family, gratitude, health, health and wellness, live in the now, mindful

The Concept of Time in The Year 2020

My toddler son made a couple of big kid transitions during the past two months while sheltering at home. He outgrew his afternoon nap. He doesn’t need a stroller or anyone to carry him anymore during long neighborhood family walks.  

These milestones were never on the calendar, marked neatly in a box labeled with a specific date and time. They just happened. He definitely didn’t plan ahead for them either, (however, in the potty-training department, I wish he would). The attention span and thought pattern of a 3 year old probably doesn’t include the concept of what’s going to happen five minutes from now. When we attempt to tell him to wait because something is going to happen in two minutes, it’s sometimes a risky move; an invitation for a potential meltdown.   

With everything that has been going on in our world over the last months, thinking with a toddler mindset can be beneficial sometimes. Some of the most stressful moments that I’ve experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic stemmed from unproductive thoughts about something far into the future that I have no control over. It was either that, or I was looking back too far, sulking over silly things that I miss; ways of life and memories that are no longer a reality. 

Last year, when my father passed away, I wrote a post about looking to the future only ten days at a time, to help heal and grow through the grieving process. Now a new adjustment is necessary. Five minutes. The future that may exist in the next five minutes seems easy enough to handle, especially when the answers that I want aren’t there, and it may be quite a while until they come. 

It’s also a very grim and humbling experience to remember that so many people have fought until the end for the next, (or last) five minutes of their lives. Struggles and challenges have taken on such an intense and whole new meaning for everyone: health, life, food, finances, safety.  If a “struggle” involves not having an exact plan for something that is a non-emergency or non essential  situation, waiting for five minutes at a clip is good with me.

My son lives his life and makes his toddler moves based on what’s right there in front of him. He sometimes refers to the past using phrases such as “earlier” or  “last earlier”, when he wants to talk about something that may have occurred a week ago, or even pre-pandemic. At this point, many of us are questioning what day it is anyway, so making less references to the past could be a good thing.

The word “tomorrow” isn’t a high frequency word for my son yet either. Wouldn’t it be interesting to view life this way, even for a small chunk of the day? If tomorrow wasn’t on your radar, but the next five minutes of your future were guaranteed, how would you spend the time? I’m going to ask myself this question the next time I’m stuck in an unproductive thought or worry. Most likely that will be sometime tomorrow, being that today is Sunday. 

Until then…

How do you try to keep yourself focused on the present moment during a global pandemic?     

family, health, health and wellness, live in the now, travel

Free to Move About

Almost exactly one year ago today, I was about two-thirds of the way into a 12 hour flight to Beijing; the first stop on a family trip to Thailand. School was very much in session, so as a teacher and a mom, I had all the plans in place. I prepped for a 10 day substitute teacher for my third graders. I also made sure I followed the rules and guidelines to apply for and set up my daughter’s independent study for learning abroad while she was on vacation halfway around the world with her mom, grandmother, and extended family members. 

My husband and two-year-old son stayed home and held down the fort. My father was still alive. He stayed back too, mostly at peace with the ladies of his life embarking on this big life-changing travel adventure.

Now it’s March 18th, 2020. Since then, dad passed away nine months ago. Other family members and friends have also become ill or died. And of course, most recently, and unrelated to the loss of those loved ones and purely by strange coincidence, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

I’ve spent the last four days scrambling, collaborating with colleagues, and piecing together “remote learning” plans for another group of third graders who I’ve had to leave, this time with no real date of return, due to school closures. 

 Over the course of the last 365 days, my family and I have been through a journey of travel and grief; life changes, hope, and social distancing. I’ve lost track of how many versions of “The New Normal” I have lived through to this point since March of last year. 

I still bring myself back to that Air China flight from SFO to Beijing. I was scared and anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. Things that happened around me were already so different from what I was used to, and I hadn’t even set foot on new land yet. I had to adapt right then and there. 

Currently, I continue to move freely about this airplane cabin of life, confined to my own home, hours on end. Fear of the outside. New ways of navigating the interior, and forced to adapt. There’s nothing to do but make the most of the situation, meet basic human needs, find entertainment value in things, and keep the blood circulating. Eventually, I’m hoping that I and everyone else will land.             

A year ago, I had one of the most beautiful life experiences that ended up helping me through some of the most difficult ones down the road, and I am thankful everyday for that time in my life. Even though at one point I was anxious, and wasn’t sure it was going to end, I wouldn’t have gotten there without that long flight.

health, health and wellness

Fight or Flight

I am lucky enough to live in an area where you can catch some beautiful sunsets if you happen to be standing in a good spot at the right time. The day was coming to an end, and I was enjoying some time catching up with some teacher friends in the Industrial area of Benicia. We were sitting at a table in a building that was partially indoors. A big warehouse-sized garage door was opened all the way up and it overlooked the parking lot. Every now and then, I would glance outside from where I was sitting, and I would notice the natural lighting change slightly. It had been a beautiful sunny day, but I knew daylight was slowly disappearing as the minutes went on. I also knew that if you walked outside the door and walked to the right, you would see a beautiful view of Benicia, complete with the hills and water off into the distance.

Since I love to take pictures of scenery and landscapes using my phone, I announced to the group that I was going to go take a few photos of the view, since it wasn’t visible from where were at the moment. A friend joined me and we got up to walk across the parking lot to check it out.

With my phone in my hand, and my left foot still planted on the paved parking lot, I took a step with my right foot, slightly landing onto the very edge of a small bush. The next few moments all happened in a flash. I heard some movement from the bush, and then suddenly, I felt a sting on my leg slightly around the back of my knee. I looked down and saw the shape of an animal figure. At first glance, it looked like a dog, but then I realized it was not. It looked grey and white, and a bit small, but it was definitely a wild animal. I couldn’t quite remember what happened next, but the animal was no longer close to me. But my leg felt like it had a stinging ring around it.

My friend asked me something like, “What just happened? Did you just get bitten?… It was a coyote!”

Feeling the sensation of slight burning and throbbing, and just having heard my friend’s statement, I looked down at my leg, and I noticed two very small spots of dark blood showing through my grey jeans. It was then that I realized that yes, an animal just bit me, and I had to take action right away. Other people around me had confirmed that it was a small coyote.

I was rushed home, and then proceeded to take a quick look at my leg. It was still slightly bleeding and I could still feel the sting, but luckily, I was feeling ok, and I was safe.I saw a very small triangular shaped wound on my skin, along with a scratch and bruise. This was definitely considered an urgent situation, so a family member got me to the hospital as soon as I could.

When it was all said and done, I got proper medical care, which included a series of tests, medicine, and shots to make sure I didn’t catch a disease from the animal. The doctors and nurses, as well as my friends and family were shocked and amazed at what had happened. I was told that I was brave and calm. This particular coyote was also apparently feeling brave, and bold. Some people think it was protecting its young. I’m just glad it wasn’t feeling courageous enough to stick around for any longer. Now I know to be super cautious at the edge of any outdoor open spaces, and to be aware of wildlife that may be situated close by any shrubbery. It may be the right time and place for a photo, but the local wild animals may have other plans.   

balance, health, health and wellness, mindful, working mom

Sunday Scaries: Holiday Edition

I feel like I have successfully achieved the ultimate level of fun on the weekends during this holiday season so far. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy time with the family, have a couple nights out on the town, and find time to catch-up sessions with old friends and other mommies. I’m truly grateful for everyone in my life, and the fun experiences I get to share with all of them, weather it be time at the movies, or an evening at a super packed dive bar that smells like a porta potty.   

So of course, I’m completely exhausted. At times, I become stressed beyond words when I stop and really think about the behind-the-scenes coordinating, problem solving, and decision making that is necessary to enjoy the holidays. Outfit planning, Amazon Prime purchases, and Uber coordination are time consuming. The journey across town into Vallejo to pick up lumpia for the staff  holiday party was a multistep process, but it was definitely worth it.

So this morning I woke up anxious and irritable. I’m sure it’s because experiencing the Sunday Scaries is a real thing, but I finally owned up to it and I was honest with myself. I’m completely overwhelmed. There is so much going on all the time, and I’m even finding myself only “half listening” to people more often than I prefer. Sorry guys!

There are 5 school days left before break. They’re going to be challenging. Then, as soon as that’s over, the family and I are packing up our vehicle the next day to enjoy Christmas in Lake Tahoe for an undetermined amount of time. I actually woke up feeling very stressed about the logistics of it all.

After a full acknowledgement of the stress levels and remembering the mental terms and agreements checkbox that I said yes to at the start of the holiday season, I finally put myself in check. I get to experience all of this. Figuring out how to transport an Elf on The Shelf in a plastic jar (with breathing holes) up to Tahoe is a first world problem. Gathering snow gear and coordinating ski lessons for my daughter? Same. Any angst related to my job and my workplace is just that. I have a job. I have the opportunity to work, learn, and yes, pay those darn bills.

Remembering to be grateful  saved me again. It’s easy to lose site of it all when stopping to look at the big picture is put on the backburner. The game plan for this week is to fire up the Yule Log of thanks whenever things get sketchy and stressful. I should probably also set another goal and make sure that I fully listen to whoever is talking to me at the moment. Inner thoughts about Elf on the Shelf can wait.


Until then,

How do you maintain balance during the chaos of the holidays? What are you thankful for?

 

 

balance, health, mindful

Small Business Hero

I returned to my old neighborhood yesterday. Todos Santos Plaza is located in Downtown Concord, California. It is always an interesting place to spend your time. You can hear BART whiz by. You can experience real metropolitan traffic complete with one way streets and the thrill of the hunt for suitable parking. It offers a nice mix of fun little restaurants, a huge Farmer’s Market twice a week, and yes, sketchy characters and transients. The bums are top notch, and they are wanderers who flail around and stop to yell and speak their minds.  

It was so perfect that the belligerent bum who was yelling obscenities into the street was yards away from me after I pulled out a bunch of cash from the ATM for my hair appointment. I went into stealth mode and entered my car through the passenger side just to keep things exciting. If the kids were with me, the choreography wouldn’t have been as smooth.

I decided to go back to the hole-in-the-wall hair salon and visit Tammy again after almost three years. Tammy is an amazing lady. I feel ashamed that I even attempted to get a haircut or color service by anyone else. I tried my mom’s hair salon (also another hole in the wall), but the owner of that establishment is known to leave customers alone, stranded with the foils in their hair while she goes to “Pick up her daughter real quick”. Mom enjoyed that.

I’ve gone to the high-end pretentious salons that have fancy vacuum systems to get rid of fallen hair very soon after they are detached from the client’s head and are not really anything to write home about when it’s all said and done. Tammy doesn’t pretend. Tammy doesn’t leave her customers alone in the shop. Tammy tells me, “I’ll take care of you, Hon. It’s been long time. But I remember you”.

Shortly after my arrival, she wrestled with the overgrown potted plant that took up a corner of the salon and also blocked part of her price list. She made this effort  just so I could be comfortable in the chair. After a brief consultation, she set me up, and she went to work with the color. I cozied up with my book and occasional wandering eyes.

KB Hair and Nail Salon is Small Business LEGIT. The random 50 gallon fish tank. The Holy Mother Mary. The other two clients in the salon getting a perm and debriefing about Thanksgiving. They were Golden Girls-esque. The gossip. The concrete brick walls that lacked any color and the exposed pipe. Haphazard wires connected a flat screen TV to the wall. A college football game was on, but no one was really paying attention.

To add to the amazing ambiance, the same belligerent bum that I’d encountered earlier even came by! The door was wide open due to the perm fumes, so we got to experience belligerent bum full force at maximum volume. Tammy just responded with, “He knows not to go into people’s shops”. Again, she took care of me. She made me feel safe. Later on, she told me a story about her son that melted my heart and made me think about my future 14-year old son who is now currently 20 months old.  

My hair turned out fabulous (by my standards), and I only paid $75 for cut and color. She made my hair soft and pretty again. After I squared up my payment, she asked me to write my name down on an index card so she can start a file for me about my future color treatments. I appreciated this low-tech method of getting to know her clients.      

Now I truly know the meaning behind Small Business Saturday. The proud owners of small businesses put their heart and their lives into their jobs. They do what it takes to make real connections to customers and clients. Tammy is my Un-Fancy hero. She is the reason that I will go back and visit downtown Concord every 8-10 weeks. Thank you Tammy. Thank you, Small Businesses. The world is full of expectation, comparison, and suffering about it all. The magic of a small business can help keep it all balanced.

Now, as a consumer I have #smallbusiness goals in mind. 


Until then…

What are your favorite small businesses? 


KB Hair and Nail Salon 

Todos Santos Plaza 

balance, declutter, health, health and wellness, mindful, working mom

I Remembered. I forgot.

I Remembered:

to schedule the county health dental presentation

8:15 morning yard duty

to clean the house for the birthday party

to eat breakfast (in the car)

to turn in the time sheet

to make the copies

to buy the milk

the day my daughter was born 8 years ago

to drink water at recess

to say, “Thank You”


I Forgot:

to wash the swimsuits for swim team day

to sign the reading log

to throw away the pee pee diaper

to say,  “Happy Birthday” to a colleague

to go to the bathroom at recess

to gas up the car

to send the email

to speak up

the laptop charger

deodorant for the weekend getaway

to stop and take a breath



I’ll remember more things this week, and I’ll forget a lot too. I’ll receive kudos, and I’ll receive naughty note reminders.

 

Until then,

All that matters is right now. Sometimes that is the hardest thing for me to remember.

balance, health, mindful, working mom

Red Light Realization

I received an early birthday gift this weekend. On Saturday afternoon while my daughter and I were running errands, we were in the middle of a classic, long-winded, captive audience car conversation. The long winded one was me of course, and the captive one in the backseat had to listen to mommy instead of Spotify for this ride. We were discussing the age differences between various members of our immediate and extended family. I proceeded to tell her that I’m turning 39 in
4 weeks.

Then by some coincidental timing on the roadway, and a wonderful opportunity to be silly, my daughter decided to make the most out of reading the “SPEED LIMIT 40” sign in the most dramatic voice possible. We both cracked up.

I slowed to a stop at the next red light and then I realized something. I’m not turning 39. I’m turning 38. YES. HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

bday wish
We caught some “wishes” during our family walk later on that evening. 

My slight miscalculation brought on some relief, excitement, and a little bit of embarrassment. Am I obsessing over turning the big 4-0 in a couple of years? Maybe. And maybe I should download an app for an accurate countdown.

The truth is, I have encountered a few “reality check” moments and close-to-home realizations over the last week or so that have been exciting, humbling, sad, and scary. Health, wellness, and the opportunity to travel and achieve life goals translates differently in your late 30’s as compared to living life in your early 20’s. At least it has for me. I feel like I finally “get it” with a lot of things in life. But then again, I probably don’t. Either way, all I can do is choose how I react to upcoming events, whether I’m ready for them or not. It’s a good thing I’m not ready to be 39 yet.

Until then,

T minus 3 and a half weeks-ish until the big 3-8. How should I celebrate? What does turning 40 mean to you?