As often happens, I am up against a “use it or lose it” vacation days scenario. But add to it the complications a pandemic brings — it’s difficult to make travel plans, as the situation can change on a dime. I’m not interested in the hoops I’d have to jump through to maybe be able to visit my Canadian family ~ quarantines, mask mandates, ridiculously high airline fees, crowds, people. Nope, not doing it.
Work has me traveling a fair bit now so I don’t feel a burning desire to get out on the highway.
What to do, what do do.
I love this image about being seated in the front row of your life:
So I booked this week off ~ and yes I took great pleasure in politely declining each and every zoom/webex/teams/call invitation. Instead I had lunch with a friend, brunch with Hubby, a mani/pedi, have savored my coffee as the sun rose, refilled the bird feeder, and continued my daily walks. I’ve scheduled a massage & facial for later in the week + another lunch with a friend & mentor, will do a little exploring and shopping and a lot of reading.
The TV is off, cell is muted and my work laptop is powered down.
And this little girl personifies just how I feel about it! 🙂
“Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others. ” – Christopher Germer
It’s a beautiful, bright Sunday in May ~ windows open, blue skies, and, after last night’s rain, song birds are chirping happily. Life is busy and good, with much to be thankful for. My five Random Musings are below:
I live in Michigan with some of the most severe pandemic restrictions in place – our cases are higher than ever. Other states are wide open with numbers falling. What gives?
2. Enjoyed watching the Kentucky Derby yesterday ~ b/c of competing priorities I didn’t have time to do my usual research. We met up with friends & placed our “bets” on which horse we hoped would win. I glanced over the field and put my bet on the trainer – and his horse won. Something gleaned from growing up at the track — a) all the horses are “pretty,” b) sometimes a long-shot wins but c) when in doubt, bet on the trainer.
3. New job starts tomorrow ~ as is my pattern, I’ll be doing my current one + the new job as things ramp up. I’m hoping to jettison the current one over time, but that remains to be seen. It’s new territory, teams are being formed, and none of us really know what we’re in for – which is exciting and nerve-wracking, all in one. I prefer to be at the start of a project vs. coming in later on. And as my all-time favorite boss (from 7 career moves ago) always reminds me, “If you’re not the lead dog the view never changes.”
4. Working from home I had another epiphany recently ~ while I’m an introvert at heart, I can be extroverted, especially in my professional role, always needing time to regroup afterwards. Hello road trips! I am also hugely empathic. What’s that, you ask?
What is the difference between having empathy and being an empath? “Having empathy means our heart goes out to another person in joy or pain,” says Dr. Judith Orloff. “But for empaths it goes much further. We actually feel others’ emotions, energy, and physical symptoms in our own bodies, without the usual defenses that most people have.”
As a result, working remotely works brilliantly for me b/c exposure to others – and their “stuff”- is minimized. When I do go out/interact, I take steps to guard myself from being bombarded with others’ energy / thoughts / emotions / physical ailments. Ever walk into a store and suddenly hear “noise” even though no one is talking? If I don’t do a prayer of protection ahead of time the experience feels and sounds like I’m on an airport tarmac standing between jet planes taking off. If you’ve experienced this, you might be empathic, too. This book helped me.
5. Last night I re-watched footage of Prince William & Princess Catherine’s 2011 wedding as this year marks their 10th anniversary. It was fun to view such a joyful event and remember where I was at that time. A few days after their wedding, I penned this blog post https://emjayandthem.com/2011/05/03/so-did-you-watch/ which went on to become “Fresh Pressed” by the editors at Word Press. It was deemed of their “best of 385,233 bloggers, 387,452 new posts, 449,667 comments, & 93,406,663 words posted” on May 3, 2011. It remains my most viewed & commented-on post, and it’s still fun to go back and re-read the comments from all over the world. How lovely she was and is.
I was up early this morning, rolling around at 4:00am and in the shower by 5:00. Over coffee I mulled over a new opportunity that excites and un-nerves me. There is a lot about it I love ~ stewarding a high-profile, multi-year, multi-state project – but just as much is unknown which, for me and my planning nature, is unsettling.
It’s brand new, un-defined, and questions I have will be answered in time.
That’s the thing with new opportunities.
They come to you.
You may be ready or maybe not.
You may see them approaching or not notice as they pass by.
I’ve found this to be true – every job, role, assignment, and committee I’ve led or contributed to, every start and stop, frustration and success, every win and loss, each and every one brought me right to this moment.
I’m confident in my abilities, but even more so in my ability to be discerning.
The door is closing on 2020 ~ we’ll soon be packing up Christmas décor. What a year this has been! There will be “2020 in review” shows on TV shortly, but I’m not watching. I’d rather reflect on my own ~ my year in review involves one word: gratitude. I’m not tone-deaf to the struggles others have/are facing in the pandemic, rather sharing that I chose to be grateful where-ever possible.
I’m grateful to be well employed in year of chaos and uncertainty and that my employer allowed for and supports working from home.
I’m grateful our boys, girls & grands are healthy, happy, and employed.
I’m grateful that what started as daily walks for stress relief morphed into a habit I look forward to & enjoy.
I’m grateful I can cook; Hubbs and I have enjoyed more home-made goodness than ever, and his oohs and ahhs sustain me. We’re still working our way through his “pandemic groceries.”
I’m grateful I can read: my regular reading habit relaxes and comforts me.
I’m grateful I found Intermittent Fasting ~ the health plan with a side effect of weight loss. The clarity, energy and peace I enjoy is indescribable. And it’s free, even better.
I’m grateful to have enough – I can, and do, help others.
I’m grateful that last New Year’s Day, when I declared, “If you want to take the island, burn the boats” that the Island is now mine. I’ve found gifts while being home ~ using the time to improve my health, mind, spiritual journey, body, sleep and work product.
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” ~ Maya Angelou
This weekend, I’ll create my 2021 vision board & hang it where I can see it. I’m enjoying thinking about themes and ideas to explore. I’m mixing it up.
Your turn: What does your year in review say? Do you set intentions for the coming year?
It’s Sunday morning, early December and here we are. Time for some random randoms from my part of the world. Ready? Let’s do this:
1 ) Sundaymorning coming down: Sundays are my favorite, there’s no rushing, no fussing, just stirring and sautéing and tidying. Reading, regrouping, resting and readying. My day to recharge. ahhh…
2 ) Taters: Took this picture of 31lbs of potatoes I stacked up that represent what I’m leaving behind in 2020: 31lbs, 49″ and 60 – count ’em – 60 non-scale victories. Intermittent fasting is my life now. Want more info? Read the book, “Fast, Feast, Repeat” by Gin Stephens – it’s the health plan with a side effect of weight loss Fast. Feast. Repeat. | Gin Stephens | Macmillan
3 ) Walking friends: Something that’s saved my bacon this crazy year has been my daily walks. These are non-negotiable. I might not take a lunch break but I always take a walking break. Now sometimes my walks are stomps, other times more leisurely, but regardless, I come back refreshed, energized and thankful. A highlight is seeing my buddy, Chief. It’s even better when he sees me ~ tail thumping, a big smile as he lopes over to lean in for a big hug and many pets and assurances that he is, indeed, a very very very very good boy.
4 ) Christmas: The tree(s) are up and decorated; the lights and pretty colors make me smile and remind us both of the promise of Christmas.
5 ) Kiss an Angel good mornin’: Rest In Peace, Charley Pride. Such a sweet and timeless message of “the secret of happiness.” It’s a simple thing …. and the answer is in this song that I always sing:
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” – Roy T. Bennett, “The Light in the Heart”
Autumn makes me happy. Of all my seasons to choose from, this is the one that makes my heart sing ~ the colors, the sights, the smells. I love Autumn!
A dog’s attitude is a great reminder on how to live: play, play, play, sleep.
Being and staying healthy makes me happy.
Every day I choose to put myself on the “to-do” list I’ve carried for 40+ years.
I choose movement, engagement, discernment, nutrition, and sleep.
I choose by turning off the “news” & smart phones and reaching for a book instead.
I choose by tuning out the voices who blather on with opinions on issues or choices they’ve never lived, researched, or attempted.
I choose to walk outside even if that involves gloves and long johns.
I choose to go to bed sooner and get up earlier to savor the sacred stillness of a quiet morning.
I choose to honor my body with real, whole foods made at home by yours truly.
I choose me.
What are you choosing? Have you put yourself on your “to-do” list yet? If not, why not? If not now, when?
Chatting with my sister yesterday we laughed about how, like Mom, we wear the same things over and over: A raggedy tee shirt, a fraying nightie, favorite shorts with a rip in the pocket.
There’s comfort in old clothes and in old things ~ they’re worn and soft and easy on the skin. We know what to expect and they deliver. It’s not that we can’t buy new clothes, we can. It’s not that we can’t wear new clothes, we do. But, time and again, we reach for what’s comfortable, what’s familiar, what endures.
Old recipes on batter-stained pages.
Coffee cups that fit our hands.
The love of an old pet who leans in for more.
How good the house smells as something simmers in the kitchen.
We talked further about “the good stuff,” about how, as you get older, material “stuff” matters less and less. What we want are connections, meaningful conversations, comfortable temperatures, good stories, tasty foods, deep sleep, great coffee, and loyal friends. We want our kids and grands and pets to be OK and everyone we know to feel safe and loved and remembered. And in the chaos this year has brought we reach for the good stuff.
It’s Friday, the first Friday of our “stay-at-home” COVID-19 order. I hope this finds you all safe & well ~ Here are my random 5 for today~
1 ) Being home is fine with me & Hubbs ~ we are both more introverted than not and home is our happy place. He’s wandering around, suffering from sports-withdrawal and is our resident news hawk. Reading is my escape. When it all gets too much, and it does, I turn off the 24/7 coverage and jump head-first into a book.
Lesson: both of us being home full-time has been a good practice run for retirement.
2 ) It’s been a week since I got sick, and 10 days for Hubbs. We’re still coughing and appetites are slowly returning. We’ve noshed on soups and omelettes, fruit and coffee. Beef noodle vegetable was on the lunch menu yesterday and, because I come from a family of 7, I made enough for us, neighbors + some to freeze. 🙂
Lesson: Yeah I could pare it back but neighbors are happy and the freezer is stocked. All good.
3 ) I feel for the parents, home now full-time with kids, while worrying about safety, finances, job security, etc. I say build a fort, play a board game, draw pictures, and cook together. Let them get bored, it’s OK. Kids don’t need to learn a new language or master advanced math right now, they just need you.
Lesson: Do what you need to do & keep a sense of humor – for the best parent tweets about Social Distancing click here .
4 ) Benefits of staying home:
It takes me no time at all to get ready for work 🙂
I’m working longer hours and on back-to-back calls
No need to pack a lunch, I’m only 15 steps from the kitchen and the cook’s pretty good 🙂
Trying to avoid the “Quarantine 15”
I love being home, I still enjoy working, and I miss being able to go out when I want
The lesson for me is that there’s always a lesson in there (Thanks Mom)
5 ) It’s a crazy, scary surreal time. We’ll get through it. After all, many of us grew up using this:
Lesson – we are a (mostly) hearty bunch and a strong nation ~It might take a while but we’ll come back from this.
December 31, 2019 ~ I woke to a darkened house, blanketed in quiet from the snow swirling down. It’s New Year’s Eve ~ and here we are on the cusp of a new month, a new year, a new decade.
Just like that.
When asked my resolutions for 2020 and I answered quickly – it’s simple, really. All I have to do is look back at the past 11 days off, and therein lives my answer.
In 2020 I’ll try my best to recreate that ~
That feeling, as winter winds roar outside the windows and you lift your head up from reading for 4 hours straight, plowing through magazines and books without a care or a distraction, a deadline or a phone call.
That feeling, stretching and waking gently, without the glaring jolt of an alarm.
That feeling, when you listen to your body and move it a little more, haul the boxes and work up a sweat taking down and packing up and catch yourself smiling because it’s only 9:30 a.m. and you’ve been up for 3 hours already.
That feeling, between two major holidays, when you’re not sure which day it is – is it a work day? is it a week day? And you have to consult the calendar to confirm. And laugh about it.
That feeling when your sustenance consists of coffee, bacon, eggs, cheese, pickles and clementines.
Nope, no New Year/New You for me. Not this year. I’m gonna focus on finding more of that feeling denoted above.
How are you ringing in the new year?
Do you resolve to do things differently?
Do you want more of what you already have?
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” —Shauna Niequist
It’s Friday and time again for Five Randoms from my world. Ready? Let’s go!
1 – November 15th – the “high Holiday”- it’s opening day of firearm/rifle season in Michigan. Several years ago I traveled across the state on a beautiful Fall morning, completely oblivious that it was “opening day.” About an hour into my two-hour trip my attention turned from my tunes to the abundance of men in Orange jackets and pickup trucks off-road. Startled deer burst out of the woods and across the highway. I’ve never made that mistake again- nope, no more opening day road trips for me!
High-tail it Martha!
2 – This made me laugh out loud because it’s a little too true and don’t you dare touch my red spatula!
3 – Last week my team & I put together our Holiday time-off schedule – it wasn’t until I did so that I realized I have an extra WEEK of vacation days to use before year-end. My face when I realized the mistake in my favor:
swirling, twirling dance of JOY!
4 – As a result -I’ve taken the WHOLE week of Thanksgiving off + time at Christmas AND New Year’s- I have a new verb for what I’ll be doing: Hallmarking! I plan to sleep till I wake, read till I can’t, watch sappy movies, decorate, cook, clean, work out, putz around and mostly lean in hard to my highly-savored time OFF!
5 – Even with the holidays off I still have days to spare – I’m saving those for our new grand-baby’s December arrival. I plan to cuddle and rock our little one, take care of Mom & Dad, cook, clean and fuss over them all. ❤
When’s the last time a mistake worked in YOUR favor?