No, Really, I’m Smiling

We are an adaptive bunch. When the proverbial sh-t hit the fan 5 months ago and we learned that mask wearing was going to be a thing, there was an initial, very brief, concern about being able to find any.  But unlike the great toilet paper apocalypse, masks seemed to appear out of thin air.  Pleas went out to reserve the medical-grade masks for essential workers, so virtually within moments there were paper-ish disposables available and Facebook videos about how to fold bandanas into masks.  People like my sister, a crafty person and skilled seamstress, jumped in right away and started cranking out fabric masks with filter inserts. And since those early days, masks have become a daily wardrobe accessory – dare I say it – even a fashion statement. 

I am well aware that there are those of you out there who have decided, for various reasons, to not wear a protective mask. Those who feel that way can stop reading this now.  And NO, I do not need to hear from you.  On the opposite end of the spectrum are all of the essential workers who I have been in awe of from the very beginning of this scariness, who have been wearing masks for 12+ hours every day or night.  There are no words for the respect I have for those who have had to become pro’s at wearing protective gear with no break. 

My focus here however is on the rest of us who are still kind of new to this whole thing. We are the ones who in the early days only put on a mask on the rare occasions we stepped out of our homes. It was a learning experience that went along with swimming in hand sanitizer, disinfecting everything around us, learning how to recognize a 6’ distance in a glance, and figuring out new songs to sing instead of Happy Birthday while washing our hands. 

These days, depending on where you live, and your comfort level, some are venturing out more. Some are returning to work. That means that a lot of us are wearing masks a whole lot more.  Instead of putting one on for a 15 minute trip to the pharmacy, we are learning what it is like to wear them for several hours. And if you are like me, that means that just a handful of dull and boring blue and white disposables won’t do. Oh, no, I gotta have a plethora to choose from to match my outfit, or my mood, or the heat and humidity level.  I have installed a basket on the kitchen counter that holds sanitizer and masks.  Who knew that would be a home décor item. 

I worked at home for many weeks, and have now returned to the office, with all of those swell new routines and guidelines to be followed – including, of course, mask wearing.  And I’ve learned a number of things.  First, I always have a couple spare disposable masks in my car, along with my hand sanitizer.  Because it only takes one time of going somewhere and realizing you have to turn around and go home because you forgot your face covering, to no longer be unprepared.  Yet every morning, without fail, I will go out to my car, put my work stuff in, get ready to get in to drive, and have to get back out and go back inside to get my preferred mask du jour.  I think my dog has learned she’ll see me again 10 seconds after I leave the first time. 

There are other things I’ve learned that until now I could have happily lived without ever knowing.  Like the fact that I apparently have a small face.  If a mask doesn’t have one of those nifty wire grippy things to pinch around my nose, I will continually have to re-adjust and pull it up into place. And where others have masks that fit snugly, mine is always droopy and covers the entire lower half of my face.  Yeah, I know, I could try a kid’s mask.  But I just don’t necessarily think Hello Kitty or a Disney Princess looks good on this over 50 puss.

I have also learned that it’s not bad enough to already have combination skin and deal with menopausal blemishes.  Because nose acne is a thing now.  Great.  Speaking of menopause, hot flashes have reached a whole new level of fun with cloth wrapped around one’s face. 

Wearing this new wardrobe accessory has also meant I now say things I never dreamt I would utter.  Things like “oooh, I love your mask, where did you get it?”   “Ugh, I need a breath mint for myself.”  “Is the leopard print too much?”  “I’ve been practicing smizing, is it working?”  “We should totally bedazzle these things.”  And to my son: “ok, be careful, do you have your mask?”   Of course there are also the now common discussions around ye ol’ 6-foot water cooler about how to keep eye glasses from fogging up, and how to take a drink of water during a meeting. 

I do appreciate the creativity we are seeing, and the styles that are emerging.  While I understand the frustration of not being able to see people’s mouths to be able to read lips or see smiles, some of the new designs I’ve seen sporting a clear panel are just a wee bit too creepy – although masks with funny sayings can give us chuckles we all need.  I enjoy the creativity of the overall formats too.  There’s the wild-west-outlaw look of the scarf/bandana that I see on some men… they look like they just got off their horse and are looking for the nearest saloon, or want to go rob a bank.  Then there are the new moisture-wicking stretchy materials that loop around the neck and up over the face that make you look like you are about to go downhill skiing.   If you have a larger head apparently than I do, there are knit mask extenders so you don’t have to suffer from sore ears.  And I recently saw some masks for sale that were full of sequins.  I suppose you just may have a formal event where a paisley cotton wouldn’t be sufficient. 

Yes, masks are part of our wacky lives now.  No one enjoys wearing them, but like it or not, they are a required necessity if we ever have a prayer of one day being able to emerge from our cocoons comfortably able to go free-faced.  Until then, I will be one of the RW’s who continue to develop a collection of  “pretty” masks.  The past few months have given us all a lack of variety in so many aspects of our lives, we may as well try to add some color and fun and put our best face forward.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

You can’t tell, but I’m smirking. 

Posted in beauty, clothing, decor, fashion, Health, innovation, medical, preparation, routines, safety, self care, Social situations, Style | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Once Upon a Time in our Closets

Most men own clothing for four basic reasons: 1.They aren’t allowed to walk around naked, 2. They want to be comfortable, 3. They wear stuff that makes them look good, and 4. Their significant other bought it for them.  Except for perhaps a ratty old concert Tshirt, they don’t make emotional connections with their wearables. 

For most R.W.’s however, clothing is more than all that.  Clothing is even more than a sign of our style.  Our clothes tell stories.   Our closets and drawers are like a library with a selection of everything from short stories to long biographies. Sure, some things like the T-shirt you bought at Old Navy for $5 to use for workouts doesn’t have much in the way of an exciting plot.  It’s like a boring and poorly written sonnet.  But there are plenty of others that have tales to tell. 

Some stories are a bit sad. Like that section of “someday I’ll lose enough weight to wear them” outfits that live next to the “someday I’ll have an occasion for it”s.  I still have one dress that I bought years ago hanging in a spare closet. When I bought it, I was younger, thinner and my body was in much better shape, and this English muffin dress (shows every nook and cranny) looked really hot on me, but I had no reason or excuse to wear it.  Now, there’s no way in hell I could wear it. Yet there it hangs, tags still affixed, keeping my “vacation in the tropics” dresses company.  All very sad and dramatic like the Sylvia Plath of clothing. I don’t like to dawdle there. 

Moving on, there are the short stories that tell a fun memory around the purchase. The funky skirt and matching shoes you bought as a treat when you got a promotion, or the bright fun shirt your girlfriend talked you into buying, or the cool trendy denim jacket you bought to wear to a concert. Putting any of these items on transports you right back to those moments, and they make you smile. 

If you wear some form of uniform for work, those clothes could tell enough stories to fill a lengthy based-on-reality novel or great movie. Perhaps it is a good thing that those articles can’t talk. 

My favorites are in the historical biography section.  The other day, one of my BFFs was over for some social distancing time by the pool, and she complimented me on my swimsuit cover up.  I said “thanks, it’s from our honeymoon.”  She looked really confused and said “Honeymoon?  Like YOUR honeymoon?”  Yes, the vacation that was 22 years ago.  My ever practical husband said “well, really, it only gets worn a few times every year in the summer.”  He was being kind, when the reality is that I have a hard time letting go of items that tell longer and older stories.  Every time I put that cover up on, besides remembering time with my new hubby in Antigua, I think of the local woman on the beach selling her wares who came back every day to talk us into buying something from her. And when we finally did (that coverup), she had to go get change for us and my hubby made her leave her goods with us so we knew she’d come back. 

Similar in age is my 26 year old Tshirt from a fitness conference I attended.  Way back then my side job was an aerobics instructor (that was a thing then), and the conference was my first ever experience visiting Las Vegas.  Yes, I still have the oversized sleeveless T.  It is kind of yellowed and old, but it is baggy and loose and comfortable to put on when I’m doing yardwork or going for a bike ride, and I think about meeting some of my then role models at the conference, and traveling with my coworker instructors and eating rice cakes pretending we liked them. 

The most heartwarming stories are wrapped up in those items that either were given by a loved one, or were once owned by a loved one. I still have a blue lightweight bathrobe my mother made for me when I was in my late teens.  It is threadbare and doesn’t really reach around me anymore (in those days I was built like a toothpick).  She passed away when I was in my late 20’s, so keeping this loving-hands-at-home piece of material hanging in my closet makes me still feel connected to her all these years later.  And yes, sometimes I still put it on… as long as I’m sure no one will see me in it. It’s not a pretty sight. 

Then there is my dad’s college sweater from when he was on the ski team.  Thick wool, with the  year, 1953, big and bold across the front.  None of us kids have ever worn that sweater.  I have kept it carefully stored, and every now and then get it out to look at it and consider all that was going on when that sweater came to be.  The Korean war was over, my dad was back home. He went back to college, married my mom, and somewhere along the way did ski jumping on a team. Bits and pieces of stories he used to tell us float through my head, and I wish I had been better about writing them down.  Instead, there are stories secretly woven into that wool, just waiting for my imagination to make them come alive. 

From time to time, most of us with go through our closets and drawers and get rid of things we no longer need.  The clothes we purge are usually those with less appeal, or just no longer fit well.  Sometimes we can’t bear to get rid of things, even if we no longer wear them – because, well, stories.   What I like to believe is that some of the items I donate will go on to tell the stories of their new owners.  Maybe one of my donated shirts is now hanging in someone’s closet, carrying the happy memory of a couple of women shopping in Goodwill together and finding great deals… or even better, becoming a gift for someone, or helping someone land a new job.  The possibilities are endless. 

What stories are in your library? 


Posted in beauty, books, clothing, family, fashion, friends, Helping others, love, real style, real women, shopping, storage, Style, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


We are all in one big inclusive club.  You, browsing through this blog right now, are in it.  The club of readers. Be it articles, blogs, poetry, memoirs, instruction manuals, cookbooks or 700 page novels – there is some reason, something about words strung together, that draws us in. 

On the high end of the passionate readers scale are the people in our lives who read books like they breathe air.  I have a few women in my life who are voracious readers. One has several books going at a time, stored everywhere – her purse, her bedside, her living room, her car…. Another has an “upstairs book” and a “downstairs book”.  And yet another reads so quickly her husband has said he can feel the breeze as she flips pages.  These are the kind of readers who will recommend a great book to me, and by the time I’ve been able to start it, they have consumed 5 more.  

When I was younger, I could read a few books at the same time, but now I read one novel (my preferred genre) at a time. But I do have other materials at the ready, like a collection of poems, and short stories, and motivational quotes and magazines – for those in between times.  Do I whiz through them?  No, I lack the available time to read as much as I’d like.  But I’m never at a loss for something to read. 

Most of us land in various other places on the passion to read scale, anywhere between ‘once in a while short things only’ and ‘don’t bother me, I’m tackling War and Peace’.  My husband, for example, who would be one of those who would say “I don’t really read much”, will generally have a biography of a favorite musician on his night stand.  He will pick it up once in a while, and it can take months for him to complete a book. But I often catch him reading technical manuals, or the newspaper, or flipping through a car magazine.  

I don’t know if women really are more avid readers then men.  I know there are you guys out there who love to read.  But women are more apt to join a book discussion group, or to start a conversation with “what are you reading now?” or have long discussions about favorite characters and plots.   A BFF and I each recently read Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing. I finished it just shortly before she did, so we held off on discussing until she was done.  One day we met to take a walk and after covering our usual catch up topics, my friend stopped in her tracks and said “Kya!”  After which we happily commenced a thorough discussion of this amazing book, the key character, and how it resonated with both of us.  Funny, I just don’t see guys having the same sort of reaction and discussion.  

There is absolutely nothing like holding a physical book, glossy magazine, thick journal or folded newspaper in our hands. Yes, we have a zillion digital and electronic formats for reading now, and they each have their efficiencies. I am happy to have my kindle especially for travel, and to not keep my husband awake when I read in bed at night. And certainly, having a mobile device – phone, tablet, what have you – is ideal for catching up on news stories, articles and blogs.  That’s likely how you are reading these words right now.  But the texture, the weight – and yes, even the scent – of the printed word is something special, and opening that book or magazine for the first time is like opening an exciting gift, where the thrill of suspense awaits.

There is magic that happens when reading. There is something about how words come together to evoke emotion and imagination, how they can teach us new things, introduce us to the unknown, force us to see things differently, and take adventures that are deeper and more satisfying then sitting and watching tv or scrolling through yet another kitten video on Facebook. 

Reading means escaping to other worlds. When I was a little girl, reading meant meeting animals that could talk, believing princesses were real, and joining other kids on grand journeys.  Now as adults, from the comfort of our cozy chair in our homes, we can solve mysteries, have love affairs, get to know people we admire on a personal level, climb mountains, explore foreign lands, learn how to bake souffles or how to build furniture.  For that period of time, we are somewhere else, maybe even someone else. We meet new people, and the characters and places become part of our lives outside of our day to day regular world. 

It is no wonder than that during the past few months of quarantining and staying home, so many of us are reading more than ever. It’s not just because many of us suddenly have more time on our hands than we have before. It’s not just because we feel like we are going numb watching TV, or because we want to be a good example for our children.  We are reading more because we need that magic, that escape, we need to explore worlds where COVID doesn’t exist and where people are talking about and doing different things.  We need the stress reduction, and our brains and hearts need something else to focus on.  

Those who have followed me here for awhile know why I started this blog originally.  I was frustrated because there were no magazines or articles that resonated about real life for real women. They all seemed so ridiculously out of touch with what we all really deal with every day.  But now I’m starting to believe that is the whole point.  Maybe we don’t always want to see more reality.  Perhaps magazines are serving the same purpose as a novel or poem or even a biography or historic recollection.  They are providing escapes from reality. One RW in my life loves to browse home magazines. She often asks me “Who’s house actually looks like this?  Like where is the messy laundry hamper?”  I tell her those are not homes anyone really lives in. They are fantasy castles.   

I could probably afford one of those fantasy castles if I received a dollar for every time I’ve rolled my eyes and groaned when looking through women’s magazines, with the air brushed beauty and outrageous accomplishments and the “perfect” lives.  The other day I was catching up on some back issues of a few magazines I still receive. Most are cooking magazines, but a couple are the same women’s magazines I’ve always complained about and yet keep getting.  In the May issue of Women’s Health there is a short feature about a woman who founded a cool sleepwear company (of course she did) and her completely unrealistic morning routine.  She wakes up at 4:30am without an alarm (I do too, but it is because of a hot flash, then I go try to go back to sleep). She gets her two children up, dressed and fed at 7am.  (There is no mention of temper tantrums, lost teddy bears or refused breakfast food.)  She only takes 5 minutes to get herself ready because she showers at night and her hair ends up being “just the right amount of messy.”  Who says that??  She packs a gym bag because she works out at lunch (naturally she has matching bras and leggings. If I’m lucky, I pack something that fits and isn’t torn or stained.)  She eats yogurt and drinks spiced tea on the way to work (because clearly that’s all she needs to subsist on) and listens to upbeat music so she can “show up to work full of energy” by 8am. 

And there we are. A fairy tale. A fanciful story of a woman who is nothing like the rest of us. I’m thinking now rather than get disgusted or frustrated about these magazines setting us up for unattainable life goals, I will just consider them to be like the stories I read as a child.  I will imagine that the characters like this woman ride unicorns and wear flowing sparkly ball gowns while chipmunks and birds fold their laundry for them. 

Because that is what we need more of right now.  We need words to entertain us, transport us to places that make us smile, laugh, thrill us, surprise us, or take our breath away with hope and wonder.  

So go ahead.. find your next escape.  And join the club. 



Posted in books, communication, digital, discussions, Entertainment, friends, innovation, moods, reading, real women, routines, self care, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Braving the Mundane

I’m weary.  Not just the usual 50-something woman coping with work, home, kids, chores, menopause and lack of sleep kind of weary.  But like nearly everyone else, I’m weary of not seeing family and friends in person. Weary of not hugging. Weary of worrying about illness and death. Weary of anger, injustice, politics, racism and most of all, weary of hate.  I want to feel positive. I want to feel hopeful about turning the corner with the economy, of less joblessness for so many, of better heath.  I want to sustain my hopeful feelings every time I see a peaceful protest, hear a motivational speech, and start to believe that maybe good change is finally happening. But then I see or hear something ugly, scary or evil again and the weariness seeps into my bones.

At this very moment, I’m weary of not writing and posting.  Weary of being afraid I’ll say the wrong thing without meaning to.  The only social posts I’ve made in weeks are photos of flowers from my gardens, scenic nature shots taken during hikes, or goofy photos of my dog.  But even with those, I worry that at some point someone is going to say “How dare you.  How dare you post about being able to go for walks, to plant flowers, to feel at peace, when others are afraid to leave their homes or are fighting for their lives on a ventilator in a hospital?” It seems that anything uttered or shared at this point will inflame someone.

Just this morning I was scrolling through my twitter feed, and saw that some angry or spiteful person tweeted about how much they hate the @Thoughts of Dog account.  For those not familiar, that account is simply a sweet, funny, positive (and I think fairly brilliant) account literally sharing the potential thoughts of a dog.  That’s all. And yet this person, rather than just simply stop following the account if they disliked it, had to post using the word hate. If they were trying to be funny, they failed. If they are bored, they need a new hobby. If they were trying to get people riled up – well, really, isn’t everyone already riled up and on edge enough?  And.. I felt weary.  And frustrated. And sad.  Again.

But, it also reminded me that it is impossible to make everyone happy all the time.  We are all unique individuals with our own thoughts and beliefs, and we all have (or should have) the right of free speech. I would personally like to abolish any free speech that is hateful or hurtful, but I guess if we did that, most of our political leaders would be rendered mute.

I also considered this morning – yes, during a nature walk – that even in times of crisis and tremendous challenge, the mundane parts of life don’t go away.  I’ve been struck by that thought in the past during the grief process after the death of a loved one, or a natural disaster, or during any major life event personally or worldly – we all have to keep going with our day to day “stuff.”  Bills still need to be paid, at least to the best of our abilities. We still need to buy and make food and eat. We need to get up and shower and get dressed every day. We have to change diapers or worry about our teenager’s safety, or feed and walk the dog.  Whatever it is, the mundane in life doesn’t stop just because we are in some form of crisis.

Truly, the point of my blog is the celebration of the mundane, and how we keep plugging along maintaining our worlds no matter what else is going on.  So it is with that thought in mind, that I’ve decided to come back and put my fingers back on my keyboard after over a month since my last post. If I offend anyone by focusing on something other than the crises surrounding us, my apologies.  Feel free to click that unfollow button.  For the rest of you, thanks for staying.

Today I will share one short story on one of our favorite topics, the difference between men and women.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband decided to bravely take a short weekend trip.  Mask, sanitizer, and disposable gloves in hand, he drove to visit two of his brothers and one best friend.  He made no stops on the way, he stayed at one house, he practiced social distancing (after all, he’s a guy, this whole no-hugging and snuggling thing tends to be easier for them), and he promised me to visit no one else (even though I know he really wanted to).  After telling him to be careful for the 34th time, I headed out to walk the dog while he finished getting ready to head out.   Hours later, I happened to go upstairs to our bedroom, and there was his weekend bag.  I thought perhaps it was an empty one that he decided to not use, but nope.  It was full of his change of clothes, toiletries, etc.  Upon his arrival at his destination, he popped me a quick text to check in.  I responded with “did you get my text about your bag?”  His response “My bag?  Why?   Oh crap.  I forgot it, didn’t I.”  

The fact that he’d been at his destination for a while and still had not noticed he left his belongings at home was pretty amusing.  A woman would have realized it within an hour after departure, and would have turned around to get it. 

Later that night, when I talked with him, I suggested he mask up and go visit whatever store he could find that was open, like a Walmart, and pick up at least a change of underwear and a couple Tshirts to get him through the weekend, plus a toothbrush, etc.  He begrudgingly said he might go in the morning.

Ok, ladies, let’s think about this.  Let’s say you arrived at your destination to discover you’d left everything at home. (yeah, ha ha ha, pretty funny, would never happen).  What would you do?  Possibly before even greeting those you went to visit, wouldn’t you go on a shopping expedition?  I mean, besides clothing, we need our hair care products, our skin care products, our make up, our dental care items, and for goodness sakes, new clean underwear!   Our weekend without luggage would instantly become more expensive.  I believe that even one of my BFF’s who has been known to spend a week in Europe with only a backpack would feel the need to stop and purchase necessities.

But not my husband. And probably not most guys.  One of his brothers gave him a spare Tshirt.  His friend’s wife gave him an extra toothbrush and toothpaste and shampoo and soap.  And that’s really all he needed.  I suppose guys can survive comfortably by turning underwear and socks inside out, although my hope is he borrowed his friend’s laundry facilities. I was afraid to ask. 

Upon his return he said “See? Without you home when I left to make sure I had everything, I forgot my bag.   I’m bummed too, I had brand new underwear packed that I was looking forward to wearing.”

While they can seemingly get by with less, no matter what age guys are, they need us.  They need us to find things for them (“honey, have you seen my keys?”). They need us to help them pack. They apparently need us to remind them to take their belongings with them. They need us to buy them new underwear.  If we aren’t there to do all those things?  Well, apparently they just go without.

At least we can say we feel needed. Besides, men can be a good source of humor when we need it most.

Embrace the mundane, ladies. It may ease our weariness.

Posted in adults, communication, discussions, Entertainment, events, family, friends, Health, Helping others, men, real women, Relationships, routines, social media, stress, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Simply Excited

painted rock1I woke up cranky and emotional yesterday.  I have no license to be that way.  I’m healthy (minus a recent ugly bout with food poisoning).  None of my immediate family members, friends or associates have been stricken ill by Covid.  I am employed and working from home, so we have been able to keep up with our bills.  I am not working on the front lines. I have no young children at home whom I am trying to home school or keep entertained. I have a solid roof over my head and am still getting along well with the other house inhabitants.  Compared to the constant news stream of illness, death and unemployment, I’m lucky. I have it easy.

Yet there it was. The alarm went off, it was grey, cool and foggy out, and it matched my mood.  The fog was especially apropos since we all feel fuzzy, stuck in some weird version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day where the date or day of the week no longer matters.  Every time that alarm goes off, we are faced with the same day, same routines, over and over again.  That was my issue. Here I am, drifting somewhere between week 7 and week 8 of quarantine-shelter-in-place-bizarro world with everyone else, and my patience for my routine has run out.  We all have our daily grind which at this point has pushed us to numbness.  For me, my daily routine involves walking the dog, sitting in front of the computer for 8 – 9 hours, fitting in a basement workout, food prep and tv watching.  Rinse and repeat.   The biggest issue is that there is nothing to look forward to. No planned outings and activities with friends, no travel, no parties, no shopping excursions, nothin’.   For those of us who are social, active and huggy people, that’s about the same as a prison sentence.  (Hey, come on, I’m allowed a bit of drama here, let me wallow would ya?)

Weekends are marginally better, because there is time for house projects, yard work, hikes, zoom sessions and calls, and occasionally the true excitement of masked trips to the grocery store, pharmacy or hardware store.  Any form of change in scenery is grounds for giddiness.  One RW told me that she and her family members are having disagreements over who gets to go out and pick up the trash can and recycling bin.  Yes, our level of excitement and fascination has reached new levels.

I have a weekly zoom call with my core group of BFFs.  This is an attempt for us all to preserve our sanity and check in on each other. Once upon a time, our conversations were filled with tales of adventure and fashion.  Our discussions now center around topics like what we cooked for dinner, how to make face masks, whether or not our grocery store has rice or flour, what we are watching on Netflix, and what books we are reading. We’ve started a show and tell, to share any new and exciting thing we have made or purchased in the past week.  These moments of sharing have ranged from the exciting:  home-crafted greeting cards and online orders of a new book or pair of sandals,  to the mundanely appreciated: hair dye, a unique flavor of tic tacs, and a new butter dish.   Yes. This is what has become of us. These are the topics we now find fascinating.

I have discovered that my view of the outside world, and what I find thrilling and exciting, has also changed.  With so many people staying home with time on their hands, I look forward to checking out the updates to yards and gardens during my walks. One family built a lovely wood fence all around their backyard, complete with arbor.  Another family has had a very large back deck with gazebo installed – I was waving good morning to the work crew while it was under construction.  Flowers are popping up in gardens. The garden centers are bursting with plants.  Children’s art work appears on windows and front doors.  And I’m thrilled every time I come across a painted rock someone has artfully placed in a random location to illicit smiles.  Bird watching is now a communal sport, with friends posting sightings on Facebook.  One dear RW in my life is ecstatic that a pair of mourning doves have made a nest and laid two eggs in her herb pot on her patio.  She says it is more riveting to watch than Netflix.   I get it.

The most exciting thing of all at this point is seeing other people, outside of our house-dwellers. Even at a 6+ foot distance, even hiding behind masks, having any form of in-person interaction is like bringing water to someone sitting in the desert.  (I didn’t say I was done with my drama).  We are starved for personal contact, and in the absence of physical contact, just seeing other humans at a distance and sharing kind words makes a huge difference.  Today I stopped into the grocery store, and as I was turning a corner to follow the one-way arrows down the next aisle, a beautiful young girl with smiley eyes looked at me from about 10 feet away and said “I love your mask!”   Although it struck me that her generation will be the one that grew up during the pandemic, where mask style drove fashion trends, she made my day and made me smile.  I wanted to hug her but of course could not. Besides, being hugged by a strange woman in the grocery aisle would have probably terrified her and sent her mom chasing me away brandishing a pack of bagels.

Today that grey foggy cloud lifted, even if for a little while.  I looked for excitement and joy wherever I could find it, like deciding that tonight’s dinner will be a variety of fun not-so-healthy appetizers. Because why not.  And because I’m weary of meal prep.

We may not have much to look forward to now, but at some point, somehow, some way, there will be a break in our new routines, and we will learn again how to find new levels of excitement.  There will be new adventures, and dare I say it – perhaps even gatherings, activities, and travel in some form or another.  We may even, someday, be able to hug each other again.  When those days come, I hope we won’t forget how we learned to be fascinated by simple things like birds, flowers, butter dishes and painted stones.


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Lost Skills

ostrichI’ve been hesitant to do any blog writing recently, because it seems there is only one topic any of us are able discuss.  It begins with P and ends in -ic.  It has consumed us in more ways than one, and every one of us, everywhere, is somehow affected by and attempting to deal with the -ic. To be honest, I’m completely weary of thinking about, talking about, and coping with the -ic.  So I’ve been avoiding writing. Which is not the right answer.

I will also admit that for the past two days I have willingly been the proverbial ostrich with her head in the sand. I have not read, listened to, or watched any news.  It’s not that I don’t care, or that I don’t feel the importance of what is going on around us.  But for my own sanity, I needed a break. I think we all need to take breaks from time to time to be able to recharge our coping mechanisms.

As part of this break, the only social media content and information I’ve read are positive posts.  I have scrolled past anything sad, frightening or worrisome. And guess what, the longer we go in this -ic situation, the more positive bits I’m finding. There are so many people out there sewing masks, delivering groceries, raising donations, and showing up at appropriate distances to show support for those on the front lines, it warms the soul and gives hope.

I am one of the very fortunate ones who is not only healthy (knock on wood), but still employed (please knock again), working from home. I am beyond thankful for both of those key points.  However, because I am still working 9+ hours a day, I feel limited in how much I can do to help others.  This is why I jumped at the chance to do one tiny simple thing for a friend. She asked if I could hem her scrubs.  You see she is a pretty amazing Doctor who is still going every day to a medical facility.  She is one of many other essential and incredible humans out there who risk facing the -ic up close every day while I stay safe and albeit stir crazy in my home.

The funny thing is my sewing skills are rusty. But I uncovered ye ol’ sewing machine, was all proud of myself when I remembered not only how to thread the machine but wind a bobbin, and got the scrubs hemmed so my BFF hero can avoid tripping and falling on the job. Did the hems look great? No. Luckily, they are scrubs.  If my sister, who is still a fabulous seamstress, saw my project, she would give me the one-lifted brow that says “really?  You learned better than that.” Then would giggle at me.

As I did my measuring, pinning, cutting, stitching and ironing, I thought about the ways we are all resurrecting lost skills in this time of the -ic.  One trip to a grocery store (with disposable gloves and masks in place) will lead us to believe that a lot of us are cooking and baking far more than usual. We are picking up actual pens and hand-writing letters and cards to those who need a boost. There are young mothers re-learning how to use cloth diapers. We are cleaning with washable rags to save paper towels. We are tackling home projects like painting and carpentry. We are having family game nights and going for hikes. We are playing music to lift spirits. We are making gifts, and calling people to actually talk vs. texting. Lost talents and skills, newly found.  And it’s kinda wonderful.

There is no denying that the -ic is overwhelming and we can easily let it get all-consuming. When we don’t take occasional moments to let ourselves regroup and breathe, everything feels huge and impossible to conquer.  Yet when we let ourselves think about something else – even for a few hours –  we remember that we have skills that have laid a bit dormant during the rush of “normal” life.  Perhaps we can find small little things to help each other fight back against the -ic beast. And feel better in the process.

By the way, did you know that the myth of the ostrich hiding her head in the sand came about because she’s actually tending to her eggs in her ground nest?  So she’s not really hiding and avoiding the world. She’s doing one very skilled, tiny little thing to make her world better.




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Chaos Through Z Eyes

gen zWe are women. Many of us are also moms, grandmas, aunts, guardians, and caregivers.  It is in our DNA to protect and to worry, while at least attempting to show outwardly that we are calm and in control at all times.  In other words, we are well-trained for this current global crisis.

Absorbing loved ones into our home nests to try to keep them healthy and safe comes completely naturally to us.  I was just texting with another R.W. yesterday who asked me if I thought she was crazy to drive 6 hours each way today to bring her daughter home to work remotely from her house instead of knowing she was alone and on her own.  Although I was concerned for her exhaustion level in doing that trip, not one iota of me thought she was crazy.  It is natural instinct.  It’s what we do.  Worry. Protect. Control.

Yesterday our office temporarily closed and each of us were sent home to work remotely. I am thankful that I still have a job, and have the ability to work from home. So many are not that lucky.  Up until yesterday, while I was not making light of the situation we are all in, I was calm and holding onto a shred of “this will pass soon” hope.  But when my 8-5 life was suddenly adjusted, my safe, normal social work environment changed, my awareness that any investments we have are taking hard falls, and my son got official word that he will not be returning to campus for the rest of this semester,  I felt like “shit just got real.”  For the rest of the day yesterday I battled to stay calm, to push down any rising feelings of panic (because my mantra from the start of this has been “panic solves nothing”), and I was near tears a few times.  And we are some of the lucky healthy ones.

Over the weekend, my son and I had done a round trip back to his campus to get some of his belongings.  Yesterday afternoon, he went with me on some errands.  A “last” trip to the grocery store to see bare shelves, a “last” trip to the pet store to get our dog’s food, and a trip to Kohls where social distancing was not a problem because it was deserted.  During my time with him, I was able to get a glimpse of this turmoil through his eyes, not just my Mom eyes.

I know he’s disappointed, even sad, that he won’t be returning to campus until Fall.  I know he misses some of the activities there and his new independence. The good news is he is a Freshman, so God willing will still have three more years for a college experience. My heart goes out to students who are seniors in high school and college and have been robbed of their senior experiences and I’m sure are filled with worry about next steps.

My son asked me the other day if he could have a couple of friends over to the house.  He has also asked what I thought of him potentially going this weekend to visit a friend who lives a bit of a distance away, as a day trip.  I wasn’t sure how to answer. Do I slip into protective warrior control mode and say no, we all have to hunker in place?  He will be by himself in the car, then visiting one friend while they stay in the friend’s house and watch a movie. Do I allow some limited freedom with the thought that perhaps the potential of cultivating new friendships he has only just begun to make at school is a more “healthy” option?  The truth is he’s legally old enough to make his own decisions.  I appreciate that he’s looking to me for guidance.  But the bad news is that pandemics aren’t in the Mom Rule Book.  I’m just winging it here.

What struck me in our recent outings is his calm and practical view of what we are experiencing. He was fascinated by empty shelves at the stores.  He helped me find a few things and helped me with creative ideas on how we can do without.  When I told him I was wondering if I should go get cash out of the bank to hoard at home he said “Mom, why?  Even if you have it, where would you spend it, everything will be closed.  If you shop online, you’ll use your credit card.”  The new process of excessive hand washing and sanitizing does not bother him.  He lives in the mode of virtual communications already, so if any thing he will teach us how to stay in touch with others. At his very core, he seems to easily focus on now.  We are healthy and safe now.  He does not slip into hyper panic mode. He can find humor in his observations.

Every generation of human has had to deal with unique and challenging circumstances.  From World Wars to Depressions and Recessions, to Watergate and assassinations, to earthquakes and tsunami’s, we have all had our share of life-changing historic events.  Yet it seems to me that this Generation Z has grown up in the most ongoing never-ending bizarre and scary life altering process.  My son was a year old during 9-11.  Since then his generation has coped daily with terrorism, natural disasters, mass shootings, peculiar and ineffective politics, environmental crises, and now… a world-wide viral outbreak and quarantines. As he’s become more mature, and as I’ve watched him roll through the development of coping mechanisms, I wonder….  Is this generation fraught with higher levels of anxiety and depression than ever seen before like the news leads us to believe, or are we raising young adults with more skills of adaptation, resilience, individuality and sensibility than the generations before them?

In all honesty, our world is in a heap of mess right now.  We moms spend sleepless nights worrying about our kids and how they will manage, constantly concerned about their safety, and what their future holds.  Perhaps we should instead spend more time having faith in them.  In feeling reassured that they are our future leaders, and by growing up through turmoil, perhaps they will have the foresight and strength to make things better.  To hope and believe that they, the anti-bullying generation, will inherently know how to take care of each other, and the world we inhabit.

No, we won’t ever stop worrying or trying to protect and control.  But I think the next few weeks or months can be a bit easier and less stressful if we take a page from our Gen Z’s playbooks and take a day at a time, watch out for each other, and be resilient.  This too shall pass, so let’s all be in a good place together when it’s over.

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Embrace the Adventures

packed car for tripDuring this morning’s walk, my puppy and I passed a home where there was much activity in the driveway.  Clearly a family was packing up for a trip.  It appeared to be at least one or two families, plus grandparents. Two vehicles were being filled with bags and skiis, so I can only assume it was a weekend outing to perhaps NH, VT, or Maine.  On our return route past the home again, they had reached the end phase of the preparation for departure. Young children – I counted at least four – were being herded out to the cars.  As the kids circled the vehicles vying for their best seat locations, one excited young voice was repeating what I’m sure he’d heard several times inside the house “Everyone carry your own water bottle!”  I saw a mom walking towards a car with her arms loaded with the last round of items, as a dad was pulling a car seat out of a different car parked further up the drive.  I caught his eye, he waved, and I called out “Have fun!”

The irony is at that very moment, I’m pretty certain none of the adults were having “fun.”  I know without a doubt that mom has spent at least two weeks preparing for this trip, even if it was going to be a three-day getaway.  Coordinating schedules, planning activities, reservations, lodging, packing clothing, toys, necessities, snacks, food, medicines… and of course making appropriate arrangements for home and pet care while they are away.  Dad likely pitched in some too, doing things like setting up light timers and security systems, but we all know the bulk of the planning landed on mom.  This trip, no matter where or to what location, will not be a restful and relaxing event for her.  Trips with young children are not about R&R.  They are about adventures, about experiences, about memories, and about getting great photos.  The parents, especially mom, will return exhausted and looking forward to going back to work to rest up.  But if fun was had, kids were happy, no injuries or illnesses occurred, and sibling fighting was at a minimum, she will mark it down as a resounding success.

Ironically, just last night, my BFF R.W. and I were looking through one of the recent scrapbooks I had completed.  The pages were full of adventures from eight years ago, when my son was 11 – 12 years of age.  Bicycle trips, hikes, outings to Newport, RI and Portland & Bar Harbor, ME, camping excursions, a trip to Niagara Falls, family visits, parties, holidays – all fun things we had done together when my son was young enough to still want to do activities with Mom and Dad. Back when I was that exhausted mom who wanted to do it all and make amazing memories.  And you know what?  We did just that.  In flipping through those pages, my friend and I were struck with bittersweet emotions.  Joy and happiness in the experiences we’ve had (many of them her family and I have shared together), pride in giving our kids great childhood moments, and a contrasting dose of melancholy and sadness that those crazy young-kid-family-togetherness days were in the past, and how incredibly FAST the past couple of decades have sped by.

I realize of course, before any of you admonish us, that life is far from over, and God willing there are many more adventures and memories to be made. In a couple of weeks as a matter of fact, my college freshman son will be joining us on a short vacation trip during his spring break.  This is likely one of the last times he will want to spend his spring break with us, but I know he will still join us for other trips or activities in the future, and certainly holidays and family gatherings.  And, of course, my hubby and I are just starting the next phase of our lives where we will have our own empty-nest adventures with just the two of us, like a new life stage of dating.  But there has still been a big shift, a change in types of activities, and who will be involved in them.  We will never again be introducing our little boy to new child-like wonders and taking him to places like Disney World or Hershey Park or to a kid’s theater or museum.  However, that also means that we will not again deal with packing three bags of stuff just to keep him occupied, managing panic as we attempt to track down the lost stuff toy left at a hotel, or finding the balance of too much activity before hangry tantrums kick in (well, ok, there’s still a bit of that needed when traveling with my husband).

When I think back to that family packing up their cars this morning, I realize that hopefully someday (not too soon!), we will be the cool Grandparents in that scenario.  While in many ways, I wish we could go back in time and re-experience all of those adventures we had when our son was little and we ourselves were younger and more energetic, there is something really appealing about being along for the ride for round two with grandchildren, and giggling a bit to myself as I will watch my son and his future wife take over those trying-to-make-it-perfect-or-at-least wonderful roles.

If there had been time, and I wasn’t afraid that they’d call the cops on this crazy strange woman, I would have paused and approached that young family this morning.  I would have told the mom and dad that they are doing a wonderful thing.  That I knew they were exhausted, probably a bit stressed, and no, they wouldn’t be getting any rest.  Then I would advise them to embrace the chaos. To soak in every up, down, and exhausting moment.  To take a million photos, but then don’t let those photos just sit in their phones and be ignored.  Print them, frame them, share them, maybe even scrapbook them.  Make sure the kids are engaged, and not glued to electronic devices the whole time.  Get them to look out their windows. Touch, feel, and experience their world.  Tell stories and share favorite memories…because it all goes really, really fast.

Then before I left them alone to start their journey, I would have given the grandparents a wink and a high-five and said “and YOU have fun.”

Happy Trails.



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Walkin Around at Level 2

bed comfy“I’m tired.”  Two words uttered as frequently as Love You, I’m Hungry, and What’s Up.  Let’s face it, we are beings who rarely feel rested and refreshed.  And when we do, it is short lived.  Most of us can probably count on one hand the number of times in the past year we woke up feeling energized and rarin’ to go.  And yet we continue on as if that is normal, swallowing down caffeine and using concealer for our under-eye bags.

Being tired is not just about a lack of sleep (although we all deal with that too, especially as RW’s who are famous for not sleeping well).  With these crazy lives we live, I’ve determined that there are actually different levels, or types, of weariness.

Level 1:  Fun Tired.  This is the rarest form, yet should be the most common. Fun Tired is a result of a great experience, like a terrific day out with friends, an exciting date, a really productive and fulfilling day, a unique travel experience, or even a hardcore workout.   This is the only level when we say “I’m so tired, and it’s awesome.”

Level 2:  InaFunk Tired.  Side effect of being stuck.  Could be “the same old dull routine” (thanks Rupert Holmes) of work/school/relationships, or maybe from being stuck in a long stretch of lousy weather or dealing with chronic pain, or a lack of change of scenery.  Whatever the reason, mojo is depleted and energy is out the window.

Level 3:  Two Wick Tired.   The proverbial, yet constant and common method of burning a candle at both ends. All R.W.’s experience this at some point.  Balancing far too much, multi-tasking because we think we can, packing far too many things into waking hours, and never slowing down.  Yup, that’s Level 3 stuff right there.

Level 4:  Emo Tired.  Unfortunately another unavoidable variety of exhaustion, this one comes from life events that stomp us down and wear our hearts out, like grief, or taking care of sick or elderly loved ones, or dealing with the loss of a relationship.  Whatever is causing it, this level of tiredness is miserable, and we wonder how we’ll ever make it through – yet somehow we do.

A couple of days ago, I woke up in Level 2 with a splash of 3 mixed in.  I had stayed up too late the night before, wrongly believing I’m still the younger me who can do more in her day by giving up on sleep and still feel fine in the morning (classic Level 3 shenanigans).  The weather was a continuation of 4 days of cold, grey, dreary, rainy sleety stuff.  My tendonitis in my wrist had flared up, and my knees ached.  And while I love my job, I don’t love my alarm and the hour in which it goes off, even if it is set as the first few notes of a Michael Buble song.  But like all other RW’s, I resisted my overwhelming desire to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for the next 4 weeks or so, and forced myself to get up and moving.  Part of my daily ritual includes a morning walk with my doggo.  Although I tend to sigh and grumble occasionally about this, it almost always turns into one of the best parts of my morning routine.  On this particular morning, as we were headed back from our loop, we encountered a man who was putting out his trash.  I recognized him as one of the lead workers of the farm we were passing.

He had Level 2 written all over him. The winter coat with hood up against the elements, the slumped shoulders, and the trudging footsteps as he carried his bags of trash, all were sure signs of his tiredness. For my puppy, however, the sight of this man and his trash was the most divinely exciting thing she had seen yet that morning (besides her breakfast bowl and the squirrel she chased up a tree.)  Her tail started wagging so energetically that her whole back end had to give in to the force.  She simultaneously emitted “oh my gosh, good morning good morning good morning” whines towards the man.  When he acknowledged her with a smile and reached down to pat her, she responded with two full circle twirls and that puppy pose that says “drop everything you are doing and play with me all day.”  He and I shared a chuckle over her antics and I was able to pull her away only after she got distracted by two birds flying overhead.  As she and I walked away I realized that during that brief 30-second interaction, he and I both forgot to be tired.

Try as we might, we can’t all believe that someday we will win the lottery, quit our jobs, and spend our days lazing on a beach.  Nor can we expect that somehow magically our lives will change overnight and we will have no stress, and will be able to sleep late every morning.  No, the only guarantee is that we will be tired. Often. At various levels and for various reasons.  With intermittent bouts of being rested and refreshed.

What we can do, however, is remember that most of the other RW’s we encounter, and even some of the men in our lives too, are walkin’ around in a level.   We can help each other out by sharing a bright moment, offering to lend a hand, or even sharing a cup o’ joe (or, more my speed, a piece of dark chocolate).  Every little gesture or moment can help us forget for a few minutes how tired we are and more importantly, actually appreciate why we are tired. We can be grateful for the routines we get stuck in, and that we have busy lives full of people who need us so we can burn out our candles.  We can be thankful for the special people that we have, or did have, in our lives.

I know I’ll never get myself organized enough to have time for 8 hours of sleep every night. Even if I did, that wouldn’t be a foolproof solution.  The goal I can set, however, is to experience a whole lot more Level 1’s.  I may still have to use concealer under my eyes – but I’ll have a smile on my face.


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Nothin’ to see here

daisiesAnytime we put a lot of time, money, skill or energy into something, we naturally want to reap the rewards and satisfaction of our efforts.  We want our work to be noticed, appreciated, or admired.  We lose 20 pounds, we are thrilled when someone notices.  We do a major renovation on the house, or a new paint job in a room, we hope someone will ooh and ahh.  We buy a new fabulous outfit or shoes, we wear them with pride and wait for someone to notice. Get a new hair cut or style, and someone is bound to toss out a compliment.  We toil through a major project at work or school or in a community group, and we love to see it all come together or hear a “nice job” or thank you.  Even if we are doing some anonymous community or charity work, it still feels great to see our efforts benefit someone else.

But what of the things that go totally unnoticed?  What about the projects or expenses that are totally necessary but are virtually invisible?   There are plenty of these if you are a homeowner.  Get a new HVAC system?  Yeah, you’ll be happy when it works, but it’s not like anyone is going to go into your basement and say “wow, that’s a beauty.”  (Well, ok, my Dad would have, he was an HVAC engineer… but probably no one else).  Invest in a new roof?  Yup, beats having leaks, which someone would notice, but it’s not like you are going to have a celebratory backyard party and ask everyone to stand back, crane their necks, and bask in the beauty of new shingles.  (You COULD of course do this, but it will likely be the last party invitation anyone would accept.)  You may feel like you accomplished something major (which you did) yet there isn’t anything fun or exciting to show for it. Just an emptier bank account or higher credit balance.  Where’s the celebration?  Where’s the “yay me”?  Where’s the “wow, good for you?”

I had that same feeling today.  After two months, multiple visits, pain and plenty of expense, I finished up a root-canal-tooth-buildup-new crown procedure with my dentist.  My dentist, a great guy who somehow finds joy in what he does, was excited to hand me a small mirror so I could see the final result.  He explained how they had matched the color to my other teeth, it is good and strong, and doesn’t it look great, etc.   The tooth is the last one on my bottom right.  And as I peered in at it with the bright dental overhead light reflecting on its shiny newness, I realized that no one except my dentist, and me when I brush and floss, will ever see it.  But there it is, in all its glory.  If anything, it now makes the other side of my mouth less attractive because there’s a hole towards the back on that side where a problem tooth had to be extracted and I can’t afford the suggested implant.  So I suppose Mr. Nifty New Crown could be getting compliments, or jealousy, from my other teeth.  And yes, it will help me eat.  Yes, it probably will help keep things aligned.  But after literally much pain, time, and expense, I’ve got nothin’ to show.   Similar to the failed backyard roof party, if I opened wide and told friends and family to “check this out!” they’d awkwardly turn down any similar requests in the future.

What else do we have in our lives that we work hard for and have nothing to show?  A healed pulled muscle?   An organized file drawer?  A defrosted freezer?  A simplified email inbox?  Cleaned and re-hung curtains?   Lost 5 pounds?    All awesome accomplishments that no one else will notice.

So I have an idea.  I think every time we have an unnoticeable accomplishment, we should do something simple and noticeable to commemorate it.  Like plant a bunch of daisies in a pot by your front door after the HVAC system is done.  Put down a new rug in your foyer when the roof is completed.  Wear a fabulous scarf when you lost 5 pounds.  Hang a favorite photograph on the wall next to the newly cleaned curtains.  And enjoy responding to the compliments:

“Cool new rug!”  “Thanks, isn’t my new roof beautiful?”

“Wow, pretty flowers!”  “Yeah, my new HVAC system really is awesome.”

“Great shoes?”  “Thanks, yes, my knee is feeling better.”

Sure, we’ll get confused looks, but we will have gotten noticed.

And trust me, complimenting my soon-to-be-purchased fabulous new earrings will be a whole lot less awkward than looking into my mouth.






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