Update Day!

For anyone who has been following my blog, I think it’s time I offer updates to some of my entries where I ended it: “I’ll keep you updated.” So, here they are. I’ve linked all the original articles in the title of the updates if you want to read them again before getting the update.

Walking on Jello-O

This was the blog where I introduced you to my annoying neighbors. If you haven’t read it, do, but to save you time, here are the Spark Notes: my neighbors have a free-range dog, a large Boxer, who thought his yard was my toilet. Besides that, because they spent the spring not managing their dog and being very intrusive, I began to be unhappy with them living next door. It made me contemplate needing to move.

Update: They keep promising us they will get an Invisible Fence but it still hasn’t happened. Through our own training, we have taught the dog our yard is not his. He’s not happy, but I think he’s figured it out. No more poop, but he did tear through our garden a few weeks ago. No damage done, but we’re being vigilant in turning him away when he tries to enter our yard.

They also were riding their ATVs around their back yard all of April and part of May (being intrusive). Their backyard is adjacent to ours so it was noisy.

Update: It’s less frequent now and they don’t ride on the back lawn anymore because they destroyed it. I actually feel bad for the dad because when he mows it’s a dust bowl over there. It actually looks like he’s dragging Pig Pen along behind his mower it’s so damn dusty. When he’s finished mowing, his back is covered in dirt.

They did ride a couple weeks ago, and I was frightened because their young boy was flying up and down our driveway (we have a shared driveway) very fast with no helmet or shirt on. Also, he had friends who were riding tandem on another ATV the same way. I was so afraid someone would get hurt. They were bothering our neighbors too, so I think a few people spoke to them that day.

They are definitely riding less frequently now because the lawn is ruined, so I’m happy about that. Honestly, I just pray they move to a 10-acre lot some place where they can all free-range and not bother anyone! However, I don’t feel the immediate need to move anymore.

Ooooommm

This was my blog about meditation and that I was really getting into it.  

Update: I hadn’t been as faithful with practice as I should have been because I was doing it at bedtime and Jeff almost immediately fell asleep the minute I started my guided meditation, and he breaths very heavy. It was very distracting and annoying, so I gave up for a while.

However, since hot flashes have begun assaulted me with reckless abandon, I’ve upped my practice again. I read meditation may help them, so I’m practicing more. Also, since I’m getting better at it, I’m able to tune Jeff’s heavy breathing out. Wish me luck it helps my pesky hot flashes.  

Speaking of Jeff …

Lots of SWAG

This blog was about my wish that Jeff would clean the basement during quarantine.

Update: Jeff didn’t clean the basement like I hoped. In fact, after the Lots of SAWG post, he went down a month later, cleaned up a few boxes, and moved some things around. That was it. It still looks like Harry Potter’s Room of Requirements down there, but just a bit more organized.

That being said, although the basement didn’t get cleaned the shed did. That little gem didn’t even make it into my first post because that small outbuilding was its own problem of epic proportions. Not only was it crammed full of stuff, it was infested with mice. The neighborhood cats had their weekly poker game outside it because it afforded a free all-you-could-eat buffet for them. I never went in there. Despite its close proximity to the garden, I kept all my gardening supplies in the garage out of harm’s way from the mice.

So, although we still have more SWAG than I’ll ever know what to do with, I have my gardening shed back; Jeff valiantly wrestled it from the Mouse King.

Damn foot!

I finally caved and messaged my doctor about my plantar fasciitis a couple weeks ago. Up until that time, I had been trying to manage it on my own and was failing miserably. As I suspected, a tele-health visit wasn’t going to cut it so I had to go see my doctor. I bravely grabbed my mask the day of my appointment and drove to my doctor’s office.

As I walked up to the doors of the clinic I’ve visited for more than three decades, I thought, “What strange world is this I’m walking into?” as I spied stanchions to guide visitors in and out of the building; areas indicated to queue a line; the doors marked with Enter and Exit signs, and I needed to be screened. I was uncomfortable with those changes.

Arriving at the Enter door, I was promptly stopped and asked to wait in the vestibule. The person in front of me was having a temperature check and her daughter was being fitted with a juvenile mask. I had my cloth one on and the nurse who approached me thanked me for wearing one as she took my temperature. After the mom and daughter moved on, I was waved through because I had a face covering and already had my temp checked.

I walked up to registration and noticed all the secretaries had masks and face shields on. I’m feeling uncomfortable again. I find talking with my mask on difficult, as I am naturally soft spoken. When I visited my parents last week to see my dad for Father’s Day, my mom asked if I’d remove my mask because she couldn’t hear me. I said, “It’s for your own good I wear a mask. I’m protecting you; I don’t know if I have Covid.” She sulked and I spoke up. Honestly, she is not taking this pandemic seriously and it bothers me so!

Anyway, back to the clinic. I arrived at registration and remembered I needed to speak up. As I looked at the line of secretaries, I felt for them all clad in their PPE. I have a difficult time wearing my mask for an extended period of time; I couldn’t spend my day in the garb they needed to wear. Nobody looked irritated with their situation, but their new get-ups made me unhappy for them. I spoke loudly when I answered my questions about name and insurance; I hope I didn’t speak too loud. I was asked to sign my payment receipt, which gave me the heebie jeebies. How many other people had used that pen? Yuck! I think they’re supposed to be cleaned between patients, but I didn’t notice anyone doing that, so I went to the ladies room before going to Internal Medicine and washed my hands. If you’re counting, that pen was the third thing that made me feel out of sorts.

When I got to Internal Medicine, I noticed giant round dots on the carpet like the ones in grocery stores, telling me where to wait my turn so I could give my labels to the unit secretary. Only, they weren’t taken from me. See, normally when I would check in I would give my labels to the secretary who sat behind a glass partition. When it was my turn, she would open the glass, say “Hello,” and we would exchange pleasantries about the day, weather, or season. I would hand her my labels and then go sit and wait. That day, the glass wasn’t even opened and the secretary yelled through the glass for me to keep my labels, so I smiled, although she couldn’t see me smile because of my mask, and I turned and sat in one of six chairs offered to me. The waiting room looked huge with the banks of chairs removed; it felt cavernous. Things four, five, and six that made me uncomfortable that day.

Remember the point of my sojourn that day was to have my foot looked at. In that moment, I was really angry at my foot for putting me through this ordeal, because I was very sad at with all the changes I was being subjected to, and as I sat and waited, I started to get a hot flash. Couldn’t breath with the mask on but feared for my life so I suffered through it. Thing number seven.

After I recovered from my hot flash, I contemplated that I should probably master smiling with my eyes because nobody could see my face anymore. I scrunched my face a bit to try and crinkle my eyes, and as I was doing this I was called to have my foot looked at. I practiced my smiling eyes on the Medical Assistant who called me. I think she smiled back; her eyes were kind of dead, so I really couldn’t tell. Maybe she didn’t smile back because she thought I was strange. Maybe my smiling eyes looked crazy instead.

I walked down the hall to my room, and I waited in that room I had been in many times but felt very ill at ease. The place was familiar but I felt someplace else. The magazines were gone and everything felt more sterile than every before. I smiled again at the M.A. who looked like she was ready for surgery with all her gear on. We talked and I commented on all the changes. She smiled; I could tell this time. Then she left and I waited with my thoughts. I lost count of all the things that were making me feel like I had skinny jean on that day and waited.

When my doctor arrived, she was fully clad in PPE, including a coat and everything, and explained to me, “This really is more for your protection than mine.” I could appreciate that.

She looked at my foot and proclaimed, “Not only do you have plantar fasciitis but you have tendinitis as well.” Bully for me! I’ve outdone myself again. She proscribed physical therapy. I’ve started that, and I’m learning that exercising in a mask is my absolute least favorite thing to do. More discomfort.

As I drove away that day, I actually stopped my car for a moment and looked at the clinic in my rear view mirror. It looked exactly like it did when I was there in January for my broken rib. The building hadn’t changed, I knew that, but then I realized either had the people. They were forced to adapt to the biggest change our generation as seen – the pandemic. I’m thankful for all the accommodations they’ve made to keep us safe; I just need to get used to them. Accept them. Oh, and I will also need to work on my smiling eyes.

Burning Down the House

That’s pretty much it feels when I wake between 1-1:30 am each and every night with a hot flash. This has been happening to me for at least two months now. I wake, and it feels as if the bed will catch fire; I am that hot. Off go the covers; spread out arms and legs, wipe my face with a tissue, grab another tissue because that one is now soaked and fan my face. Wash, rinse, repeat, as this happens to me at least two to three more times each night.

Hot flashes are no joke! They are sinister. Much like ticks – I see absolutely no use for them. What service do ticks serve? They feed chickens and other animals who may need them. Well, couldn’t ants serve that purpose? Couldn’t small beetles? Ticks are the most ridiculous creatures. They latch on, swell up, and then fall off. I see no way a tick could make it back to its lair engorged with all that blood. It will explode. And, for what? Now they’ve probably given their victim some dreadful disease and then it just dies. Useless.

Well, that’s how I feel about hot flashes now that I am in the throes of menopause. Useless! The assault begins in my chest. Then the heat rises up into my face and I flush. By now my chest is flushed too. Then it spreads all over my body. Naturally, I begin to sweat and I feel like one of those ticks that will more than likely pop. When these vicious attacks happen in bed, I fully believe my sheets and blankets will ignite. After I throw them off to try and protect Jeff and me from dying in a conflagration of bed clothes, I lay there and wait for it to pass, mopping and fanning myself. As the front cools, the bed lovingly holds on to the heat that is trapped between me and it, and I find myself laying in a puddle.

To alleviate this discomfort, I roll onto my left side to allow my back and the bed to cool and try to doze off. This doesn’t usually happen because my jammies are damp with sweat, and as I cool I become cold. Now that the bed behind me as sufficiently cooled, I roll back to my right side, pulling the covers back up, and try to go back to sleep. Sometimes a smaller second wave will hit and I again go through the lifesaving efforts of losing my covers before they catch fire, roll to my side to cool my back, and then roll to my other side to try to doze off.

Jeff doesn’t complain, but I believe he must think he sleeps next to a washer caught in a spin cycle which is perpetually off balance. Poor Guy!

Anyway, you’re probably wondering if I’ve contacted my doctor about this. The short answer is no. The reason: I have a history of blood clots, so I can’t have hormone replacement therapy. What I’ve tried instead is using supplements that don’t mimic any hormones. I’ve been taking Magnesium. It helps a bit. It lessens the length of them when they hit. I actually found an article about using it, and come to find out, there are many types of Magnesium and I’ve been taking the wrong kind. I ordered Magnesium Oxide on Monday; it arrived today. I’ll take it tonight to see if it helps.

I’ve also read that ground flaxseed may help. Who can’t use more fiber? And, if it helps alleviate the heat assault I’m enduring nightly, it will be a welcome side effect. I’ll keep you posted as to whether my supplements help.

I’ve been meditating for a few months now; I blogged about it a few months ago. Now I’ve learned it may help with hot flashes too. I’m getting serious with my practice now. I hope it will help. Let me know if you have any treatments that have helped you!

What now?

I haven’t blogged for more than a week now because I’ve been thinking. I do that. I mean we all think. But I dive into periods of contemplation to work things out, and then I write.

However, I’m not sure I’ve worked out what’s been eating at me. Here’s my problem. I’m an advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement. The marginalization of black people in America has continued for far too long and there needs to be change. It can’t happen overnight, but I feel like what is happening with the riots and protests must bring about change. People actively blogging about it, attending protests, and creating grassroots efforts will open the dialogue to usher in a season of change.

That being said, the #BLM movement has not been the cause of my rumination. It’s the fallout I’m beginning to see. It’s the defunding of police across the nation that is giving me pause. I agree 100% that something needs to be done with the police to bring about change. The patriarchy of the brotherhood that is policing, which has been lauded with glitzy Hollywood productions celebrating it, needs to end. The nepotism, cronyism, and turning the other cheek must cease, but the police must not.

My point of view may not be popular with #BLM, but it is sensible. If the police are disbanded, who will protect our citizens and our cities? If the police are no longer, will the criminals also be longer? Will violence stop? We are human and as such, we will continue to grapple with human emotion, so no, crime will not stop.

Am I less-than for having this point of view? Less than a supporter of the black community? Less than an advocate for social justice and change? Should I now be silenced because of my point of view? Will I not be welcome at rallies? I hope not, because I believe in equality for the black community. I want unconscious bias to be a word and not an action that influences ones behavior. I want White Privilege to become privilege for all. Because I feel this way, I will not be silent.

All babies are born with potential. The color of their skin should not dictate the outcome of their lives, or the school they can attend, or the fiends they can have, or the opportunities that are afforded to them. A person’s hard work should result in the same outcome for all regardless of that person’s skin color. The white boy should not have a better outcome in life than the black boy.

Just as opportunities should be equal, so should punishment. If a man or woman commits a crime, that person should serve the appropriate sentence for that crime. Skin color should never be a factor in the outcome of justice. The system needs to be in balance for all. This is the only time where color blind should come into play. This is what I believe.

Black lives matter, but a disbanded police force nationwide will give the crime and unrest an unfair advantage in our country. Underfunding them won’t solve the problem either. If that happens, then there will be a workforce of undersupported police trying to do a job that they were already ill-equipped to execute.

Instead, there needs to be vigilant training on race relations. Us vs. Them has served no one for decades. Officers need to learn about unconscious bias, White Privilege, and how marginalized communities feel about authority. There needs to be outcomes set for these trainings, and there needs to be outside oversight and management of these initiatives. No more fox caring for the hen house.

If money needs to be moved around, give money to projects that will make the police better and create a more inclusive workforce of officers. The communities supported by the police need to be better funded by money brought to the table to support initiatives to erase the privilege gap. Give the schools money; invest in youth athletics and the arts; give kids a chance by keeping them busy and giving them extracurricular activities that will enhance their lives and give them a leg up. A better education has never caused anyone harm.

Black Lives Matter. That is how I feel deep into my soul.

The sad truth for me is that America, in the state it is in still needs a police force, but a more educated one who can safely serve our communities. This will take time. In the meantime, please be patient, supportive, and kind to one another. Can I still be a #BLM advocate and support the police? I’d love to hear your opinion.

Want to Learn More? #BLM

Where Do We Go From Here?

If you’d like to learn more about systemic racism in our country, please watch Oprah’s special, Where Do We Go From Here. It is airing nightly on all the Discovery networks.

I learned so much about struggle and the lives of black people in America from the one hour I watched. The panelists spoke of not only the collective fear their community shares because of poor policing and racial profiling, but also about a system that is set up to fail black people time and time again. I’ve learned about this issue through my work, but to hear it from the mouths of people who have lived their entire lives within this broken system was powerful.

I can’t begin to understand the black community’s struggle because I was born white. I never had to have conversations with my children about what to do if pulled over by police or how to be polite to a person who wasn’t polite to them because of the color of their skin. I was born with privilege and so were my children. We are all awakening to our privilege and want to help by learning more.

If you want to understand more about the Black Lives Matter movement and about racial inequality, please tune in to learn more. The commercials were pretty remarkable too.

Frozen In Time

I went back to my office today for the first time since March 13th. It was unsettling. I work in the Student Center for Southern New Hampshire University. When I arrived on campus and parked, I was one of two cars in the parking lot. This was at 8:30am.

After I parked, I had to check in with Public Safety. I knew the officer and we exchanged pleasantries before I answered questions asking if I was exhibiting signs of Covid or if I’d abandoned the rules of social distancing. After that, he checked my temperature. Then I was allowed to go to my office.

The normally bustling Student Center was eerie clam and quiet. Until 10am I was the only one in it. When I walked into my office, it felt both familiar and unfamiliar. It had the sense I had just been there but then I looked around and knew I hadn’t.

All the calendars were still in March. There was a pile of mail that needed to be sorted. Additionally, there were many packages that had been delivered; orders from a time that had long since passed; merchandise no longer needed.

I went to the ladies room and was struck my how out of place I felt. The bulletin boards were all wrong. They should be updated for orientation and summer programs.

The offices should have been lit up.

Dark office still sporting March events on its glass.

More than anything, I was so conflicted with being on campus. I had to be there because I wanted my actual workstation to get a project done that I needed to complete. But it felt like I was breaking some rule. I was allowed to be there but being alone in a normally lively building left me with a sense of foreboding.

I got my work done as quickly as I could but the project was tedious and needed a great attention to detail. Hence, why I needed my workstation. It required two large screens and room to spread out, i.e. my workstation. It took me longer than I thought to complete; finally finishing at 2pm. The entire time I was there, I felt uneasy and promptly left upon completion.

I don’t know when the campus will open up. I have no idea how things will look when it does. What I do know for certain is that I stepped into the Twilight Zone today and lived to tell my tale.

Becoming normal?

Our final puzzle of quarantine; maybe?

So, take a look at our puzzle. It was my favorite aside from the 2,000 piece Pixar puzzle we did. I wrote a blog about it. Feel free to read about puzzling during the early days of quarantine.

Anyway, I’m afraid to say it, but I feel a semblance of order returning to my life. Not completely normal but I’m getting out of the house.

So thankful for our three-season porch. My home-office!

I’m still working from home full time, and we still have to plan all our meals. The spontaneity of just heading out to dinner when Jeff or I doesn’t feel like cooking is still illegal. But, New Hampshire is allowing outdoor dining so we went out last Wednesday with some dear friends of ours. We greeted each out with an elbow tap and foot bumps. I miss hugs. We also went out last night by ourselves. We needed to work those nights out into our weekly meal plan, but it’s nice to have options.

It was nice to eat out though and even nicer to eat outdoors. It was weird to have the waitstaff wear masks. I felt for them. It was close to 80 degrees with high humidity both nights we went out. We had to wear ours masks to and from our tables. That was unpleasant, so I had a new appreciation for our waitstaff when I left. Then I thought of the healthcare workers who wear all the PPEs for their entire shift and felt really bad. They are true heroes.

Back to my point. We had dinner out. We golfed on Saturday and biked with friends on Sunday. We are done with puzzles. That was a quarantine pass time when we couldn’t enjoy the outdoors. Our garden is planted. I’m beginning to feel a bit normal.

It’s still weird to get together, though as it makes me feel a bit ill at ease. I can’t help but wonder, “Who have they seen this week?; Am I at risk?” I can’t help but look at everyone I encounter as a potential threat to my life. But, these people are my friends. I wish I didn’t feel like that. When does the madness end?

Until it ends, I will take the little moments of normal I feel and cherish them. I will pack those small precious memories away and bring them out when I feel fatigued or unsafe. I’ll cherish my golf outing with friends on a beautiful Saturday evening under blue skies and be thankful. I’ll take my ride from Sunday and recall it when I’m feeling claustrophobic in a grocery store because my mask is suffocating me, and that memory will calm me.

I will take the bits or normalcy I feel from time to time and knit them together and wrap myself in it when reality becomes too much. I will savor those times and be grateful I had them. My husband is grilling as I write this. I’ve paused to relish in the scent and allowed myself to be transported to easier times. I remember BBQs from my youth and feel happy. I wait for the carefree days to return. Until then, I will take the normal I can make and find happiness in it.

A hobby I’ve enjoyed for years. Glad I can golf again. It’s not skiing, but it fills the void.

#BlackLivesMatter

I’ve been on radio silence in my blog for a couple days because I’ve been playing social justice warrior on Facebook. All that lesson has taught me is that this country is divided and people will stay in their lanes no matter how well thought out or eloquently presented an argument for the opposing side is laid out. I could serve up an argument with a check for a million dollars and too many would cash the check and remain in their lanes. I’ve witnessed this and felt it with the divide under our current president, and now I see it with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Please understand, 90% of my acquaintances support BLM in some way. Those 10% who believe there is no racial inequality in this country also thought quarantine was unnecessary. For my friends who understand BLM, they acknowledge there is racial inequality in our country; they understand police brutality and abuse of power; they know George Floyd’s death was wrong and the lack of justice for his death was a travesty. They understand that, and for that I am happy. However, I discovered a divide between us in the understanding of the rioting.

I am becoming an ardent anti-racist. It’s hard work and it’s difficult sometimes for me to find my voice. But, what I am finding more difficult to do is help people understand why I am not outraged by the rioting. Nobody in their right mind would back the looting and the violence, but I understand the root of it. I understand the frustration of the black community. I cannot empathize with their plight, but I can try to rally and earn support for them. Thus, I watch the rioting and mourn for the community that wants to be heard but their cries for justice have been squelched by those who have taken the fight too far. By those who joined the protests and used it for their personal gain to pillage and destroy businesses, and steal. Those rioters (or as my daughter calls them, “bad seeds”), both black and white, have sullied the good works of this movement and the protesters who took to the streets to protest injustice and raise awareness.

It was difficult to watch the burning and violence, but I chose to find grace and offer forgiveness for the cause. My niece Emily and I spent the day Monday responding to posts by friends where the theme was support for BLM but not the riots. I saw many write that they were disgusted by the looters; they didn’t condone the violence, and they felt the loss of businesses was unforgivable.

My replies to all were always the same: “When a child needs attention, that child will usually ask for it in the most unattractive way.” Those who only saw destruction and not the root of the tantrum were the ones who came at me and accused me of supporting the riots, and that I didn’t care about the loss of property and the inevitable hardships the business owners’ faced.

Instead of arguing, as a follow up, I asked them to change their lens and try to find grace and understanding in all the chaos, but they dug in their heels and refused to change their point of view. They only saw the physical: the destruction and loss of monetary value. I saw it too, but I also saw the psychological: the reason for the destruction. A powder keg had been built through centuries of oppression and inequality and it was lit by the injustice done to George Floyd and countless others before him. There was bound to be protests; there had to be. But, instead of the physical loss, I chose to see the mental anguish and the toll it has taken on a marginalized people. I wasn’t blind to the material loss and I’m not hard to it, but I know the reason for it and that gave me peace and a desire to try and cast a light on the motivation.  

But, in the end I became weary. Because we disagreed, doesn’t mean I judged my friends. Am I right and are they wrong? No. At the end of the day everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I respected that. Did I change any points of view in my social justice campaign? I don’t know. My daughter picked up my mantel on Tuesday and has run with it; she is doing wonderfully keeping up the good fight.

As a result of my campaign I have drawn one solid conclusion: this us vs. them mentality must go away. It can’t be white people vs. Persons of Color anymore. It can’t be Republicans vs. Democrats anymore. Society cannot remain this way for our America to survive. We need to be agents of change and help to create We the People again by eliminating this polarity.

To get through this unrest, let us not forget it’s happening in the middle of a pandemic, we need to find grace and understanding. Please, find a new lens to view the plight of black people in America. Understand the riots. More than that, understand White Privilege. It’s not about socioeconomic status and what you’ve earned; it’s about what was given to you through the good fortune of being born in white skin. It’s a difficult truth to face, but to be a better ally to the black community, we must first understand what our privilege is.

Then, in the end, we must come together and support one another as we support a community that has been maligned and is grieving. We must silently stand and hold that wounded child’s hand and let them find their calm and be ready to help them heal after the dust settles.

If you’re ready to work, consider these resources:

Article: What it means to be anti-racist

Workshop: RACE Method

Article: Racism Resources for White People