The Value of Human Touch

I’ve always been an affectionate person by nature. I believe that there is nothing that speaks silently with more value than an embracing hug. (And I have hugged a tree, though in my defense, I was drunk at the time, ran into a tree, hugged it and apologized to it!)

I’m also a pet lover – dogs more than cats, but I like friendly cats (or cats that are declawed, at least). I don’t have a pet. My original landlord had a ‘no pets’ clause in the lease, My bestie is also fearful of dogs in general. When new management took over and the first new tenant came with a cat, I assumed the no pet clause has been relaxed. As much as I often want to have a dog – have the name “Biscuit” picked out so it fits either gender – the cost of a pet has kept me at bay.

The governor of my state (Pennsylvania, USA) has officially extended the ‘stay home’ policy until April 30th. I’ve mentioned being a homebody anyhow, but I’m now at the point where I’m really starting to miss interaction. I have spoken to one person in the last several weeks – my upstairs neighbor who always knocks on my door when she’s going out to see if I need anything. I have only gone to the grocery store twice in the last month, using self check-out both times. I’ve picked up one prescription refill using the drive-thru window, a short business conversation with a relative stranger.

I am grateful for the relationships I have through the Internet, but I finally had to talk to myself out loud the other night simply to make sure my voice still worked! And I’m really starting to crave a good hug – to be honest, a mediocre hug will help! I’m envious of those of you who share a home with other human(s) or animal(s) whom you can at least talk to and be physically loving. I feel bad feeling bad about my need, when it’s so simple compared to so many people suffering far worse during this pandemic.

And yet, I’ve actually started to get a bit anxious about going out, even to the grocery store. With chronic sinusitis and the onset of spring allergies, I don’t go long without having to blow my nose, and I can just imagine envisioning people taking determined steps to move even farther away from me than the social distancing protocol!

I have always valued human touch, but I know many people who don’t really care for it much. To you, I challenge you to recognize the message within it, especially during these times. If you can hug someone, I encourage you to do it pronto! Social media shows photos of people being separated from their loved ones by glass in a hospital while their loved one lays dying. They will have no chance to give that final hug, to whisper that final “I love you” into their ear. Much like the events of 9/11, this pandemic is a wake-up call to us to show our love while we can.

Hug your spouse, hug your kids, hug your pets. We all need to be touched and tomorrow is not promised. And as God as my witness, assuming I survive this pandemic, those I love are going to get the biggest, longest hugs I have ever given out! Never forget the value of human touch!

Happy Blogversity to Me – 4/2/20

It’s almost overwhelming to realize that my blog has now been live and active for a year! I mean, I set out with the hope that it would continue to be a place for me to share written words, perhaps inspire others with those words and to propel my thoughts and feelings out into the universe. I know from comments on my blogs (major thank yous to those of you who comment!) that I do inspire some folks now and again, and that is truly the biggest gift that I get from writing it!

Though no blogger would ever turn down having a slew of followers and commenters, I didn’t think about that when I first set out on this venture. To be honest, I expected it to be like a ‘home sales’ project – you get your family and friends on-board out of, perhaps, some sense of obligation, but after that, you expect your growth to stagnate. And yet, when I look at the number and see that I have 123 followers, I realize that I may personally know 20 or 25 of them at the most! The rest of my followers are people who only follow me because something I’ve written along the way has brought meaning to them and they wanted to make certain to be present in case I write something in the future with meaning as well. To you, those people with whom I am connected only by technology, thank you for your support and belief that I have something good to say!

I’m certainly not someone who has made it a habit to post every day (bless those of you who can do that!), and my articles certainly are random and all over the place in terms of theme and content. I had no concept of how I would continue this blog – I’d only started it to share some of what I thought, and still think, were the best writings I’d ever done – and realize that what I’ve continued to write since then has often been a mirror of some moment in real time in my life. Someone says something that flips the switch to “on” for an idea that I want to explore further, and my blog posts become about that exploration.

At times throughout the last year, I thought that this blog might die off from neglect. To be honest, that is a fear I will probably carry on throughout this journey. When thoughts for article ideas aren’t sparked, I don’t know the magic button to push to make something mundane into a sustainable blog post. I don’t honestly believe I have a muse of any kind who is assisting me in that way. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the sparks of thoughts that come from interactions with other people (many of you follow this blog and know who you are!) in the daily course of life. To you, I say thank you for being a part of my life in a way that enhances my ability to write here.

To each and every one of you, thank you for hanging out here with me this past year! I am very grateful to all of you who take the time to read what I write. My blog is one drop in a bucket that contains thousands of really great writers and blogs, and I am humbled and honored to have the following that I do have! Seriously, thank you, thank you, thank you!

This, That and the Other…

I have been a homebody long before it was “cool”, so staying home isn’t nearly as stressful to me as it is to others. I am, however, discovering the nuance between choosing to stay home and being forced to stay home. Because my kitchen is my happy place, I’ve often enjoyed my usual weekly jaunts to the grocery store, but even those aren’t happening on a regular schedule. And when I DO go, it’s to pick up necessities from a list, not wander the aisles dilly-dallying over what appeals to my eyes at the moment. Unfortunately, my regular store recently underwent an internal remodel, and I spend more time than I’d like simply because things in the center aisles have been moved to new locations, many of which make no sense to me. They no longer seem to put ‘like’ things together. What was once crackers on one side and cookies directly across is now crackers on one side and cat food directly across. The dog food is someplace else, and the cookies might be next to the bottled juices. I know I’ll eventually figure it out again – I mean, it took a while to get used to this store’s system when I moved here – but this is not the time I want to be figuring it out!

My bestie and I cancelled our monthly lunch out for March, which would have been the day before everything closed up, and even though she lives only a mile away, I haven’t seen her in far too long. Our plans for a show and overnight trip for this coming weekend, of course, were cancelled as well. It’s been months since we have made one of our thrift store/foodie shopping day trips to Lancaster County, and I was looking forward to that as well! While the food stores will probably be open, I suspect that pickings will be slim, just as they are here. It doesn’t seem worth the 3-hour round trip just to discover that what we’re coveting can’t be found!

Speaking of that, I don’t really enjoy shopping at Walmart, and I’ve always made Walmart runs only for my coffee pods, paper products, cleaning supplies, etc. As such, I always have had a surplus, as I usually buy everything I buy from there when I go, whether or not my supply of it is running low. As such, when the toilet paper crisis hit, I was in decent shape…. and had plenty of boxes of tissues as a back-up. I was there right after the toilet paper crisis started, and, of course, the shelves were barren. At the time I had 12 rolls, so I didn’t panic. I went back once, and although there was a sign limiting how much you could buy, the shelves were again (or still?) empty. On a whim, I looked on Amazon and found they had quite a few varieties (non brand-names) available and in stock. Crisis diverted and back-up plan in place! Until….. I went looking again the other day and found they still have some – all made in China and shipping from China with an anticipated delivery time of 4 to 6 weeks. Crikey! Plan B failure! Now what?

And, while I still have some boxes of tissues, my chronic sinusitis and the onset of allergy season having me using from my stockpile for my actual nose! Egad! I glanced, as I always do, at the sponsored ads on Facebook, and saw one for Angel Soft toilet paper. I went to it, because I’m good, at best, for about two more weeks. I ended up ordering some. As a brand name (I usually buy the Walmart generic brand), it was a bit more expensive, and I paid for expedited shipping, which means I should receive it within 7 to 12 days, but I ordered enough to easily last me for two more months, if not longer. I’m hoping that things will be better overall in another 60+ days!

Surprisingly, the last time I made the (unsuccessful) trip to Walmart, I noticed that the Dollar Tree, in the same shopping center, was open, so I stopped in. Of course, there were no rolls of toilet paper to be found, but I got my shampoo and soap and stuff I usually get there. I asked the cashier how they could be open, and was told that they are an ‘essential’ store since they sell some food and a bunch of over-the-counter medicine. Go figure!

I don’t eat a lot of fast food or take-out pizza. Our little town’s only option for fast food is McDonalds. It’s drive-thru has been sporadically open, usually on a nice-weather Saturday or Sunday. I only know that because it’s in the same shopping area as my grocery store. There is a Dominos pizza place, but I think their pizza is average at best. Ace Hardware can remain open – you know, in case someone has a plumbing issue or something – but people are shopping there to get out of their houses and starting to buy lawn and garden stuff, including all of the ornamental stuff. I get it, but I don’t get it….

The biggest plus to this stay home policy is that I am making a small dent in my ‘to be read’ pile of books. I am not really a big TV watcher, but I still tend to turn it on to see if anything interests me. Kudos for the Hallmark Channel for re-running Christmas “feel good” movies.

So, what is everybody else doing to keep themselves occupied? It may be a while until we return to normal and I suspect we will all be facing a new normal once this all passes. I hope that people are taking some time to count their blessings, when things we’ve taken so easily for granted are no longer taken for granted. And I remind everyone that we’ll get through this either by laughing or by crying. Me personally? I’m saving my tissues, because you just never know….. Meanwhile, here are a couple of “funnies” that won’t make you cry!

Emotional Contagion

Rachel’s fear and guilt resonate with me, as I suspect is true for many of us!


There are no bombs falling, no explosions or fireworks. The world looks pretty nice, actually, and everyone I can see looks healthy, even with the face masks. There are no workers in Tyvek suits walking the streets spraying for errant Coronavirus droplets. At least, not yet. So, while doing the right thing, and staying home, I feel a bit silly. It’s hard to trust the experts on television instead of what I see with my own eyes. The President clearly struggles with this, too, but those images from Italy and Spain are hard to ignore (the horror stories on Facebook, about monkeys in Thailand starving for the bananas they used to get from tourists, and pets in China dying while their people went into quarantine, and dogs being euthanized because people believe – incorrectly! – that pets can spread the disease, are too much for me to take in).

281 “People…

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Gratitude for the Small Things

In these trouble times, in our country and all around the world, it’s easy for all of us to grumble about what’s going on. But this morning, I took a moment to be grateful for an object I have in my home, and it led me on a journey to find other things, that I often take for granted, for which to be thankful.

I’m thankful for my Brita pitcher. My Keurig works better with filtered water, and I drink water which I prefer to taste like, well, like nothing! Store shelves last week were empty of all of the gallons of spring/distilled water, and the cases of bottled water were flying from the shelves at a rapid pace (I saw one couple loading 4 cases into their vehicle). My trusty Brita pitcher, which I never think about being a big deal, is something I can be grateful for!

I’m grateful that I don’t buy much from – or care for shopping at – our local Walmart. I buy my paper and cleaning products there, so when I’m getting a little low on something, I stock up on everything I might be running a little low on in the near future at the same time. Yes, eventually I will run low again (toilet paper will probably be the first thing, heaven forbid!), but I’m good for a least 2 more weeks, and there are other brands at the grocery store I can purchase if need be. So yea, I’m grateful that I don’t like shopping at Walmart and make certain I’m well stocked when I DO shop there!

I’m grateful that I’m a “nester” by instinct each winter, so my pantry is also in decent shape. This would be the time I would start letting things run down, with spring to come sometime soon. I’m the same way with my freezer foods. If it wouldn’t be for the fact that I use milk in my coffee, I could stay away from the grocery stores for a good month or more before things started to look like Mother Hubbard’s cupboards!

I’m grateful that my medications, except for one, come in 90-day supplies. I’m also grateful that my drug store has a drive-thru window for medication pickup, so I don’t have to worry about social distance when I do need to get a refill.

I’m grateful that I have a large to-be-read pile of books. Yes, sometimes I’m grumpy about wondering if I’ll ever get through them, but I’m grateful to know they are there to entertain me.

I’m grateful that I’m a homebody by nature. My calendar remains largely clear of things to do except doctor appointments, hair appointments and nail appointments. I’m a little sad that my bestie and I decided to cancel our monthly lunch date, because I really enjoy that one-on-one time in person. But we’ve got emails and texts and a standing monthly lunch date, so we will keep in contact and eventually reconnect in person for that quality time.

I’m grateful for the electronic technology that often makes me want to pull my hair out, but also allows me to stay in contact with friends, even those scattered across the globe, and I am savvy enough to be able to do my banking needs online.

I’m grateful that, except for the grocery store and occasional trips to the thrift stores, I don’t like shopping in general. This gal will suffer no withdrawal from all of the stores being closed!

If I put some thought into it, I could easily come up with more things that I take for granted in my normal, everyday life – and I think with a little thought, you, too, could find things in your life that, during this time, you should be grateful for. In fact, I encourage you to take a little time and discover what they are in YOUR life. Turn the negativity into positive feelings about your blessings, even the smallest ones. Your psyche will appreciate you if you do!

The Numbing Down of America

Though I still remember the phrase “The Dumbing Down of America”, I honestly can’t remember the specific reason it became such a well-known one. But I’ve decided to call these times “The Numbing Down of America”.

I hope I’m not the only person who has gotten to this place of becoming “numb” to the news. For me, it started with the Impeachment trial. Every news media – paper/print, radio, TV, Internet – had constant information about it. The information seemed contradictory at times, depending upon the views of the writer/owner of the news source. I’m a headline reader of the news, more apt to catch what informational details I get from our local TV news. At some point, as the Impeachment trial was coming to a close, I remember saying to my bestie, “I no longer care who wins and who loses – I just want it to be over.” News was coming at me from so many different sources, constantly, that becoming numb to it was the only way I felt I could stop feeling like I was being bounced off the rocks of a steep cliff…. whatever my fate would be, I just wanted to reach the bottom.

And now, it’s the Coronavirus. Once again, regardless of the source, the news has become overwhelming. The numbers of positive cases around the world change in a heartbeat. The ‘advice’ of what to do/what not to do varies so much that most of us have no choice but to follow our gut instincts. The financial strain on the country and its people is unfathomable, and for most of us, money will dictate how each of us handles the crisis as it continues to evolve. The common sense approach is to self-quarantine for two weeks (not a big problem for me as I’m largely a homebody anyhow), but another headline I just saw said that it would be present until mid-September. The headline that really made me panic, however, was the one which said that people can be positive for the Coronavirus without showing any of its symptoms! If that is true, then the odds are in the favor that somewhere in this country, there are cashiers in grocery stores and drugstores, pharmacists, workers in take-out restaurants, etc. who maybe a carrier of the Coronavirus as well as any one of us! So self-quarantining and avoiding large gatherings helps, but it’s not a certain way to avoid becoming a victim!

After the events of 9/11, we as a country reminded each other that we can’t live in fear. Yet, this Coronavirus is causing so many to do just that. And I can’t say I blame them! I have to numb myself in order to not let the overwhelming news, full of contradictions, take over and instill that great a fear in me!

As I said earlier, I’m pretty much a homebody anyhow. I will still need to have trips to the grocery store, but when need arises, instead of weekly as I usually do. I kept my car inspection appointment on Monday, and will keep my hair appointment next week. I will continue to be grateful that I support small businesses for these kinds of things, lessening my chance of being around a group of more than 2 or 3 people at a time. I will continue to hope and pray that I’m not a non-symptomatic carrier of the Coronavirus, nor shall I come in contact with someone who is. I will consider it a blessing that, though I’m still (and will always be) technology inept, I can do banking and bill-paying and shopping online, as well as find entertainment. But I will not succumb to fear! If that means I have to be numb to the constant news barrage being throwing at me, so be it!

I hope we all get through this unscathed. I’ll do a little dreaming that maybe something that affects us around the world might bring us a little closer as humanity on earth. I will trust my gut and its instincts.

I will hope that all of my readers are doing the best they can in these troubled times. Please use common sense, but don’t let the fear overtake you! Peace to all!

Don’t Fake Being Strong!

I was recently again given the opportunity to hear the story of someone’s life and to again discover that we humans have amazing strength in overcoming what seem like insurmountable traumas dealt to us by this thing we call life. Had I not had the opportunity to hear that story, I would never have guessed that this person had been through so much and managed to come out okay from the long, dark tunnel ride that happened. I’ve heard several similar stories over the past few months, and realized that, in each instance, I felt a more intense bond with the person sharing the story.

When we see someone who appears strong and pulled together, we take that appearance is gospel. Often, we envy those people who appear so strong and wish we felt as together as they appear. People at large would see me as strong, independent and determined (or stubborn, depending on your point of view!). I would agree with those opinions.

But when someone appears to be strong, do we tend to think that person has everything under control, can adapt quickly to whatever happens or doesn’t feel pain when something bad happens? Or do we understand from human nature that some people are better equipped at bearing their crosses silently, not, perhaps, wanting to be seen as weak and/or needy? After all, we tend to reach out to the strong people in our lives at times when our strength is suffering. What would happen if they weren’t strong enough to help us through when we reached?

This reminds me of a life lesson I learned long ago. I may have briefly mentioned it in a previous blog, but this is a good time to tell it in better detail. I got married a week before my 21st birthday. I got married primarily because I had returned home with my parents after quitting college, and didn’t agree with the strictness they were still imparting upon me at the ages of 19 and 20 as they had when I was a younger teenager. My husband was someone I had started dating, although much of our ‘dating’ time was hanging out at his parents’ house. I was sitting with his mom at the kitchen table (the gathering place if nothing was on TV. Rick came in from the living room to get a drink and while he was doing so, I was venting about life in my parents’ house and swore that it was so frustrating that I would marry the first man who asked me. Rick dropped then and there to his knee and proposed. Honestly, I liked him enough that I was certain it would grow into love, and I’d sworn to marry the first man who asked me, so I said yes. We were married within 6 months.

Fast forward to 9 months later – no, no baby! – and I was bored. He did contract work with electricians, and was only working when a job was available. I was working a full-time administrative job with the American Red Cross. I learned pretty quickly not to drive home after work, but to go to his parents’ house, because that is where Rick would be.

Upon returning home to our apartment late one night (we were usually there until close to midnight because his dad worked until 11PM and we had to wait and say hello), we got into a discussion that led to a fight that led to me telling him that he had to make a choice between me and his mother where he wanted to spend his time. He called his parents and told them he was coming home.

The next day, I called off work because I hadn’t slept. I went over to my neighbor’s apartment after I knew she was awake, and when she opened the door, she asked me what the H was wrong with me. It was then and there that I fell completely apart. I spilled it all – how and why things soured, how I was feeling like a failure, etc., etc., etc. When I’d finally gathered myself together a bit, Barb put her arms around me and softly said, “I feel so much closer to you now. Through all of the saga of dramas (and lawdie, there wasn’t a day she didn’t have some kind of drama!), you’ve always been so strong. But now, I finally get to see that you’re human, too.”

Although I still struggle with not appearing strong and independent, and will most likely be a work in progress for the rest of my life, I have begun opening up more about times when I’m not feeling strong. Blogging has been my greatest asset in doing this, as most of my followers and readers are unknowns to me, and I don’t have to worry what they think about me. Of the few followers and readers I do know, a large majority of them have shown that they, too, not only like, but approve me showing my humanness! I’m being more open to asking – sometimes begging – for people to take me down off the pedestal they sometimes try to put me on. It becomes so tiring to try and constantly balance being what people want/need you to be with being authentically genuine – good or bad. Dr. Perry, Ph.D (he has a blog as well) wrote recently that we all have an evil side, and that’s a part of the complexity of humanness to have it. Much like how we all have a good side as well, it’s not the existence of either but how we choose to use them. That has helped me so much recently! I admit that I have some thoughts of ways to seek revenge for what’s recently happened to me, but I know I won’t act upon those thoughts.

So, it is with my own experience that I encourage others to not fake being strong. Allow yourself to be human, remembering that there are others who you CAN reach out to. Sometimes you can work through things simply by putting them “out into the universe” – like blogging – and release much of their weight in doing so. As for mistakes – we’re all going to make them! But we need mistakes in order to learn! Now, I’m not suggesting that you go out in search of ways you can make mistakes, merely that you recognize your mistake, learn from it, grow from it, and be okay with having made it. In fact, don’t call them mistakes – they are, after all, life lessons!