Capturing Stories from Life and the Week

It has been an exceptionally busy work week, so this post shares a few quick thoughts on recent life. I hope something will be of interest  to you or something you can relate to as you read.

School Shooting

I am sickened that yet another tragic shooting has occurred. As a former classroom teacher, I would not agree to carry a weapon.

God help us.

Reflections from a Mother’s Heart

I want to recommend a tool to you, if you still have parents living and relationships you treasure. This past fall, a friend of mine shared that she’d used a book, Reflections from a Mother’s Heart, to capture some of her mom’s stories. I ordered the book from Amazon. I also got the similar book for fathers, A Father’s Legacy (now unavailable, sadly). I took both books home with me for an October 2017 visit with my parents. It prompted great conversation which unfolded stories of their lives, some of which were new to me.

Some parents complete the book on their own, but I used pages that appealed to launch the conversations and jotted down notes as they answered. I’m so grateful I did, for my father passed away a month later. His stories from that October weekend keep him close at heart.

Now, once a week, with my mom on the phone, I talk through some of the prompts in the book. She may not always have an answer, but the prompts always lead somewhere to great memories of her younger days. Those stories keep the young, vibrant woman clearly pictured, though now in her 90’s.

I’d discovered this book makes it easier and fun to continue to get to know my mom, and helps trigger memories from her past which honors her as a person who had a full life. Those are precious times. We live about 2,000 miles apart, but our friendship is strengthened through this book.

The great thing about these books is that they can be used with any older friend or family member that is important to you, whose legacy you want to keep. I do need to mention it has sections that are religious, so if that is not part of the life of your loved one, you can pass by those pages.

Winter Weather

The southern California weather has been typical this year. That means some hot summer days, and then some cool winter days. We’ve not had much rain this winter, which bothers many of us because we need that rain. However, in the areas ravaged by fires, no rain means no mudslides.

This week is particularly chilly. I have to laugh as I write that. I grew up in the Midwest and survived bitter cold. So now when the temperature is down in the 60’s, and I feel like I’m freezing, I know my blood has thinned. I’ve adapted to my California habitat. That temperature would feel like spring when I was living through winters in the Chicago area!

Last night, I checked the weather app on my phone and I could not believe my eyes. My town was the coldest, compared to Chicago and Akron – cities where I’ve lived in the past. Crazy! Hopefully you are not visiting in southern California this week to escape from the cold midwest.

temps 2018-2-20

The Olympics

My husband and I have spent some time recently watching the various events of the Winter Olympics. The sports capture our interest during these weeks. I just love the Olympic theme played so often during the NBC broadcast. Here’s an interesting little article on the theme and a silly video I found on the KUSC website. I wanted to share these if you are teaching a unit on the Olympics. Or maybe you are an Olympic fan, too.

The Olympic Theme Explained

Here is the silly rendition of the theme, described as “Shaun White and Michael Phelps play the Olympic Fanfare on melodicas. Get your melodica here at http://www.melodicamen.com.”

Stay warm and charming, my friends!

Sick Day Slows Life Down

Colds are never welcome, no matter when they show up. Colds never arrive at a good time. But slowing down is always a good idea. I stayed home from work today recovering from a bad cold, an uninvited holiday guest that came to visit on Saturday. When I was a classroom teacher, I often got a cold once Winter Break began. Teachers have their theories on why that seems to happen. Today, since I’m no longer teaching, I am so glad I don’t have to prep substitute teacher plans , in addition to feeling lousy.

Posting a Blog 2017-12-11

My cold battle tool kit includes: naps, lots to drink (and a nearby bathroom), a small paper bag that moves around the house with me for used tissues, tea, tea, tea, Advil, chicken noodle soup, a box of soft tissues, and hot showers. I also use these additional items when home sick with a cold: good movies to watch, a book to read, possibly some magazines, a place to put up my feet, and “Breathe,” a doTERRA essential oil blend, often used in the bedroom with a diffuser. I haven’t used other over-the-counter cold products for years.

Bigelow Tea for the win! With a side of saline nasal spray.

On the bright side, I am grateful it is just a cold, and not the flu or worse. If I manage it well and don’t push myself, it will simply pass over time and not complicate. Colds are annoying, but not a tragic health situation for most people. I am definitely thankful for that. As we get older, we need to be more cautious in caring for ourselves. I could take life full speed ahead with a cold when I was younger. Now I have more respect for the healing process and the need for rest, in order to avoid complications.

Also from a perspective of gratitude, I am grateful my job provides sick days. My heart goes out to those who lose pay when they have to call in sick. As a side note, it was always sad when sick students came to school, because parents could not skip work to care for them at home.

Thirdly, in this positive spin on a cold, I am always grateful to courteous co-workers who stay home when they are really sick. It helps protect the rest of us from catching the cold or flu. When ailing co-workers show up at the office, it puts the rest of us at risk. So use your sick days for the sake of the others. And, again, I wish all workers had the luxury of sick day benefits.

So, this week’s blog post is rather dull. Never the less, I hope we each remember to carve some essential time into your December to slow down, enjoy a cup of your favorite winter beverage, and pause to be present in the moment at some point each day. Always more enjoyable without a cold, but I’m reminded again of the value of slowing down.

Hot Cocoa Close Up 2017-12

Hot cocoa, with marshmallows, whip cream, holiday sprinkles, and a snowflake

Let me end with a bit of humor. Perhaps there is perceived truth to this quote below. I have not given birth, but I have experienced a husband with a cold.

Man with Cold

Stay charming and healthy, my friends!

20 Tips for Thriving in a Foot Boot

The doctor just informed you that someone would be right in to show you how to wear the boot you’ll be married to for weeks, depending on your situation. For me it was a three-week relationship, and then two more weeks. For a broken pinky toe. Seemed like a lot, when all I heard from others was “they don’t do anything for sprained or broken toes.” Oh, but they do. And these words hung in the air at the podiatrist’s office that day, “Let’s see if we can avoid surgery. We might need to put a pin in your small toe.” I suddenly found motivation to manage the inconvenience. Clunk around in a boot in the heat of the summer to avoid surgery? I can do this!

Anyway, during our newly formed relationship, my boot and I have realized there are some ways to make this whole commitment more pleasant. Here are our twenty tips to make the most of an undesired situation.

1. Ask for a boot that matches your dog. But really, don’t bother. They only come in black from what I can tell. Our dog, Samson, is a yellow lab. You’d be able to tell the color of his fur just by looking at my boot. So I have some choices, since my dog does not match my boot. I can try to keep the fur off of it or at least to a minimum. I gave up on that. So, my next best choice has two parts: 1) think of the fur as tiny little love letters from the pup; and 2) act as if I am unaware of the light dog fur all over my black boot. Another possibility is to do a brief dog exchange with a friend who owns a chocolate or black dog.

2. Cherish the convenience of getting dropped off closer to the door of the day’s destinations, when you are riding with someone else.

3. Make up a glamorous story of what happened. Jamming my pinky toe on a bedroom chair leg just does not get the attention I deserve. Someone suggested I say, “Shark bite.”

4. Pretend you are a stellar athlete, a legend in your own mind, with a long successful career, and lament that you could have made the Olympic team of your choice, even still at your vintage age.

5. Accept that the boot is actually awkwardly comfortable, though not your first choice, and choose to adjust to it without whining. Too much.

6. Remember anytime we are forced to slow down it is actually a good thing.

7. Celebrate each and every week you complete on your journey! Treat yourself to something sweet, dinner out, flowers, or whatever brings you a sense of reward and joy in the moment. Notice the progress in the small steps.

8. Do not cheat the boot. Do not leave the boot at home and don your sassy little sandals for that special social event. Be true to the boot, and truly wear it every day all day according to the doctor’s instructions. My shoe choice was quite limited. Respect the boot.

9. Enjoy the icebreaker, the conversation starter role it plays.

10. Be grateful. It could be worse. See the positive. Time will pass. This will be a memory some day. Healing is happening. It is usually not related to 3D’s of true despair: death, disease, or divorce. It is inconvenient, but not tragic in most cases. However, if you are in a lot of pain, we recognize this is more of a challenge.

11. Your pride may take a hit. Don’t hit back. Smile daily and realize the boot is a healing tool, and on your team. Clunk along through your day. Do your part with pride on the healing journey.

12. Ask a good friend with a steady hand to paint greetings on your toenails. Remember the word needs to be readable from the observer’s angle, not yours. Paint something with five letters, or four and a space. People who stare down at your boot might get a chuckle. And you, too. The letters will be upside down and backwards from your view. Examples:

• I’ M (space toe) O K
• H E L L O

13. Avoid deep puddles. With minor puddles, you will be high and dry in the boot. With one foot, anyway.

14. Make your boot your BBFF, your Boot Best Friend Fornow. Go everywhere together. Find ways to be comfortable. Elevate it at home. Stretch your leg out at the table.

15. Try essential oils. I read online, the ultimate source for truth and accurate information, that a blend of oils would help bones heal. I don’t know if it really helped or not, but it was worth a try. I contacted my local essential oil friend, and she made me a certain blend in a roll-on bottle. The fragrance is calming to me at least, and rubbing it gently in the toe area stimulated circulation and relaxed stressed tissue. Remember, I am not giving promises or medical advice, so check with your physician, alternative medicine person, or essential oils friends.

16. Recognize this opportunity to craft your character: build patience, trust in the process, find contentment, persevere, find joy in more than your circumstances, and build empathy for others with physical challenges. Stronger character and being secure in your joys that exist outside your circumstances is lovely.

17. Ask for and accept help as needed. You may or may not be able to do everything you did before the boot. Don’t be a martyr. You’ve helped many. It’s your turn to accept generosity of spirit from helpful others.

18. Be kind to yourself. A warm soak in Epsom salts and fresh lavender is a simple homemade pampering moment for me. We do work harder to live a normal life when we are in a splint or boot. Take care of yourself. Stop for a cup of coffee you’d enjoy, or whatever little thing perks you up.

19. Cheer at bed time. You’ve made it through another day!

20. Keep chocolate handy. That can sweeten any rough day. For me, it’s dark chocolate. A few squares, if you can maintain self-control, takes your mind off the challenges of the day, if only for a moment or two of bliss.

I need to acknowledge a few things that made my boot time more tolerable: I’ve experienced minimal to no pain. I don’t have to sleep in the boot. I live on the first floor. I injured my left foot, not my driving foot. I am married to a considerate and helpful man. I know we all have different things that contribute to our contentment and recovery, and I want to give credit to those who deal with healing with additional bumps in the road. Your experience may be harder than mine, and my heart goes out to you.

Even though we are older, probably more cautious, and generally not the risk takers we once were, accidents still happen. It is so helpful to keep a great attitude and follow the doctor’s orders. Do you have any good ideas to share to help us endure recovery when something health related has sent us a curve ball pitch? Share in the comments.

Even when limping, stay charming, friends!