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, 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. 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 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!

First, 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 near the family, and it will be a bit bigger (this place is only 580 sq ft), with more amenities. When I arrived at full retirement age (per the Social Security Administration), I could claim 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.

#4 – Working From Home

Sorry I fell out of step with these 100 things I’m thankful for. I’ve been a bit troubled about the shutdown that began back in March, here in the US.

With the pandemic concerns for SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19), I saw my office leadership cleaning the office twice a day. It wasn’t ever in their job description but they did it cheerfully, making jokes about it, and casually, without complaint. When supplies were running low thanks to shopper runs on cleaning supplies at stores, they let us know to keep our eyes open and that they had enough for one more week. Happily, I found some at my store, during Senior Hours. I bought enough to take care of cleaning for 5 weeks, I was told with nearly tears in my supervisor’s eyes. I refused repayment and let her know that it was their own attitudes keeping us going and encouraging us to stay the course.

In that time, we lost 10% of our pay for the rest of the year. The client that most of us worked for further reduced our hours (from 40 to 34/week), and then threw 15 furlough days (unpaid days of no work) to be sprinkled through the rest of 2020. I’m so very thankful I will be ok with these reductions, but my heart goes out to the coworkers with families or other dependents. Some were also furloughed and it made me go into a small tailspin.

When I received my $1200 stimulus check, I bought a new computer since my former one was over 8 years old. That was providential, because instead of issuing me a laptop to work from home, I was told to use my own computer to access the one I use in the office via internet and other connections.

I also bought a new desk, and that makes it easier for me to work well in comfort through the day.

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[My desk, in the living room of my home]

I thought that everything would be wonderful and better when they told me I could work from home on April 22nd, once we found that the connectivity was working. I mean, my commute to the office took about an hour to get there, and then another hour to get home. The gas budget was $80/week before the gas prices began dropping during late winter. So an 8 hour working day was actually 10 hours away from home. I was usually wiped once I got there. Too wiped to even make a healthy meal, most of the time.

So, now I only had to go to the living room and enjoy the benefits of working from home. I couldn’t figure out why I was still anxious and dodgy. I am doing better since I began antidepressants. I have no problem saying that, and I hope others will be fine admitting it as well.

I should also mention that in March, about a week after my state did their shut down, I began CPAP therapy at home. I use a nasal pillow, and I worried my 5 year old grandson (who I have for an overnight visit every 2 weeks, as his father has to work on Sundays) would be afraid of it. He liked my jokes about being like an elephant, and uses a face mask for his asthma attacks, so it went well.

So here I am now, and I’m astonished at what the CPAP therapy has done in my life since I began it. First, I went through the spring season without an asthma attack – I usually have had to do nebulizer treatments nearly nightly, and have frequently ended up missing time from work and seeing my doctor. None of that happened this past spring.

Cleaning my home was hard, and usually had to be spread over several days. I am again amazed to report that just last week I:

  • Washed three loads of laundry (taking it to the laundry room in my building and bringing it back when done, folding and hanging the clothing and putting it all away).
  • Used the new vacuum cleaner (wireless and light! But so effective it will capture pet hair and fine crumbs!) to vacuum two of the three rooms in my home.
  • Swept the kitchen and bathroom floors, and then steam cleaned them with the steam mop, as well as the entry spot of quarry tile by the front door.
  • Then I baked muffins for my grandson.

All in just one day!

You might think that would make me post something about being thankful for CPAP, and I probably should have; but for me it’s all working so well just because I am safe at home. I’m not afraid of the virus, though I am one of those folks with vulnerabilities. I just mentally didn’t do well with the diminished cars on the roadways, and the unfamiliar face masks and all of the rules for shopping. Happily, I usually use the Pickup service at Walmart, and it’s still without extra costs. It’s a huge blessing for me. I think being an introvert at heart helps as well.

I have wanted to work at home for a very long time. I am at full retirement age, now (66), and that commute can feel mighty long after a demanding day, lemmetellya. There are other reasons that working from home is good for me, though.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at age 33, so I’ve been dealing with it just that long (33 years). One of the problems with fibro is that it curtails your energy. When I run out of energy, I feel like my mind is stuck in white noise. This is usually called brain fog, and it’s an apt description. I have no creative ability left, so I make sure I’m not doing anything that requires it in the evening when the energy might run out. I make no decisions after 5 pm that are critical. I know that in the morning I’ll have my best mental acuity and most things will wait that long for me to work them out. If I am in a full flare, the decisions may wait a bit longer. Sometimes much longer. That’s just how it is.

So working a full time job is often a wonder for people who have fibro at my age. Believe me, if it wasn’t so rewarding and not so physically demanding (I work on a computer all day long), I wouldn’t be able to do it. Add that my client (I work as a contractor for a staffing company) is an inspiration and someone who frequently thinks of things I didn’t see, and you can see that my job can be fun some days. My wages aren’t that bad either.

The new work hours and payment hit I’ve taken has reduced my options in some ways, but I have been dealing with a financial recovery process since 2013. I was living below my means for a very long time, and just recently I’ve paid off most of the debts that were putting me on an austerity budget.

So I am thanking God that I am working from home right now, and they aren’t going to require me to return any time soon with the new resurgence of the pandemic within the US right now. If I wish to return, they’ve set up my desk so that there are only empty cubicles on either side, and I’ll be socially distant from any coworkers. They have the lunchroom set up similarly, and plenty of sanitizer stands through the office now that supplies are more available.

I just like coming to work in my home. I dress like I’m going to work, and turn on all the lights in the living room. It cheers me up to have them on, and helps me feel focused. I have the smell of fresh brewed coffee nearby, and I can play music at home, but not at work.

When it’s break time, I flop over the wide and comfy chair by the window and just enjoy the comfort and peace of my home. I might have music playing, too.

If I want a snack, the kitchen is very close, as is the bathroom. My whole apartment is only 580 square feet, but it’s well maintained, vermin free, in a residential neighborhood, and my neighbors in the building are sweet people. The management takes good care of the building and property, too. I love my life now that my hard times have receded.

So I am immensely thankful and grateful to work from home. This is my sanctuary, my comfort zone, and everything is convenient for my needs here. I even honestly like having the reduced hours. It gives me time to cope with my stress levels in healthier ways.

How are YOU doing in all of this?? I honestly want to know, so please tell me.

#3 Thankful for – Kindness

I want to thank God for KINDNESS.

Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.  Somehow that trait was diminished in my family of origin, and even overruled in some ways.  It was diminished so well, that when I saw it being acted out in television shows I perceived it as phony and unreal.  When I saw it practiced around me by others, I either thought of it as “someone trying to manipulate someone else” (because that’s how it was used in my young life), or something only weak people do.

Thankfully, God helped me find out that kindness wasn’t a myth, and that it was as real as the pain of stubbing a toe (that REALLY smarts and is utterly undeniable).

Learning to be kind to others was hard, until I learned that it really and truly had to begin with being kind to myself.  I honestly didn’t really grasp that very quickly, having learned that the only way for people (myself included) would make enduring uncomfortable and foreign changes is when they are browbeaten (punished) into making them.  So if I made a mistake or even just a bad choice, I’d beat myself up about it – harshly and without kindness.  I thought that would make me better.  I was wrong.  Once I was able to be more kind to myself, it got easier and easier to be kind to everyone else I wanted to be kind with.

The real surprise was that I actually make more consistent changes within myself and my life walk when I am kind to myself. It has been a lovely gentle surprise in my life’s journey to find that to be a real thing.

How can kindness live while really bad things going on around you?  I can only say that as we engage with kindness toward ourselves, it gets easier to see where kindness makes us feel better in bad situations. Then punishing others becomes less important and certainly less rewarding.  See how I did that?  I showed how learning kindness helped me learn what forgiveness was: my ability to give up my right to punish someone else for something they did wrong to me.  I don’t need an apology to forgive someone, now.  I only need to be kinder to myself and the world, by giving up my right to require punishment for them.  Does that mean I have to let them repeat the injury?  O HECK no!  Forgiveness does not require that I lay down and be anyone’s rug, chuckle.

This lifelong journey for the lessons of kindness drew me to a poem that I had as a bookplate when I was only 20 years old, and newly married.  It’s a poem written by Stephen Grellet (1773-1855), and it still resonates with me. I use it as my illustration today.  I hope it inspires you as well.

Finally, I want to thank God for being patient and tenacious (a kind word for stubborn) in teaching me that kindness is the better way to go, in spite of what I wasn’t given in life.  Didja know Kindness is a fruit of the spirit?  Means the more I practice it, the more God’s spirit can flow into and through me.  A very good thing.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? -Micah 6:8

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#2 Thankful for – HOME ECONOMICS

Quick summary: Once upon a time I tried to post 100 days of Thankfulness. I fell off the task several times, so I am only going to say 100 posts of Thankfulness this time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I might. I talked about it more, here

I am thankful for HOME ECONOMICS class in High School. I took the class in 1968-69, and it’s been rare to find it in schools for many years. There’s a cry to bring it back, and some schools are doing it, though it’s an expensive program to present with all the sewing machines and kitchenettes to provide for students’ use. In my case, it was utterly a blessing, though!

I grew up a tomboy, and never paid much attention to what happens in the kitchen. That was my older sister’s domain, and I was happy to leave it to her. By the time I was 14, I jokingly referred to myself as a “can-pan” cook until I had my own kitchen to work and experiment in.  Now that we have so many frozen meals and options, I might never have learned to cook – if it wasn’t for “Home Ec”.

I took the course to please a parent, but I have to admit that I found learning how to sew and cook turned into one of the more interesting classes I took in High School.  First, since the class is foreign to many younger people, I’ll explain that one semester (or for half the school year for my foreign friends) was spent learning to sew, and the other semester was spent learning how to cook.  One group of students might begin with cooking while my group was working with the sewing.  So that part of the school always smelled interesting on the days the students really began working in the kitchenettes.

I already knew how to hem a skirt, mend an open seam, and mend simple tears (though not very neatly) and even how to embroider simple stitches. But now I was introduced to learning how to buy material and use a sewing machine to create something wearable from a pattern.

As I mentioned, I had food survival skills, but now I learned how to read and follow a recipe, shop for produce, plan a meal so each thing was ready at the right time to serve, and how to maintain a good standard of cleanliness as you went.  We even had some visiting guests to explain how their products could make things easier to do.

I really didn’t think much of the skills I gained from that class because I had to change schools when the semesters changed, and that made life a bit harder to focus.  However, once I was “on my own” I drew on those skills often – by reading the instructions that I now knew how to understand.  Taking the class made me brave enough to make my own dresses (when I could afford the materials), learn how to crochet and make clothing from patterns.  I also found the courage and finally the comfort of functioning well in the kitchen.  I’m not sure how I would have managed to do as many things as I learned how to do in that class, but I’m so thankful I didn’t have to find out, chuckle.

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