Pandemic Day 7 hundred thousand million trillion: How to keep yourself hopeful.

 

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I wrote this with my foot (I’m so talented!) several years ago, while driving up the coast from LA to San Francisco. It was the cutest little town called Cambria.Remember when we used to go on trips? Wasn’t that fun……

 

Is one day merging into another? Are you thinking about if this will ever be over, not when? Does your dog give you the evil eye when you get the leash? Have you begun to reminisce about the good old days when you could go to a restaurant, grocery store, friend’s house without a mask, gloves nestled on your face and hands, and fear in your heart?  Do you want to throw a rock through your computer so you don’t have to do one more Zoom call? Do you constantly wonder how the president can sleep at night with all that blood on his hands keeping him awake?

Mmmmm. I feel you.

So, what to do? How to greet the days with a hopeful smile and not a desire to pull up the covers for another round of Ground Hog Day.

Here are the things that have been getting me through this thing. Maybe they will help you. Maybe they won’t. Better than nothing and reading this will take up some of the too much time you have on your hands right now.

  1. Be seriously nice to yourself. I always find this stupid when I read it in an advice column, but you know what, this is a good thing to do, especially for the sensitive among us (who me? UH HUH). You don’t have to be the most productive. You don’t have to turn out gourmet meals for the fam every night or become Martha Stewart of the laundry room. You don’t have to best this thing. You just have to get through it and stay sane.I have lots of days where I’m just not accomplishing what I think I ought to be able to, but I’ve given up on chastising myself. Now If one day is productive, yay for me, if another is not, I don’t condemn myself to cleaning the toilet for the next two years.
  2. Connect with your people. Sometimes it can even feel hard to do this, but I’m going to get all parental and say,”Do it or go to your room.” Connection is the lifeblood of a good life. In the end it all comes down to those you love. While you might have to isolate physically, don’t isolate emotionally. A phone call is better than nothing. A socially distanced walk will do.
  3. Set goals. Hey, if you’re up for it, set a lofty one, but if not, how bout getting your tupperware situation under control? (I have too many bottoms and not enough tops and I don’t know where those tops are, but I imagine they are mingling with the orphan socks that go into the laundry, but mysteriously never come out). How about taking an online class, or learning another language (Duolingo is great). Give yourself a homemade facial, start a blog. Doing something that you might not be able to do because you more or less can’t do the things you normally would do can make you feel like this is an opportunity instead of a punishment.
  4. Make fun of the president. Nothing boosts your immune system like laughing and never has their been a president who does more stupid things in the history of the office. Follow Sarah Cooper. Your welcome!
  1. Do something nice for someone else. This always makes me feel better than the person I’m doing the thing for. When I was little I never understood the “It’s better to give than to receive” saying. But as an adult, I’ve learned it’s the money shot. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing. Ask a neighbor if they need anything at the store. Send a snail mail card to a friend (I have a friend who keeps mailing me the cutest cards and it really perks up my day). Call or text someone you haven’t been in touch with for a long time. And if you want to do something nice for the entire country, because you don’t like the current leadership (or total and complete lack thereof) do something with one of the many organizations that are out there, like Force Multiplier. Do something, anything to make someone else happy and you’ll get the mood boost.
  2. Think about what you’re grateful for every day, not just Tuesdays, or once a month. (What, like you’re reading the gratitudeathon, and you didn’t think I was going to tell you to get your gratitude in check?) This is a no-bullshit, free, accessible way to help yourself rise up. Set a time to do it. Sit your hiney down and think about the good in your life. Again, it doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something you can identify as positive. Focus on that thing. My son is home from California and will be here for at least another month. He could never be here like this if it weren’t for crazy Corona and the fact that his agency isn’t going back to the office until 2021. Booyah! Gratitude gone mad. I’m thankful every single day for this one.

Yeah, so that’s about it. This thing is hard. I know there are many people out there who aren’t doing well and it makes me terribly sad. And I will be honest and say that I’m not doing well every day. I have awful down days where I just want to scream at my husband (he seems to be the best target), stop being a responsible adult, abandon my work and run away with the dog. But I’m pretty sure this is normal under these abnormal times. So, whatever you’re feeling is acceptable (I mean, except if you’re can’t move from bed depressed, send out an S.O.S and get some professional help). Take care of yourself, whatever that means for you. This cannot last forever. It will probably last for a while and continue to change our lives for a good long time, but not forever. Nope, it can’t last forever. (and neither can Trump’s presidency either. Talk about gratitude!)

gratitude-a-thon day 2004: getting away

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I am on vacation. It seems wrong and the antithesis of everything that is happening in the country, but here we are on the Cape for a week. There is some guilt involved for me, but I also see that taking a break from the barrage of crazy Trump, the pandemic, Portland, politics and the serious break with reality that Kanye’s having (!) and all the other awful news is necessary to be able to get through the world right now. Hey, you gotta do what you can to save yourself. Put the oxygen mask on first, or you won’t be able to take care of anybody.

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We have been going to the Vineyard for the past 30 years, but that seemed too much this year with the ferry dictating our arrival and departure. Who knows when you might need to go to the hospital. So, we rented a house near close friends who are here for most of the summer and we are having a lot of fun. FUN. Can you imagine? Don’t get me wrong, everybody is wearing masks everywhere you go, and some things are closed and the traffic is minimal (which is a stupendous side effect), but the beach is stunning, with a sandbar that goes out for what feels like miles and actual warm water! I have been swimming! I can never get into the water for more than a warp speed moment to cool down when it’s super hot because New England beaches are generally cold as winter. I just might be a Bay kind of girl.

 

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Anyway, yes, I feel sheepish to be on vacation while things are going to hell in a Corona infected handbag right now, but I am also feeling some much needed happy seeing my kids together, having my son home from California, spending time laughing with good friends. It’s also adorable to see all the kids, who grew up together catch up on their lives reminiscing about their childhoods and cracking up.

So gratitude for a getaway. I think we have to take care of ourselves, not just physically, but mentally during this country’s nightmare. There have been whole hours I have forgotten what’s going on while I’ve been here. And that’s not just good, but I think it’s necessary to keep putting one foot in front of another without wanting to step in front of a moving train. Can you get away? If even for like, a day? It helps.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2004: five things i’m grateful for right now

I have to work hard these days to focus on gratitude. It’s not that it isn’t lurking behind every corner, it’s just that there are so many obstacles trying to obscure it (a pandemic, Black Lives Matter, a lying, cheating,100% insane, murderous president, humidity).

Of course, this is when gratitude is most needed when you are stuck in the muck of a world in trauma. So, here are the five things I’ve been most grateful for in the past two weeks:

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  1. Hamilton. I was fortunate enough to see this on Broadway and didn’t think it could possibly translate in movie form, let along on tv. But guess what, it does, and beautifully. In fact, I caught words to songs I hadn’t caught in the live performance. We are currently playing the soundtrack around the clock. This is worth getting Disney for a month and canceling. It will remind you of how we’ve had other tumultuous times in our country and also how brilliant Lin Manuel Miranda is and also that there is nothing like a musical to get you in a good mood (The King!)
  2. The Lincoln Project. This is a Republican organization trying to bring the party to its original mission. In doing so, they tell the truth about Trump. Their videos are informative and, well, brutal. If I were the president, I’d be curled up in a fetal position after watching one of these. This is the latest. It makes me giddy.
  3. Cauliflower rice. Ok, you might think I’m scraping the barrel here, but this is my gratitude list, so back off! I used to make this fresh, but it seemed to always come overcook. I just tried the Jolly Green Giant frozen version and it somehow seems to come out exactly right. And they have it with broccoli in it and other veggies, too. This stuff is great. I doctor it up with garlic and onions and sometimes put in a cup of real rice, too. This low cal treat is a frozen food staple in my kitchen these days.

4.    New sneakers! I have difficult feet. Just search “bunions” on this site and you can read all about them. So, finding sneakers that accommodate the wide front of my foot, while hugging the narrow-ish back of my foot has been a job in itself. Until a few years ago when I found a Nike version that was perfect. I just kept buying them every 8 or so months, thinking how great it was that I’d found something that felt made for my feet. Well, as all good things come to an end, so did the Pegasus Zoom 33. Sigh. Nike discontinued them. Heartbreak. Foot ache. Covid had begun and no stores were open for me to find a replacement. I kept wearing my beat-up Nikes, while I was walking more than ever, and hoping they’d hold out. So, Marathon Sports opened the other day, and if you’ve never been there, shout out. They fit you and assess your gait and will bring out as many sneakers as you need to get you the Cinderella fit you deserve. I got some Asics that are so comfortable and padded, I feel like I’m walking on a trampoline. Talk about a spring in your step.

5.   Flowers. I cannot get by without some blooms. My little garden is in full swing right now and I appreciate it every time I go outside. I also get high from other people’s flowers. Walking around the hood, more than normal during Covid has given me a brand new appreciation for the gardens of others.

 

What’s keeping you going these days? What are you grateful for?

 

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2003: Yes, there are still things to be grateful for

 

Ok, so last week I had a little combo stomach/headache/nausea thing (although whenever I’m nauseous, I always wonder if it’s just the fact that Trump is president). It wasn’t going away, so I emailed my doctor, wondering if I could be one of those people who gets weird Covid symptoms. She suggested a test. I drove to Needham, where a very nice nurse, with a mask and plastic face shield, dressed like she was the first Beth Israel employee to go into space, stuck a Q tip up my nose straight through to my brain (it didn’t hurt, but it did surprise me). I do not have Covid. Gratitude. (Also, I feel better, although still nauseous every time I think about Trump.)

See, it basically goes right into your brain.

Yesterday I watched a really good Zoom talk sponsored by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities called Confronting Systemic Racism: Policing, Mass Incarceration & Black Lives Matter. These were some extremely intelligent and accomplished people, including Brookline’s own super-smart Select Board Member, Raul Fernandez. I learned a lot, like did you know that Massachusetts has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the country, and even that’s extremely high. There are informative and engaging talks, books, and people out there offering us free education and I for one am taking advantage of it. The more I know, the more I can do the right thing that’s in my heart, which over the years, was not actually the right thing, as it turns out. Gratitude.

We’ve got work to do as a town, but signs point to progress. This is located in front of the Brookline Town Hall.

Massachusetts Covid rates are consistently trending downward. No, we’re not out of the woods, but at least we’re going in the right direction. And more good news about this state I live in: The Boston Globe reports, “The vast majority of Massachusetts residents see racism as a systemic problem, believe police treat Black people differently than everyone else and support sweeping changes to policing, a new poll found.In the wake of hundreds of protests decrying racism and police brutality across Massachusetts, a strong majority of residents in every age group, race, and region said they back the Black Lives Matter  movement, according to the Suffolk University survey for WGBH News, The Boston Globe, MassLive, and the State House News Service.” Yessiree, I love that dirty water! Gratitude.

Despite being an incredibly tumultuous time in history, there are loads of things to be grateful for if you look and set your intentions on finding them. Hoping you are safe and fighting for what matters right now.

gratitude-a-thon day 3001: when you know better, do better

 

 

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This is one of my all-time favorite quotes ever, EVER. Right now, I’m living for it.

In the last three months, the world has changed in unimaginable ways. Some bad and some so good, so necessary. Some days I have found myself rattled and confused, unable to grasp the immensity of what’s occurring in real-time, not sure how to respond, what to say, or even how to come to this blog and write.

I don’t usually censor myself here. I write what I think, what I believe, what I feel. But I have found that I have been so woefully out of step with thinking what a good liberal I was, I forgot to actually be proactive in the fight against racism. See, I have learned that to have the ideals that I have, you have to be anti-racist, you have to support the black community, you have to demand change. I was not actively facing the facts on race in this country. Once I began to see the difference between thinking I wasn’t a racist and being anti-racist, shame came rushing forward like fucking Niagra Falls on steroids. Let’s be clear, I don’t think I treat anybody differently, I don’t judge a person on skin color or religion. This was my definition of not being a racist. But ugh, I could have been using my lily-white privilege and voice and actions to be lifting up the the black community and I have not been. And for that I am embarrassed and ashamed. For that, I have found myself afraid to write from my heart, for fear that I might unwittingly say something insensitive.

This is maybe the first time in my life I have had so much to say, but been utterly terrified to say it.

Which is why I’ve been listening instead of talking or writing. My daughter Ally, who wants to be a public defender and knows a lot about mass incarceration has been helping me to learn all that I don’t know (or have been ignoring). We watched the movie 13 the other night, after my first BLM protest and if you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend, as in, cue it up right now and watch it before breakfast. Ally had already seen it, but took the time to elaborate on the history of the black prison boom in the U.S. with thought-provoking facts and figures, as Peter and I sat rapt and horrified.

The gratitude is this: I believe this is an honest to goodness, Come to Jesus moment where we finally begin to understand and take action regarding race in the United States of America. I might be misreading (again), but I don’t think this is going to be momentary. I think this is it, when we all open our eyes and begin to see a brutal reality. As the great Maya Angelou says, “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”

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Gratitude-a-thon day 3,000: walking the walk

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I’m a caucasian woman in her early 60’s, raised by a Jewish dad and an Italian Catholic mom. Both sets of my grandparents were immigrants. I live a life of white privilege because of my skin color. Not because I wouldn’t like to, but I can never understand the black experience first-hand. But what I do understand is the outrage, the pain, and the sadness about not only the way George Floyd died, but the bigger issue of racism in our country.

What I do understand is that I am not intentionally part of the problem, but nonetheless unwittingly complicit.

What I do know,

is how much I don’t know.

And what I do know is that it’s time for me to stop saying “I’m not a racist,” and start educating myself on how I can be an ally to the black community. For someone who is as liberal as I am, who grew up with parents who taught me that skin color and religion didn’t matter, to always help others, I am embarrassed to say I am not doing enough.

Are you? Are you doing enough?

What I do know is that this is my smack in the face to wake up and get moving. And I plan on it. I will read. I will watch. I will listen. I will think. I will ask questions. I will learn. I will use my voice in a positive way.

This is what I can do to honor George Floyd. This is what I can do to be part of the solution.

This is what I can do. And I will do it.

Yesterday I began reading The New Jim Crow. I donated to The Minnesota Freedom Fund. What are you doing? How are you helping? Please share. We all need to do better. This isn’t just a black issue, it’s a human issue.

gratitude-a-thon day: who the hell knows, but this one’s for you, moms

 

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Call out to the moms. This one’s for you. This day, this appreciation, this love. This one’s for you, for being the light in a family, the up-all-night in a family, the fight in a family. This is for you and your multi-dimensional job. The one in which you play milk dispenser, cuddle machine, Uber driver, Top Chef, referee, laundress, plumber, photographer, maid, landscaper, psychologist, dog walker, doctor, cheerleader, homework helper, hand holder, boo-boo kisser, seamstress, provider of dreams, tissues and sunscreen, maker of merry, school lunches and chocolate chip cookies to die for, head of the emotional support team, kisser of tummies, tops of heads and asses when necessary,  supporter of independent thinking, fairness and the Golden rule, president of being a good person, doing for others and giving up everything you have for your brood.

You. Yup, you. The person who had no idea what this gig might entail, but went ahead anyway and now see that it couldn’t have been any other way. You, the one that is always puzzling how to do the right thing, make the best move, model the correct behavior. You, the tired, weary juggler who manages to make it look easy. You, the fearless, the extraordinary, the underappreciated, the one who actually made people inside her body. This day is for you, this awe is for you and your dedication, your tenacity, your muscle man strength, your resilience, and quite simply the world-changing, life-giving love you give. A love that never runs dry continually regenerates, and seeps out of every pore, even when you’re more tired than a person should be allowed to be unless they’re dead. You.

The Swiss Army Knife of people.

The one they call mommy, or mom or mamma. You.

The one the world could not live without.

gratitude-a-thon day 2099: this is what we do

 

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May 4, 2020, We’re still pandemicing. The president is still vomiting blatant lies on the daily and there are people in certain states that are protesting because they want to die, I mean reopen for business. The weather in New England is the stuff we wait for all year, sunny with no humidity, no bugs yet. Pure heaven. It seemed everybody was outside this weekend reminiscing about when life was normal.

The sun helps. Flowers help. And masks help, but it seems only 50% of the people are wearing them. It’s a strange time. I still wake up and wonder if I’m having one of those dreams directed by Ridley Scott that seem so damn real,  you think they are.

The longer this goes on, the more I realize that things will not be anywhere near ok for a long time. What we’re experiencing will continue to haunt us for years to come. How do we cope?

We put one foot in front of the other foot, don our masks, and move forward on whatever new paths we can forge. We hold out the past, but only the good parts, and create new ways of living that might even be better for our earth and our souls. We say thank you regularly, to people who were once looked down upon. We go deeper into ourselves and while we are distanced from those we love, we hang on to them like a dinghy someone throws you in the middle of a raucous sea, when it was clear you were seconds away from drowning. We reinvent, we rediscover, we recalibrate. We get crafty, we become frugal, we laugh more. We listen to the birds, and the dogs, and the scientists We listen to ourselves and the teeny voice inside us that says, “It’s ok, we will be ok.” We stop thinking we will ever be the old normal and start making a new normal, a better normal, a normal that is anything but normal, but in the very best ways.

And we feel gratitude for what we have, not what we don’t have. We will ourselves to begin again and be happy that we can. This is what we do when we dont know what to do. We begin again. This is what we do.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2098:is it still today?

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Credit to Bookworm.

Day 1,093,938,837 quarantine: We have run out of vacuum cleaner bags, so we are wading in dust. We’re using the dust as resistance and calling it exercise. My Stepz app doesn’t know how many more calories I’m burning and is not recording correctly (company must consider before next pandemic). The dog looks like a miniature wooly mammoth. His hair is so long, we could use him as a dust mop, only he is so tired from all of the walks we take him on to get out of the house that he cannot move once home and collapses into the nearest pile of laundry. Speaking of, for every one piece of laundry we put into the hamper, four pieces come out. The clothes are so bored from not being able to leave the house that they are now having sex and multiplying. Use some birth control, wouldja clothes.

Some cities are opening this week. How this is a good idea I just don’t get. There’s still so much we don’t know about this thing. Also, the last thing on my mind is going bowling, but apparently, this is very important in Georgia.

The president has become a one-man parody show. Much funnier than SNL. Every afternoon you can turn on his, as Colin Jost calls it, “improv show” and watch him pretend to be a doctor. He is a stable genius, you see, and thinks we should be exposing ourselves to sunlight and drinking disinfectant to rid ourselves of Covid 19. This is the man who is leading the free world, a liar who is essentially encouraging Clorox shots for all (down at the bowling alley, maybe). Yesterday he tweeted about the Nobel prize, but spelled Nobel like this–Noble. Both of these incidents, he claims were just sarcasm. He thinks this is one way to try and make up for his shortcomings (stupidity is what I really mean here), to pretend he was being sarcastic. Only he wasn’t and as he would say if he were speaking to himself, “and everybody knows it.” Maybe he confused the word “sarcasm” with “stupid,” easy to do.

As a country, we have been orphaned. We have no leadership. Well, I mean there’s Dr. Fauci, but other than that, our president is touting dangerous medical information and lying to the public. Remember when he said back in mid-March, “We only have 15 cases and once they go away, we’ll have none.” And then, “One day it will just go away like a miracle.” The thing here is that he has been lying for his entire presidency, but now people are dying by the hundreds because of his lies and failure to listen and lead. By. the. hundreds. DAILY. (Not that I even know what day it is. You can spend all day thinking it’s Thursday and then find out it’s Friday and momentarily get excited because it’s the weekend and you think you can go out, then remember that the weekend is just like any other day now…..)

I know our economy is in deep, deep trouble, but I will always put human lives before the economy. I don’t care if you’re in a nursing home and you are very ill, you do not deserve to die alone, so that I can get my nails done, or for GOD sakes, go bowling.

As always, I am grateful for the essential workers, the medical professionals, and all the brave people who work in the hospitals. And of course, anybody who makes me laugh these days is at the top of my gratitude list. What are you grateful for today? What’s helping you to get through this total and complete insanity?

 

PS I am also grateful for the series finale of Homeland. It was so satisfying and perfectly done. Need a binge–this is a good one. You’re welcome!