Working It Out, From the Doldrums to Gratitude

It’s a beautiful day here in the Tampa Bay area. One of the many things I have to be grateful for: the blue blue sky, the palm trees swaying gently, the early morning light casting long shadows, the warmth of the sun. I feel very blessed to have landed here, and never more than right now when we are all sequestered in our homes.

I woke up this morning, not in a good mood. I knew I should be grateful for many things, but that deep feeling of gratitude wasn’t bubbling into my consciousness this morning. My back which has bothered me for months now, was particularly achy when I got up. I stopped going to the chiropractor because I am just uncomfortable being in their office, even if I wear a mask and gloves. Like many people during this lockdown, instead of losing weight, I gained a pound. That alone is enough to piss me off. But truth be told, I am definitely not getting enough exercise. As I walked into the kitchen to make coffee, I thought “another boring day. What can I do today that might pull me out of these doldrums I am in.”

Let me say, that doldrums is not a place I’m familiar with. I was alone this morning, Dan will be over later, I’m pretty sure. And I really have never minded being alone too much. I think it’s probably a good thing for us that he is not here, because my initial mood this morning was selfish, and self-centered, feeling a bit sorry for myself.

But I went ahead, made my coffee, took my insulin, made myself a small bowl of fruit as I do every morning, and pulled an ice pack out of the freezer. I sat at my kitchen table next to my open windows, and within minutes my back felt better. I perused the news on Apple News on my phone, and the lead story was from the Washington Post (I was happy I could read it) about how New York’s statistics are providing some hope, even if our nation had it’s worst day ever. We were told this week and next would be the worst of it, but they are saying that the numbers may not be as bad as we were initially told, and as Gov. Cuomo said, “It’s not an act of God we are looking at, it’s an act of what society actually does.”

This is not to say that perhaps it’s an act of God that we are mostly doing what we need to, to curb this vicious virus. But that’s another discussion, and for the purposes of this blog, I’ll go along with Cuomo’s assessment. We are, collectively, doing what we need to do to stop the spread of this thing, but also, to survive it. Is there a choice here? Not for most of us.

I’m gonna guess that I’m not the only person who is sick of this isolation. And truth be told, I’m not that isolated. Two of my best friends live a few houses down from me, and when I go for a walk in the morning I often see them sitting outside, and stop and talk. I have Dan with me often, and what a blessing it is to have even one person with whom I can be close, with whom the social distancing thing is not necessary. I heard from my friend Linda in CT last night, my gong mentor. She and her husband taught me, by osmosis, everything I know about sound healing. I say, by osmosis, because they never tried to teach me, but performed sound healing/gong baths twice a month for years and I rarely missed any of them. I also heard from a fairly new friend who loves our sound healing at the beach and asked me if we could do a virtual one. Another friend called me last night just to check on me, and another texted me to remind me to go out and look at the full moon.

So, my isolation is not so bad, is it?

Writing this has brought me back to gratitude, and the feeling now rises in me from the depths at which I buried it.  Being able to feel gratitude leads to so much more inner peace with all of this. I hope and pray that when this is over, there is a new normal across the globe. One that understands the connection we all have to each other, one that takes us away from so much materialism to an appreciation of all we have. I hope that the good effects on the earth of industrialized nations having to shut down temporarily will translate into our caring for the earth better, and more lovingly. That our steps upon the earth are gentle and loving, no longer displaying careless and calculated disregard for our planet.

I hope that all my readers are safe, and well. Sending love and light to all.

A Failed Attempt at Bread Baking to Pass the Time

Yesterday I made two loaves of bread. I used a recipe that came with my Kitchenaid mixer. It was called Rapid Mix Cool Rise White Bread.

I’m sure if you are a seasoned bread maker, that name probably is foreboding. Like, I’m sure a real bread-maker would look at that and say “What could possibly go wrong?” The answer is, a lot. Speeding up making bread is probably not going to produce a good loaf of bread. At least, it sure didn’t for me.

First of all, you just add the yeast to the dry ingredients. Then you add hot water. Then the mixer does the kneading. It only takes 2 minutes, or maybe 4. But personally, I think even 4 minutes was too long for a mixer to be kneading. Then it rises in the refrigerator. YES! In the fridge, in a couple of hours!

I was excited, I have wanted to try baking bread but under normal circumstances, I just never find the time. However, when one is home all day, every day, what better time to try it?

I’d love to be able to make bread. Even though I’m diabetic and can’t really eat much of it. Still, I think that would elevate my baking to a new level, if I could make a good loaf of bread. I know people who would eat it, and I’d have a slice or two.

This bread however, was not that loaf, not that recipe that was going to elevate anything, except maybe your weight or glucose levels. It rose, as it was supposed to. I baked it, but it never got that golden brown color that a loaf of bread should have. So maybe I baked it an extra 5 minutes trying to get that color, but to no avail. It is a sickly color of beige. Still, I thought, maybe it will taste decent. When I took it out of the oven, I tapped the crust, just to see how it felt, and sounded. Well, it sounded kind of .like a tree might sound if you tapped it. Tree bread. But, tenacious as I am, I had not given up yet. I thought I’d just wait for it to cool and try a piece.

After I managed to saw through the tough, hard crust with a bread knife, I got to the bottom crust, which didn’t want to be cut. Not a good sign, I now know. I kind of tore it. I slathered some butter on it, and went for a bite. Ok, the taste was ok, maybe because it was warm, but it was just ok. The bread was so dense. It was not the light fluffy loaf of bread I had envisioned. It was heavy, and tasted too much like flour. I think probably not using the mixer to knead it would be a good idea. I’m guessing that eating that piece of bread was probably the reason my weight was the same this morning as yesterday. So, when Dan gets here, he can try a piece. If he does not like it, it will go into the garbage.

But it sounded so simple! And it was! But it was not good.

I’ll be on a hunt for a new recipe. As soon as I can find yeast again. Apparently I’m not the only person who thought that this would be a good time to learn to make bread. Flour and yeast have been hard to come by. I’m not giving up on this quest to make a decent loaf of bread, that I can’t eat anyway. But I make lots of stuff I shouldn’t eat. I like to bake. I just have to give it away.

So onward. I’ll try to find something else good to make today. Or tomorrow. Whatever. I have a month to figure it out. If I can buy yeast.

Stay safe, stay well, stay at home, wear a mask and gloves if you have to go out. Love and light

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Beautiful

So much bad news, sad news this morning. So many mistakes made by a government, led by an egomaniac who doesn’t have an empathetic bone in his body. So much needless misery he brought to the country which he is supposed to lead, but doesn’t.

I was treated to a beautiful sunrise this morning, which is often the case. This one was exceptional, I couldn’t get a picture of it. I’m hoping it’s not the only beautiful thing I see today.

I talked to my “little” sister yesterday. She lives outside of Austin TX, with her husband of 43, almost 44, years. She’s been able to work from home, and only works part-time. She’s feeling kind of lucky that she has something to fill half her days. Her husband has been maintaining their huge, entire backyard garden. They are vegan, and grow most of what they eat. He has a degree in agriculture so he knows what he’s doing. But still, they are worried. Not excessively so, but worried. They have kids and grandkids whom they can’t see.

I also spoke to a good friend for a long while yesterday. I generally see her a few times every week. We are both part of Hypatia, my writer’s group, she teaches chair yoga, we both belong to the spirit girls group, and we both go to a lot of the same music venues. But now…I have not seen her in a few weeks. Both of us are enjoying the good parts of quarantine. Neither of us minds the times alone, for the most part. We love the quiet, the lack of traffic, the lack of crowds. But we miss our tribe, that group of us that rely on and love. It was good to catch up with her.

We all see that a lot of good can come from this, and hope that is what the final result is. That when a vaccine is developed and we all get it and this horrible scourge is conquered, that people will remember what was important, and remain kinder, more compassionate, still caring about their neighbors. Will our short term memories forget this, and go back to our old lives? Will a new world order based on love and compassion have started replacing the one that our leader tried to stuff down our throats. The one that teaches each man and woman to be out for themselves, to get as much as they can, and not care if everyone else has enough. The toilet paper shortage is a metaphor for how we’ve been behaving. I am not apart from that, I have about 25 rolls, which sounds like a lot. But honestly, isn’t that much if I’m going to be locked in for a month, at least, but most likely longer. I only have it because Dan managed about a month ago to order 60 rolls from Sam’s Club, and then divided it between his house, my house, his mother’s house and his brother’s house. 15 rolls each. And I had some already.

I went to the grocery store with Dan the other day. We both put bandanas over our faces, and orange rubber gloves on our hands and felt somewhat protected. Though we kind of laughed at ourselves for the bandanas, because we looked like bank robbers, and really did they do much good except to give us enough courage to go into the store? It’s my first time in the store in 3 weeks. Of course, I saw a lot of people with a mask of some kind on. And some gloves. But happily, we found most of the shelves full. I was able to get lots of fresh produce, and some frozen veggies, which they were out of completely when Instacart brought my order.

My son laughed at me for my precautions, for a moment. He’s young, he feels impervious. I reminded him that I am not, impervious. And told him there were quite a few people who were dressed as I was. We are an older population here, unlike his area which is young people. Most people here just do what they are told to. They stay home, they go for walks, they find something productive to do with their time. We all enjoy the peace and quiet.

Occasionally, I wonder how this will all play out, in the end. This spending of trillions of dollars, all the death and pain. All the small businesses that will never recover from this. The town I live in depends on tourist season, which has been cut short this year. From crowded streets to empty ones, from crowded shops and restaurants to no one being open. A few restaurants tried to stay open for take-out, but as of this week, only one of them is left, and I’m sure they are struggling. Many of them were giving away food, dinners, sandwiches. I guess they thought it was better to give it away than throw it away.

It’s a strange new world.

One of the things I like is the quiet. I can sit on my deck, and hear the birds, and the squirrels, and watch the geckos running along the porch. I can meditate out there in peace, which is nice. Except when the guy who lives on the other side of my back fence begins his work. I don’t know him, or what he’s doing, but every day he is out there, the sounds of power tools breaking the lovely silence. Still, it is not as annoying as one might think, because I’m glad to know someone is there. Sometimes it feels like there is no one else around. I try to walk almost every day, in the morning. I might see a couple of people out walking their dogs. I might see a single car driving down the street.

Obviously, I am having a hard time, at times, wrapping my head around this whole thing. Too many things to even try to rationalize in any way. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m sure this head spinning I do occasionally is a collective WTF, from all people everywhere. I read more WTF news every day. I don’t listen to it or watch it much, because too many people pretending they have a handle on what’s happening, spinning it to make their side look better and the other side look bad. I say, leadership comes from above, and we don’t have a leader. His approval ratings have jumped up, but are still below 50%. Many of us remember that after 9/11 Bush’s ratings were over 90%. Usually, the country can unite behind the president. In this case, many of us blame him for the intensity of this disaster. His glib, stupid remarks that it was a hoax, his refusal to even acknowledge it as a problem here until it was beyond stopping. When I do watch him, it isn’t for long. He’s out there, trying to get credit for doing things that he should have done in January and February. He’s denying the stupid stuff he says, sometimes the next day.

I love the fact that many businesses didn’t wait for his instructions, but began retooling to make the things we needed. Two distilleries in St. Petersburg began making hand sanitizer and then giving it away in a drive-through line. Back when our president and governor wouldn’t even give a stay at home order. Florida’s order finally went into effect today. A state whose population is 40% over the age of 60. Not that those of us over 60 were stupid enough to wait for a presidential or gubernatorial order. I’ve been isolating for about 3 weeks now, as have been most of the people I know. But this is a small town, and who knows what people are doing in the cities.

I do love the sense of cooperation among people. I love that I constantly see in my FB feed calls for a worldwide healing meditation. Free online courses for mindfulness. Reminders to be grateful for what we have. In this case, the admonishment of “There’s always something to be thankful for, even if it’s just our breath” is uniquely pertinent. The virus steals our breath from us. That thing we can always count on for a return to focus, a reminder to be mindful, to be grateful. We have to be vigilant not to let it steal our joy from us.

I realize I am not my usual positive, happy self this morning. I guess this is a stream of consciousness writing. Trying to sort out the thoughts in my head, and bring my head back around to being mindful, that I am fine, I have everything I need right now. I am grateful for so much. I will try to focus on gratitude and hope for the remainder of the day.

Stay home, stay safe, stay well. Love and light to all.

Breaking Out, A Little

“Ok”, I said to my friend. “I’ll try smoking some of my medicinal pot this afternoon and see if I can boost my creativity. “ After all, it worked for her… but then, I am not her. She is ultra-creative. And has the ability to focus like no one I’ve ever known. I cannot copy those things, but I can try a little smoke to see if it helps. I mean, after all, what harm could it do? None…… Sitting on my deck, using my amethyst pipe, trying to amplify that purple ray……

What’s the purple ray, you ask. Purple is the color of the crown chakra, and the ray is divine, it raises our level of consciousness, and is probably the most healing of the chakras, helping to keep you in balance.

Not meaning to digress. I got my lovely amethyst pipe, and put a couple of chunks of a bud in it, and lit it. And smoked it. That mellow feeling didn’t take long to go to work. I continued to write a story I’m working on for my writer’s group, and then came to a place where I really needed to talk to Dan about it, since it’s a story he told me, a true one. I started to call him but then thought better of it. He might be napping, since he has been sleeping terribly. So I will wait til after dinner to connect with him.

I decided to start this…. And see where it goes. Well, it got to the end of the first paragraph and I decided now was as good a time as any to finish the bottle of wine on my kitchen table. It’s a good wine which I started by myself the other day, then Dan and I each had a glass or maybe more. Then there was one glass left, and I’ve been looking at it for 2 days. Of course, when I went in to get it, I decided I needed a snack. I have some really good cheese, and these little cracker-like discs made entirely of parmesan cheese which have very few calories, and no carbs. So now you see where the medicinal pot got me: eating, drinking and, yes, writing. I’m sitting on my deck, as usual. And here it is, the normal time for rush hour, and there’s barely a car going down the busy street a block away from me. It’s so quiet. I will miss that quiet when we go back to our normal lives, if we go back…but that’s another blog.

I don’t have to cook dinner tonight. I made a pot of Spicy Thai Chicken Soup yesterday and have a lot leftover. On purpose, of course. Its really good, with lots of spices and bok choy, and snow peas, chicken, coconut milk, and chicken broth. It’s not hard to make either. But I digress, again. I’m thinking the medicinal marijuana simply amplifies who I am, which is someone who struggles to focus at times. I’m also glad I don’t have to cook tonight because my grocery order will be delivered between 6 and 8, and I cleaned up all my stuff on the table, and out of the fridge, to make room for new stuff. Not cooking means I won’t have anything to clean up again, before they come.

What else invades my head at the moment? The new flowers on my peace lily. The woodpecker in the distance that I can only hear because there is no traffic. How lovely it is to have friends who chat every day in our group text, just to stay in touch. Some of us have spouses, or significant others. But some are alone, as I am much of the time, and it’s nice to just stay in touch.

We all miss our music venues, because they were all at restaurants, which are now all closed. The guy who runs the open mic I go to is trying to put together something online, that all the musicians can contribute from home, and we can all watch it. Hey, it’s not like in person and there will be no fish sandwiches or conch fritters with this, but it would be entertaining for sure. And help to keep our tribe in touch.

Sooooo, I started this a couple days ago, and today, I had some stuff to add, so I’m finishing it.

So one of my friends and I broke quarantine today. Before you gasp, here’s what I did. I took the chairs and table off of my deck and sprayed them down with bleach, scrubbed them with a brush, and hosed them off. Then I sprayed every doorknob in my house down with the bleach mixture, and the toilet and sink. My friend came over with her own bottle of wine, her own glass, her own snacks, even her own corkscrew. I had a roll of paper towels out there, with a spray bottle of hand sanitizer just in case we touched something. We sat at least 6 feet apart on my deck, on a warm afternoon with a tropical breeze. No hugging, just talking. I read her my new story, she read me hers. But we talked about our kids, our men, how much we didn’t mind the quarantine. About how much money we are saving not going out, and cooking, and the course I took on Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings. It was really nice. A refreshing break from having the world turned upside down. A pause in the chaos, a return to normalcy for a few hours.

Anyway, I hope everyone is well, staying home (which isn’t that big a deal, considering there’s basically nowhere to go). I have been feeling this pervasive sadness at times when I think about all the people who are being impacted by this. Those are the times when I dig down deep to feel gratitude for whatever I am feeling at the moment. One of Gulfport’s own (because he has a home here), John Prine, has been stricken and is on a ventilator in stable condition. He’s well known, a country artist, has been nominated for about a dozen Grammys and won 2. So say a little prayer for him. His wife had it too, but she has recovered. She made it clear that while he’s stable, that doesn’t mean he’s improving.

Love and light to all. Stay safe, stay well.

Living with Altered Reality

I wonder what other people are doing tonight. People like me, single but with a significant other in my life. Self-quarantined, meaning I choose not to go anywhere. Except for Dan’s. I did go through Walgreens drive through for meds.

I was at Dan’s last night. He made homemade baked beans, with pork added, and spicy hot meatballs chunked up. The beans were really good. We played cards before dinner, he won a game, I won one. We had two half bottles of wine in the fridge, so we finished one of them. And then, we watched TV. Oh, and smoked a little. Not much because I was falling asleep anyway. Oh, and I took some banana bread I’d made in the morning over to Dan’s mother.

This morning, we read all the latest news on the virus, and wondered what was true, what was false, and what was no longer true. Which of the predictions would be true. Of course, that didn’t take very long. Maybe 10 minutes. Lots of repetition.

Someone in my writers group got on our group chat and wanted to have a meeting via Zoom on Easter. I said, I can’t do Easter. I will be helping Dan make something for his mother. Another member said she can’t do it because she doesn’t have internet service, just her cell phone data. A couple of them didn’t respond. Another doesn’t text.

Someone said, let’s do it another day. After all, we’re all home all day, doing nothing. But the one member kept pushing for Easter. Because her birthday is the next day. And, yeah, so….. you’re 70. You want to have a birthday party via Zoom? She asked me, can you do it at 5? or 7? Geezus. I said I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I told them to go ahead if they need to do it the 12th. I mean half of us won’t be there, but whatever. I say we just skip the April meeting. I mean, really….sitting in our own homes, alone. How do you pass a joint on a computer screen. Or share a bottle of wine? And we’ll never finish in 40 minutes, or even 2 hours if we figure out how to use Zoom, which is doubtful for a bunch of old women.  Really, this group is about writing, but it’s also social.   A couple of the gals call it a “salon”.  Which it would not be electronically, I don’t think.  But hey they are welcome to do it, as many as want to.   I’m just not feeling the electronic thing I guess.

So that issue was left unresolved.

I did my morning meditation. Then I decided to clean Dan’s kitchen. Microwave, stove, counters, floor. He likes to cook, and is pretty good at it. But clean up is not his forte. After that, I headed home. I wanted to work on the Thich Nhat Hanh course I’m taking. It’s 3 hours of content a day, and is pretty deep. And simple at the same time. I’m enjoying it, but I have to admit that the monks and teachers quiet manner and voices can put me to sleep. Tomorrow is the last day I can access the information.

I made some dinner. Watched TV. Tried to make baked custard with coconut milk since I didn’t have any regular milk. Don’t try it. Was not a good idea. And now….I think I’ll go to bed.

I guess I’m safe. That’s the important thing. I will say I miss my life, full of friends, evenings out, music, chair yoga, spirit group, writer’s group. I miss it all. Like everyone else, I wonder when I’ll get my life back. I am utterly grateful for Dan’s company. We’ve been getting along really well, maybe because we’re all we have. Maybe we’re just appreciating each other. The condo pool and hot tub have been closed, we were bummed about that. We figured the chlorine in them would kill any virus. Then we found out it’s not the water, it’s the tables and chairs around the pool that are the problem. So, ok we will live without them too.

I ordered flour from Amazon the other day since no grocery store had any. It wasn’t supposed to come until April 8, but I got a notice today that it would be here Tuesday. Dan found a small box, qty 5, of N95 masks somewhere and bought them.  So we can wear them to the store, and feel a lot better about going there. Nothing else in town is open, just like everywhere else. Driving is so strange for this time of year. So few cars out on the road.

Well, let’s hope it’s over sooner than they think. That it’s not as bad as they say. I hope everyone is staying home, staying safe, staying well. Love and light to everyone.

Using This Time to Learn

One of my friends has started a mindfulness practice and is trying to teach this practice to others. She was doing this at a yoga studio but since they are now closed, she is doing Facebook Live sessions of guided meditations, and a little sound healing with a crystal bowl and an ocean drum. Of the two she has done so far, there have been only a handful of people watching. I hope that grows for her. If you are interested you can join her FB page “Mindfulness, Meditation, and More.”

One thing I have noticed is that I have gradually been inundated with email and notices of courses that have become available, in mindfulness, and in meditation, in wellness, in seeking your bliss. I have signed up for a few of them. It seems to me to be a good way to use this time alone. To go inward, to connect to our center. The one I’m most excited about is called “In the footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh.” It is 5 days long, starting tomorrow. It is a course based on his teachings, with talks given by students of his at his monastery. They will also have video of him, etc. It is free and includes a 39 page book that you can download. Most of the book is teachings of his, written by him. If you are interested the link is:

Another course is given by Yale University, again free. Called “The Science of Well Being.” The link to that is, then just search for that particular course. The course teaches us how to increase our happiness through practicing gratitude, savoring the good things, exercise, sleep habits.

As I write this, I am notified by the Chopra Center that they are offering a free 21 day meditation to assist us in staying positive during this crisis, and “in the face of the unknown, we’re called to support, uplift, encourage and love one another.” I have always loved Deepak Chopra’s 21 day free meditations, and I am particularly happy to have gotten this notice. I would guess if you go to The Chopra Center online, you will find a link to this meditation.

It seems to me that one of the best uses of our time in self-quarantine would be to strengthen our spiritual center, to reconnect with ourselves. It is so obvious that we need to elevate our lives to be more meaningful than chasing material goods. I hope everyone will see the need for, as Eckhart Tolle’s book is titled A New Earth.” With everything we know crashing down on us, many of us will be seeking a different way of living. At least, that is my hope, that the good that comes from this raises our consciousness around the world.

I’m glad to see great teachers trying to guide us through this maze. I’m sure there are many more learning experiences that have become available as we travel down this new, unknown and somewhat scary path. We can learn how to lose the fear, without losing touch with reality.

Love and light to all.

Filling The Days of Quarantine

It’s Sunday, day 7 of self-quarantine. This week I went to get my hair cut and colored, and to the chiropractor. That’s it. Dan went to the store for me once or twice, since he’s at slightly less risk than me. He’s also the only person I’ve been in contact with. I did stop over to see his mother last time I was there, but didn’t get within 10 feet of her. She does have a few different people who stop by and have lunch with her almost daily, and she has a cleaning woman on Wednesdays. So she does have a little outside contact, but everyone is really careful around her. I’ve taken a walk most days, trying to get a little over a mile walk in.

I’ve watered my plants, washed and waxed my car, sat on my deck a lot with my kindle. I’ve done a lot of cooking, and will do more baking if I can get a bag of flour from somewhere. Even Amazon has none. Whodda thunk you ever couldn’t buy flour in this country? I guess it’s true of a lot of things these days, for sure. I placed an order with Instacart for Publix today, first time. Dan would go for me, but I hate to have him exposed there. People are always creeping up on you to grab something, and squishing up the line, oblivious to social distancing. So I don’t want him there, nor do I want to go. And I’ve heard that by tomorrow night we will probably be under a Stay at Home order, which I think is like a “Shelter in Place” order. So we’ll have plenty of food for the duration. The order is coming tomorrow night from 6 -8, my only other choice was Friday. I’ll be happy to have plenty of supplies.

I’ve checked on my older friends who can’t drive, to make sure they knew they could call me if they need anything. I could at least bring them supplies, or get them to a medical appt if necessary. Although most dr’s aren’t seeing patients either, unless it’s an emergency.

Yesterday we made sandwiches and took them down to the beach to have a little picnic, but the beach was closed. All the beaches down here are closed. Amazing world class beaches with no one on them. So we went to a nearby park and had our picnic. It was nice just to get out of the house, and to see other people walking around, going fishing on the pier. All staying a safe distance from others. It’s a strange time in history. I hope it’s a turning point for most of humanity. I hope it’s the Universe pushing our reset buttons.

I’m trying to remain proactive, and productive. I’m trying to hold all the negativity that accompanies this virus at bay and not let it dominate my thoughts. So far, so good with that intention. I pray everyone is well, and coping.

Love and light to all. Be safe, be well.