19 Years Later…… Still Painful

How many of you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? I remember that I was teaching a math lesson and had no idea what was going on in the world around me. It was a typical, beautiful September day without a cloud in the sky and we were getting ready to do our math work in groups. Then, one of my colleagues, an out of classroom teacher, came in and told me that I had to call my husband. I immediately thought that something was wrong with the kids or my mother and said I would call in a moment. She said that the principal insisted that I call right now.

This alarmed me. I left the room and called my husband. It was busy, busy, busy….. What was going on ? At that very moment, my mother called and told me that my husband was safe and that my kids were coming home from school. Needless to say I did not expect to hear the words from her mouth that the twin towers were struck down and they are closing New York City. I froze. What do I do first? At least I knew my family was safe, so my next job was to ensure that my students were safe and not aware of what was going on.

We had an emergency staff meeting where we watched and cried as we saw our beloved towers fall, not knowing who we knew that was in that rubble or who had even started this unforeseen event. We would never be the same, from that moment forward.

We will never forget…..

Slowly the children were picked up. We were told not to say anything to our primary grade students and let their families take them home, hug them and explain what is happening in the world. I can’t even tell you if I remember getting home but I just remember hugging my daughters so tightly that I could not let go. We sat together in awe watching the news until their father arrived safe and sound. We had a quiet but not relaxing family dinner.

After dinner we went to our church to pray for the safe return of Lieutenant Joseph Leavey, our beloved parishioner and friend who was working at his firehouse at the South Street seaport when the towers were hit. We prayed and prayed for his safety. Most of us knew he was not returning but we held onto that hope. We had just had a joyous Church barbeque two days prior and I remember sitting with him talking about school starting and our plans for the fall. Joe would never return home as would not eight other members of our Pelham community. These included two brothers, Joseph and Peter Shea, who were neighbors and their children were friends with mine. It included Month Horde who’s daughter Molly played softball with my daughter. Also, our chief of Police’s son did not return home. The stories continue and we lost 9 people in Pelham, New York where a beautiful memory garden with all their names stands tall.

This year the memory of this day is affecting us differently. We are living in a country that is trying to survive the worst pandemic we have seen in over 100 years. The country is also trying to survive the rioting, looting and horrible treatment of others we witness every day on the news. This coupled with the division of political parties as we near closer to our presidential election. Personally, I feel the pain all over again every September 11. This year I am not teaching and did not get to read the book Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman about the fireboat that went to save some survivors and look for others after that horrific event.

Personally, I hope that everyone takes time to reflect on this horrible memory yet remember the unity we felt as a state and as a country. I only wish that we can feel that unity again. Unfortunately, no matter which way the election turns out, there will be retribution to face and possibly more rioting and lives lost.

Take time today to say a prayer for our heroes we lost on September 11, 2001. We will never forget…….

Sorting It Out After Retirement

My retirement has been far from normal. My original plan was to retire in June after teaching my last class of second grade. The year was off to a great start in September when I met my wonderful class and I was so excited to celebrate all my “lasts” with them. Unfortunately, that only lasted until March and even though I was approaching retirement, I was now starting with my firsts. My first time using Google Classroom and Slides, learning virtual learning programs and teaching my class online. No one knew what to expect and I think we did the best we could. I did not feel the same end of school year feeling and definitely not the bittersweet one I expected. And now as the new school year approaches and I am not involved in it, I have some sorting out to do to figure out what it is I want to do with the rest of my life.

I will always be a teacher in my heart

Before my initial plan to retire, I did some freelance writing on my blogs and also for some clients on Upwork. Since school ended I continue to write for clients on Upwork and I have recently started and shared a series of my articles on Vocal Media. I have written articles on education. Also, I have shared my love of cooking and written articles with my recipes and cooking suggestions. I have broadened my portfolio to include some travel blogs for my travel during Covid.

As the new school year approaches and my colleagues are returning to work without me I plan to “make a plan” for myself. I did not retire because I was too old to work but rather because I wanted to spend more time with my retired husband and also pursue some of my other passions which have been dormant during my crazy, mixed up days as a teacher. Those are days that I will always treasure and because of my pension, I am thankful that I can pursue my other interests.

So what do people want to do when they retire?

Relaxation
  1. Spend time with others – now is the time to get together with friends, go to places you never had time to visit, and really make yourself happy by little indulgences you are now able to enjoy.
  2. Spend time with family – For me having a new grandson (who lives very far away) gives me an opportunity to love him and visit him whenever I can without the restrictions of school holidays.
  3. Spend time on myself – This includes taking time for fitness which was always done in a rush. I can now work around my free time and take a fitness class daily if I want and I don’t have to rush in the door, change in 5 minutes to scamper off to a class while totally exhausted.
  4. Give Back – Once the pandemic eases up, I would like to dedicate part of my retirement to helping others whether it be volunteering at a library to read aloud to children (one of my favorite activities as a teacher) or raise money for a cause I truly believe in. I was always interested in this and because of the time commitment I just never pursued it.
  5. Do nothing – This is the hardest for me. Accepting that it is okay to sometimes do nothing and that it is totally fine. If I just want to sit and read, or take my time checking emails or watch a non-thinking type of program on television, I now can do all that and not feel guilty. Well, I am working on that part.

Well, I am just starting my retirement journey so I will have to take small steps. Small steps to get by all the people that exclaim “oh you’re so lucky” or “now you can do whatever you want” without feeling guilty about it. I always have to remember the endless years of full-time work that took up most of my life. So here it — the beginning of the journey of retirement. Well, I’m tired now so I think I will go take a nap.

Being with others.

If you would like to read some articles about my educational journey, please visit https://ellyelementary.wordpress.com.

The “Unimportance” of Grammar

Elly Elementary

As an educator for over 20 years, the way we teach children to write has changed dramatically.  Before the creation of various online sites that encourage writing, to using social media and researching on the internet, children no longer have to rely on reading a book and taking notes. Or rewriting over and over again when they can simply edit right on the computer.

diligent small girl drawing on paper in light living room at home Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Years ago, grammar was taught faithfully and students were expected to diagram sentences and know and identify the different parts of speech.  Essays were written with introductions, a body of about three paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Students were prepared to write their research papers, and eventually their college application essays.

So, what has changed?

crop person taking notes in diary during studies Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

With the continuing evolution of technology and the unending changes to the way we communicate on social media and…

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Newport: A Beautiful Retreat in the New Normal

Beautiful bay view….

This was a most unusual year and summer. When we had the opportunity to visit Newport, Rhode Island with friends, we decided to visit with quarantine in mind and enjoy the beauty that Newport offers. Rhode Island seemed to be doing very well during this pandemic, with low numbers and strict enforcements.  With strict rules at every establishment we were able to have a fun-filled week despite Covid.  We opted to skip the beaches and pools which were more populated than our comfort level.  Instead we focused on seeing Newport, a magnificent city set on the Narragansett Bay.  Our hotel was right on the bay and gave us a breathtaking view of the boats and the bay from sunrise to sunset.  We did not feel the excruciating heat because of the cool breezes from the water.

In my phone notes from over three years ago, I made sure to remember to visit the White Horse Tavern, the oldest tavern in America. It was so beautifully, well-kept with furniture and flooring depicting the time it was built. We enjoyed a delicious brunch served in an antique setting.

Oldest tavern in America

We found so many places to visit that were still open with limitations while going on our tours. We opted to try a trolley tour (we were staggered every other row and seat) and enjoyed the sites of Newport as our guide relished us with the history and sites that Newport has to offer.

One day we decided to walk along Bellevue Avenue and visit the shops. We enjoyed visiting the Audrain Automobile Museum. The cars were spectacular, to say the least, and our visit was focused on headlights from original cars to present.

Love the headlights….

We spent many hours visiting the shops on Thames Street and a few restaurants as well, such as Smokehouse and Brick Alley Pub. We read all the customer reviews and tried to diversity our choices within the amount of time we were there. There are so many to choose from that I actually put notes in my phone for a future visit. We enjoyed the lobster specials at the Red Parrot, including the lobster quesadillas, which I normally would be afraid to order. But when in Newport, you think differently about lobster. I was delighted when I saw the huge chunks of lobster in the quesadillas. Just the right amount of cheese was in them so you could enjoy the decadence of the lobster meat.

Lobster chunks in quesadillas

While on Thames Street ,we also visited the Newport History Museum which took you back in time when Newport was first discovered and became a colony. As a history buff, I enjoyed visiting the museum and even watching the retrospective videos.

During our trolley ride, we were able to see all the beautiful mansions that are part of Newport’s history and appeal. We were seated very carefully in alternate seats and rows because of the pandemic. Personally, I was disappointed that the mansion where the Great Gatsby was filmed was not open for visitors There were only two open for viewing, and we actually only toured one – The Breakers. Supposedly, the Breakers is the grandest of the mansions, and I will say, the most ostentatious. It was considered a “summer cottage” by the Vanderbilt family. The family fortune was established by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt in the steamship business and the New York Central Railroad. When he became president of the railroad, he purchased a wooden house called the Breakers in Newport in 1893.

I think I would enjoy cooking here….
The grand entrance to the Breakers
View from the back of The Breakers

The Vanderbilt’s had seven children.  You could see the amount of wealth when touring the mansion, with gold details everywhere and marble walls and staircases.  For me the best part of the tour was the view of the outside back porch which overlooked the water.  The grounds were immense and beautifully manicured.  The house was immense but decorated in 1900 gaudy décor.  It was interesting to see the servants’ quarters where 32 out of 40 of their servants lived.  Their kitchen alone was a dream for anyone who loves extensive cooking. A definite point of interest on your trip to Newport. And hopefully when we get back to normal you can visit some of the others.  We drove by mansions owned by many famous families including Judge Judy, Jay Leno and the owners of Alex and Ani.

One day we were lucky to take a ferry ride to ports in Fort Adams and Jamestown. We visited Fort Adams which was a historic park located in the harbor. In Newport, the fort was active from 1841 through World War II. It was certainly authentic as we found areas to be completely unkept and unattended to.

Our view as we ate in Jamestown

Another stop on our ferry tour was the town of Jamestown, with its New England style mansions and docks for fishing, kayaking and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We ate lobster rolls at Spinnakers Café, right on the dock, enjoying the beautiful Jamestown community and bay in front. I must say that I did try lobster in many places we visited, including lobster quesadillas at the Red Parrot, lobster roll at the Wharf Pub, and seafood chowder along the way. A great breakfast place right near our hotel was Gary’s Handy Lunch Diner – a little retro and with many daily specials to choose from.

Lobster roll

If you decide to do a local vacation this summer, Rhode Island is a good choice and Newport is the place to go. We were very impressed with the restrictions placed on touring and even eating in restaurants that we felt safe being out and about and enjoying the sites. Newport is a fun place to explore, full of history and just beautiful and serene. While New Yorkers were suffering with humidity, we could feel the breeze from the water throughout our stay. A beautiful getaway that I want to visit again.

A breathtaking sunset.

Traveling in the New Normal

Recently, I took a plane trip to California to see my new grandson. Most likely I would not have ventured out in this unknown world if it wasn’t for him at this time. I had many nights of anxiety before my trip but I am pleased to say that I was exceptionally pleased with my travel conditions. My biggest difficulty was getting direct flights. With Covid around I did not want to have to stop and replane. I wanted to sanitize once. That’s another reason I opted to take a carry-on with me. It was definitely interesting packing ten days of clothes, etc. into my carry-on and backpack but I wanted as little extra activity (like going to a luggage carousel) as possible.

Ready for takeoff

Once I was settled I found myself at ease. Mask on, seats sanitized with my wipes and I was ready to go. The flight attendants were diligent in cleaning up constantly and always checking on passengers. You could not order any food boxes but you were provided with a sterilized bag with water and snacks. Water bottles were distributed throughout flight. You could not, however, get a blanket or pillow. You sat a seat apart from your neighbor and many rows were unoccupied. Once I was seated my anxiety passed and I found the flight to be very safe and stress free. We are all in the same boat so everyone had a mask or plastic shield on, and sanitizer is the new hand lotion. Even going to the bathroom was fine– clean with sanitizer available. I did not fear going in because of Covid and when getting to my destination I was relieved that it went so well. The hardest part was wearing a mask for almost 8 hours. I can tell you that the makeup business is sure losing money now. Masks will become the accessory of the future. In fact, you can check out everyone’s style as you go through the airport, on the plane and even exiting the airport.

The new normal traveling accessory – the mask

This was worth the joy of me seeing my amazing grandson and my beautiful daughter. The trip made it that much more emotional for me as I thought I wouldn’t be able to go for a very long time. The anxiety was much worse going that once I was there I realized that the world has embraced and tackled this pandemic so we can go about most things in our lives.

Californians were much more relaxed about the virus and just went about their lives with masks in tow. Like I said before, this is our new way of life. I often sit and wonder if we will ever go back to the way it was before this pandemic. I sure hope so but I think in the end we will all be stronger, handle disappointment better, and most of all, cherish all the little things in life. For all the grandparents that missed their grandchildren for months, our hearts ache and we hope that life will return to normal especially for them.

My next adventure will be a local vacation, driving and staying in a hotel. After my flying experience, this will not effect me but I look forward to seeing all the efforts made by resorts to make their customers happy. Life goes on and we have to enjoy what we can, just carefully…….

Entering the Next Phase of the New Normal

The last 100 days have been like no other in our lives. We have stayed home, worn masks and used sanitizers in public, had virtual or drive-by celebrations and have gone without our circle of family and friend that we are used to sharing our lives with.

At the beginning we felt as if it would all go back to normal after a few days. Personally, I never imagined teaching the rest of the school year virtually from home. Students and teachers alike ventured into a new world of learning. People all around us lost jobs or their jobs were put “on hold” until this pandemic left us. Every day we stopped what we were doing to hear the updates of number of new cases, new deaths and how we were doing overall. There were times that we lost faith that we would ever leave our houses. Grandparents relied on facetime to see their precious babies while weddings and graduations were put on hold or done virtually.

What will the new normal be like?

Originally, I thought I would wait a long time before “entering back into society” but after 100 days that was not the case. We had a small family birthday gathering and experienced the new outside dining with requirements. I now have masks to match many outfits and have sanitizer attached to my handbag which also includes spare gloves. How long will we continue to live like this? Will we ever completely go back to normal?

Most people said they were dealing with staying at home and it was no big deal, but as soon as restrictions were lifted you saw the streets packing up and more traffic on the highway. Just last night sitting outside and dining, I got a renewed sense of life going forward, still praying that there are no setups. Hoping that protesters and rioters will wear masks so that we don’t have a new outbreak. We have lost enough people to Covid-19 and our society is ready to make changes while going back to what makes our lives fulfilling.

As we enter the next phase we will notice businesses that have made it and those that have not. We are apt to patronize businesses we love (restaurants, stores, salons) in hopes that they will come back strong and so will our economy. This new normal has led to more fights among the political parties and many people think this was all planned. Part of me truly believes this was a conspiracy to ruin Trump, but what did we do instead, we ruined our own economy and many people’s lives have been shattered.

Photo by Lukas Sankey

So let’s move into the next phase of recovery with peace in our hearts and not think about fighting each other. Instead let’s make our country great again as a unified society that’s main goal is for its people to lead healthy and prosperous lives. We all want happiness in our lives so let’s never forget the quarantine and all that we missed during those 100 days. I know I will never forget and not take advantage of any wonderful days and experiences again.

Let’s keep using masks and washing our hands, using sanitizer and practicing social distancing so that we never return to that quarantine. God Bless our country!!

What Happened to Our World

We are almost three months into a quarantine for Covid-19 and stressed about staying home, staying alive and praying all our loved ones are safe and healthy. As states open and others get ready to open, we have now entered into a world I do not recognize.

The brutal death of George Floyd was horrific, not acceptable and a behavior from a police officer that does not represent all of the police officers in our country. Racism is unacceptable, however, violence is even more unacceptable. Our daily newscasts on the virus, deaths and a fledging economy were once as common as making dinner every night. Now the news is filled with protests in major cities all over our country, and even around the globe. Again, I will repeat, that police officer was completely wrong and should be punished for what he did to George Floyd. But what about the deaths, injuries and ruined property that is the result of unruly, uncaring protesters. Stores looted, buildings and police cars burned, and significant buildings defaced with graffiti are only a few examples of the terror that has become this country. Won’t these actions further hurt our economy and the people in this country? People are afraid of what this violence will lead to — what our world will become.

Make our country beautiful again.

As I sit here and write this today I am more afraid to go out and be caught up in a protest area of destruction right now than of contracting Covid-19. Rioters want to prove that Black Lives Matter, well, all lives matter and we should take a good look at what our country has become. A country more concerned with putting down our president than making a better community for our children. People who rather bash each other on social media because of their beliefs than show love and gratitude for every day that we are given the blessing of waking up.

I don’t seem this improving with the upcoming Presidential Election. When I was growing up, the president was respected whether you liked him or disliked him. You never discussed your opinion with others because politics were considered as personal as religion. Nowadays every conversation turns political at some point. You cannot even make a statement without fearing being blasted by someone with a countering opinion of our government.

Love our country again.

People used to see the United States of America as a place to be proud to be born in, a place that makes us proud to be citizens of. This is why so many people enter our borders in hopes of a better life. I don’t think they see the better life here now. In fact, it is probably better where they are living right now.

We are part of a community that has always had problems with racism. One of our strongest leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., tallied of peace for everyone. His rallies never ended in protests but rather they where peaceful gatherings where people spoke their minds. Racism is an issue that seems to quiet down and then come back with a vengeance with an incident such as the uncalled for murder of George Floyd.

After what we have been through as a nation losing more than 100,000 people to Covid-19 and now losing people to these protests, let’s stop and think about our actions. Speak your mind but peacefully please. Let’s get back to a United States of America that we can all be proud to live in……

Pizza In Italy….a New Tasting Experience

When I went to Italy last year everyone mentioned how the pizza there would be so different than what I was used to. I couldn’t imagine how. Pizza being one of my favorite foods, left me hesitant to try it in a country where pizza is best known for. You can’t drive through any town in the United States without spying many pizzerias and always associating them with Italy and delicious Italian food. It makes your mouth water.

Pizza became a meal thousands of years ago when people made flat bread and used it as a plate. The bread would soak up the juices from the meal. Then after eating the meal they would eat the soggy, delicious bread left on the plate. In Italy, they originally cooked their pizza on the floor of the oven in hot ashes. The bottom was black and the word “pizza” came from the Italian word for “black-bottomed pie”. One queen’s favorite food was pizza and her cook made it for her with tomatoes (red), cheese (white) and basil (green) to make it look like the Italian flag. When pizza cam to America other toppings were added such as pepperoni, onions, peppers and now even fruit and pasta. This is not like the pizza you will find in Italy.

Our first stop was Rome where we spent three glorious days touring and, of course, enjoying the delicious foods of Italy. The first day we ordered pizza near our hotel and decided to get a plain pie and just check it out. It tasted like fresh-baked bread with delicious sauce, basil and a tinge of mozzarella. I learned from my visit to Italy that us Americans are the ones that drown our version of Italian food with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Most restaurants don’t even serve the “parmigiana” dishes we serve here. After tasting different pizza in Italy I realize that it is more authentic and delights in the flavors of Italian cooking traditions.

While in Rome, we tried a different pizzeria, Gallina Bianca, where we were able to order some specialty pies. Again, not drowning in mozzarella and tomato sauce. The flavors of the basil and toppings were more apparent because they weren’t overrun by the overwhelming pizza toppings you find in our country. One of my favorites was with prosciutto and fontina cheese, a wonderful balance of homemade bread with a hint of taste in toppings that were not overbearing.

Our next stop was Pompei, where everyone on our tour told us was the best pizza in Italy. The flavors were spectacular and it was very light, like fresh baked bread. I enjoyed that quality of pizza in Italy because you walked away feeling satisfied and not bursting full. Here we ordered a simple margarita pizza, just like the queen loved. Delicious and enjoyable beyond words!

My last delicious pizza was part of our tour of AnaCapri which was the most spectacular day of my trip to Italy We had our meal before going aboard the sky lift which would show us all of Capri and AnaCapri. Sites beyond words and a definite bucket list item for me. Having pizza in Italy was on my bucket list as well. We ordered this one with sliced tomatoes on it. This is one of my favorite ways to eat pizza in the United States so it was a good source of comparison for me. It was, of course, lighter in Italy and less garlicky which surprised me. It seems that basil is the main ingredient in the pizza in Italy that makes it different from ours which is usually drenched in garlic and cheese.

As soon as I got back from Italy I wondered if I would eat pizza here again. Of course I realized that I probably wouldn’t be returning to Italy any time soon so I better just go for it and eat pizza from my favorite pizzerias again. Yes, I do enjoy America’s version of Italian pizza but I now find myself comparing it to the ultimate pizza I indulged in throughout Italy.

Check out my article on being a Pizza Connoisseur: https://vocal.media/feast/are-you-a-pizza-connoisseur

The California Wine Club’s Premier Series, the most popular of all the clubs.

Check out the California Wine Club. I have been using them and especially during lockdown…..

Self-Care During Social Distancing

This has been a time like no other we have experienced. We are staying home, staying away from family and waiting for this pandemic to start declining. It’s a very scary time for all of us. We are all experiencing different aspects of this devastating virus. Many of us have lost people we love, not being able to say goodbye, while others fear every step we take outside our homes. Our work lives have changed. Some people are now working at home, while others have lost their jobs in this unforeseen economy. In a nutshell, we are all worried. So how do we take care of ourselves during this time. Self-care is important for our mental and physical well-being as we go through this unspecified time period afraid and unsure of what the future holds.

1. Take Time Each Day for Yourself.

Maybe this is a good time to take care of some self-care that we tend to neglect in our busy lives. Maybe a long bath with some soothing music or a simple online yoga class can help you put your mind back on track. Take out that facial mask you bought and never used. Go through that cookbook you have collecting dust and create a new family meal that you can remember. Read a book without thinking that you should be doing something else. This is a time we never expected and we may as well do all those things we would do to relax that we never get to do.

2. Start a Journal.

When we write down our feelings, they leave our body and are now on paper. It is a kind of freedom and release that is very helpful in relieving tension. Just keep writing about your day, your feelings and whatever comes to your mind. You will notice that it feels like taking a deep breath after exercising or sitting down after working in the garden. These kinds of releases are important to maintain our mental health during this crisis. Having our feelings bottled up is not healthy. Let them go. Write them down. You will feel better.

3 Turn Off the TV

Many of us often think that we would not have survived this type of social distancing years ago when televisions weren’t in every home, we did not have computers or smartphones and information was not at our fingertips. Unfortunately, sometimes we are on overload. So take some time in every day to turn it all off and just sit and do nothing. Just think and relax for a little bit with no interruptions from texts, phone calls, and emails. And no interruptions from the anxiety that the local news brings to you.

4. Stay Connected to Those Who Matter

A phone call or a text can lift your spirits for the day. It makes you remember that you are a special person and that someone is thinking of you. Calling a relative or old friend that you may not have time to do in our regular, fast-paced lives may be just the remedy you need (and them) during these uncertain times. It will brighten up the day. These days are about the small stuff that is important and that truly fills our hearts.

5. Send Someone a Card or Gift

We are blessed with technology and are able to order many products online. If you know someone who is alone or very sad during this time, send them something special. Flowers, fruit and other presents are perfect but think about even sending them a pretty mask to brighten their day at the store this week. It is those little things that matter.

Take time to write a little note or send a card to someone who lives far away to brighten their day. A small gesture can go a long way to make someone smile and take away some worry. In these isolated times it is important to feel essential in this big pool of uncertain life.

6. Keep Up With Routines

While everything around you is different and disheartening, it is important to keep up with your daily routines. Clean the house, do the laundry and make sure you take your daily pills. On top of this make sure you are taking care of yourself: shower, get dressed, style your hair…. These are things that seem less important when we don’t see people but we want to see our reflection, and think of the hope that lies ahead. And you want to look your best when you go to the mailbox or walk your dog.

7. Help Others

Remember that some people are not as lucky as we are during these times. Businesses are struggling, people are out of work and many, many people are losing loved ones every day as a result of Covid-19. So support a restaurant, thank a nurse and always take the time out to call or write to a family who has suffered a tragic loss. Many of these families were not able to say goodbye at the hospital and are now facing no goodbyes at a funeral. These are added hardships to already horrible times. So give to a GoFundMe cause, or send a meal to one of these families that are hurting. And don’t forget to support your favorite restaurant and maybe order take out during the week. These small gestures will go a long way if others do them as well. Let’s be there for each other.

8. Be Ready for An Emergency

This is a good time to review all your papers and put them in order so that they are available in case of hard times. Write a list of your prescriptions and your accounts in case anyone has to look for them. We don’t like to think in these terms but we don’t know what lies ahead so we have that extra time to sit around, we may as well put our lives in order.

9. Sort through Memories

This is a perfect time to go through old pictures and articles you have saved and organize them in folders or binders. Or if you have a little bit of energy, scan them and put them in folders to keep for your children and grandchildren. I have a bin of photographs from my mother that I always say I am going to organize. In fact, when I have my whole family over we start to do this and then we stop because we are all enjoying each other’s company. This week my uncle passed away, and I thought about all the times we tried to do this so now I plan to sit down with this large bin of photos and organize them by separate families while I have the time. It will be wonderful to give them to my loved ones when we finally see each other in person.. And at the same time, I can enjoy looking at some fonder memories.

10. Make Plans

Better days are coming so make some plans. What do you want to do when we can return to normal life? Who do you want to see? Where do you want to go? Sometimes thinking about what we will be doing sometime in the hopefully near future, will brighten our day.

What will be the first thing you will do when we are no longer social distancing? Let’s share some of our thoughts here. Please comment and let’s make our “wish” list together….. Be safe.

Being Grateful for the Small Stuff

As I finish the fourth week of my social distancing, teaching from home, I realize that we are all guilty of not appreciating the small stuff in our lives. I hope that when this is all behind us we relish every moment that we get to spend with our families and friends in the real world. Yes, it has been wonderful spending time in my home, which I love, but I feel as if I am missing even the trivial parts of my everyday life.

For example, just going to work and having lunch with some friends, or seeing you friends at lunch will seem less trivial to us. We may no longer dread Sunday nights and actually look forward to our traditional work week. Or will we? Will we become so accustomed to this “new normal” that we will not know how to return to our everyday normalcy? I don’t know the answer but I would hope to find out soon. Soon I hope we will be in our carpools, at our jobs,at our gyms, at family gatherings, at restaurants, and the list goes on.

So let’s take this time to organize our homes, our lives and ourselves so that when we can go back to our normal life we will embrace it with caution and extreme satisfaction. I believe it will have to happen slowly but I know everyone will take precautions when we go back as we recall what these times have really been like.

Not seeing our families, our friends, our grandchildren, our colleagues and so on has made us more appreciative of the small stuff. I remember reading that book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” and thinking yes this is right. Now we understand that the small stuff can be so gratifying and yes, we do miss it. Enjoy that cup of coffee in the morning. Relax as you take your online yoga class. Meet your friends and colleagues on Zoom. This will continue for a bit longer so get the most out of it. Tell people you love and miss them. And hopefully soon we will all be together again…. hopefully at barbecues, pools, beaches, parties, restaurants or just hanging out with our friends…. something that we miss so much.

So please stay safe and follow the social distancing rules so that we can return to normal life. If we all follow protocol it will happen sooner. Then we can get our jobs back, our economy back and our lives back to our normal which will never be the same. It will be a normal that we will appreciate every single day!!!!!!