Friday, September 18, 2020

I Promise to Stop Soon

 I know all I'm talking about lately is my retirement.  It's like I think I invented the concept!  But I have been pretty excited about just working a few days a month and having more free time.  Probably when the weather turns cold and unpleasant I'll be less excited about sitting around and reading in front of my fake fireplace.  Or maybe not.  But for today I'm still blabbing on about it.

Here are photos my lovely sister Jill took from the crazy balloon and honking festival she organized.  Of course she didn't get to be in any photos.  Because she was doing all the work AND taking the photos.  

I was so surprised I ran out into the street barefoot and without a mask!

Susan and I demonstrating the proper corona hug...still forgot I didn't have on a mask.

Ron rescued me, giving me a balloon AND a mask.  Whew!  Here are some fun photos of my friends who showed up!

Thanks everyone!  And now I'll stop talking about it for a while!!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Retirement Day 1

 Earlier this week I decided to change my alarm sound to make getting up less jarring.  I changed from some annoying Ding-ding, Ding-ding sound to what I thought would be a soothing melody from an album of Asian Meditation Music.


My phone doesn't really let me control the alarm sound volume, so it was like a blaring tune with crickets screaming in my ear on Wednesday morning.

Wait, not that kind of cricket!  Here we go:

That's the cricket.

Wednesday evening Mr. Main Squeeze and I were watching the Cubs play.  I mentioned I needed to change my alarm sound again to something that wouldn't be so...alarming.  I decided to try a waterfall sound.  I changed the alarm, and then 5 minutes later I realized I don't need an alarm!

Of course I will need one some days.  But the idea I can sleep in if the dog, the cat, and the neighbor with a car with no muffler who goes to work at 630 a.m. will let me was a bit of a shock.  But a pleasant shock, not like crickets screaming in my ear at all.

I went to bed happy in the knowledge that I could try to sleep in and that the Cubs won in the bottom of the 10th!  

Cricket images courtesy of and

Friday, August 14, 2020

Retirement a go go

It's time.  In one month more or less I'm retiring.  Sort of.  I'll still work 'on call' about 1 day a week or slightly more. I'm ready.  After 30 years as a physical therapist. 20 years working for my current employer, and 16 of those in home health I am definitely ready.

Two years ago I stepped down from my job as a Preceptor training new employees, and just went back to a clinician caring for patients.  I cut hours back a bit as my dad's health worsened to help care for him.

And now I'm ready for work not to be the main focus of my time, my life, my energy.  Not ready to give it up completely for several reasons, not the least of which is I still enjoy what I do. But not willing to spend most of my waking hours working anymore.  Life is short, we know that now even more than before.

What will I do?  Some travelling and camping.  Some volunteer work. More time meditating.  More time learning.  Maybe more blogging?  Who knows?  I'll certainly walk more regularly at White Oak Lake!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Things I Miss During the Pandemic

I miss blogging!

I went back to work May 18th and since then it's been a bit harder to find the right combination of time and energy to write.   I don't really want to write about work, and with HIPPA laws I can't really tell any of the interesting stories, like the one about the alleged boa constrictor....ooops

Right this moment I'm watching a rerun of a Cubs-Dodgers game from the 2016 postseason.  Anyone who has ever met me, or heard of me, or seen me from a distance must know I love baseball and I miss baseball!

I miss hugging my mom.

I miss my book group.  We tried Zoom, but we kind of lost our way.  I'm still reading even though the library has been closed.  (I miss the library too.)  I use AXIS 360 or Kindle and get books to read online.  I have a couple reliable friends who are generous with their recommendations.  But I miss sitting around Pam or Susan's  living room with wine and snacks and talking about everything under the sun including, eventually, the book.  And I miss the organic process by which we choose the next book and the date we will meet.

I miss hugging my mom.

I miss summer music outside around town.

I miss going to the Normal Theater for films.

I miss going to Heartland Theater for the 10 Minute Plays in the summer.

I miss hugging my mom.

I miss going to coffee shops and hanging out while I finish my documentation at the end of a work day, sitting in air-conditioned comfort instead of in my hot car.

There won't be a baseball All-Star game this year for the first time since 1945, but I won't miss that too much.

I miss in-person church, holding hands at the end of the service and singing Go Now in Peace.

I miss walking the labyrinth together with my meditation group.

I miss my daughter's viola recitals (though I like my private living room concerts.)

Did I mention I miss hugging my mom?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

No Regrets

 I, like many friends, recently got addicted to Schitt's Creek during this pandemic stay-at-home period.

I finished Season 5 on Netflix.  I thought there were only 5 seasons.  Then I realized Season 6 will come out on Netflix in October.

Then, in addition, also, next...I realized I could purchase Season 6 on various sites.  

How bad did I want to watch it?  Well, I wasn't sure.  

Then I remembered Covid-19 and risk groups that I belong to...not really happy to be in those groups today, but here I am, a card-carrying member of the over-60 group, and the PWD (person with diabetes) group.  No regrets about those groups, but realizing the fact of the matter....


That's such a weird thing to write.  Not sure how I feel about this.  But while I'm getting my feet under me about my feelings, I am going to finish watching Season 6.  

Monday, April 13, 2020

Letting Go

It is a strange time, living during this pandemic.  I, along with so many others, feel the stress of so much uncertainty.  The questions weigh on me heavily.  Have I already been exposed to this virus?  Will I get sick from this virus?  Will I die from this virus?  Will I have a job if I do not die from this virus?  Will my family members or friends get this virus?   Will I have enough money to pay my bills, feed my family?  Will there by any hand sanitizer (or toilet paper, or bread, or any of a thousand items in short supply) at the grocery store?   

What's going to happen next? 

As a human being, I'm prone to want things to be certain.  So when I find myself in a situation where almost nothing feels certain, it can be very frightening.   But it can also be a time to realize that the present moment is really all I ever have.  Instead of just saying that, or thinking that, it seems I'm much more aware of that now.

Having practiced meditation for several years, I know all too well how my "monkey mind" wanders off.  I sit for about 30 minutes most mornings, and I try to focus on my breath.  The next thing I know, I realize I've been replaying a plot from an old episode of Gray's Anatomy in my head.  Back to the breath.  A few minutes later it's wondering if there will be any baseball this summer.  Back to the breath.  Breath.  Breath.  I need to look at my checking account put down the phone....breath.  And so on. 

Each time my mind wanders, I gently try to guide it back to awareness of my breath.  The readings I've done about meditation, mostly writings by Buddhist teachers, say that doing that "gently" is important.  This is a good time to be gentle with ourselves, for me to be gentle with myself.  To forgive myself.   It's normal to worry, but then I want to keep coming back to the present moment.  This moment, when I'm sitting in a comfy chair typing on my laptop, in my warm house, with my people and pets around me.  When I'm not hungry or cold.  When there is nothing I need that I don't have, not in this present moment. 

I've been rereading Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders.  The term bardo refers to a Tibetan term for the period after death, before a reincarnation into the next life.  But in an article entitled "The Four Essential Points of Letting Go in the Bardo" from Lion's Roar in 2017, the author, Pema Khandro Rinpoche states:

The Tibetan term bardo, or “intermediate state,” is not just a reference to the afterlife. It also refers more generally to these moments when gaps appear, interrupting the continuity that we otherwise project onto our lives. In American culture, we sometimes refer to this as having the rug pulled out from under us, or feeling ungrounded. These interruptions in our normal sense of certainty are what is being referred to by the term bardo. But to be precise, bardo refers to that state in which we have lost our old reality and it is no longer available to us.

That sounds painfully familiar!

I can see that my mental health will be exquisitely intertwined to my ability to let go of my ideas of what the rest of the month, the year, maybe even the rest of my life will look like.  With the ability to focus on what is real and present today.  To be joyful that today we have toilet paper!  And that today no one in the house has a fever!  While this seems simple, it's not easy.  That's why I continue, every morning, to practice.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stress Piggy to the Rescue

This is Stress Piggy:

Isn't he cute, just sitting there on top of the fan?  Hi Piggy!

Stress Piggy does more than just look cute.  He can help show what kind of a day I'm having.

For example when I found out my son had gone to a park with 3 friends yesterday and NOT maintained 6 feet among them, here is what Stress Piggy looked like:

That's right, pretty freakin' freaked out.  Red alert.  All crew report to battle stations.

But after I "hugged" Stress Piggy a while, my level of anxiety reduced to something like this:

More like a yellow alert, set phasers to Stun sort of feeling.

There are times when I start to slip back, though, and that isn't very pretty.  It looks like this:

Yikes Piggy!  I'm sorry.

Let's take a deep breath and pet the dog, and use our hand sanitizer, and feel better.  Yes, that's great.  

Thank you so much Stress Piggy!

I Promise to Stop Soon

 I know all I'm talking about lately is my retirement.  It's like I think I invented the concept!  But I have been pretty excited ab...