Damp Cake?

This photo made me literally LOL! I’m still giggling as I write this post.

That said, this photo and ensuing instructions brings up a good point. What is wrong with the word moist? The first time I heard someone have an aversion to it was a few years ago. A coworker cringed whenever I or someone else said the word. She cringed like we were talking about peach fuzz.

Maybe it’s a generational thing. She was younger than me by about 15 years; a millennial. No offense meant with the term; it’s a generational designation with its own set of characteristics. Perhaps I thought she was too sensitive.

Anyway, I’d like to know who else dislikes the word. Post a comment and let me know why. If that word doesn’t bother you, are there other words, besides vulgar words, that bother you? I’d love to know.

Spring and Black Flies – Ewww

Spring! My least favorite season. It signifies the transition from winter to summer. Both seasons I’m fond of. Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m wildly fond of winter, and I hate when it ends. I like summer because of the long days, but the mosquitoes leave a lot to be desired. After summer comes fall, which is gorgeous in New Hampshire. Thus, I tolerate spring. It must happen for the rest of the year to unfold.

Anyway, the point of my post today is to let you know the other reason I’m not a fan of spring, it’s the yard work. We have a large yard with a lot of perennial beds that require mulch. That’s a lot of work. I actually don’t mind the work. What I mind are the black flies. Black flies and mosquitoes should be the New Hampshire state birds. We have an abundance of both.

They swarm like this around your head!

If you’ve never experienced black flies, you’re blessed. They swarm and buzz around your ears. If they bite, it swells; bad! I’ve been bitten on the eyelid and had my eye swell shut. I’ve been bitten on the ear, and that was painfully itchy for days. Oh, if you scratch the itch from the bite, it hurts. Just a value added from a loathsome black fly attack.

These annoying pests appear every year end of April/early May when we need to get our yard work done. It makes the work that much more challenging.

This year, because our garden was so pitiful last year, we had three yards of compost delivered. We need to add that to our garden and till it this weekend. I’m dreading those pesky flies. Moving the mulch up the hill to the garden will be challenging enough without a swarm chasing me.

To keep me sane and protected from the flies, I think I may need to cave and wear one of those crazy net hats. I used to make fun of old people for wearing them. Does that make me old? Perhaps. But, at least I won’t get a black fly bite on my eye. I’ll let you know how the yard work goes!

She makes the hat look glamorous. I do not and I won’t share a picture of me in it.

Mindful Monday: Learn from Everyone

When one realizes that those you believe inferior are not, that everyone is able to contribute, and we all have strengths and weaknesses, then peace will be achieved. Be kind, patient, and show grace to those who seem less gifted than you; everyone is able to contribute. Everyone you meet is able to teach you something.

Mindful Monday: What is Hard?

I saw this on social media last week and it really struck a chord with me. Recently, I’ve lost nearly 20lbs and when people comment or ask me about it, I tell them how I did it. I usually hear in response, “That must have been hard!” Yup, it wasn’t easy, but it’s something I really needed to do, so I did it.

About a month ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who was commenting on my weight loss. She, self admittedly, needs to lose a tremendous amount of weight. She goes to the gym, but doesn’t watch her diet.

Side bar – the impetuous for my weight loss journey is two-fold. After my breast cancer scare, my doctor told me weight can be a factor in fueling breast cancer. That lived in the back of my mind since she told me that in October. Then in December, I saw a phrase in a meme on social media that said, “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” BINGO, that was so right. I am active, and faithfully workout, but in that moment I realized I couldn’t lose the weight I needed to without a proper diet. So, I made a change.

Back to my friend. As we chatted that night, she told me her workout regime, and then I told her my story, emphasizing that diet makes a difference. I explained she can workout every day, but until she watches what she eats, she won’t see big changes. Her reply, “It’s really hard for me to meal plan and diet. And, it’s hard to layoff margaritas.” We laughed, and I thought, we all have choices to make. And when I saw this little picture the other day, I thought of her. Choose your hard.

A Change I Can’t Make

My mom at her 80th birthday party with Maddy on the left and my niece Sarah behind her

In last week’s blog I talked about how tired I was when January arrived, but I acknowledged that I certainly didn’t hold the market on being tired. We all had a rough year. That said, I shared that my new job, despite being wonderful, was tiring because learning new skills could be taxing. I also had a breast cancer scare, and today I need to share another life event that attributed to my drain; my mom. I haven’t talked about her in any of posts, but it’s been a rough year for her. Let me explain.

First, a bit of history. About ten years ago my mom began to really slow down. She had some back problems that took a toll on her, and they forced her to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. It was hard for me to watch, and I tried to encourage her to move more and be active, because in my world the more you move the better your flexibility and stamina, and that equates to better health. But for my mom, she didn’t really understand that, and movement caused her pain. So, she became still, and has remained that way.

The stillness caused weakness in her body, and in late summer/early fall, she fractured one of the vertebrae in her lumbar spine and needed it repaired. The result of the fracture was that she developed some sciatica (if you’ve had it or know someone who has, you know how painful it is) and she also became very weak in her left leg. She went to rehab and came home before Thanksgiving. Shortly after, she had another fracture which needed repair. She was hospitalized again but was home for Christmas.

Long story short, she has been hospitalized a couple more times for pneumonia and a fracture in her thoracic spine. The year 2020 was hard on her and 2021 wasn’t letting up. I feel for her so much. That said, the whole ordeal has been hard on my dad, my siblings, and me. My mom is barely mobile and needs a wheelchair to get around. Because of the constant pain she’s in, she doesn’t want to walk, but it’s difficult to see her remain still because she’s so weak from a decade of being sedentary. Because she is so weak, she requires constant assistance. She has exercises to do so she can regain her strength, but movement causes her pain, so she isn’t faithful to doing them. She is living in a proverbial catch-22.

When she got home in November, I was frustrated with her. In fact, I was downright angry that she wasn’t trying harder. I went over a few times, and after the third time, I had a stern talk with her about how she wasn’t trying hard enough and she was basically giving up. I didn’t want her to give up so I thought an animated speech about the wonders of movement would motivate her. I also took part in many talks with my siblings about our collective frustrations and we vented to each other how it seemed like she was lazy and just wasn’t trying. I think we were all reeling from such an abrupt change in our mother and weren’t ready to accept this new hand our family was dealt.

As I mentioned above, I have always embraced an active lifestyle. That mindset brought me through a debilitating blood clot in my leg, brain surgery, a full abdominal hysterectomy, and last year, plantar fasciitis. I had to work my behind off to recover from all those life events. If I remained still in any of those seasons, I fear I would have remained there. Thus, seeing my mother choose stillness was devastating for me. Before the holidays when she went in for another surgery, I reached out to my therapist. I needed to figure out my mindset, which was primarily angry, because I was so frustrated and couldn’t understand my mother or my own emotions.  

I told my therapist, “I’m so damn frustrated with my mom. She’s not trying and if she doesn’t try, she won’t get stronger which means she won’t recover. She will be stuck in that wheelchair forever, and it’s really hard on my father to move her around.” I sighed and continued, “I keep talking to her and trying to motivate her. When I’m there she tries, and I’ll walk her through her exercises. When I leave, she stops trying and just becomes still again.”

My therapist said, “Judy, you can’t change your mother. You need to accept what is happening to her, and just let her be. Your father will tell her when it’s too much. You need to let go of what is happening to her and just be there for her. If she complains she’s had a bad day or she’s in pain, just listen, but stop trying to coach her and make her accountable for doing her exercises. That’s not your job.”

We talked more and, in the end, I realized I was trying to mother my mother, which is why I was miserable. I learned the more I tried to control and change things, the more frustrated and angrier I became.

My mom and I always had a complicated relationship, and I feel like I’ve mothered her for a long time. But, for my peace and to respect her, I needed to stop. That day I talked to my therapist, I let go. I stopped trying to coach my mom and just became an ear for her. It’s not always easy to listen to her, because I want to offer advice or pass judgment, but I make every effort to refrain and be the friend she needs now.

What I’ve learned from all of this is that it’s time to sit back and just bask in the glow of my parents. They were my original spark and gave me the fire that lit my entire life. I still have a lot of fire, but I know now their fires are more like a warm bed of coals, and it’s time for me to share my warmth with them, because they really need it. When I visit, we can chat, and I can bask in the glow of their embers and feel their warmth. It’s time to soak in all they can give me, and I can offer my company and support in return. I can’t change what happened, I certainly can’t control what’s coming, so I need to remain in the moment with them and just be.

Mindful Monday: Detours?

I stumbled on this image on social media last week and stopped for a moment to really think about it after I read it. Well, to be honest, I really thought about it. I’ve actually dedicated a few posts to this idea.

See, I’m a firm believer in all things, good or bad, happen for a reason. In those difficult moments it can be challenging to fathom why you’re enduring a trial or tribulation. Usually, at least it’s been my experience, when I look back over a difficult period in my life, I’ve learned something from that time or I’ve emerged better from it.

Thus, in those hard moments it may feel like you’re on a detour, but you’re not. Always hang in there. Try to be strong; you’re stronger than you believe you are. Above all, have faith that you will emerge and will be wiser for what you weathered. Have a great week. ❤️

The Year That Was and Looking Ahead

Last week, I rededicated my commitment to this blog. Now that I’ve entered a new phase and commitment to my writing, and thus to my readers, I’d like to reflect on what the past year has meant to me personally and professionally and my hope for this year.

Last year gave us all a pandemic, but it gave me this blog and a great new job. In my new blog, I shared many posts about my life, and it became a way for me to share what my health battles meant to me. It was also a way for me to grow my readership and to meet other bloggers. I need to give a shout-out to one of my favorite bloggers, Jennie Taylor. If you don’t read her blog, please do; she’s great. She possesses a great wit and a wonderful perspective on life. I’ve also connected with dozens of other blogs I read weekly which I really enjoy. Seeing how other writers write – style, diction, syntax – inspires me and challenges my writing.

Professionally, I started a new role in July doing corporate training for the Information Security Management Office at the university I work for. Essentially, I teach best practices surrounding information safety and data protection. It may sound dull, but I get to create my trainings, so I write all day long. It takes all my creative juices to do my job which keeps my writing concise. And, I get to do it from home, which is an added bonus.

With the changes from last year behind me, my hope for this year is to become published. Mind you, if I’m not published next year at this time but I’ve been actively trying, I won’t be disappointed because it meant I was at least putting in the effort. But, I have so many stories I’ve written and an unfinished autobiography, so I really need to get them in print. If I don’t, then what was the point of writing them?

As you can see, I have been cultivating writing in all aspects of my life. As I mentioned though, I feel as though I was neglecting this blog. Looking back now, I realized the neglect came about for a few reasons. Primarily because when the new year came, I was just tired. I may make the assumption that we all were. But, why was I tired? I like my new job, but learning new skills is tiring. I also had a breast cancer scare over the summer that melted into the fall. It shook me up, but I healed well from the minor surgery. Because I was so tired in January, I shifted gears and relied primarily on my Mindful Monday posts to keep life in this blog. Also, ski season started and I really needed that, so I stepped away for a bit.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to share that I contracted Covid in early January. I hadn’t written about it because I was ashamed that I got it. Let me explain.

The entire summer I was the Covid police for my family. I worked tirelessly trying to protect my parents from visitors, family and friends, who didn’t wear masks and cautioned them about leaving the house. Then Christmas Eve came, and my heart was broken to pieces.

Me, Jeff, and the kids at my parents’ house Christmas Eve

I had talked to one of my sisters about plans for that night and agreed we would visit in shifts and wear masks. Well, the plan I thought would happen didn’t. After Jeff, the kids and I left and the second shift arrived, my sister’s family, and the masks came off. I saw the pictures on social media and was devastated that nobody cared enough to honor our parents by wearing a mask all night. Such a small ask, and it only happened when I was there. It’s as if everyone was wearing a mask for me. The point wasn’t to wear the mask for me but to protect our elderly parents.

The reason I’m sharing my diagnosis and Christmas Eve is that after I got Covid, I felt like a laughingstock. Imagine you’re the one who reminded everyone to stay safe and protect mom and dad by wearing your mask, and you tell everyone about statistics and how easy it is to contract and how to avoid getting it, then you get it.

My sister told me when she told her coworkers about my diagnosis, they all laughed about it. That hurt me so much, and it still hurts me as I write this. It’s so mean spirited. I carried such a mantel of embarrassment for so long after I recovered, it left me feeling marked. That’s why it’s taken me so long to write about it.

Side bar: you’re probably wondering how I got it. Well, the week I contracted it I left my house once, and that was to go to the chiropractor. I’d been trying to limit my visits because of Covid, but the day I went I had to because I’d fallen skiing and hurt my hip. I broke from my routine that day, which had been early morning visits, and went on my lunch. It was busier than I was used to, so that left me feeling uneasy. But the kicker is, when my doctor adjusted my neck, she lifted my mask three times. I left there thinking, “There’s no way something that trivial could give me Covid.” Well, four days later I began showing symptoms.

Thankfully, and there but for the grace of God, it was very mild. I’ve actually had colds worse than that illness. It was over it in less than two weeks, and I began using my Peloton after ten days. I was incredibly blessed to have had such a mild case and I consider myself very fortunate to have weathered it so well. It’s always in the back of my mind that I had it, and I hope in five years I don’t find out I have some strange ailment because I had Covid. But I can’t live worrying about what might happen. It happened and it’s over.

My friends and I taking a break to pose for a fun photo during lunch break

My birthday was three weeks after I got sick, and I had planned to go away skiing. Thankfully, I recovered fully with days to spare so I could go. Before going, I checked with my doctor, we reviewed my symptoms and she advised me I was safe. Going away skiing following being sick was so liberating. I was with friends who weren’t afraid of me because they understood the science, and they loved and didn’t shame me. We skied all day and hung out in the condo at night. They actually didn’t care that I got it and were relieved that I had such a mild case and recovered so quickly.  

So, I survived Covid. It was a blessing in disguise because as a result of it, I gathered natural immunity so I could ski and travel the rest of the winter without fear. I continued to follow CDC guidelines and still do, including getting vaccinated. I’m getting the one-dose shot on Sunday, so in two weeks I’ll be fully immunized. As I write this today, I’m beginning the Spring Sadness phase of the year. Mountains are closing and I’m probably done skiing. I’m always hopeful while they’re open that I’ll have one more day, but our early New England spring is telling me otherwise. That said, I’m so thankful for the winter I had. It was wonderful to be able to ski so much and enjoy my favorite past time with people who I adore and who I barely saw last year. I am so looking forward to the year ahead. The vaccine will make my lovely skiing family whole again. And, I’m supposed to be able to return to my office in July. I will finally get to meet my coworkers who I’ve worked with for nine months and only met through Zoom. How amazing will that be? And, I hope I can update you all on the publishing front! Fingers crossed.

Mindful Monday: Breathe

This lovely print reminded me of Spring. Although I’m a bit miffed with Spring this year, because it came so soon and I’m basically done skiing this year at the same time l was last year when all the mountains had to unceremoniously close due to Covid. That said. Spring is a harbinger of warm, longer days, and I do like warmth and extended daylight hours.

Besides thinking of the season change, the caption also reminded me of the necessity to be still. It’s such an important state that people shy away from. Being still allows the body to rest, and rest is a good thing. Stillness can also allow the mind to rest, which is also a good thing. So today, and this week, take care of yourself. If or when you become stressed, just pause and be in that moment, take a deep breath and
let it go.

Time to Reconnect

Despite my weekly Mindful Monday posts, I realized I’ve been neglecting my blog and have not been sharing any additional news about my life in this blog. I wrote A Quick Catch Up in early February and then another lovely post about how I’ve been connecting and growing deeper in my faith a few weeks later. But, for most of the winter I’ve been absent. So, today I find myself more than a month past due keeping my readers up to date on my life. I would be remiss if I said I didn’t have anything new to share, because in reality my life has been brimming with newness, both good and bad newness. Today is the day I begin catching up, and I have enough information to write new content for a while; I already made an outline and this is the first of at least five, perhaps six or seven new articles I’ll be posting over the next few weeks!

For my fellow bloggers, you know it’s a job to have a blog. It becomes part of you. Like when my kids were young and I’d lay awake at night replaying in my head the day I had with them – good, bad, ugly, or indifferent – I think about my blog often while I’m trying to fall asleep at night. My children are 28 and 25 (soon-to-be 26 in May), and they are self-sufficient at this point in their lives. So, my blog has become a third child to me. It will mature but will never be fully on its own like my kids. It will always need my nurturing. I am always writing, and I have so many posts written, but in my head, so it is now time I get them on the screen so I can sleep.

First, a little recap; I started this blog March 31, 2020, on a tremendous leap of faith. I had the idea in my head for years, and in March of last year, we all had extra time on our hands back then, I finally took the plunge. Also, at that time, I was finishing a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing, and I had learned a tremendous amount about blogging and growing a following to facilitate a writing career. Here I am one year later, my blog is catching on, so now I need to nurture it.

When I realized I wasn’t posting as often as I had when I started this blog, I began the Mindful Monday series. I posted a meme or photo that had special meaning to me and then I wrote my thoughts about it. I’ve really been into mindfulness and I try to practice mediation (I’m not as good at that as I should be), but in the past year I have made a conscious effort to bring awareness to my life in the sense of what I say, how I eat, and how I take care of myself. Part of that awareness was to make a conscious effort each week to set an intention, and that’s where the idea for Mindful Monday came from.

When I write that post each week, I try to be aware of what I do that week in relation to the post. For example, last Monday I posted Be Positive. Last week, Monday was very challenging for me because I had just returned from vacation, and I was feeling jet-lagged. I had a big presentation on Monday, on Zoom, which I was thankful for because then I knew people wouldn’t see how haggard I was, and I pushed through it. After the meeting, and in the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t happy with my performance but I tried not to be hard on myself. Instead, I chose to focus on what went right and I had a good follow up with my group of attendees by sending a follow up email. My point, my intention that day was to try to be positive and I found my silver lining in what I perceived to be a storm cloud.

Moving forward, since I really do have a lot to say, and I have many more followers than I did one year ago at the inception of my blog, I will be offering up more helpings and hope to grow my base and move onto the next phase of my writing career. What does that mean? I will keep you all posted. In the meantime, if you’ve never read the additional content on my blog, please check it out.