Who would have thought that finding toilet paper would be like finding gold? And hand sanitizer! If thieves were to break into your house that would be the first thing they'd steal. COVID-19 has tipped our lives upside down.
After the readers conference I was to attend got cancelled, after our dream Princess cruise to Hawaii went up in smoke, Gerhardt and I decided to get out of Washington and head to CA where we'd planned to spend spring with our son and family. Hardly anyone on the road except for truckers, keeping America supplied, God bless 'em. Strange times, folks. Now we're in sunny CA... self-quarantined.
Where are you right now? Are you working from home? Trying to home school and entertain the kids? Maybe you're in a retirement community and on lock down. Maybe you're in the health industry, working hard to keep the rest of us alive. If you are, thank you, thank you.
For those of us at home, this can feel either like a relief (if you're an introvert) or frustrating (if you're an extrovert). The kids may be driving you nuts or you may have cabin fever. Whatever the case, I have a few suggestions for how to keep on smilin'.
One I picked up from my friend Candy Paull, author of FINDING SERENITY IN SEASONS OF STRESS. (Check her out on Amazon!) On her Facebook page she talked about how easy it is to feel overwhelmed and depressed with everything that's going on right now. She decided to get out and do some yard work she'd been postponing. Seeing what she'd accomplished helped her feel empowered and encouraged.
What a good idea. Is there a chore you've been putting off? This is the perfect time do that spring cleaning.
With life slowing down it's also the perfect time to reconnect with our family members. For those of us who are now working at home and no longer commuting to work, we've gained some time, and found time is like found money. In some ways, better. You can always go out and earn more money. You can't earn more time.
Sooo, having said that...Limit your time in front of the TV, watching the news. Yes, we want to stay abreast of what's happening, but watching the same information over and over won't help our peace of mind. Instead how about building a family encouragement hour into your day? Read aloud to each other from a funny book, pick a favorite Bible passage to share (right now mine is Psalm 91), have a contest to see who can make up the funniest poem or story. work a puzzle together or play a long neglected board game, download an e-read by your favorite author, journal about lessons you're learning in all of this. Always wanted to write a book? Maybe this is the time to start. Or how about sewing face masks? My writing pal Lois Dyer heard there's a shortage and she's busy sewing masks for her local health care facility. Know an older person in the neighborhood who's self quarantining? Ask if you can leave cookies or some homemade soup on the doorstep.
This is a scary time but let's try to keep our attitudes positive and our hands clean. We'll get through this!
Girlfriends are such a treasure, and there's nothing to make you feel rich like getting away for something fun with yours. Which I did last weekend. We were on the Washington Coast, enjoying a chocolate festival, sampling all kinds of goodies... and buying some goodies, too. We even got in a beach walk.
There may not be a chocolate festival going on in your neck of the woods, but maybe there's something you can do with your girlfriends. How about a slumber party at someone's house? Or maybe just a spa day? Or a movie night? Or have your own chocolate party and share chocolate desserts.
I know we're all fearful of this new corona virus, but the CDC is urging us to not freeze up in terror and to live our lives. That's what I'm trying to do. I have the Book Lovers Convention coming up in Nashville in just a couple of weeks. I'm still planning on going and doing my part to stimulate their local economy after the tornado. And in April we have a cruise to Hawaii scheduled. On a Princess ship! I've been waiting to see Hawaii for about forty years, so I'm hoping this all will settle down and the poor cruise line will be able to sail away from their problems. If that doesn't work out, Hawaii will still be there.
Meanwhile, though, I can have fun with my friends and appreciate them. How about you? What are you doing to keep your focus positive and enjoy your life? Hope you're finding ways to do that. Even if you can't get to a festival, maybe it's time to go buy some chocolate!
Many hands not only make light work, they make for lots of fun. Our condominium community recently enjoyed a fun-filled progressive dinner party. It was close enough to Fat Tuesday that we went with a Mardi Gras theme. As you can see by the picture, I chose the salad course. So easy! Just made a salad bar and got paper plates and we were good to go.
The beauty of progressive dinners is that no one person has to be in charge of every course. And the beauty of our party was that nobody had to go outside in the rain or drive. Everyone just took their to-go wine glasses from unit to unit.
Wanting to spend a little more time with your neighbors? This might be the way to go. And if you live in a condo or apartment you sure won't have far to go!
We celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday at a Valentine tea dance at a nearby Elks club, a wonderful venue for ballroom and swing dancing. Dancing isn't Gerhardt's favorite pastime, but once a week he sucks it up and does it for me. What a guy! This was a lunch buffet, and for dessert, many of the dancers brought cookies. Two buffets for the price of one!
A great time was had by all - lots of smiles and laughter, a fabulous dance exhibition, good food. A great day. Thank you Gerhardt for being such a sweetheart, for putting your wife's wants above you own. Doing for the other person instead of yourself - isn't that what loving someone is all about? Now, what can I do for him today? I'll think of something!
By the way, can you tell which couple was the dance pro in the two bottom pictures?
What a wonderful Christmas I had! Great times with family left me with many new memories to treasure. Good food, good fun, presents, laughter, games. It was a perfect birthday party.
And that brings me to the thought that occurred to me the other day. How many of us look beyond the Christmas tree? Beyond the decorations and lights and big dinners to the One whose birthday we celebrate.
The best gift in history was a man named Jesus. We Christians often refer to the hope He brings as the free gift of salvation.
But really, it wasn't such a free gift. It cost. More than any gift in history. And it was given so our rebellious, wounded, angry, hurt, broken and dark world could find light, healing and peace.
I received some lovely presents this year, but the only one that matters is that priceless gift of hope God gave two thousand years ago. A healed relationship with our creator, the one gift that truly does keep on giving.
This year in the U.S. we have seen a rise in homelessness, wars, disturbing political fighting and more school shootings. So much darkness.
But we can choose light. I am so thankful that God offers us that opportunity.
I pray as we go into the new year, we will take advantage of that costly gift we just celebrated, choose light and show love. If we could all do that, if we could all forgive, reach out in kindness, strive to be the wonderful beings we were originally designed to be what an amazingly happy new year we could have.
This month I had such a fun party! It was a trip down Memory Lane with my sister-in-law and some of my nieces and grandnieces. Way back I fell heir to my mother's hats. As she had hats ranging form the 1930's clear through the eighties, it was quite a collection. A collection that, with the exception of a couple, has been mostly sitting around being ignored. I decided these needed to go to good homes and get back in action, so I hosted a special tea party to play dress up and share fun family memories.
And share we did. We had a great time remembering my mother and what a wonderful woman she was, and enjoyed laughing over funny family adventures.
Maybe you have some family treasures that need to go to new homes. What cool holiday gifts they might make for some members of your family. Or maybe you'll want to have a party and play dress up. Sharing these fun goodies is a great way to make memories with those we love!
I had so much fun earlier this month, speaking to the Women of Faith at Faith Community Church in Ocean Shores, WA! This was a lovely intimate group of about sixty, and they were very patient with me when I had an oopsie moment with my slide show. Ah, technology, always a challenge and a learning opportunity!
We talked about the significance of names: the names of God, the names we give ourselves and each other. And we talked about the importance of seeing ourselves as the beautiful women we were created to be, to not listening to those names people may have called us or we may have called ourselves that bring us down and discourage us.
It's a real privilege to be able to speak to women and share some of the lessons I've learned along the way.
Saw the musical, have heard the famous song... never visited the state. So it was a real pleasure to go there this last weekend and attend the Oklahoma Book Festival in Oklahoma City. The weather was... not for the faint of heart. Rainy and windy in the morning and far from warm, then broiling and windy in the afternoon. But, judging from the readers I met, Oklahoma grows great people.
And what an interesting history! Everything from a land rush and oil to gangsters. I found it all fascinating.
I especially found it fascinating staying in the historic Skirvin Hotel. I learned that the hotel has a ghost! A maid named Effie who, according to legend, was not treated well by Mr. Skirvin and jumped from a window along with her baby. She is said to haunt the 13th floor and it is claimed that you can often hear a baby crying on that floor. It is also claimed that Effie doesn't like men (and that she took out her wrath on an unsuspecting pro basketball player from a visiting team). I'm glad I'm a woman. I'm also glad I wasn't staying on that floor!
I'm especially glad I got to visit this state and experience a very wonderful book festival.
ACCORDING TO my friend Debbie Macomber, there's something called the Golden Circle, a window of time between retirement and wheelchairs that is ideal for traveling. Your health is still relatively good and you can carry your own suitcase. Gerhardt and I aren't retiring yet but we are traveling before those stuffed carry-on's get too heavy to put in the plane's overhead compartment.
This summer I had a writers conference in NYC and my other half learned that the Queen Mary 2 would be making an Atlantic crossing to England, leaving the same day that the conference ended. We hopped on the opportunity and I'm so glad we did. What a memorable adventure!
We were able to see our fabulous friends, Sue and Malcom while in England. They treated us like royalty, spoiling us rotten and showing us parts of England we always wanted to see: Stratford on Avon, the Cotswolds, Jane Austen's house, Oxford, Westminster. What a fabulous pair! I hope that won't be the last time we get to be with them.
WHAT TO DO when you've got new digs to furnish but you don't have a new digs budget? You go bargain hunting, of course! And for me the best bargains are found at garage and estate sales and in thrift stores. I love the thrill of the hunt and if someone needs to lighten her load and downsize or find a new home for Grandma's favorite chair, well, I'm here to help. Let me tell you, I've been helping a lot of people since we hit sunny California and started refurbishing our spring bird digs.
What have I found so far? The bedroom furnishings you see above, for one. Still on the hunt for nightstands, but meanwhile, this sweet, little oak dresser ($30 at a garage sale) will do. The bed (including mattresses) was $150 and we also sprang for the bedspread and pillow shams. We got this beauty at an estate sale. No, nobody died in it. The bed was in a guest room. I can't remember for sure, but I think we paid $7 for the lamp. The Mikasa dishes I found in a thrift store in Ocean Shores (the inspiration for my fictional town of Moonlight Harbor) and we drove them down along with a ton of other bargain hunt treasures I'd purchased for the new place. The fun original water color came from the same estate sale where we got the bed, along with a wing back leather chair for Gerhardt. And that gorgeous writing desk? Garage sale. Are we having fun or what?
Summer is garage sale season, and if you're on a budget it's the ideal way to pick up kitchen items, play clothes for the kids, sports equipment, dishes, kitchen gadgets - everything but the kitchen sink. Oh, wait. You can probably find one of those somewhere, too. So check on line and see what's happening in your neighborhood. Right now, we're coming up on Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kick-off for the season. I'm hoping to find nightstands. How about you?