Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Covid-19 ~ What I Don’t Miss

As I was enjoying my second walk surrounded by woods today, my thoughts first turned to the beauty of our rocky ridge and the comforting songs of the birds, insects and rustle of leaves in the slight breeze. But then I began to appreciate what I didn’t hear: vehicles, people talking, dogs barking, the ambient noise that we’ve become accustomed to hearing in the backgrounds of our modern lives. That caused me to reflect on all that I do not miss during our enforced stay-at-home experience.
I do not miss chain restaurants. Not once during our quarantine have either of us suggested ordering carry-out from TGI Friday, Chili’s, Texas Roadhouse, The Outback or any other ubiquitous dining establishment. On the rare occasions we did order dinner, we supported a local business. I do not miss crowds, traffic jams, shopping malls, movie theaters, public transportation, misbehaving children in public, traveling for business, sports on television, going to the yoga studio. 

Although my Libertarian beliefs disdain the heavy-handed stay at home orders that I do not believe are Constitutional, have crippled the economy and caused millions to lose jobs,  perhaps  the enforced isolation will cause some of us to appreciate a simpler existence with a renewed focus on gratitude, family, cooking at home, shorter commutes, quality over quantity, and celebration for the beauty around us. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

It Is Time For Common Sense Amidst Covid-19

Most of the USA has been shut down since mid March. For more than 2 months tens of millions of people have been ordered to shelter in place resulting in millions of lost jobs, the probable loss of small businesses that will never re-open, Congressional spending in multi trillions of dollars, a stock market crash that has devastated the retirement savings of a significant portion of the population, and the creation by some communities of tattletales reporting COVID violators and mask shaming reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Commuters deemed "essential" in the Washington, DC area have been pulled over on I66 with the Virginia State Police demanding to "see their papers" to validate a right to go into the office. 

While I fully understand the governments' desires to flatten the curve to ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed, closing the entire country to curtail the spread has in many geographical areas done more harm than good. Addicts that rely on Twelve -Step Programs which involves feeling part of a recovery community risk relapse, which can result in death. People that delayed routine medical screenings may have missed a window of opportunity for an earlier diagnosis of a disease that can be best arrested or cured when caught in its infancy. People with mental health issues miss critical in person counseling. People who rely on stress relieving therapies such as massage, acupuncture, Reformer Pilates and bio-feed back risk increased likelihood of heart attack of stroke. People are hording food. Our fishmonger told us on Friday evening that a few panic buyers cleaned him out buying 15-20 pounds of fresh fish instead of purchasing just for the weekend.

It is time to re-open the economy using common sense. People at higher risk should stay home. This includes elderly people, those of us with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, COPD, an auto immune disorder, heart disease, pulmonary disease, kidney disease or any bacterial or viral disease that could be spread in society. People with the ability to do so should be given the opportunity to telecommute. Students with underlying health conditions should be provided with high speed internet and a computer to keep up with studies. This would be an excellent use of the taxpayer's dollars earmarked by Congress for COVID-19 relief. But everybody who is able- bodied, healthy, and able to work, should re-open their businesses using common sense, return to their jobs, and get back to living. 

Most people recover from  COVID-19. The world did not shut down for AIDS or the swine flu, the dreaded smallpox, yellow fever, polio, cholera, measles, typhoid, tuberculosis, Ebola, Zika,  leprosy, the Black Death, or SARS. Destroying the economic health of the world in the pursuit to prevent even one death is admirable, but not smart or sustainable. While it may be politically incorrect to remind people of Darwin's theory of the "survival of the fittest", it is something we must consider. There will always be new diseases that emerge to cull the population. It is not fair. It is often indiscriminate. But we cannot destroy the lives of the survivors to protect all. And in this pandemic, it is those that cannot telecommute, those who must keep their businesses solvent to support numerous families, those who have invested their life's savings and all of their energies to build a business, those who must work to put food on the table, those who have an opportunity that may never come again, those who could not hold the hand or hug a loved one as they succumbed to COVID, those who could not share grief over the loss of a loved one, those who live alone and haven't had a human touch in 60 days that we must consider. It is time to re-open and embrace life.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Do Not Cut or Color Your Own Hair During Quarantine

Since I telecommute on a regular basis, being required to work from home has not altered my daily routine to any significant extent up until the bewitching hour of 5:00 PM when I would mindfully shut down my laptop and head out for yoga, Pilates, my monthly massage, acupuncture treatments,  the occasional pedicure, running errands, a date with my husband or friends and my monthly appointment at Utopia Salon for Aveda color enhancements and a haircut.

While I miss all of these activities that I consider essential to my overall well being, the closure of hair salons has cause me and most of my friends the most inconvenience and consternation.

My Facebook feed has numerous daily ads for allegedly natural hair color at home products that are easy to use for a fraction of the cost of salon color with salon results. Despite my frustration when I look in the mirror each morning with a wider "part of colorless highlights", I will resist the temptation to self treat. I've noticed too many instances over the years of "obvious" home hair color. My one foray into "at home" treatments at the tender age of 15 left me with brassy orange hair that had a straw-like texture that would have made an excellent foundation for a birds nest.

That is not to say that all salons provide the same level of competence. I'm a firm believer that one does get what one pays for. There were a few times in my young adult years where I left national chains in tears.  However, a less than stellar salon experience is still better than taking matters into your own hands. If a licensed cosmetologist provides a services that you pay for and the result is "unfortunate", you can ask them to fix it. If you screw up your own hair at home, particularly in the time of COVID-19, you will be stuck with the disaster until the quarantine lefts and our salons re-open. 

 Just say NO! Don't do it! Do you REALLY believe those celebrities that tout at home hair color  color their own hair?  Wear a hat or baseball cap or a scarf or a wide headband. I've just ordered two cute headbands from Nordstrom. Anthropologie has some cute and fabulous headbands for sale online. And I have some lovely baseball caps from local wineries. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Importance of Trying New Things

Despite the fact that I have reached a place in my life in which I am able to take advantage of the"early shopping hours" during Covid-19, I believe it is critical to keep trying new things, exploring new frontiers, embracing adventures, tasting new foods, experimenting with a different hairstyle or color, trying on clothes and makeup from an alternative brand or designer and refusing to stay in a rut.

Every time I visit my hair stylist, Brian Williams at Utopia Salon, we "tweak" my hair color and cut. I am an Aveda woman through and through, but I will push the boundaries with my color. I've embraced all shades or red or auburn and alter my cut regularly.  I will not go quietly into the night. 
During my adulthood I tended to stay rather committed to shops such as Talbots, Nordstrom, Chico's, J Jill or Soft Surroundings. Now I've embraced Anthropologie and discovered Closed Jeans, Pilcro, Citizens of Humanity, and Cecelia of New York footwear. I am obsessed by Cecelia of New York! I've found I love totes by Cuyana & Everlane, skincare from Eminence Organics, bras from Third Love, undies by Hanky Panky, earring by Lagos, boutique styles from The Artful Home, artisan soaps, Etsy handmade coffee mugs, Boll & Branch or Brooklinen sheets, 1930's fashion from House of Foxy, and cashmere & linen from Garnet Hill. 

There are also instances where I've returned to the stalwarts of my "adult youth" such as Chanel makeup, Book of the Month Club and actual books printed on paper and bound, the comfort of family, Midwestern values, and a love of a much simpler life. I've chased the dream and realized I've had what I need all along.

But what I encourage everybody to consider is the benefits of trying new things. Since I turned 50 I've embraced yoga, accomplished a head stand, practiced Pilates on a reformer, learned alternative photographic processes, attended Civil War re--enactments and living history events, sewed my own camel hair winter coat, used a sledge hammer, learned to shoot, earned a concealed carry permit, protested at the Virginia state house,  sewed mid 19th century clothing, wore a corset, learned how to cook on an open fire, used a chamber pot, drove a pick up truck, caught the yard on fire, tried acupuncture, scheduled monthly massage therapy, made sausage, laid tile, reupholstered two wing chairs, renovated a bathroom, wrote a blog, and began to understand that I can let go of "things".

Monday, April 13, 2020

Online Purchases During Covid-19 Quarantine

During one of my foraging adventures last week I heard some talking heads on the radio discuss the oddest things they’d purchased online since the “Stay at Home” directives. That really had me thinking about the atypical purchases we’ve made online recently.

Despite my short-lived intentions at the new year to avoid buying clothes, I used the excuse of my 20 pound weight loss to indulge in new jeans & shorts. And Brahmin did offer a 25% discount on handbags recently, which tempted me to buy the bags I’ve lusted over. And I routinely order books, skincare products, makeup, shoes, cat food, bird seed and Aveda products.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. Yes, I ordered 3 cases of wine from Rappahannock Vineyards. Free shipping! Artisan olive oils & balsamic vinegar from our local Flavour Perfection. Almost instant delivery!  Bandanas! There has been a bandana shortage! Yeast for baking! Bamboo drawer organizers that are easily found at Lowe’s in normal times. Laundry detergent & fabric softener, paper towels, Slap Yo Mama spices, and coffee mugs from Etsy.

What unusual things have you ordered while in quarantine? Did I mention yeast?

Thank You Sherry & Bob♥️

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Celebrating the Blessings of Easter Amidst Quarantine

Those of us who live in the modern world are truly blessed considering the adverse impacts of epidemics throughout history. Modern medicine, scientists, the ability to spread information instantly, pharmaceutical research, wealthy governments that can implement financial strategies that aid the citizenry, technology that affords many of us to telecommute, modern banking that gives us access to money even when we can't get to a bank, e-commerce that allows us to order food or wine or dry goods or any number of things we don't need inline to be delivered within days, transportation infrastructure that affords goods to be moved from one geographical area to another almost instantly, freezers and refrigeration that give us the opportunity to stock up on food, doctors and nurses that can get on a plane and provide care where it is needed, the ability for modern industry to shift focus and retool factories to churn out respirators or masks, knowledge of how disease is transmitted and the education of the people that gives them the tools to understand to importance of social distancing. I've provided a link to an article about epidemics throughout history that can provide insights in to our good fortune. 

This post is not to diminish the challenges we face as a people, the illnesses, the inability to cure the disease and the fact that many of us will lose people we love. Instead, I mean to put the pandemic in context.  Rather than denigrate governments for failing to address the spread of the disease instantaneously, consider celebrating the wonders of modern society that will allow us to limit the devastation that would have occurred in another time and place.  There is no magic bullet that will end this. There is no absolutely right answer - how to balance the health and safety of citizens vs. the health of the economy. I prefer to avoid making judgments about these issues because I am not a public health expert, virologist, epidemiologist, or biologist.  Just celebrate our blessings that we live in a first world country that has the resources to do what must be done - hopefully without eroding our civil liberties. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Life in Quarantine During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered our collective views of the world in the blink of an eye. As a die-hard Libertarian, I initially resisted government intervention and intellectually rebelled against what is essentially marital law. I don't like it. I do not want to comply. I believe that governors should allow localities to enforce regulations that make sense for that particular geographical area. I would prefer a more tempered, nuanced approach that did not infringe upon my civil rights and force businesses to close - with the awareness that many small businesses that are not considered essential may not survive. But, a part of me understands the need for the lock-down because we Americans enjoy freedoms that most if not all other societies do not enjoy. And the knee-jerk reactions of citizens and government alike are counter-productive. Sure, lock down New York, Philadelphia and Jersey City - but why Harrisonburg, Virginia? 

Why not a more nuanced approach? Why not consider that people at risk should practice social distancing and encourage corporations to implement telecommuting? 

I do not understand the hording mentality, the need to compile enough toiler paper, chicken, Lysol or bleach to last a lifetime. 

It is beyond my comprehension  why a liquor store, restaurant, or WalMart is considered "essential", but my Pilates studio, yoga studio, massage spa, and acupuncture practice is not. These contribute far more to my over-all well-being than a drive-thru McDonald's. 

Overall, my concern involves the slippery slope that could result in a few politicians enjoying their power over the citizenry just a little too much. I do agree that huge gatherings should be discouraged. I do agree that it makes sense to encourage self quarantine. But I really loathe the concept of a nanny state imposing restrictions that bears too close a similarity to the movie I watched on Turner Classic Movies this morning - the 1944 Address Unknown about the erosion of civil liberties in Germany. It resonated. Just food for thought. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036581/

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Super Tuesday 2020

I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe in the American Dream . I believe in the US Constitution. I believe in Libertarianism. Those of us whose ancestors crossed treacherous seas to resettle in this land of opportunity to escape oppression deserve to keep what we have earned.

I do not believe that settlers in the USA committed  genocide of indigenous people. The ‘native Americans’ emigrated from elsewhere. There were wars. Wars result in victory or defeat. The people who came here and settled were not evil, just ordinary folks looking for a better way of life. Wars have sad consequences. There was tragedy & unfairness. But, that is history. Are  people in Europe refighting Agincourt?

There have been periods of unsavory episodes in our history. Nobody in the modern world could possibly condone slavery. It is a stain on humankind. But we cannot change the past. We can only move forward with enlightenment, disdaining the sins of the past and embracing our fellow citizens as equals today.

Border security has nothing to do with race. I’ve lived in foreign countries. It matters not the race, creed or national origin at the border. Instead what matters is a visa and valid passport. I’ve seen people detained for hours in other countries because of visa issues. Ive also seen people lined up outside a US Consulate trying to come here legally but delayed because of limitations / quotas that do not apply to those crossing here illegally from the south. Talk about a dearth of fairness!

The current election cycle should not be based upon hatred of a particular individual. Politicians do not need to be likable or appealing to be successful. They only need be competent. I do not like the personality of Donald Trump. He is crass. But he is no more harmful than many other presidents. I prefer an abject capitalist over a socialist any day. I remember the Cold War. I Remember  the Iron Curtain. I know people who survived Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Castro, Tito, Gaddafi, Amin, Brezhnev, pr the many other dictators or oligarchs of my time. Give me a president who bolsters the economy and tries to limit China’s efforts to steal our intellectual property any day over a bleeding heart socialist trying to abrogate my rights & confiscate my earnings to support somebody who doesn’t pay his or her way.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Losing a Beloved Pet

Animals are not people. I get that. It is impossible to compare the loss of a loved family member, friend or colleague with the loss of an animal companion. However, our fur babies give us something that our human loved ones do not- unselfish, unconditional loyalty. No matter their variable personality quirks, our fur babies affirm through highs and lows, ups and downs, good fortune or bad, laughter and tears that we matter...whether it is because we feed them, give them shelter, love them, pet them, hear them or appreciate them, they give back more than tenfold.

Today Todd and I lost our sweet, three legged orange kitty Carlos. He was born under our porch on my birthday in 2006, the same year we married and moved into our home. We were amazed to discover this litter of kittens under the deck. From the first his engaging personality and sweet innocent face melted our hearts.

He was a loner. He hated other cats. He had no use for kittens. But he loved us. Cat sitters loved him. He had personality. He used to run thru the house pulling his birdie on a stick. He loved gravy. He loved lying in the sun or under a Japanese maple. He was named after Carlos Santana..musician and shoe designer.

When he started to fail we deluded ourselves into believing he was getting better. We tried antibiotics,  designer kitty food, warm compresses, spoon feeding, a heating pad, anything to encourage him to eat and make him comfortable. But, we couldn’t cure him. We didn’t want him to suffer any longer. We had to let him cross the Rainbow Bridge.

I wanted to hold onto him for a few more days. I wanted to feel his heartbeat, swaddle him in my arms, wish him into wellness. But we couldn’t listen to him cry another night or look at us with love and pain another day.

I turned to William Blake as we laid him to rest...Tyger, tyger burning bright...

Saturday, February 1, 2020

What One Learns Living Outside the USA

My life has been remarkable in that I have had the opportunity to travel. I am grateful for my good fortune. In 1976 I traveled with my high school French teacher and fellow students to London and Paris at the tender age of 16 It was the year of the American Bicentennial, which was an interesting time to visit Britain. 

My parents afforded me the chance to study in the UK and Paris during my sophomore year at university. I spent a year in Lincolnshire studying and traveling and a summer at the Sorbonne in Paris. 1978-1979 was a tumultuous time. Fellow students at Harlaxton College outside Grantham included citizens or Iran, who were fearful of the safety of their family members during the revolution. I learned quite a bit about the vagaries of safety and life during that time. I also had the chance to travel between terms with a few friends, some bravado, a backpack and about $800. I learned that I could be frugal, wash my hair in cold water, eat street food, and get by with three outfits for six weeks. I will say that my one night in Belgrade was a bit dicey. But I survived and had a lot of stories to tell. 

But it wasn't until I moved to Taipei, Taiwan in 1988 that I truly learned to appreciate the extraordinary good fortune I have to live in the USA as an American citizen. We are blessed with plenty. The options we have in the typical grocery store are unequaled anywhere else in the world,

My experiences have confirmed my youthful ideology that we Americans have the best standard of living in the world, the most sophisticated health care, the widest array of food, the most comfortable houses, the most diverse citizenry, the most enviable privileges, and greater freedoms than any other nation on earth. Our Republic is the envy of the world. There is a reason people want to come here. It is for the opportunities that are not available on any other corner of the earth. 

Citizens who denigrate our Republic, our government, our way of life, our good fortune - who criticize the founders of our nation because they do not meet the current standards of diversity, who opine that European settlers were somehow proponents of genocide because of the Manifest Destiny propagated by the federal government, have not studied world history. Throughout time areas of land and the people who inhabited that land have been conquered and displaced. From a modern perspective this may be considered heinous. But, that is not how people who came before us thought.

We really have no right to judge those who lived in another time. I know that I cannot purport to understand what lived in the minds of a man or woman from the 15th, 16th, 17th , 18th or 19th Century. We can look at history through a modern lens and agree that we no longer accept those norms. But I cannot accept that it is appropriate to remove the names of those who came before from plaques, buildings, institutions, roads, schools, etc because we have evolved. Let us remember those who came before for what they did right - not for their failings. Do you want to be remembered for your failings? I do not.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Disgusted With Current Political Divisiveness & Vitriol

The American political system is a brilliant creation of men of the 18th Century who read the classics in the original Greek & Latin, studied the rise and fall of empires, and drafted a Constitution that was intended to avoid the pitfalls of past civilizations. That is why we in the USA are a republic instead of a democracy. The design of the government that afforded representation in the House of Representatives to afford those from states with larger populations to have a voice as well as the equal representation in the Senate was purposeful. The Founders did not want states with smaller populations to be steamrolled by population centers. This is also the reason for the Electoral College. Those who risked execution for treason by rebelling against the English Crown sought fairness. Compromise was essential to ensure ratification of the Constitution. There would be no USA today if the Founders had not compromised on some issues that today we find abhorrent. But consider that we are a country of diverse people that have endured through Civil War, bad presidents, corrupt members of Congress, the Civil Rights movement, engagement in foreign wars, attacks on our people, and extreme disagreement politically. 

There have been arguments over the direction the country should take since the founding of the republic. One of the bitterest political rivalries involved John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Although they disagreed vociferously politically and were estranged for years, they resumed their friendship and correspondence eventually and died on the same day - coincidentally - Independence Day. (As did James Monroe).

There have been several presidents loathed by the opposition. However, until the current presidential administration, the differences have, for the most part, been resolved through subsequent elections. Whether one hates, tolerates, disdains or loves Donald J. Trump, he was a duly elected president of the USA according to the law of the land and the Constitution. He has not destroyed the country. There are too many checks and balances for any executive to do so. 

Consider that Mr. Dershowitz, who admittedly voted for Hillary Clinton and argued that Bill Clinton should not have been impeached for perjury, also represents Donald Trump in this impeachment trial before the Senate and argues that he has not committed am impeachable offense. Mr. Dershowitz in a constitutional scholar with which I have not always agreed. But he is not partisan in this matter. He is consistent. 

The American electorate has reached a partisan divide in which those on opposite sides of the political spectrum will not listen to any alternative views. The partisans have become entrenched in a position, will not consider any other perspective, refuse to listen to alternative views, ridicule the opposition, and argue that Donald Trump is Satan personified. I am dumbfounded by the energy that people invest in the vitriol. The republic survived James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter (when I lived in Europe during the Carter administration I let people think I was Canadian). The republic will survive Donald Trump. We do not need our presidents to be good people. We need them to be effective leaders. John F. Kennedy is often looked upon as an effective president, yet he was a terribly unfaithful husband, violated his own sanctions against Cuba, and engaged in foreign policy decisions that were clearly ill-advised. Not only that, he accelerated our involvement in Vietnam. 

I am neither a Democrat or a Republican, although I am conservative fiscally and on Constitutional issues such as the 2nd Amendment. I lean toward Libertarian, which believes in a small government that keeps its paws out of my pocket, off my land, out of my house, without any input in decisions between me and my physician, who I can marry, what I can cultivate and how I defend myself.  I believe that one can love, live, conduct business with and worship as one feels is appropriate without government oversight.  Just fix my roads, bridges, air traffic control, monetary policy, interstate infrastructure, waterways, borders, print money, maintain federal land, maintain our military to protect and defend the USA, ensure the Native Americans and veterans are treated fairly, and sustain compliance with the Constitution. Stay out of healthcare, insurance, education, personal life decisions, etc. 

Just let go of the angst, the divisiveness, and vitriol. Embrace your fellow citizen and agree that it is okay to disagree without judgment. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Why We Rarely Go To The Movies

Todd and I rarely go to a cinema to see a film. It has been years since we felt compelled to pay full price for an evening viewing....I think the last time was Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ because Todd worked on the movie for the art department. We’ve gone to a few matinees to see James Bond, The Hunger Games, the documentary We Shall Not Grow Old, and a few others. But all in all....not worth the time, energy or money. Instead, we choose to binge watch premium TV...generally the imported variety. We watch The Handmaid’s Tale, Succession, Outlander, Victoria...shows with grit and actors that look like real people. American movies and television essentially sucks. (We did love Deadwood,  The Sopranos, Fargo & Justified)

No doubt that is one of the reasons the ratings for self congratulatory shows like the Holden Globes, Oscars, etc have started to tank. For me, the only reason to watch the first hour involves making fun of the awful fashions that the mainstream media lauds...such as the laughable frock worn by Ms. Paltrow at the Golden Globes. That made Bjorn look tasteful.

I must admit my rant was triggered by the backlash to the extremely amusing monologue by Ricky Gervais. It was darn funny. It harkened back to the days when comedians were allowed to be funny without fear of being blacklisted. It felt refreshing. And, it was the only part of the show we watched..online...after it was broadcast.

People in the entertainment industry forget that they are, essentially, irrelevant to most folks unless they are...entertaining. We don’t care what they think about politics, climate, war, wearing fur or the homeless...These are people that like to ‘interpret’ history so they look fetching instead of appropriate.

So give me a nice BBC production on Masterpiece or a premium network with actors who look like real people wearing hair styles and clothing that is appropriate for the time, place and genre. Or Netflix & Hulu.

Hollywood.....YAWN. Have I mentioned how distracted I was by the awful hairstyles & costumes in Little Women? That’s $7 and 2 1/2 hours I’ll never get back.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Can I Avoid Impulse Purchases in 2020?

I am a compulsive shopper. This has been a personal challenge for decades. I love clothes, shoes, belts, scarves, hats, jewelry and housewares. I currently have 20 Third Love bras. I can’t resist a great online  sale. I telecommute. I travel an average of monthly for work. And yet... a new offering by MM LaFleur reels me in. 

After reading an article in The Guardian yesterday by a fashion editor that decided to avoid purchasing fast fashion for a year, I’ve decided to give my adapted version a go for 2020. This is not a New Years Resolution. I don’t subscribe to resolutions that are likely to be broken in 72 hours. Instead, this is an aspiration for which there is no penalty, guilt or failure if there are purchases. What I hope to achieve is some semblance of common sense that balances need vs want, thoughtfulness vs impulse,  mindfulness vs shopping as an alternative for some more fulfilling activity. 

No doubt psychologists could diagnose some ‘disorder’ for my propensity to purchase things on a whim. Whatever! It is just part of my psyche. At this point in my life, however, I have goals beyond immediate satisfaction. Achieving those goals will require a modicum of self restraint. 

Does anybody else have a similar goal? What tools do you use to keep yourself in check? Please share. Shall we support one another to achieve some level of success?

Tonight I deleted all of my favorite shopping sites from my iPad. ( with the exception of Sephora, Nordstrom & Amazon[seriously, we can’t delete makeup, cat food & books]) I am giving myself a pass for accessories, books & makeup. But otherwise, I will try to refrain from sweaters, jeans, coats, dresses, skirts, workout outfits, tops, casual pants, pajamas, jackets, professional clothes and swimwear. This will be a one day at a time effort. I may need to unplug. Temptation is everywhere. 😎

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Begin 2020 With An Attitude of Gratitude

Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” –Marcus Aurelius

There is too much anger in the world. Maintaining that anger takes a lot of energy, adversely affects one's immune system, and inhibits one's ability to feel joy. Letting go of anger, resentments and negativity is self-healing. From my own journey, I've learned that practicing an attitude of gratitude can be life changing. Learning to focus on positivity and gratitude helped me reboot my hard drive to enable me to live a life that is mostly filled with contentment and serenity. The process took years of introspection, fellowship in Al Anon, listening to my angels, putting positive energy into the Universe, setting boundaries, avoiding negative people, accepting that I have no control over other people, places and things, actively forgiving myself and all others for real or imagined resentments, and mindfully expressing gratitude for my blessings.

Think of the beauty in our world~ Todd and I have not been able to tame the barren, rocky wilderness upon which we live. But we've been able to find beauty in the trees that surround us, the stars in the night sky, the sunrise in the east, the brilliant colors in the sun setting over the western ridge, the chirping of cicadas, the variety of birds that dine at our feeders, our collection of abandoned cats that rush up to greet us when we ascend th driveway. 

Focus on gratitude when thinking about the wonders of the USA, a grand experiment in democracy that affords its citizens the ability to select our leaders. Instead of focusing on what is wrong with our nation, focus on what is right. Celebrate with gratitude the fact that Americans have the freedom to criticize our leaders without fear of imprisonment or execution. Express gratitude for the ingenuity of individuals that created great books, cures for diseases, drugs that prolong life, social media, mobile phones, movies that entertain the world, airplanes, personal computers, libraries in most towns, insecticides that allow crops to thrive, the electric light, railroads, the steel industry, the sewing machine, Heinz Ketchup, Hershey's chocolate, IBM, and rockets that sent humankind to the moon. 

I am today grateful for my family, fulfilling employment, excellent health, wine, books, cashmere, a home with indoor plumbing/heating/AC/electricity, treasures from my travels, beautiful memories, garlic, clear vision, the ability to hear beautiful music, the aroma of cookies baking, mobility, and the ability to disagree with friends and still be friends. 😍

Monday, December 30, 2019

Distracting Hairstyles ~ Little Women 2019

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women  first captivated my imagination and heart when I was in 4th grade and received a much treasured copy of the book as a gift. Over the years I’ve reread the novel multiple times; and I’ve watched every film and television adaptation- none of which have done justice to the book. I think about the enduring appeal of Little Women, which at its heart is a celebration of sisterhood, family, love, loss and yearning for independence. I find it fascinating that Ms. Alcott disliked her own pseudo autobiographical creation, perhaps because she conceded to having her heroine Jo marry.

I liked Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women, with the time lines alternating from present to past. Saoirse Ronin portrays Jo admirably with aplomb. Overall, the movie was well cast, beautifully filmed, and as comfortable as spending an afternoon with a group of old friend. And, as customary, tears filled my eyes as dear Beth died yet again.

What was overall a positive experience was marred by my constant distraction of the inordinately awful hairstyles of the March women, with the exception of Meryl Streep as Aunt March. Even a family as unorthodox as the March / Alcott family would have followed convention and worn neat, contained, appropriate hairstyles with a center part. In particular, the bushy side parted  bangs worn by Laura Dern and Emma Watson would have been unthinkable in 1860s America.

While I can understand that a director and costumer may want to ‘interpret’ an era, the actors just looked to me exactly what they are.....21st Century women playing dress up. If one makes the effort to use period appropriate candlelight, why not make a modicum of effort with hairstyles? Since there are actual photographs of the Alcott family members upon which the characters are based, it would have been pretty darn simple to get it right.

Monday, December 23, 2019

What Christmas Means to Me

Over the decades Christmas has become more secular & commercial, a time to celebrate the increases in retail sales rather than a focus on spirituality.

Despite the fact that shopping and gift giving have replaced celebration of family and focus on the birth of Christianity, I refuse to be drawn into the commercialism and secular holiday celebrations with roots in paganism.

I was raised with the belief that Christmas celebrated the birth of Christ, the founder of Christianity, upon which our Judeo Christian nation was formed. Yes, we embrace the practice of all religions; however, the nation was founded on a set of Christian beliefs that supported the principles of mainstream Protestantism. The founding fathers espoused a belief that the state should not establish a religion, which differs from current arguments that the state should ignore religion. Any student of history truly knows that the founders of our land opposed a state established religion that resulted in the execution of those who disagreed with the state sponsored dogma, such as the centuries disagreements in England over Catholicism vs Protestantism.

My husband and I resist the commercialism by making a commitment to focus on family, eliminating gifts for all with the exception of young grandchildren and deciding to celebrate quietly with a focus on our loved ones.

Good food, quiet reflection, love of family, celebration of life, appreciation of blessings...these are the  things we celebrate.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Exploring Acupuncture & Alternative Medicine

Despite the fact that I lived in Asia for 5 years, it wasn’t until I was binge watching Outlander on Starz over the Thanksgiving holiday that I seriously considered acupuncture for alleviating my stress, elevated blood pressure, and insomnia. A Chinese seaman used acupuncture for Jamie Fraser’s sea-sickness on a voyage from Scotland to America. It truly was a ‘eureka moment for me.

After decades of stability, my blood pressure spiked and my stress levels increased exponentially- most likely attributable to the 4th or 5th corporate reorganization since my company wS acquired in early 2016. I’d tried all the usual things- yoga, Pilates, meditation, diffusing essential oils, a Buddha fountain in my office, repeating the 12 Al Anon Steps & Serenity Prayer repeatedly while trying to fall asleep, and doses of CBD & melatonin. Still, my. p spiked within minutes of logging on to my laptop. The icky tasting beet root powder helped; but trying to envision 35+ years of drinking that unfortunate concoction daily prompted me to act.

Within. Week I was trudging through the rain after parking illegally to my initial appointment with a local acupuncture practitioner. I was impressed by the time she took to outline my medical history back to my teen years. She spent more time getting to know me than my MD internist of 14 years had  over the 14 years I’d been a patient. The practitioner developed a plan, explained the suggested course of treatment, length of treatment, and supplemental diet & nutrition  recommends that should alleviate my symptoms over a period of 90 days.

The initial treatment immediately relaxed me. I nearly fell asleep while lying on the table with the needles strategically inserted in my spine. I felt zero pain. My over active mind rested. I could feel the tension evaporate.

I decided to follow the recommended course of treatment, including the recommended mineral supplements that are not sold by the practitioner. There was no sense of pressure, no feeling of coercion or immediacy- just a feeling that looking at well being from a holistic perspective gives one a sense of empowerment. Perhaps seeking this holistic intervention now will result in my being able to avoid toxic treatments in the future.

I embrace the advancements of modern western medicine, but sometimes alternative treatments should be considered in addition to traditional treatments. I look forward to my second appointment next week.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Jumping on the CBD Oil Bandwagon for Insomnia Relief

One of the questionable joys of aging ~ insomnia! My sleepless nights have gotten worse with each year. During times of increased stress - such as the constant restructuring of my corporate world, family illnesses, unexpected tax bills or listening to CNN, my wakefulness intensifies. Lack of sleep has caused me to be distracted to the point that I inadvertently took my husband's blood pressure medicine instead of my own for two weeks. Fortunately, that error was discovered before I exploded into tiny bits. 

I hadn't seriously considered CBD oil until my sister mentioned that her pancreas specialist had inquired if she'd tried it for pain. She replied in the negative, but reported that her husband had nearly weaned himself from all opiates he'd been taking for excruciating back pain after giving CBD oil a try. My sister-in-law had told me a couple of years ago that one of her friends had experienced cancer remission after using CBD oil.

Following some late night research while I was visiting my dad, I ordered 60 Cherry Mango Flavored 5mg gummies from +PlusCBDOil. Online reviews rate this company as one with the highest quality and quality control with no THC in the product. Guidance suggests starting at a low dosage and then gauging efficacy, 

After less than one week of taking 5mg gummies I have been waking up no more than twice in the middle of the night. For me, this is golden. 

There are several methods of benefiting from CBD oil: topical creams, gels or sprays; liquid drops, capsules, vaping, roll ons or gummies. I chose gummies because they are easy. But I recommend that anybody considering CBD oil to do research and choose what is right for you.

I'm considering taking an extra gummy tonight for a great Friday night sleep!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Honoring My Dad - Cass County Foundation

The Cass County Indiana Foundation honored my father last Friday, November 1, 2019 for his contributions to Cass County, Indiana from the time he moved to the community in 1954. Mayor David Kitchell also named November 1, 2019 Richard Copeland Day and also named him Citizen of the Week.

I am filled with gratitude that the community in which I was raised honored my Dad for his dedication, love and commitment to his adopted home. From the time he moved to the city of Logansport in Cass County, Indiana he embraced the people and its history. He was raised as a farm boy  in Posey County, Indiana who celebrated the opportunity to live a life in a small city community that embraced the modern world, gave him the chance to teach young people, introduced him to my mom, and afforded him the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the world.

Daddy loves Logansport and Cass County, its people, its history, its land and all that it has to offer. History is defined by the people who have lived in a place and time. In order to understand who we are we must study those who came before. My dad has made it his passion to investigate the people who lived, visited, traversed, or considered Cass County in any way. It is amazing to consider the people who have lived in or passed through this whistle stop in North Central Indiana. And thanks to my father, a great deal of those connections have been documented and preserved.

I am filled with gratitude to the Cass  County Foundation that voted to honor my father for his community service and the mayor of Logansport, Dave Kitchell, who named 11/01/2019 as Richard Copeland Day and honored him as Citizen of the Week. He deserves the accolades. I am humbled by his service to community and feel privileged to be his daughter.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Considering the Wonderful Experiences Life Has Afforded Me So Far~

It is so easy in this 21st Century environment of incivility and hateful political discourse to let the negativity adversely affect one's sense of peace and serenity. However, I've been fortunate enough to learn the art of focusing on gratitude for my blessings. The journey has been challenging and taken years of introspection, requires my letting go of resentments regularly and relies upon my maintaining the contentment and focus on positivity that I've struggled to attain. As I've shared regularly, my years in Al Anon provided me with the tools achieve and maintain my peace and serenity.

At my first Al Anon meeting at a church in Hong Kong in 1993 the group suggested I make a gratitude list. Initially, I used the alphabet and tried to identify one thing that started with each letter for which I felt grateful. Over the years I've come to accept that I feel gratitude for each life experience - even those that were painful - because that experience contributed to my becoming the woman I am today, October 13, 2019, at age 60.

These are just some of the things and experiences that fill me with gratitude:

  • Sitting on my screened - in porch, reading an actual book, sipping wine, surrounded by my husband and cats;
  • Wearing 1930s fashions while showing our 1934 Terraplane at the Hershey ACCA yesterday;
  • Traveling to England on the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship as a 19 year old student;
  • Learning to ride a horse English saddle while a student in England;
  • Spending a summer in Paris studying at the Sorbonne and meeting my AOII sisters Carla and Olga there;
  • Riding an elephant in Chang Mai;
  • Enjoying a manicure and pedicure while lounging on Nusa Dua Beach in Bali;
  • Visiting the incomparable Cathedral of the Cao Dai outside Tay Ninh in Vietnam;
  • Celebrating marriage to my soulmate, Todd Harrington, on the veranda of the Villa Sirio in Castellebate with the town mayor presiding and surrounded by friends and family;
  • The ability to practice yoga and Pilates regularly;
  • Spending time with my dad on his newly built deck;
  • Becoming a member of the American Club in Hong Kong, where I met wonderful people that helped keep me somewhat sane during my 3 years on the island;
  • Growing tomatoes from seed that actually produced fruit;
  • Backpacking through Europe at the age of 19, feeling empowered to travel on my own when my colleagues had other plans;
  • Sitting on the flight deck with the pilot and first officer on 2 Qantas Airlines - including while landing at night over the Hong Kong harbor at the old Kai Tak Airport;
  • Cashmere sweaters;
  • Classical music;
  • Pearls; 18K Gold Jewelry; 
  • The plays I've seen, concerts I've attended, places I've traveled, people I've met, pets that shared unconditional love, planes that took off and landed safely, museums filled with the art of the ages;
Just looking at this incomplete list of things for which I feel gratitude fills me with wonder. Try it. Make a list of things for which your are grateful. Living with an attitude of gratitude will change your life. It surely changed mine.

Monday, September 9, 2019

What Happened To My Nails?

Really! In my youth I had fingernails of iron! I could use them as a screwdriver! What the hell happened? Overnight Iwent from nails of iron to paper thin nails that cannot support a manicure for a week! My diet is sufficient. What happened? I used to look at my mom with suspicion when she reported deficient nails. How could that be? What changed?

It happened slowly, without notice. Suddenly, I was blindsided by the change. Jello stopped  working!

My nails are flimsy, prone to ridges, cracks & unanticipated fissures. Emory boards do not help. Not one of the tools of the trade provide guidance. Instead, evidence suggests that I am doomed to 35 years of thin, challenged, short, ridged nails that will require professional assistance moving forward.

There must be a way to avoid gel solutions or acrylic tips which make it all worse. Any suggestions!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Skin Care for Women of a Certain Age

Since 4th Grade I’ve experienced challenges with sensitive or acne prone skin. I truly never imaged that at age 60 I would still be dealing with breakoutsand dermatitis. Consequently, I’ve been searching for the Holy Grail skin care products throughout adulthood. During my late 20’s and 30’s I used Retin A, which I was fortunate enough to buy over the counter in Hong Kong for $15 per tube. When my ability to tap that resource disappeared, my options reverted to prescription products or cosmetic grade retinol products.

Over the years I’ve tried and discarded more premium skin care products than I can recall. Most were in effective. A few caused inflammation. I have a subscription to a local spa; however, overall I gain my holistic benefit from massage therapy than a facial.

Internet research led me to Emminence Organic Skin Care. https://eminenceorganics.com/us
I was impressed by the testimonials from customers with similar skin care challenges and the option to purchase samples to try before committing to a full size product. The products are not sold directly. Instead I was able to purchase from https://www.dermstore.com/. I’ve become a convert of this amazing line of natural products that feel terrific and smell divine in addition to doing what the products claim to do.  There is a great article in Allure about Emminence.

These are the products I’ve tried and love: