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: https://promo.lionsroar.com/free-summit-thich-nhat-hanh-lrscl/?fbclid=IwAR1aFspdf6Ll-o3w9uWH54ljpB9sphnxiZ7wIUMaDCV-Ul4Mw-yxS0XE_eA

Another course is given by Yale University, again free. Called “The Science of Well Being.” The link to that is www.coursera.org, 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.

Out of Chocolate! Oh NOOOOO…….

Oh dear.

I’m almost out of chocolate. I have one Trader Joe’s bar left, 72% cacao. I will ration it, to make it last a few days. However, I don’t want to go there to get more because of the line to get in and out. It seems to me rather defeating the purpose to have people standing in line much less than 6’ apart, waiting for their opportunity to go in the store. But at any rate, I am a chocoholic, but I am not willing to do that.

My alternative is to go to Publix, or Winn Dixie, and buy some. Or Walmart. But honestly, I don’t want to do that either, I don’t want to make a trip there unless I really need essentials. By the middle of next week I will probably need more fresh fruit and veggies, I can get it then.

I checked on Amazon, they have LOTS, like 7 pages, of chocolate. However, I fear that because I live here in Florida that it might be melted by the time I get it off my doorstep and into my house. My nice cool house, thanks to my new air ducts. So glad I had that done a couple weeks ago before this virus became such a scary thing.

Maybe I should use this time to try to break my chocolate addiction. And I use that word lightly. Of course, I am not really addicted to it, but I do enjoy a little, every day. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Dark chocolate, my favorite, is low in sugar, is a great anti-oxidant, and I’ve seen in classified as a superfood. So why deprive myself? Hell, it’s helping me.

Maybe it’s why I just got the best lab report I’ve had since I was diagnosed with diabetes many years ago. My diabetes and my rheumatoid arthritis are both very much under control, and I intend to keep them that way. The RA is still basically in remission, as long as I take my weekly med for it. My diabetes A1c is 6.5, which is what I’ve been striving for years to achieve. A1c is the marker for how someone’s sugar has been over the last 3 months. Mine started as 12.6 those many years ago, and has gone down steadily, but not enough. The medications I am currently on seem to work well. But I digress…

Maybe the chocolate helped me get there. I’d like to think so, lol.

So today is another day in quarantine. Dan said he would see me today, so that’s good. I’ve spent 2 days alone, and am ready to have him around, even though there’s nothing to do, nowhere to go. Maybe he’ll bring me some chocolate. He knows I’m almost out. I have dark chocolate for me, milk chocolate for him. I got into his milk chocolate yesterday….but I left some for him. So….maybe he’ll get me some as a surprise and to keep me from eating his chocolate.

Yesterday, I went for a walk, and my friends who live a couple doors down were sitting outside, enjoying the gorgeous morning, so I stopped to talk to them. One of them is baking constantly during this isolation, the other says she is eating it all. She’s transgendered, and her wife calls her “my trans-fatty….” I thought that was cute. They are good people, part of my writer’s group. Maybe they have some chocolate I can “borrow”.

I spent a good hour last night texting some of my older friends who don’t drive, checking on them. And called others on the phone. Every day I try to touch base with people, especially those who have a hard time getting out. Even though I am in self-quarantine due to my compromised immune system, I would break that if someone needed my help. I’d just be real careful, and use the hand sanitizer liberally, and not touch my face, or unnecessarily touch anything in a store.

I’m hopeful that perhaps by the end of the week I can have a couple of friends over to sit on my deck and share a bottle of wine. I drank alone yesterday, I was celebrating my great lab report. Just about a glass and a half but it was good. I missed having some chocolate with it, because chocolate goes really well with a good red zinfandel wine, but the good thing is that drinking the wine numbed my desire for chocolate somewhat, lol. However it wasn’t a lasting distraction, so here I am again this morning, trying to figure out how to resupply the chocolate. Such difficult times these are.

I hope all of you have the basics you need to get through this. Chocolate, wine, beer…. Really, I hope everyone is safe, and well, and continues to stay that way. Love and light to everyone.

Getting Through These Strange Days

So, strange days continue unabated. Getting stranger and weirder each day.

It’s not all bad, not at all. Without all my regular diversions of friends, local music events, chair yoga classes, etc., I am spending a lot more time in stillness, reading, cleaning, watering plants, and cooking. I am lucky enough to live here in Florida, where it’s nice enough to go take a walk and get outside.

I wake up and wonder what more bad news I will read over coffee. But then, I look out my window and know that it’s not all bad, that this world is still a beautiful place. I wonder if this break that’s been forced upon us might not change us all, for the better.

I’m spending less money, that’s a good thing! Because there’s nowhere to go. I signed up for a course on mindfulness, based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s free, it’s 5 days with 3 hours of content a day. The course is taught by people who lived with and worked with him in Plum Village. It’s called “In the Footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh”. It seems a good way to spend 5 of these isolated days we are in. If you’re interested, this is the link to sign up for the free access to the course: https://promo.lionsroar.com/free-summit-thich-nhat-hanh-lrscl/

I do miss my friends. We are all checking on each other, calling on the phone. I was thinking why couldn’t a couple of them come over and sit on my deck, I can bring the libations and food out from the kitchen, after sanitizing everything. But I am a little nervous since yesterday the first case of coronavirus in my small town was confirmed. Yesterday, Dan drove down by the beach and there was still a restaurant with an outdoor bar open, people sitting at the bar. Not social distancing. And I rethink my dream of having friends over even if we’re outside, even if we are 6’ apart, even if we’ve all been quarantining all week. The beaches were mobbed this week with spring breakers who didn’t seem to even know there is a pandemic going on and were totally ignoring the recommendations regarding social distancing, etc. So, yesterday the county voted to close all the beaches, which is a good thing. It’s sad too, and I feel bad for all the businesses that depend on beach traffic during season. The restaurants are not closed here, they are ordered to be at half capacity, with correct spacing. They’re open because so many people here during the tourist season don’t have facilities to make their own food, they have to go out.

Two restaurants in town are giving away free food. One is giving a free pasta dinner for two to anyone over 65, and it is my favorite restaurant in town. The food is SOOO good there, I have paid good money for the meals they gave me for free. Another one is offering a bag lunch. It’s a BBQ place, with good BBQ. Both places bring it right to your car, so you don’t even have to go out. It’s a really nice thing to do.

I tried to go to Trader Joe’s the other day. I buy my coffee there, and that’s all I needed. Figured I could run in and out and not touch anyone or anything but my coffee. And I have hand sanitizer in my pocketbook and I’m sure they have wipes by their carts to wipe them down. But when I got there and pulled into my parking space, I saw a line of 15-20 people outside, waiting to get in. They weren’t allowing anyone to go in until someone came out. So…..I didn’t wait. Not worth an hour or so in line to get just coffee. Instead, I asked Dan to go to Publix and get me some Starbucks Italian roast which he did for me.

We both got our hair cut yesterday, and mine was colored. We were the only ones in the salon. I felt pretty safe, but who knows. I only know that we both needed it, and neither of us was willing to wait until quarantine is over. Today I was supposed to meet with my primary care dr, to go over the labs I had done last week. They called and asked me if I could do it over the phone. Which I think is wonderful. I was not eager to go to the dr office for sure. I am going to the chiropractor today though. My back has been bothering me a lot lately, I need him to put it back into place. I know it’s a little risky, but I think it’s low if I am careful and keep my hands sanitized and keep them off my face. God, who knew how often we touch our faces in a day? It requires real mindfulness to not touch it.

It’s time to get a few things done today. Take a walk, water my plants, and who knows what else. Love and light and good health to all.

More Gratitude, and a Little Bit of Trader Joe’s

Here I am, back on my deck. It’s a beautiful Florida morning, and quiet. There’s a lot less traffic on the roads since everyone is staying at home, for the most part. I mean, there isn’t really anywhere to go anyway, since basically only the grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations are open. But I’d rather be here than any of those places!

However, I am getting low on my much-loved Trader Joe’s coffee, El Pajaro. It is dark, and rich, and bold. I buy the whole beans and grind them. I think that it is sufficient a scare for me to head there today on the way to Dan’s and get some more. I’ll just run in and out, and not touch anyone, and use my hand sanitizer liberally. Whoever thought I’d have to worry about going to Trader Joe’s?

So, what am I grateful for this morning? For the blooms on one of my peace lily plants. I have one huge plant, which seems to have stopped producing any flowers. There have been times when there were a dozen on that one plant. Last summer Dan and I repotted it, and cut out some of it, because it was so large. We replanted the cuttings in a different pot, and that’s the one with 4 new blossoms on it. The old one got a few after we repotted it but nothing in months. I keep them both watered and fertilized, so I’m not sure what the issue is with the big one, but I am happy that one of them is producing those beautiful white flowers.

I’m grateful for the 8 hours of sleep I got last night.

I’m grateful that my back seems well enough this morning to go for a walk.

I’m grateful that I can drive up to Dan’s and spend the evening up there, and share my roasted chicken with him.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to quarantine alone all the time. I am basically an extrovert, and even though I cherish my time alone, I need people.

I’m grateful for a circle of friends that check on each other by phone.

I’m grateful that the government is finally taking some definitive action on the virus, and that people are heeding their instructions for the most part. I qualify that because at a few of the beaches people gathered in great numbers to party, causing local authorities to have to close the beach. I get it, people are on vacation here, it’s the height of season, but come on folks. What were you thinking? Oh, you weren’t.

I’m grateful that I’m safe, that I’m well. Most of all, I am grateful for these things.

Sending love and light to everyone. Please stay home, stay safe, and stay well.