Nineteen Minutes

I’ve only ever once before written a book review here, but I just finished this book (Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult) and it has shaken me to the core.

I have NEVER read a fictional story that was so on-point to suspect it was non-fiction! Towards the end, my hands were shaking and I was teary-eyed. I’m not going to be a spoiler, but I want to share one excerpt that struck me like an arrow through the heart:

“Sterling (the name of the town in the book, substitute your town’s name) isn’t the inner city. You don’t find crack dealers on Main Street or households below the poverty level. The crime rate is virtually non-existent.

“That’s why people are so shell-shocked.

” They ask, “How could this happen here?

“Well, how could it not happen here?

“All it takes is a troubled kid with access to guns.

“You don’t have to go to an inner city to find someone who meets those criteria. You only have to open your eyes. The next likely candidate might be upstairs, or sprawled in front of your TV right now. But hey, you just go on pretending it won’t happen here. Tell yourself that you’re immune because of where you live or who you are.

“It’s easer that way, isn’t it?”

It may be a fictional book, but that’s an honest truth in our world! Every parent, every person who works in or for a school, anyone who works in an after-school program… We’ve all read about the victims of bullying and felt compassion. We’ve all listened, stunned, to four years of bullying coming from the highest political office. We all think it can’t be our kid who is being bullied or that it can’t be our kid who is doing the bullying. We don’t know how to truly protect the victims of bullying and so we often try to ‘sweep it under the rug’ and hope it will go away. Parents who have a child with violent and disruptive tendencies want to believe that it’s ‘just a phase and something the child will grow out of’ because those parents don’t know how to deal with it, either!

It’s time that we ALL open our eyes and see things as they are and take true and meaningful actions necessary to care for both the bully and the victim(s). Lip service just isn’t going to cut it anymore!

If your child is any one of them in this picture, you’re not doing your part!
This needs to be taught in school and adults need to stand up and take action against it happening!

Knowledge Sponge

“I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. But… I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!”

If you’ve never heard that type of line before, it’s from a 15-or-so year old marketing tool used for the Holiday Inn Express hotel model. The idea was that everyone already knew you were smart because you chose a Holiday Inn Express for your previous night’s stay!

I chose that line as the opening segment for this post because I’ve been doing so much research online lately that I feel like I’m somehow smarter… or at least, more informed. Much of it has evolved around the COVID vaccine, but I’ve drifted off to also become interested in how marshmallows are made!

The more I read/learn about the COVID vaccine, the more I realize I need to learn. That is an extremely difficult task, as this type of vaccine is brand-new, never been tried before. It doesn’t use weak cells of an actual virus, like flu vaccines do, to start your body producing antibodies against the strength of the virus should you contract it. Like every vaccine, it doesn’t offer any kind of guaranteed protection from getting the virus, but merely makes your body ready to fight it off, meaning it shouldn’t last as long until you body is able to fight it off, and in most cases, the vaccine will help weaken the symptoms that go along with the virus.

So many people blindly think that, once they get the vaccine, they are no longer contagious and are exempt from contracting it. That’s simply not true! In essence, a vaccine is like a prescription medicine taken before you become sick – it allows your body a pre-emptive strike against the illness should you contract it.

There are people throughout the world who, for whatever reason, are refusing to take the vaccine. Some are concerned about the long-term effects, since it’s a brand-new drug that hasn’t had the liberty of being tested long enough to know anything about the long-term effects, if there will be any at all. Some (like me) don’t fear the vaccine but fear the process of delivering it. Some (also like me) are fearful of the immediate after-effects of the injection.

My bestie told me that it was suggested to her to get the vaccine in her dominant arm. This concerned me, because that’s the same arm where I had the drawn-out shoulder problems, and I don’t want to risk any adverse problems from using that arm. So, I read up on the suggestion and found that the prominent arm is suggested only because we will always tend to use our dominant arm more than our non-dominant arm, and the movement will help the vaccine move quicker into the body! Whew! Mine is definitely going in my non-dominant arm, and if that’s a concern of yours for any reason, rest assured that either arm is acceptable!

Recently, I had someone tell me that he would refuse the vaccine because he believes that part of why it was created using RNA was to inject it in to mess with our DNA and emasculate all men. (Hmm, in theory then, wouldn’t it make all females become more masculinized?) Obviously, that’s just a conspiracy theory that has no basis in fact, because I researched it to be sure.

So, I’ve been researching, reading more and more. Sometimes I’ve found conflicting theories, and I’ve had to look further, to learning from where the theory came and how many qualified professionals of the scientific and medical background agree or disagree with a theory. It’s been interesting and surprisingly, an enjoyable task! Although I did well in school, I can’t help but wonder how much better I could have done if I’d applied this much energy to my studies!!

I don’t know all the answers – but honestly, nobody has ALL the answers yet. But I feel amazingly well-informed and more willing to get the vaccine based on the principle of what it is intended to do. I also already know that I will be “masking up” in all public places long after any mandates to do so have expired. Who I am at my core insists that I want and need to be a part of any qualified solution, and right now, the vaccine is the best solution we’ve got! Reports are that the success rate has been 95+%, though I’m not sure how that statistic has been decided. But if I can possibly save one other person by getting the vaccine, then I will be taking part.

What are your thoughts?

Around-the-House Hacks – VII

Now that the holidays are behind us (trying to make the best of them in 2020 was no easy task!) and with many of us still choosing to ‘stay-at-home’ as much as possible, whether or not a lockdown is in place, and many of us facing the cold of winter, we’ve got time to clean out and organize for 2021! Thrift stores have been reaping major benefits in the amount of donations received recently because people have spent lockdown time doing just that – cleaning out and organizing – so let’s keep going on the right track with these helpful – and relatively inexpensive – hints!

Do you find yourself regularly buying frozen veggies? Do you find your freezer overwhelmed by several half-opened frozen food bags from past shopping trips? If you want to organize your freezer while maintaining its accessibility, consider using this life hack! Purchase a collection of sturdy paper clips/chip bag seals for use in your freezer. As you can see in the picture below, you can seal your frozen veggies while keeping them off of the surface of the freezer. Not only will you stop your food from accidentally being spilled, but you will also make your freezer appear larger than ever!

Bonus: You can easily see what you have!

When the temperatures begin to rise, you won’t find us going far without wearing our favorite tank top. While tank tops are enormously flexible pieces of clothing, they can be a pain in the neck to try and store. After all, tank tops are too light for regular hangers and too nice to be tossed in the sock drawer. Instead of giving up on your tank top collecting, you can hang all of your tank tops at once with this simple life hack. Simply use a hanger and inexpensive shower curtain clasps to put all of your tank tops onto a single hanger. Easy, right?

Bonus: This works well for eternity scarves, too!

Who doesn’t like a great grilled cheese sandwich? If you are like most people, you probably can enjoy a slice of the finest comfort food known to man. For those chefs looking to make their grilled cheese as effortlessly as possible, consider turning your toaster into a one-machine grilled cheese producer! Unplug your toaster and flip it onto its side. Lightly butter one side of the bread and place it butter side down, then place a slice of cheese and slip it into each toaster slot, as shown in the photo. Now all you have to do is toast your bread like normal, this time with the cheese on top! Once you unlock this life hack, you will never go back.

Bonus: A 4-slot toaster means 2 at a time! Double bonus: No pan to wash!

When the temperature begins to rise or an injury occurs, it can be nice to have a tool handy to cool down the injury site or where you’re feeling extra warm. This is a great and inexpensive hack for your own ice pack! For this simple lifehack, you need a good quality freezer bag, water, and rubbing alcohol. Mix 3 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol in your freezer bag. Add a little bit of glitter or food coloring to the container to give the ice pack some decoration, if you like. Freeze the bag and use it as much as you like!

Bonus: inexpensive way to keep an ice chest cool when traveling! Make before traveling and just refreeze nightly!

There is no power greater than that of the rigid plastic container. Rigid plastic cases are the bane of parents around the world, especially when Christmas rolls around. If you want to avoid getting cut while opening this rigid plastic, you can bust out the handy can opener. Rigid plastic packages can be opened by simply treating them as a piece of metal with your can opener. Line up the can opener along the edge, ensure a tight grip, and then proceed to spin the tool to begin cutting. You’ll be amazed at how easy these packages are to open now!

Bonus: Dollar stores sell these cheap, so buy enough to have one in several rooms!

You wake up to find you are suffering from a sore throat.  It is raw, scratchy, and just plain old sore.  What do you do?  You could use a lozenge, or cough syrup to help get past it.  Or you could try another method.  What would that method be?  Well, you simply bust out a big ole bag of marshmallows.  Yep, you heard me right—marshmallows.  Sap from marshmallow plants has been used for centuries in the treatment of coughs, cold and yes, sore throats.  According to health officials, the marshmallow coating which consists of gelatin is what aids in soothing and relieving a sore throat.  Who knew, that everyone’s favorite s’more ingredient did double duty to soothe your throat as well.

Bonus: They taste great, too!

Hopefully, you’ll find one or two of these hacks worth investigating! I’m always looking for hacks, so if you have any that are tried and true, please share them with me!

Vaccine: Yes or No?

There is obviously a lot of talk these days about the vaccines that are becoming available against the COVID-19 virus. News varies depending upon where you get the news. Of course, that’s been true for a while now, whether about the pandemic or about politics.

At some point, sooner rather than later because I’ll turn 65 in 2021, I will be able to get the vaccine. The people who have received it already and have mentioned that the only side-effect has been a sore arm have made me a bit hesitant. From having more than one Tetanus shot in my life, I’m well aware that a shot like this will not only make my arm sore, but will cause it to turn a bright red about 1 circular inch around the injection site and the red area will be very hot to the touch for about 3 days, along with slight swelling.

I know that I shouldn’t let this temporary discomfort make me choose not to get the vaccine, but I also know how that discomfort can feel for several days.

Meanwhile, those who have shouted loudly about not wanting to wear a mask are shouting loudly now about not getting the vaccine. I’m hearing a lot of “My body, my choice!”. I have resolved to remain quiet in response to those people, because if they obviously don’t understand that wearing a mask and/or getting the vaccine isn’t just about “YOU” but also about every person you choose to come in contact with, then they obviously aren’t open-minded enough to see anything but what is for them, and to heck with anybody else BUT them!

In a conversation recently, someone mentioned that a colleague was going to opt not to get the vaccine nor allow his two children to be vaccinated. His point was that this vaccine hasn’t been around long enough to know if it will have any long-term side effects or cause damage to the body down the road. And, to be honest, that is a very valid point. At my age, that doesn’t really mean as much to me (my body is slowly falling apart anyhow!), but as a parent, how would it feel to make the decision to have your child become vaccinated, only to find out that it could cause them medical issues down the road and/or for the rest of their life? And that’s true if you’re still a young adult, with the possibility of many more years of your life ahead of you.

After some additional thought about the vaccine, I figured “why the heck not?” and told myself that, when it’s my turn, I’ll get the vaccine.

And then TV started showing actual people getting the vaccine. The camera largely focused on the injection site itself, the pinching of the skin and muscle and the length of the needle. I immediately felt the muscles in my abdomen area tense up, my heart beat faster, and my breathing becoming faster as well. You see, I have never – EVER – looked at the needle before it’s inserted. I get quarterly blood draws for medical tests, and once the needle is in my arm, like seeing the tubes fill up with my blood. I don’t mind watching the needle being withdrawn because I can’t see it over the piece of gauze being held close by to cover the small hole in my skin. I give blood every 56 days to the American Red Cross. The needle is always a bit more painful at insertion because I have ‘rolling veins’ and they sometimes have to dig to get it secure, but once it’s inserted, my eyes can travel to where it is inserted and I have no problem seeing that. I’ve closed my eyes each and every time I’ve had Novocaine for dental work so I don’t see the needle approaching. I just simply never look at the actual needle!

I don’t get an annual flu shot. I had one many years ago, so long ago that I don’t remember how or if I had a reaction to it. Since I’ve never had a case of a respiratory flu (or if I did, it was so mild that I contributed any adverse reactions to my chronic sinusitis), and I have never (again, to the best of my knowledge) had a gastro-intestinal flu. My theory is to adapt the old saying of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

Now, granted, I can look away as the vaccine needle is inserted into my arm, but I saw so many videos on TV that I can’t un-see the look of the needle.

So, now I’m wavering again… I want to be part of the solution to get this virus under control, but honestly, even writing about it here, before it will ever happen, makes my abdomen muscles tighten up and my anxiety to climb.

At this point, I honestly don’t know what I will choose to do when I’m eligible for the vaccine. I am only around other people during my bi-weekly trips to the grocery store. My nail, hair and chiropractic services are all one-on-one, and they are scheduled four or more weeks between each appointment. I believe that I’m at a relatively low risk for contracting the virus, though I understand that there is no 100% guarantee, even with staying home, wearing a mask and social distancing.

Does anyone else share my fear? Does anyone else have simple solutions on ways to overcome this fear? No, I don’t want to hear “just bite the bullet” or “if I can do it, you can do it”. I need good, practical advice I can make my brain believe to help me get through doing it!

Superstitions

I am not, by nature, superstitious. I have no aversion to black cats over other colored cats. I have no fear of Friday the 13th or a full moon. I am not adverse to being on the 13th floor of a building (some buildings don’t have a 13th floor, just as some airplanes don’t have a 13th row.). I’m too lazy to walk extra steps to go around a ladder, so of course, I’ll walk under one. And while I would not look forward to the jagged mess of cleaning up a broken mirror, I don’t fear bad luck from having broken one. As a child, I remember the saying whenever you went for a walk on a sidewalk, of “Step on a crack, you break your mother’s back”! That wasn’t true! (It was an accident!)

On the other hand, I have been known to “knock on wood” at times, I tend to believe that bad luck comes in threes, prefer to win in a wishbone tugging contest (more from my competitive streak than from a bad luck perspective), I’ve crossed my fingers for luck, and if I were lucky enough to find one, I’d keep a 4-leaf clover (for its rarity more than any other reason).

If you grew up in or around the Pennsylvania Dutch area (Lancaster County, PA) or where the Amish gather in Ohio and West Virginia, you learned of what is considered a tradition for New Year’s Day, but the tradition is based on superstition. The tradition is to eat pork and sauerkraut (99.9% of the time with mashed potatoes). It is thought that eating pork and sauerkraut on the first day of the year will bring you luck in that year.

Digging deeper, you begin to understand why this superstition-based tradition made sense. Cabbage, which is green in raw form, is the color of money, so eating sauerkraut, which is nothing more than fermented cabbage, is thought to bring more wealth into your life in the coming year. Pork was chosen because pigs are known to root (or rut) forward with their noses when eating, indicating a desire to make progress forward into the new year. (On the other hand, chickens scratch backwards with their toes, which indicated that they would want to stay connected to the old year.) If you find longer shreds of sauerkraut on your plate when you eat this fare on New Year’s Day, it is said to symbolize longer life. That’s a lot of superstition packed into one meal!

Traditional way to make pork and sauerkraut – cooked together!

I enjoy pork and sauerkraut, so this is one of the ‘comfort’ foods I make when the weather begins to cool for the coming of winter. Because I had done so recently, and had some in the freezer, I decided to have it for my New Year’s Day meal. While the logical side of me 100% believes that having it has not changed my luck for 2021, after 2020, I figured, why not, just in case?

I would expect that different cultures might have different superstitions than those I’ve known all my life. I would LOVE to hear about any other superstitions you may have heard and how you feel about them. Please, feel free to share in the reply section!

Reflections

I don’t know if it’s the oddity of the world in 2020 or the realization that, despite that oddity, the clock continues to tick time by and moves me closer to making another revolution around the sun, but I seem to be spending a lot of time reflecting my life – not just this past year but memories that are 20, 30, even 40 years old. People who have passed through my life, who haven’t been thought about in a long while, become vivid again in my reflections. Some of those people have passed on, some of them have simply moved past the place where I fit in their life, or I’ve moved past the place where they fit into mine. I think that’s probably normal and something all of us experience through life, but sometimes I look at those same people all these years later and realize I have used the word “friend” far too liberally in the past; so many of those people were more simply colleagues I enjoyed working with than friends beyond work. Leave the job and we miss a few of them for a while, but we don’t give the effort to remain in the same close touch we had when we were together five days a week…. and what we had in common through that time becomes blurry as we go off and focus on the next step in our lives.

Thinking about all of that also reminds me how often we use the term “love” as a word of adoration or admiration we feel for someone, when, in truth, what sense of “love” we truly have for them is simply loving what it is they bring to our lives. More than once, when my chiropractor has done an especially good adjustment that my body needed, immediately afterwards, when the pain I’d been in is suddenly gone, I’m apt to say, “Oh my god, I love you!” Okay, I do like him, would be honored to have him as a friend, and love him with the same capacity with which I love all fellow humans, and fortunately, he knows what I’m saying when I say those words to him, but…. I nonetheless have expressed a personal love for someone who is not someone I couldn’t live without! It is in no way a romantic love or even the love one feels for a close friend. But honestly, at that moment, there is no one I feel I love more!

This year, because of some medical issues, including my dislocated shoulder, I have had to put myself first for probably the first time in my life. I have simply not physically been able to do and to be the person that people have always known me to be. I’ve also had to ask for assistance from my best friend and my brother on occasion, something that it always pains me to do. I’ve always had an internal struggle because I want to prove myself independent and capable, and that makes me not want to ask for help from anyone. And also, when things become really bad, I don’t feel like I really have a safe place to fall because I’ve built people’s expectations that I don’t need a place to fall!

2020 is coming to a close, and I’m pretty sure that no one is going to miss seeing it go. There were weddings and births that occurred in 2020 which were joyous events in the lives of people we love. But all of them were overshadowed by the pandemic that has plagued our world for most of the year. Celebrations were small-scaled and people had to ask many persons they wished to share in their celebration to stay away for precautionary and safety reasons. Pictures will be the only memory of those events.

A friend of mine recently stated that 2020 was a “different” year than all of the previous ones, but there have been good things that have happened as well as bad things. For this friend, a small business that was started in early 1999 grew exponentially in 2020, and the business became profitable within 15 months and remains so. And yes, the business grew in large part because of the pandemic. Many people are out of work, but many people are able to work from home because of technology and therefore still have their jobs. Many people work at jobs for which they are considered an ‘essential’ employee, and while they have had to take more risks by going to work every day, they still have a paycheck and income. Many restaurants have adapted to be able to offer take-out service and even delivery, meaning they could at least continue to make income and keep some of their workers employed. And one of my favorite things that happened in 2020 is that retailers finally returned to what Black Friday was intended to be and closed their doors on Thanksgiving Day, keeping them closed until 6 AM on Friday morning! Retailers, as well, have been able to turn their brick-and-mortar businesses into online businesses in order to continue to make some money and keep some workers employed. And those who did become unemployed because of the pandemic did have a substantial amount of time during which their unemployment benefits were increased to an amount that may have made them more money than their paychecks did!

I want 2020 to be over simply because I want all of these reflections to then go away as I look forward to the next year in my life. I remain a pessimistic optimist about the future. I want to be able to stop dwelling in what I’ve lost over the years of my life and reprogram my brain to count all of the things I DO have in my life. It’s not a palace, but I have a place to live. I’m not eating filet mignon every night (not even every year, to be honest), but I have enough food to feed my body. I do have health issues, but I still have all of my limbs and my body still functions, even if it’s slower and sometimes with mild pain. I have the best brother in the entire world and a pretty fantastic best friend who continue to be willing to ‘put up with’ me. I have other dear friends out there in different parts of the country – and the world – who care about me and my welfare.

I had all of those things in 2019, and I’ve not lost them in 2020. So my final reflection may be this: Learn to be more grateful for having what you need and less whiny about not having everything you want. In that light, I too am able to say that 2020 has just been a ‘different’ year.

POST SCRIPT: I have decided to take some time to go “off the grid” – to “unplug” – from all social media and socialization platforms which use the internet as their source. Like many, I’ve become numb to a lot of life because of the constant bombardment of negative news and dissonance when it seems obvious to me that we need more positive news and unitedness during these times. I cannot remove those things from the world, but I can remove them from being a constant in my life. This is a commitment of at least 8 days (Dec. 26th through Jan. 2nd) and I may be slow about returning to everything immediately. I won’t be writing blog posts during that time (I’ll jot down any ideas that come to me) nor reading any blog posts either. But this will surely be one of the first places I return to when my self-imposed sabbatical is over.

So, this is my last opportunity of the year to say ‘thank you’ to all of my readers for believing I have something worth value to share. And thank you to all of the amazing writers out there whose blog posts I always look forward to. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, joyous and safe holiday season, and I wish for all of us a new year that brings hope for a brighter future in 2021!

To you and yours…

‘Twas the Night Before Covid Christmas

It’s about perspective! Let’s be thankful we haven’t lost – and will never lose – the love of our family and friends!

commonsensiblyspeaking



~~~

‘Twas the night before Christmas, 2020 the year,

The days were blurring with pandemic fear;

The face masks were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that gifted vaccine soon would be there;

~~~

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

Thoughts of missing friends danced in their heads;

And mamma in her sweats and I in my briefs,

Had just settled down for some needed relief,

~~~

The year had been one like none could expect,

And holidays came with family to protect;

So, Nana and Pop wouldn’t be here this year,

But a video call would let them feel near;

~~~

Santa drove the smiling van instead of a sleigh,

And lucky we are to have gifts Christmas day;

The best gift from one generation to another,

When missing you meant we loved each other,

~~~

Dawn will still hold the wonder of little…

View original post 32 more words

Practice Self Care (Ann Campbell)

I recently read this article in a small community booklet I receive once-a-month, and I thought the material was important enough that I wanted to spread the word. So thank you to Ann Campbell, who wrote these words:

“One of the current buzzwords is ‘self care’. We see it everywhere these days, on every platform. It is a relatively new term, and it might lead one to wonder just what it means. The online definition reads “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”. Well, since 2020 has basically been one big ball of stress, I guess it makes sense why the word is being used more and more often these days. However, just a definition isn’t enough to express what it really means, and how we can apply it every day to ourselves.

“Self-care applies across many facets of one’s life. In the most basic terms, it means seeing a doctor and being proactive about one’s bodily health and well-being. It also applies to one’s mental health as well and here is where it gets nuanced. Yes, it means seeking professional help if your mental state is one that has deteriorated to a point where you need help and support, but it also means finding joy in your daily life. It’s not just spa trips and massage appointments, it is thinking hard about what you like and making that be a part of your daily experiences.

“There are some simple ways to add small joys to your daily life, little things that build your self-care regimen to improve your world. Get a candle or a melter in a scent that makes you happy. Get rid of any clothes in your closet that make you feel unattractive. Play that song that always makes you want to dance. Buy yourself a sparkly piece of costume jewelry and watch the light play on it. Spend that extra three minutes in the shower with the water pounding on your back. Call that person that always makes you laugh. Find out what time the sun rises or sets tomorrow and take a minute to stop and look at it.

“Small acts of self-care seem simple, but they help in large ways. At the end of the day, you need to be important to you, so take a minute to treat yourself well.”

P.S. You’ve heard me use this quote before, but it always bears repeating: “Fill your own cup first and nourish others with the overflow.”

Do You Remember?

Let’s face it. The pandemic has been a part of our lives for at least nine months now, President Trump not having declared the Corona virus a national emergency until March 12th. Here in the US, the political turmoil that should have ended with Election Day in November continues to plague us and I suspect will do so until at least January 20th, if Inauguration Day goes off without a hitch. These two things have taken all of our focus and are why we all agree that the year 2020 pretty much sucks! Well those, and the toilet paper shortage due to hoarding!

But the year didn’t start in March with the announcement that the virus had become a pandemic! In January, these events made national and international news: the Australian Wildfires the Iran-US Conflict, the Ukrainian Plane Crash, the Taal Eruption, the plane crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

And February had its share of note-worthy and unpleasant news: a gunman attacked a Greyhound bus and, on the same day, a shooting occurred at Texas A&M University, a ruptured gas line in Corpus Christi, Texas caused massive destruction with flames reaching over 150 feet, the Boy Scouts of America filed bankruptcy as hundreds of sexual abuse claims made their way into court, an over 206 million gallons of sewage that made its way into Fort Lauderdale’s water supply was discovered, a mass shooting occurred in Milwaukee, as well as a shooting outside of a popular Atlanta restaurant.

Other shootings, and fires, and riots and so many other things happened in 2020 besides the pandemic! But we seem to be so caught up in the anxiety of the pandemic that we’ve forgotten all of the lives and property lost because of other terrors that have ripped through the world this year.

2020 was yet another year that we lost many beloved celebrities. And, as usual, California had to deal with massive brush fires. Joe Exotic, who found instant fame as the “Tiger King”, was convicted on two counts of murder-for-hire. Megxit, when Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, chose to leave the Royal Family and the country, happened effective March 31st, 2020. These are some other things that made national and international news in 2020.

But we’re so fixated on the pandemic of COVID-19! Yea, it’s still really scary for each and every one of us. This virus knows no gender, no race, no age, the health of the person it affects. We can be very proactive about protecting ourselves from contracting COVID, but the only 100% guarantee is to live alone in a bubble and have simply no contact with anyone! One person I know has completely barricaded herself inside her home, only venturing outside to walk around her front yard if no one else is nearby or to relax in her back yard if no neighbors nearby are out. But her husband goes off to work every day, and he could bring the virus home to her without knowing. Her son played some sports early in the school year, and while she masked and distanced herself from the crowd of parents also there to cheer their sons on, the boys played without masks, and the game requires physical closeness and some possible physical contact, so….

Again, we simply cannot guarantee ourselves 100% prevention without that bubble. And yes, we’re all anxious about the second spike happening, and yes, we want it to be over. I’m simply suggesting that we remember that there are trials and tribulations that affect someone in the world every day. Let’s not forget to care about those things and those people, too. There will be car accidents, and house fires, and sadly, shootings that will occur every day in some part of the world. People will lose their loved ones, not even necessarily from the COVID virus, and will be dealing with pain and grief. We need to remember that the world will keep spinning on its axis and the calendar pages will keep turning as days and months go by.

Be proactively careful. Mask up. Use social distancing steps. Avoid being in a mass of people, including your loved ones. Limit your exposure, but don’t let the precautions limit you. There is still hope for this world, and hope in each of us. Let’s quit obsessing about something over which we have no guaranteed control. More than ever, reach out to the needy in any way that is safe to do so. Be kind to everyone, and especially the ‘essential workers’ who risk their lives by going to work every day so that we have and/or able to get what we need. And pray for those who experience loss in any way during this pandemic. Let’s all work together!!!!!

Back in MY day…

If you were lucky enough to get to know your grandparents, then you surely have heard at least a few “Back in MY day” stories. My grandparents lived through the Great Depression, my mother and her siblings were infants or young children during that time. They faced, what in their time, were serious shortages of the most basic of needs – sugar, flour, milk, etc. There was no money to buy these things even if they had been available! And my favorite of all – “Back in MY day, we walked five miles each to and from school, and it was uphill both ways!”

Of course, we as children couldn’t begin to comprehend what they had been through, and tended to invisibly roll our eyes when subjected to another “back in my day” story.

Here it is, 2020. By far the worst year most living people have ever experienced. And let’s face it, there will be “back in MY day” stories told in the future that talk of a toilet paper shortage and a pandemic that closed down all but the essential businesses and forced us all to be in isolation and to practice extreme precaution when we did have to venture outside. Corporate businesses had to quickly adapt to having access for their employees to work at home. Many small businesses faced lack of income for several months that ended up requiring them to close their doors forever. Schools were closed, forcing children to learn from home, and forcing many parents to adapt their schedules to make time to, in essence, home-school their children. People fought over the requirement to wear a mask, beds in hospitals became sparse, available medical equipment became insufficient, and some people had to watch their loved ones die alone through a plate-glass window so that the infection wasn’t spread.

The Great Depression taught the people affected how to be better prepared for their futures. Plans B and C were designed to keep them from ever having to face that kind of depression again. Money was saved, not spent frivolously.

While I wouldn’t have wished that we would have this pandemic occur, at the onset, I did look forward to the possibility of some of the required changes as good things. Parents learned to appreciate how difficult a teacher’s job really is when it was them trying to corral their hoodlums into doing their lessons. Adults learned how to cook because there was no other option for meals. In some homes, actual family dinners started occurring.

Now, all of these months later, everyone is cranky and just tired of it! I get that – oh, trust me, I get that! And the second wave that we were forewarned of has started. The number of cases and deaths because of this virus continues to climb. And yes, it seems justifiable to blame those who are ignoring the strongly suggested regulations and gathering in large crowds, appearing in places without a mask, all the while bemoaning their distorted belief that masks don’t protect anyone.

Of course, we weren’t alive then, so most of us know very little about the (Spanish) influenza pandemic of 1918, which also affected the entire world. Not much is written about it – certainly no personal studies of how it affected humanity in general. And ten years later, the Great Depression hit.

I think the point I’m trying to make with this post is that, yea, it’s been a vicious year and, here in the USA, we had to deal with a crapload (we still are, to some extent) of political drama and unrest. We’ve got it bad and 2020 sucks, right?

But we are not the first to live through a pandemic. We are not the first who are trying to find a way financially to make up for our perhaps frivolous spending now that income is more limited. We are not the first to have a shortage of products in our stores that are what we consider essential items. We are not the first American people who have lived through a segregation, albeit blue and red verses black and white.

What has this taught us? Has it even taught us anything? Are any of us willing to stop complaining and start looking for the positives that can come out of this horror?

Because, you see, back in MY day…..

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