Control


Today is Holy Thursday, probably my favorite day of the year to be in church. For many years I played string bass as part of the music ministry at my church; lately I have been in a pew. This year I will not be sitting in a pew but in front of my TV watching the mass streamed from an empty church.

It is out of my control.

Today I learned that my school will be closed for the rest of the academic year. For over 30 years I have shared in the bittersweet end-of-year activities that signal the moving up and moving on of my students. This year my classroom is empty way too early, and I am not getting the chance to say goodbye in person.

It is out of my control.

This Sunday is Easter when we would normally have dinner with my brother and his family followed by an Easter egg hunt for my four grandchildren. This year they will be hunting for eggs in their own homes.

It is out of my control.

These are difficult days for everyone, and each of us is coping the best we can. Just how are we coping? Some people are drinking more, eating more, crying more, or watching more TV. No judgment here, just observations.

This is within my control.

I joke that I need to put a padlock on my fridge and pantry, but it’s no joke. I am a stress eater, and watching too much TV news and not being on my regular schedule is causing me to forage like a bear just waking up from winter hibernation.

This is within my control.

Life has thrown us a curveball, and all we can do is try to stay in the batter’s box. I have learned during these past four weeks of isolating at home that I am not in charge; I have control over very little in the big picture, but I do have control over whether I spend my time worrying and being afraid, or making the most of this situation and keep moving forward.

This is within my control.

I am very aware that I will have good days and bad days, and that’s OK. What is most important is that the bad days don’t string together. I can control what I do with my day, how I take care of myself, and how I keep in touch with my family and friends. It’s time for me lean into my faith and get on a better schedule now that I know life will be like this for awhile.

What is in your control?

What are you going to do to reliquish control over the things beyond your reach? How are you going to take care of yourself? How are you going to stay connected?

Control what you can; let go of what you cannot.

Stay well.

Elegy for the World, Opus 19

Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.

Kahlil Gibran

Our world has come to an awkward cadence.
Poco a poco an invisible virtuoso has taken hold.

We are sheltering a-cappella – one or two or a family
without our daily accompaniments.

We long for a melody in this new atonal reality
with its ostinato of rising cases and death tolls.

The daily recitative of politicians and medical professionals
has become an eerie refrain to a mournful dirge.

We lament in unison for those whose requiems are postponed
and hope for an accelerando in recoveries of the stricken.

This poem was inspired by a prompt by Stacey L. Joy on ethicalela.com. They are posting a prompt each day for the month of April in celebration of National Poetry Month. The challenge was to use musical terms in a poem.

The Wind

April is National Poetry Month, so I am trying to focus on my poetry writing. I am an eternal optimist, but these days you need to be a realist. This poem didn’t start out being about our current situation; it was about the weather this week, but the poem had other ideas.

The Wind

The whipping wind,
with its invisible
yet massive arms, pushed full force
against the side of the house
pelting the siding with pebbles
lifted from the empty flower bed.

But the house stood firm on its foundation.

The wind circled round
to the back of the house
wanting to rearrange
the deck’s chairs.

But the deck stood firm on its frame.

The wind raced around
to the front of the house,
knocking and knocking
on the front door.

But the door hung firm on its hinges.

Homes were being attacked
by an invisible nemesis
carried by the wind
person to person.

But the people remained firm in isolation.

Laughter

Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.

Walt Disney

Last night was the best night I have had since the start of the stay-at-home order. I have been trying to think of ways to connect to my grandkids, especially the two older who are six. We have been video chatting, but there hasn’t been a whole lot to talk about with all of us being at home. So, I thought that maybe we could play a game of Pictionary via video.

The first one to try this out was my grandson, Parker, and his parents (my daughter and son-in-law). We set a time to Facetime after dinner, and the fun began almost immediately. Parker was armed with his paper and pencil; I was working with a small whiteboard and dry-erase marker.

It was so cute to see the top of Parker’s head as he diligently worked on his drawing and quietly whispered details to his mom; he wanted to get it “just right.” I, on the other hand was having difficulty manuevering my marker (that’s the excuse I am using) and getting my drawings to look like what I intended them to be.

The first outburst of laughter was at my expense, and it was well deserved. I tried to draw a minion, but the guesses from Parker and his mom, Angela, were a popsicle, a tongue depresser, and a thumb. I am glad that I was using an erasable marker, so there was no evidence of my drawing deficits.

Since Parker and I were having so much fun, Angela and Ryan had to get in on the action. First there was a giraffe and a flying squirrel, the Titanic, and a Death Star (I had no idea what that was). Then the game took a turn towards religion. Ang and Ryan were trying to out do each other. There was the Last Supper, The Resurrection, and a Pope’s fancy mitre (Ang has been reading Parker a book about the Vatican). The funniest of all was when Parker correctly identified his dad’s drawing of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I couldn’t believe he knew what it was.

Evidence of the game
Parker’s picture of Jesus.

We were on our call for just over an hour. The last drawing was a recreation of my husband asleep in his recliner. I was laughing so hard; I could hardly breathe.

Last night I learned that Walt Disney’s quote is true. Laughter is timeless; we can laugh through the stress of the times. Imagaination is ageless; Angela, Ryan, and I were having as much fun, if not more, than Parker. Dreams are forever. I am dreaming of the time when we can play games in person again, but until then the memory of last night will have me laughing for weeks. Maybe next time it will be charades.

Stay well.

Happy Little Things

I think it’s important to find the little things in everyday life that make you happy.

Paula Cole

Today, my Target order arrived. In it were things that made me very happy – little things. Since I am two weeks past my last haircut appointment, my hair is getting a little unruly. I am not worry about it getting long (can’t get an appointment until at least May) but the in-between stage is challenging when you have a slight wave and cowlicks. Getting hairclips and headbands in my package today was so exciting!

On top of that, also in the box were new marker pens. I couldn’t wait to get them out of the package and start using them, but I forced myself to wait until my schoolwork was completed!

One thing I have learned over this past month is that nothing is certain or guaranteed. Life as we know it can change on a dime, and it has, and when things you have taken for granted are taken from you, you need to find joy in the little things. This is what we should have been doing all along. I hope we all learn that lesson and continue to find joy in life’s little moments and treasures.

On this the last day of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge, I am feeling sad that it is over. This community of writers and the challenge has given me a purpose for writing each day. During these unsettling times writing each day is something that has made me happy. I am committed to keep writing although I’m not sure if I continue the every day posts, but I will do my best.

Stay well.

A Recipe for Surviving Home Isolation

#SOL20
Day 30/31

A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, have to bring soul to the recipe.

Thomas Keller

Ingredients

  • One large pack of patience
  • Several pounds of prayer
  • About 7 hours of sleep
  • 20-30 minutes of movement
  • A bunch of virtual connecting
  • At least one self-care activity
  • A smidge of news viewing
  • A sprinkle of humor
  • A dash of flexiblity

First, take as much patience as you can possibly find and mix it gently with a large helping of prayer. Next, stir in about seven hours of sleep combined with 20-30 minutes of movement combined with a self-care activity. Add a bunch of virtual connecting with family and friends, and a smidge of news reports. Place it all in somewhat of a schedule, and let it rest over night.

Take a healthy dose of this mixture each morning until it fills your soul. Be sure to top it with a sprinkle of humor and a dash of flexiblity.

Repeat as necesssary.

Stay well.

Security Blanket

#SOL20
Day 29/31

When someone loves you, it’s like having a warm blanket all around your heart.

Helen Fielding

Although we have turned the heat off for the season, there a some times in the evening when the living room feels a little chilly, so I have taken out a couple of throw blankets just in case.

One night last week, my husband questioned why I was using my blanket as I sat in the recliner watching TV. He was certain that it was not cold enough for a blanket. I just gave him a stare. Then he went on to say that he thought that I wasn’t really cold, but that I was using my blanket for security. He made me think.

This is the blanket I have been using lately. As you can see it is definitely an autumn blanket. While autumn is my favorite season, I usually put those items away before Christmas. But this blanket is special. It was given to me by my kids and grandkids as part of a larger very well thought out gift for my 60th birthday.

These days I really miss seeing my kids and grandkids in person and being able to give them kisses and hugs. So I guess my husband was right (don’t tell him I admitted that!). I am wrapping myself up in the closest thing I have to those I am missing the most, and being reminded to give thanks and count my blessings even when it is difficult.

Stay well.

Safe at Home

#SOL20
Day 28/31

You will not be the same after weathering the storms of life; you will be stronger, wiser, and more alive than ever before!

Bryant McGill

It is a rainy day in Pennsylvania, and I found myself going through old magazines and cutting out words and phrases to use as writing prompts. As I spread the various magazine clippings on the coffee table, words started to pop out at me and take shape. I carefully arranged and rearranged them until their message took hold. I pasted them in my notebook, and the result is pictured below.

I am not “stuck” at home; I am “safe” at home.

Stay well.

A Bowl of Soup

#SOL20
Day 27/31

Worries go down better with soup.

Jewish Proverb

This morning I woke up to the aroma of seafood wafting through the house. My husband had gotten up early and went on a cooking spree before he went to work where he prepares food for other people to take home to their families. He made tuna salad for my lunch, and shrimp chowder and shrimp scampi for dinner. We would just have to boil the pasta at dinner time. Yes, I am a very lucky woman to have a husband who cooks for me daily, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the soup.

You see, today was kind of a blah day for me. It was catch-up day for my students, so I didn’t have as many emails or questions to respond to, so I had more time on my hands. Yet, I felt like I was just going around in circles. I went from one thing to another without getting anything done and ended up feeling a little defeated.

When Chuck came home around 5:30, I told him that I didn’t get anything done today, and he said. “That’s OK.” I realized that was our code words for me saying that I was feeling blah and him saying that will happen some days. So what does that have to do with soup?

I actually forgot about the soup Chuck had made this morning, and when he pulled it out of the fridge and heated it up, I was pleasantly surprised. He placed a bowl in front of me, and the blahs of the day started to evaporate like the steam rising from my soup.

As I sipped the savory broth, I felt warm inside – literally and figuratively. The simple act of eating soup, soup made from scratch with love, made me feel like yes, there can be a little normalcy during this chaotic time. Just for tonight I can rest in the warmth of homemade soup and the warmth of love.

Stay well.

Not Opening Today

#SOL20
Day 26/31

Baseball was, is, and always will be to me the best game in the world.

Babe Ruth

It usually one of my favorite days of the year, but today I am lamenting the postponement of Opening Day of Major League Baseball. My slice is an homage to “Casey at the Bat” with one little “borrowed” line.

The outlook isn’t brilliant for the Phllies nine today.
The players had to all stay home; no baseball could they play.
First basketball, then hockey stopped, now baseball’s done the same.
A sickly silence fell upon the lovers of the game.

No Joe Girardi, Bryce, or Rhys, no “Jetpack” Kingery
No cracking bats, no slapping gloves, no baseball game to see.
Citizen’s Bank Park is shuttered and now a testing site
For the nasty coronavirus that’s changing everything in its sight.

Opening Day will have to wait till later on this year.
A few more weeks or maybe months before we get to cheer.
But oh the cheers will be so loud on that terrific day
Cause that’s the day that we will know corona’s gone away.

So missing baseball is just a minor inconvenience in the scope of what is going on in the US and around the world right now, but it is definitely one of my favorite outlets. It always reminds me of when I was young and the Phillies home games were not televised (yes I know I am old). We would listen to the play-by-play on the radio and cheer as if we were at Connie Mack Stadium or early on at Veterans’ Stadium. Those were idyllic days.

I long for those days even more as we make our way through these uncharted waters, but I am hopeful that it won’ be long before I am hearing those two simple words – “Play ball.”

Stay well.