Yesterday, I clicked on an article called “6 reasons why we engage in behaviors that risk COVID-19.” I’ll be honest. I clicked on that article in hopes it would provide more material to lecture my parents on about their risky behavior. I felt certain that all six things would apply directly to them.

Unfortunately, the third thing on the list read—and this is a direct quote—”Don’t live on Cheetos.” This felt like a personal attack because I have not made a grocery store order without Cheetos since March 11.

So, obviously, I felt like ignoring that stupid article would be in everyone’s best interest.

Anyway, I share this because the details of this story really reveal my current life. While I’ve actually (secretly, don’t tell them) loved living with my parents during this time, our differences—and similarities—have presented some challenges.

For example, they take naps almost every afternoon. The other day I was in the middle of a stressful conference call for work and my dad walked in and announced that he was going to sleep and would like for someone to wake him up from his nap at 5 pm. It was 1:41 in the afternoon. I don’t need that kind of smugness in my life.

That same night, we were watching the DVR’ed Jeopardy from the previous night (as we do), and fast-forwarding through the commercials. There was a commercial for Bojangles chicken tenders. My dad yelled at my mom to hit pause. She did, never questioning him. They watched the chicken tenders commercial. Then, because they were curious about the accompanying sides, they rewound it and watched it again. And then once more because they were confused about how many tenders each order included.

I’m honestly still not exactly sure what happened there.

Our most serious dispute was last week was when my mom said that Pawley had a “weird bark.” Obviously, I was deeply offended. I told her that Pawley’s bark was beautiful and that Gabe, their male dog, had a high pitched bark that made him sound like a whiny little girl. This was a legitimate argument. It went on for some time.

You know, it’s funny because the article I mentioned at the top also said that “mental health, in particular needs your attention” right now. But, once again, I have to say that ignoring that article is really in everyone’s best interest. Because obviously we’re doing just great on the staying sane part of this quarantine.

 

 

 

 

I don’t really ever/basically never post about my day job over here. But this week my team created something that I think is really great. And even though it’s for our company, I think that maybe it’s something that could inspire anyone. (My mom got teary watching it. Although, that may have been less about the film and more about me having moved into her house for almost a month now.) Anyway, I think we could all use some inspiration these days. Hope this brings a little to you.

“When something hard happens to you, you have two choices in how to deal with it. You either get bitter, or better.” – Donald Miller

Before 2020 began, I thought it could be a pretty decent year. I’d set a few goals for the year and made a few plans. I had some fun travel booked and some ideas for cool new things at work.

Then, in the second week of January, everything changed. Michiel died and my world became so small. My goals became things like “get out of bed in the morning” and “don’t cry at the office.”

The day after I flew home from Michiel’s service, the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the United States. Within a month the first death had occurred. And, of course, we all know how things went from there. And so now we’re not even a third of the way through 2020 and it feels like the story of this year has already been written.

But I keep thinking that in December I thought the story would be one thing and in January another and now in April another. Which makes me believe there’s still time. I can still change the story.

Of course, like everyone else, I’m hoping the bigger story changes because of a miraculous vaccine or treatment. But what I’m talking about here is my story—or, in your case, your story. When I eventually tell the story of 2020, I don’t want the entire plot line to be “I survived it.”

I want it to be a comeback story because I love those stories—the underdog team that roared back in the second half, the person who fell down but got back up stronger, the one who came from behind to win the race.

When I tell the story of 2020, I don’t want it to just be about a year that happened to me. After all, I’m the hero of my story. Heroes aren’t sedentary and they don’t let fear stop them from fully living. I want to have done things that matter this year. I want my 2020 to be a story about triumph and hope.

I have some ideas about what this looks like for me. What does it look like for you? It’s a fun thing to consider. What could you do this year that would make it so that one day, when you tell the story of 2020, it will be memorable—not because of what happened to you, but because of the story that you wrote instead?

 

After two weeks of rather one-sided conversations with my canine companions, I’ve been spending most of my time with my parents during this pandemic. It’s an interesting experience to spend this much time with your parents as an adult. And while I didn’t exactly volunteer for this social experiment, I thought I’d report back in case anyone else is considering it.

The first thing that happens when you move into a home with two retirement age individuals, is that you begin to age at an alarming rate. The other day my mom announced that I needed to learn how to play the card game Bridge because she’s missing her Bridge group. I explained that I’d already become a person who liked going on drives through the country and who looked forward to Jeopardy before our early bird dinner every night. If I started subbing in for her Bridge game, the AARP would probably proactively ask me to join.

The next thing that happens is that you really start to get to know these people. I’d been watching a crime series on Netflix last weekend and so, on Easter Sunday, when we sat down for lunch, I asked an important question: “If you killed someone and had to get rid of the body, how would you do it?”

My mom initially refused for this to be our Easter lunch conversation. But then my dad insisted on sharing his idea. Unfortunately, his idea was so bad that my mom was unable to resist. “No,” she said, “you’d be caught for sure.” And then she detailed a plan that included crushing the teeth of a burned body with a sledgehammer.

My dad announced then that henceforth he’d be sleeping in the guest room with the door locked.

The last thing that happens is that they get tired of you. That’s right! You, the apple of their eye, the one they’re always asking to come home and visit! Today, I yelled at my dad about not decontaminating a package he’d picked up. I pointed out that he was over 60 and a male, so if he got the virus, he was basically dead. And then he looked very pointedly at me and said “these days that doesn’t sound so bad.”

So, there you have it. I told my parents that I’d give their house 3 out of 5 stars on Yelp. It lost points due to me having to do all the grocery shopping, two snakes living in their gate, and no dogs being allowed inside the house. They didn’t think this was funny. But I told them that it’s looking like they’ll extend the lockdown, so they’ll have plenty of time to bring up their score. I can tell they’re thrilled.

What I Like About the New Normal

I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day and she noted that she’s starting to feel energized from all of the change—she’s not just surviving in this unusual time, she’s actually enjoying it.

My first thought was “Are you even allowed to say that you’re enjoying a global pandemic?” Doesn’t seem like it. But the conversation has stuck in my head. And it made me start to think about things that I’m actually enjoying about this time. For example, I like that…

…it’s totally acceptable to FaceTime my friends whenever I want. (I keep seeing tweets that say this isn’t true, but I’m sticking by it.)

…I’m being pushed to innovate and adapt more quickly than usual. Getting creative and moving fast are two of my favorite things.

…”influencers” matter way less right now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an absurdly photoshopped expensive outfit post as much as the next girl, but there’s something really gratifying about vacuous perfectly-posed posts looking looking totally irrelevant right now. (Can this continue after quarantine?)

…I made my mom watch Tiger King. She hated it and is still angry at me for making her watch it. And she kept sighing so loudly throughout it that I could barely hear Joe Exotic speak. But without a global pandemic that special experience would have never happened.

…my work conversations have a little more of a personal touch. Maybe it’s hearing people’s dogs and children in the background of calls, or maybe it’s because we’re all craving more conversation, but in the strangest twist I feel like I’ve gotten to know many of my colleagues better in this time when I’m not seeing them face to face.

…it’s pushed me to be creative in the kitchen. Tonight I’m making a Japanese hibachi grill-style dinner. Before, if I was craving this, I would have just ordered it. Now, I’ll be prepared to step into the knife-tossing chef role if I’m ever at a Benihana again.

…how much time it’s given me with my dogs and my parents. (Not necessarily in that order.) After two weeks solo, I moved in with my parents because they’re better than canines at carrying on conversations. And it’s actually been kinda wonderful to have this unexpected time with all four of them.

Ok, that’s it for now. Obviously, there’s A LOT I don’t like about this. The horrifically sad loss of life being at the top of that list. And the fact that I’m actually supposed to be on a vacation on an island off the coast of Cartagena this week being at the bottom of that list. But I think making this list was more helpful. And I hope that maybe it’ll inspire you to make your own list.

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I heard this lyric the other day and have been thinking about it ever since. I keep reminding myself that while I can’t control what’s happening around me right now (my usual preference in life), I can control what’s happening in me.

And, for now, that has to be enough.

Last night I posed this question to both of my parents:

If, on January 21 (the day the news broke of the first coronavirus case in the US) you’d somehow been able to see the future all the way forward until today (April 4), what would you have done differently in the last two and a half months?

I’ll be honest, I expected poignant answers. “I would have spent more time with my grandchild, whom I can’t see now” or “I might have gone ahead and taken that trip we’d always talked about.” But that wasn’t where this went.

Without even a second of hesitation my dad responded that he would have sold all of his stocks, then he would have shorted the market. Then he would have cashed out with “hundreds of millions of dollars,” and bought a private jet and a private island with a landing strip. He would have invited his friends and “some” family to the island to ride this out. I asked if my dog Winston would be invited to the island, and he said that he would have bought a separate island for Winston.

When I asked my mom, she got this far-off wistful look in her eyes and said that she would have spent more time at TJ Maxx. And Marshalls. And Target. And Costco. And she proceeded to list about fourteen other bargain shopping destinations. And when she stopped talking about the places, she started talking about all the things she wanted to shop for at them. It was truly touching.

Anyway, if you’re like us and growing weary of talking about the sad news of the world (and Carol Baskin), it’s a fun question to contemplate.

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I have a small Winston Churchill obsession. It started about two decades ago and has culminated with me naming my dog after him.

Lately, I’ve been listening to some of his most famous speeches. I needed to hear what a great leader in a crisis sounded like—because I wanted to be that in my own little world.

I highly recommend listening to a few. No one is asking us for blood and toil, or telling us to fight on the beaches. But we are being asked to do hard things right now. And Churchill knew—hopefully more than we ever will—about going through hard things in scary times.