Tag Archives: Gratitude

The Gift of Sheltered-In-Place

Sheltering-in-place is now a term everyone knows.  I don’t even remember the date that I first started hearing about COVID-19.  I know it was the first part of March.  My son and daughter-in-law were due to visit us the weekend of March 6.  A few days before they were to arrive, my son called to say it would be only him.  His wife had been fighting a cold or the flu for several weeks, and she didn’t want to get on a plane with this unknown virus that was going around.  There was talk about people staying away from large groups at this time.  My son came alone, and we had wonderful weekend celebrating my husband’s birthday, hiking the mountain by our home, and just spending some quality time with my second born child.  He went home on Monday, and by the next week the news was telling people who were over 65 or had immune deficiencies or underlying illnesses to stay home, don’t go anywhere, stay at home.  Don’t go into crowds.

By mid March we were uncomfortable being around people.  We went to the accountant’s office for our taxes.  There was hand sanitizer out, and we did not shake hands, but we did sit in the office and talk.  From there we left and went shopping at Crate and Barrel.  People were still out shopping, but wary of what to do.  Basically, we were told to wash our hands and don’t touch our face. (I was good with the first part, not so good on the second).  We ended the evening going out to dinner, and noticed that there was some cleaning measures that were being taken that were different from a normal day.  The restaurant did not have salt and pepper shakers on the table.  The waitress said that they were available if requested, but they sanitized everything between customers.  It was such an odd feeling.

After that day, we decided to stay home.  Then the announcement came out that we all should avoid large crowds, and the next thing you knew, the churches closed their doors.  The kids in Arizona were on spring break, but the governor closed the schools, and the IMG_2294kids did not go back.  At that time, it was only for 2 weeks.  Now they are closed until the start of school in August/September.

Being retired, staying home isn’t a big deal.  I cannot imagine how it would feel if my life was still getting up early five days a week to get dressed, commute to work, and put my eight hours in, and then all of a sudden, I’m working at home, or not working at all.

There are so many thoughts that go through my head of how people are feeling.  At first, it was just out and out fright.  We are already afraid of the unknown, but an invisible enemy—a virus—was going to destroy our lives—how much more frightening can that be?

Over these weeks, we have ventured out to the grocery stores.  We have gone on walks in the neighborhood, and hiked on the mountain trails.  I don’t feel confined, except that I cannot be in personal contact with friends and family.  That feels really odd to me.  We also have another new term—social distancing.  Stay apart, wear you face mask, don’t touch anything.  I am surprised to see how few people actually are wearing face masks when shopping.  Because my husband and I are in our 70’s, we wear them—better safe than sorry.

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Social Distancing at Costco–not many have on face masks.

As I look back on these weeks, and the daily news conferences statewide and nationally, I just want to shake my head.  Why do people have to make this political?  We are in a battle to save lives all over the world, and people are demanding to know when did our leaders really know, why didn’t they act faster, on, and on and on.  I really don’t care.  I am not in their shoes.  This is new for everyone, and I have seen leaders on both sides get it wrong and get it right.  Let’s just work together and find a way to get us back to work, and back to a new normal.

IMG_2504I think we forget to be grateful during this time.  Almost everyone, at least everyone that I personally know, has a nice shelter over their heads to be stuck in for a while.  We have technology that keep us connected.  Some people can actually work from home because of this technology.  We can call, text, or use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and other platforms to visit and see the people we care about.  Had this pandemic happened 20 years ago, we would have really felt isolated, but technology has us connected in so many ways.

Do you know what I like about this sheltering-in?  I used to get up and spend my day at jammieshome, being sure I was dressed, hair done, make up on, just in case someone knocked on the door.  Ha!  No one is knocking on my door—I can stay in my pajamas all day, if I desire, and I don’t have to feel a bit guilty about it!  

I get to clean the house because I want to clean the house—not because someone is coming over, and yes, cleaning has been set aside longer than it should have been.  It was just a bit freeing to not feel like I had to do housework.

I did a lot of stuff the last three weeks.  I made a quilt top.  It’s ready to go to someone to quilt—if I can figure out who that can be.  I have done some baking.  I have done a ton of cooking.  I think we have had meals from the drive-through twice, and it just doesn’t feel right.  We play Mexican Train Dominos.  I have a jigsaw puzzle that is the hardest puzzle I have ever attempted.  I get small sections done each day.  My goal is to complete it before we leave for Missouri or told we can go out in public—whichever comes first.

We watch television in the evening.  I try not to do that during the day, but I could.  While sheltered-in-place, my life is my own.  I can pretty much do anything I want or not do anything at all.  This time is really a gift.

I don’t want to lessen the seriousness of this pandemic.  There have been many people severely sick, people who have lost their lives, and grieving families who cannot get together to comfort each other.  There are people who are not working or earning any money, but the bills are still there.  There are people who live alone, and this time can be extremely lonely.  My heart aches for all of them.  This is not an easy time.

family having meal dinner togetherI just want us all to stop, just for a moment.  Close our eyes, and take a deep breath.  Then think of all the things to be grateful for.  Families are having dinners together again.  They are playing games, playing or listening to music.  Make this time a gift.  Do the things you always wished you had time to do when you are home.  Call a friend, hug you kids, or your dog, or your cat (if it will let you).  We have been running a rat race for so long—and now we get the gift to stop, reflect, and rejoice.  

Reflect on what you want your life to be.  What a great opportunity to plan, to execute a bigger life.  A life of more love?  A life of reflection?  A life of serving?  There is so much we can do as we are sheltered-in-place.  

We will not be sheltered-in-place for much longer—maybe it’s time to relax and appreciate the time.  Thank God that we have a shelter to be in.  We will get through this, and we will be better and stronger,  Move forward in gratitude.thankful

The Little Things

Sometimes I forget about the little things.  The little things that make my life richer.  The little things that make my life easier.  The little things we can sometimes take for granted.  IMG_4444Do you do that also?  Maybe it’s time we sit down and think of the little things that we appreciate but don’t always acknowledge.  Here is a random list of 10 things that may not be all that little, but that I sometimes take for granted.  These are going to be the first ten things that come to mind.  There may be more, and maybe even more important things, but this is my impromptu list:

My husband brings a cup of coffee to me each morning.  No, I don’t like drinking it in bed, but I like to transfer from bed to our lovely living room where in the summer I see all the beauty through the windows, and in the winter, can watch the burning fire in the fireplace.  It is the little thing that makes my morning start on the right foot.

Watching the bird feeder in the winter.  When I first moved here, I wasn’t aware of all the birds in this world.  I enjoy sitting in the warmth of our home in the winter, and watching the birds coming to the bird feeder.  It was always a win when the woodpecker would arrive and I could get a photo.  They are touchy birds and the first sense of movement and they are gone, so I have to be very careful on the other side of the window to slowly bring up the camera for a quick photo–or video.

 

walkingWalking!  I really took this one for granted until the past few months when an issue with my hip/knee (not sure the cause) has made it extremely difficult to walk.  I am working with doctors, physical therapists, and massage therapists to be able to go back and walk distances that I have taken for granted for so long.

Kitchen appliances  – I am the queen of most appliances.  I love a good, well working appliance.  IMG_7880These include my Kitchenaid mixer, my Breville blender with the smoothie button, a good coffee maker, belgium waffle maker, stick blender, the electric non-stick griddle, and a few less used appliances.  I have a great cabinet that fits these appliances.  Although not used often, I appreciate the them greatly when needed.

waterCold water – Years ago I didn’t drink a lot of water.  That changed about 15 years ago.  Yes, I buy bottled water because it is portable, and I can take cold water with me wherever I go.  There is nothing like the taste of ice cold water after working out, or on a hot day.  I very rarely drink any kind of soft drink.  Water has become my beverage of choice with meals, and between meals.IMG_9584

Laughter – we don’t laugh often and hard enough.  Having friends and family that can make me laugh is a true blessing.  Having a husband who can be a real goof ball helps me keep my laughter going.

IMG_4882Books – I don’t buy many “real” books any longer.  They take up room, and I hate to admit, I am starting to have trouble reading the small print in those books.  I do buy my books for my Kindle app on my phone.  I can adjust the lighting and the size of the print.  My favorite kind of books are non-fiction, although I will read fiction also.  Some of my favorite books: Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado, Radium Girls by Kate Moore, On Fire by John O’Leary, Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend, just to name a few that come to the top of my head.  I made a link to each of these books on Amazon in case you want to check out some of my favorites also.cousins

Friends from throughout all my life – I am so blessed to be in contact with friends from throughout my life, people with whom I went to elementary, high school, and college together; friends from church since I was a child; 1st and 2nd cousins who are all around the country.  Many of these folks I reconnected with through Facebook, but over the years, I have been especially conscious of seeing them in person because that is so much better.  My latest new connection is the daughter of my friend who passed away a few years Unknownago.  I found her on Facebook, and we have messaged each other, and I am so happy to know she and her family are doing well.

So, maybe I should say social media – it has connected me with so many people from my life.  I don’t like it for the political and other rantings, I love it for the connection with people whom I have come to care very much about.

utilitiesElectricity and plumbing – something I truly take for granted, but be without it and think how your day is.  Warmth in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, lights at night, water to drink, cook with, and take showers.  All these are taken for granted, yet our forefathers, did not have these and there are many people all over the world who are without these utilities.

That’s my off the top of my head list.  It just has made me think how truly grateful I am for everything.  What are on your list?  What little or big things do you take for granted, and maybe you should stop for a moment, and just thank God for these things.

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Are You Grateful?

Yesterday I took out some time to reflect on my life. I couldn’t find a single thing to complain about, instead I found a whole lot of things for which I am grateful. I know, it’s not Thanksgiving yet. It never hurts to be thankful any time of year.  As Thanksgiving is approaching, maybe I can inspire you to think about the things you that make you grateful. Here is my list:

Men in My Life
I have four sons, and four years ago, I got to add a husband and step son to the list. They are all very different. Now granted, four of them kind of look similar, but they are definitely distinct individuals. My oldest son was born in September of 1972, and my youngest son was born in June of 1978. Yes, that’s four little boys in less than 6 years! (My Image 3mom said I was a bad bookkeeper)! As I had these babies, I expected they would all be born looking alike. How wrong I was. They all looked different as newborns, and even though they have many similar characteristics, they look alike and they don’t look alike. They definitely look related. They differ, from one being a risk taker and another being risk adverse. The youngest (like his mom who is a youngest) knows no strangers. He is the ham in the family—loved being on stage and in the action, although the oldest is that way also. Numbers 1 and 2 were in a rock band together in their youth, and number one son was the lead singer—no surprise there. Number 3 son was the quietest of them all, maybe because it was hard to be heard within the buzz of numbers 1 and 4! He is the one who thinks everything through. He doesn’t work without a plan, and he is successful in working out his plans. Even though he is the quietest of them all, people love him because he is genuinely sincere and loyal.

Four years ago I got married, and added two more great men to my life—my husband and his son. My husband who I wrote about before, so I won’t go into details, is so kind IMG_1062hearted. He cares for his 99 year old mom (okay, she’s not 99 until Saturday), and he loves his two brothers. He cares and treats my sons with love. His son, my newly acquired step-son, is so much like his dad. They look alike. He is smart, caring, and goofy just like his dad. How could I not love him when I see his dad in him! He and my sons just fit together like they have always known each other. They have much in common and have a great time when together. (They even get together when my husband and I are not around). Are any of these men in my life perfect? NO! They are real. They try their best. They admit when they are wrong. They work hard. They are full of life. They all enhance my life in ways that are beyond explanation. I love them all so much.

Extended Family
I get blown away when I think about my extended family. I had two older sisters who mean the world to me. One passed away five years ago, and I still miss her everyday. I am connected to my sisters’ children (5 nephews and 1 niece). I love seeing them and have been blessed to get to know them and their families as they have moved into adulthood, and some have even become grandparents themselves. My extended family is huge. My dad was the oldest of eight children, and my mom was one of four children. I have only one aunt and two uncles still with us today, and I have dozens upon dozens of cousins all around the country. Some of these cousins I knew well because I was raised with them as a child, and we have kept in touch over the years. Some I didn’t get to know until I met them on Facebook, but I feel very connected to them, and I look forward to meeting them in person whenever the opportunity arises. Some i have met as my husband and I have traveled and ended up visiting in the cities my cousins live. I am very different from my cousins in many ways, but also very much alike. There is a strong tie with them. I also have extended family that includes my husband’s relatives. l am so grateful that I have two great brothers-in-law and two great sisters-in-law, and have gotten to know their wonderful children also. I also have dear family ties to those I was related by  previous marriage. These people are still special to me, and our friendships have lasted over the years. Nieces and nephews, along with cousins, related through friendship now.

Where I Live
IMG_5356I live in a big, beautiful home in the country sitting on a small lake (large pond) with a big in-ground pool, and a great screened-in porch that looks over the woods and lake. I haven’t always had a beautiful home like this. I raised four boys in a home that was only 800 square feet. To do that was difficult, and sometimes I had a difficult time paying the mortgage or the utilities. The kitchen was so small that If we were having dinner at the kitchen table, and one of the boys wanted another glass of milk, someone had to get up and push their chair under the table so we could open the refrigerator to get the milk. IMG_0026Over the years since then, I turned my life around, figured out how to have a career I loved that paid an excellent wage, and even had a modest 3-bedroom home built new from the ground up. I don’t need to have this large of a home, and one day we will downsize. Maybe because I lived without a lot in my younger days, stuff is not important to me. I don’t need to fill a home with stuff. I just need memories and love to surround me. But, I am grateful for this home in the woods, for the serenity it provides, the opportunity to have many guests, and for a whole new outlook on life away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Where I Have Traveled
IMG_2475In my last jobs before retiring, I did a fair amount of business travel. They weren’t always exciting places to be, but they were a new landscape for me, and I appreciated every opportunity I had to be somewhere new. Between work meetings, and career conferences, I traveled to Los Angeles, San Diego, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., North Carolina, Chicago, Connecticut, Iowa, and Michigan. Since I have retired and married to the king of road trips, I have seen southern states, western states, part of New England, and everywhere in between. Next year we have reservations to see England, Germany, and France. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to see so much of the world. I am grateful for every short trip and every long trip I have taken.

What I Have Done For A Living

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Yes, I photoshopped my head to this because she is typing on an IBM Selectric typewriter!

In college I majored in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Nice fields of study, but what does one do with only a Bachelor of Science degree in these fields? The year was 1970, and I had no idea how to find a job. I went on an interview, and in the course of the interview, I was asked if I could type. Not realizing that this would put me in a box, I willingly took their typing test, and scored above 70 words per minute, and I was offered a job as a secretary. This was in the days before administrative assistants. I was required to have a pot of coffee with the Wall Street Journal on my boss’s desk when he arrived to work. I was a horrible secretary. I couldn’t figure out why these guys couldn’t do some of this work themselves—did they really need a mommy at work? I went back to school. I thought I would have to get a new bachelors degree, but fortunately the school I talked to thought that my 17 years in the workforce could prepare me to get my MBA (Masters of Business i_love_hr_mugAdministration), as long as I could pass the entrance exam (GMAT—Graduate Management Admissions Test). I enrolled and received my MBA, and tailored my learning in the area of Human Resources. At that time, there were no HR graduate degrees. I worked some really bad paying, entry level HR jobs, just to have it on my resume. My first HR management position was as a Manager of Human Resources for a credit union where the employees had just certified a union. I negotiated their first 2 union contracts. This position, although not a high paid one, gave me a background that led me to larger companies with larger pay. By the time I retired, I was a Senior Human Resources Manager at a Fortune 100 company. I loved my career. I still dip my toes into the HR world by doing occasional consulting with large and small companies needing some extra help. I am so grateful for this opportunity to have a positive impact in the lives of employees.

My Friends
I have never realized how much my friends mean to me. My friendships have deepened over the years. In the last 10 years, I have reconnected with many from high school. We are very different, but we care about each other—we celebrate when they have good news, and we grieve with together over illness and death. Every so often I will get together with a friend I have not seen in years or even decades, and we pick up where we left off, just like we never missed a beat. What a blessing to have these friends.

God Who Loves Me Unconditionally
The thing I am most thankful for is my faith. I have gone through a lot of seasons in my life, some good and some bad. Some of those seasons I thought God was mad at me and had abandoned me. As I searched for my “higher power” as I was recovering from my codependent behavior, I realized, that God had never left me, nor was he angry with me. He was there waiting for me to come back. God has blessed me in so many ways since, with my family, my extended family, my career and my friends, that I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy.

Gratitude has many benefits for us.  It affects us emotionally by making us more relaxed, more resilient, and less envious.  Our personalities are affected by making us less self-centered, more optimistic, and having increased self-esteem.  It affects our health with improved sleep and increased energy.  It affects us socially because having a grateful heart deepens relationships, makes us kinder, and increases our friendships.  Those who show gratitude make better managers at work, have increased productivity, and improved decision making skills.  In all these areas of life, when there is gratitude, happiness follows.  Gratitude is talked about a lot in 12-step groups, because it takes the focus off our dysfunctions, and puts the focus where it should be, and we start the healing process.

At the end of this month we will be celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a day where we feast with those we love, but it is really a day that we should take time out and be grateful for all our blessings. We get so busy doing life, we forget to just sit back and take in all the great things that have happened in our life. Now is the time. Start making your list. Who and what are you grateful for?

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