Showing posts with label Grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grief. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2020

Perspective Adjustment - Nature Heals Us

Friday, May 8, 2020

I am grateful for nature.  There are few things that raise my spririt up more than seeing something rare in nature and soaking up a beautiful day.   Especially if I have someone with whom to share the experience.

So I am going to tell you all about my totally awesome day I had recently.

I am also grateful for wonderful neighbors and friends that lift my spirits and sometimes they help me move heavy furniture, loan a tool or volunteer to assist with something.

I will tell you all about THAT too.  But first I need to talk a bit to those folks in the future who will be reading this and wondering what is going on in the world at this time.

We Are Living at the Beginning of COVID-19

Historical Perspective 2020

It is easy for us baby-boomers who have lived most of our lives with freedom of movement and freedom to express our opinions to fall into a self-pity party during this time.  We have lived in a period of economic growth for most of our lives.

When I feel my four-year old inner self start to whine, I think of these facts that were shared on Facebook recently.

We have been into the shutter-in-place only a few months.  
Japanese internment -- 1 year
Holocaust -- 4 years
Great Depression -- 10 years
American Slavery -- 246 years

Skip this section if you are currently living through this COVID-19 thing.  I am writing this section to give the future readers of this blog a look into what is happening around me.

This COVID-19 lock-down, shutter-in-place, safer-at-home isn't so hard on me because I am retired and in Florida where I can get outside everyday.  I can chat with neighbors and friends outside at a distance.   My income (for now) is safe.  I understand the stock market goes up and down and as long as I don't have to sell right now, I am fine.

I am very grateful to be where I am at.

For those in rural or colder climates it isn't so easy.   It isn't as easy to socialize at a distance.  Though people are using the phone and internet to have conversations and keep in touch.  In the colder climates it isn't as easy to get out in nature.

For those in urban areas without nature and with more strict lock-downs it has got to be incredibly hard.  Imagine being without work and locked up in an apartment for weeks, months! Not as bad as Ann Frank and the many Jews and others forced into hiding for years during the Holocaust.  Not as bad as slaves who were forced to hide in fear for their lives. 

We really don't have it so bad.  It is just taking some adjustment... and we like to complain.

And we worry about those that didn't have any savings to cushion them when this hit.

There are many, many workers and business owners that were struggling before this all hit.  I know of a coffee shop and a restaurant that had just opened in Inverness a few weeks before the shutdown.  All that initial investment and planning and work.  Now they may not be able to open their business again.   Some restaurants may not be able to make it with the new spacing requirements of six feet between customers.  Things are going to be different for a while.

And will the spacing be enough?  This article explains that indoors even at six feet for long periods of time can be enough to spread the disease.

Millions of American workers who have lost their jobs or fallen even further behind in their bills.   Even with the states slowly opening their economies again, so many of us will be afraid to go to restaurants and bars due to the threat of infection.  Then of course many won't be shopping like we were because of the unpredictable nature of the economy.  Which isn't all bad.

Sometimes I think that even with all that it wouldn't be so dang stressful if we didn't have social media making it easy to toss around conspiracy theories and fuel the us-vs-them mentality.  People are protesting the closing of the businesses and schools.  Some say the virus is a hoax and they don't practice social distancing, they don't wear face masks.

My neighbor told me she went to the grocery store and even with all the signs and the precautions and the education there were so many people not wearing masks, not kind enough to care if they were unknowingly spreading the disease.  When my neighbor was done shopping, she went into her car and cried.  (You see when you catch the disease you may not have any symptoms but will be spreading it through the air when you talk, breath, laugh, cough, sneeze, and even fart.  If you have pants on, it is like wearing a mask on your butt.  Or you could think of a mask as wearing pants on your face so all the crap doesn't spill out and get on other people.)

They say that the numbers aren't as bad as they predicted. Of course the numbers aren't as bad as originally projected, because we are staying home, social distancing, and shutting down.  They would be so much worse if we weren't doing that.

And now, wearing of a mask is being politicized.  This virus doesn't care if you are Democrat or Republican, Socialist, or Skin Head, old or young.  But some don't believe the virus is real, or don't believe they or anyone they know and love can get it, or they just want to say, "screw you" to the world.

Supplies for keeping our hands and surfaces clean went out of stock in early March.  I have been hunting for rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer on line and every time I enter a store.  I had heard that this flea-market style store had some.  So I stopped there on one of my bike rides.

They had a big bottle of 80% alcohol for sanitizing. 

When I went to check out, the clerk told me the price was $28.  Wow.  A small bottle (maybe 8 oz) used to be around one dollar.  Now, with the shortage....  She said that a brewery made the stuff.  And it wasn't so much a shortage of the alcohol but there was a shortage of the plastic bottles which used to come from China.  Now we aren't letting stuff come from China because the disease started in Wuhan, China and for other political reasons.

So this is what my kitchen counter looks like with all my sanitation supplies.

The bottle with the black label is the 80% alcohol that I bought for $28.  It doesn't smell like rubbing alcohol.  It smells like... high proof, low quality booze.  It makes me nautious to use it.  Fortunately it evaporates quickly.  I hope I don't smell like an alcoholic.

I rinse out the wipes and put them in a container and pour the alcohol on them to get wipes that work fast on germs.  I also have a container with wipes and bleach water.  When I got out I either take a baggie of alcohol wipes or the bottle of hand sanitizer.

It is hard to believe we are at the beginning of this COVID pandemic.  Those of us living in it just keep thinking it will be over soon.  Certainly we can't keep the economy closed for much longer.  There are some promising things on the horizon for vaccines and treatments. Maybe this won't take the full 18 months to two years that the disease experts first predicted.

I hope you skipped this section if you are currently living through this Pandemic.  You didn't need to be reminded of all that.  It didn't tell you anything new and added to your stress.  Sorry!  I warned you, didn't I?

But hang in there, because the next sections are more up-beat.  I promise you.

New Beginnings and Hope

Amsterdam has announced that they are planning to rebuild after COVID in a different way.  Instead of measuring themselves by their GDP they are going to use other measurements that include health, well-being, the environment, and more.  They call it the donut.  Trying to balance between economic well-being and human and environmental wellness.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have many people and countries learn from this time and re-adjust?   

Speaking of hope and changes that could come from this down-time...  There is a cute video out by TomFoolery of a man reading a story book to his son THE GREAT REALIZATION: Hind-site 2020.

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I biked down to feed the goats on my own.  On my way back I got a call from my friend, Kathi.  She had just traveled from her Florida home to her Wisconsin home in her sister's RV.  She said she had very little if any exposure to the outside world on their trip except to get gas and walk around outside.

I was telling her that some rural communities that usually are full of tourists in the summer in Northern Wisconsin are asking people to stay away this year.  I told her I was hesitating about going to Northern Wisconsin for the summer in my WeeRoll.   I don't want to be the one to drag COVID up through the country.

Kathi listened to my reasons why I wanted to go and she advised me to go.  Time with my sister is important and especially if I follow the guidelines for social distancing and cleaning my hands often, I should be OK to go.

It Has Been Two Years Since George

I was riding with friends when one of them asked me if it was two years ago in May that George passed.  I had to think about it.  Sure enough, he died May 20, 2018. 

That thought got me thinking.  My house-mate, Carolyn, left to go to her home in South Dakota and the master bedroom was free.  I should be ready to move back into the room.  I had moved out because the only place for the queen bed was the same place it was when George died.  Since it takes energy to keep my brain from ruminating on those last days, I have just avoided spending a lot of time in the room.

Instead of changing to a smaller bed and rearranging the room, I was using the excuse that I didn't want to buy a new bed and get rid of a perfectly fine queen bed. So I would just keep the room in that arrangement and not sleep there.  Instead I was sleeping upstairs.

But now it is two years and my neighbor, Jerry, offered to help me move the bed out. (I don't think he comprehended how heavy it was.) 

That very evening that he made the offer to help, I disassembled the bed.

I moved the cot in that I had purchased for the Weeroll camper.


I tried sleeping on the cot that night.  And I slept well!!!

The next day Jerry came and helped me move the big bed into the garage.  Then we took the couch from the den and moved it into the master.  After he left I pushed the couch to different locations.

The whole process wasn't without shedding a few tears, but now I am back in the Master bedroom and I am liking the extra floor space and the simplicity of the space.

In fact, moving the couch out of the den gave me more space in there too.  It is cleaner, less cluttered, I like it!

Preparing the WeeRoll

When I started this post, I mentioned being blessed with neighbors and friends that continue to help me out.

One day I arranged for neighbors Dave and Craig to help me move the mini fridge from my kitchen into the Weeroll.  I was proud of myself for backing up the Weeroll into my driveway without taking out any bushes or buildings.

 It took two minutes for Dave and Craig to get the fridge into the trailer.  Then I proceeded to set up my cot and use the D-rings and some straps to hold things in place.

Cindy and Regis stopped by while the Weeroll was in the driveway.  Cindy had volunteered to sew curtains for the trailer before I bought it.   She wanted to look at it and measure the windows again.

She had volunteered to make the curtains when I was debating about buying the trailer. 

I was whining over the work I would have to do after I got the trailer.  Making curtains seemed overwhelming to me.  Cindy took away that pressure by saying she would make them.   I don't think she really expected me to take her up on the offer.  Ha ha.   Thank you, Cindy! 

We are not allowed to keep our trailers parked in our driveways.  So that evening I was driving the Weeroll back to the storage area when I encountered a neighbor who had questions about the Weeroll.  Somewhere in the conversation I told him I was planning on removing the back seat in my minivan.  It has the stow-n-go seats so if I remove the seats I will be removing weight and have a nice pocket for storing things when I travel. 

The dilemma, I told him, was I needed to cover the pocket with something so I can roll my trike in and out.  He offered his experience doing that same thing with his van and his table saw!  Cool! 

Sometimes I think it might be all of you readers saying prayers for me and sending love and good thoughts that brings all these wonderful blessings my way.  Thank you!

Stuffing the Weeroll

I should be at an age where I don't need more STUFF.  In fact I am trying to get rid of stuff.  (I am happy to announce that I put the queen bed up on Facebook Marketplace and sold it in a day... for $80.) 

But it seems the more I get for the Weeroll the more I seem to need for the Weeroll.  It was time to get a mini microwave that I would place on top of the fridge when camping.

During this time of shuttering in place I shouldn't be going out shopping.  But ... well, the article on risks says that it isn't the brief encounters during shopping that will spread the virus (as long as you wash your hands and don't touch your face and no one sneezes or coughs on you and you wear a mask in case you cough or sneeze...).

On a Sunday morning early, I drove to Walmart.

I wore my mask and took my wipes.  The Walmart greeter presented me with a rose... and said, "Happy Mother's Day".  Oh!  "It's Mother's Day!". 

The rose was kind of orange... George's color, perfect.  My sister said later, "Awww, that was George sending you a sign and wishing you a Happy Mother's Day."

The shelf with the small microwaves was empty.  The clerk said the parts are made in China and so the supplier is tooling up elsewhere.  It will be about seven weeks before the microwaves start arriving again.

As I shopped for other items, I kept encountering a robot used to sweep the floors.  I don't think it can completely replace humans.... it doesn't get into the edges or the corners.

I tried to think of somewhere else in town I could check for a microwave.  But they were all big-box stores. 

Later I ordered one from Amazon.  Sigh.  So much for supporting the local economy!

A Totally Awesome Day

We have had a few cooler days here in May.  I decided I wanted to go do the Van Fleet Trail.  That trail can be really hot since it goes through the Green Swamp and has areas without tree cover.   Thank goodness that Debra said she would go to.  It is so much more fun to share with a friend.

We left Inverness in our separate cars at 7:30 a.m.   By the time we got there we were already having an awesome day.  While traveling down Hwy 48 we had to stop three times for animals in the road.

  1. A family of sandhill cranes
  2. A peacock
  3. Two brown cows that started kicking when I honked my horn.
When we started our ride it was even cool enough to wear a light jacket.

We road from Mabel (the northern terminus) to Green Pond Road.  It was almost 40 miles round trip.

There is a section on the trail with three bridges.  We stop at the bridges to see if we can see any gator or turtles in the water below.

As we approached the second bridge I saw a lot of large white birds.  When I stopped to look I saw the water was boiling with fish. 

There was Ibis and Woodstorks and Egrets wading in the waters and up in the trees and bushes.

And there was a huge gator just laying there among them.

Debra and I stayed there a long time watching.

At one point I looked down and saw the bushes were white below me.  Then plop!  I said, "Shit!". 

Debra and I kept saying that the weather was perfect, the sky so blue.  We had a lovely time and did almost 40 miles. 

And the experience was so much more because I got to share it with someone.  Thank you, Debra!

When I started heading home I went through a love-bug storm.  These bugs seem to always be mating in flight.  Their guts are acidic and it will eat the paint off your car.

I finished off my totally awesome day by washing my car.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Thought Switching, Fundraising, Book Launching

 It is Tuesday, October 29, 2019 and my mind and body are all over the place.

Before I get into what I have been up to, I want to share a statistic put out by the Associated Press.  

More than five million people
in the United States
have Alzheimer's Disease.
We have just over 329 million people in the USA.  So five million is a lot, but it is less than two percent of the population.

Now that figure doesn't tell us how many have dementia.  Remember that dementia is the set of symptoms.  You can think of dementia as the umbrella of symptoms.  Under those symptoms are many reasons, diagnoses, or folders.   Debbie Selsalvage says the folder under the umbrella with the most papers in it (people or cases) is Alzheimer's Disease.  

There are many, many causes of dementia symptoms.  Some of them are curable.  That is why it is good to get to the doctor if you or a loved one is showing symptoms.  Sometimes it is just a vitamin deficiency, a tumor, or a medication side affect.  

Speaking of Debbie Selsalvage, she is part of a fundraising effort for Dementia Education happening at the restaurant that I go to with my bike group every Saturday morning.

I am donating 10 paperback copies of Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.  I deliver them tomorrow when I go to buy my ticket(s).   I don't know if they will have a drawing and give them away or if they will sell them to raise more funds.

I haven't decided if I am buying more than one ticket.  I can think of a lot of people I would like to invite to go with me.  If you want to go and want me to pick up tickets for you, let me know.  I could meet you out front by the rooster.   


I am not over it....  
What? you may ask.
The day George died.

Notice I didn't say, being a widow or missing George or George not being here.

I mean I think of those things and I am adjusting, but the biggest effort (and I talked with others who have this symptom) is getting my mind to not mull over the last days.  Some widows have lived wonderfully with their spouse for 50 years or more and still their thoughts loop and loop over the last weeks, days, hours.

Today I was having a busy and great day.  It still is a busy and great day.  At 6 p.m. after a warm and sweaty and active day I decided I needed to shower.  I showered just fine in the master bath.  

Afterward, on my way walking through the master bedroom I remembered him lying on the floor there unable to move.   I quickly made the effort to change the subject in my mind.  I don't need to go there again.  We had 41 years of memories.  I don't need to replay that one.

I do well with the mind switch.  Right after he passed, the thoughts looped obsessively.  It is like a worry loop only looking at the past instead of the future.  I was trying to think of what I could have done differently in those last hours.  I think this might be a traumatic-event symptom of the brain.

I had to make the effort to stop those thoughts.  Logically I told myself I was a loving wife and cared for him well.  I could continue to torture myself with those images and thoughts or I could re-direct to something more positive. 

In my long life I have read and practiced positive thinking and thought re-direction.  So I created a fun image that I could think about whenever I caught myself heading down that same thought path. 

Want to know the image I created?  Doesn't really matter, just make up an image or remember a nice one from the past.  Something that gets you to smile... puppies playing, babies laughing, a pretty scene.

OK, twist my arm!  I will tell you the image I created.  I call her Bertha.  She is a large busty woman in a low-cut, tight-fitting, teal gown with glittery sequins.  She is leaning toward me and shaking her finger at me and saying, "Oh no, girl!  You ain't goin' there!"

So Bertha and I interupted my thought loop again and again and again.  Now the switch happens so often and so fast that it takes less effort.  And sometimes it doesn't even take Bertha!  But it still takes a little effort.


I don't sleep in the master bedroom yet. I sleep upstairs.  As we fall asleep we relax, our guard falls away.

Shortly after George passed, I slept in the master bedroom with no problem.  I slept on the floor in a different part of the room.  That was when there was not a bed in the room... just fresh carpet and paint.

When the bed was put back into the room, it had to be placed in the same location.  It is a different bed, but it is the same size and the only wall it fits on is the location it was in that last day.

It has been well over a year since George has passed. It still takes effort.

I wanted to share that experience in case anyone out there is experiencing the guilt, the what-ifs, the horrible images of a trauma.  If you want Bertha, she's available.


 OK, now for the mind and body all over the place stuff.

Audio Book

I have approved and submitted the first audio book, Alzheimer's Trippin' with George, to Amazons audio book division (   As I have told you before the narrator, Robin Siegerman, added so much fun to the book!  She is great!  Did you listen to the sample yet?

ACX said it takes 14 business days to go through a book and if there are no problems they release it.  Only it seems like this has been so much longer than 14 days.  I keep checking to see if it is released yet.  Today I wrote them an email.

In the meantime I am working on a press release, gathering emails of editors and reporters who might find it news-worthy.

The Journey Continues

I am preparing for the launch of the second book, The Journey Continues.

The editor I hired, Patrick Hartnett, has completed his work.  So now I get to take his edits that he made to the audio script and put them into the Kindle version.  DONE!

Since the Kindle version has colored pictures and the paperback version had black and white photos, I am now going through the paperback adding the edits.

In the meantime the voice actor, Candace Tuttle, is working on recording the book.  My goal is to have it all done by the launch date, December 4th.

Candace wrote to me yesterday, "I'm enjoying the story and your attitude through all of it.  I can't believe how active you stayed through such draining times!  And I laughed about the lady's dad who got his walker stuck in the bathroom!!"

Which reminds me that this blast of activity with the books and life is an on-going thing with me.  It is the energy of care-giving re-directed.

The official launch of The Journey Continues will also involve press releases, a celebration (just coffee and a reading) at Cattle Dog both here in Inverness and one on December 6th in the Tampa area, Social media images and blasts.  More info on that coming in a future post.

And I just put together a Launch Leader Team on Facebook to help me spread the word when time comes and help me keep my thoughts clear.  I feel there is too much to do and too little time.  I can use some clear minds of some talented fans to help me launch successfully.  If you would like to add your talent and enthusiasm to the team, private message me on Facebook:  Susan Straley.

Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders

I do the newsletter and schedule for the Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders.  I got up this morning and thought I better check the schedule so I can remind folks when our ride start time changes.  I send everyone the schedule at the beginning of the season, but no one remembers to write stuff into their calendar... including me.  I learned that our ride start time changes today.

I quick had to get an email out to the group.  And as I was doing that I realized I have not reminded people of the upcoming special rides for November.  So I had to put that newsletter together and send it out the committee for review and approval.

All that before jumping on the trike to go ride with some of our riders for a shorter ride because I had an appointment with a health-insurance agent in the afternoon.

Body Moving

It seems as we age we need to keep moving in order to... well, keep moving.

I am just thinking that there are still parts of my body I am neglecting as I do all this other exercise.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I still ride my trike with the bike group.  

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I go to the clubhouse and meet up with my friends in the neighborhood.  We do high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) for about 20-30 minutes and then yoga.  

After that I really need to work my bones, so I have to get to the gym at least twice a week to lift weights.  Somewhere in there I am supposed to walk for the old bones too.  That doesn't happen as much, except to walk the three blocks to the mailboxes in the neighborhood. 

If you aren't moving around, here are the simple exercises I did with George to keep him ambulatory.  At least try to do these.



Did I tell you that my traveling is done until the spring?  I was going to fly my trike to Arizona but the people I was going to visit had some medical stuff going on so I canceled my flight.  I have a credit sitting at Southwest Airline until July.  So I am going somewhere, maybe still flying my trike to Arizona.

I am glad to be here in one spot.  So much to do, so little time. 

Cold Camping In Florida

 It is Christmas morning and I am camping on St. George Island off the coast of the panhandle of Florida. I am snuggled under a folded over ...