Tuesday, April 28, 2020

What I Have Learned While Sheltering in Place During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, Part 3: What I Do When I Am Having a Bad Day!

In this time of the Coronavirus, where most of us are in lockdown and facing fear and uncertainty, it's natural that we would have some bad days.  I know I do. It's only natural that after almost six weeks in quarantine I would miss my friends, my family, restaurants, live music, shopping -- my freedom!  Yes, despite my active inner life, there are days when I want to SCREAM!

But being in lockdown, I have learned what makes me happy when I am having a bad day, so I thought I would share with you in case some of these ideas might help you, when you, too, are having a bad day.

  • I dress my dogs up as famous literary characters. (See if you can guess before looking at the answers).

Okay, Miss Havesham in "Great Expectations," you remember the old lady who never got over being jilted at the altar and not only lived in her wedding dress but still had her wedding cake out on the table - ew- and Hester Prynne from "The Scarlet Letter." The "A" is the giveaway, right?  Oh, c'mon, Mildred loves this.  

Duh...I know it's so obvious. It's Laura Ingalls Wilder in "Little House on the Prairie."

This sort of thing never ceases to cheer me up.

Believe me, I really am trying to be helpful here.

But moving on to some more practical things.  

  • I remind myself what a good life I have had and still have.
I look at family pictures, past and present, and linger on some happy memories that remind me that I have had a good life.  And I still do, despite the inconveniences and challenges of the present. That helps bring me out of my funk.

  • I read.
My mother once said that if I read books, I would never be lonely and she was right. When I am reading, I don't think about being lonely for one second.

(I just finished Elton John's memoir and it's one of the best rock and roll autobiographies I have ever read).  He is funny, self-deprecating and knows everyone so the whole experience brought a smile to my face! I felt like I was spending time with Elton himself. Reading can do that!)

  • I Meditate.
I wrote a post about how I came to be interested in meditation ("A Little Meditation on a Little Meditation by an Unlikely Meditator") and my unlikely journey, because, believe me, I am not the sort of person you would think would be into meditation. But after practicing it off and on for several years, I find it has helped me, especially in times of crisis.  Ommm...

  • I exercise.
I am fortunate to live in a beautiful town by the ocean so when it's a nice day outside, a walk in nature can take me away from my troubles.

  • I drink wine!


(Well, not really, but decluttering is certainly a thing that can take your mind off yourself for a bit).

Marie Kondo is a decluttering fanatic who tells us that we should get rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy."  We are supposed to hold the object up to our hearts and ask ourselves "Does this spark joy?"  So...

As I set about cleaning out my sock drawer I am asking, "Do these "You guac my world" avocado socks spark joy?  Maybe not.  Out they go!

 What about these "Nasty Rosie" socks? 

Well, for one thing, I think they are funny as hell and if thinking something is funny doesn't fall into the sparking joy category I don't know what does. KEEP!

But whatever clutter you are dealing with, there is a certain satisfaction in decluttering. Doing menial tasks can relax your mind, though, don't you find it frustrating when you always seem to end up with one sock without a mate? What's the deal with that?  Why is there always one sock left over? Where do missing socks go to die?

  • I binge-watch TV.

I have already talked at length about my TV addiction ("Confessions of a TV Addict"), about my discovery of TV at the age of five, my happy memories of watching old movies with my Dad, 

the television keeping me company when my husband was sent to Vietnam six months after we were married, which was a very difficult and lonely time... 
I was at college and every night when I would get home after play rehearsal, Johnny Carson would keep me company (the picture is mostly for some context but try not to focus too much on those pants and glasses I am wearing. It was the late sixties before I discovered fringe and bell bottoms)!

There are those who delight in shaming those of us who enjoy television, but I am a child of television and am unashamed. It has played a role in various times of my life and now, once again, television is providing some companionship and diversion.  

When I am feeling down, settling in front of the TV with a glass of wine and some snacks takes me away from my troubles. And this whole binge watching concept is perfect for these endless days of sheltering in place, perfect for working my way through a series and watching it nonstop.  

I have already seen all episodes of the dramas "The Stranger (Netflix)," and "Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu);" two really good reality shows about fashion design, "Making the Cut (Amazon Prime)," and "Next in Fashion (Netflix);" the quirky Australian baking show, "Zumbo's Just Desserts (Netflix)," and now I am working on "Mrs. America (Hulu)" and reruns of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."  A strange by-product of a stay at home order is actually a television addict's dream. 

So if you love television, let your freak flag fly and indulge!  You may not get this chance again!

  • I Bake
"The Great British Baking Show" (original title: "The Great British Bakeoff") isn't considered a panacea for practically everything for no reason. Watching that show can put you into not just a sugar buzz but a dream state (just ask Hubby who falls asleep as soon as the theme music comes on)!  

It's amazing that watching a bunch of amateur bakers can be so compelling, but it is. They are all talented bakers, but I think the show's popularity has something to do with the bakers being SO NICE!  They are in competition, but are also just so damn supportive of each other. It restores your faith in human nature.  And since they seem to be just regular folks, watching the show you might say to yourself, "I can do that."  Well, you probably can't, but there is a certain satisfaction in trying to, putting eggs, sugar and flour together to make something delicious. That you can do. 

And not only do you have the reward of eating what you bake, baking can return you to some happy childhood memories (I hope you have some!). 

  • I reach out to someone who might need a boost.
I might check in on a friend who is sheltering in place alone, who might be depressed or I might make a point to remind a friend of a happy memory or something I like about them. Thinking of others and trying to do something nice for them or to help them is the best way to stop thinking about myself.

  • I write down my feelings.
If you haven't figured this out already, writing down what I am feeling, sharing my thoughts, is something I like to do, hence my blogging history.  Whether it's ragging on a movie I didn't like or raving about a book I did like or just sharing with you my pet peeves, I have a need to communicate, to share my feelings, and when I do - I feel better!  We all want to be seen and heard and when we get that, a bad day can turn into a good one.

  • I have a laugh.

Whether it's playing virtual games of "Cards Against Humanity" with friends or watching Ricky Gervais or "This is Spinal Tap" or even making fun of myself, I find a way to have something to laugh about and that usually makes me forget I'm having a bad day.  

I am particularly partial to dog vs. cat cartoons!

See, don't you feel better now?

  • I have a routine and a schedule.

But when all is said and done, this is a time when we don't have control over events, and a loss of control can cause all kinds of negative feelings.  So for me, during this challenging time, having a schedule helps me cope with my bad days.  I treat this staying at home thing like a job, and like most jobs, there is a routine.  There is comfort in having a routine and some days I even write down what I want to accomplish in the coming days, whether it's cleaning out my sock drawer or cooking a nice dinner, I have a list of activities to choose from when I am at loose ends.  Having projects and things I plan to do, and then accomplishing them can turn a bad day into at least a better one.

  • I let myself feel bad.

Sometimes, though, I just go with my feelings, feel sorry for myself and wallow a bit. And that's okay, too, because I know that there is one thing I can count on.  Change. Just as this pandemic will eventually pass, so will this bad day.

So I hope that in sharing what I do to keep my head up during this challenging time, some of these ideas might help you to keep your head up, too.

Take care everyone and stay safe!

Now it's your turn.

What do you do when you are having a bad day? 

Thanks for Reading!

And I Hope to See you Soon... 

Here and on my Rosy the Reviewer Facebook Page!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What I Have Learned While Sheltering in Place During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, Part 2: A Day in the Life and Some Realizations

One of my Facebook friends recently posted a question on Facebook, asking people what their days were like now that we are all sheltering in place, wondering if they had a particular routine. So naturally, I wanted to weigh in, but in so doing, I have also had some major realizations.

So first, this is what for me is a typical day:

6am:  Hubby gets up.

I don't.

7am:  Zzzzzz

8am:  Zzzzzz

9am:  Zzzzz

9:15:  Yawn

Well, this is what I like to think I am like when I wake up, that I wake up all happy with little birds singing on my window sill, but...

actually it's more like this!

I am NOT a morning person!

9:30:  Get up and fix my special breakfast drink - orange juice with Pellegrino (makes me feel like I am having a Mimosa for breakfast) followed by a cup of tea (I am not a breakfast person, either), which I drink while reading magazines or whatever book I am working on.

10:30: I watch "The View." Watching "The View" has been part of my routine for so long that it feels like I am having a political discussion with my girlfriends (and yes, I sometimes talk back to the TV). It relaxes me. And I know, it is on at 10am but I have it set on my DVR, so that if I watch it after it has already started I can whiz through the commercials. I hate commercials! Having to watch a bunch of commercials just might push me over the edge!

11:30:  Make the bed, get dressed, that kind of thing - should I take a shower?

Nah...why bother?

Noon: Meditate while Hubby is walking the dogs.

(Like I could actually get into that position)!

12:30:  Exercise

(Like I could actually do that.  When I am not out walking, I work out with YouTube videos but I have learned that many of the workout videos on YouTube are kind of lame)

1pm: Work on this blog or some other important computer project I have planned liked watching videos of cute puppies on YouTube.

2pm:  Housework - washing clothes, ironing, cleaning out the garage.  I usually have a list of things I want to get accomplished.  Old habits die hard.
(have to do that stuff some time - my cleaners are also on lockdown)!

3pm:  Watch a movie, because, after all, I am still Rosy the Reviewer!

5pm:  Hubby gets off work so it's Happy Hour!
(and sometimes virtual Happy Hour with friends - and I have to say that as much as I miss seeing my friends in the flesh this virtual thing sure is easy - don't have to make food or clean the toilet)!

5pm:  Get dinner ready

6pm:  Dinner

7pm:  Jeopardy.  Since we can't meet up with our trivia team - The Famous Shagalots - Hubby and I get our trivia kicks hanging out with Alex Trebeck and competing against each other while watching Jeopardy.  (Btw, I say The FAMOUS Shagalots because we have won at every venue we have played. And if you are wondering, yes, the team name is ironic)!

8pm:  The rest of the evening is usually followed by lots and lots of TV (here is what I have been watching), a movie or some Me Time.

(Except I don't have a cat)!

11pm:  Bedtime...

unless I am on a roll.  I stay up late a couple of times a week, more because I am too lazy to get ready for bed than that I am doing anything important.  I have always been a bit of a night owl.

So that in general is how my life goes now in this time of sheltering in place, give or take some of the time frames and/or activities. 

But I have to admit, that's pretty much how my life went before, except now instead of leaving the house, my day or evening is broken up by online card games with friends, FaceTime with family members or friends, occasional trips to the store, cooking marathons and some mini projects. But like I said, in general, my days are not that different from before the pandemic. I am retired, so I didn't have a job to go to.  Also, I actually like to be alone, to a certain extent and have always carved out some time to engage in solitary pursuits. I have always been sort of an "indoor girl," so it hasn't been the sacrifice for me that it has been for others, though I certainly have days when I want to scream "GET ME OUTTA HERE!"

But I learned early on that I am a creature of habit and need structure in my life, not just during the occasional pandemic where I have to stay home every day.  Even in the best of times, I had a routine and it's having a routine that is helping me get through this time now. I learned the importance of that when I retired after 40 years as a librarian.

When I retired, I had to ask myself, what was going to give me a reason to get up in the morning? What would be my purpose in life? What was I going to do all day?  So now you know.  But actually, I discovered blogging, volunteer work, meditation, a Fantasy Movie League, all kinds of activities that I didn't have time for when I was working and those activities gave me purpose.  And now within the confines of sheltering in place, I have built a mini-structure for my life and...my purpose?  Right now, it's to help protect myself and my fellow humans by staying home.

But the main difference now is that, since I can't go out, my basic routine is not broken up by outside influences like it was before.  I am not busy, busy, busy.  I don't have my usual volunteer work, lunch with friends, going out to hear Hubby play music, traveling, hanging out at the mall, going to the gym and all of the other activities that filled up my day before.  Now I have time to think.

Many of us have been caught up in the busyness of life, busy taking care of kids, busy running errands, busy working, busy fulfilling obligations, and we were not able to find the time to stop and think about what we really wanted out of life and what really mattered.

But now I have all of the time in the world to reflect and that reflection has led me to some realizations about what really matters and how I want my life to go when this over.

First of all - gratitude. I talked about that in my last blog post, but it bears repeating.  I am grateful for those friends, old and new, near and far, who have made the effort to check in and stay in touch.  It feels especially good when I am having a bad day. And I am grateful that my children and their children are well and in touch.

But it's not lost on me that I have privilege.  

I have not lost my job and I don't have young children to take care of and worry about.  There but for fortune...However, I can certainly relate.  It is not lost on me that if this had happened to Hubby and me 30 years ago, when we were living paycheck to paycheck with two young children, we would be suffering, just as so many are right now. So I am grateful for my life.  And I feel compassion for those who are suffering.  I plan to continue to practice gratitude and put that compassion to work by doing what I can for those who don't have the privileges I have.

I have also given some thought to my consumerism.  

Let me use my clothes "collection" as a metaphor. Let's just say, I have a crap load of clothes. All my life, shopping for and buying clothes has been a sort of hobby for me, like collecting stamps would be for a person whose passion that is.  I think my clothes habit stems from my not having the cute outfits that the popular girls had in middle school but we won't go into that now. As I shelter at home, it is not lost on me that I seem to wear nothing but workout clothes and sweats, sometimes the same outfit two days in a row (horrors!).

So when I look at my three closets full of clothes, I realize that I will probably never wear all of my clothes in this lifetime. It's a sobering thought. I realize I don't need any more clothes.  And like I said, all of those clothes are a metaphor, because it's not just clothes I am talking about.  It's consumerism in general. I realize that I have everything I need and I don't need much more of anything else. Sorry, Amazon.

Also with all of the news about how the environment has been helped by everyone staying at home - I mean those living in Los Angeles are seeing clear skies almost every day - I also want to be more conscious of what I am throwing away and what I can do to help the environment. I have always been conscious about it, but I want to be more conscious.

Likewise, though I am already volunteering as a peer counselor for seniors, I want to find out what other volunteer activities I can do to help those who aren't as fortunate as I am, who might be in real trouble especially after this is all over. As someone who was in public service for over 40 years, I realize that being of service is important to me. Even though I'm not working at a regular job anymore, it's still my purpose.

So I am learning to assess what I really need, not just now when I am stuck at home, but in the future. I am also having some realizations about how I want my life to go when I get out of this and back into the world. 

Sometimes it takes a worldwide pandemic for us to realize what really matters.

What have you learned or realized while sheltering in place?

Thanks for Reading!

And I Hope to See you Soon... 

Here and on my Rosy the Reviewer Facebook Page!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

What I Have Learned While Sheltering in Place During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, Part 1

I know, I know.  I said I was going to take a break. Hubby reminded me of that by saying, how can they miss you if you never leave?  But I did say in my post "To Blog or Not to Blog," that it was the Friday movie and book reviews that were going away, not me, and that if I had something to say, I would be back.  

Well, I have something to say. 

So here I am, back in my original persona, the Rosy the Reviewer who "reviews" her life, compelled to share with you what I am learning while sheltering in place in this crazy and historic Coronavirus time that we now live in.

But before I get into the nitty gritty of what I have learned besides washing my hands a lot, let me say that nothing like this virus or having to shelter in place for weeks at a time has ever happened in my lifetime, and I've lived for a lot of years.  For us Baby Boomers, I guess this could be our Great Depression except we won't have our own little children to regale with stories about what we went through like our parents did.  So I guess it will be our grandchildren's responsibility to guilt trip their kids with what they went through during the Great Coronovirus Pandemic.  I recently tried to tell my nine-year-old grandson that not only would this be over soon, but that he would one day have a great story to tell.  He didn't get it, but I think over time he will. 

My young grandson will be able to say to his kids, "You think you have it bad? Why, when I was nine, I had to stay inside for three months!"

But despite the fact that I know many are suffering far more than I am, on bad days I can't help but lament the fact that I can't go to the movies, visit with friends, see my kids and grandkids, go to the mall (though I will say, I'm saving money there), or have See's Candy to see me through and that I have to mostly stay inside with just Hubby, the dogs and the TV to keep me company.  And that leaves a lot of time for reflection.  So I have been reflecting.

With that said, what have I learned?

In addition to washing my hands as often as possible and trying not to touch my face, which ain't easy for someone who has bitten her fingernails since the age of five (I know, I will save analyzing that for another day), I have learned that...

  • A bottle of wine doesn't last as long as it used to (this was FULL an hour ago)!

  • When I encounter other people on the sidewalk and cross the street to avoid them, they are no longer insulted like they might have been in the past.  In fact, they thank me!  So I wave and make a big production of it.

  • When I go into a convenience store at midnight wearing a mask, no one thinks I am going to rob them!
  • I am a bit of a foodie and when I am at loose ends, I like to cook but during stressful times like these, I have learned that instead of rustling up my usual Salmon en Croute or Scallop and Lobster Ravigote with Asparagus and Organic Quinoa, I revert to childhood favorites like fish sticks, tuna pasta salad and Kraft Dinner with hot dogs (Kraft Dinner -that's what we called Kraft Mac and Cheese when I was growing up), not to mention the occasional big bowl of ice cream with hot fudge and a cherry on top. Okay, not just occasional.  Every night.  I feel that Coronavirus 15 creeping on!

  • Dogs...if we have to shelter in place, I have learned that we couldn't ask for better companions than dogs. They are the best company! They don't have much to say and they look at me so lovingly, especially when I have a handful of Doritos.  

And they provide hours of fun!

Here's a thought.  

If you have always wanted a dog, why not rescue one now?  Think of the company a little puppy would provide, especially if you are going through this alone, and now is certainly the at-home time you would need for getting to know him or her and for the requisite toilet training that is in your future. Think about it.  Dogs rock! I can't imagine going through this without the unconditional love from our dogs (well, and from Hubby too)!

  • (Speaking of Hubby), I find that I need my Do Not Disturb sign again. And it's ironic, because on the one hand, I miss my family and friends and feel lonely at times and I can't imagine life without Hubby, but on the other hand, living in forced close quarters with someone day in and day out, with few breaks, can be, well, irritating sometimes. There, I said it.  But, c'mon, if it's not the singing and harmonica playing, it's talking to clients in his office (he works at home and I can hear everything) or it's interrupting me right when my little bell goes off to start my meditation, to tell me it's going to rain tonight or to ask me where the toilet paper is!  Don't get me wrong, I love Hubby and enjoy his company, but we live in a small place and not being able to get some Me Time can be challenging. Okay, challenging maybe isn't the right word.  How about can make me bitchy? The divorce rate in China supposedly went way up while they were all stuck at home so I don't want that to happen...

Hence the sign!

But the bottom line is this:  no matter what your circumstances, it's okay to want to have some alone time, and in this case, since we have so much time to reflect, we should be reflecting and that works best when alone!

  • When left to my own devices at home, I have learned that I don't use my time as wisely as I should.  With all of this time on my hands, I am not learning a new language or knitting or reading "War and Peace" or adopting an orphan from a third world country like some of my friends.  Instead, I find myself turning into Gladys Kravitz, staring out the window to see what my neighbors are doing and taking down license plate numbers, or whiling away the hours watching Lifetime Movies and reruns of "Wife Swap" and "Naked and Afraid." 

  • And speaking of Lifetime Movies - I know I talk about them a lot (In factI actually wrote an entire blog post about my "appreciation" of Lifetime Movies), but, believe it or not, they are often a metaphor for a variety of things.  In this case, I have learned that they can take you away from it all and make you grateful for your life when you realize that someone else has a worse life than you. They allow us to feel a certain amount of schudenfreude without feeling guilty, because these aren't real people. I mean, I may be stuck inside for an indeterminate amount of time, but at least I don't have a stalker trying to kill me or a psycho friend trying to kill me or a vacation at a spa where the spa is trying to kill me (you have to have been there). Lifetime Movies can be helpful for your state of mind, giving you some relief from your troubles, though I will say that the Lifetime Channel was quite insensitive to show "Psycho Nurse" last week. 

I am grateful that all I need to do to avoid getting killed is to stay inside so that psycho Covid-19 virus doesn't get me. Or I have hope, anyway, that will do the trick. 

All kidding aside, though, I have also learned some things about hope and gratitude.

Without hope there is despair.  And there is much to despair in this whole pandemic experience.  But we have to have hope, not the kind of hope that allows us to do something stupid, like going out, hanging out in groups, breathing on everyone and everyone breathing on you with the hope that you won't get sick. 

I am talking about the kind of hope that is deep inside us, the capacity to meet a situation and use it for personal growth.  It's a feeling of positivity that things will change and we will get out of this, because we are doing what we need to do to stay well; a positivity that leads us to take care of our mental health by keeping in touch with friends and loved ones so that we stay connected; a positivity that gives us empathy and enables us to reach out to those who are alone; a positivity that inspires us to accomplish something new now that we have the time; a positivity to motivate us to keep going; and a positivity that enables us to reflect on our lives, do a self inventory and decide how we want our lives to go when we get out of this. Hope is transformative. Renewal is always possible. If we take care of each other and listen to the experts, we will get through this.

Along with hope, I have learned to have gratitude for what I have, that despite the discomfort of the present, I am grateful for my friends and loved ones, grateful that I am not alone, grateful that I can still laugh and make fun of myself (and Hubby!) and grateful that I still have the motivation to accomplish things.  I am also grateful I am not sick nor are those I love and that I have enough toilet paper.

And finally, I need to add that I have learned the importance of humor.  

If we can still laugh, we know we are alive. And I am grateful that I can reach out to my friends and loved ones online and hear the sounds of their laughter as we play "Cards Against Humanity" together or I tell some particularly funny jokes about Hubby.  Laughter lifts our spirits.

I know this is no fun for most of us.  Like you, I have good days and bad days, but despite it all I am glad to be alive, glad I have the life I do, and looking forward to the future!

What have YOU learned while sheltering in place?

(You may be wondering why this is just Part 1.  Well, the pandemic is not over and I am still sheltering in place, so there will no doubt be a Part 2 or even a Part 3, so stay tuned. Rosy the Reviewer is right and truly back)!

To be continued...

Thanks for Reading!

And I Hope to See you Soon... 

Here and on my Rosy the Reviewer Facebook Page!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer