Moot Points/Mute Points and the Expansion of my Vocabulary

I have frequent meetings at work with a person who commonly says, “It’s a mute point.”

Before the words are even out of his mouth, the voice in my head insists, Moot! I never actually say anything out loud, though sometimes it’s tempting to respond, “What? Can you repeat that? I couldn’t hear your mute point.” But any attempt to correct his misuse of the word would likely fall on the same kind of deaf ears as my husband’s when I try to correct him when he says “Not doing nothing.”

Me: “Then what are you doing?”

He: “What? I said … nothing … ?”

Me: “Then that means you are doing … Oh nevermind.”

He (cheekily): “Nothing!”

Jack and I have had this conversation so often, that I know he gets it. I just think his use of the phrase is so ingrained that it comes out of his mouth before he can think twice about it. Or more likely he simply refuses to let me win this battle.

Anyway, the mute point guy makes us our meetings fun and we laugh a lot at his many “-isms” so I think I’ll just leave him be. Besides, who am I to be poking fun at others’ use of the English language? I don’t even know what I don’t know! I read a new book over the past week and found myself periodically happening across a word that, although its meaning was obvious to me by its placement and context, was unfamiliar. I appreciated that because I was reading on my Kindle I could just press my finger to the word on the screen in order to link to a definition and pronunciation. I really love books like this! Fifty-four years old I’m still learning new things every day. Keeps the ol’ brain from getting too rusty!

It was a fantastic book, by the way, called This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel. The story surrounds a family with five boys, the youngest of whom at a very young age displays signs of gender dysphoria. It was such a compassionate perspective on how and why any parents might decide to not only allow, but encourage their son to live his life as a girl. In addition, I love the way this author writes, with words that are so colorful and descriptive, flowing and beautiful. It gave me insight and perspective I could never have otherwise known, and I often felt gut-wrenching sympathy for the characters in their various experiences. The book frequently inspired jealousy that my brain isn’t able to craft such artistic, impactful combinations of words. And I was so disappointed to arrive at the last page. Five stars for this book! Highly recommend!

It occurs to me that I often also learn new words and phrases in my job. A few years ago, before I started working with lawyers, I thought I had pretty strong skills where words are concerned. It didn’t take many conversations with my new teammates before I started jotting down words in my notes that I intended to look up after the meeting. Talk about humbling!

So the moral of this story is that I, myself still have a lot to learn, and I should stop making fun (even only in my head) of the way others express themselves.

P.S. Do you know what a “stuffy” is? I read this term in my just-finished book and honestly couldn’t work it out in my head at first. If you’re in my age range, and/or you haven’t had young kids around for a while, you may also have missed the movement toward equality among stuffed toys. No more “stuffed animals,” just “stuffies.” Now maybe you’ve learned something new today too. Or quite possibly, I am just behind the times.

This is me not sleeping

Thoughts that daily make their way through my brain…

When this is over

When things are back to normal …

Maybe it will never be truly over. Maybe fragments of where we are now will stay with us forever. Normal might never be again what we once believed it to be.

I don’t always sleep well. Probably a symptom of my age. But sometimes I wonder if I’ve developed a permanent low level of anxiety (thanks to a virus) that prevents me from truly letting go long enough to sleep through the night. Maybe I haven’t. But maybe I have. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep for a long time, or I wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. My brain doesn’t want to shut down. I think as normal as I try to make things, there’s a part of me that knows that none of this is normal and it makes me feel so unsettled sometimes.

I go through the days and I do my normal things. It’s kind of nice to be able to work at home, to have those extra minutes to get something done beyond driving to and from an office. I can toss a load of laundry in the washer in the middle of the day. Put some outgoing mail in the mailbox. Pull something from the freezer for dinner. Stop for a minute to hug and kiss my dog. All things I couldn’t do if this was the old normal and I was away from home for nine or more hours a day.

Sometimes I wake up in the night and my brain immediately wants some kind of reassurance that just isn’t to be found. No matter how much I try to tell it calming, fun, happy things, think about the best things in my life, or just breathe deeply in and out, my brain goes into overdrive and sleep won’t come back. When will I stop wondering every day if I’m going to catch the virus and – not that I’m very worried for myself – but what if I pass it on to someone else and do them harm? I can’t stop thinking about my poor mother-in-law in her little apartment for months on end without any real visits from family. It hurts my heart to hear the daily death count on the news, about the shortage of vaccines, and the mutating strains of the virus.

Maybe I can’t sleep because it’s impossible to truly relax while there’s no end in sight and the world just isn’t safe for everyone. (Not that it ever was, really.) But this virus!

Of course then I remember that this probably isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things. There is an end in sight and I just need to be patient a while longer. My livelihood isn’t at risk which in turn makes me able think about (and do) more for others less fortunate. There’s plenty of food on the table. I can binge watch Netflix without the usual level of guilt. Got lots of time to read books or do some project around the house. I spend a lot more time outside – in the winter even – than I ever did before. I can go to work in leggings or sweatpants if I want to. All really great perks, right?

The view outside isn’t bad.

Imagine how terrifying it must have been to live in a time when you couldn’t protect your child from polio. When a vaccine couldn’t even be imagined. And when it could, it was years away. And I think I have trouble sleeping! This isn’t so bad then, is it?

Maybe normal is never coming back. Maybe the new normal is that time passes a little bit slower. And church isn’t a building. Maybe it’s forgiveness being extended more generously, not having to be first, loving others exactly for who they are and for who they aren’t. Hugs might be a little more scarce, but personally, I hope they come back in droves. Maybe the new normal is that we all have a lot more grace to offer.

Sometimes I wonder if the bigger purpose to all this is to deconstruct everything we take so much for granted, in order to take us down a few notches. Maybe when this is all over, the world is different, better in ways we never dreamed. I have to believe there’s a purpose for what is happening in the world today, this big thing that is beyond anything I could have imagined in my lifetime. I remind myself to live in it and through it, find something redeeming each day and not just constantly look for the end of it all. But I will be so happy to get beyond it.

Maybe this is why I can’t sleep at night. Then again, it could just be my age.

Therapy Cows

I am so grateful that it’s Friday. For a short week, it sure felt endless. I had problems all week-long with the system where I do most of my work. I kept receiving errors and subsequently reporting them to the System Admin. I told the S.A. multiple times that I suspected the system generated alerts, which inform me that something is waiting in my queue, were not working. Since the S.A. has been making some changes to the layout and workflows in the system, he kept brushing off my concerns, even going so far as to suggest I might be accidentally deleting my alerts without acting on them. Things have been really busy. I was probably just overwhelmed, he said. “I don’t know,” I said. “I’ll run a report for you so you can see what’s outstanding,” he said.

The report was long, but I began to research each item and address it as best I could. The problem was, as much as I worked through the report, more things inevitably fell into my queue. I could not seem to keep track of my responsibilities in the system and couldn’t figure out why I was having such a hard time with a process at which I am an expert. I honestly reached the point of wondering if I was losing it. And then this afternoon, lo and behold, the S.A. sent an email marked high importance. It said that he had discovered the system was not sending alerts and therefore everyone should refrain from completing any tasks until the software provider could be consulted.

I felt vindicated. And also annoyed. When I asked how long the alerts had been out of commission, my suspicions were confirmed. Since last Friday! I know he didn’t really mean to completely disregard my concerns, but sometimes the S.A. is very confident in what he believes and sometimes I allow myself to back down too easily. But when I thought about the long hours I’d worked this week trying to get things under control … when I thought about how much I’d doubted my own capabilities the past few days, I was beyond frustrated!

I needed to blow off some steam in a productive way, so I decided to take a walk. The outside temperature was twelve degrees but I did not let that stop me. The sun shone in a clear, blue sky and I wanted to put some distance between myself and any device that would require me to interact with other humans. I pulled snow pants on over my leggings, slid my arms into a long, warm jacket, and headed out the door toward the walking path.

The asphalt was a bit icy and slick, and I had to walk carefully, but it felt good to breathe fresh, cold air into my lungs. The cows were outside up the street. They leaned curiously in my direction as I approached. When I reached their fence, I stopped to talk to them. I couldn’t help myself. They’re cute, and my dog-loving instincts always kick in when I see them. I stayed on the path and called over, “Hi babies,” in my dog-loving voice, and then they posed for a nice photo. And I felt a bit better.

Moo.

I was able to return to work for the rest of the afternoon with a renewed sense of calm. As it turns out, cows are pretty good therapy. I wonder if it’s too late to consider a career in farming?

Vittles and Visions

It never fails that when I’ve been on a not-cooking binge, I circle back around, getting highly motivated and ambitious to prepare meals that taste good and are at least slightly less bad for our health. It was a quiet weekend around our place, which made it easier to spend time menu-planning and grocery shopping.

It wasn’t just general guilt about our poor eating habits lately that had me focused on what we’re consuming. Jack had a routine blood draw last week. He has these done in order to keep an eye on certain indicators in his body that may be impacted by his autoimmunity and the medications he takes to manage it. He’s had trouble keeping his liver numbers in a good place and last week we learned they are elevated again. And while this could be due to his medications, we also know there might be things he can do to make positive changes on his own, such as lose a few pounds. Just another reason to pay more attention to what we’re putting in our bodies.

So Saturday morning found me sitting at the kitchen island with my laptop, surrounded by cookbooks. I decided to create a spreadsheet of some favorite meals and listed them along with the specific ingredients needed for each. The plan is to build on this spreadsheet so that I’ll ultimately have a quick-pick list of meals that’s also an easy reference for my grocery list. I included a few new recipes from an InstaPot cookbook I recently bought, and I made two of those meals this weekend. On Saturday I made Thai Pumpkin Chicken Soup, which we both deemed to be interesting though it’s probably not something I’ll make again. Jack had two helpings of last night’s Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili and he also took it to work today for lunch. I really enjoyed that one as well and it will definitely go on the list for future meals.

Hopefully all of this will help us stay on top of our nutrition a little better from now on, though I think I’ll still give meal kits a try. There are weekends when Chesney and Farm Boy come to visit and the whole food thing falls apart because I’d much rather have fun with them than spend time at the grocery store. But even that is just a matter of planning ahead somewhat.

In other news, we were supposed to return to our bowling league this weekend after it was shut down in November thanks to COVID. Jack and I opted not to participate in the second half though. Since his health has seen some pitfalls in recent months, we just felt it was best to play it safe. Plus, bowling under the current restrictions (masks on, limited mingling with friends, and having to leave as soon as the games are done) just takes away all of the fun.

It’s hard to stay busy and entertained sometimes with all of the official and self-imposed restrictions on ourselves. Our kids have continued to visit periodically, but otherwise we’ve been fairly careful. As much as I look forward to the weekends after working all week, they often start to feel long and boring before Monday comes around again. I wanted to give myself a good project to fill the quiet this particular weekend. I’ve never made a vision board before, but I’ve been contemplating making one since the year began. Last week in a team meeting, a coworker shared the one she had been working on and it made me ambitious to get started myself.

I checked out a few how-to articles and then made a stop at the dollar store yesterday to buy a board and some double-sided tape. Thankfully, Jack had a stockpile of outdoor magazines and catalogues from the past year that he had yet to recycle. I spent the afternoon clipping words and images that spoke to me. After dinner, I got to work organizing my clippings on the board and then securing them in place. The effort reminded me of art projects I’d done in my school days which made me feel just a little bit silly. But I didn’t really care. It was an enjoyable way to spend a quiet, cold evening. Certainly way better than zoning out in front of the television. I’m not sure the end result truly qualifies as a vision board, but I was proud of it anyway. It ended up being a sort of potpourri of goals, inspirations, positive messages, and things that are simply important to me. It includes references to family, faith, and the outdoors, as well as ambitions about writing, work, and fitness, all things that I strive to improve with each day that I live. I know when I look at it, I’ll see words and images that are uplifting and inspirational.

I’m really happy with it. And who knows? Maybe this will become something I do at the start of each new year from now on!

This is Me Not Cooking

I probably should be cooking. It’s that time of day to be making something for dinner, and Jack will be home in a while, most likely wanting to eat. I have a love/hate relationship with the preparing of meals. I actually don’t mind cooking. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. It’s the menu-planning, grocery-list-making, and shopping that I can’t get excited about. I neglected to do those things last weekend which makes it difficult to know what to make for dinner now. So I’ll probably wait until Jack walks through the door and say I’m going to make grilled cheese sandwiches or pancakes. To which he might say, “Why don’t I go get Chinese instead?” To which I will say, “Okay.” I love breakfast for dinner, but he doesn’t. And I can eat healthy-ish again next week, right?

I am seriously thinking about trying out one of those meal kit subscriptions. Then I can just fill in the other food necessities with a Target run now and then, because who doesn’t love going to Target? And yes, I have tried just ordering my groceries for delivery. I realized afterwards that even when I make a list, when I’m actually in the store I pick up a lot of things I didn’t think about during the list-making. And so I miss those things when I order groceries. Why does food have to be such a necessity? And also, why do we have to like it so much?

Also contributing to my lack of culinary motivation is the fact that it has been a week! I’ve just worked two full weeks in a row, which I think we can all agree is a hard habit to get back to after the holidays and all of their slow-downs and time off and such.

Clearly, everyone who spent most of December using up soon-to-expire vacation time is now back in the swing of things and wanting to get work done. And I felt this. And even though I just read a really helpful book called Calm the F*ck Down, my coping skills still need a lot of work. There is just so much to be done all of a sudden. I felt all the stress and anxiety this week. And there was that thing yesterday when someone said to me, “Don’t give this a second thought. It’s not a criticism in the least. But before you say something like [that thing I said] in an email to this group, just run it by me first.” That thing I said was just me talking like I talk and it was nothing. Really nothing. It was just me saying how I had something to provide to the group but I wanted to refine it first. And even though I was assured that I should not give the assessment of that thing I said a second thought, I allowed the insinuation that I somehow gave others the idea our team is less than perfect (which we are) to stress me out to the point I couldn’t stop worrying I would fail miserably on everything else job-related from now on. Everything on my to-do list suddenly seemed insurmountable and I felt like I should have had it all done yesterday, even though much of it isn’t due yet. And by the end of yesterday I just wanted to dissolve on the couch.

Of course, by the time I woke up this morning, I was asking myself why I’m so crazy sometimes. And everything looked well and manageable today. And I was no longer taking personally the assessment of the thing I said.

Also, on Monday I thought I might have COVID. So that did not help with the goal to reduce my habit of worrying. I started sniffling and sneezing at 5:00 am and it continued ALL DAY LONG. When Jack came home from work and heard me sneezing, he asked, “You got COVID, or what?” He was joking, of course. But of course, I hadn’t thought I might have the virus until he said what he said. And the thing about being in this pandemic is that, at least for me, every little thing in my body that feels the slightest bit off suddenly makes me think I might have COVID and I’ll infect others and it will be bad, oh so bad. (Can I just get that vaccination already?)

But it was not COVID. I woke up on Tuesday morning and nothing. No sniffles. No sneezing. Literally nothing. So all I can think is that I was allergic to something in the new sweater that I wore on Monday without washing it first. Definitely not COVID, but probably the fault of Old Navy.

All this makes me really grateful that I have a three-day weekend ahead. I am really going to need it after working two whole five-day work-weeks in a row. Maybe I’ll spend the extra time planning some meals and going to the grocery store so that next week I can cook again, and also eat like a person who wants to stay healthy and live longer than a few more years. That’d be nice, huh?

Oh, Baby!

I mentioned recently that I’ve been making an effort to journal things for which I’m grateful. Sometimes I have to dig really deep, especially considering the events of the past year and now those of the past week. Sometimes, finding a reason to be grateful is so easy! Take for example, that day recently when my oldest boy, Jaeger stopped over with his girlfriend, Camping Girl. Considering how little I’ve written here over the past couple of years, I may not have mentioned the lovely Camping Girl before. She is lovely. He loves her. She loves him. And we adore her. For quite some time, it’s been so easy for us to see they are right for each other.

Jaeger has made some remarks recently that have led us to believe a marriage proposal was in the works. Jack and I have talked about it periodically, wondering when we might finally hear some news of wedding bells. One Sunday, not long before Christmas, Jaeger and C.G. let us know they’d be stopping by that afternoon. I invited them to stay for dinner and when they arrived, homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs were cooking on the stove. We were all gathered around the island in the kitchen, chatting and waiting for the pasta to finish cooking when Jaeger whipped something white out of his back pocket. The small white thing unfurled before my eyes and I realized an announcement was being made! Though it wasn’t the announcement we’d been expecting.

We’re going to be grandparents!

It wasn’t the wedding announcement we’d been expecting, but instead, a BABY announcement! We are going to be grandparents! I can’t remember exactly how I reacted, but I remember bolting over to the other side of the island to throw my arms around both Jaeger and C.G. I cried. I exclaimed that I was so excited. I must have exclaimed it several times because Jaeger finally laughed and said, “Are you so excited, Mom?”

I am going to be a GRANDMOTHER! I am so ready for this! I am going to spoil this kid rotten! Well, maybe not rotten but there will definitely be some spoiling going on. I may have already bought a baby toy.

A few people have asked me what I’ll be called when the baby arrives. Will I be “Nanna” like my mom was? That would be really cool, but I’m thinking that this may not be a decision I’ll make myself. When my parents’ first grandchild, my niece came along, my siblings and I began to refer to my parents as Grandma and Grandpa – until my niece started talking. And she called them Nanna and Boppa. I remember Jack saying, “I’m not referring to your dad as Boppa! It’s embarrassing.” But it stuck. My dad was Boppa and he was darn proud of it.

I have a friend who is Nonna to her grandkids. Another friend’s kids call her dad, Bumpa. Heck, my own nephew couldn’t pronounce my name when he was young, and although he is now in his twenties, he and his siblings still call me Dewey. So I think I’ll be open to whatever this little one wants to call me. But in case I’m asked to choose, I’m open to suggestions if you’ve got ’em!

And P.S. A proposal was actually in the works. To make a long story short, the news of the baby beat Jaeger to the punch. Like I said, we’re thrilled. Jaeger says they’ll work on planning a wedding after they settle in with the baby, who is scheduled to arrive in late July. Lots of good stuff to look forward to around here!

Fatigued

I was so very tired this morning when the alarm went off. Oddly, I slept pretty hard. It’s a rare night when I don’t wake up and fight the battle to shut off my brain and go back to sleep, but it wasn’t an issue last night. I didn’t hear any of the usual household noises, didn’t wake up having to employ a list of tactics to help me drift off again. And yet, I was exhausted upon waking.

I probably watched way too much of the news yesterday afternoon and evening. I was oblivious to the siege on our nation’s capitol until late afternoon when a coworker incredulously described what was happening. That’s when I turned on the television and found myself unable to tear my eyes away for several more hours. And I can only think this is why I feel so bone-weary today.

I think we’re all tired. I’m tired of feeling like the world is full of people who hate each other and who think blame is the only way to address injustice. I’m tired of the news media, of not knowing whether I can trust the information it dispenses. Like we all are, I’m burned out on the endless succession of days of isolation because of a pandemic. And I’m so very tired of the fighting over how to get beyond all of this.

I probably set myself up for this, coming into the new year with all kinds of hope for brighter days. I know those days are coming, but I need to be more realistic. The sort of transformation we so desperately need isn’t going to come quickly or easily. Finger-pointing and violence will never shine a light on this darkness. No matter who sits in the White House, that person isn’t going to save the country single-handedly. We need to look inside ourselves. We have to make compassion and respect a priority, and be willing to work for the kinds of change we want to see.

I wonder if everyone begins to feel a bit jaded as they grow older, after having the opportunity to see the many ways the world really works. Or are we truly in unprecedented times? I can’t imagine today’s climate is worse than it was during civil and world wars, and times of great racial unrest. Shouldn’t we by now be able to do better at addressing our differences and rise above them?

I’m so tired of the bickering, the accusations, the distrust, the disdain for anyone who doesn’t share the same opinions. Our political leaders and system are not what’s going to create the love, kindness, and compassion we so badly need. But it’s all so much bigger than me and today, I am just drained.

Why do I worry? Because I have to do it for everyone.

We went back to work yesterday, Jack and I. No more vacation days. No more waking up without an alarm. No more over-indulging in Netflix or sneaking a few more leftover Christmas cookies out of sheer boredom.

Thanks to a tracking error on his employer’s part, Jack was informed in mid-December that he had fifty-some hours of vacation time to use (or lose) before the end of the year that shall not be named. (A coworker introduced me to that label today and it made me laugh out loud, so I am using it henceforth!) So my hubby had been at home for the last two weeks without anything particularly pressing to do. Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week. Not that I was keeping tabs or anything. Near the end of his vacay, he said he was looking forward to going back to work this week. I said I was glad he was going back to work too. (I’m kidding. A little bit.) I also was looking forward to returning to my work. Having time off during a pandemic just isn’t that fun.

Alarm clocks sounded yesterday morning. We got up before the sun. Off we went to work. Well, off Jack went to work. Off I went to the family room in our lower level which continues to serve as my office until we tackle some projects which will allow me to convert a spare bedroom into a better workspace. I can’t do that right now since there is a new bathroom vanity taking up a large chunk of space in the bedroom. So first, bathroom remodel. Then bedroom remodel and new office space. Soonish, I hope.

It felt good to be back in the swing of things at work, using my brain for something more stimulating than watching the Hallmark Channel. Not that I’m knocking the Hallmark Channel. I got totally sucked into the non-stop holiday flicks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. After I decided to boycott watching any channel cycling non-stop news of COVID and politics, hatred and violence, the Hallmark channel saved my sanity. I could pretend the country wasn’t spiraling out of control and just get lost in beautiful people who live in quaint, cozy small towns where nobody ever really seems to work, and everyone is filled the Christmas spirit all the time, and love always wins in the end. Sigh! Funny thing about Christmas movies though. Even though Hallmark offers them … What? Year round I think? They’re not nearly as charming and actually feel a lot cheesier when it’s no longer the Christmas season. Besides, I was beginning to see reruns. And after the New Year’s Eve celebration that wasn’t, going back to work sounded awfully inviting.

So there I was yesterday morning, about three hours into my work day and participating in a Teams meeting when I heard the front door open. Thinking that was very odd, I heard footsteps come down the stairs and suddenly there was Jack. He looked wretched. I muted my microphone momentarily and leaned away from my web cam. Without me having to ask, he muttered, “I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m going to bed.”

I could feel the blood drain from my face because of course, I instantly assumed COVID, which where Jack is concerned, scares me to death. With his autoimmunity and some other health issues of late, I really worry about how he would manage if he got the virus. But of course, I was stuck on my meeting for a few more minutes and couldn’t drill him with questions at that exact moment. After he walked out of the room, I tried to continue to pay attention to the topic at hand. And by the time the meeting ended not long after, Jack was sound asleep in bed and stayed that way for hours. Around mid-afternoon he resurfaced from the bedroom and said he felt a little better. I asked what had been wrong. What he described certainly didn’t point to COVID, but definitely didn’t ease my mind. He used words like “dizzy,” “light headed,” and “nauseous.” Also, there was “short of breath” and “felt like I was having a heart attack.”

“A heart attack? And you drove yourself home?” I asked incredulously.

“Well, I sat for about an hour at work until the worst of it passed and when I felt a little better, I figured I could drive home,” he replied.

“Maybe it was a panic attack,” I suggested. I’ve heard people say they thought they were having a heart attack and it turned out to be anxiety, although even as I was saying it I was thinking that would be much more likely to happen to me, not Jack.

“You had two weeks away from work and maybe you were worried about catching up on things.”

He really didn’t think it was anxiety and said he figured he just had the stomach flu. But I insisted that the heart attack feelings didn’t jive with a stomach bug and he shouldn’t have driven home afterwards. I have about sixteen jillion hours of PTO and could easily have come get him. Also, now that I think about it, there’s an emergency squad where he works, trained First Responders. Maybe he might have called on them? Maybe? And also, feeling like he was having a heart attack warranted a call to the doctor. “Now,” I said.

He brushed me off, saying he felt better now.

“I don’t,” I said. “Call the doctor.”

“They’re wrapping up their day by now. I’ll call tomorrow.”

“It’s 3:15. They’re not wrapping up. If you’re feeling better in the morning, you’ll go to work again and you’ll forget to call. Do it now and at minimum, you can leave a message asking for a call back.”

“I don’t have a card with the phone number.”

The excuses with this man!!!

“There’s this thing called Google,” I deadpanned. “Helps you find all kinds of information.”

I insisted that particularly with his health issues, he shouldn’t mess around and should at least check in with a professional to see if we should be more concerned, or maybe go to a hospital. He finally acquiesced and called his specialist’s office, actually reaching a live person and getting put directly through to a nurse. (Go figure!) She drilled him with questions and when she didn’t insist he head to the E.R. I felt a bit better.

Later on, Jack ate dinner, watched television, and slept through the night without incident. He went back to work today, put in an entire day, and lived to tell about it. His specialist’s dedicated nurse also called today and eased my mind even further. She said the doctor didn’t feel his incident was related to his health issues or current medications. It might have just been a fluke thing, a virus, stomach bug. Who knows? And if he continues to experience the same symptoms, he should GO SEE HIS PRIMARY DOCTOR. (Imagine that!)

Seeing as how Jack is feeling back to his normal self today, I guess we are going to let this go. But this sure put a damper on that whole not-worrying thing!

The Things I Didn’t Know I’d Miss

Today marks the last day of a five-day stretch of weekend for me. Whenever I’m able, I love to take a bit of time off from work to enjoy some unscheduled days over the December holidays. But never before have I looked forward to getting back to the normal groove the way I do right now. Because there’s quiet. And then there is too quiet.

This pandemic has proven to me that I’m not so much of a homebody as I always claim to be. It’s now obvious that the reason I love lazy at-home days is because they feel so good when balanced with some social time. Jack and I have managed some cautious small-group gathering over the past year, but didn’t celebrate any of the holidays with extended family. I really miss being able to gather with others. I miss family parties, and going out to restaurants. I miss evenings at the bowling alley with team mates and league friends. I miss neighborhood happy hours and the local and state fairs. I even miss being able to attend funerals. And I really, really miss hugs.

Although the past few days have been slow, they’ve had their benefits. I’ve watched too much television, but caught a few worthwhile flicks along the way. I’ve done some reading, some writing, some cooking, and some organizing. I repotted all of my succulents and African Violets, both of which seem to be reproducing at an alarming rate. (My Grandma T. who had the greenest thumb ever would be so proud!) I fell asleep before 2021 arrived and didn’t mind one bit. In fact, I slept really well every night. And I’ve walked. In spite of the cold and snow, I’ve done a lot of walking. Which is probably good considering how many cookies I’ve consumed lately. This morning it was cold enough to make me think twice about going out. It was well below freezing. But the sky was clear and the sun made the snow on the ground sparkle brilliantly. It felt so good to be outside before really starting my day, taking in the beauty of the morning and getting my head in a good place.

And oh how good that cup of coffee tasted afterwards!

It’s all about perspective, I suppose. I never really knew how much I could appreciate busyness, commitments and activity … until they were no longer there. So while I’ll continue to look for the silver linings in the stillness of these days, with each one that passes I’ll be looking forward with a new appreciation to all those things I miss so much.

January 1, 2021

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

The door has been closed on 2020, one of the darkest years I can remember during my own lifetime. There’s very little tangible difference in the world today since yesterday. But for me, this day, January 1, 2021 brings more hope and a greater desire for positive change than ever before.

In the later months of 2020 I experienced a sense of anxiety like I’ve never felt before. It was so intense at one point that I literally made myself sick. While my brain knew all the right things to say to combat it, my body wouldn’t listen. I prayed. I meditated. I took deep breaths and did yoga. None of it helped. And nothing anyone else said to me could make me feel more rational either. The whole thing gave me a small glimpse into what those with true diagnosed anxiety must fight against on a regular basis. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Thankfully, the thing which caused me to spiral into such an intense panic came to pass without my worst fears coming true. While the pandemic continues to contribute to a general sense of anxiety in me, it’s mild on most days and I’ve felt much more “normal” ever since that time.

Today I look back on those really dark days and realize that it was the unknown that weighed so heavy on my heart that I almost couldn’t function. I dwelled so heavily on the worst-case-scenario that I couldn’t see anything else. Now that I’m beyond it, it’s a stark reminder that this is why I strive to keep deepening my faith in God. It gives me a reason to remain hopeful, to understand that every experience, even the bad, stressful, and sad ones can serve to help me grow in some way. And while not everything in life is going to transpire as I might wish, I can use all of it to learn, and to become a better person, and maybe to make things easier for others.

While I wait for the world to return to normal, I remember that we need to leave some of the old normal behind. Today brings an immense sense of hope for almost no other reason than it is the first day of a new year. I guess I should really have this kind of faith and ambition every single day, but I will take a moment to appreciate that January 1st serves as a reminder to go forward better than I did before, and to hope that the world will collectively reach for the same. What I strive for in the coming year is much like what vow to do every year. Love better. Be more generous. Live more gratefully. And don’t take a single day for granted because tomorrow is never promised.

And on that note …. I did it! I resolve to incorporate more play time in 2021!