Coronavirus vs. Fire Evacuation

Last October, we were under mandatory evacuation orders due to the Kincade Fire.  Despite this, we decided to stay put as the fire was (and remained) miles away.

The current Coronavirus “shelter in place” order again has us “hunkering down.”  In many ways, it feels similar – life is suspended, things are definitely not normal and it feels like we’re all sitting around, waiting for something to happen.

However, at the moment, I can tell you that I far prefer this “stay put” order over hunkering down because of a raging fire.  Here’s why:

1. We have electricity.  At our house, since we’re on a well, that means we also have water.  Or, conversely, no electricity means no water.  Let me tell you, when you’re cooped up at home with your family, hot water and showers, or really. . . just water at all, means a whole lot.

2. The horses are at home.  While we chose to not evacuate during the Kincade Fire, we did, out of an abundance of caution, evacuate the horses to the fairgrounds. IMG_20191028_184504_199

The above picture is the herd, safe at the fairgrounds.  Having them at home gives us something to do and lends some structure to the day (they have to be fed twice a day, turned out, etc.).  The barn gives me a place to “escape” to and spending time with the horses gives my 14 year old daughter something to do.

3.  We can leave the property, even if it is just for “essentials”.  During the Kincade Fire, there were manned police barricades everywhere.  We were slightly concerned that if we left home, we wouldn’t be allowed back.  So, we didn’t leave our property.

4.  During the Kincade Fire, not only did we not leave the property, we didn’t really go outside.  Why?  Because the sky looked like this. 20191027_154541

So no walking the dog, no enjoying lunch outside . . . we were really stuck inside the house, again, without electricity or water.  So. Much. Fun.

5.  We’re not packed to leave at a moment’s notice.  During the Kincade Fire, everything we deemed “important” was packed into three of our cars (our 17 year old drives – 3 drivers; 3 cars).  Every night we’d get our suitcases out of the car, unpack our toothbrushes, etc.  Every morning, we’d zip those up and put them back in the car.  Kind of exhausting and a daily reminder that we might have to leave.  And that leaving might be for good.

6.  Coronavirus is an emergency but not quite in the same way.  We aren’t huddled around the scanner, listening to the police and fire traffic.  My husband and I aren’t up every two hours (the first night of the Kincade Fire we didn’t really sleep at all), listening to the wind, going outside to see if anything changed, monitoring our local radio station.  Fire has a whole different level of stress.

Our Shelter in Place order was issued on March 18.  So, we’re 13 days in.  I’m not sure there’s an end in sight.  That’s another difference . . . we knew the fire was eventually going to be put out; it wasn’t going to drag on for months and months.  When this ends is anyone’s guess.

I’m grateful that our lives have not been upended as much as some.  My husband’s work is considered “essential” so he’s still working, although it has slowed down a bit.  I am concerned about our long term financial picture but I’m not concerned about how we’re going to put food on the table.  And, again, there’s a whole lot to be said for electricity and water!

Take the First Step

Admittedly, I’m kind of floundering today.  Last night, I spent several hours in the ER with my 70+ year old Mom.  She had been in a relatively minor car accident but it was on the freeway and there were three cars involved, the police came, and she was pretty shook up.  She actually called my sister (she was closer to her house) from the freeway.  My dear sister showed up at the accident scene and told my Mom she was completely fine to drive herself home!!!  My sister didn’t even follow her to make sure she got home ok and was comfortably settled.  Mom lives alone.  So, later, when Mom thinks she should be checked out . . . who does she call?  Me.  And who sits with Mom at the ER with all the coughing, vomiting, sniffly people with fevers?  Me.  I don’t at all mind needing to take Mom to the ER.  I was easily able to find the kids a ride home from Scouts (we were on our way to Scouts when Mom called) so, really, it wasn’t an inconvenience.  I’m just mad at my sister for thinking it was ok for Mom to drive home alone.  And Mom’s like, “Oh, don’t get mad at her.  She’s just on a different wavelength than  you are.”  What???

Ok, ok, I’m digressing.

And Mom’s ok.  The x-rays and CT scan all checked out fine.

So its 11:00 and I’ve literally done nothing today besides turn the minis out and get sucked into Hay Day and Facebook.  I decided to write in my journal; that helps me clear my head and get on with my day sometimes.

It led me to again think about what I want to do work-wise.  I really want to build something of my own.  I have ideas for three different on-line businesses that I keep coming back to.  I think they’re good ideas.  People I’ve run them by also think they have potential.  I’ve done some brainstorming, made some lists, put some ideas down on paper.

So . . . now what?  Because of my spectacular history of not following through on my brilliant ideas, Husband isn’t going to be supportive of spending any money on these new bright ideas.  Realistically, I could likely get at least one or two of them off the ground without any money.

So . . . now what?  I keep coming back to these ideas, which tells me I should pay attention to them.  What’s stopping me?  I’m sort of at a place in life where I could launch something new, something that’s my very own thing.  I’m smart.  I can figure stuff out.

My brainstorming keeps coming up with problems . . .  What form would the final product be in?  How would I get paid (PayPal?)?  How much do I charge?  I can’t envision the entire project or process. But that led me to remember one of my favorite quotes (which I’m likely not quoting exactly):  Faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the entire staircase.

That’s the point I’m at . . . I can’t see the entire staircase.  But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take the first step.

The Power of Positive

Oh!  I wanted to write a whiny post yesterday.  O.k., I’ve had whiny posts running through my head all week.  I’ve been kind of down about my lack of a job.  Which led me to scroll through Craigslist and Indeed.  Which led me to getting more depressed.

And I haven’t accomplished as much as I had planned so far this week.  Yesterday afternoon I started to have negative thoughts running through my head.  It started with, “I’m not doing very well today.”

But wait!  Stop!!!  I promised myself I wasn’t going to go down the negative road.

So, while prepping dinner, I forced myself to list all the things I had accomplished.

First, I got up on time.  Maybe that sounds silly to list as an “accomplishment” but, hey, you gotta start somewhere.

I got the kids to school (mostly on time).

I trekked out in the near-dark to feed the horses.  I could have waited and fed them when I got back from taking the kids to school but my day goes better when I do it first thing.  Because then, I feel like I’ve done something.  And, it means I can turn them out earlier, which is good for them.

I got some work done on summer trip planning.

I had a difficult conversation with a client, which I had been putting off.  (I do some very, very part-time attorney work.)

And, there I was, at 3:30 in the afternoon, not only with a plan for dinner but actually doing some prep while I helped the 14 year old with homework.  And, I ran Roomba which got some of the dog fur off of the floor.

I felt better after reminding myself of those positive things.  I’m proud of myself for stopping the negative thought process.  It put me on a good path for today.

Positive thinking does work!  And its worth the effort.

 

How I Found Positive

As I said in my last post, I stopped writing for so long because I was tired of hearing myself whine.  I was in such a negative place – lots of negative self-talk, negative thinking, judgement, and criticism.

No more!

How did I turn things around?  Honestly, I had a good friend send me a very strongly worded email that kicked me in the butt.  And, through her example, I found my faith again.  (Don’t worry . . . not going to get all religious on you here.)

My good friend is VERY strong in her faith.  And me?  I grew up Catholic (Catholic school, mass every Sunday, etc.) but have not gone to church in ummmm . . . forever, and haven’t really thought much about it.  My kids are not baptized, which upset my mother greatly and, on some level, upsets me too.  I’m straying from my point . . .

(Wow, and I do seem to be fond of these three little dots . . . in my writing!)

So my friend writes me this email which basically says, “Suck it up, Buttercup.  God has a plan for you, God loves you and all this negativity is the devil talking.”  Really, that’s what it said in multiple paragraphs.  I was sort of stunned when I read it.  Had to read it a couple of times.  But it struck a chord for me.

I have other friends who are strong in their faith.  I’ve noticed over the years that there’s a serenity about them.  I’ve wished for the same.

So, I set out to change my mindset.  Whenever I felt my stress and / or anxiety rising, I found a quiet spot, took a deep breath, said a Hail Mary and asked for the strength to get through whatever I was facing.  Whenever I started being critical, I stopped and consciously made a decision to look for the good.  Every morning when I walk down my driveway in the near-dark from feeding the horses, I look up at the sky and thank God for the day we’re about to have, the opportunities it will bring us, the strength to face the difficult parts and for His protection.  It starts my day off in a positive mindset.

I settled on four words / intentions to focus on:

Gratitude:  I have A LOT to be thankful for but I’ve spent years only thinking about what I didn’t have.  I’m now stopping to be grateful for what I have.

Patience:  This is a super hard one for me.  I’m not patient with myself or others.  Now I remember to be kind to myself, that I’m doing a lot and that I can give myself some slack.  With others, I remember that they’re not being slow just to bother me; maybe they have an unseen reason for not being as quick as I want them to.

Love:  Often it seems like the world is a pretty angry place these days.  I do my best to not contribute to the anger and to, instead, spread some joy.  Smile at folks, give compliments, offer to help.

Faith:  I have to believe there’s a plan.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not using all of this as an excuse.  I’m not saying, “Oh well, I’m not being successful in my new private practice.  God must not want me to be an attorney.”  (I wish!)  I have to work to make positive things happen in my life.  Returning to my faith has just given me a framework for that and a method for staying focused and positive.

Honestly, this switch from negative to positive has been easier than I anticipated.  I think its because, when I feel myself drifting back towards the dark side, I have a set of tools I can use to immediately stop the negativity.

So, that’s what’s worked for me.  Mind you, I’ve only been at this a few weeks.  So far, its working.  And I have faith that its going to continue to work.

Need a Summer Re-Start

My kids have been out of school for less than a week.  Wait, is that really possible??  (Consulting calendar)  Yes . . . the youngest “graduated” from 8th grade a week ago today and the oldest finished up 10th grade last Thursday.  So we’re just one week into summer break.

And it hasn’t been an easy week.  I’d like to re-wind and start over.

The first weekend of summer (last weekend), we scheduled to have a few of my Scouts “camp” here so they could knock out a bunch of their cooking requirements.  By Saturday afternoon everyone was tired, crabby, hot, and definitely didn’t want to do their required cooking.  By 9:30 Saturday night, we had slogged through the cooking and a few other requirements and kids went home early.  But not before we had tears and me swearing I was done with Scoutmaster-ing.

However, it wound up being a great thing that kids went home early because Sunday morning, we were awoken by our beloved 6 year old, yellow Lab having a full-blown grand mal seizure.  It was terrible.  Absolutely awful and terrifying.  We were all hysterical.  Then, it got worse.  When he stopped seizing, he was completely disoriented, didn’t recognize any of us and became extremely aggressive.  He was snarling, growling, barking and definitely would have bitten.  We finally got him outside without anyone being bitten.  But having their best friend lunge at them sent my kids over the edge.  And left me wondering how on earth I was going to get my snarling dog in a crate and to the vet.

Thankfully, he returned to himself within about 15 minutes, let me put a leash on him, got in a crate (which he never, ever goes in) and off to the emergency vet we went.  Since then, he hasn’t had any more seizures.  We followed up with our regular vet yesterday and started medication, which he’ll have to have twice a day for the rest of his life.

The vet said that, should he have another seizure, the extreme aggressiveness will likely be his pattern.  So  now we have a “dog seizure protocol”.  Its been traumatic.

And finally, my oldest has decided to change Scout troops.  This decision has been building for a few weeks and it hasn’t been easy.  We’ve had a lot of conversations about it and last night, there were a lot of tears over it.

So, that’s been our first week of summer.  Fabulous, right?  I suppose it can only get better from here!

How Am I Going To Get Through This?

“This” is being unemployed.  And don’t read too much into the title of this post.  Its not a “How on earth am I going to get through this???” in a hysterical or depressed way.  Its more of a “Huh . . . what exactly am I going to do???”

Because, let’s face it, being unemployed with teenagers leaves a person with a whole lot of free time.  I have the sneaking suspicion that I need to structure my time and activities somehow.

My “Plan for the Day” spreadsheet is working to a point.  But since, for example, I just canceled my house cleaners, I need some scheduled housecleaning time.  My horses aren’t getting worked (again) so I need to schedule that.  I need to get my kids to do something productive this summer.  And, of course, I need to look for a job, which, according to my husband, should take up at least 4 hours of my day.

But how do you make these decisions in a vacuum?  Obviously, it doesn’t matter what day I clean the bathroom.  Looking for a job should likely take priority.  So that needs to be in the morning because otherwise, I promise you, my day will just roll on by and I’ll get involved in other, far more interesting, things.

This is hard!!!  And I don’t like it.  Not one little bit.

And what time do I get up in the morning??  During the school year, which ended yesterday, I have to roll out of bed by 6:30 at the latest to get my high schooler to school by 7:30.  I kind of loathe getting up early.  But now, the idea of having some quiet time to myself in the morning to get a few things done, is sort of appealing.  I could get up, have coffee, and do a good chunk of my 4 hours of job searching before the kids get up.  That would give me most of the day left for fun things.

Hmmm . . . that’s something to consider.

Scouts is on Wednesday, which makes the whole day feel compressed.  So maybe that’s a good day for housecleaning and not worry about getting other stuff done (besides the necessary job searching, of course).

But otherwise . . . well, I just don’t know.  I just know that I’d better come up with a plan.

Trying to Get My Week Together

Yep, its Friday and I’m still feeling like I’m just trying to get my week together.  Its been a week with a lot of interruptions . . . Mom-type things like orthodontic wires stabbing cheeks, sore teeth from braces tightening, “Mom, can my friend spend the night?”,  “Wait, no, I don’t want her to spend the night.”,  teenager studying for finals, blow-ups in my son’s Scout troop (for which I, happily, am not the Scoutmaster), and so on and so on.

On top of all this, we have our (last) annual swim party tomorrow, daughter’s 8th grade “promotion”, friend’s son’s high school graduation, Scout events at my house . . . it just seems to go on.

Sound familiar?

I’ve tried my best to get a few things done.  I signed up a new Scout for my troop of girls (Yay!!!).  I’ve written a few blog posts.  Mostly, I’m being gentle with  myself.  Not beating myself up for not getting more done.  Focusing on what I have accomplished versus what I have not.  Because, realistically, its all stuff that can be done next week (not that I’m advocating procrastination).  Everyone is healthy, clothed, fed, and gets to where they need to be mostly on time.  And that’s what’s important.

Its ok for me to take the time to write blog posts, sit here with my coffee and watch birds out the window and spend a few minutes too long scrolling through Facebook and looking for a horse to buy my daughter.

Yep, its ok.

20190531_084659