Thursday, December 31, 2020

The MAGIC of 2020

Who knew when I picked my One Little Word, MAGIC, last December, that we would find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic and become so isolated.  Crazy how the world has changed in these past months.

I could list all the things I've missed this year--and trust me, my notebook contains lists--but there was still lots of MAGIC to be found!

  • Technology saved us. Video chats with family became a lifeline. Video happy hours were a hoot. 
  • We watched last spring arrive with anticipation. We noted each new sign of spring: buds on trees, the arrival of the robins, how the sun seemed warmer each day. We often sat outside in the sun, still in winter coats, and drank a glass of wine, talking about what we would do when the weather was warmer.
  • We appreciated going to the lake like never before. It became a place of safety and refuge, where we could still see family and friends at a safe distance.
  • We took advantage of warm weather and made a couple of road trips with our favorite traveling partners. A week in South Dakota in June, and a long weekend in Bayfield, Wisconsin in September, kept a sense of normalcy to the summer months. Greg and I also took a couple of day trips where we could do things outside.
Of course, summer and lake time had to end and we are once again sticking close to home and isolating as much as we can. Both sons have had COVID--both on their birthdays! How did they manage that? And since the oldest and his family are still experiencing the effects of the d^*n virus, we decided to postpone our family Christmas for now

But the MAGIC continues:
  • Winter walks have become my salvation. It's fun to walk and pay attention to what's happening in my neighborhood. There are several Little Libraries that have sprung up and I've been adding to them. I watched and smiled as people put up Christmas decorations a little earlier than normal. And my favorite is hearing the kids play outside and the laughter and giggles they lift up into the world.
  • There is beauty in the aftermath of snowstorms. Although walking will be a little difficult at times. I did buy myself some new "sneaker boots" and hope they will help keep me on my feet.
  • Technology is once again the MAGIC that connects us. We'll still video chat with the kids. The grandkids like House Party and will check in with the old folks once in a while. There's a couple of online concerts we might check out. And, of course, movies! Lots and lots of movies.
The only dark spot that I can't find the magic in, is losing our beloved Chloe to cancer on Thanksgiving day. She made our days brighter and always gave us something to laugh about. That was her magic. 
In her memory, a couple of my favorite posts about her (you don't have to read them all-they're mostly for me):

Sunday, November 1, 2020



My one little word this year was MAGIC and my purpose was to capture the everyday magic around me. To find the little pieces of life that bring me JOY and make me smile.

Then COVID hit.

We were quarantined. 


Far from family and friends.

And in March, COVID was really scary because we didn't know anything about it and all we heard were case counts and death tolls. 

Then, the ELECTION began to take over the news. 

And we felt alone in red-state Iowa.


Ignoring the posts of some family and friends.

It all combined to make me forget to look for the MAGIC. 

It's been in my head for a while now, that I needed to right/write my soul and focus on the good and the beautiful. Especially now as we head into the election and more months of quarantine. So, my plan for the rest of 2020 is to look for the MAGIC. To share the MAGIC. 

Today's MAGIC

This is the window over my kitchen sink and from it, I can watch the trees bud and my lilac tree bloom in the spring. In the summer, I can check the thermometer on the garage and see just how hot it really is outside and smile when I look at the daylilies, a Mother's Day gift from one of our sons. Right now, in the fall, there is a leaf bank piled in front of the garage doors, which all too soon, will change to snowbanks that need to be shoveled. I can see it all from this window. Little bits of everyday MAGIC.

Friday, October 23, 2020

I Should



Seems to be the word of the day. And there are lots of "should do's " on my list
  • I should eat better
  • I should walk more
  • I should clean my house
  • I should call friends and family more
  • I should, I should, I should
But sometimes, all those "should do's" make me feel inadequate. And who needs to feel like that?

So I'm making a new list! I should...
  • listen to more music
  • dance in the dining room
  • eat a piece of chocolate every day
  • only read books that make me happy
  • play with Chloe in the yard
  • take a bubble bath
  • buy a new notebook
  • bake when I feel like it (and then give it away)
  • watch Hallmark movies without guilt
  • take a walk with no destination or motive
  • sit outside and watch the neighborhood
  • order takeout
  • eat ice cream 
  • buy flowers (or plants) for me
What's on your "should do" list? Maybe I can add it to mine!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A Lesson in Patience


This long-legged dinosaur-like bird glides into view, landing gently in the shallows of the lake.

Picking her feet up gently and walking through the water, watching, always watching, for an unsuspecting bite.

She stands patiently, oh so patiently, (much more patient than I who watch her)  for an unsuspecting bite.

And then quickly, throws her beak in the water, then lifts her head to the sky, and swallows.

One bite. That's it. Then the whole thing starts again.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Between a Rock and a Hard Place


In the sand, between the wave smoothed rocks, through the seaweed cemented in the cracks, a small tomato plant peeked through.

It shouldn't be there.

It shouldn't survive.

But left unattended, it does.

Inching its way towards sunlight, it is watered by the waves splashing against the shore.

Unseen by most, forgotten by me, it blossoms.

And then, those blossoms turn to fruit. And one day, those small bites are brightly shining against the rocks, waiting to be appreciated.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Lost: It is natural to retreat when things get tough.

Lost in a world
I no longer understand how to

It is natural to retreat when things get tough.

I don't know who
I am
Right Now.

It is natural to retreat when things get tough.

Where do I fit in?

The world doesn't want to let me
Be in the middle.

It is natural to retreat when things get tough.

Who fight
Who torment
Who never ask
How are you?
{and if they do,
they don't listen}

It is natural to retreat when things get tough.

A nation
Who fights
Who torments
Who never asks
How are you?
{and if they do,
they don't listen}

It is natural to retreat when things get tough.

My world exploding
and I don't understand
why we just can't

It is natural to retreat when things get tough.

Friday, June 12, 2020

#sosmagic20. Just Write

Just write, she says, Just Write

I DON'T WANNA! I whine.

Moths fly out of my notebook.
My blog account is inactive.
I don't have my favorite pens.

But, secretly, I do. I just have to 
shut down Facebook
and Twitter,
shut off the TV,
put the excuses in a drawer.

Now. Open up the blog.
Put your fingers on the keys.
Just Write

Sunday, May 31, 2020

#sosmagic Celebrate: If This Isn't Nice...

I love celebrating the little JOY's of life. Taking a few moments to enjoy those little moments that make me smile keep me sane during a time when the whole world seems to be going crazy.

This week I seemed to find lots of happiness---

My hibiscus plants are finally poking through the ground! The false spring we had early on faked me out and I kept thinking they hadn't survived the winter. But they are a lesson in patience. While we were getting ready for spring, the hibiscus knew winter wasn't quite over.

And they were right.

As soon as we hit some 75+ degree days, they emerged from their blanket of dead leaves and started reaching for the sun.

Along with the hibiscus, I've got lots of little areas planted with annuals, little spots around the yard that just make me smile. Wish I would have taken pictures before I left for the lake! Maybe a future blog post will have to be a tour of those spots!

Video chats with two of my grandsons. It's always fun to hear what's going on in their worlds, even when they are bored. And video chats help me miss them a little less.

We've been trying a few new recipes lately. Our Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes were a big hit. Greg and I both loved them, and they make enough for leftovers which is always nice during lake season. They will freeze well too, which is always a plus!

It is officially summer and lake time. Temperatures in the 80's this week and lots and lots of sun (sun improves everyone's attitude, doesn't it?). Chloe and I will enjoy our time this week, while poor Greg has to go to work for a few days. Lazy mornings writing and drinking coffee while looking at this view are definitely a great way to start the day!

And speaking of Chloe. She's back from her walk with Greg and now sleeping soundly on the bed. The little snores coming from her, those make me smile too.

Monday, May 4, 2020

#sosmagic20 Memories Abound

All weekend, little memories popped up in my life.

A song started the trip down memory lane:

The Doobie Brothers, Old Black Water. Every time I hear it, I smile and am immediately transported back to a school bus, traveling to a speech contest, singing at the top of my lungs with all of my best friends. It was such a happy, uncomplicated time in my life. And those memories of rehearsals, long bus rides, trips to "Mickey D's" make up a lot of my high school memories. I think it's why I loved coaching speech so much. I was able to help kids create those memories on their own and enjoy them again in the process.

Then I grabbed this coffee mug out of the cupboard and was once again student teaching in a small town not far from where I live now. I ate a lot of instant mac and cheese out of this mug. As the first person in my family to go to college, none of us had a clue about the needs of a college student. I lived in an apartment above a store in downtown. No car, so I walked everywhere. Not much for furniture. No refrigerator or stove! I had a hot plate and a crockpot and the grocery store was on the counter. A small portable TV that got one channel on which I watch every John Wayne movie ever made on Sunday afternoons, while I created lesson places and graded papers. I loved every minute of my time there. I was an adult, learning what kind of teacher I wanted to be and what kind I didn't.

Twenty years ago, we bought our little cabin at the lake. The previous owners left us this little artificial plant and shell doily for us when we took over. I was over the moon happy when we bought our cabin. It had been a life long dream to "live at the lake", and although I don't live there full time, our summers at the lake have definitely been my happy time. Even now, in the midst of quarantining, it brings us JOY to snuggle in there and watch the world around us. We passed on that love and now both boys live close enough to the cabin to visit often in the summer. The grandkids love coming to "the lake" and spending time with us. It truly is our family happy place.

And then, there is the class of 2020. They were freshmen during my last year of teaching and I've had many of them in classes when I sub. Four of them were on my freshmen speech team. In the last week, I've been friended on Facebook by many. Now, my rule has always been that I wouldn't friend kids until after they have their diploma in hand. But this year's class, well, I've made an exception. I don't know why they want to friend me on Facebook, most of them aren't really on much. Maybe it's just the connection from their high school memories. But that's OK. I'm friends with many former students and it's fun to watch their journey to adulthood. And it's nice to remember, that I made a difference, at least to a few.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

#sosmagic20 Heartstretched

It started with a picture.
One picture on Facebook.
Four smiling faces. Four friends looking forward to a night of fun and laughter. Four friends. Soon, much too soon, to become three.
One picture and it was seven years ago, the Monday after prom.

In high schools, the Monday after prom is lazy, full of chatter about weekend events, and whispers in the corners about things teachers shouldn't hear. Phones get passed around with pictures to share and underclassmen listen wistfully about the magic of the night.

But they don't prepare you for Monday after proms like that one,

"for the silence
for the echo in the hallway
even though students walk through them"

I wrote those words seven years ago, and as I write them again today, my heart remembers breaking for a young man who thought there was no other way. The eerie quiet came back, the silent tears remembered. I thought I was prepared for the day, but I wasn't.

This week, as I've checked out Facebook memories, those from seven years ago stand out. His friends are still grieving and I offer virtual hugs, though I know it's not the same as wrapping them in my arms and listening through the tears like I tried to do that day.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

#sosmagic20 Small {Spring} Matters

Have a story tell? Itching to write? Join us!

Spring comes slowly around here.
Winter does not quite want to give up her grip.
A 70-degree day arrives and you think,
"Spring is here!"

You start to believe you can
Drag the deck chairs from the garage and
The flip-flops from the closet.

You watch the buds on the trees
Grow bigger each day,
Almost while you watch.

You walk your way around the yard,
Checking, checking,
For tiny green sprouts to poke through the ground.

The Tiger Lilies fight their way through their leaf blankets.
and the Lily of the Valley finds holes in the rock garden
to spread their little white bells through the gnome village.

Sedums hope you will soon
Cut away the old stems
So they can push to the sky

You itch to grab a rake and
Clear the flower beds of their leaf blankets.
You want to give them
A little more warmth,
A little more room to spread their roots and grow.
So the warmth of the sun
Can work it's MAGIC.

But you don't. Not yet.

Because a day and half later
It snows.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

If This Isn't Nice... Magic.

I almost gave up on MAGIC this year. My One Little Word for 2020 just didn't seem appropriate with the way the world is right now. I mean, how can you look for the MAGIC around you when you can't leave your house!

Almost. Not quite.

An unexpected invitation to chat with writing friends led to
                         an unexpected writing group,
                                                 which led to an unexpected joy of finding more old writing friends
                                                                           and blogging with them again.

And that got me thinking about all the other MAGIC in my life because of writing. 

  • TeachWrite I joined them a while back and loved the people, but really thought about leaving the group until...
  • #100daysofnotebooking Joining this group kickstarted my writing again. We're now on day 102! And this lead me to...
  • The TeachWrite pop-ups on Zoom.
  • This helped me keep connected to people (because this quarantining stuff is hard!)
Writing has been a lifeline this last month!

Video Chats have also been MAGIC. I don't know who figured out the Jetson's way of communicating, but it has also been a blessing. I'm able to keep in contact with family and feel like we're (almost) together. 
Really, Who doesn't love a happy hour video chat?

We "see" the boys and their families at least once a week. The grandkids have Snapchat and House Party and Kids Messenger, so we hear from them even without their parents.

And there is nothing better than the sweet goodnights I'm getting from one of the youngest.

We are probably keeping in closer contact with others now than we were before! But it's one habit that won't go away when the quarantine is over!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Red Letter Day

A RED letter day!

Never did I think I would write for ONE HUNDRED days.
I prepared myself for failure.

I believed I would write consistently for a week or two and then it would dwindle off to once or twice a week until I quit.

Especially after I saw all those pretty pages or those pages of writers who tried something new. It could be pretty intimidating.

But I kept telling myself, "This is my notebook and I can do what I want!"

So I did.

When I hit 31 days and the end of January, I celebrated. And urged myself to write through February too.

And I did.

I celebrated Day 40.
I celebrated the finishing of one notebook and the beginning of another.
I wrote through vacation and a weekend visit with family.

But could I keep it up?

And, somewhere around the end of February, a little voice in my head asked, "What about March?"

I've always loved blogging and I did miss it. But could I do both?

I signed up for the slice of life challenge in a moment of weakness. Before I knew it, I was notebooking and blogging every day. I'm not saying it wasn't hard--it was--but writing has become such a habit, that I couldn't skip a day.

So here I am. One hundred days in a row of writing. My life is chronicled in the pages of these notebooks (and in 31 days of blog posts). My current notebook is almost full and a new one arrives tomorrow that will replace it.

I'll continue recording my days, and fill the notebook with words that are speaking to me and the news of the day. There will be poems and drafts and some things that will never see the light of day. But they will be mine.

I hope that someday
when I am gone,
picks my soul up
off of these pages
and thinks, 
"I would have loved her."
                                            Nicole Lyons

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

#SOL20 Day 31 Almost Normal

Sitting outside on the front stoop with my last cup of coffee for the day.  I close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun shining down, although there’s a cool “last day of March breeze” that makes me happy I have a sweatshirt on. 

The kids across the street at my neighbor's in-home daycare scream and yell their enjoyment, finally able to be outside after a long winter of being entertained inside. The big wheels rumble on the cement, and I hear them calling her name for minor annoyances.

In the distance, a chainsaw whirs, cleaning up winter debris and the strong winds of last weekend.

Chloe does her low throated growl at some unseen threat to our quiet but soon settles back down to sunbathing in the yard. Every now and then, she whines a bit for the walk that has become our habit.

A cardinal calls to his mate and the blackbird caws loudly, probably warning other birds of Chloe's presence. 

All the normal sounds of a normal spring morning.
But we know nothing is as normal as it seems.

Thanks all, for a great month of blogging. I've said to others that the community was more important than the writing at times. Stay safe, stay well, and keep writing.

Monday, March 30, 2020

#SOL20 Day 30 I'm One Tired Woman

I am one tired woman tonight.
The first really nice day we have had. Spring fever hit hard and I needed to get ready.

  • weekly grocery store outing
  • car washed and vacuum
  • deck swept
  • deck chairs hauled out of garage and put in appropriate spots
  • cushions for chairs carried out to appropriate chairs
  • Deck rug lugged up from the basement and put on back deck
  • Easter decorations outside and ready for town social distancing Easter egg hunt
  • long walk and trash pick-up with Chloe and Greg
  • lots of up and down stairs
  • 8500 steps
And this will do for a post tonight. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

#SOL20 Day 29 Words That Are Speaking To Me

Let Me Grow Lovely

Let me grow lovely, growing old--
So many fine things do:
Laces, and ivory, and gold,
And silks need not be new; 
And there is healing in old trees, 
Old streets a glamour hold;
Why may not I, as well as these,
Grow lovely, growing old?
Karle Wilson Baker

These words found me earlier this winter and I keep returning to them time after time. That first line, "Let me grow lovely, growing old--"
has become almost a mantra in the last couple of months. I repeat it often when I feel the grumpy old lady creeping into my brain when I gripe about the weather or the quarantine. I'm working daily on 
"Grow lovely, growing old"

I'm trying to be more patient than when I was younger. I know everything happens in its own time and place.

I move slower than I did when I was younger, but in my slower moves, I notice more--buds on the trees, tulips poking through the ground, people's actions and reactions.

I appreciate the world around me a little more--quiet moments, really good food, time spent with family and friends, handwritten notes.

I try to put myself in other's shoes before judging them. And that can be tough at times

I let things go easier now. Things that really don't matter.  If it doesn't matter a year from now...

I'm trying, really trying to "grow lovely, growing old."

Saturday, March 28, 2020

#SOL20 Day 28. If This Isn't Nice...

Uffda. It's been a week, hasn't it?
Cases of coronavirus increase daily. I think in lots of places, tensions are running high and spirits are running low. I've been working really hard keeping track of all those little moments that bring me JOY.

This week, I'm just going to make a list:

1. Last Saturday was a day of music and joy. We watched a couple of friends play and share their music. Then we found out that the Grand Ole Opry was live-streaming a show, so I hooked my computer up to the TV so we could watch. And because we wanted to end the night with music, we watched the last episode of Ken Burn's country music series that we recorded.

2. My weekly outing to the grocery store yielded TOILET PAPER! I don't think I've ever been so excited to buy a package of toilet paper, but after the empty shelves of a week ago, this was really nice to see. The shelves were stocked well in all areas. Our grocery store is doing an amazing job throughout this whole thing.

3. Video chatting is becoming my favorite thing. We can't be together, but it sure is nice visiting with family this way!

4. Our little town has also started a Bear Hunt. If you haven't heard about it, people in the community put bears of all shapes and sizes in their windows and yards. Then when people are out walking with their kids or dogs, they can "hunt" for the bears. Plans are to switch out bears for eggs on April 1st.

5. Daily walks with Chloe are so good for my soul. She's as happy as we are to get outside and move. I check for bears and signs of spring. She sniffs everything in her path for the mile we walk. I've also started carrying an extra bag when we walk. I slip one on my hand and I can pick up trash while we walk. Might as well do something good for the world while I'm out enjoying it!

6. The stimulus package passed through Congress. Deposits or checks will be coming soon they tell us. In my family, I know this money will be a big help as we live through this pandemic.

Well, those are the big things this week. I think next week I'm going to start writing them in my notebook each day. I want to be more intentional in this habit.

Friday, March 27, 2020

#SOL20 Day 27 Let's (not) Get Physical

One of my favorite Facebook friends is a former student who I had in class several times during her time in our district. I love her because she is so upbeat most of the time. She makes the world a better place just by being in it.

The other day, she posted this:

I've been thinking about it a lot since she posted it. And, she is right!

Physically, my husband and I are distancing all the time. We are careful when we have to buy groceries. We make sure we get everything we need in one trip, we avoid busy times, we keep our distance in the aisles. Other than walking the dog, we don't go anywhere else.

But we haven't quit being social. In fact, in some ways, we're more social than ever. We keep in touch with family almost daily. And now, instead of just talking on the phone, we are video chatting with those we love (well, except my mom in the land of the internetless). We saw one son and his family last weekend. Had a glass of wine with the other. Tonight we are waiting to visit with my sister-in-law and her husband. We talk with all of these family members more than ever before!

When Chloe and I walk, we wave and shout hello to anyone we see out and about. We keep our physical distance, but we can still be social! It brightens our day and theirs too. I've met more neighbors in the last couple of weeks than ever before. And all it takes is a "Hi. How ya doin'?" and a conversation starts.

So I'm going to start using the phrase physical distancing from now on. Because I never quit being social.

    We're picking up trash as we walk too. Might as well do something good for the world while we       walk!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

#SOL20 Day 26 My Favorite Lie

"Mamacita! Who are you today?"

A student stops, turns, and asks, "Wait. She's your mom?"

And so begins,

My Favorite Lie

Libby and I shared a classroom for several years. She went half time after the birth of her oldest daughter and I split my time between junior high and high school. It made sense for us to share a room. 

We are both early-to-school teachers and mornings could be crazy with students dropping in for one reason or another. We'd laugh and cry over bagels and coffee (or orange juice for Libby) many, many mornings. We'd joke about the youngest teacher and the oldest teacher sharing a room, she called me "old but fun", we'd share stories about her daughter and my grandkids. 

At some point, she began calling my mom.

Of course, a student heard that. 

I got an email during class one day telling me what she'd done. "Go along with it", she said. And I did. But I never thought it would go on as long as it has. I mean, kids would figure it out, right?

Most didn't though. Or maybe they chose to believe us. But we always stuck to our story. 

There would be the smart one who asked why we didn't have the same last name.
Duh. She got married.
Or the really smart one who noticed that Libby's maiden name wasn't Day.
Well, Mrs. Day doesn't really like to talk about her past.

Last year was the best, though, when we pulled another person into our story -- Libby's oldest daughter. 

I was doing a long term sub for Libby's team teacher and was in her room every day for freshmen English. This class also included a few gifted and talented 8th graders. They returned to the junior high one day and asked Libby's daughter if I was really her grandma. 

"Well, yea," she told them. 

"Story confirmed" they came back and told the class the next day.

Another group of believers.

Hey, Grandma!

Wait! She's your grandma?

And so it continues.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

#SOL20 Day 25. 2 Minute Journal

Every once in a while, you need a fall-back post. Something quick to write while you think of a better post for tomorrow. Today is one of those days (although I'm sure I'll need more than two minutes!)

Something I am grateful for today: We've talked to most of our families in the last few days and everyone is doing what they are supposed to do and are staying healthy. My 85-year old mom is even staying home and that is something.

We're becoming more proficient with Facetime and Facebook Messenger calls, although some of the grandkids got a chuckle when we talked the other night. But at least we get to see them and chat!

The best thing that happened today: We got some mail from one of our grandsons, which brought a smile to our faces.

AND, there was toilet paper at the grocery store! Who would have thought we'd be so excited to buy a package of toilet paper!

Something I did well today: I have a great pot of soup on the stove.
I remembered to thank the grocery store workers as I saw them in the aisles.

How I could have made today better: I need to get out and exercise more during this time. It's dark and dreary here this week, raining off and on, and it's just hard to get motivated. Hopefully, we'll get some sunshine and I'll find the energy to get up and go!

How I'll make the rest of today great: I'm going to spend some time tonight reading slices and commenting on as many as I can.  I'm also going to make myself a plan for tomorrow and try to accomplish a little more!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

#SOL20 Day 24. The Lady in Gray

She sits in her 
White Plastic Lawn Chair
on the front stoop.

Wearing her
Gray Star Dotted PJ Pants
and gray polka-dotted socks
(with the hole in the heel)
and drinking
Red Wine.

The World Walk By
as she follows
The Orders
to stay home
Get fresh air.

Monday, March 23, 2020

#SOL20 Day 23 Fine. Whatever.

I'll get dressed.
I don't really want to, but
Really I just want is to stay in my robe
All Day.

But I'll get dressed
(comfortably, I might add)

And, fine. 
I'll join the pop-up
Writing Group
on Zoom. 

I don't really want to.
I can't think of a 
Damn Thing 
to say.

I'll write.
Because if I don't
Do It Now
I might not do it
At All.

And then
I won't get my notebook pages written
and forget about
A Blog Post. 
I probably won't 
Get Anything Done.

Does it even matter?

Yes. Yes, it does!
Because through this whole mess, 
I've been writing and 
Being Pretty Positive. 
Today it is just hard to get motivated. 

So. Fine. Whatever.
I wrote.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

#SOL20 Day 22 I'm Going to a Party!

If you want to join in on Leigh Anne's Spring Fling, check it out here

Dear Leigh Anne,
I'm so happy you invited me to your Spring Fling this year. This whole quarantine thing can be kind of confining, a pain in the rear, hard,  lonely, so getting together with friends, even virtually, is a great way to brighten up your day!

I've been thinking a lot about self-care since I got your invitation. Everyone has different ways to take care of themselves, but here's what I'm bringing:

Check out Moon River

Music  Since this whole quarantining thing began, I've rediscovered music I love. And some new music too. I've been watching live stream concerts, DVD's that we have, specials on TV and our old albums and CDs. The music brings such JOY when I listen to it, that I just have to share. Let me know what kind of music you like. I'm sure we have it. I know for sure I'm going to bring James Taylor's new album, American Standard. It's full of old tunes sung like only James Taylor could.

Chloe.  I'm bringing Chloe because she makes everyone happy. She's silly and energetic. Chloe loves people and wants them to love her too. She's up for cuddling and being petted. She loves to go for walks or play games of fetch. I just know that she is going to get us all up and moving, with a little laughter thrown in for good measure.

Wine and Chocolate. What's a party without one or the other? You can pick your poison, so to speak. As we sit and visit, we can share a small indulgence and spoil ourselves a bit. Some days, you just have to do that. If my husband was coming, he'd bring pie. One of my besties would bring really good coffee. We all have little things like this that make a moment special. It's important for us all to do this now.

I'm going to bring one more thing if that's OK Leigh Anne. And that is forgiveness. 
Forgive yourself for not being the perfect spouse, child, sibling, teacher, parent, etc.
Forgive yourself for your anger at the situation.
Forgive yourself for not getting your lists completed.
Forgive others for not calling, for calling, for taking all the toilet paper.
Forgive your boss for not knowing exactly what to do.
Forgive the government for the same thing.

Forgiveness doesn't make you weak. It doesn't mean you don't care anymore. Forgiveness is for healing. And that's the best self-care I know.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

#SOL20 Day 21. If This Isn't Nice...

I've been celebrating those moments in my life for a few years now. It's the little things that make me happy. And it's those little things I want to remember. So I've resurrected my Friday Favorites, Celebrations, Gratitudes, in my new writing life. 

"If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." 

1. The sun is shining today and that is a wonderful mood lifter. After a couple of days of dark and dreary rain, topped off with an inch and a half of snow, sunshine is just what we need.

2. A simple trip to a Target about an hour from us (everything is an hour from us, to be fair), was also a mood lifter. It was nice to get out of the house even if we did feel rebellious doing it. We found some things that weren't in stock at our hometown grocery and felt like we won the lottery. No toilet paper, but we are OK for now!

3. We took Chloe in the car with us when we went to Target. She was as excited as we were to get out of the house. Really. I should have recorded her smiling in the car!

4. Charged up my Fitbit again, so it would remind me to get up and move every hour. It gets to easy to just snuggle in my chair.

5. I'm loving the concerts that are popping up on social media. I've started adding them to my calendar with an alert so I don't forget to watch them. Today, a couple of friends are playing since their gig got canceled. It will be good to see them!

6. We've been very intentional about keeping in touch with family and friends. Working on getting most of us on Facetime, Zoom, Skype, something so that it seems like we are together. Last night we had a glass of wine with my sister-in-law and her husband.

7. On Thursday, I wrote with the TeachWrite group via Zoom. It felt like sitting in a room with friends (and I was). The social connection a great side-benefit. Just chatting for a few minutes about the world we live in now. I honestly can't wait for the next one.

I hope you are finding your way in this "new normal" we are all experiencing. Take time every day to find your JOY.

Friday, March 20, 2020

#SOL20 Day 20. Chloe Writes: The New Normal

They're home again? All day?
Especially Mom. It's been a long time since she's been gone all day. Even Dad doesn't leave every day.

I'm missing my naps.

Wait! She's getting dressed! Maybe she's going to leave!
Or, maybe she's taking me somewhere. Yippee! I love going in the car. It's always someplace fun when we go. Well, almost always...

She's wrapped up in her furry blanket again.
Dang it.

Dad's up. But he's not doing anything either.

Maybe if I grab a ball and look really cute. Or my rope.
Nope. That's not working either.

What the heck are they home for if they're not going to play with me?

I better stay awake just in case.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

#SOL20 Day 19 But You Can Wear Those to the Store!

I’m puzzled. “For what?”
“You wore real clothes all day today!”

I knew that staying in my robe ‘til noon and then changing into pajama pants and a sweatshirt was not going to cut it,

But REALLY! I was wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt.

Not much difference.

“But you can wear those to the store!”

FYI. I DO NOT wear pajama pants out in public—-well maybe at the lake, but that’s different. I always change out of my pajama pants and into jeans when I have to go out.  I just change right back when I get home.

Doesn’t he notice anything?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

#SOL20 Day 18. Birthday to Remember

At 63, I've had my share of memorable birthdays. The first one I remember, I was really young, 3 or 4 maybe. My dad brought home a birthday cake with a doll in the center and the cake formed its dress. I don't remember anything else. I don't know if others were there. I really don't know how old I was. I just remember looking at that cake.

When I was 8 or 9, my grandparents picked me up from school on my birthday. They were going to buy me new shoes for birthday. As I opened the door, my tights flew out onto the street and started rolling up the street. Now, why Grandma had me take my tights off and put on socks, I haven't a clue. All I remember was crying because I lost them and my grandpa racing up the street after them.

When I was 40, my husband threw a surprise party for me. The house was full of family and friends when I came home from speech contest. It was so fun. But the best part of the night was the speech kids who kept showing up at the house trying to TP the trees outside. But several friends smoked and would be outside when the kids showed up. The kids kept getting caught. The last time they showed up, one was roaming around in the backyard. He had lost his cell phone!  To this day, I love to bring that night up to them.

At 60, I threw my own party. Invited anyone who wanted to come to join me at a bar not far from our house and listen to a friend's band. My lake friends showed up with St Pat's wigs, necklaces, lights, etc. It was really one of my more fun birthdays.

And, then, there was yesterday. Really the weirdest birthday I have ever had. Coronavirus Birthday. The concert we were to see was postponed. Our governor ordered all bars and restaurants closed. There really was not anywhere to go or anything to do.

So, we made the best of it. We sat outside in the sunshine a bit and drank a glass of wine. I did have to wear a winter coat and wrap a blanket around my legs. It is March in Iowa. But it was nice to get a little fresh air and see the neighbors out and about. My husband cooked me a steak and we watched our favorite shows on TV.

Not exactly a birthday like the rest. But it was a good one just the same.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

#SOL20 Day 17. Things I Love About My Life

Today I turn 63. I don't feel much different than I did at 40. In fact, a few things have shocked me lately.

  • I am one of the "older Americans" at risk for Covid19
  • I can shop early at some of the stores that are doing special hours for the "elderly"

So I decided today I needed to make a list of the things I love about life right now!
  1. Senior discounts. First Tuesday of the month at the pharmacy, hotel discounts, movie theatre discounts...
  2. Early bird specials!
  3. Being retired. I can plan my days just how I like. And if I don't get my list done? Well, there's always tomorrow.
  4. People think because I'm old, I'm wise. I'm not. They just think I am.
  5. My hubby and I are the "cute" old couple now.
  6. Technology. I grew up with party lines. Now I can Facetime with a friend across the world and my grandkids!
  7. Also, technology--the internet makes connecting to the world so easy. And who doesn't need connections of any kind today!
  8. Plants and flowers of any kind--even fake ones in my windowsill when it's too early for real ones.
  9. Not exchanging presents with my husband anymore and instead, investing in "experiences". Concerts, vacations, plays are all better than more things. 
  10. Now I can go early to shop at many stores!
  11. Buying myself presents.
  12. My kids think I'm really old so they worry about me.
  13. Wine every day is good for me.
  14. Netflix.
  15. Chloe is getting as old as me and doesn't need quite so many walks!
  16. A husband who will cook me a good steak when all the restaurants are closed, even though he can't eat one.
  17. Facebook, Two Writing Teachers, and #100daysofnotebooking. Seriously. these are my connections right now. Thanks for checking in!

3/17 I'm So Lucky

  I'm so lucky to have a birthday on St. Patrick's Day☘️ Everyone likes to celebrate my birthday (even if they don't like green ...