Happy 2020 to one and all!

Musings from a fraud…

Ok, lets get right to the heart of the matter.

I’m a fraud. For years I’ve been convinced that I had a book or a series of books in me to write if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever. And in fact, I have a really good book in me. But you may never get to read it, I’m sorry to say.

And I wanted to learn the play the mandolin if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.

I wanted to learn how to draw. That would be something I could do if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.

As you may have guessed for the past 8 weeks I had them all. I had the time, space, time alone, focus and whatever.

I did not write my masterpiece. I did not learn to play the mandolin. I did not learn how to draw.

What did I do?

I went outside and walked everyday.

I sat in quiet and drank my cup of hot tea without having to get up and reheat it.

Shadow of tree on fence in spring during isolation time of coronavirusI watched time pass by watching where the shadows from the movement of the sun landed on my fence.

I pulled weeds.

I watched Ted Talks and kept digging deep to learn, understand and grow. Loved this one by Bill Gates.

I planted flowers, tomatoes and peppers, then I covered them up on cold nights.

I read. And I shared my books with other friends who love reading as well.

I listened to new indie music on youtube.com and found new artists. Thank you to Alexrainbird Music)

I listened to books. I loved listening to Tom Hanks read The Dutch House written by Ann Patchett.

I baked bread.

I wrote letters to dear friends (send me your address if you want me to send you a letter too.)

I blogged.

I zoomed. A lot. I stayed connected with my Rotary Club and visited several other meetings and listened to their speakers.

I stayed in close contact with my family through Facebook Messenger video and Facetime.

I met on video with long time friends who I used to waitress with back in the day when I was a young mom. Those connections are still going strong. Amen for that!

SOOOOOOOO

– I’m going to cut myself some slack and honor what I’ve achieved.

No written book for the world to read (not yet anyhow) but lots of blogging.

No mandolin but listened to tons of music (lots of Indie music as well as ‘blow out the speaker’ loud tunes.)

No drawing except for doodles, but I painted my porch swing and added color to the front of my house with accents.

I think my time away from others has helped me put perspective on what matters.

Books, for sure.

Music, always.

Color, of course.Mornings with Margie

Walking, and movement.

Family. Friends. Contact.

And writing words in whatever form they need to be.

If I had to grade myself during my time of isolation I’d give myself a pat on the back. Actually, if I could possibly make it happen, I’d find a way to hug myself. One of those long hugs that you wish you could give to someone near and dear to you. One of those, ‘don’t let me go’ hugs. The kind where the other hand is rubbing up and down the shoulders and back. You know … touch.

That’s been missing during this time. Physical contact. People.

I hope during your time of isolation you were able to find what matters most and focus all your attention there. And let the other stuff slide away. What matters most to me ais the knowledge that I am enough just like I am. And you are too. I’m not sure but that sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say. I miss Mr. Rogers too.

xo

Related:

Ted Talk – The Next Outbreak? We’re not ready yet.

The Delight of Being Retired 

AlexRainBird Music 

Instagram #happilyafterretirement

Twitter @margie_merc

 

 

 

Sit? Walk? Visit?

It’s time my friends! Well, ok… it’s not really time …but internally and seasonally it’s time for me to slowly reemerge.

cup of tea and a cinnamon roll

The global pandemic that we have avoided is still alive (very much so in the US since we have no testing and it will continue to move around like a pinball) and present in our world.

I have been good. Staying home. Minding my garden. Baking. Alone (sad face) but safe.

However, I am venturing out more. In my mind, I am traveling ALL over the place. In reality, I am wearing a mask everywhere I go (as mandated.) I am going to the grocery store very early and infrequently. I am washing my hands.

AND, I am doing other things too. I donated blood yesterday. Tomorrow I will work at a food collection site. Next week I have a dentist appointment.

I am cautiously emerging. Baby steps with lots of baby wipes.

I had brunch at my house with two friends last week. Sharing food. Laughing. Communing…

Yes, this coronavirus is still alive and well in my world and I am careful in every way possible. But I also am ready to go to a library, coffee shop, concert and party again. To gather in groups and share common experiences. To laugh and cry together.

I am so ready, aren’t you?

White chair on porch in Fort Collins, CO at HappilyafterRetirement.com
Come sit with me

How to mingle with humanity again?

Where do we go now? As we slowly leave our confined quarters and venture out into the world of rubbing shoulders, eating in restaurants, sitting in salons, flying on planes, riding on trains and mingling with humanity … how do we slowly reintegrate?Now What?

I have had the privilege of ‘sheltering-in-place’ or self-isolating for the past 6 weeks. It’s  been a privilege because I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry and a place to call my own. If I got sick, I had a separate room where I could quarantine. I know I am blessed to be ‘able’ to self-isolate. I have people checking on me, and internet connection, books to read, TV to watch and a yard to sit in. So many people have so much less.

But the doors are slowly opening and it’s time to breathe in, breathe deep and exhale comfortably. It’s time to venture out but always with an eye out for others around me. Are they coughing? Are they keeping their distance?

The media tells me day and night what to do. Keep my distance. Wash my hands. Wear a mask. Stay away from groups. Remember that the silent virus is does not discriminate.

My time inside has dulled my need to shop, travel and eat out. I’ve learned to appreciate homemade meals, phone calls with friends and yardwork. I’m more involved with the lives of family members and friends than ever before.

I’ve learned to listen to and trust my governor and to ignore my president. I’ve realized that actions make all the difference and the front line heroes are janitors, truckers, meat packers, medical personnel, and child care workers. They don’t point fingers, pass blame, try to glorify what they do – they just continue to show up and get the job done. For them I am grateful.

The neighbor kids are learning from home and are getting all the knowledge they need to pass to the next grade. I wonder how many of them will decide to sign up with an online school program and bypass attending a school building in the future. Perhaps the kids who are falling through the cracks, those who are bullied and dealing with social anxiety will find a way to continue with their studies virtually and become successful without the misery.

And what about all the college kids who were sent home in March? Let’s face it, they are going to all PASS the grade. Since they are being taught by instructors who have no knowledge or instruction in online teaching. And guess what? Some people go to college and get a degree in the art of online teaching. They are called ‘Instructional Designers.’ They create amazing curriculum which include best practices and universal design techniques that benefit all students. Let’s face it – the elementary school teachers, high school instructors and college professors do not have that knowledge. They are just all trying to stay above water.

I’ve learned to appreciate my alone time. Audio books. Daily walks. Homemade food. Books off my bookshelf. And yard work, too.

This crisis is not over, I know that. We all know that … but I am ready to rejoin humanity. Slowly – ever so slowly. What about you? Are you moving in that direction? Are you staying put? Will you venture out and do some of the things you miss? Sure would like to know.

Take care and stay safe my friends!

Tell me about your bucket list

Retired now? Life derailed due to coronavirus? Have a LOT of time on your hands?

Did you make a list of items you want to do as a way to ‘fill your time’ and accomplish some stuff you’ve been meaning to complete?

Tell me about your list. Is it one or two items or will it fill a book? In fact, there are books that have lists of bucket items. Hmm, probably not a good thing to fill someone else’s list though. That’s like living someone else’s life for them.

Here’s some of mine in case you need some push from behind …

Happily After Retirement while cross country skiing, in Fort Collins, CO
Gotta love what you do!

Travel to ____ (do this immediately)

Clean  ____ (closets, garage, cellar)

Visit  _____ (best friend, grandchildren, national parks, casinos, libraries, favorite teacher, donut store)

Write ____ (book, memoirs, journal, love letter, blogs, thank you notes)

Start _____ (hobby, cooking, gardening, drawing, blogging)

Eat _____ (NY cheesecake, Maine lobster, Hatch green chilies – but must eat them where they originate)

Learn ____ (hip hop, watercolor, Italian, piano, astronomy, fly-fishing, pickleball)

Donut case filled with everything wonderful and tastyVolunteer ___ (food bank, Rotary, library, Peace Corp, mentoring students)

Contact ______ (high school friends, childhood buddies, pen pals, congress representative)

Paint _________ (canvas, nails, doors, house, garage, your wagon)

Research ______(family lore, history of sugarbeets, finances, school board)

Organize __ (a book group, game nights, hiking events, trips abroad)

So, does this list kick something into gear for you? Got some things you need to write down then check off? What exactly is on your list, hmm? Have you already moved forward on some items. Feel better?

If you’re married then you have a partner to share some of your activities with, however that’s not always the case. Your list and your spouses could be vastly different or perhaps one of you might want to travel and the other might choose to never leave the garden.

The secret is to find some things that only you love to do and get moving on them. You might learn that golfing isn’t that high on your list after you take a few lessons. Or that you want to learn and teach yoga.

Climb into your sandbox and to explore and play. Find out what you like to do and move in that direction. Maybe you’ll never want to come out.

Or maybe you’ll decide you want to climb into the round sandbox filled with electronics, computers and technology and come out with the knowledge that you really want to create recipes and make new food items.

If you don’t have a partner to play with, that works fine too. In fact, you might have more freedom to try things out, change your mind and start all over again. You’ve got 30 years on your plate. The important thing to remember is there are so many others who want to meet you and do what you’re doing.

Be happy, have fun — And you will always have friends!


The benefits of a bucket list by Elizabeth Scott MS

 

 

Remember when we used to hug …

Back ‘Before Cornonavirus’ aka BC, I stood in rooms filled with people and listened to music. I sat in auditoriums and absorbed messages from authors. I sat elbow to elbow with friends, colleagues and strangers. I whooped and yelled at volleyball games. I danced and celebrated at weddings. I squished myself on airplanes and never thought twice about it. I wandered aimlessly at libraries. That was all so ‘yesterday.’

In my dream last night, I was in a room bursting with people and my neighbor (from 1973) walked across the room to greet me. His arms went up to hug me and I stopped him in shock, admonishing him about our social distance rules and regulations. I looked around the full room and realized it was too late now, the way everyone was all tight together like salmon wiggling and giggling upstream.

I took a step back from him and remembered I was dreaming and I could do anything I wanted. I rewound the dream and this time when I spotted him in the dream, I let him hug me and I held him and just breathed him in. And I hugged him back. This childhood friend of mine just gave me the first hug I’ve had in a very long time and I just breathed it all in.

I didn’t realize this post would be about loneliness but that’s what’s coming to the surface as I write. Even with all the gratitude I feel for my life, the enforced separation due to the coronavirus means there’s no hugs. No physical connection. No massages. No touch. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until he reached out from 1973 to me in 2020. It was like a scene from Quantum Leap.

I’m not complaining. I have a house, I have food, I have a yard, I have space. I know of so many others living on top of each other, with no outlet when tempers flare. I know the family courts are dealing with custody issues, restraints, domestic violence and I take a deep breath in and exhale gratitude.

I know how lucky I am and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but boy oh boy I sure miss those sweet things I took for granted, don’t you?

Now, all I ever want to do is to connect. I make calls. I send cards. I use the internet to Face Time, Zoom, Skye and FB video chat. And with all that connection, the physical touch is still so elusive…

How about you? Are you in contact with those long lost friends and relatives?

Green river in Chicago to celebrate St Pattys Day
Standing shoulder to shoulder on St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

 

 

Nature is smiling

Nature is taking a break while humans are running for cover.

In the west, over the past three decades the pine trees have been devoured by pine beetles. The forest is filled with dead trees that change the color of the canvas from deep green to dead maroon. A lightning strike, a tossed cigarette, a careless spark will set millions of acres ablaze. Our forests have been dying.

horsetooth reservoir, fort collins

Twenty miles down the highway from me the county imposed a plant quarantine to contain the ash borer beetle. Now, six years later, the quarantine of transporting wood (think about the times we’ve loaded firewood from our backyard to our mountain camping spot…) has been lifted as the beetle has spread to other counties. Authorities knew from past experience that it could not be stopped, only contained. Sort of like the coronavirus.

For the time being, we’ve turned our attention away from nature and are staying inside, keeping our distance from man and beast. Well, maybe not from beasts but certainly from others.

While we (humans) are taking a break from all things social (work, school, entertainment, restaurants, fitness centers, travel, shopping, concerts, theaters, sports and gatherings of any kind)  – nature is blossoming.

The air is cleaner, waterways are clearer, fish are multiplying, highways are empty, smokestacks don’t smoke, fewer planes are flying so less sound from the sky, cruise ships are not sailing so less pollution in the oceans, oil rigs have stopped fracking,  and so much more.

Musicians are making more music.

Writers are writing.

Cooks are creating.

Weavers are weaving.

Bloggers are blogging.

Dog walkers have been replaced by dog owners.

Babysitters, nannies, and preschools have been replaced by mom and dad.

Yards are tended to by homeowners instead of lawn companies.

Even in the mist of this disruption, there is some good. In fact, there is much good.

There are fewer car accidents.

We are practicing better hygiene.

Family meals are a ‘thing’ again.

Conversations are real.

Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, humans are taking a pause right now. We have the time now to decide who we are, who we want to be and what difference we want to make in the world.

Mary Oliver said it best when she wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Nature is smiling.

Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, CO

Love from afar (Covid-19)

My upbeat music of the morning: – Louis Armstrong sings
What a Wonderful World. 

sitting on a long doc with my sister, happily retired

The way the world is spinning now it’s easy for people to do good. And be bad. Or be ugly. There is so much happening in our world these days that I just want them to choose GOOD.

This video was posted on Instagram by Sara Byrne. (Sabyrne5)

Byrne’s grandmother has seven sons, 22 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. Most of them live in the Syracuse area, so they went to sing Happy Birthday for her. “We love her so much and are so thankful for her!” said Byrne.

And a Brooklyn cellist plays Happy Birthday from afar…

Ok World – What Happened?! (Coronavirus)

OK world – what happened?

January 2020 was full of hope, dreams, and longing with a new year on the horizon. Plans to travel, connect, learn and re-energize made the top ten list. And then something else happened instead. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) entered our lives. It sort of creeped in really slowly. And although it existed, it was mostly ignored.

When I first heard about this virus in early January 2020, I thought ‘These viruses happen to other people who live far, far away in places like China.’ Ebola, HIV, Dengue, SARS, MERS, Swine flu, Zika and so many other deadly health threats were distant to me – or so my small mind thought at the time.

I realized that as the COVID-19 virus spreads, our lives become smaller.  Travel is halted. The border between Canada and the US has closed. ‘Shelter-in- place‘ has been issued in San Francisco. Gathering with others has been discouraged and ‘social distancing’ has been encouraged in ways there were unimaginable at the start of March.

All sports events at all levels have been cancelled. Broadway plays, theaters, universities, schools, libraries, ski resorts, meetings, churches, fitness centers, bars, breweries, and casinos have been mandated to close. Colorado has pretty much shut down the state. Drug stores, grocery stores, liquor stores and department stores are still running and are looking to hire workers to help keep the shelves stocked.

Social Disruption initiated

Universities announced they will teach classes online so students are not allowed back on campus for the present time. Businesses want their workers to stay home and work remotely. People are home. They are not driving their cars, using gas, entertaining or socializing. They are hunkering down BECAUSE there is nothing to do.

And that is the goal. Nothing to do will keep people home. Nothing to do will help decrease the spread of the virus. Nothing to do forces us to stay inside and away from others. If there is no one around, there is no one who can give me the virus. And there is no one I can give it to if I have it.

Now we are told it is not about IF it happens but WHEN the virus will happen.

Everything I’ve just written is fact. And most everything has occurred in the past 2 weeks for US citizens.

So what now?

Stay healthy. Here’s my list of things I am planning to do.

Taking Control of My World
  • 1st of all – I refuse to spend my day watching the news. The TV news will destroy my soul and take me down to a very sad place. I watch Norah O’Donnell on the CBS evening news  then turn it off. I also go to youtube.com/news and choose something from that list if I want additional coverage.
  • 2nd – I have a whole list of youtube.com music that I can click on and listen to uninterrupted for 3+ hours. That music helps ground me. Want to breathe in Mozart?  How about relaxing Zen music? Good morning music?
  • 3rd – I plan to make regular phone calls to my family and friends. This is the perfect time not only because they are home with more time on their hands as am I but also because if not now – when?
  • 4th – Since all the fitness centers are closed, I’ll push myself out the door to walk. It’s good for my head, heart, soul and body. And I am practicing ‘social distancing’ in a healthy manner.
  • 5th – I am downloading books from my library using Hoopla and Libby and Overdrive. Also, through my library, I can download videos and movies through Kanopy. I can read magazines using Flipster, learn a language using Odilo or visit a music library.Poudre River Public Library download resources
  • 6th – And most important for my psyche is I plan to incorporate color into my life. Now is not the time for black or white. I am thinking all the colors of the rainbow! Color is such a great mental stimulation for me.

Next year at this time when I read this blog post, I want to close my eyes and remember how well we all got through it. How we pulled together as friends and created togetherness where before there were only strangers. How we reached out and offered help, comfort and compassion when others were struggling.

In the meantime, I will be writing it all down as a way to help me remember it, make sense of it and learn from it.

Loving you, Marge Katherine

Resources –

The Holidays are OVER – Amen!

The Do’s & Dont’s of Social Distancing

Symptoms of COVID-19

Corona Virus Near Me