So now that Covid restrictions are being lifted one at a time, people are getting back into the world. Each step back into a “new normal” feels wonderful and different. We were stuck without our loved ones, our routines, our fun nights out for so long that we are just staring in anticipation at what we hope will be a great summer to make up for last year’s debacle.
Last week was the first time I drove back to my gym for a class. For the last 15 months I have been taking virtual classes. It felt so weird driving there, almost as if I was breaking a law. It will probably become a routine again after I go a few times a week. But what has changed? Well, now I don’t have to drive there everyday as I can still take virtual classes. This allows me to mix it up and to also not miss a workout if driving doesn’t fit into the schedule. I will use those virtual workouts when I am busy on a project or traveling, but overall am looking forward to seeing people on a daily basis. I also think that you work harder during an in-person workout than on Zoom. I often caught myself going to do other things in the middle of a workout. Can’t do that at the gym so I will be making the gym more of a priority.
The other change is getting together with people. I looked at my weekly calendar this morning and was excited to see that I had lots of things planned. In fact, on Friday, I have two events. That’s a big deal after not having any at all. People are anxious to see each other, to truly renew friendships and to enjoy the little things in life that perhaps some of us took for granted.
In fact, this week I plan to visit my school which I retired teaching from during the pandemic. I hope to see some of my students and give them an official goodbye. I was lucky enough to see some of my colleagues at our first in-person book club meeting since Covid. It was a wonderful time to reconnect and honestly, we didn’t even discuss the book this time as people were so excited to be together in a fun setting in person and not on Zoom.
So I wish all of you a Happy Summer and hope that you fill it with days that are complete and fun and full of everything important to you that you missed during our “over a year pause of life”. It is time to make those memories , always cherishing each other and realizing that fragility of life as we know it can be taken away in a moment’s notice. So love more, hug longer and reach out to those you have missed these past 15 months.
How are you celebrating returning to real life? I would love to hear your stories.
When you find a dog that melts every part of your heart, you know that this dog is part of your family and part of your life unconditionally.
Years ago, I lost my dog Buddy after 12 years. It was heart-wrenching to watch him go over the Rainbow Bridge and not see him when I came home from work or running errands. No matter how bad of a day you had, the tail wagging and puppy kisses can make everything better. And especially when there is no one else to greet you.
Today is his birthday and every year I feel the same sadness. He was lovable and loyal and meant so much to our family. Through his blindness and epilepsy, which he developed at three years old, his love was still unconditional. We bought him at a Puppy Store when my children were very young. Soon after we found out all the problems he had (being bred at a puppy mill). I would recommend that anyone who wants a dog to love should go the rescue route so you can avoid cross-breeding and illnesses that make you upset (and a little broke too)
My husband and I were engaged to be married and had a few meetings with our priest. Our priest had a Bichon Frise, named Faux Pas (an oops or mistake in French), who I immediately fell in love with. She was rescued by him, found on the side of a country road. He knew that when he brought her home to his wife, he would hear about his faux pas, hence, so that is what he decided to call her. She is the most loving, cuddly little bichon that makes you feel so happy inside. Every time we met with him, she would sit close to me and listen to our conversations and sigh happily. I couldn’t wait for our next meeting to see her again. I kept resisting because I knew how heartbreaking it was to lose a dog you loved and did not want to endure that pain. But the love continued to grow….
Our priest would ask us what we would name our dog if we had one. He even said a dog like Faux Pas. I immediately said Penne like the Pasta and then she would be Penne Gallagher, representing both her Italian and Irish owners.
We got married about five months later. We knew that Faux Pas was pregnant and our priest often asked us how we would feel having a little Penne. I was still resistant because my heart was still broken from losing my Buddy just a few years before.
The day of our wedding we were told that we were being given the female of the litter as a wedding gift. We were still very hesitant. Did we want to take on a dog now? Could we go through the pain of losing another animal down the road? So many questions, we wondered what to do.
We went to the rectory about a month later to visit. Prior to getting there, we discussed that if we see this precious little puppy we would think about it before committing to taking her. Well, there was no thinking. As he handed us our little bundle, he said “Welcome to your forever family” and we were immediately in love with her.
Frantically, we took her to PetCo with us as we had nothing ready at home. We left the rectory with her favorite squishy toy and a bundle of hope. She is the daughter of a rescue on the side of the road and she is the most pleasant, lovable, wonderful dog that I ever had.
When we watched The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon called out for Penny three times, our Penne girl would look up and listen. She knew her name immediately and she felt at home in our house. She is the queen of our castle. Penne does bark when she sees other dogs walk by our house but if you come in expect to be kissed and jumped on with more excitement than you have ever witnessed. Her short legs will try desperately to climb up and she often needs help getting onto a chair or couch. Bichons are incredibly smart and she knows what time she gets her treats and her food, and she is sure to bark and let you know. It amazes me how her bark is different for each thing she wants. If you didn’t know better you would look in her eyes and see some human qualities.
Penne tilts her head when you speak to her. We tell her everything we are doing as if she is a human being. She understands when we say that we are going to Florida to see Grandma and delightfully hops in the car for the long ride down. She loves our daughters and son-in-laws and loves the little babies (our grandchildren) that visit. All she has is love and kisses to give.
Every moment is fun and loving and she loves us both unconditionally. We take her everywhere that she is allowed to go, and when we can’t she misses us and often feels anxiety. We are so thankful and blessed, and most of all, overjoyed that there was a Faux Pas on the side of the road to give us our beautiful baby.
A mother’s love is like nothing else in the world. It knows no boundaries and will crush anything that stands in its path. It is an unconditional love, with no strings attached. You love your child for who they are, who they have become and no matter what.
Today on the seventh anniversary of my mother’s death I look back at a mother’s love and how it is like no other love in the world. I fondly remember my mother always sticking by me no matter what, and always encouraging me to fulfill my dreams. My mother was the most precious, selfless and caring person I know. I often thought about her this year during Covid and sometimes even chuckled when I imagined her responses to certain situations. I feel my mother’s love through her family as well, so this year of separation has been even more difficult for me.
I think we realize our own mother’s love even more, when we become a mother. The day that you become a mother changes your life forever. All of a sudden, the trivial things that upset you no longer matter as you gaze upon this little person who needs you for the rest of their lives. The immediate love and bond you feel is unexplainable, and so hard to describe to someone who has not felt this. Before I had children, people would tell me that it was the strongest love ever created. I did not believe that until it happened to me and no one can surpass the love you feel for your children because they are a part of your soul, your heart, and your whole life.
Today as I reflect in sadness and complete grief as I think about my own mother’s passing on this day, I realize that love continues beyond the place we live, the earth, and the moon and the stars. It is a feeling that never leaves your inner being. It is a love that never ends.
The love you have for your children goes way into adulthood and until you suffer your own death, when it then becomes eternal love. We relish moments that are not even seen by others and we see our children grow into responsible, caring, wonderful adults. As a mom, I wake up proud every single day when I think of my daughters and the beautiful women they have become. I feel extremely responsible for instilling values in them, as well as positive thinking and self-esteem. Life is a roller coaster, and we have been on a very enormous one this past year, that keeps on giving us ups and downs. The most important thing is to go with the flow of these ups and downs and continue to grow as people. And never forget the love inside of you. Most of all, never forget the gift of life that you were able to be a part of as a mother.
This year I had the privilege and honor of becoming a grandmother for the first time. Although my grandson lives far away (farther because of Covid limitations), I feel a love that is different yet just as strong as the love I felt when I gave birth to my own children. As soon as I met him, I felt like he was a part of me and my heart and my life forever. It gives me such joy to see him growing up (thank goodness for Facetime) and I am so very proud of the mother that my daughter has become. It makes me so proud to see her taking care of this little guy and giving him unconditional love. Perhaps she even remembers how I took care of her throughout her life.
I remember when my mother became a grandmother and told me there was no better feeling in the whole world. Well, now years later, and without her to share it with, I feel that unconditional and amazing love for a little baby who carries on my family. Looking into the eyes of your grandchild can only give us hope and confidence for a brighter future. It is a love that knows no boundaries. My mother lived for her grandchildren and I totally understand that now. I feel such a deep sadness when I realize that my mother never got to see her great grandchild. I only hope she sees him from above and is beaming with love and pride.
I hope that all of you will take the time to think about your own mother and how special she is. Tell her as often as you can how much you love her, need her and appreciate all she does for you. Moms are pretty simple—the smallest token of love goes a long way. So this year on Mother’s Day and any other time you can, hug your mom a little longer, and a little harder, because she won’t always be there. Treasure her and make good memories that will stay in your heart forever. I miss my mother every single day but rejoice in all the wonderful memories I have of her and the love she brought to our family.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful. It also means the readiness to show appreciation for kindness and to be willing to return kindness. Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness for what you have and not always wanting more. When you are grateful, you acknowledge the goodness in your life and feel positive emotions, enjoy and relish good experiences, and continue to build strong relationships.
How does grateful feel? It is a feeling of being thankful and appreciative. An example would be how you feel when a friend does something exceptionally nice for you.
How Do We Practice Gratitude?
Notice good things in life, look for them and always appreciate them.
Savor and pay attention to all these good things in your life.
Express your gratitude to others and to yourself. Thank someone.
In the Bible, it says “Give thanks to all circumstances; for this is the will of God”. When you regularly practice gratitude, you take time to notice and reflect on things you are thankful for and, overall, you will experience positive emotions. This can lead to more sleep, feeling more alive with more compassion and kindness. Gratitude also enhances your immune systems.
People are more successful when they practice gratitude. They reach their goals and make 20% more progress than those who do not practice gratitude.
Practice Gratitude Daily
Take time each day to practice gratitude and you will definitely see a significant increase in your happiness and your overall physical health. Daily practice improves sleep, boosts immunity and may decrease the risk of disease. It is hard to practice gratitude and we have to work hard to cultivate this daily practice.
. meditate on things you are grateful to have in your life. Practice mindfulness on step at a time and a little more each day.
. think about what you are grateful for as soon as you wake up (someone or something)
. reflect on people or things you are thankful for at work when you are done for the day. Sometimes thinking of someone after a long day is all you need for a boost.
. keep a list of what you are grateful for handy (and update it often) to look at throughout your day.
Gratitude Can Change Your Life
Gratitude changes your life because it makes you reflect and appreciate what you have in your life rather than what you don’t have. It can change your life by being a very powerful source of inspiration that you can tap into. Just pay attention to the simple beauty in everyday life and what we often take for granted. More people are feeling grateful after living through this pandemic and fearing tomorrow. It helps us to reflect and appreciate all that we have. In these times, it is even more important to reflect on how grateful we are.
Show Gratitude to Someone Who Helps You
How can you show gratitude to someone who helps you? There are many ways to do this. Just a few ideas:
. a card or handwritten note expressing your gratitude
. a hug
. a compliment
. perform a random act of kindness
. provide encouragement when they need it
. a quick text to say you are thinking of someone.
Make a List of What You are Grateful For
Think about what you are grateful for in your life and make a list. It can include:
. your parents
. your family
. your best friend
. your teachers
. your colleagues
Next to each item on your grateful list state reasons why you are grateful for them. For example, I am grateful for my parents because they gave me life and raised me with love and support.
Does Gratitude Relieve Stress?
Being grateful for what you have in your life can immediately enhance your mood and give you happiness in the inside. This can help strengthen and create a positive nature within ourselves which can combat stress. If you have positive thoughts before you go to sleep, you will sleep better.
Express Gratitude Daily
There are ways to express gratitude daily:
Write in a journal that you keep with you and only use to express gratitude.
( I purchased a premade journal that I find useful)
What is happiness? Can it be defined in a word, in a sentence, in a song? Why are we not happy even when things are going right in our lives? Do we know what happiness really is?
Did you know that happiness does not depend on what we have? Happiness depends on how we feel about what we have. Did you notice some people are happier with less and miserable with more? Happiness is such a powerful human emotion yet often the least understood. Happy people have more control over their physical health and “happiness” as well. When we are happy we feel more self-worth and confidence. We are often disappointed when we get something we hope for, yet we are still not happy. You can honestly see when someone is happy by they way they carry around some sort of positive brilliance wherever they go.
We can define happiness as having meaning and satisfaction with one’s life. It is not merely about material things. It is experiencing a sense of purpose. It is not simply an external pleasure. It is connecting with others, having meaningful relationships in your life, and feeling a sense of community around you. Many people have learned that money definitely does not buy happiness.
Happiness in Relationships
We are defined often by the people in our lives. We cherish our relationships and they should be the primary source of our happiness. When a major relationship in our life fails to bring happiness, we are reluctant and afraid to make changes in fear of not finding anything better to give us true happiness. People who are happy in their marriage or relationship, happy with their close group of friends and extended family, are often the people who understand the true meaning of happiness. It can’t be bought, it must be felt.
Happiness in our Career
Whether we choose a career or just a job to get through our lives, what we do every day is a major part of our overall happiness. When you jump out of bed because you love what you do then you are experiencing happiness and fulfillment. When you work too many hours, and not happily, this has an affect directly on the other possible parts of happiness in your life. Most people are afraid to take risks and often stay in a mundane work environment for fear of trying something new that interests them, and also fear of failing.
Happiness with Ourselves
Yes, we are a society that looks at physical appearance and a person’s attractiveness, so many of us feel if we lose weight, buy new clothes, etc., we will become happier people. We will become healthier, but happiness is so much deeper than that. We should never stop trying to eat healthier, increase physical activity and take care of our bodies. However, we need to have a combination of needs met in order for this to add to our happiness.
Honestly, I can talk about happiness for pages on end. Right now, each of us has a specific key to find their true happiness. It is usually a combination of many things, but mostly a feeling of self-worth and contentment in many major areas of our lives. Each day is a journey to achieving this happiness. Happiness changes along the journey and we need to notice the changes in our own individual needs.
I hope that you can find a way to make yourself happy, even in these not so normal times. Perhaps this is the best time to evaluate what really makes us happy and to see life for what it really is, when so many people around us are suffering.
It is the end of December of one of the worst years most of us have lived through and we are counting the days until 2021, with hope in our hearts…. Some people lost loved ones, some people lost jobs and others just survived the consequences and loneliness of isolation and separation because of the pandemic.
We all know that this awful year will not leave us at the stroke of midnight, however, we have hopes that things will only get better, month by month. Yes, they do predict that numbers will rise after the holidays, but hopefully as people start getting vaccinated, this will continue to change for the better. Many people question whether they feel comfortable taking the vaccine, so it will be a wait and see kind of New Year, but one filled with hope…
Every new year we compose a list of “promises”, or resolutions, that we have made for the new year such as losing weight, eating healthier, forgiving others, and the list continues. This year all of our lists will be different but one thing that they will all have in common is that we will all enter the new year with hope and with an appreciation of human life and a special appreciation of the little things in life that are really the most important.
So as we enter 2021, leaving awful 2020 behind here are some thoughts of what we are hoping for:
1. The end of the pandemic:
We all are hoping that the new year will bring an end to the pandemic so that people can get back to their lives. Many will have to rebuild their lives with new jobs, new places to live and a new acceptance of what has been taken away through the pandemic.
2. Loving each other again:
Not only did we suffer a pandemic, but the year 2020 also consisted of riots, hatred and a presidential election like no other in history. Our country is divided more so than ever before and we are not sure how to heal. Will we ever get along with someone who believes in the opposite political party? When did your political affiliation make you less of a friend, brother or sister? What happened to the days when people accepted each other for their different opinions, their different upbringings and their life choices. Instead of embracing each other, we have become a nation divided. I am not sure that this will change in 2021 but hopefully it will get better.
3. Enjoying the small moments:
After being locked up in our homes for months, wearing masks and not hugging our loved ones, hopefully this year will bring us back to some state of normalcy. For example, just going to a movie or concert will be so special after not leaving our homes. Having a family gathering, whether it be a wedding or birthday, without worrying about contact or testing, will be a wonderful change for all of us. As we enter back into our lives, I hope that we all take a step back each time we have a new experience in 2021 and cherish it as it was taken away from us during the pandemic.
4. Continue kindness:
People were humble and kind during the pandemic. Neighborhoods thought of new ways to make celebrating happen, like Zoom parties, drive through holiday displays and drive-in movies even made a comeback. We were kind to let people ahead of us online, to keep our six foot distance and to respect the rules that our government placed on us during the pandemic.
5. Kids can be kids again:
Not only have adults had loss and frustration, but our children had their school lives ripped apart. From playing with their friends and enjoying learning in school, they ended up in front of a laptop that they didn’t know how to navigate and were expected to complete their studies as if nothing had happened. Parents, struggling with their own work changes, became teachers. Teachers became round the clock workers trying to please everyone and prove their worth. We know our children will be behind academically, but what will be the effect on them socially? When life returns to normal (maybe the next school year), we need to treat them with extra kindness and support as they re-enter the normal world of school.
6. Families can begin to heal:
Many people died during the pandemic and most were not “celebrated” the way we are accustomed to. There were no wakes, funerals, or memorials. Thankfully, social media did become a way for people to express condolences and love during this very trying period. These families will not get their loved ones back and will have to figure out how to continue without them in 2021. We need to be there for them and for each other.
So let’s take a deep breath and think about what we want for the new year. I know that I want people to be happy, to enjoy life and to be able to be together without fear. I am going to hope for that hug, that kiss, and that sharing with loved ones that I have missed during this long, debilitating pandemic. Of course, I am going to go back on my diet and start my exercise program with enthusiasm, but that will not be my goal for 2021. My hope for 2021 is the end of the pandemic, the restoration of society and our lives as back to normal as they possibly can be.
Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope that this next year finds you healthy, happy and most of all appreciative of all the small moments in our lives.
This year we will be writing different kinds of Christmas lists. Most of them will not include extravagant gifts but rather necessities that we will get for Christmas after surviving this tumultuous year. When thinking about Christmas this year, there is nothing material that I need and I am very thankful for that.
So I wrote a different kind of Christmas list this year. All I want is:
The end of this pandemic:
After the year we have had with Covid and isolation and people dying, let us all work towards a better year with hopes for those who have been affected by this virus and for our society to slowly return back to normal. The pandemic has made us all realize how important the small stuff is, but now I think we are ready to go back to our everyday lives, looking back in appreciation, and becoming a whole society again.
Unemployment numbers going down:
So many people lost their jobs this year during the pandemic. The biggest rate of job loss was found in the small business market. I hope that 2021 allows these people the opportunity to find their paths again, whether by finding a new job or reestablishing their business. When shopping this Christmas, think of the small business owner who really needs to make up for losses this holiday season. So even if you have to make a trip to the store, versus ordering online, give that extra effort for the small business you enjoy during the year. You want them to make it and continue to grow in your community.
A more peaceful society
Now that the Presidential election is over (whether it is your candidate or not), let us all strive to live in a more peaceful society. Amidst the pandemic, we saw the Black Lives Matter protests because of George Floyd, resistance because of a Supreme Court judge, and finally protesting over vote counting. Let us put this all behind us and work towards a better society in 2021. Haven’t we suffered enough in 2020, people losing lives, families torn apart and the list continues. So let one of our Christmas wishes (and New Year goals) be to live in a more peaceful society.
More people loving each other
After this unusually horrible year, we should dig deep into our hearts and souls and forgive others for petty occurrences that wouldn’t matter in time of disease, death and job loss. As we are recovering our economy let us also recover our relationships. It’s not too late to call that friend or relative that you have lost touch with. We have learned unfortunately that life is way too tough and we should forgive, mend fences and go on with our lives in a loving manner. Also, take more time with family. Instead of rushing back to our crazy days, take a step back each day and remember the parts of lockdown that were wonderful, like spending more time with children and loved ones.
Hopes for the New Year
In thinking ahead to 2021, let’s resurrect our resolutions to be more conducive to what we are living in now. Yes, we all want to eat better, lose weight, etc. but our goals should be a bit different this year after exiting such a whirlwind year we don’t want to repeat. Some thoughts could be:
Take more time to do your daily routine. Relish in every moment.
Make self-care a priority.
Love each other more.
Evaluate your finances and establish new goals.
Be more considerate of others, including strangers.
There is much to think about as we enter this holiday season. Many of us will have to give us seeing family at a distance, having our usual work holiday parties and just entertaining and enjoying each other’s company. It will be a difficult Christmas for many but let us think of the true meaning of Christmas and enjoy the “little things that life has given us.” Watch the Hallmark Channel, bake some cookies, call an old friend and listen to Christmas music to fill your soul. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all and most of all, I wish all of you a Happy, Healthy 2021.
It is the middle of November and all the news broadcasts talk about limiting number of guests for Thanksgiving, closing bars and restaurants early, limiting gym and bowling alley times and even potentially schools going back to remote. The numbers are up in most states and people are starting to feel a new frenzy and a new state of worry. Will it be easier this time?
Most of us are tired of the lockdown but have become more comfortable staying at home. Here is a list of ways you can prepare for the next possible lockdown without going into a frenzy.
Write a list of movies and shows you want to catch up on.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, people are exchanging suggestions and sharing their binging activities. With many of our network shows back like The Good Doctor and This Is Us, we see ourselves getting into a routine usually set aside for winter months. Throughout lockdown I tried to only watch TV at night as to not become all consumed or a “couch potato”. So take out a notebook and write down your wish list for TV but make a time recommendation for yourself, such as 7:00-11:00 pm. I always make it that and vow not to watch TV (once in awhile I will sneak in the news) during the day.
2. Make a schedule for your days.
In your schedule include the times you will exercise, eat, take a nap and anything else that is part of your day. This will make you feel less likely bored or out of control. I think most of the time if we stop to ponder what is happening, we will enter a funk and not do anything but get sad. Think of all the projects you never got around to. When this pandemic is over, everyone should be organized in a perfectly clean home.
3. Do your holiday shopping online.
Take your time browsing emails and Black Friday ads. In the past, we have been running to our jobs with barely enough time to wrap a gift. Well, if you can think of this as an advantage, so be it. Start shopping and comparison pricing which we don’t often have time for. Make a list of gifts you need and money you can spend on each. Ask family members what they really want this year because now that you have time you won’t just buy a gift the day before without thinking it through.
4. Make goals for when the pandemic ends.
Look to the future and decide what will make you happy, what you want to accomplish and even where you want to travel to. Now is the time to research what you want, without rushing, and come up with a detailed, yet doable plan.
I just set aside one of my nice journals and am entitling it “After the Pandemic” where I can write my thoughts as they come to me, so I don’t forget when everyone is rushing back to life.
4. Call an old friend you didn’t during Phase 1.
Reach out to an old friend that you perhaps connect with on facebook and always say you miss and want to talk to. Now is the time to make these reconnections because when work is in full gear and life goes back to normal, we get back to having limited time. So take advantage of this “unlimited” time and reach out to others. Reach out to a neighbor who may need help– it will be much appreciated.
5. Say “I Love You” every single day.
We don’t know when our last day is so don’t take any chances. Call your aunt, tell your best friend you miss her and love your family every single day. Every day is a gift that we cannot afford to lose. This year we will be even more grateful and thankful as we sit around and enjoy a meal with our loved ones on Thanksgiving, whether virtually or in person.
We got this. We got through the first one so we are pros now. Take one day at a time and always remember there are better days ahead. Wear a mask, use sanitizer and be aware of people around you. Be safe and we will be celebrating together very soon.