Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pandemic Fatigue

 Like so many of us, I am feeling the exhaustion of living in a pandemic. 

I want a hug. 

I want to hang out with my girlfriends and have a night of wine and laughter. 

I want to sit down in a restaurant and eat a meal that I didn't cook and don't have to wash dishes from. 

I want my kids to have a normal day at school, where my daughter can link arms with her friends while they laugh and gossip, and my son to high five his buddies after a great game. 

I want my husband to be able to go to work, and laugh with clients and coworkers, and not worry about how his pulmonologist told us that his risk of mortality with this illness is INCREDIBLY high.

I'm trying to stay on top of work stuff, while finding myself sliding into such a depressive state that I don't want to get out of bed. To add to that, it's approaching winter, which means it's dark outside before 6pm, and it's cold. 

I know. We're all (well, almost all... Not quite enough "all", but a lot of us) dealing with the same stuff, and my whining about it doesn't change anything. This is one of those posts where I type and type and type, and then I feel bad about what I've written because I am realistically in a total place of privilege because I have a job, and my husband has a job, and our kids are safe, and education is happening, and we have the resources to cook a meal and wash the dishes, and I can zoom with my girlfriends and .. and... and.........

But the reality for so many of us is that this is still hard, and it's been hard for a long time, and now we're watching as it gets worse, and we're starting to lose sight of the light at the end of this very long tunnel. And it's draining. And if you already deal with things like seasonal depression that is rearing its ugly head, this is one more brick that feels like it's pulling you under. 

I'm going to try to find more things to help me, and I'll try to keep sharing how that goes. In the meantime, wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay home when you can. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


My heart breaks as I know that we are reaching a point where some relationships will be fractured beyond repair. Many got there long before now with others, a few felt that way about their relationship with me, but I have tried to hold off, to listen and understand.

It was hard four years ago. It will be hard now, but the boldness, the willingness of some to share their true feelings, provide deeper clarity, and will bring me peace as I say goodbye to relationships that are not healthy for me, or for my family.
Differences of opinion are fine. Conversation is healthy. Growth can be amazing.
Hatred, bigotry, idolatry. They are not ok with me, and I will protect my heart and mind from them, and that may mean stepping away from one another.
I won't cast stones, but I will cast away lines that hold me back.
Blessed be.

Not all, but some.

Dropping this draft from a couple months ago.

We know that it is not all police officers. Many officers enter their careers anxious to help heal the hurt, to fight injustice, to do what they can to be the peacemakers. 

We know that.

We know "not all men", but we also know "yes, all women". 
We hear your "All lives matter" but until "black lives matter" as much, the voices are echoes in an empty hall. 

You try to placate with your wide generalizations, but in doing so, you further marginalize the harsh realities that exist. No life is without struggle, but some lives face greater struggles because they are not seen beyond the color of their skin, or their sex, or their sexual orientation, or their job, the list goes on.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Trying to Find Perspective

I’ve struggled a little bit with how to try to put some of this into perspective. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? To think of an actual GLOBAL PANDEMIC? One where thousands have already lost their lives in just a few short months, and where we are doing things we’d never imagined to try to keep the US lives lost to under a quarter of a million people in the next few months?

If you know me at all, you know I’m an advocate for pediatric cancer research. The idea that an entire classroom and then some of kids faced a diagnosis of cancer each day always was stunning to me. 43 children each day are diagnosed with some form of cancer. 12% of them, or 5-6 kids each day, do not survive. 60% have long term, lasting effects – infertility, hearing loss, heart failure, secondary cancers. That’s about 26 of those kids.

Our first confirmed US case of Covid-19 was January 21st, in Washington State. As I write this, we have statistics, as shaky as they may be, through April 7th. The US showed 400,335 cases.

10 days in January.

29 days in February.

31 days in March.

7 days in April.

That’s 77 days. 

That’s 3,311 pediatric cancer cases, which so many of us find abhorrent.

It is four hundred thousand cases of Covid-19.

Deaths in the US through April 7th? 12,841. That is nearly four times the pediatric cancer diagnosis numbers.

Understand that this is in no way a competition, I’m not stepping away from the pediatric cancer fight. What I’m trying to do is help us collectively understand that we have a responsibility to our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones. If we knew that taking some time and limiting our activities would protect our kids from cancer, we’d do it. Shoot, for kids who did stem cell transplants, THEY DID THIS! With a stem cell transplant, they destroy the immune system completely, and rebuild it. As part of that protocol, there is a period of around 100 days of isolation. Social distancing on steroids.

We have the ability to do that for each other right now. We have the ability to protect someone we know, someone we love, from an illness that could kill them. Could put them in the ICU, intubated, sedated and alone.

Those same kids, the ones who fought the cancer and survived that? They are higher risk. Your parents or grandparents are higher risk. My husband is higher risk. More likely to be that one who is intubated, sedated, alone in an ICU. 

Yes, I know people are beating this thing. That’s AMAZING, and I’m so thankful for that. But this isn’t the flu, (In the last five years, Indiana has averaged 154 flu deaths each year, with flu season generally about 7 months long. In only a month, 173 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19, with many more expected.) It’s not a cold. You might be young and healthy and not high-risk, but you can be a carrier, and unwittingly pass it along to someone who is higher risk.

Is it worth it?

I guess, if it is, if you want to still behave as if all of this is normal, and that the scientists and the media are blowing it out of proportion, and that we’re just stirring up mass hysteria, I can’t fix that. We can call it a difference of opinion, but I hope your opinion doesn’t kill someone.

"You won't ever know if what you did personally helped. That's the nature of public health. 
When the best way to save lives is to prevent a disease rather than treat it, 
success often looks like an overreaction."

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Do Our Best Work

Reading messages from my children's teachers, who technically are on break right now, but are scrambling to restructure. This is spring break here, but they have asked teachers to transition to eLearning for the week after. This is new - we are not a school system that has used eLearning historically, so teachers, administrators, and students are all flying a bit by the seat of their pants. 

In one of these emails, this stood out.

"Let’s be flexible with each other and do our best to work through this time in the most efficient and reasonable ways possible."

This literally hit my inbox as I work on a message to share with my staff on what our ideas look like for how to handle the next several weeks.

Right now, I have a deadline in one month. 

It *might* change, but I can't count on that.

In the meantime, I have offices of employees and clients to worry about. I now am carrying the burden of both financial AND physical well-being, on some level. 

It's heavy. I'd be lying if I said differently. I'm not carrying these things alone, by any stretch, but here they are.

So, as we all navigate these bizarre, uncharted waters, as we watch Italy and Spain stop in their tracks, as we scramble as a country to gain access to proper testing, as a divided nation grows more so in a time when supporting one another is SO critical, I think I will cling to two things - the words of this teacher:

"Let’s be flexible with each other and do our best to work through this time in the most efficient and reasonable ways possible."

Along with the words of one of the best managers I had an opportunity to work under:

"The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us." 

We are powerful when we work together. I'm grateful for that.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Brain vomited happiness.

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with an old friend. We discussed lots of things - changes, life, where we are, where we are headed. One thing that stuck out to me was the use of the word "happy".

We were with a group, friends we have shared for over 30 years, and another of the group came up as part of our conversation. We had drifted into discussion about relationships that had changed over the last few years, and this friend said "(the other friend) just wants me to be happy."

A valid goal. Admirably supported by friends. I said as much, responding that it seemed like a reasonable plan. But what does it mean when intertwined in the concept of relationships? How do you define "happy" in the context of your interactions with another person?

Because let's face it, happy is a short term feeling. It can be a regularly occurring one, but other emotions NEED to be intermingled in there, or we lose sight of what happy is, and what makes us feel that way.

(Details break... I started this post, then had to pause because real life is a thing. It's now a couple days later as I come back to finish it, and I actually had more conversation with the initial friend last night, and we shared some good thoughts that tie in really beautifully to this. So.. without further ado...)

Relationships can be fragile things, because emotions are powerful. We spend a lot of energy thinking about perfect partnerships, and we forget that no one person is going to be able to fill all of our emotional support needs, and that we can't be the only one filling those needs for someone else.

Friendships are relationships, and there are variants in those that matter. We have "Work Friends" - the ones that understand what we do for, really, the largest part of our day. Some of us have "Parent Friends" - the ones who we can turn to for help and guidance when kids are involved, or that we can hang out with in those family friendly situations. We have the "Social Fun Friends" - the ones that bring out a more extroverted side of us. We have the "Life-Long Friends" - ones who know more about who we are and where we came from than almost anyone.

These are all separate from our spouse or partner. In periods where there isn't a partner, they are the other cogs in the wheel that keep us grinding. A partner is one single tooth in that gear - they can be important and helpful for us, but they don't have to be critical - we can move forward without them. It's also important to realize that if any of the cogs is bent, the wheel is stopping. Missing? No biggie, it's a little harder to go, but going still happens. Bent? Damaged? It's damaging to the whole thing. Locks it up. Makes it so your contact with the remaining cogs is impossible.

Bent cogs can often be repaired - that's the good news. Sometimes, the repair is to the existing cog, sometimes it requires that the cog be removed and replaced, but repair to the gear itself is ALWAYS possible, and every cog along the way? Old & new, damaged, replaced, repaired? Each cog has helped move that gear forward in it's path.

I see people share things that imply that happiness is a choice, and I concur, to a limit. Happiness is the result of gratitude, and gratitude is a choice. When we recognize the things that are good in our lives over the things that are challenging or broken, we find gratitude. Here's the thing - we NEED the challenging or broken to exist to make it work.

Ride with me a minute on this, k? If we don't have a perspective on what's negative, or bad, or failing, or broken in a situation, we cannot recognize the improvement, repair or success when we accomplish it. If it's always sunny, we don't appreciate the sun. We need cloudy days, windy days, rainy days and sunsets. We need nights filled with stars, and snowfalls, and sometimes, as painful as it is, we need something as disruptive as a hurricane, tornado or wildfire. It's the same with emotion. We NEED to be mad. We NEED to be sad, or hurt, or lonely. Without those feelings, we cannot experience gratitude or recognize happiness.

All of that is a really wordy way to say that I believe that what we perceive as damage, as brokenness, as loss? It's just a window to help remind us of the really, really great we actually have. We just need to open the blinds and look. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Things that Matter

I used to write here. For a while, I did it frequently.
Then, the kids got older, and life got busier. 
This space, this little piece of the internet that I had? It just didn't draw me like it once did. 
I had Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and those places, and the people there, they drew me. 
I still had my voice, was able to speak my thoughts, just in smaller snippets. 
I could share my images. 
I could connect, often almost instantly, with people who I cared about, and who cared about me. People who agreed with my thoughts and feelings, and sometimes the people who cared about none of those things. 

Someone asked me the other day if I still wrote here. 
"Not really. Not in a long time."

Why did you stop?
"I just got busy, and other social media was enough..."

And that's true. 
But I've been  thinking about it, and I think part of it? Part of it was because I'm exhausted by the hatred that spews forth on so many platforms, and I wasn't sure I could handle it coming here too. To my space. To my little front porch.

There are broken things here, and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to repair them. That angers me, but it also feels very metaphorical. 

We are broken, and I'm not sure we'll ever be able to be repaired. 

But we won't ever heal from the broken without addressing it. 

So, maybe, I'll come back. And I'll just start talking again. Because our voices matter, and we should not be silent in these challenging days. We owe that to ourselves, to our children. To our country. 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.