so wearing on a person – they have no sense of sanctuary, as well as not having any idea of when that kind of thing will ever be regained.  It’s an anguish that goes beyond the survival trials, and all of it together can just break a person’s spirit.  I’ve been couch homeless and on the street homeless, and it’s hard to believe in your self-worth when you can’t even manage to keep a home or have barriers that others cannot breach.

I’m so very thankful that as I was living with my son (after losing my rented condo of 5 rooms), on the brink of becoming fully homeless again (because we were both underemployed and couldn’t pay the rent), I was contacted about a decent paying job.  This job was a temporary job that was only promised for 6 months, but had possibilities for 3 years.  Once I attained that job, I was able to get a modest apartment (one bedroom, 3 room apartment, 580 square feet).

Once there I could finally begin working on getting my broken health healed, as well as having my self-respect rebuilt as I began to furnish my home.  It’s been six years since I began that job, and my home is becoming more and more mine. By that I mean that I bought new furniture for the living room for the first time in my life, at age 65! I was so anxious about it and I had to laugh at how the size of the furniture was too big for the apartment. However, now that I’ve lived with it for a year, I’ve found that it’s perfect for my lifestyle. It’s comfy for my guests, makes conversation easy for my poor hearing (even with hearing aids), and my grandson loves being able to slouch all over it, too. The furnishings are exactly what I want, and not what I have found that will “do”.

Our building is in a residential area, and so it has a great feeling of safe harbor to it.  We don’t get many children visiting on Halloween, though I keep hoping and make sure I’ve got candy in case some do. To the side and along the back of my building is a grassy lawn, but the edges are wonderful forested thickets.  That means I have a great view when I wake up in the morning, as my bedroom looks out on a wooded area.  There will be deer in the early morning, too. And just tonight – fireflies in lawn next to the thicket that I could see through my bedroom window.

Last winter, I was able to afford a garage to rent in front of my building. It’s not only perfect for parking my car into, but has room for storage as well. I’ve gained so much with that garage, as I have never had one to use before. Not ever in my life – so I am still reveling in having it. My youngest son helped me by putting up various wall racks and hooks for me to hang my lawn chair and other things. As well as a sturdy shelf that I had in my bedroom before, but now is out in the garage. So now my bedroom looks more like a bedroom.

I have all of my favorite things for my alone times.  A good computer (two monitors!), music on the TV when I want some for background, a kitchen to bake goodies in, or just make a good home cooked meal, a bedroom to primp as I dress or just relax and fall asleep in, as well as a bathroom to soak in the tub or enjoy a good shower.  I love my home’s comforts and conveniences.  It’s well maintained and my landlord is a blessing in keeping things neat and tidy as well as safe.  I don’t worry about snow removal or grass cutting.  They manage it well and I feel good about where I live when I invite someone to my home.

Home is where we practice hospitality as well as finding sanctuary.  I don’t have room for many folks all at once, but I have places for people to sit, and things for us to do while we visit. I even have places for my grandson to enjoy when he brings his Dad over for a visit now and then, or when I get to have him over for the occasional overnight visit.

I honestly enjoy all that my home has brought to me, and thank God for it daily, and sometimes more often than that.  Because I have had to make do with poor options, and I’ve had to do without – it’s even sweeter to know that I am living well at this point in time and it feels really good to return to where I live – at HOME.