Today, for the first time in over a year, I took a full breath. Why, you ask? Because my parents rec’d their second Covid shots yesterday. While we still have to use common sense and precautions – hand washing, masks, low number congregations, what this means is that I can take them shopping for groceries once again. I’ve been doing it for them the past year because I didn’t want them around potential carriers of Covid 19. Now that they are immunized, I can allow them out of the house to shop and take walks again.
They are truly thankful.
And, praise Jesus, so I am!
So, what good things happened to you this past week? Inquiring minds ( mine!) want to know.
I’m chockfull of weird and wacky blog titles this week, eh?? Hee Hee
What it boils down to is that I’ve been living a very boring life of late, self isolating and writing/editing my next indie book, and reading other books for review on Netgalley. In addition to taking care of home and hearth and my parents. And their home and hearth.
I have no new news, no witty stories, no personal revelations with which to fill this blog up. I even missed the last two Long and Short Reviews Wednesday Blogging challenges because I was immersed in writing.
If you open the dictionary and find the definition for “pathetic lifestyle” you will see my picture.
Not kidding. Not even a little.
So…do I try and make something up that will delight and titillate you? Do I – once again – try to get you to buy any of my books by putting up snippets to intrigue you? Do I comment on current events? I am truly at a loss of what to write today.
I could tell you about the DIY wasp traps my husband discovered on the Internet to fight our growing wasp problem, and which he made all by himself. I’m truly happy all my empty liter Diet Mountain Dew bottles didn’t die in vain. Nothing in the traps yet, though.
I could tell you about my wonderful summer vacation plans….but I don’t have any.
I could share how I’ve started yet another diet in the attempt to fit into my dress for my daughters wedding – the one she has had to postpone twice now due to the pandemic – and how I’m literally starving most of the day. I might even admit that I bought two boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the grocery store yesterday and WHAM!!! Gained 6 pounds by the time I got home. But that seems too…depressing and self revelatory.
I could share how happy I was when I finally – after 12 weeks – got my hair colored last week. But then I wonder: did you know I color my hair? Did I just ruin your opinion of me??
Truthfully, when I read all of those things back they are really pretty pathetic and boring….
Kinda like me.
So, I guess I’ll go do some more editing and then maybe take a walk…on the treadmill of course, because…you know….social distancing and the pandemic.
Until next time, peeps, when I sincerely hope I have something to write about ~ Peg
First, please know that I started self isolating before it was a “thing” where I live. From the first time I heard about Covid, back when it was simply called Coronovirus, in late January, I had a premonition a shit storm was coming, so I stayed home starting in February, after first stocking up on enough medical supplies, non perishable food items, and other things, to last a while.
Then the order to stay home came and, since I already was, my life didn’t change much.
Oh, there were a few things like going out to eat, and attending church that did, but we were able to do Door Dash and drive by pickup so we did get to eat some things other than what I cooked a few times. Not many.
One thing we didn’t do was attend church, though, because the Catholic diocese in my state ordered the churches to close.
For the first time in my memory the Church put personal safety ahead of religious practice.
Now, not attending actual Mass for almost 3 months was something I hadn’t done since my confirmation at the age of 11, so when this past weekend the diocese finally did open up again, of course Hubby and attended.
We were masked ( as we are anytime we go out the door now) and we were delighted to find that the Knights of Columbus volunteers were directing people where to sit ( 1 pew apart, only 2 people in a pew) the Priest was masked during communion, he sanitized his hands after every giving of the host, and the host itself was airdropped into the parishioners’ hands. No “shake of peace” – a practice I don’t like on non-pandemic days for sososo many reasons, and no processional out the door with a priestly handshake.
Yes, it was weird. Yes, it was different. But it was safe and sanitary, so…
As we drove home we spotted most of the restaurants in our tiny town opened again with only outdoor seating. I felt good about the fact so many people were seated and dining – good for the owners of the restaurants because I know how they were struggling and good for the servers because they were back at jobs instead of foundering on unemployment. All the servers wore masks and even though I didn’t think the tables were exactly 6 feet apart, as least they weren’t jammed on top of one another.
So, this will be the norm for the next year or so or until a vaccine is discovered. While I will not be dining outside at the restaurants because I actually don’t like dining outside in restaurants ( personal preference) I am happy to see others don’t have the open air seating phobia I have, and I am delighted to be able to attend Mass again. Even though I pray and have prayed every day at home during this trying time, there’s something about doing in in a designated house of the Lord with someone ordained that just elevates it, in my humble opinion.
Hope your new normal is something you can live with, too.\
I’m a big planner – you know that because you know I like to plot my stories before I ever write a word.
Part of planning for the future – be it an event, a wedding, a trip, or even where you want to go in your career – involves thinking, researching and in some cases ( like mine!) doing a vision board.
5 years ago when I set out on my publishing journey, I made a vision board of what I wanted to happen in my life. One of the things I plastered across it was a meme that read 3 YEAR PLAN. I had originally intended to update it after 3 years, but life gets in the way, you know?
Since the world stopped a few weeks ago for the majority of us, I decided to finally update my board. I truly believe in my heart and soul that seeing ( visualizing) what you want to happen in your life is the first step in making it happen.
This is the updated version of my writing career path, wants and desires, 5 years in:
There are lots of little Peggy-isms on this board that I want to highlight for you:
First, I believe you can only grow by learning from others. Those two people in the top left of my board are my mentors ( even though they don’t know it!) If it weren’t for Jack Canfield giving me the tools on how to live my best and most successful life, I probably wouldn’t be published today. And Nora Roberts’ career path is one I so admire and want for my own! The sign says it all: KEEP CALM AND LEARN FROM THE BEST. In my humble opinion, these 2 are the best. And look: I met them both!
I am so intune with this statement and the one in blue below it: I believe that I can and I will, and She believed she could and she did! You have to believe in yourself, your dream, and your path to success. If you don’t believe in it/yourself, no one else will.
There’s a line from an old Kevin Costner movie that goes “If you build it, they will come.” I Peggy-fied that to read “if you think it, it will come to you.” Notice the three different Best Seller tags on this part. One of my life goals is to be a bestselling author, but Jack Canfield always says why stop at just one? Magnify your goal and dream x10, so…. I want to make as many best seller lists/categories as I can. Is that big enough? For now, yes.
This time, there’s no time stamp on the board. Why? Well, my career is not going to stop once I achieve the goals I’ve set forth on it here. So, once I do achieve them, I guess I’ll make a new vision board.
I was going to take a break for a day because the rest of the week and into the weekend is already plotted for me. But as I was trolling Facebook this morning, one of my friends posted this picture and I knew i had to write something to express how it made me feel when I spotted it.
If you know me you know how important my Catholic faith is to me. You also know that I have a medical background and sometimes the two theologies war with one another when I’m faced with decisions I need to make that have consequences. This may be the first time in my life that both teachings have collided so forcefully for me.
All that aside, when I saw this photo I started crying.
I don’t know what I would do, how I would be able to survive, if someone I loved died alone because they were in isolation. To not be able to be there when their last breath on this earth is expelled; to not be able to hold their hand while their soul leaves for Heaven; to be unable to kiss their forehead or cheek, or hug them one last time before you never see them again. I know in my heart, despite my faith, I wouldn’t be able to go on.
This is something I never talk about, but today I’m willing to share it because I need to face that the current pandemic may effect me in just this way. I am not afraid of many things. Truly, I’m not. But the one fear I do have and which is my biggest fear in life, is dying alone or having someone I love die without me there with them.
To be cut off from the people you love most in the world, to be isolated in a room surrounded by machines, shut off from human contact because hands are double gloved, faces are masked, and clothing is covered by protective gear, to not be able to hold the hand of your spouse or parent or child as they leave this planet and this life. All those things terrify me.
My darling daughter is quarantined 300 miles away from me. I have not seen her since Christmas. If she were to be stricken with the virus I would go mad with worry. Stark raving mad. Not to be able to care for her, touch her, be with her, would send me over the edge mentally and emotionally. I’m sobbing right now writing this at just the thought.
My parents are 30 minutes away from me and quarantined in their mobile home. Both are high risk due to age and chronic conditions and they have seen no one other than me when I deliver food to them for almost a month. I jumped on the bandwagon of self isolation early because I could see what was coming and I knew they were at risk. If either of them were stricken and, God forbid died, my heart would break because I couldn’t be with them.
Every night I pray for my family, my friends, the people of this country and then the world. To die is part of living, I know that and I get it. But to die alone, without the people who love you and who you love with you, is by far the worse thing I can think of. Human touch, the human one-on-one connection, is so ingrained in us as a species, that to be robbed of the ability to reach out and touch another person, or to sit with them or offer comfort, is anathema and counterintuitive to who and what we are.
As this pandemic kills even more people and destroys the lives of those left behind to survive without their loved ones, I am taking my cue today from Pope Francis and praying for all those who have died alone, and for those families who have never had a chance to kiss them goodbye.
And I am keeping all the front line doctors, nurses, police, fire fighters and EMTS who have become surrogates for so many loved ones, in my prayers as well. Their sacrifices can not have been made in vain.
So the other day I had so many responses to my question about how my writer friends are coping with the new normal in the pandemic world, that I had to write 2 blogs to post them all! hee hee. I have really great friends.
My husband and I retired two years ago and we’ve gotten use to being home a lot more in that time, but knowing we can’t just jump in the car and go somewhere is a bit unnerving. Since we live where it’s still quite cold (Michigan), we also have learned to deal with staying home more in the winter weather. But, here are a few things I do to try to keep from going too stir crazy when stuck at home, and so I’m not just at the computer all day.
Get outside at least once a day. Fill the bird feeders and feed the squirrels. Take the dogs out in the back yard (My husband tries to walk one dog every day. I say try because Ace doesn’t always want to go, lol!)
Choose one household project per day to finish, something I’ve been putting off for a while. Then I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I have a long list!
Have a treat in the afternoon; hot chocolate, coffee cake, something that makes me feel good.
Post soothing/fun photos on Facebook/Instagram and try to avoid the scary stuff.
WRP sistah and friend Julie Howard has these recommendations for sanity:
I thought I’d chime in on my own sanity tip for your blog.
Spending too much time indoors is a guarantee for craziness, no matter if there’s a pandemic or not. I have to get outside and walk. Fortunately, it’s spring and there are blossoms and buds to admire on nearly every tree. Daffodils are in full bloom which means tulips aren’t far behind. This is a wonderful time to clear the cobwebs in my brain, process all that’s happening, and even conjure a plot or two in one of my books. I always return home refreshed. Who knows what tomorrow brings, and so I focus on the moment. Small pleasures, like a simple walk.
I, too, pretty much prefer the isolation of the writing life; but it’s curious, now that I’m told I have to stay home, I want to go out visiting & shopping, esp. the bookstores, lol! Human nature, I guess. So, like yo, my routine isn’t changed drastically except no more last minute running to store or restaurant for take out dinners; and no more escape to a movie theater once a week. Instead, I’ve changed my routine like this:
Cooking meals instead of eating out- I’m finding it soothing and something to look forward to — finding a new recipe and making a great meal for family. Never thought I’d have fun finding new dishes & actually taking the time to cook them!
Sharing information: I know many elderly people/family who either don’t use a computer or are limited in its use. So I’m researching local stores & restaurants to find hours, & places that have pickup service and/or deliver groceries & meals, & even medications. I also offered to bring food & place at their front door if they run out or can’t cook. Helping others takes me out of my own head & problems.
Getting out for fresh air & sunlight to walk even just for 20 min where others are not congregated, ie: around a pretty-much deserted neighborhood or beach. Or if I start getting really claustrophobic, we just drive around in the car and look at nature or a sunset. Find something each day to do for yourself that takes you away from all the bad news and your own fears. (Thank goodness for Netflix, Prime & wonderful BOOKS!)
Faith & prayer. When fear of the future grabs me, praying and reaching out to family & friends via internet/phone/skype always helps. We’re all in this together.
My dear friend and fellow New York sistah Charlotte O’Shay has been self isolating for the past few weeks and gives these tips for coping:
“Covid-19 is war. With a large immediate and extended family in the New York metro area and with some including me with underlying respiratory vulnerabilities, we have to win it.
Living as we do, cheek by jowl in NYC, is a challenge even in the best of times and these days are not the best of times. Here are some of my coping methods.
FaceTime conference calls with family and friends, photo-sharing, recipe sharing, story sharing, joke sharing. We’re sitting around a big virtual dinner table cheering each other up and on. This is not easy as many of us have been furloughed, let go or business has plain stopped during the pandemic.
My husband and I have been self-isolated for 10 days. We structure our days as work days, take a break to walk at day’s end while keeping social distance. Saturday spent cleaning.
Constant hand washing, reading, writing, meditation, prayer, listening to music. Last night we had a mini James Taylor concert via Spotify. After actual though virtual work, husband reads Hemingway and binge watches the Last Kingdom. I’ve written 75% of a new indie romance.
My mom raised us to respect a dollar and water down eggs and tomato sauce to stretch the meal and I’ve been doing the same. It’s a challenge to see what I can come up with out of my pantry and it’s distressing and depressing to see some hoard. My sister and I scoured NYC to grocery shop for my disabled brother and elderly mom. We continue to give to charities like Food Bank. Their work providing food to those with food insecurity is more important than ever and my kids have given as well. When I couldn’t buy corned beef anywhere, we picked up corned beef takeout for St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve ordered takeout from two local restaurants which we are allowed to do with precautions of surface cleaning and hand washing.
I’m not really baking aside from sodabread for St. Patrick’s Day. With all of the enforced inactivity and pasta, I don’t need the calories though I confess I’ve eaten much more than my fair share of cheese lately.
#5-Only listen to/read trusted news sources. This is very important. Gov. Cuomo’s news conferences, WHO, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Info, NHI, CDC are the sources of my information.
#6-Social media distancing-while I try to find the humor in anything I post or read in this unnerving time, I confess I’ve never been a big fan of social media. I’m having trouble watching people via FB or Instagram or Twitter who aren’t seeing this pandemic for what it is when so many of their fellow American health care professionals, first responders and other essential workers are going all out and risking their health to serve and protect.
#7-I’m reading A LOT and I’m guessing others are too. I’ve put my books on sale.”
When this is over I want to give everyone in my life a big hug.!
Peggy here: me, too!!!
One of my newer WRP sistahs, Marilyn Barr sent me this heartfelt email about getting through these trying times:
Six years ago, my son was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases and declared too sick for school by our local private school. I quit my job as a public school teacher to manage his medical care and homeschool him. He has grown stronger over the years and can now handle moderate groups of kids for short periods. He will be exhausted but with his immunotherapy, he will not contract illnesses from the limited exposure. We must carefully examine every acceptable risk which leads to some hard choices for my husband and me. When we made these life changes, it was a difficult transition but it has been worth it. These are my top 5 tips and tricks to being in isolation.
· Replace the rhythm supplied by school and work. Having work or school meant a schedule of activities leading to a natural rhythm. Being devoid of this can be jarring to our systems and can cause anxiety. You can recreate the rhythm by setting alarms on your phone at the same time each day for a special activity or having a theme each day of the week. In my house, Laundry Day is Friday, In-house Date Night with my spouse is Thursday, Baking Day is Wednesday, Deep Cleaning is Tuesday, Trash Day is Monday, Sunday is Yardwork Day (year-round) and Saturday is Game Tournament day. Some daily themes are more fun than others. Every day my phone has alarms for 5:00 am writing time, 11:11 am meditation, 2:30 pm yoga, 4:00 pm silent reading, and 9:30 pm star-gazing and moon-spotting.
· Balance screen time with screen-free activities. Screens provide enjoyment but can eat up a large portion of our day. Parents are grateful for the temporary peace screen-time provides until their children become dysregulated from too much exposure to artificial lights and stimulation. By utilizing the alarms on my phone, I can break up blocks of screen time with low-tech activities to give my son’s eyes a rest. My favorite screen reset activities are yoga and meditation because they calm his nervous system further. However, a nature walk, time spent playing with the cats and practicing his piano are all healthy activities. Silent reading, playing cards, and craft projects also help process some of the stimulus provided by screen time.
· Maintain pride in your appearance and surroundings. While pajama day once in a while is fun, ignoring hygiene makes for unpleasant-smelling roommates. I always feel better when I look better and hypothesize it is the real reason why Donna Reed vacuumed in her pearls while her family was at work/school. Maintaining shower schedules, housecleaning schedules, and hygiene routines all contribute to the daily rhythm which regulates our emotions. I highly recommend taking this one step further and dressing up once a week for a candlelight dinner in your dining room complete with your favorite outfit, make-up (if you wear it), heels, special jewelry, and cologne. You will be amazed at how special you feel being dressed up when you have nowhere to go.
· Utilize technology to create worldwide social opportunities. While my son has never been to school, he takes live classes on Outschool.com. In his French book club, he met his best friend who lives in Belgium. He sings in a choir whose director is in Calgary Canada. He learned electronic dance music equipment and toured his teacher’s club booth in England in virtual music remixing class. He met some of his French social club friends on our last vacation to Montreal. Zoom, Facetime and some MMOs provide ways to connect with friends virtually.
· Brainstorm curiosities you didn’t previously have time to pursue. Instead of lamenting the extra time you have, you can turn it into a positive one. What have you always wanted to study but never had the time? I have always wanted to visit the megaliths of England and was excited to find free virtual tours of the world’s landmarks offered to bust quarantine boredom. Also, if you are like me, your TBR tower reaches for the ceiling. Reading new books and having the time to leave reviews has been a bonus for both myself and my son. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than reading his opinions on his school materials to us. (My last planned science lesson got “zero stars – does not recommend” with “change science to poetry” as the suggested recommendation for service improvement.)
I hope this can provide some inspiration for those thrust into a different lifestyle. The hardest part of isolation is providing the natural rhythm and structure for yourself and maintaining your standards of living with no outside motivation. By balancing the fun of reduced responsibilities with the needs of our sensory systems, we can recreate the inner harmony to stay happy and well-adjusted.
We all have predictable schedules during our normal lives and we usually can’t get it all done. Now that we are working from home and have more time for ourselves, you may want to consider some of the things I do every day when I take a break from working on my novel.
Read the New York Times and a Local Paper
Do a Crossword Puzzle, cryptoquip, scramble, and/or sudoku
Read a book
Pick up the phone and have a conversation with a friend or relative
Start a jigsaw puzzle (can you tell I like puzzles of all kinds)
Take a walk outside or some other exercise
The following I should add to my list, but the jury is out.
Clean out a closet or drawer
Cook something good
Great ideas I saw on the internet
Take a virtual tour of one of 12 museums around the world
Take a dance lesson
Borrow one of 500,000 books free from the New York Public Library
Take a virtual trip to an aquarium or zoo
Take a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace, the Galapagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef
Is it any wonder I love my writing sistahs sososos much??
Until next time, peeps: WASH YOUR HANDS!!!
It’s been at least a week since #stayhome started trending everywhere in the U.S. I was actually a little ahead of the curve because I started self isolating the moment I heard about the nursing home patients in Washington. I knew, instinctively, that was just the beginning.
Am I psychic?
Not even a little. Just infection wise.
I became a registered nurse during the infant age of AIDS. Back when pneumocystis carini pneumonia( PCP) was rapidly making its way through the gay male population of New York – where I worked and lived – I was a nursing student in Bellevue Hospital in NYC. During my intensive care rotation, I was assigned to, and took care of, a young, comatose, black man. The nurse in charge told me that the health department was seeing an uptick in this new strange pneumonia infecting and killing young, gay men. The patient wasn’t in isolation at the time because the medical establishment thought the disease wasn’t transmissible. No one knew what AIDS was yet. Conventional wisdom dictated that you couldn’t catch pneumonia from another person. You can catch the bacteria or virus organism that may affect your respiratory system, but just being in contact with someone who has pneumonia doesn’t mean you will get it. Even still, precautions were taken when caring for the young man and we wore gloves while touching him.
Not gowns. Not masks. Not respirators.
I remember so vividly thinking at the time the we should have–if not for our own safety, but for that young man’s– been better protected. He was already immunocompromised. What if the staff carried something to him? We could have been making his condition even worse. ICU’s are a hotbed of germs and invisible pathogens. When you are caring for someone in a coma you come in very close contact. Even a common cold could have killed him if one of us breathed over him and sneezed, or coughed.
Flash forward 40 years ( and doesn’t that blow my mind!!! 40 years since I was in nursing school) to this moment in time. As with PCP, Covid 19 came out of no where and is now decimating people all over the world. And this time we know for a fact that if we are carriers of the virus we can infect and potentially kill people.
Read that again. If we have the virus, even if we are not symptomatic, we can potentially kill people we come in contact with.
Why, then, are there still individuals walking around without a care in the world? Why, then, are the Gen X’s still on spring break, crowding into bars? Traveling in packs? Why are people in retirement communities still going to bingo and rumba lessons? And for God’s sake, why aren’t all schools – all levels, including college – still not closed?
Have we truly become a nation of people who don’t care about others? Care about how our actions affect other people, those who are already compromised due to chronic health issues, or homeless, or have no access to adequate health care?
I don’t think we have – at least I hope we haven’t. All indications to the contrary aside, I truly believe we are a nation who cares.
So if you fall in the category of people who I think care about others, first, bless you. Then, if you are not an essential member of the work force – nurse, doctor, EMT, fireman, grocery story worker, pharmacist – then stay the hell home. If you don’t care about infecting others, then care about being infected yourself. This is the one time in your life it will be okay to be a hermit.
This is a practice the medical experts tell us will surely flatten the curve of new cases developing, which will in turn get us out of the situation faster and hopefully with less people afflicted and/or dead.
Listen to the experts. Not your next door neighbor or your son’s girlfriend’s mother who owns a nail salon and says that the virus won’t get to them. Hey, they wash their hands, they tell you. Often. Don’t listen to political pundits who tell you everything is fine and we have nothing to worry about. They just want your vote so they can stay in their cushy jobs.
Ignore these people.
LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS. The Public Health doctors and scientists and researchers who have as their purpose in life the health and well being of the population.
Take this time to take a beat and do what is recommended by the people in the know. This will pass. If we take precautions and listen and do as we are told, it will pass quicker and with less loss of life, erosion of our economy, and destruction of our lifestyle.
Life as we’ve known it will return to normal if we listen to the people who know best. Don’t be a self righteous, ignorant dick and think you are the one person in the world this will not touch. Because it will.
There is so much bad news in the world right now with the Covid 19 pandemic, that sporting events and anything public-oriented is being canceled. School kids are told to stay home; colleges are having virtual classes; most companies that can are encouraging their workers to work from their living rooms.
People are isolating themselves in their homes to prevent getting sick, waiting to get sick, or are currently sick and waiting to get better.
You can only watch so much TV before your mind turns to uncongealed jello, folks, so I’m proposing a radical idea to help pass the time, with the added benefit of giving you hours of pleasure: READ A BOOK. Preferably, one of mine ( shameless plug)
I have so many fabulous author friends, and I saw a post on Facebook from one of them, Cheri Allan, asking for book recommendations for people who are forced to stay home for the next two weeks or month.
What an amazing and unselfish request!
So you know I had to steal it.
If you are reading this and you are an author friend of mine- or even if you are not – go ahead and place a link for your current book in the comments section below. ONE WORD OF CAUTION: I don’t like to feature erotica on my blog because it is a PG safe place, so no erotica links please.