Coronavirus Day 19 – The day I lost my mojo.

Change of perception.

Now I know. 19 days seems to be my limit. But it’s not time to come out yet. Not time to hug my kids, my grandkids, my family or my friends. Not time to go places, have plans, take classes, eat at restaurants or book travel. It’s simply not time yet. And so I’ll keep on going, like everyone else, and will dig deeply into my reserves for inspiration, motivation, distraction and a whole lot of other stuff that ends in a “tion.”

So here are my thoughts and ramblings for today. I’m not long on the silver linings, but know they will return soon…

I’m tired but my Fitbit keeps insisting that I’m getting the best sleep I’ve ever had since I started wearing the contraption. And that makes sense as I am sleeping long and hard and am dreaming with an intensity that I’ve never experienced before. I suppose it is during my nighttime hours that I’m dealing with the emotional aspect of all of this. Who knew I would need such a crisis to get such a good night’s sleep? That, right there, is my biggest silver lining today. And the one I appreciate greatly right now.

Seeing the creativity of social connectedness during this time of distancing courtesy of Zoom and FaceTime is nothing but amazing. Meetings, exercise class, connecting with family and friends and one of my favorites yet, symphonies playing separate, yet together. It is just one more thing that has brought me to tears, which seem to fall at the drop of a hat these days. So creative. So touching. So necessary. We are using what we have and have gone above and beyond with making the best of it.

There are no “wrongs” when it comes to self care. If I need to lay on the couch and watch 2 hours of bad TV while finishing off a half a loaf of banana bread, then that’s what I’m going to do (2 days ago). Thankfully, I don’t seem to be able to wallow in that spot long and the next day, I walked 2 hours and even impressed myself with the meals I made. Self care for me is about listening to what I need and doing a prompt follow through, whatever that may be. With the exception of a few bad days, I’m staying on the healthy side, both physically and emotionally.

I got notification that my screen time was up 98%. Given that it is my “lifeline” right now, and 99% of my communication, I’m surprised the number wasn’t a lot higher. I can’t begin to count the many times I’ve given thanks for the internet and a decent signal.

Today when I was out walking, I held a sneeze for as long as I could to insure I had enough distance between myself and the man I had just passed. I’m not worried whatsoever that I have the virus, but was more worried that my sneeze would either scare him or show an incredible amount of disrespect. I have no idea who the man was but have no doubt, he would have done the same for me. We all continue are finding our footing around our new self-imposed rules of respect. Not at all bad.

I have a correction on the peanut butter crispen appetizer that I’ve referred to in earlier coronavirus posts. I did some investigative research yesterday and was able to find the episode of “That Girl” where the appetizer, that I’ve referred to for decades, originated. They were actually a little more exotic than I remembered… “stuffed” peanut butter crispens… made from corn flakes, not the wheaties as previously mentioned. I feel it’s important to not put incorrect information out there. Oh, and by the way, watching “That Girl,” some 5 decades later did not disappoint. Then again, I have to consider how low my TV viewing bar may be at this point. Chances are very good that I’ll be tripping over it by the end of the week…

While out on my “explore Boulder” walk today, the thought occurred to me of how interesting it would be if we could actually SEE the coronavirus. For instance, when walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store, you’d be able to spot where the virus had landed. In my version, not unlike the photos we’re seeing, the virus is red. A small yet visible touch of red on several of the cans of soup that were picked up then returned with a change of mind, a smear of red on the loaf of bread that sits in the vulnerable spot on the edge of the shelf and the solid red glow around the edge of the deli counter, the credit card swipers, and the door handle. Obviously, if we could see the virus, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we are now given that its invisibility is our greatest challenge. Long walks during stressful times bring on some interesting thoughts that I’d normally just let slide but am now letting percolate a bit because why not?

Just like everyone else, including my friends who live outside of the US borders, I’m afraid, I’m anxious and I have moments of feeling so overwhelmed that I simply have to stop and do what I know to take care of myself, whether that is walking, meditating, writing, painting or stacking and sorting all of the stuff I own. The good news is these low spots only last a day and are followed by days that I’m inspired and even motivated. The emotional pendulum swings from melancholy to merry with a whole lot of anticipation in the middle, but thankfully, I’m familiar with the patterns now and can anticipate those low moments are prepare accordingly. I also have an incredibly strong support system with my family. There was a time several years ago, when I was living in a suburb of Kansas City and both of my sisters lived out of state. In an odd set of circumstances, I found myself with both parents in the hospital, unfortunately, different hospitals and even more unfortunate, hospitals that were an hour apart. When my sisters asked what they could do to help me, I said,

“Answer the phone when I call.”

And they did. Every. Single. Time. And now it’s FaceTime that I’ve asked them to answer and they have. Every. Single. Time. I need the connection, even more than ever now.

And speaking of connection…given that I don’t have many here in Boulder outside of my family…. yet….there is an odd sense of comfort knowing that most of my town is now doing the same thing that I’m doing, and have done for a while – staying home with no plans. I’ve chatted more with neighbors these past few weeks (from afar, of course) than the 7 months since my move in August and we’ve all talked about getting together when this is over. Go figure. I’m connecting in my isolation. I would not have predicted that. Chalk up another point in the silver lining column.

Given the quarantine situation and the closing of salons, I can’t help but be reminded of my decision to stop dying my hair 5 or 6 yeas ago, or my roots more specifically. My hair grows very fast and by now, I’d be sporting a 1/2 inch white stripe down my part had I not made that decision. 10 years ago, during my dye days, I spent 6 weeks in Perú. I was so worried (and vain) about my roots that I brought ONE box of hair dye with me and carefully chose the exact time to use it as I only had one chance. I locked myself in the tiny bathroom that was shared by many others, while I sat on the toilet with dye on my hair, staring at my watch and wishing for the 15 minutes to pass faster. I’m sure no one thought that much of it as so many of us were getting sick and I’m sure they just assumed I had also succumbed to a bit of the “Peruvian flu” myself. Did I really think no one was going to notice the missing white stripe on the top of my head the next day? And why didn’t I just say I’m going to go dye my hair so if you need the facilities now would be a good time? Vanity does strange things to you. Now, if I was still doing that, I’d likely ask for some assistance for the hard to reach areas in the back. At any rate, with the many funny memes of bad haircuts and failed home dye jobs, I’m glad to have one less thing to worry about on that front. We will all emerge, whenever that may be, as our TRUE selves when this is over, some of us more anxious than others, and will wait our turn in line for hair cuts, root cover ups, manicures, pedicures and the like. I’d like to say that I’ll continue in the manner I’ve become accustomed to these past almost 3 weeks, but who am I kidding? You’ll find me in the massage and facial lines but only after the haircut line.

I’ve grown a lot since this began and remember FaceTiming my sister on day 2 in tears wondering how in the world I was ever going to be able to do this alone. Now, what seems like 147 days later, I can see how far I’ve moved from my starting point during those early days. I have tremendous pride and gratitude for where I am emotionally right now and that continues to grow. The time will come, at some point, when we will talk about this time with “remember when we couldn’t leave the house for ______ of days and we FaceTimed or zoomed multiple times a day?” My biggest thought now is that I hope that’s not followed by “I wish we were still doing _____ or ______.” I’m trying to make note of the positive changes that the isolation has made with the hopes that there is a carry over long after we’ve come out of our houses and have hugged those that we love and heck maybe some random strangers too, because we’ve all missed hugging so much. Or at least I have…

“Sometimes love doesn’t look like what you had in mind.” Anne Lamott.

So very true.

Keep the distance and the positives…

The optical illusion of this wall fascinate me…
More painted buildings…the front…
and the side.
And my grocery store…
Everything is cancelled. I walked around the CU campus today and didn’t see another soul. Such an eerie opportunity to have the place to myself!
Eerily empty campus and stadium.
She seemed nice, but didn’t respect the 6 feet of physical distancing…
More empty.

Coronavirus Day 16 – TGIF

Today I stayed off the streets and walked the alleys…not because the streets are busy, but just for something different…

TGIF, or more accurately, TGIFOADFTM – ” Thank God It’s Friday Or Any Day For That Matter,” but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And it’s not even Friday, but who cares? Every day pretty much seems like the last at this point, which makes it hard to settle into the normal waxing and waning of the week that most people live by – you know the Mondays representing new starts (who starts a diet on a Wednesday?) rolling into Fridays, which begin a different mindset all together, with Wednesday’s hump day connecting it all. My Tuesdays are pretty much the same as my Saturdays or Sundays now. That distinctively different energy from the weekdays to the weekends is gone. Now, all days seem the same.

Here are my observations and silver linings that I’ve noticed these past few days, with some random thoughts for good measure.

I notice that even though the physical distancing continues when I’m out walking, with distances getting larger by the day it seems, I hold my breath when someone passes me. I’m guessing this is an instinctual reflex more than anything else. Now that it’s come to my attention though, I can’t stop doing it.

I’m enjoying the self-nurturing that’s been taking place under my roof. I’m feeding myself so much better these days, not only because all of the “not so healthy” snacks are long gone, but also because with little else to do, I’m putting a lot more thought and energy into the meals I’m making. It’s giving me a nurturing sense of comfort. Evidently I’m not alone. Stores are having a hard time keeping yeast and flour other shelves as there’s been an upsurge in bread baking.

After talking to a dear friend of mine recently, who cut her hand while cooking (thankfully, she was up to date on her tetanus shot and didn’t need stitches), I realized how important it is now more than ever, to stay healthy and without injuries. I carry those thoughts along with on every walk. No goofing off, Laurie. Now’s not the time.

Procrastination tendencies seems to expand in relation to the “to do” list… the shorter it is, the more I procrastinate. Case in point, I’ve got 2 forms I need to scan and send to my accountant but just can’t seem to get it done…. because I don’t have the time???? Next week. Maybe Monday. Yeah, Monday will probably work. I will do it on Monday! I accomplish a lot more when I’m busy. I am not busy now, although oddly, my days seem filled.

I estimate that at least half of my day is filled with communication… FaceTime, emailing, phone calls and even a letter or two that I’ve written. That’s been a lovely gift. I’m talking/texting/FaceTiming with friends on a far more regular basis. THAT I hope remains long after the quarantine ends.

Pilates on the mat via Zoom has become my almost daily routine and definitely a big part of my social life. There’s a new teacher, who most of us haven’t yet met in person yet, who told us that although she’s never met us face to face, she knows what many of our bedrooms and living rooms look like now. There’s a comforting kind of intimacy in that as she’s coming to US for the pilates classes rather than us going to her via the studio. My pilates on the mat is a big part of my day now. Thank you, Bolder Pilates.

A few days ago, I staged my own little tribute to Kenny Rogers and had an afternoon all Kenny all the time. I’ve got a lot of good memories in those songs. I can’t say I didn’t bust out a few moves on a few of them. The freedom to do what I want, dance parties and themed days included, has me wondering why I don’t do that every day. I may have to carry this over to the “post quarantine days.” (My list of carryovers post quarantine days is lengthening…) I’ve got Jane Goodall’s birthday on deck next week…

I realized last night when I was stacking up my dinner – grain, vegetables, greens, some sort of dressing, possibly topped with nuts, all stacked up, that this type of meal preparation wasn’t a first for me. When I waited tables at Steak n’ Ale in the early 80’s, the employees had to pay for their meals (a discounted rate, but it was still money out of our not very full pockets). What was free, however, was the bread, the rice and the salad bar. The interesting “casseroles” that came out of being both creative, hungry and poor were pretty amazing starting with the base of rice or bread then stacked with veggies from the salad bar, topped with cheese then given to the cooks to heat up. My friend, Vickie Rhodes, was so clever in her dishes that I’m surprised Steak n’ Ale didn’t reformulate some of them for a lunch or dinner special. Yep, I’m stacking my dinners now in the old Steak n’ Ale tradition. The big difference now is not having to eat it in the smoke-filled back room of the kitchen. Thankfully.

The beauty of cleaning out closets… I knew exactly where to find this sad photo of me in my Steak n’ Ale garb…

Bad news seems to be piling on daily and shoulders seem to be broadening at the same pace to absorb it all. A short 2 weeks ago, one piece of any of the news we’re hearing daily would have felt far more devastating on its own than the constant outpouring of bad news we’ve become used to. It’s a bit of a “bring it on” mentality at this point. I’m by no means saying that it’s easy when new stats are presented to us but rather, it’s just something that I’m becoming accustomed to, hard as it is to hear. I know what the lead in story on the news is going to be and likely the story that will fill most of the time slot. My stomach still drops and the fear and sadness still permeate but I know what to expect now. I’ve learned by default the importance of emotional self care. Meditation. Journaling. Writing this blog. All have been tremendous tools for me right now. Thank you for reading.

This was by far the cutest thing I saw during my walk…
This was by far the most creative thing I saw and had me lingering the longest…
This was the most generous thing I saw… (cherry blossom twigs that were almost gone…)
I carried this one home… thankful for the stranger’s generosity.
This was the most “timely” thing I saw (I’m guessing it fell out of a pocket or a pack as it wasn’t empty and yes, I did think about picking it up, but then thought otherwise…
This was the most colorful wall I saw…
This was the most heartwarming thing that I saw..

And something that made me smile.

My walks are my sanity, my inspiration and my connections to everything outside of my own four walls and have become a necessity of my day. Besides some good exercise, I’m getting to know Boulder so much better and every day discover pockets of this very interesting town that I’ve never seen before. Thankfully, the weather has been on my side, almost every day of the 16 days so far.

Stay safe. Stay motivated. Stay creative. And stay home.

Coronavirus Day 13 – Random, disjointed thoughts

Random, disjointed thoughts.

This is hope.
These small paintings are “hidden” all over Boulder. They’re such a treat to find. (about a foot tall)
This one I found on the side of my favorite coffee shop. I’ve walked passed it countless times, but SAW it yesterday.
Perhaps a budding artist who was inspired by the cat paintings??
This one is in a pocket park two houses down from me.

After my last post, I wondered if I’d even be able to come up with enough to write another because in reality, with the exception of a daily 1 hour walk in my neighborhood, I’ve not left my house so what could I possibly have to say? Go figure. I’ve got a lot to say. Maybe it’s because I’m paying more attention now…

So here’s what I’ve come up with, in a rather stream of consciousness form….not necessarily silver linings or rusted metals but just stuff. Plain and simple and a bit disjointed.

When I put anything that starts with a “Q” into my phone, my phone completes the word as “quarantining.” One step ahead of me, phone.

The strange walking dance continues and I’m kind of fascinated by it. I’ll be walking down the sidewalk, see someone a block ahead of me and someone crossing the street to my side to avoid someone else, leaving me in the middle wondering which direction should I go? Somehow it always works, much like a choreagraphed dance or a marching band whose players weave in and out in constant motion without running in to one another. When listening to a podcast when I walk, there are often gaps that I realize I’ve not listened at all because I’m so focused on the scant, but relevant pedestrian traffic. It seems like we need music for this dance.

This whole staying at home thing… I made the comment in my last post that I hadn’t ever spent this amount of time at home unless I was sick or with newborns and even then I don’t think it was that long. There was a time when the threat of having to stay at home was promptly followed by the words, “You’re grounded.” They were familiar words for me during my high school years as I struggled with curfews. I’ve got some good grounding stories, like the one with an escape from my sequestered room, a jump started car and a night out with my best friend that ended in a wreck (no injuries) but will save that story for another time. Let’s just say I’m handling the sequestered part much better now and am not even the least bit tempted to escape. Stay tuned though.

The decisions I struggled with last week as to whether I should cancel or not – car maintenance, dentist appointment, pilates class and a massage, were decisions that I didn’t have to make after all. All were canceled and now even questioning it seems so ridiculous. How far my point of reference has moved in a short week.

Time is fluid and kind of irrelevant now. I’ve taken baths in the middle of the day, had dinner at 4:00 and ate dessert before my dinner last night because it was the better choice. Weekends, weekdays, all the same now. I am trying to keep some sort of a schedule but it’s pretty vague… coffee when I get up, FaceTime sever members of my family, do stuff, eat, do more stuff, walk, eat, do more stuff then head to bed because I’m usually exhausted, strangely enough. The “stuff” is the variable. Somedays the “stuff” is better than others. Today, my morning “stuff” was a pilates class on zoom. That’s good stuff.

Maybe this is more of a reflection of my personality, but I do much better with the quarantining on rainy, snowy, cloudy days. The sunny days are far more difficult. Hunkering down just doesn’t line up with sunny days, blue sky weather. I am grateful for my hour long daily walks and some digging in the garden with hopes that garden centers will be open when the planting begins, but the bulk of my days are still inside, hunkered down and I want the weather to match the activity.

I spent much of yesterday cooking. It reminded me of when I was pregnant with Emery and was making chili and spaghetti sauce in preparation… pots simmering on the stove and a line up of opened cans and chopped veggies on the countertop. I came to the conclusion that if you’ve got all day to cook, it’s really rather enjoyable and very nurturing for the soul. I made vegetarian chili then realized I had no chili powder so simply changed the name to veggies, tomato and bean medley. I’m pretty much eating medleys for every meal these days… a bit of this, a bit of that and put it on top of rice or quinoa. Soy or peanut sauce for Asian, salsa for Mexican. Done. My daughter AND my daughter in law both brought me needed groceries yesterday – onions, garlic, chocolate… you know, the usual, and they happened to arrive with their goods at the same time. With ample distance between us, we had a nice conversation in the yard. It was so good seeing them in person and not on a screen. So good that I wanted to cry. Meanwhile, the granola I had in the oven burned, but it was well worth it as I got to have a real conversation with Emery and Brooke. It was so strange to not end with hugs. Heartbreaking, really. I miss hugs.

Cooking prep…I actually felt nervous to deplete my canned goods by 5, but a lot of meals came out of them.

And speaking of hugs…I realized the other day that it has been 13 days since I’ve had any physical contact with another human being… 13 days without a hug. That’s hard. That’s what’s hard about going at this alone. When my son Grant was in high school and was headed out the door, I’d ask for a hug and would get an air hug (out stretched arms with the back of one hand slapping the palm of the other). It became a bit of a tradition in our family of huggers, but an add on gesture to the real deal. Brooke, Emery and I all did air hug goodbyes just as a young woman was walking by and she caught my eye, tilted her head and gave me a smile of understanding. It is the smallest moments that have the most impact on me now. Those tiny gestures of reassurance and understanding.

I sifted through the burnt granola, picking out the blackest bits and was able to use it tonite to add it to 2 apples for a small “apple crisp.” This was what I ate first, before my dinner, simply because it was the better choice. Not that the bean, tomato, vegetable medley wasn’t good, but the apple crisp was better, and so it was eaten first. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do NOT like cooked fruit and will NOT eat it, but when all you have are apples and burnt granola to squelch your cravings for some sort of sweet dessert, then cooked fruit it is. My kids will be surprised when they read this. And it was pretty good. I think a lot of things are pretty good now that I’m cooking all my meals and am in quarantine. That point of reference has also shifted.

I’m so very grateful for the spirit of this amazing town I live in. The outreach, the kindness, the smiles, I will always remember this as my real introduction to the town of Boulder. I discover something new with every walk… new pocket neighborhoods that I had never seen before, benches tucked small corners with perfect mountain views and houses that are just plain fun.

Happy house. How can you not smile when you pass a checked “Alice in Wonderland” house?
I hope she’s able to get to the store soon…

A couple of mountain lions were spotted in a nearby neighborhood yesterday, around a mile from my house. This is not normal. The occasional mountain lion on a mountain trail, maybe, but on a neighborhood street, not so much.. Is it possible that the trails are so busy now with the quarantine that the animals simply wanted a place to get away from the humans so resorted to the empty neighborhood streets? Besides a watchful eye for pedestrians, I’m also going to be scanning the neighborhood for mountain lions, I guess. These times are truly not for the faint of heart.

My sister, Susan, said that her local distillery is now making hand sanitizer. Although more than grateful to have it, she said it had the lingering odor of the day after a woodsy. For those who don’t know the term, (which is either a Midwest term or an Olathe, Kansas term….), a woodsy was (or is??) a gathering in a remote area where parents wouldn’t normally look that involved a bon fire, big groups of kids and the likely possibility of liquor. A nostalgic smell, no doubt, but maybe something I wouldn’t want to have lingering on my skin 24/7. Still, kudos to the distillery who have changed their production for the sake of their customers.

I’m feeling overwhelmed today. Boulder has now instated basically a shelter in place order, like much of the country. Although it’s what I’ve been doing for the past 12 days, seeing that in writing felt heavy. My pendulum swings throughout the day from happy, creative and inspired to sad, worried and depressed. After 13 days, I’m used to it, but it still catches me off guard.

In my deep closet clean out last week (or was it the week before???), I found some hand carved angels that I had gotten a few years ago in Santa Fe. Both of them had detached arms so with much pride at my followthrough, I dug out my glue gun to make repairs. Now that their arms are attached again, I’ve noticed an odd external rotation on both of them which I realize now is because I gave them the wrong arms. They look like they’re getting ready for a cheer. READY! OK!! I don’t normally house them on my mantle, but figure a little extra cheer couldn’t hurt. Sorry about the arms, girls.

Given that most of the reporters and those being interviewed are working from their homes, I’m finding myself as focused on trying to see the titles of the books on the shelves that they always seem to position themselves in front of as I am with their words. There are some nice libraries out there. Some of them could use a bit of tidying up, but am guessing they’ve not had the kind of free time that I have.

I took an all day creativity class a few weeks ago and the first thing the teacher told us to do was sit quietly in his open doored studio and simply listen. We then talked about what we heard – actually we wrote poems about what we heard then painted it, but that’s another story. I often walk with ear buds in, listening to music or podcasts or books but today, I took them out and simply listened, inspired by the class. I heard song birds, the faint sound of children playing, a hammer pounding and a woodpecker (hopefully in someone else’s yard) and took a moment to stop and simply absorb it all.. What you can hear, see and feel when all the junk is peeled back, is truly amazing. It sounds like a radio station that has gotten tuned in and sounds so much clearer once the static is gone.

There is so much that I miss but at the same time, a day hasn’t gone by that I’ve not seen something in my neighborhood that has given me pause and a big smile. I’m seeing so much more than I used to.

And here’s the biggest silver lining of my day…

Boulder lit up the Flagstaff Star on the mountain that I mentioned in a previous post to “raise the hopes of our beloved community” amid coronavirus pandemic. It will be the guiding North Star for so many who see it at night. I’m blessed to have a clear view of it from my bed. It felt like a big hug last night. Thank you, Boulder.

Thank you, Boulder.

Coronavirus Day 10 – Our good side is showing

3 people ahead of me. It almost felt “crowded.” We kept our distance.

It has been 10 days since I’ve left my house, except for my daily walks. This strange routine is actually starting to feel somewhat normal now except for the lingering thought that I’m sick. No, not with coronavirus, but sick with anything else because there has never been a time in my life that I’ve not left my house for 10 days (except for walking) unless I was very sick or with newborn babies and even then, I’m not sure it was 10 days.

My silver linings column is growing at a much faster rate than I anticipated. Thank goodness. Here’s what I’ve noticed in the past few days:

The positive humanitarian stories on the news just keep on coming’…. the neighborhood online informational group I’m a part of has had a constant stream of people wanting to help in any way they can. People who want to help are teaming up with those who need them. It’s so incredible and encouraging to see.

People in Boulder and neighboring towns are suggesting that we dig out our boxes of Christmas lights and put them up again simply for the beauty of it. There’s talk about lighting up the large star on Flagstaff Mountain that is lit up at Christmas and is so big that it is visible from most of Boulder. The only other time the star was lit up when it wasn’t the Christmas season was during the hostage crisis in 1980. It seems like we all need to be able to look up at the mountains at night and see a huge star.

Old friends that I’ve not talked to in a while are reaching out to connect. What a gift that’s been. The gift of time has blessed us with so many unexpected gifts.

I’ve felt more connected to Boulder than I ever have since moving here 7 months ago… all of this happening while in the confines of my home. The places where I exercise have all added classes through the zoom app and last evening I did pilates with 7 or 8 others while in the privacy of my living room. We enjoyed a little “happy hour” afterwards and shared our experiences and feelings with each other while enjoying a virtual glass of wine or cocktail with one another. These are the beautiful pieces of the fabric of humanity that are getting woven together, row by row in our shared experiences of isolation. THAT is my PLATINUM lining.

The plea and the response for people to use carry out to support the local restaurants in town, all with appropriate measures being taken to get the food to the customers safely, has been very popular. I’ve even seen small clothing shops offer to deliver items purchased (online) to your home or they are also happy to bring them to your car for pick up. I know these creative suggestions are going on all over the country and the positive response seems to be growing.

The grocery store clerks, the medical professionals, the truck drivers, the postal employees, the warehouse workers, the garbage men, the restaurant workers, the sanitation workers are now our heroes and we’re finally noticing the good work they are doing and have been doing all along.

We are acting independently yet together for the greater good with the sacrifices of our daily routine and I can’t say it enough….. we are ALL in this together. It is community spirt at it’s best and is showing us how well we stand together as a species to protect the few in an almost primal manner.

I’m in continual awe of the beauty that’s being uncovered when we are forced to set down our well-honed ability to be busy and simply be instead.

I’m both humored and touched by the ongoing awkward dance we all are doing as we pass each other on the street giving each other the appropriate distance, which by the way seems far greater than the 6 feet I saw just a few days ago. I’ve got to say that being on constant alert to oncoming pedestrian traffic takes a bit of the meditative process out of my walks.

I’m losing my sense of time and no longer feel drawn to check my watch throughout the day. What difference does it make? There’s no place I’m supposed to be. I’m starting to wonder, besides exercise classes and the store, where was I going so often when I left my house what seems like multiple times a day? I’ve had many a day when I start preparing dinner only to realize later that I’m eating earlier than dinner is served at my parent’s retirement home….. 4:00 or 5:00 if I’m feeling more sophisticated. It’s the bookend to my morning coffee that gives my day form.

The supply of good snacks are going down and the words with friends invites are going up. Little feels certain to me right now except for uncertainty itself. Distraction, distraction, distraction. Today I sewed 24 cloth bags of varying sizes for me (and who ever else wants some) to be used as re-usable gift bags. It’s small but is part of my commitment to making less waste and trash. I’m looking into sewing masks next, but am not sure about procuring supplies.

Sewing station… this morning there were nice views from the skylight of blue skies and melting snow.

Melissa Ethridge comes into my living room daily now for live concerts on Facebook. Thanks, Melissa (she’s a Kansas native…. I feel like I can act like she’s my pal).

I’m having very detailed, story-like dreams and should start keeping paper on my nightstand. I think this comes from the percolation of my thoughts all day long with little opportunity to share them, short of my FaceTime chats. Oh and those FaceTime chats? They are my joy and my sanity.

I stopped dying my hair years ago. To those that still dye their hair, my heart aches for you in the coming weeks/months. Who doesn’t love a cute hat though?

More creative wall paint.

This was a wall in front of a house. The vibrant colors were very striking!

The not so silver linings, or “rusted metals” as I’m going to start calling them, are:

The good snacks are almost gone, in part because portion control seems to be an issue for me and also because 10 DAYS! That’s why.

I miss my kids. I miss having places to go and a calendar that was starting to fill up.

I miss plans. I miss people. I miss plans with people.

I have moments when I just stop and will collapse into tears because plain and simple, I’m afraid. I know I’m not alone there and also know that we are collectively trying our hardest to push through the negative thoughts while focusing on the positive. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

There is still a lot of good happening though regardless of the dark cloud that has settled over the world and that’s where I’m trying to put my focus. I’ve heard more than one person comment on the “reset” this is giving the world AND its inhabitants. No doubt, we will all be changed from this.

I bought these flowers the last tine I was in a store… 10 days ago. They are on their last few days and I’m feeling sad about that as they make me so happy.

Coronavirus Day 8 – Hunkering Down

OK. Day 8 of hunkering down in my house.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for my silver linings (as well as a few “rusted metals” that couldn’t be ignored).

This is a time when we are seeing the very best AND the very worst of humanity. I’m so pleased to say that the bests are winning over here for me. I went out walking yesterday, enjoying the 60 degree temps that were quickly replaced today with snow, and was so struck by what I saw. Everyone I passed, and there were several given the perfect spring weather, gave me the appropriate 6 feet of distance and followed it up with eye contact, a smile and a wave. Every. Single. Person. It was comforting and made me feel so welcomed. I wasn’t the newcomer who didn’t know anyone, but rather, felt like I had become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood simply by our shared experiences. People were out on their porches listening to music or were enjoying the springtime temps while working in flower beds and gardens (all covered up by a good 6 inches of snow now). It was the boost my gloomy mood needed.

Kids are so resilient. My grandson, Arlo, is connecting with his preschool class via Zoom and is able to listen to his teacher read to the class via this program as well as see what the other kids in the class are doing in their homes. I FaceTimed later in the day and he told me he has school on the computer now because everyone has a “birus”… He seems totally fine with the new way to do school because he’s almost 3 and that’s how almost 3 year olds respond to things. Life goes on. Easy enough.

Thank goodness for Netflix. Thank goodness for my computer and the internet. Thank goodness for shelves of books. Thank goodness for yarn and needles and knitting patterns.

It may be time to start writing letters again, because why not? And because in cleaning out desk drawers, stationary seems to be something I buy frequently but use rarely.

Thank goodness for FaceTime. I feel so much more connected simply by seeing faces on my phone.

It feels good to have raised kids who are showing their love for me in their protection of me and daughter who is providing me with a wealth of knowledge on building my immune system.

My heart melts at seeing the community service for the small businesses my daughter has put into place. I woke up to a bag of goodies that she had delivered to my back door from a local shop we both enjoy. Her already huge heart has grown 2 sizes and mine has grown 3 just hearing about what she’s done.

Productivity seems to be proportionate to time. The more time I have, the less I am accomplishing. My mojo from early few days has waned. I’m working on resurrecting it, but am not sure exactly how to do that.

Cooking is more fun when you pretend you’re on a cooking show with a live studio audience (not like I’ve done that, but am just guessing…)

I weave in and out of being lonely during the day and content and seem to be on an every other day with my mood cycles. Yesterday wasn’t great and by the end of the day, the emotions of myself, my neighborhood, my town, my state, my country and my world, started to feel heavy. There’s really no way I can escape it except by distraction…. and I know there’s a world of people in the same boat. There is so much comfort in the collective energy of that! And so I write. I knit. I watch old movies and new series. I read and I dance when the mood hits and the music is right and today, I spent a lot of time simply looking out the window because regardless of how dark life feels right now, I still have a view of the Flatiron Mountains from my window, made even more beautiful by a half a foot of big, fluffy flakes of snow.

Even after 8 days, this still feels very odd…. Groundhog Day kind of odd, and even after 8 days, I still wake up and moments later think, oh, yeah… this. Again. And again. And again. So far, I’ve not rolled over and simply gone back to sleep. So far…

There is a lot of creative painting on buildings and fencing in my neighborhood that I never paid much attention to before…

I walk by this almost daily. Today I truly saw it for the first time…

The good snacks are going fast and I seem to have forgotten what a single serving is.

Thank goodness for online exercise classes from my local studio and a flight of stairs that I’m thinking of pairing with a National Geographic program in the background to simulate hiking. I may even throw on a light pack and my camelback to hydrate. Yeah, things are going just fine over here…

With a little National Geographic TV in the background, I’m seeing some serious hiking today….

This forced slow down, simply because so much of our lives have been cancelled, is showing its light on a lot of creativity. For instance, I’ve got a running thread with some girlfriends whose subject now is “Covid 19 playlist”…. you know…..”Help”, “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Get Back,” and so on. These are connections that are keeping me sane and laughing. And the laughing is so darn important.

In the time of social distancing, I’m seeing an increase in connections and more depth to those connections. We are all learning how to stretch through uncertainty and find comfort in the smallest of things that I may not have even noticed before and THAT is how we will all come out of this better people. I know I’m not alone when I say that I feel like a reset button has been pushed and I’ve got the time now to actually contemplate what that means for me and my place in this community.

I’m surprised by what brings me to tears these days and it’s not what I thought it would be…. seeing neighbors talking to each other in their yards while standing 6 plus feet apart, or seeing Arlo sitting in front of a lap top next to his Dad looking at his friends and his teacher on the computer screen or the photo of the man on the patio talking to his elderly father on the phone who is sitting in a chair on the other side of slider doors. These things bring tears to my eyes because they show so much heart. It’s that heart that is propping us up right now when we’re all starting to slump into postures that look like question marks.

One day at a time…or one hour if that sounds more do-able, is how I’m keeping a forward pace. There’s a lot of growth that’s silently taking place right along side the fear, the frustration, the loneliness and the worries in homes across the world right now. We are finding out just how innovative, creative and motivated we can be when we have little to work with and that is how a wheatie with a dab of peanut butter spread on it becomes a peanut butter crispen, my friends (reference previous post if this sounds like nonsense…and even then it still might….)

Oh and Andy Griffith re-runs? They still hold up in a simple, homespun, apple pie, conflict always resolved, kind of way and is a nice way to off-set some the more pulse racing and conflict-filled shows I’m also watching. Aunt Bee would have no problem whatsoever staying at home baking pies. Be like Aunt Bee.

Empty, quiet streets…. eerie and peaceful at the same time.
Spring’s eternal hope….

Onward and upward. Tomorrow’s another day. Stay healthy.

Coronavirus. Day 6 – Day 6. From “Corona what?” to “There’s no hand sanitizer or toilet paper to be had in Boulder County”

Thank goodness for this…
Empty, ghost-like streets that are normally bustling.

Day 6. From “Corona what?” to “there’s no hand sanitizer OR toilet paper to be had in Boulder County”

I know that accurately this isn’t day 6 of coronavirus hitting the United States, but it is the 6th day of behavior changes for me. 6 days ago, after talking to my sister, Susan, who lives in an area of western Massachusetts that has been hit hard, I thought that maybe it was time to make a major grocery store run, just in case. This is not my usual style for two reasons. First, I haven’t lived in a house with a decent sized pantry since I divorced 14 years ago, at which time I started shopping and planning my meals on more of a day by day schedule. Second, I’m not much of a planner so my first reason has worked well for me. But, in trying to be responsible and ahead of the curve, I went to the store, to fill up with the predictable staples and followed the crowds that seemed to be gravitating to the toilet paper aisle because that’s what crowds do. They follow. Much to my surprise, I realized that I was a day or two or maybe even several days late on this then quickly learned that the hand sanitizer situation was the same. I did find some disinfectant counter cleaner, which is really pretty awful on hands, but it is better than nothing and has been delegated for outside of my house only (I’m using good ole soap and warm water while home, which is 99% of the time now). I stocked up on beans, rice, stock, canned tomatoes and the like on shelves that were getting noticeable thin, buying more than I had anticipated simply because of the diminishing stock and because it seemed to be what every one else was doing. I had a sinking feeling when I left the store. Moods were somber. People were anxious and afraid. This is real.

Once home, I started cleaning because that’s what I do when I’m not sure what else to do. This isn’t cleaning floors, walls and surfaces, but rather is cleaning, sorting, stacking and re-stacking every vessel in my house that holds stuff. Given that I only moved in 7 months ago, I don’t have a lot of excess or unstacked stacks, but I had enough to keep me busy and my mind distracted for most of the morning. Some may wonder why I didn’t immediately go to my computer to start writing – anything -just to write, because that’s my other go to but when I did, I discovered that my spacebar no longer worked, making for a challenging read. Seriously computer? Now? How’s that for timing? (I’m typing this out slowly and with difficulty on an iPad while I wait for the external keyboard that I ordered). Organizing and reorganizing was a good stand in for my writing and as a Virgo, it’s what I do. A messy drawer turning into an organized wonder raises my pulse and gives me tremendous satisfaction. It’s an odd addiction, I know, and one that’s not always visible as I seem to like the process of tidying up more than keeping things tidy. Again, it’s what Virgos do for fun when no one is watching. I was also trying to stay away from the news as I have a tendency to not be able to pull myself away once in its grip. This is a time when Friends reruns are much more suited for me than is any news show, even NPR. An episode of “That Girl” keeps coming to mind….Ann (played by Marlo Thomas) was having a New Year’s Eve party and had more people come than she anticipated so her snacks were in short supply. Wanting to be a good hostess, she turned to the backs of her cupboards and came up with a dab of peanut butter on individual wheaties cereal flakes. And voila! Peanut butter crispens were invented. Although I have plenty of food and am not finding the need to dig around the bottoms of cereal boxes for snacks, I feel like I’m in a peanut butter crispen situation right now. It’s time to get creative and find things to occupy my day that hopefully will turn out much better than anticipated. I’m looking for my own version of the now famous peanut butter krispen ( or at least famous in my family as it’s become code for getting creative with very little.)

So, with the tv off and the music on, I cleaned, I sorted, and I organized my closets to within an inch of their lives until I wondered what I was going to do the next day and the day after that and well, the next few weeks. My daughter, my son in law, my 5 month-old granddaughter and my almost 3 year-old grandson are all in self-isolation after spending time in Aspen, an area that’s been hit hard, and since I spent time with them when they got home, I’m reluctant to see my son and daughter in law and 1 year-old grand daughter who also live in town. That, added to the fact that I’ve not formed a strong social network yet in Boulder have left me in a definite place of isolation.

I like living alone, but have to say that when I realized that 4 days had passed and I hadn’t spoken with another human, face to face, this extrovert is struggling a bit. We are social beings and although I like settling in for some alone time as much as the next guy, this is a whole lot of a lot. There is great comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in my aloneness though and I’m in a constant search for linings that are silver, or even brass at this point.

We are all facing a new reality and I’m learning a lot about myself during these quiet days, starting with how much I need nature to maintain a modicum of sanity. Daily. I’m fortunate to live in a town that’s surrounded by nature – mountains, streams and several trails are a short walk straight down my street. This morning I walked down my street, to a gentle trail that fronts the Flatiron Mountains. I walked at least 15 minutes before I passed another human being. This is not normal in my neighborhood. I’m two blocks from downtown and normally there are bike riders, runners, skateboarders, walkers and even the occasional hover boarder. The street is never as empty or as quiet as it was this morning. There was a definite awkwardness when I got closer to the first person I passed as we scooted as far away from each other as possible, which had me stepping over the curb and onto the street to give each other the 6 feet suggested. I hiked up a mountain trail for a short while (I wasn’t prepared for hiking so didn’t even have water on me) and realized as I began to encounter a few other hikers that I feared them more than the mountain lions that have occasionally been spotted in the area. How odd. How terribly odd. Yet as awkward as it was to move as far away from a passerby as I could, while they followed the same protocol, it was a gesture that felt touching to me as it was showing such respect for one another. We truly are all in this together.

I’m trying to settle into this new reality, that seems different by the day according to my mood. I hit a low spot yesterday afternoon, feeling the heaviness of the isolation and loneliness like a` weight sitting on my soul. We are social animals and to have to isolate in our homes simply is not our nature. I can’t afford to start spinning in a downward cycle this early in the game so knew what I had to do and turned on some good ole rock and roll and danced. Alone. In my kitchen. Ladies choice. Dancing around my island for 3 or 4 songs was the energetic reboot I needed. It’s the smallest of moments I’m clinging on to these days. Another new routine that I’ve come to covet is my Face Time with my sister, Susan, in Massachusetts. We’ve always liked good phone chat but adding the visual to the call has added so much.

New sweater?? It’s cute. And your hair looks good today…

Thanks! And doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you know… good hair day when I’m not leaving the house at all. Sigh..

She gets up and walks me into the kitchen to stir the soup. I can almost smell it. (Susan is a good cook.) I wish I could stay for lunch.

I’m almost right there with her. It feels good. I will take what I can get and that little bit of face to face on my small phone screen feels like a lot right now.

This isn’t easy. The isolation is foreign to me and has come at a time when my calendar was filling up with lectures and classes and group hikes, all of course now cancelled. There is comfort in knowing that I’m not alone and when I think that so much of the world or at the very least most of my town is sitting on their couches wondering what next in between times of cleaning and sorting and creating and cooking. I’m alone but I have great company in all of this. I can’t get too far ahead of myself as it’s too daunting, but am trying to savor the joy in the small moments. The Doors playing L.A. Woman while I danced around the island in my kitchen was a good start. Oh, and speaking of L.A…. I was supposed to go in a few days to see Philip Glass with Grant and Katie. The concert is cancelled and now my flight is cancelled too…. a decision that was tough to make and that I shed a few tears over, but it was the right and the safe thing to do. I’m blessed to have 2/3 of my kids here in Boulder but desperately miss the other third. Especially now.

I’m trying. I’m digging deep within myself to access my sanity reserves that I know are there as I’ve dipped into those pools before. Rain is coming, which will make my communal moments with nature a bit more challenging but thought that maybe with some National Geographic programs on in the background, maybe I could run up and down my stairs for a bit to simulate a nice hike. The Met has operas online that I can access, there are Broadway musicals online and the same Spanish programs that I’ve visited off and on for years are still there for the taking. Susan said she could possibly be en pointe by the end of all this if she decides to go with the online ballet classes with fluency in French to boot. There really are a lot of creative options that organizations have generously provided, but the one that seems most appealing to me right now is simply the quiet exploration of self, and taking note of the process as there’s some pretty rich stuff in there to uncover. I say that today, on day 6. By day 10, I may be doing online ballet in my slippers.

My silver linings today are :

There are a lot of places to “go deep” when in quarantine…. and not just my closets and drawers. I’m pulling back some long drawn curtains into parts of my soul that I’ve not visited in a while. There’s some good exploring going on.

When you move slower, you see a lot more and things you never noticed before suddenly become relevant, like the fact that there is one chair in my front room that when seated in I can see 11 pieces of art and or photography. It is now my favorite chair in my house.

My connections to people, although not face to face or in person right now, are seeming far more meaningful as their importance has soared.

Crocus have impeccable timing.

I don’t do well when I have stockpiles of good snacks when it comes to what a single serving size is… this is not a revelation of quarantine as I already knew this about myself, but it is a new challenge given the well-stocked kitchen shelves I now have.

Even when I have little, ok nothing, scheduled, I still struggle to get my laundry out of the dryer in a timely fashion. After 2 days, serious wrinkling sets in. I think I hate to do laundry.

Eye contact. It’s pretty important. So is smiling.

Aren’t old photos just the very best??? I’m going to start texting them to my kids. I’m not sure they even know what my prom dress looked like my senior year! Time to share.

Laugh. Move. Laugh some more. Find your peanut butter crispen and reach out to those you love.

You have to find the moments…11 pieces of art that I can see from this chair. It’s a good spot.

Finding my wings…

Every flight and every hour of my flying time…. this small black book holds it all and is a prized possession. Sadly, I don’t have one photo of me in a plane, next to a plane or preflighting a plane that I flew, nor do I have any King Radio photos while on the job. Different times.

After my first year of college, I decided not to go back but had full intentions of returning at a later date, when I was ready.  At that point in my life, I wasn’t.   I was uninspired, unmotivated, indecisive and without focus.  I changed my major so many many times during that year that my Dad began to refer to it as my “major of the month.”  The only decision that seemed right to me was my decision to not return. 

My parents were on board, especially my dad, which surprised me, as he was a high school guidance counselor and part time community college counselor who promoted higher education, yet at the same time was able to recognize when a student was struggling.  If I wasn’t going to return to college, my parents said I needed to have a plan.  I wasn’t good with plans.  I wanted to see what would come my way without having to put a lot of effort or decision making into it.  The wait and see attitude was realigned when my landlord parents started pushing me to find find a job with a little more permanence than what I had shown them thus far.  I had landed a temporary job as a nanny in Chappaqua, NY  for the summer, but once back home, was in need of something more permanent so answered an ad in the local newspaper for a position as a receptionist at a nearby regional airport/flight school.  It wasn’t at all what I had in mind, but my landlord parents were happy so I said yes and started working at KC Piper.  I didn’t care for the job – answering the phone, booking flight lessons and taking money from pilots who bought fuel, but I told myself that I’d make it work until I could find something more suitable.  I felt disconnected and out of place in the place where I spent most of my day until one of the flight instructors asked me if I had ever been up in a small plane and if I hadn’t, I should definitely take advantage of the $5 introductory ride.   He, and his staggering good looks,  were my point of interest, not the 15 minutes of being airborne, and so I agreed.  It didn’t take long once in the air to realize that I was far more captivated by the act of flying than I was with the handsome pilot and before we even began to taxi back, I decided that although it was far beyond my reach financially, and I had no idea how I was going to make it work, I was going to learn how to fly, and the cute instructor that sat to my right was going to be the one to teach me.  And so that’s how it started.  For the next several months,  I begged, borrowed and stole every left seat hour I could muster, while saving every single penny of my hard-earned low wages.   I had a plan.  It wasn’t exactly what my parents had in mind, but it was a plan.

I was young, barely 20, and idealistic.  My dreams were as big as my check book was small but somehow I knew I could make it work.  Unquestioning optimism at its finest.  I was at the right place, at the right time and in that short 15 minutes of flight time,  there was never a question as to what I wanted to do.  I wanted to become a pilot.

It was hard.  It was exhilarating.  It was inspiring and I loved every minute of it. I was a good  student who became a good pilot and was often complimented on how strong my “seat of the pants” abilities were,  which I would later learn had nothing to do with how my seat looked in pants but rather, was a measure of natural judgement and instinct without the use of instruments.  Did I mention that I was barely 20 years old and terribly naive? I didn’t  even know to be embarrassed by the many faux pas I would stumble over as I truly didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Case in point, my first experience of night flying.  As I was taxiing in after landing, my instructor asked me why I was hugging the far edge of the taxiway and not in the center of it where I should be.  Was I having a hard time seeing it?  

“Oh not at all!  I was trying to avoid the light bulbs as I didn’t want to break them.”

The lights I was referring to were the ones that were embedded into the surface of the taxiway,  but honestly, from where I sat they seemed to protrude from the surface, which was why I was trying hard to avoid them.  I’m guessing he hadn’t encountered this situation before or he would had advised me ahead that I could taxi right over the lights and they wouldn’t break. A few days later, and with the same instructor,  I couldn’t help but notice that he was fixated on something outside of the airplane.  After being in the air for only a few minutes, he turned to me and with a very puzzled look on his face asked me if I had untied the tie down ropes on the plane and if so, how did I do it?  Planes are tied down to the ground with heavy ropes to keep them steady during storms and winds and when untying a plane during the flight pre-check, the ropes are untied from the wings.  Given that it was my first time pre-flighting the plane alone, I did what I thought was the right thing and I untied the ropes from the heavy ground anchors, which left the tie down ropes flapping from the wings of the plane as we flew rather than remaining on the ground where they belonged. 

I answered by telling him that yes I untied the plane and boy were those ropes ever hard to get undone!  He chuckled, kindly, so as not to make me feel embarrassed but no doubt the story had worked its way around the break room by the end of the day.   Obviously,  I hadn’t been paying attention when that section of the pre-flight operation was being explained.  Evidence that sometimes I learn things the hardest way possible.  Again, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and honestly think that bit of naivety is what kept me in the game.   My parents worried about the large financial  investment I was making, especially if I didn’t follow through to actually obtaining a license.  They had every right to think that as quitting before finishing was an established pattern for me. But this felt different. There was just something about flying that touched my soul of souls and awakened a part of myself that I had never felt before.  

After what seemed like a very short 6 weeks, my flight instructor told me it was time to take to the skies alone – time for my first solo flight. Student pilots aren’t told this ahead of time simply because of anxiety issues but I knew it was coming.  There were a lot of emotions that day, but I have to say, fear wasn’t one of them.  I was ready.  Although this is a very big deal for student pilots as there is no instructor sitting right seat for security, the initial solo flight is a short one that consists of a few trips around the airport landing pattern doing touch and goes – a touch down landing then immediately taking off again and repeating the process.  It was recorded in my log book as .4 of an hour – 25 minutes of just me and the airplane.  25 minutes of pure joy,  and tremendous pride.  44 years later and I still smile when I think of my young, very naive self in the cockpit of a Piper Cherokee 140, tail number N5606U,  chatting nervously to myself with a constantly nodding of my head up and down in a HOLY COW, YOU’RE DOING THIS!!!, manner. The tradition that follows a student pilot’s first solo flight is to cut the shirt tail off the student’s shirt, which is then labeled and displayed as a “trophy.”.   This tradition originated in the days of tandem trainers when the student would sit in the front seat and the instructor behind.  Because there were rarely radios in the planes, the instructor would pull on the student’s shirttail to get his (or her) attention then yell in his ear.  A successful first solo flight is an indication that the student can fly without the instructor so a shirt tail would no longer  be needed and so the tradition of cutting it off began. I proudly backed myself up to my scissor holding instructor, while wishing I had worn one of my own shirts and not my sisters, who by the way was more angry about her ruined shirt than she was thrilled about my new accomplishment.  It was a navy and white checked, long-sleeved, broken in with love and now damaged shirt that I wish I still had, even though it was never mine, missing tail and all.

6 months after soloing and 7 months after my introductory flight and after passing a grueling written exam, a physical exam and flight exam, I got my private pilot’s license.  The next day, I rented a plane and took my younger brother and sister up flying.  We flew to Topeka, Kansas, a mere 57 miles away, to get a coke because that was the kind of stuff you could do when you were a pilot.  My little brother got sick, but fortunately for me, my sister was wearing a bandana and as the pilot in command, I instructed her to take it off immediately so her brother could throw up in it.  I was learning that passengers bring on a whole other set of responsibilities  and worries when you’re the pilot in command, and that bandanas or maybe air sick bags would be a good thing to have on board.  The following day I flew my parents to Emporia, Kansas, farther than Topeka by 30 miles.  This journey was my debut – to show off my skills, but even more importantly, to show off my  completion of something I had started on a whim and a hope.  A start to finish completion.  Finally.

Two years later that license that I earned was far more relevant than the college degree I hadn’t  earned and I landed a job as a regional sales manager in the avionics industry.  Instead of a company car, I flew the company airplane to various airports to demonstrate, sell and basically show off the King Radio avionics systems that I had in my airplane.  The most challenging part of the job wasn’t the flying, but rather, was earning respect from the dealers who questioned who was making the sales calls every other week.  I was too young (24) and the wrong sex.  More than once I was told by a shop manager that he was just going to wait until the following week when my partner, a man, would be visiting.  There wasn’t much I could do in response but leave politely and make the note in my follow up report that I tried. I knew I was adept at selling the product and offering any customer support that was needed, but getting in the door was often my toughest challenge.  It felt like I was working twice as hard as my male counterparts before my job even began.

Management decided that I needed to adhere to a dress code as all the other sales managers did when out in the field, which I totally expected, but what I didn’t expect was that my dress code was a dress or skirt and  not the more appropriate slacks, which was what I had hoped for.  This made for awkward situations when I’d enter or exit the plane while trying to maintain a modicum  of modesty.  I never knew how I’d be accepted or regarded when calling on the avionics shops at airports for the first time,  but the one thing I could always count on was the handful of men staring with curiosity as I carefully stepped out of the short narrow doorway, onto the wing then onto the tarmac in a dress and I’m guessing, as I can’t recall, most likely in inappropriate shoes because I was 24 and that’s what 24 year-olds did.  I was the first female regional sales manager at King Radio and the management wasn’t exactly  sure what to do with me as I didn’t fit the mold they were used to – i.e. men in suits, hence the dress requirement.  I didn’t have the confidence to question why I had to wear dresses when my counterpart were wearing slacks, but I was one person, and a girl no less, going up against a company of men and I knew I’d lose so dresses it was and comfortable when entering and exiting a plane, it was not.

My daughter asked me recently if I had bigger plans when I set out to get my pilot’s license… you know, to become an airline pilot some day perhaps?  I’ve thought about that a lot even though I gave her the first answer that came to me, which was no. I did have a job in the field of aviation, just not one that held the perceived glamour of passenger carrying jet pilot.  Although I did get a lot of kudos and “atta girls” during my short-lived dip into the field of aviation, there didn’t seem to be room for a female in the all male, good ole boy network that I had become a part of,  leaving me feeling like I was always flying solo without a guide, a mentor or even a map most of the time.   I’ve saved the articles that came out in avionics magazines and newspapers that introduced me as the “first female regional sales manager in avionics” that went on to add that there was “something prettier on the runways to look at these days.”  It’s hard to believe today that those words were even written.  Even though I was still very young and somewhat naive, I was learning a lot and not just about avionics.  I had to wonder,  if King Radio was so happy to take the credit for being the first avionics manufacturer in the country to add a female to their sales force, why weren’t they willing to stand up for that female and mentor her in these new, unchartered waters?   The evening I spent in a topless mermaid bar with a group of “fellow sales managers” somewhere in the southeast, because I was told that was what sales managers do, with nary a warning or an apology to me, was the beginning of my end at King Radio.  I realized that as much as I believed in the product and loved getting to fly in an overly-loaded top of the line airplane,  I was never going to feel totally comfortable in the environment I was in,  regardless of how much I tried. I lasted 2 years then left King Radio for new horizons, packing up my ’74 VW for a move to Phoenix, where my sister with the ruined shirt lived. After a year, I left Arizona for a job in  Alaska after realizing that I really did hate hot weather, but that’s another story.

Before I worked at King Radio, flying was a time of dreaming and complete freedom for me and I cherished the moments during a flight when it was clear skies ahead when nothing needed attention except the unfettered beauty that would surround me at 3,000 to 6,000 feet above the ground.  Those were the moments – almost as if time had stopped for me simply to take it all in.   And I would.  My imagination would  soar like a Piper Cherokee with a tailwind as I scanned what felt like the entire world through the windshield of the small plane.  

It was also the time when I met Leigh, my kindred flying spirit.  She was taking lessons at the same time I was and we immediately bonded over our passion for the new hobby we had both immersed ourselves in.  We’d go to the airport at night, park as close as we could to the runway  and with Judy Collins wafting from the radio, would watch the bellies of planes  as they descended onto the runway while laying on the hood of the car.  It was our entertainment, our inspiration and a connection that remains today.  Neither of us talked about aviation as a career but instead simply embraced it with our eyes to the skies and our souls in the clouds.  We could recite every line of John Gillespie Magee’s “High Flight” poem that began, “Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings,”  the line that always gave us pause.  Leigh was in the very small group of people who understood what I was doing and that  we didn’t have to have a reason why or an end goal, because flying was enough. We carried our pilot’s licenses in front of our driver’s licenses in our wallets because it was the piece of paper that held more pride for us than any other and spent far too much time (or not enough?) fantasizing about piloting a hot air balloon across the country in celebration for the bi-centennial that was approaching.    It was the period in my life that I call my aviation experiment and although the last time I flew alone in a small plane was in 1979, I still crane my neck around to get a better look at the instruments when passing by the cockpit when I step onto a plane and am stopped in my tracks when a small plane flies overhead, simply for the pause to capture a memory.

Learning how to pilot a small airplane was less about acquiring a skill that could open doors for me and more about slipping my own surly bonds and seeing what flying on my own wings felt like, with or without an airplane.  I’m often asked if I miss flying and if I’ll ever get current so I can fly again and to that I have to answer yes and I don’t know.  Those wings that were discovered in the small cockpit of a Cherokee 140, are still with me, holding me aloft and giving me strength and a continually changing prospective.  I not only learned how to control the parts of an aircraft to make it fly, but I also learned how to find my own wings with the confidence that my internal compass will always direct me towards clear skies and tailwinds.

3rd grade grammar lessons and why apostrophes still make me smile…

I’m the one in the middle with the Bob Dylan look who is still wondering why ships get apostrophes.

I loved my 3rd grade teacher, more than any other teacher I had in elementary school.  I loved her kind face, her gentle manner and the way her eyes would smile before her mouth would even catch on.  But what I loved the most about Mrs. Faires, was the way she talked.  Her words came out slowly and syrupy almost like she was reluctant to let go of them. I held onto her every word, even the ones I couldn’t understand due to her strong southern accent. She made our unusual circumstances of being housed in a cramped and crowded temporary trailer, more of an adventure than a hinderance, and even though elbows knocked when we did our lessons and I was seated to the sweatiest boy in the 3rd grade, I wouldn’t have changed one thing.  We were the only class in the entire school who learned cursive writing, long division and  the tales of Sacagawea all within the confines of an aluminum box.  Unfortunately, all of the cozy love went out the louvered window when the lesson on apostrophes began.

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the concept of ownership and apostrophe placement, it was that, unknowingly, I didn’t understand my Alabama-bred teacher’s accent, ironically, the one thing I loved about her more than anything else.  When she gave the explanation of ownership, what I heard was “on a ship,” which to this Kansas girl, who could count on zero hands how many times she had actually seen a ship, had to wonder if ships were really important  enough to warrant their own grammatical symbol in a sentence.  

After hearing Mrs. Faires’s explanation on apostrophes and possession, my conclusions were to use an apostrophe when whomever or whatever was ON A SHIP, or showed “ON A SHIP” as was explained, yet what did “shows on a ship” even mean, short of the visual of people on board a large water vessel.  This seemed easy enough until the worksheets were handed out with nary a mention of ships or boats or even water for that matter.

My 8 year-old self, who usually did well in school, was discouraged when worksheet after worksheet was returned to me with an embarrassing amount of red ink on them.  No one else seemed to be struggling with the placement of the flying commas but me, so I kept my frustrations to myself and kept searching, for the ship in the sentence.  More than once, Mrs. Faires would call me up to her desk and explain, yet again, the “on a ship” concept to me  and I would once again share my frustrations of not understanding what “on a ship” had to do with most of the sentences (while unknowingly mimicking her accent.)

I eventually shared my frustrations with my Mom, who knew nothing of the situation as the red-marked papers never made their way home.  Not surprising,   she cracked the code, as moms often do and reported her findings to my teacher.  That accent, the one that had me hanging onto every syllable,  had become the culprit to my biggest 3rd grade frustration.  

Years later, when in Jr. High, I had a Brazilian algebra teacher who spoke with a such a strong accent that most of the time I had no idea what he was talking about, which given that it was Algebra, could have happened without the accent.  I have to wonder if I had had a teacher I could have understood, would I feel more comfortable with the x’s and y’s to this day?  Thankfully, my stumble with apostrophes in the 3rd grade didn’t ruin me for writing like my incomprehension of a Brazilian accent did with me for Algebra.    Still, after 56 some years, I have to thank Mrs. Faires for bringing a smile to my face when I confidently place ownership apostrophes on the needed words,  whether or not a ship is present.

Auld Lang Syne with a side of whiskey.

Yesterday afternoon, on New Year’s Eve, I stood in my neighbor’s house, a house I had never been in and a neighbor I had only met in passing once, and sang Auld Lang Syne while raising a glass of whiskey to ring in the New Year,  7 hours before midnight.   A totally unexpected celebration that was both quirky, memorable and most of all,  welcoming.  My neighbor, who I met while shoveling snow the week before Thanksgiving, has a Scottish husband and their tradition of many years is to celebrate on Scotland’s clock, with neighbors,  whiskey and a traditional Scottish buffet, complete with haggis..   I found the invite to the Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration in my stack of mail when I got back from Christmas in Kansas City, a timely find for someone who had really started dreading the upcoming holiday.  A new city, a new state, a new house, and new year and if that wasn’t enough, a new decade,  felt like a few too many news for me at this moment in my life when i’m craving familiar.

To steal words that a dear friend of mine recently posted on Instagram, “I have a happy personality with a heavy soul.  Sometimes it gets weird.”  That sums up a lot for me.  Couple that with the nostalgia, sentimentality and reflection that comes with the turn of a new year, heightened by a new decade, and things weren’t looking good for my turning of the calendar page at midnight.

And so there I was, on December 31 at 5:00 pm (midnight in Scotland), with the words of Auld Lang Syne in one hand and a raised glass of whiskey in the other, (which I don’t normally drink but when in Rome, or Scotland…), in a roomful of people I had never met.  I couldn’t help but smile and even chuckle silently inside. Never, ever would I have predicted that was what my entrance into a new decade would look like,  but everything about it seemed exactly perfect and just what I needed.  

I spent much of the “late afternoon” conversing with a woman who just so happened to love hiking and had all sorts of trails and trips to share with me. Now not to sound desperate, but I had to seize the moment with this new found friend and make sure we had a roughed-in plan for a hike in the near future before we parted ways.  My behavior reminded me of the summer I rented a condo in the mountains for 2 months and not knowing a soul went into the bookstore, met the owner and was determined to not leave the store until we had a rough semblance of a friendship in the making.  This all sounds very odd to me as I reread what I’ve just written as I consider myself to be an extrovert, but walking into a situation when you know no one and rather than taking the easy exit, literally, with a sneak out the back door, are forced to do something with a reality that plain and simple, is not easy.  It’s being the new kid on  the first day of school or showing up for a Junior High dance feeling like a brown shoe amidst a sea of strappy patent leather.  I had a heightened sense of awareness as to my presence and its awkwardness, while navigating the discomforts of “Where should I stand?  Am I acting too eager?  And is it too soon to reload my plate?”  It didn’t take as long before I began to feel like I really was at a social gathering and lo and behold, I was enjoying myself and the very interesting people I had struck up conversations with.  One such man, my neighbor on the other side, happened to be a historian and told me he had seen the city records of Mapleton Street in Boulder from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s and all of our houses in our immediate neighborhood were included, outhouses and all.  I loved hearing the history of my street, my house and several of its previous owners, dating back to 3 or 4 sales ago.  Several commented on my house adding that they liked the changes I had made and that I was sure an improvement to a previous owner a few sales ago who was happy to knock on doors when sidewalks weren’t shoveled in a timely manner.  To that, I might add, that the past 3 times I’ve gone outside to shovel, I’ve been surprised to see that someone had done the job for me. I’m happy to return the favor but looks like I’ll have to get a much earlier start! I’ve got nice neighbors and am happy to hear they’ve place me in the improvement category.  It all felt very welcoming.

After my previously mentioned new hiker friend left ( and yes, plans for hiking were set in place), I found myself in that awkward spot of a roomful of people actively engaged in conversations, while I stood panning the room for an entrance into a conversation that I could join.   I didn’t pan long, but instead, at 6:30, decided it had been a good afternoon/evening, gave my thanks to the hosts and made my way home, two houses down the street.

Having put off a grocery store run that day, I went when I got home from the party, while still in my not so fine New Year’s Eve finery.  Of course most of the people in the store were loading up on traditional drinking snacks as they were still in preparation for the evening ahead.  Me, on the other hand, was on the other end of it and saw a fire, some knitting, a glass of wine (because I don’t have whiskey in my house), and maybe some Netflix in my future.  It felt deliciously right.  It ended up being me, some good Phillip Glass music, 2 glasses of wine then a bad Netflix series that I couldn’t stop watching so maybe it wasn’t that bad after all.  No teetering between the nostalgic and the hopeful,  with journal in hand and pen at the ready, but rather, a normal, I really should turn off the TV and go to bed, kind of evening.  New decade and all.  It felt comfortable and easy.

All of this, this moving to a new place where the only people I know are the ones I gave birth to and their partners and offspring is tough, especially when  everything in my previous life felt nicely broken in and easy.  These new life shoes I’m walking in, these incredibly beautiful yet new and yet to be broken in shoes, felt just a little bit more comfortable last night when I walked the very short distance home to my house from the Scottish New Year’s celebration.  I’m grateful for these small moments of achievement because right now, they really aren’t small at all.  I live in a good neighborhood with good neighbors. I felt welcomed.

While going through my stack of books on my nightstand this morning, I came across a bookmark that I hadn’t seen in a long time.  I don’t remember when or where I got it, but I had the same feeling this morning when I read it that compelled me to buy it in the first place.  On the front of the oblong metal page holder it said,

 “Life shrinks or EXPANDS in proportion to one’s courage.”  Anis Nin.  

This may well be my first miracle of the new decade.


My belongings looked strange all mushed together and out of their environment.

Moving is hard. Harder than I remembered. After days, weeks, and months of shifting my stuff from shelves to boxes, from room to room, from my Kansas house to my storage unit in Colorado, to my car, to my new house with final stops to the bins at Goodwill, I certainly understand the physical impact of moving, but it’s the emotional impact that I didn’t anticipate.  I feel like my center of gravity has shifted and everything in its wake has been realigned in a way that feels both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I welcome the reset, while at the same time, am still surprised that there was such a big reset to begin with.  I’m not sure what I was thinking on that one. With the exception of short stints in Alaska and New York and a legit, get a new driver’s license move to Arizona for a year, I’ve been in the Kansas City area since I was 6.  How could a move away NOT cause a bit of unsettling?  But again, totally unexpected.  

Goodbyes to a house I loved so dearly were easier than anticipated, perhaps because it was the longest damn goodbye ever.  I left my house in early July and bunked with my sister and brother-in-law for the following 6 weeks while my belongings, tucked tightly into a small PODS trailer, made there way to Colorado ahead of me.  There were so many goodbyes during that time frame that I started losing focus on what my end game was in the first place. Goodbyes to a lot of my stuff (that would be sold in an estate sale) to my yard, to the gardens I tended to and added to throughout my stay, to my lovely neighborhood that I still could lose myself in on long walks, to the very walls that embraced me for the past 10 years and most of all, to my dearest of friends and my ever supportive family. I don’t like goodbyes – to things, to places or most of all, to people. The ever-growing to do list became my distraction to what was really happening, which didn’t really sink in until 3 hours into my drive west. After a tearful goodbye to my sister, I slipped into my overloaded car and made my usual stop 3 hours later at the gas station with the Starbucks in Salina. While fueling up, the reality of what I was in the process of doing hit me hard with tears that flowed off and on until close to the Colorado border. While my emotions were jumping back and forth from excitement and anticipation to fear and sadness, my mind continued to reel me back with the practicalities of the situation. “Where will the turquoise legged table go? Did I remember the box from Robin’s basement? Exactly WHAT is in that storage unit in Boulder and what in the world am I going to do with the furniture that doesn’t fit?” That jumble of emotions will be my forever memory of the gas station with the Starbucks off of I-70 West that I know so well. Pumping and crying.

My move technically began the day I started taking down the family photos that hung from floor to ceiling in the hallway of my house. These were the same photos that took an entire weekend to hang because my free form method of hanging pictures ends up with several holes behind each picture before it looks right. It’s not that big of deal unless your walls are plaster, which mine were, leaving a crumbling mess behind each hung photo, something I only remember thinking would be a quite a project to contend with if I ever moved, which of course, was no concern at the time.   Martha Stewart would have been ashamed.  The disassembling of the nest I had been feathering for the past 10 years, became my focus and distraction as I stood in rooms of stuff that needed to be sorted, sold or packed and pock marked walls that would eventually needed to be tended to with spackle and sandpaper.

Moving gave me prospective on a long list of things, but initially it was my stuff that became the focus and the surprising realization that it’s not the big, expensive pieces of furniture that have been hauled from house to house that really mattered, but rather, the miscellaneous collection of keepsakes tucked away in boxes that have seen better days.  That realization helped when things didn’t go as planned, which began with my movers. My confidence in the two men’s abilities waned when I saw them both strap on the back apparatus to move one box each of books, the same boxes that I would then move to the room  I told them to put it in the first place, sans the helper strap and the huffing and puffing.

When the “head” mover, (I’m guessing he was the “head” guy as he was the one who schooled me on tipping before they even began), asked me where the “big, heavy dresser” went and I told him, “the basement,” and his reaction was, “Seriously? Down those stairs???”, I realized I had Gomer and Goober in charge of moving all of my worldly possessions and that’s when I started moving boxes myself. I was paying by the hour and the clock was ticking fast. Plus, fueled by irritation and anger, I became a whole lot stronger. Now normally one would think that my “interfering” by trying to help with the unloading process would have brought on resistance by the movers and reactions that would perhaps push them to work a little harder and a little faster. That didn’t happen. In fact, my movers weren’t fazed one bit because they were on one of several “much needed water breaks,” which I would later learn when I got a bit closer to them, was actually a booze break. Workers don’t do as well when they are drunk, or at least well on their way.  So there was that…

Fortunately, and much to my surprise, nothing was broken, but there was loss, and sadly, I can’t blame it on drunk movers but have to claim the blame myself.  In my organizational haste and with clothing flying from one box to another, I took a box of all of my sweaters to Goodwill, latest count 15.  I realized this when I was organizing my closet and only had one sweaters to put away.  I’m still not sure how it escaped the Goodwill box but it did and it quickly became my favorite and my only sweater. Naturally, I immediately went to Goodwill and explained my dilemma, only to learn that the Goodwill where I made my deposit was a distribution center and that my beloved sweaters were already en-route to another center.  My daughter told me it was just stuff and to calm down until she learned that my vintage Ralph Lauren blanket sweater was in the Goodwill haul, then things got serious and very sad.  But lesson learned, it was just stuff.  Unfortunately, a lot of good stuff, both new and cherished old,  but still, just stuff.  I can’t say that I haven’t been back to that Goodwill “just to check,” a few more times.  OK 6 more.  And nothing.  Again, just stuff.

My nest is almost feathered now and I’m no longer waking up in the middle of the night wondering where the heck I am and why don’t I hear my sump pump running?  Some of the changes I’m not sure will ever stop taking my breath away, my view from my bedroom window of the Flatirons, for one.  And then there’s the incredible benefit  of so much time with my 2 year-old grandson and his brand new baby sister. Grandma (or Laudie as I’m called) is on deck and ready to play.

Everything feels different, smells different, sounds different and looks different and I know that patience is in order as moving is a long process that continues long after the boxes are unpacked. I left a large tribe behind and am not used to the feeling of walking into an exercise class, a store or a restaurant and not seeing one person I know. A couple weeks after I moved in, I was in the local hardware store and heard someone call out my name. This was an exciting first. I turned around to see the electrician who had been working in my house. I later told him that it was my first moment of feeling connected and that his shout out meant far more than he probably realized. I think he understood. Those small gifts are larger than I ever imagined.

It feels like I’m walking in new shoes that don’t quite feel right as they’ve not been broken in,  but boy are they cute and who doesn’t like that feeling of of first day new shoes?    With time, the shoes will break in and feel more and more like they really DO belong to me and are indeed on the right feet.  Time and patience. In the meantime, I’m simply working on finding my center,  626 miles west from where it used to be.

It’s funny what ended up bringing on the tears… the day my things were moved into the pod for a month of storage before moving to CO, I went to the store and bought donuts for the workers and stopped by the Starbucks counter to get a coffee. I saw the KC cups, which I always see, but that day I felt like I needed to buy one. And that made me cry.

Back to where I was born and began my life… full circle.