Take a Break from Reality and Come Along on a Stroll on the Beach

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
We all have our places....places we go to escape the harsh realities of life.  I love a dirt road, far from civilization.  Some enjoy a walk in the woods, others retreat into a book.  Most of us can probably agree that there's one place we all find serenity in the sights and sounds, and that is walking along a beach with the roar of the waves, the gulls soaring overhead, our feet pressed into the sand.  I don't know about you, but after the past few weeks surrounded by the uncertainties, fears and challenges to our inner calm, I could use an escape to the ocean.   So today come along as I take you away. Come along as I take you on a sandy stroll along the beach.  Let your worries rest for a moment and imagine you're right in these photos.

Pause at each photo, and imagine yourself in the scene.  Breathe in the salty air and let your worries melt away.

Reality today is difficult.  Things feel different, challenging, unfair and frightening.  But the serenity in these images will return to our life and that is what we must hold on to.  This too shall pass.  Be safe, be strong and take care of you and yours.  Day by day, we will get through and one day we'll look back and wonder how we did it.  You are in my prayers and I hope you'll keep me in yours.  

Frozen In Fear

Saturday, March 21, 2020
This pandemic has altered our world, in big ways and small, in ways most of us younger than the days of the depression couldn't even imagine.  I witness my little piece of the world and watch as each one of us is handling life in whatever way that comes naturally.  John and I are keeping our distance away from the family, staying out of stores, limiting exposure except for pharmacy drive throughs and some take out pick-up which is solely to support local business.  I struggle to turn off the tv because I'm fixated on daily updates and CNN, unsure if knowledge is power or pain.  I would like to put all of us, as a collective family, into a big, protective bubble till this threat passes, but I can't.  As it turned out, only one of our girls has been able to work from home.  Katie, an RN, is still required to do house visits where she does two 3-hr assessments a day on disabled and chronically ill patients in order to set up home services.  The goal in her company is to convert those visits to televisits but so far, that isn't happening.  Our son-in-law is a newspaper reporter.  He can do some writing at home, albeit difficult with an almost 3 yr old sharing his space, but he too is required to get out and cover stories.  Our other son-in-law is a delivery driver so his work week this week looked just like any other week and will continue to going forward.  My mom, who was just released from her second hospital stay in less than a month, is ordering groceries online and is just enjoying being out of the germ-filled, noisy, stressful hospital setting and is keeping 'in touch' with us and her friends with daily phone chats.  The grandkids are going with the flow trying to keep up on schoolwork and stealing away extra playtime.  They are too young to worry about the long-term ramifications of covid-19 so they're just taking this day-by-day.  It is hard however to not visit Grandma and Grandpa, even though we live right down the street and are used to being here daily.  Yesterday we got to see them in person, outside from several feet away, when we dropped off some dinner.  Even several feet apart, that visit felt so good after almost a week.
I looked out my window the other day and about 6 birds were frozen in position at my feeders, some under the cover of protective domes.  They were literally 'frozen' not even blinking, appearing like statues placed there for appearances.  That went on for around five minutes.  I knew from previous times like these that their 'position' signaled to others that danger was near.  It also served to trick their predator into believing no dinner was available and sure enough, a hawk that I spotted in the tree above eventually moved on to find food somewhere else.  How are we handling this pandemic?  Are we 'frozen in fear', unable to function, afraid to move through our daily life risking contact with a carrier.  It doesn't help that four out of five people who contract the virus will get it from someone who hasn't been diagnosed or may not even have symptoms.  It doesn't help that we're told the virus can live on hard surfaces for hours, maybe days.  I know people who are wiping their groceries with clorox wipes.  I too have done some of that.  While some of us are doing everything we can to avoid being exposed, others are out and about blatantly defying the odds, certain that it won't get them.  Others are doing what they must, going to work to keep their jobs and pay the bills.  They have no choice.  They go out day after day and risk exposure for themselves and their family at home.  And then there are the heroes, the doctors and nurses on the front lines, without protective gear sometimes, treating the sick - some with everyday illnesses like my mom, some with corona virus and others with corona but are not yet diagnosed.  That's the scary part, this disease does not reveal itself immediately and sometimes never reveals itself.  It just hovers out of sight like the hawk in my yard.

But we can't live in fear.  We can't freeze time.  We must keep living, however that looks or feels.  We need to find a new normal during this trying time, not just for ourselves but for others who feel and see our apprehension.  We need to fill these days with things that move us in a positive, forward direction and we need to take control.  We can't cure this pandemic but we can control our response.  The governor is asking that we stay home.  Why on earth does he have to mandate it?   Why can't people heed advice and do what's right?  If you need groceries - go weekly, not daily.  Stop hoarding supplies.  Spread kindness instead of anger and frustration.  Just like any other life crisis, how we approach it determines how we get through it.  We need to search for the blessings in this - time with family, time to catch up on chores, time to read or watch your favorite shows, time to pray.  This is not prison and it is not forever.  It is not war.  Stop being selfish and do what you are asked and don't risk your health if you have that option.  Find a balance between healthy fear and cautious optimism.  Today I implore you, I encourage you to do something positive - for yourself or for others.  Make the most of this day.  Call someone you care about. Write a note to an old friend.  Do something that will tip the scale from fear to faith.  And encourage someone else to do the same.  Stay well and stay safe.

Searching for Gratitude Amidst the Turmoil and Fear

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.  
When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.

There is no question we are living in unusual times.  Except in science fiction novels did any of us ever imagine a life quite like the one we're living this at very moment.  Sadly, we have been told and I believe, things will be getting even more strained in the coming weeks and many are panicked, frightened, and worried.  Some aren't worried enough.  We are being challenged right now - as a nation, as a state, a community, a family and even as individuals to step up.  We are asked to sacrifice, whether that sacrifice is to stay home, stay isolated, or just to live outside our comfort zone, it's now more important than ever for us to work together to do whatever it takes to get through this time with as little consequence as possible.  Will it be easy? Not at all!  But just as those who have faced other life or death challenges individually in sickness or natural disasters have done what was needed to come out the other side better and stronger, we too WILL get through this.  I think when this is finally over, we will be stronger. We will know the importance of family unity.  We will learn to get back to basics and we will realize we are stronger and more resilient than we think.
As this first week of real change has come about, as we have seen stores and restaurants closing, as we see the numbers of cases rise and have all begun in earnest to prepare for the long haul, I have been focusing on gratitude.   Amidst the worry and changes in our normalcy, we have so much to be grateful for.  In no particular order.....

  1. I'm grateful my mom was released from the hospital yesterday (her second stay in a month) and can isolate away from others.
  2. I'm grateful our daughters can work from home and care for the grandchildren.
  3. I'm grateful we took the reports seriously a few weeks ago and stocked up on food and essentials and that (thanks to my parents' example) we always are one ahead on most non-perishables and paper products, including plenty of toilet paper.
  4. I'm grateful I am a homebody and introvert and that I actually thrive on solitude and staying in.  
  5. I'm grateful that the main outing I enjoy is a road trip on a dirt road....something I hopefully won't be restricted from during this crisis.
  6. I'm grateful for generous businesses that are not only providing 'take-out' but are doing it at great prices....Augie's, Ted's, Mom & Pop's, and many, many more.  
  7. I'm grateful my family is all close-by so while we're all healthy and isolating from the 'world' we can still see each other regularly and share food and laughs.
  8. I'm grateful to have the free time and a reason to stay home to tackle those projects I've been talking about but never get to.  Now there's no excuse.
  9. I'm grateful for a church that stays in touch with encouraging emails and prayers.
  10. I'm grateful this pandemic came now instead of in December, for many reasons, but particularly so the weather is conducive for being outdoors.  Moms appreciate this too.
  11. I'm grateful I enjoy my spouse's company......although we'll see if that changes after several weeks of togetherness. LOL
  12. I'm grateful for all the people who continue to risk their own health for the sake of ours.....the health professionals, the restaurant and store personnel, the food bank workers and all those making sure everyone who needs food can get it.
  13. I'm grateful for our governor for taking action to limit exposure and a school district that did the same.
  14. I'm grateful for the internet, social media and landlines so that I can keep in touch with family and friends.
  15. I'm grateful my lawn company is taking advantage of high school kids being out of school and is getting a head start on spring clean ups.  It's great to look outside at the clean yard and just anticipate spring creeping up from the earth.
  16. I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn to live more mindfully, think before wasting whether it's leftovers or toilet paper, and spend this confinement thoughtfully and efficiently.
We can and we will get through this.  One of my favorite memes this past week said, 'your grandparents were called to war, you're being called to sit on the couch'.  That pretty much sums it up.  For those who aren't lucky enough to stay home and stay well, I pray for your continued health.  For the rest of us who are lucky enough to have that luxury....for heaven's sake, stay put.  Chris Cuomo said it best in his Closing Argument this week....we need to surrender the Me to We.  We need to consider what is in the best interest of others - our parents, our grandparents and all those with conditions that make Covid-19 life threatening.  Aren't they more important than whatever you're shopping for besides essentials?  Let's get real people and push the panic aside and focus on preparation, peace and gratitude.  My list seems long at 16.  I challenge you to take a moment  to  consider what you have to be grateful for in this challenging time.  If this post seems Pollyanna or sappy, trust me, I wrote it as much to encourage me and settle my fears as I wrote it for you.  I am not for a second underestimating the seriousness of this.  But....I will not let it consume me either.  So, be careful and be well and keep in touch.

Finding Spring and Sparking Joy at the Speckled Hen

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
It's getting to be that time of year, when the air feels a little milder, the snow has melted but the grass is still a dreary brown, but our heart longs for spring.  It's close, so close we can almost smell it.  We can almost feel it.  Our gaze strains to catch a glimpse of promise, a ray of hope and we yearn for the first signs of green grass, spring blossoms and the warmth of the sun on our cheeks.  It may not have been the official first day of spring, but today I witnessed the closest thing to it when we visited our favorite shop, The Speckled Hen.

Blog followers and shoppers galore are familiar with "the Hen".  I've featured it here on the blog at least a 1/2 dozen times in 6 years.  Why?  Because I am so excited every time I visit, I can't resist snapping photos to share, whether it's at Christmastime (my favorite season at the Hen), or in the spring when every nook and cranny is brimming with everything spring.  Not only will you leave the Hen convinced that spring is here, you'll probably leave with a bagful of it to bring home.  The only question is.....how big will the bag be? 

Are you still with me or have you already headed there?  Is this not simply gorgeous?  Every season when I'm about to decorate, I'm sure I have everything I need and then........I visit Maureen at the Speckled Hen and find a number of items I can't live without.  Today was no exception.  If Marie Kondo tells us to keep things that Spark Joy, every customer at the Hen must have a houseful of merchandise they acquire season after season.  I know I sure do.  I can't wait to decorate my home for Easter/Spring and my heart will be jumping for joy, just like the joy Maureen brings into her shop for all of her faithful followers. 
If you haven't been - ever, or just not yet this season - don't hesitate.  Get there soon and snatch up a bag or box full of joy for your home.  If you need a little inspiration, have a container you need something for, want to put together a little vignette, Maureen is happy and able to help.  Whether you need a birthday or get well gift, a hostess gift or even just something to brighten someone's day....you'll find it here.  I promise.  The Speckled Hen is located on Route 50 in Scotia (38 Saratoga Road across from the Subaru dealership) in the little white house with the charming porch.  Tell Maureen I sent you and tell your hubby you weren't squandering his money, you're stocking up in preparation for the impending quarantine.  He'll look at you funny and you can explain a pretty environment will spark joy in difficult times ;)   Ok, so maybe that's a stretch, haha.  Either way, check it out. The Speckled Hen is open Wednesday-Saturday.  Please check their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/thespeckledhenscotia/ or call 518-369-8771 for more hours.  NOTE:  The shop will be closed this Saturday, March 14th.  If you get there soon, you might be lucky enough to enjoy one of these delicious treats made by Sarah!  So with Easter approaching, make like the bunny and hop into the shop!!!   (this last line courtesy of my hubby)
Don't forget, share this post with all your friends.  They'll thank you.  You can share it on Facebook by clicking the little 'F' on the lower left corner below this post, or you can share it from my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GAWelter/   Thanks for reading.  Happy Spring and Happy Shopping!   For a peek at the Hen in previous posts, just go to my blog Directory:
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