Feeling Accomplished During Social Distancing

We have been stuck inside for awhile now. Going to the store to pick up and order or a restaurant for a special take out treat is the most fun we have during the week. Most of us are used to being so busy that we cannot keep up with our lists of what to do each day. So think of social distancing as a time to catch up on our mundane or “too busy for” tasks that often get put off til forever. At least if we do this, when the ban is lifted and the virus subsides, we can run free outside and into the world knowing that we put our time to good use.

1. Plan Meals for Week

Take a look in your refrigerator and pantry and think of some fun recipes you can finally take time to prepare. Look through some old cookbooks and make each night’s dinner something fun and different. Get the whole family involved. It could be a bonding time that we often miss out on during our normal busy lives. Ask family members for ideas and a wish list of what they want to eat. Then you can make a list of what you will make each night of the week without going to the store. And, of course, supporting a neighborhood restaurant could also be one night’s meal choice.

2. Books to Read

Most of us have a shelf or corner of a room dedicated to a pile of books that we haven’t read yet (but had to buy at that yard sale). Some of us even have many books to read on our Kindles or IPads that we keep downloading in hopes of reading. One way I feel accomplished is by writing a list and then actually checking off what I have done. So write down every single book in your corner, and book on your Kindle, and as you read them you can check it off. You may want to even add a box to donate (an actual book) or delete (an ebook). I know that we have been home for 17 days and I have read 3 books and 1 ebook. I was going strong for awhile but working at home is taking up a bit of time.

3. Self-Care List

When we are working or doing things for our family, we often forget ourselves. So now is the time to give yourself your own list. On your list you should write down what you will do daily to take care of yourself. You can also add a list of products you need to purchase in order to maintain self-care (Here’s where Amazon may come in handy). This list can also include your daily schedule with time indicated for your self-care activities such as spa, online gym classes, meditation and so on. It is so important to take care of you, or you won’t be able to take care of them.

4. Organizational Needs

This is a good time to evaluate your home office and see what you may need to make things work more efficiently. Especially in these times of not knowing how long we will be social distancing. You can make two lists: One which lists what you should buy now (amazon.com) and a list for future, i.e., new computer or new organization system. Take a good inventory and take your time making the list. It doesn’t have to be checked off right away.

5. Social Lists

It is important to feel connected to the other people in your life that are not currently stuck in the house with you. Make a list of people to call, text, write to and even send a Birthday or Get Well card to. You can also make a list of upcoming gifts you need to buy with some room to jot down ideas. Don’t forget to check items off as you get done!

6. To Do Lists

I find it helpful to have a to do list for every day. Usually when I am done for the day and watching tv or reading I write down what I need to get done tomorrow. This is helpful to me because I always feel the need to feel as if my day was an accomplishment of some sorts and have goals for the next day.

I hope that you have found some of these ideas helpful and maybe you are starting some of them right now. Good luck in your social distancing goals and also don’t forget this is time to reconnect with your family and also to catch up on sleep.

Stay well. Let me know how you are doing during social distancing. We all need each other.

Organizing at Home During Social Distancing

As we all sit at home for days (twelve for me now) we try to get ourselves focused on projects to get us through the day. It is very difficult to start as we are ridden with anxiety from the news and the quiet on the streets. But let’s think of this time as a time we never had and may never have again…time to get stuff done that we only talked about before. Lists we wrote that got ripped up without anything checked off. So let’s get organized one step at a time.

Let’s start with your house. I started my organizing by writing a list by room of tasks, no matter how menial that I wanted to accomplish. Sometimes being able to check something off your list is all you need to feel productive for the day. Let’s start….. Go…..

By room:

Kitchen:

1. Cabinets: Go through all your cabinets and organize shelves so that everything is within reach and organized. Make sure dishes are in same cabinet and Tupperware is stacked somewhere where it won’t hit you in the head. I prefer putting it in a pullout drawer, organized by size with lids on the side. This may be a good time to make a little box of items you never use to donate at a later time.

2. Pantry: Organize your shelves by type of food and check expiration dates. This would be a good time to have a large garbage bag next to you. It is amazing how much we overbuy when things are on sale. Yes I am also guilty. I just found 5 bottles of salad dressing that expired last year. So much for the savings I thought I was getting.

3. Deep clean: Now is the time to get out that cabinet polish, countertop refresher, windex and whatever else you use to clean your kitchen. Put the gloves on and go crazy. Your kitchen will thank you and remember this glorious day when you are back at work and leaving dirty dishes in the sink again.

4. Floors: Don’t forget to swiffer, mop and shine that beautiful ceramic tile that was bought with the intention that beige is great because it doesn’t show any dirt. Well, let’s kill all germs and make our floors shine!

Bathroom:

Whether one, two or more, now is the time to deep clean and organize the bathrooms in our house:

1. Empty Medicine cabinets and Vanities: We are all guilty of shoving things in cabinets, drawers and at the bottom of vanities. So take everything out and use that big garbage bag again. Throw out expired or unnecessary products. Again you will remind yourself to not fall for those sales. Clean surfaces and return products to shelves and the bottom of the vanity. Be sure to clean all area surfaces before returning products. Another job we never get to when working outside of the house.

2. Scrub, scrub, scrub: Now you can get on your hands and knees and scrub that shower, bathtub and the toilet bowl and surrounding areas. Use your gloves so you will not hesitate to clean until they shine so brightly.

3. Floors: Don’t forget to swiffer, mop and scrub those tiles until they look like you just put them in your brand new bathroom.

Voila! The most important rooms of the house are done, now let’s make a list of other jobs we can do around the house.

Living Room/Dining Room: Give these rooms a deep clean and don’t forget the furniture polish and wood floor cleaner too. Put clutter away or throw out accumulated nonsense. Another two rooms in your house are now sparkling.

Bedrooms: Clean out drawers (don’t forget to have an empty donation bag right next to you), Organize closets, dust and polish furniture and hang up all the clothes that are around. This may be a good time to put on a load of laundry.

Miscellaneous: For those of us who have basements and/or garages you can extend these cleaning, sorting and donating projects to these areas as well. Check the next time bulk will be picked up and make an area in your garage for that pickup. While we are organizing, don’t forget hall closets, mud rooms, linen closets, and so on.

Start by writing down all the rooms in your house on paper with space in between. On each space in between write down the jobs you want to get done. Check off each as it is accomplished. You will feel so satisfied at the end of the day and days that your mind will not be consumed with the virus and its impact outside but rather on changing your world temporarily while we wait for the world to heal.

Don’t forget to take before and after pictures to look at one day when you are back to the 9 to 5 craziness your life used to have.

Please comment and share your lists and accomplishments. We are all in this together. Stay safe and healthy.

Is Social Distancing Our Future?

With the outbreak of corona virus spreading through our nation, causing closing of all schools and businesses to work from home, are we headed towards a stay-at-home society? Every day more and more changes and restrictions are being discussed, so much so that fear is rising and people do not know what to expect. Stores overcrowded, bars and restaurants on take-out only, gyms and other businesses that provide services are closing, while the news is just making everyone scared about their future. People are worried about their savings, their pay checks, and their overall quality of life. When can we expect things to get back to normal or will this be the new normal?

When Corona Virus swept through China, Italy and other parts of Europe, Americans just held their breaths. Then, we heard of a case here and a case there. Still trying to remain calm. Now we have gotten to people cancelling trips, parties, weddings, etc. way into the month of June. Could it be that we would be social distancing til then? Will people be able to get back on track after this? What about the children who are trying to learn at home with parents struggling to keep their own jobs going and lack of babysitting help? How long can our society go on like this?

Let’s take a deep breath and try to put it into perspective. First of all, our main concerns should be that we have what we need in our homes to get by for a few weeks – food and basic supplies. We have to assume that we will be able to get additional supplies as we need them. Most importantly, we need to have all of our prescriptions filled for the next 90 days if possible. Be aware of online medical help that is available for non-threatening illnesses. We do not want to go to doctors offices or hospitals unless it is a complete emergency.

Whenever you go to a public place be sure to keep sanitizer handy and to wash your hands frequently and for at least 30 seconds. Avoid touching others and just get done what you need and go back home. Check on neighbors especially the elderly who may not be able to get to the store. If you are going anyway, see if they need some basic supplies picked up for them. A lending hand will long be remembered and reinforce the true nature of community and society. Be considerate when buying supplies – do you really need 2 cases of toilet paper right now or shouldn’t you be thinking of the next person shopping ! Let’s not overreact or hoard supplies. Let’s all have faith that we will be back to normal within a few weeks.

Be thankful for our health professionals and first responders who are risking their lives every day to continue protecting and caring for us. Before you decide to complain about limitations being imposed on you, think about the next person and what they are going through as well.

This is the time to enjoy the simple things in life and perhaps thinking about a simpler time which has gone so far away from us. Share meals with your family, enjoy game nights, have conversations and do all those things we never have time for during the normal course of our lives. This will be difficult for the children who are used to playing sports, being involved in activities every day and those that are not used to relaxing. Welcome this as an opportunity to show our children what we should enjoy doing all the time: being with those we love.

I wish everyone good luck through this national crisis. When it is over we will have so much to catch up on and discuss. Stay calm and have faith that this too shall pass. Please feel free to share your concerns and triumphs through this time.

Stay safe and wash your hands!

Healthy Living With Arthritis Pain

In the past few months, I have been diagnosed with arthritis in both my knees. The left knee, most recently, was just a bit worse. I had a big fall on that knee in April 2012 and then again in August 2016. The bruising caused me to develop arthritis. The doctor prescribed me an anti-inflammatory, Naprosyn, which is a very strong type of Advil. It did heals ease the pain but gave me terrible stomach problems. So this led me to research other ways to tolerate my arthritis without an impending surgery (hopefully very far in the future). The doctor recommended physical therapy and suggested I continue to do my Barre and Yoga classes as well. Zumba and Piloxing will have to wait a bit. Sometimes the pain is unbearable, especially when I sit, but I am determined to live with this and continue my routines as much as possible.

Even with medical intervention, the pain is still there. So a person with arthritis needs to change their lifestyle choices to ease some of this chronic pain. There are many recommended “natural” cures but you must be extremely careful of what you try and how it acts when used with other products. People I talk to recommended a CBD Hemp Oil that you can rub on the area. After research I am more confused because of the many different varieties available. So before you purchase this type of product do extensive research and talk to others who share your problems.

Therapy Topical Creams

When my knee started acting up I used Sombra WarmTherapy cream which I used many years for back pain, recommended by my chiropractor. Others have suggested Aloe Vera, which comes from the leaves of its plant. Topical aloe Vera doe not cause any side effects and can be used on the area affected by arthritis as well. Like Aloe Vera, eucalyptus can be used as a topical oil extract, and often helps with arthritis pain. The best thing to do is experiment with each of these topical oils (which are not ingested and will not cause side effects) and see what works for you.

Herbs

Some herbs are considered anti-inflammatory and are right in your spice cabinet used in everyday cooking. They have been known to help with arthritis inflammation. Ginger is an anti inflammatory spice that may alleviate the arthritic area when it feels swollen and overworked. Green tea is a popular beverage, hot and cold, that has been used to reduce inflammation in the body. Many people cook with turmeric because they like the taste and it has many anti-inflammatory properties. Personally, I would use these spices in my food or hot beverage rather than taking them orally as you cannot always be sure of the side effects.

Foods

Everyday foods have been known to ease inflammation and make it easier to live with arthritis pain. Some examples are fatty fish, garlic, ginger, broccoli, walnuts, berries, spinach, grapes, olive oil and tart cherry juice. Of course, you don’t have to eat all these foods daily, but studies have shown that people who include more of these foods in their daily diet have improved movement and less arthritic pain.

In searching for relief for my own arthritis pain, I have been focused on products and choices that do not have side effects or can cause other problems. By adding some spices and some food choices, I feel that I can experiment with the results and what works for me. Exercise is one day at a time and I try not to push myself while I am working with my physical therapist as well. I do know that after stretching my pain is eased and my overall body feels healthier.

Arthritis is a fact of life and as we get older all of our old bruises come back to haunt us. We need to fight against them and use our bodies natural healing process to get us through. Exercise, natural foods and spices, and ointments are just part of the process. Feel your body and let it tell you what’s helping and what isn’t. If it means keeping a journal then do so to encourage healing over time. Don’t be discouraged — arthritis can make you stronger as you fight to get back control of your body.

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20 For 20

So all the anticipation is over. The year 2020 is here and the holidays are behind us. Some of us (like me) have a few more days left before I go back to work and reality so I can relax and think about the year ahead and what I hope it will bring for all of us.

I have decided not to make resolutions this year but simply to work hard at being happy and being kind to others so that they may experience joy in this tumultuous world. What I love about the holidays is that they give us the opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, to reflect on what is the real importance in our lives, and to see the world as a beautiful place to live. We can all strive to make that happen this year. Enjoy the simple joys of everyday life and take more deep breaths to reduce stress.

We have certain traditions like eating fish on Christmas Eve and having a White Elephant gift exchange with extended family and friends. These treasured memories carry us through the holidays and hopefully into the bleak month of January.

I came up with a list of 20 things I hope for in 2020:

1. I hope that this Presidential Election does not get out of control as it did in 2016. People lost respect for each other and rioted in the streets when Trump won. I have never seen such a display. Whether you are happy or upset about the results of an election, a person who is elected to the office of President should be respected. What’s done is done. Deal with it. I am not going to watch debates, news or look at Social Media viewpoints on the election this year. I don’t want to add that stress to my life.

2. I want to take time out to take deep breaths and not overcommit myself. I am going to learn how to politely say NO to people and realize that it doesn’t mean that I don’t care — it means I just can’t or just have to take a step back.

3. I am going to make an extra point of helping others in need. Whether its donating to a charity or buying a cup of coffee for someone in need, I want to show others kindness and hope that it will add to their lives just a little bit. I always remind myself to be grateful for what I have in my life and to always show kindness.

5. This year I am going to make health and fitness a priority again. I have been slacking off because of my knee problems and just being busy at work. No more excuses. Even if I am not ready to take on an Aerobics or Zumba class, I will start off with Yoga, Barre and Stretching. Also, I am going back to a more healthy eating plan.

4. I would like to read more books this year. In the past I have averaged 10-12 books a year. I would like to double that this year and finally get through my “To Read” pile in my office. I hope to start my 2020 list today.

6. I am going to make learning a goal this year and take a few courses that will help me in my freelance business as well as courses for some fun hobbies I never had time for. As work winds down for me I hope to do this while exploring in my town and neighboring villages for some fun learning experiences, whether they be for a daily meeting or an extended course at the local middle school.

7. Explore where I live. I moved to my new community less than 4 years ago and because of work and constant running there is still so much more I want to learn about where I live. There are local places I haven’t visited, thrift shops to explore and interesting eateries I still have to try.

8. This year would be the perfect time to revisit some classics that I have forgotten since High School. At that’s time, I just read books for assignments and often resorted to clip notes for tests. I would love to actually sit and enjoy books like Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird. Reading these through my adult, experienced eyes may be completely different and definitely more rewarding,

9. I would like to discover new places. Last year brought me to Italy on a very scheduled tour which was an amazing 10 days of all you could possibly see in Italy. I would like to take travel differently this year. Take some short trips, maybe some day trips to towns I have never heard of and just experience what our country has to offer. I always wanted to visit places like Nashville, New Orleans and Memphis so maybe this is my year to start.

10. It is important to spend more time with family. We get so caught up in our everyday lives that we often don’t realize that we are spending too little time on the important part of our lives. Every Christmas I invite my extended family over for a celebration which confirms that we need to do more of that during the year. We get so caught up in running from work to an obligation at night, just to continue planning and working the next day. So this may be the year of some impromptu plans with my family.

11. When my mother passed away almost six years ago, she left over 40 photo albums. I took them apart and put them in bins by category (her family, my kids, miscellaneous) knowing that one day I would have to properly sift through them. Often when I start it is still a painful project, but this year I am going to share some of these precious photo with family members. My plan is to group them into families (my mother was one of 8) and after taking out ones I want to cherish for myself, make little packages for each of these families. This gift will mean so much to them.

12. Along with my mother’s photos is a bin of jewelry and miscellaneous items that I have from when I cleaned out her apartment. It’s easier to get rid of stuff you can’t use, clothing and furniture. This bin holds some of her most precious memories. Every time I tried to do this with my daughters, I would open it up and start looking, only to quickly cover it and put it away for another day. Well, I think that day will come soon as I feel the strength to pour myself into the memories.

13. Through the years I have given to various charities. Years ago when I was a stay at home mom I often volunteered at some local charity events especially with my Girl Scout troop. I enjoyed giving to the community, reaping the rewards of giving, and just sharing with others for the same cause. Since I moved to my new community I have been taking note of different charities I would be interested in working with. This year I would like to help out at one of their fundraisers instead of just giving money or donating clothing.

14. For the past three years of so, I have had the outline of a children’s book rattling around my head. I have taken some online writing courses and also made note of some possible publishers. This year I want to take my ideas and write my book. Once that is done I can decide if I want to pursue a publisher or self-publish.

15. Sometimes I feel like all I do is rush from one activity to the next. I envy people who tell me they binged something on Netflix or stayed in their pajamas all day. Probably from how I was raised to always be dressed your best and ready to go, that is the way I approach every day. So I started this year (its 2 days old) by taking my time with each step of the way. If I don’t want to run an errand and it is not absolutely necessary to go at this time, maybe this time I will just sit and read a magazine or put the TV on for a short time. I have led a regimented life that I would like to slow down a bit. Now that my daughters are grown and have their own homes I have to remind myself that it is ok to just relax.

16. Along with the going slower, I also want to remove unwanted clutter around me. Since I cleaned my mother’s one bedroom apartment out with over 50 bags to be donated, I started being more aware of what I save and just put away. Yesterday I started with my first closet. It felt so good to organize, throw out some stuff and now look at a shelved closet that has order and purpose.

17. I love to organize. When you are working you tend to wear the same jewelry, same outfits and others get pushed aside in the drawer or closet. So while I am organizing clutter, I want to organize myself. For example, I know that I recently bought a night cream but I cannot find it. I have a habit of “squirreling” things away til I absolutely need them and then have a problem recalling where it is. So this year I want to use things I bought, wear all my jewelry and change bags more often (as I have quite a collection) and take my time enjoying “old stuff” that I am finally using !

18. Over the past few years I have been toying with the idea of early retirement. I love teaching but it is not the same as it was when I started over 20 years ago. Guidelines and curriculum that are not inspiring, coupled with much added work drives me to want to go onto the next phase of my life. This involves getting my finances in order, trying not to spend foolishly and figuring out how to live on a smaller income, my pension. I hope to take my freelance writing past my blog and also make time for other experiences I have already mentioned. It is a scary step that takes planning and that’s where I am right now.

19. Going along with the planning for retirement is my goal to be more diligent to save along the way. I love getting deals but often, because I am often in a rush, I end up paying way too much for an item only to regret it later. Taking more time in all I do seems to be a thread going through this list and I will make every effort to save whenever I can. It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you find what you are looking for (or need) at a fraction of the cost.

20.Lastly and most importantly, I want to spend time with all those I love. I want to be less tired to talk to my husband after a long day at work. I want to stop saying no because I am tired. This year will be a momentous year for me as I am going to have a grandson in June. My daughter lives far away but I plan to reconnect more with her and spend time with this little bundle coming soon. Many of my friends have become grandparents, as has my husband, but this will be the first experience for me and I can’t wait. What is life if it cannot be spent with those we love.

I don’t consider the above my resolutions, but rather my hopes and dreams for 2020. Wake up in the morning being grateful for another day and think of how your day will make your life better and the lives of those around us better. Kindness is a priority in this tumultuous world we now live in.

May all your new year dreams be realized and accomplished. Most of all, please enjoy the ride!

What is Christmas?

Christmas means something different to each one of us. Often we are so wrapped up in the preparation for the “perfect” Christmas, that we don‘t take a moment to really understand the true meaning of Christmas. Well, after having three weeks of insanity at work with parent conferences, report cards and some parties, I have finally rested for a day to take care of my sinus problem that has been lurking since the beginning of December.

So as I sit here watching my third Hallmark Christmas movie of the day, I started to reflect on Christmas and what it means to me. Through the years I always put so much effort into Christmas with decorating, entertaining and finding the perfect present for everyone. It gets harder to find the perfect gift with all the insanity of shopping, delayed packages, reordering in desperation, and basically in not knowing what to get someone. What is sometimes frustrating is that it is so much work and it goes so quickly. This year I decided to enjoy certain parts of the Christmas season, no matter how small the moment. We don’t realize how important our memories are. I find myself fighting sadness often at this time as I think about my parents and not having them here for the holidays. Often, I spend hours looking back at pictures of Christmases when they were here and realize how quickly time has passed. I also miss my daughter who now lives 3,000 miles away who I cannot share these precious Christmas moments with.

With these thoughts in my mind I thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts about what Christmas really is. Christmas is not about presents and spending too much money to make someone happy. Christmas is to celebrate the people in your life that are important every day of the year. Christmas is a time for being grateful for what we have and taking time out to give a little gift or smile to someone who doesn’t have as much as you do in your life. It’s a time to celebrate the purity of children and their excitement and beliefs. Christmas is about the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, and what he has done for us. Our strong faith gets us through each and every day and we can celebrate that on Christmas Day by celebrating his birth. Whether you go to a church or celebrate in silence, I hope you take the time to reflect this year on what Christmas is to you.

Sometimes I think I put off wrapping presents because it means that it is almost over. We should enjoy every moment of the Christmas season from shopping to wrapping to sharing moments with those we love. Next time you are waiting on a long line, smile at the person behind you — they too are frustrated and trying to do their best for everyone they love. Do something different this year to make Christmas even more memorable:

. Buy a gift for a child just because you want to share joy.

. Buy coffee for the person behind you at Dunkin Donuts and say Merry Christmas

. Donate to a charity that helps underprivileged during the holidays.

. Bake cookies and share them with your friends and colleagues.

. Call an old friend that you haven’t seen in awhile but think about often.

. Send out some personal Christmas cards to friends or relatives far away.

. Smile and say Merry Christmas to people you walk by. This may bring a smile to their face as they are trying to get it all done too.

No matter what Christmas means to you or what traditions you have in your family, think of this as a time to step back from the drudge of everyday and enjoy the magic of Christmas. Look at Christmas through the eyes of a child and you will never feel like being a Grinch again.

Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years to all. Please share what Christmas means to you.

Embracing the Benefits of Being 50+

Many people have difficulty when they are approaching 50. They feel their youth slipping away and start researching their retirement options and readjusting their lifestyles. Then why are they not taking advantage of their senior discounts?Is it embarrassment or denial?

Once you get past that feeling and embrace your maturity, there is a world of opportunity for savings out there. Most people start receiving AARP membership opportunities when they approach their late 40s and they throw them away in disgust. Some people won’t even open it and throw it away before anyone else sees it. But think of it as something that you have earned and it will soon start giving you more money in your pocket. As you become an empty nester and have more time for yourself, take a look at what they can offer you. Now is the time to explore the world and enjoy peaceful days.

Here are some of the benefits you can receive:

. Discounts on car rentals

. Hotel discounts

. Discounts at restaurants

Visit the AARP website for a complete list. And don’t forget you can get a free donut at Dunkin Donuts everyday. Not a good idea when eating healthy but once in awhile a little splurge will lift your spirits. You can also check out AMAC which has a similar yearly fee of $16 and offers many discounts including discounted dental and vision plans, travel discounts and more.

Take your pick…..

Since I turned 50, I have a folder of all my little notes and clipped out magazine ads for any senior discounts that I can take advantage of. After all you work hard all your life and if you can save some money on exclusive benefits and products you should not look the other way. As you see others reaping the benefits, perhaps you will do so as well. Remember that places will not offer it to you, especially restaurants, unless you mention it. Be sure to mention it whenever you make a purchase. In fact, places you would not even think of, like an animal hospital, will offer you a senior discount. Have you gotten a bill from one of them lately— astronomical to say the least. So take advantage of what’s truly yours.

Reaching a senior age can be both wonderful and scary at the same time. You feel your youth slipping away and you long for those rare times people will ask you for an ID for proof of age. But remember with age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes savings.

I would love to hear some of the senior discounts you have taken advantage of so please comment below. We should always be there for each other. So relax with a book and enjoy the life you lead. It’s yours and yours alone to reap the benefits of your hard work and sacrifice. Enjoy being a senior!