They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today is my birthday. Thank you, thank you, oh, you are too kind. I wish you a Happy Birthday too, whenever that is. Birthdays make me smile. I am privileged to share a birthday with my twin sister, and we can sing the Beatle’s birthday song to each other and it still makes sense. Not many people can do that.

I look forward to every birthday in our house. Although covid put a damper on what we can do to celebrate, there is still an anticipation, still a sense that the day should be special somehow. Typically the birthday recipient picks a special meal and dessert, which I seriously look forward to, almost to a fault. I have to admit, if I didn’t get a special meal, I would be disappointed, maybe act out, maybe do something crazy like stick a candle into a tub of peanut butter and threaten to eat it. But I won’t have to do that today. Today we’ll get a variety package from our local barbeque joint which has curbside pickup and memorably good pulled pork and cornbread. I’ll be making a chocolate mousse pie with my youngest daughter today too. I’m so happy!

For birthdays, we also pull out a fun birthday inflatable cupcake, a gift from a dear friend when we lived in Indiana (Hi, Judy!). It’s become a part of our tradition. I woke up this morning and my oldest had gotten up before me and had it up in the living room to brighten my day. The inflatable has been a prop for many birthday photos, although yearly pictures with the kids growing up are much better than yearly pictures of myself, which would only document how much grayer I’m getting and how much more stubborn I am not to dye my hair. Yet.

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Resilience . . . are you there?

I felt the need recently to look up the word resilience. I had several reasons for wanting to do this. The American Psychological Association’s website has a page on “Building your resilience,” and they define resilience and give advice on how to strengthen it. We are probably all vaguely familiar with the term—it’s being able to get through adversity, stress, or trauma, and come out of it on the other side a stronger person. It helps us grow as individuals, grow in wisdom, spirituality, improve physically, mentally, emotionally. Resilience cannot be developed without going through those hard times. It’s one of those virtues that has to be tested. Like patience. You can’t have patience unless you actually use it. Darn it!

Similarly, with resilience, if we never experience adversity, especially while growing up, we would not have it. We would have no use for it. Resilience is only achieved by going through.

Interestingly, we value resilience in our heroes, role models, news stories, friends and family, but it’s not something we necessarily seek for ourselves because, let’s face it, you have to go through crap to build it. We are naturally trying to do things to avoid the stress, adversity, trauma, and hardships of life.

But . . .

We are all human and we are all living the human experience, which means we face adversity. We must expect it. God even promised it in John 16:33. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I felt the need to use the King James version. It’s been a while since I’ve used the word “ye.”

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Fiction at a Time Like This?

Did you ever have that one project or dream that you just can’t seem to get the time to do? Or some other limitation has prevented you from getting to it (like, say, a pandemic?!?!). And every time you do think about it, it’s so far from what you wanted it to be by this point that it’s easier to just kick it down the road again than to deal with it?

This year has been the perfect setup for this kind of stuff to happen.

Since I haven’t written on this blog for a while, you can probably guess what my disappointment has been: writing. Writing and I have a complicated relationship. I tend to wait to write fiction only if certain conditions are met:

  1. Quiet house
  2. Chores done
  3. Workout completed
  4. Big chunk of time available
  5. Motivated

The pandemic blasted through the previously quiet, generally clean house like a storm that won’t settled down. Honest to goodness, I never imagined the kids would be out of school and doing virtual schooling for this long. Remember at the beginning of this virus era when we thought it would end after a few weeks, then a month or so, then maybe by summer? I don’t even want to look for the light at the end of the tunnel anymore; I’m sick of false hopes.

In October, I started a nonfiction nursing blog for lots of reasons, and it’s been what I write lately. It’s also a safe(ish) subject, with some exceptions. On Facebook, I posted about the virus transmission between people wearing masks and got a snide comment from what I assumed was a mask-protestor. Don’t even get me started. Last night when I left our little community hospital, the covid floor and the ICU were maxed out with positive patients. Mask protestors need a little field trip to their local hospital to see what they don’t want to see. But for the most part, the nursing blog is doing well. I got 44 followers, LOL. And even if only a few stragglers stop in to read my posts, I am learning things as I do my research and writing, and several times I’ve been able to provide additional education to my patients, coworkers, and student nurses. So this has been a bright spot for me.

With fiction however, what’s happened more this year is that feeling that “it doesn’t matter.” When there are such grave concerns going on personally or in the world–between the pandemic and people out of work and political messes and civil unrest, working on my story about a teenage actress who secretly hires a stunt double to do her kissing scene doesn’t seem relevant anymore. Writing about anything that touches the serious issues scares the crap out of me. I can’t even write a black or brown character into my stories without feeling like I’m going to be scrutinized and criticized for anything I make them say or do. Actually, I could probably get criticized for worrying about criticism. So what usually happens is . . . I don’t write. I give in to the fear. Then focus on the dishes.

But . . .

I do love buts 😉

But, we are getting to that brilliant time of year when we get to make New Year’s plans and resolutions, reshaping our goals and hoping for a better year. Dear Lord, next year needs to be better. And maybe, just maybe there will be something besides EKGs and dementia and anticholinergic medications to write about. Perhaps something magical will happen in 2021.

What about you, readers? Are you ready for a new year?

Mom Versus Tik Tok

This morning I set out to research what scientists and psychologists are saying about election anxiety, but I came across a very brief article from Fox News, “Viral Tik Tok challenge highlights stress, depression, anxiety test.” My immediate thought was: Oh my gosh, this has got to be the most ironic viral challenge there has ever been in the history of viral challenges. Has anyone else identified the irony yet?

One of the Gen Zs’ and Millennials’ greatest contributors of stress, depression, and anxiety–social media–is conducting a test on stress, depression, and anxiety with its users. The program behind #15minutes4me was designed (by doctors, we are told) to raise awareness of mental health disorders. As of Monday, 1.4 million people have taken the challenge. Results are shared by users, and they include a happy/staged/filtered photo. It’s supposed to give the message that you really don’t know what’s going on with someone because their online presence can be totally different than what they are feeling.

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To My Dying Houseplant

My dearest, humble houseplant, you must fight to live. You give so much to this family. Your gift provides us with life-sustaining oxygen. You keep us alive and healthy, and we are eternally grateful. You have a wonderful life here. You should have no complaints. You get to sit comfortably in the window, watching the birds and the trees and the nighttime moths fluttering at the glass. In the daytime, you get to feel the warmth of the sun and soak up its rays without getting sunburned. Your roots rest in the moist dirt, sipping water at a leisurely pace as though you’re relaxing poolside at a five star resort. (I posted a picture so you could see what a pool looks like since we don’t actually have one. And I got it off the computer because we don’t actually go to resorts either, but we can all appreciate the beauty of a nice swimming pool). Seriously, live it up! Let the water restore you. Let the sun refresh you. Truly, you must fight to stand upright again; fight to photosynthesize like you’ve never photosynthesized before; fight to restore your life of luxury and ease. We promise to keep you healthy. We promise we won’t forget to water you. We’ll even talk to you and breathe carbon dioxide on you. And you are so kind and unpretentious, you don’t care if we recently brushed our teeth. Listen to me. This is a matter of life and death. Don’t let death win, dear houseplant. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Just Keep Swimming

Most people would agree, this year just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

I feel like I am constantly changing, adapting, learning, and trying not to go crazy. And then there’s three girls in this house also changing, adapting, learning, and watching how Mom and Dad handle everything . . . no pressure.

Well, in an effort to curb one of my many fears, I ended up creating a brand new blog. You see, now that I am staying home with the kids during the week and only working Saturdays, one of my fears was losing nursing skills. Initially, I was trying to compensate by reading a nursing article here and there. Occasionally I would sign up for a free webinar about a nursing topic, like lipid-lowering pharmaceuticals or developing a robust medication-error reporting system. I even signed up for a webinar about Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSD). I mean, what? I thought LSD was Long, Slow, Distance (I learned that in high school cross country), or at least LSD meant the acid drug that makes you hallucinate. Apparently there’s such thing as Lysosomal Storage Disorders, which are extremely rare, like 1/40,000 people, and includes Fabry disease, Gaucher disease, and Pompe disease. Now I know much more than I will probably ever need to about LSD.

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It’s Worth a Reflection . . .

Yesterday I took my kids to Bristoe Station Battlefield Park in Bristow, VA. Yes, Bristoe and Bristow are both spelled correctly—don’t ask me why. As much of our historic sites around Northern Virginia, this was another site of major conflicts in the civil war. It was a strategic center of activity because of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad lines and its nearby source of water. Although I couldn’t rattle off all of the facts and figures of everything that happened at Bristoe, I can tell you that hundreds of soldiers died, and a lot of them from diseases that spread throughout the camps. They slept close together, stuffed into either tents or hastily built mud and lumber huts that offered no space or ventilation at all. They did not yet have a grasp on germ theory at the time; germ theory was more widely accepted in the 1890’s. According to ehistory.com, Harvard Medical School did not even have a microscope until after the Civil War. Soldiers didn’t know they needed to make sure waste, from people and horses, didn’t enter their drinking water. So it’s no wonder that 2/3 of the soldiers who died during the Civil War died from diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever, measles, small pox, malaria, pneumonia, and camp itch, which probably sounds as bad as it was.

Reflecting on history forces us to realize how much better things have gotten over the last 150 years, especially with regard to medicine. We may be in the middle of a modern-day pandemic (and it sucks!), but we would be appalled if our men and women in uniform were fighting a war for us and dying of diseases left and right, subject to inhuman conditions, no clean water, no FDA approved medications, limited anesthesia while their legs and arms were cut off, and unprepared doctors who only had two years of medical school (if that). And if these soldiers survived after being treated for diseases with whatever archaic meds were available at the time (opium, arsenic, etc), they were returned to duty as soon as possible, not able to quarantine or comfortably convalesce at home. Back to work, soldier. Continue reading

The Pros of Virtual School

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged, and I have several excuses, terribly boring to anyone outside my head. But now that school is back in session, I have collected a few thoughts that I wanted to share. To understand this list, you should know that I have three wonderful girls, ages 16, 13, and almost 10. We are doing 100% virtual schooling this year, which in this county equals instruction Mon, Tue, Thur, and Fri. With one kid in high school, one in middle school, one in elementary school, none of their schedules are exactly matched, which is why I have a super spectacular, beautiful, color-coded, organized, somewhat overwhelming, starting to give me a headache spreadsheet with all the schedules laid out, including mine with all my tasks and goals, which I haven’t followed at all, but the intent is there. At least I have good intentions.

To celebrate one week of school accomplished, I have come up with my Top Five Pros of Virtual Schooling!

(Wisdom gained over one week, therefore subject to evolve)

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