Five things that made me happy today – 4/30/20

When we don’t have the big plans to look forward to, it’s time to focus on the small pleasures.

Mari Andrew

1. I read this piece on Medium that actually was in my inbox yesterday. It made me realized that part of my emotional problem (and, yes, I have to search for #5things sometimes) is that I no longer have the joy of anticipation. I enjoy scheduling Zoom meetings, and driveway-drive by Happy Hours, just for the anticipation it gives me to see it pop up on my calendar. This piece helps to put definition to the irregular unhappiness I’ve been feeling.

2. I fixed ham steak, corn on the cob, and asparagus for lunch today. I got the corn at the commissary and I have no idea where it came from because it’s waaaay too early for local corn. In any case it was delicious. I forget how good corn on the cob is between September and May. I also got the asparagus there, and it was obvious from the flavor that it was local! Wonderful.

3. I scurried to Starbucks and picked up a skinny mocha before 1:30. Hooray! they are going to be increasing their hours next week, and will be open until 5:00 My preferred time is 3:00 – it’s early enough that the caffeine doesn’t bother my sleep, and late enough that I’m not still full from lunch.

4. I got my “Month in Review” blog post written. Be sure to check it out.

5. Finally got over to the Wellness Center and used the NuStep for some exercise. Not enough, probably, but I got my 10,000 steps in. It’s been alternating sun and rain all day long and I didn’t want to commit to walking outside with the weather as iffy as it was.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Intentions for 2020 – Review for April

My Star Word for this year is “Encourage”. The internet says “encourage” means to give support, confidence or hope to someone.

Here are my intentions for 2020.

I wrote this at the end of March. “Needless to say, everything went out the window early in the month. I managed to get my hair cut on the 5th, and went to church on the 8th, but then the bottom fell out. Gazebo Group was cancelled along with all classes, and other group activities on the 9th, including Senior University. Bible Study was cancelled on the 10th. On the 16th all Wellness classes and personal training was cancelled, and residents who eat in any of the dining rooms had to either pick up their meals and go back to their rooms, or have their meals delivered. The Wellness Center remains open, but all of the employees who work there are gone on unemployment.” The closures have remained for all of April, and we’ve been told that Senior University, Wellness Classes, etc., will not be held in May.

Physical Health

  • Continue to eat real food, and, hopefully, lose about 15 more pounds this year. – I’ve lost 4 pounds since 12/31/19. No change since the end of March, but, on the plus side, I haven’t gained anything either.
    • Minimize chocolate, including mochas. – Since the end of Lent I HAVE indulged in the occasional mocha, but not like I was scarfing down at the beginning of the year.
    • Be sure to get 25 grams of fiber every day. – Check!
  • Continue to work with my personal trainer for strength, balance, and endurance.
    • All personal training cancelled by COVID-19.
    • Work on core strength and balance by myself between times. – I’ve ignored the strength and balance exercises I was assigned for during the lock-down, except the (very) occasional sit-to-stands and seated planks.
    • I’m walking much more, and not relying on the NuStep in the Wellness Center for my step count. I’ve been averaging 10,000 steps a day.
  • Notice and report any unexpected physical changes (rashes, bumps, etc.) to my doctor. – no new rashes, bumps, or aches!
  • In the light of COVID-19, I’m trying to be much more intentional about washing my hands regularly – ALWAYS after I’ve been out of the house. – Wash Your Hands, Don’t Touch Your Face.

Emotional Health

  • Remember that excessive encouragement can be nagging. – I’m trying to remember.
    • Say it with a smile. – I try to remember, but as we’re shut in together, I’m finding it really easy to get testy over NOT MUCH.
    • I’ve also realized that Big Al and I don’t function with the same motivations. If I have something that needs to be done, I do it right away. He prefers “Never do today what you can put off to tomorrow.” It makes for some “interesting” family dynamics.
    • Now that I’ve realized that, I hope I’m being more empathetic (empathy was my Star Word last year) when he rebels against my “schedule”.
  • My biggest emotional need right now is to internalize how not being able to look forward to all kinds of things is eating at me. An empty calendar really gets to me. Realistically, I know I may not see family again for two or more years (at least until there is a verified vaccine). And at age 75 (almost 76), even discounting things like automobile accidents, or catching the virus, my horizon of possibility is shrinking. I think I’m probably at the “depression” level of grief right now, and I understand there’s nothing I can do but endure. There are trips that won’t be taken, restaurants that won’t be eaten at, sporting events that will never happen, hotels that won’t be visited, etc.
  • Continue to post “Five Things that Made Me Happy Today” every day on my blog.
    • Some days, this is the only thing that helps me get on with living my life (no, I’m not suicidal, just down.)
  • I’ve returned to my Meditation practice, daily. I’m using the Oak app. It fits my needs, and helps with my mood.

Intellectual Health

  • Expand my leisure reading. Read 50 books this year (not just “fluff”).
    • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – finished
    • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo – finished
    • Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy – finished
    • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – finished
    • On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle – finished
    • 142 Ostriches – by April Davila – finished
    • Pretty Girls – by Karen Slaughter – I gave myself permission to quit after 25% of it
    • The Tuscan Child – by Rhys Bowen – finished
    • The Victory Garden – by Rhys Bowen – reading
  • Keep up with the national news daily without obsessing over it.
  • Participate in Creative Writing classes here at Franke Tobey Jones.
    • All in-person courses cancelled by COVID-19.
    • We were able to complete the Flash Fiction course via Zoom this month.
  • Attend Brain Training when it is offered by Senior University. – Cancelled by COVID-19 – and none scheduled for May.
  • Participate in Great Decisions here at Franke Tobey Jones. – This month we participated in two chapter discussions on Zoom. Not many people there, but a manageable group. We’ve been given access to the videos that go with each chapter.

Spiritual Health

  • Participate in virtual weekly Bible study on Zoom.
  • Participate in virtual weekly Worship on Facebook Live
  • Participate in Interfaith Dialogue – The Community Seder and the Community Iftar were cancelled by COVID-19. I really miss the contact with my Muslim and Jewish friends.
  • Continue with General Assembly Nominating Committee – The General Assembly will be rescheduled and held remotely with only the essential business being conducted. Our part is essential, so we’re waiting to hear about a Zoom meeting sometime in May.

Social Health

  • Tend the relationships I have at Franke Tobey Jones.
    • Wellness Center – The center remains open, and I use it when weather keeps me from walking. No other people there, usually.
    • Gazebo Group – We continue to meet weekly on ZOOM, and new people are joining us almost every week.
  • Tend the relationships I have at Bethany Presbyterian Church.
    • Bible Study – Fewer people attend via Zoom than attended in person. I’ve been remiss in not reaching out to those I’ve missed seeing.
    • Earth Care Congregation – we have been certified as an Earth Care Congregation. The bees have hatched in the garden, and people are planting their summer veggies.
  • Keep up with family.
    • My sisters and brother and I have an Instant Messenger group set up and we check in on each other every morning, and through the day.
    • I send an IM to my children every morning asking for a “Wellness Check.” Sometimes I even get additional information about their families without asking.
    • My sisters and I (and sometimes a niece and a cousin and her daughters) do a Zoom call every Sunday afternoon. I’ve seen and talked to them more this month than in years. I hope we continue that even after all this is over.

Social Justice

  • Participate in Town Halls and face-to-face meetings with elected officials. – all cancelled by COVID-19. I try to participate when there are virtual meetings.
  • Support the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and MoveOn. – Check
  • I have regular donations going to my US Representative, and to the Democratic National Committee.
  • Support the election of officials who are champions for Social Justice issues.
    • Climate action
    • Racial justice – I sign and send petitions, particularly when requested by the Presbyterian Office of Social Responsibility
    • Health Care Availability
    • Wealth Inequality


Five things that made me happy today – 4/29/20

To become aware of the opportunity a given moment offers us is the essence of how we practice grateful living.

Br. David Steindl-Rast

1. Up this morning and headed for the commissary. Big Al went with me, just for the ride because he doesn’t go in (and besides if he went in he’d have to wear his mask and he hates it.)

2. We went down about 11 am because lots of people go first thing. When we got there I didn’t have to stand in line very long (thank goodness). I washed my hands outside under the watchful eyes of an armed MP. If one of those guys tells you to wash your hands you better believe you do

3. There was more stuff on the shelves than the last time I went. I got everything except the kind of toilet paper I like, and some salad toppings. I WAS able to get some toilet paper, so all was not lost. It only took me about 2 hours in the store. Then it took me another 30 minutes to unload the car after we got home.

4. We dithered about what we were going to have for lunch, and eventually decided to get takeout from Moctezumas – so I spent another 50 minutes running down to get it. It was very tasty once I finally sat down to eat at 3:00. I had carne asada, and Big Al had enchiladas.

5. I took a short walk after all that. I’ve given myself permission not to try for my 10,000 steps today. Walking around and up and down the aisles at the commissary is enough to wear anybody out.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 4/28/20

Jesus was all about vulnerable people winning. Spiritual Winning is never about getting our way to fulfill our own agendas.

Jan Edmiston

1. We had Zoom Bible study this morning, looking at John 10:1-10. This is one of the passages where the gospel writers (usually John) seem to say that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Most of us disagreed with that interpretation. I think it’s possible that we’ve all been influenced by the Evangelical strain of American Christianity. I’m interested to hear what the preacher has to say on Sunday.

2. We had our standard Tuesday lunch – chef salad for Big Al, and egg salad sandwich for me. Then I ran to Starbucks and got a vente skinny mocha and a blueberry scone. I’ll be so glad when they quit closing at 2:00 pm, and I can get my mocha and a scone later in the afternoon.

3. The housekeepers came today and I have clean sheets on the beds, vacuumed and mopped floors, clean bathrooms and a clean kitchen. It feels really good (especially since I didn’t have to do any of it.)

4. Zoom class this afternoon was about the Red Sea region. I will admit that part of the world holds little interest for me. I’m old enough to remember the Suez Canal crisis in real time. And the various players in the region seem to still be living with the same tribal dynamics they’ve had for centuries. Sigh.

5. I got in a walk before lunch and after Bible study, and then a longer one after the Great Decisions Zoom class this afternoon. I needed to clear my head after the class. I stopped by the garden and gave my tomatoes and squash, green beans and herb seeds a nice drink of water.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 4/27/20

May we never forget the crippled, wind-beaten trees, how they, too, bud, green and bloom. May we, too, take courage to bloom where we are planted.

Br. David Steindl-Rast

1. It was pretty and warm when I got up this morning, even though the wind was a little blustery. I vowed to wait until the first of May to plant my garden but I caved in after I saw the weather forecast for the week – high 50s-low 60s every day, and no colder than 45 deg at night.

2. I planted my two little tomato plants, and put the seeds for the squash, green beans, and herbs in the ground. (Then the wind came up strong, but I think the tomatoes will recover).

And I got all my steps in walking back and forth with the tomato cages, and seeds, and plants.

3. I fixed little steaks, asparagus, and red skinned potatoes for lunch. I think that’s all we have in the freezer in the way of meat, except for some sausages, bratwurst, and wienies. We’re headed for the commissary on Wednesday, so that will work out just fine.

4. The laundry is all washed, dried, folded and hung up. 

5. We have the “traveling Happy Hour” again this week, followed by a Zoom call for the Gazebo Group. I don’t know whether I can keep up with all the stuff on my calendar!

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 4/26/20

I wish you great inner stillness which alone allows us to speak, even today, without irony, of “peace on earth” and, without despair, to work for it.

Br David Steindl-Rast

1. I fixed pancakes for breakfast. I put blueberries in mine. They were tasty, but I have forgotten the tricks to regulating the heat, so they ended up a little charred. Next time…

2. For church this morning we heard about the walk to Emmaus. “How it is now, is not how it will always be.” “No longer a slave to fear.”

3. I ran to Royal Thai Bistro and fetched lunch for us. They always feed us well. Big Al had Pad Kee Mao, and I had Singapore Noodles. The thing I like the best is all the veggies they put in it – big chunks of veggies – broccoli, red and green peppers, celery, mushrooms, carrots, onions, etc.

4. Warmer today, but still cloudy. I made some good progress on the puzzle. It’s still not ready for prime time, but it’s getting there.

5. We had the Greisser Girls call this afternoon, and we’ve added a cousin, and her daughters. Great so see everybody.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 4/25/20

I wish you great inner stillness which alone allows us to speak, even today, without irony, of “peace on earth” and, without despair, to work for it.

Br David Steindl-Rast

1. I had ordered an oximeter (oxygen meter that clips on your finger) from Amazon when they started saying that low oxygen levels were an early sign of the virus. First it wasn’t due until May 7th and then they said it would come April 26th. But it came at breakfast time today! Big Al’s oxygen level is at 88%, which is about where it usually is at the doctor’s office, and mine was at 99%, so I guess that’s something I don’t have to worry about for today.

2. It was pouring rain when I woke up this morning, but much warmer. It rained, hard, all morning long, but the temperature stayed in the mid 50s. I think the Pineapple Express arrived, although it’s a little early in the year for it. About lunch time, the sun came out full, even though the wind picked up, and the temperature went up to the low 60s. Unfortunately, all the pollen that washed out of the air in the rain was picked back up by the wind. Sniff, sniff, snort.

3. Lunch was leftover tortilla soup and a green salad. Big Al was pleased, and so was I. I did such a good job with my calories, I ran to Starbucks and got a vente skinny mocha and a blueberry scone. They are closing at 2:00 pm and everybody in town gets in line there at 1:30 to get their afternoon coffee. Hopefully, they’ll expand their afternoon hours after May 4 – the first day for potential relaxation of the governor’s orders to shelter in place.

4. After lunch, I took a quick tour around campus and enjoyed the sunshine. Then later in the afternoon, I did another longish walk and finished out my 10,000 steps for the day. The rhododendrons and the azaleas are spectacular right now.

5. There was somebody out flying a kite on the big lawn this afternoon. They were having a really hard time keeping in the air – not because there was too little wind, but because it was too blustery. Kites are really fun.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 4/24/20

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees.

John Muir

1. They said the automatic sprinkling system in the garden was supposed to turn on at 11 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. So I walked over there, carrying my trowel, scarifier, gloves, and bucket to check it out and make sure the water was pointed towards the plants and not away from them. But it didn’t come on, so I scratched through the soil to prepare it for planting in a week.  When I was finished, I went in the greenhouse to wash my hands, but there was no soap.

2. As I was getting home from my walk I heard a buzzing noise, and looked up and there was a drone filming the “biker gang” – 6 residents who ride bikes around the campus and down in the park. They were all fitted out with masks, and keeping the requisite 6 ft apart. I think the film is going to be part of advertising for the community – and good advertising it will be.

3. Lunch was PF Chang’s Home Menu Orange Chicken and Signature Rice. They make very acceptable frozen Chinese food.

4. I took a bar of soap over to the greenhouse on my afternoon walk. There aren’t any paper towels, and I don’t have any extra. I sent an email to the woman who is in charge of the garden, and we’ll see whether she can source any paper towels. If not, I’ll get some at the commissary when I go next week.

5. The dining room here at FTJ is starting to have sandwiches, soups, and salads available to order. They will fix it and bring it to your house/apartment. Big Al has been taking advantage of their Chef Salads for a while now, but this is advertised and available to everyone.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 4/23/20

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief, and unspeakable love.

Washington Irving

1. Lots of clouds today, but we’re having occasional sunbreaks, and no rain since first thing this morning. The temperature is decent, too (upper 50s).

2. I took a short walk this morning before lunch, and another longer one this afternoon late.

3. I fixed ham steak, sweet potatoes, and Bush’s barbecue beans for lunch. I know those beans are pretty mundane, but they remind me of the old Campbell’s pork and beans and I love them.

4. The mailman delivered a couple of blouses/shirts to me this morning. They’re just like all the ones I have and wear all the time, but a new print. The other one is white with pink and blue flowers.

5. I ran to the little nursery not too far from the house and bought tomato cages and two little tomato plants. I’m really getting excited to plant them in my garden, but I’ll wait another week, in case we have a late cold snap. I also spent some time messing with my big hanging basket – cutting all the dead out. I thought it was completely dead, but there’s something still alive in there. Maybe I won’t have to spring for a whole new one this year.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 4/22/20

Nor hell nor heaven can that soul surprise, who loves the rain, and loves his home, and looks on life with quiet eyes.

Frances Shaw

1. Rain all day long today – not the elemental storms of the rest of the country – just the steady drizzle, drip, and weeping of the sky. But I’m a pluviophile (as long as I can watch it from inside a warm, dry house)..

2. In the preacher’s morning letter, she reminded me of Psalm 91, which was written in a time of plague. It had a lot to say to me in this time of COVID-19. “…rootedness in God is the only way to survive life’s inevitable devastations.”

3. We had our final class for Flash Fiction this morning. It was fun, and I’m going to miss having that intellectual stimulus. The teacher will have another class in the fall on Creative Nonfiction. I’ll like that I think. I know Al will.

4. We had tortilla soup for lunch today. I made it with the leftover chicken breast from last week that I poached at the time, and with Bear Creek Tortilla Soup mix. It was very acceptable.

5. I went to Safeway and did a pick-up of groceries I had ordered on Monday. While I was out I stopped and got a Starbucks venti skinny mocha. When I got home I was chilled from fetching the mail and getting out to open the trunk at Safeway, so I gave myself permission to skip exercise for today. I’m just going to spend the rest of the afternoon working on my puzzle (I’m finally making progress.)

How about you? What made you happy today?