Return To The Office…

I do have the discipline to work from home. I realized that I actually like it!

So we got the news that effective Monday, we will return to the office. *Note, not return to work because we have worked this entire 15 months, just safely from our homes.

I am not excited about this at all. I dare to say that I’m a little anxious about going to the office and interacting with coworkers again.

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See, at the start of the pandemic, when the stay home-stay healthy (SHSH) order was issued I doubted that I had the discipline work from home. Even when we thought it was going to be just a few weeks, I cringed at the thought of taking my laptop home. I sincerely thought I’d treat it like a piece of exercise equipment. You know, the treadmill becomes an extension of our closet and we hang clothes on it.

Well around the 90 day mark, I found that even with the two hour meetings and the spotty connectivity issues, I do have the discipline to work from home. I realized that I actually like it! And I’m good at it too. I get up and pray, eat a real breakfast and then I’m at my desk knocking out task like a true boss-chick! I’m blessed to be an empty-nester so the distractions or interruptions are nil. Sure, somebody might ring me on Skype/Teams or maybe a family member might call to say hey, but those are easier to handle in my home office versus the agency office.

During the SHSH order, I’ve had to collaborate more with coworkers, some near, some far. That means I’ve built relationships. My critical thinking skills have improved. Nothing get the brain working like being challenged with pandemic induced governmental changes in law and procedures. This helped my research abilities too. Reviewing situations and actions to see what was right, what should be right and how to make it right made me dizzy at times. I’m getting better at all of it; like I said, boss-chick.

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This winter, I didn’t buy any cold meds like Theraflu, Alka-Seltzer or Vick’s rub. I didn’t worry about a coworker getting sick and then everyone in the office getting sick, usually one or two at a time. I wasn’t concerned, if I had to commute to our other office, with where to sit on the bus or train to avoid anyone coughing or sneezing. And I think this is a big win because, truth be told, over-the-counter cold medications are expensive.

So now here we are with some people vaccinated & some not, some people wear a mask & some don’t, some people take basic precautions and some absolutely do not (they didn’t before the pandemic either) and now I’m expected to return to normal. Hey, psst, news flash, I don’t want to go back to pre-COVID normal. I like this new normal way better.

I like wearing comfortable PNW-casual Friday clothes everyday, I like not having a commute and I like having my own window office. I noticed I actually take a break and a bathroom break. For some reason I combine them when I’m in the office. I wonder if that’s a front desk worker issue? Bottom line upfront, I recognize that I’m very blessed, that I take delight in the work I do and really enjoy my work environment. In my humble opinion, it ain’t broke, so no need to fix it. However, since I’m not in charge, I’ll let you know how I’m living with this change in a few weeks.

A Bike Ride For Me

To be honest, I got off and pushed at the last hill for about 25 yards.

So I rode my bike for the first time in over 4 years this past weekend.  It felt good to feel the air rushing past me as I rolled down hill. 

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My legs were pumping hard & fast as I tried to make it through the traffic light, I felt strong. 

I am on the street, riding with traffic for the 6.2 miles(10k), round trip, to the post office.  I wear a bright yellow jacket/vest so that drivers can easily see me but, that doesn’t always work. A few times on this last trip several cars didn’t want to share road.  Note, there are signs that say “share the road” or “bikes can use the full lane”. I don’t need the whole lane but, I would like for drivers to give me some space; not just try to push me to the sidewalk. After all, sidewalks are for walkers.

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On my outing I noticed that there aren’t many places to lock my bike once I get to a store anymore. I had to attach it to a pole or part of the building to secure it.  It was a quick trip; post office, bank and Target.  My bike doesn’t have a basket so getting only what was on my list from Target was easy this time.

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The ride home was a little more challenging. I worked up an appetite, but I couldn’t see getting any fast-food because it wouldn’t be appealing after being in my small day pack for 30 minutes. And of course, there was more traffic on the road. More cars mean more drivers that maybe distracted or don’t understand that a bike can be on the road. And those hills were now inclines and no longer felt good. To be honest, I got off and pushed at the last hill for about 25 yards. Real talk, my butt was tired!

Once I got home and settled I still thought it was an enjoyable adventure. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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Happy Mother’s Day?

I hadn’t considered the feelings, especially on Mother’s Day,

This started as an apology text, then a letter to a very dear friend. I realized that while I’d given her gifts & cards for Mother’s Day, I hadn’t considered her feelings about it since she loss her mom a few years ago. Then the Holy Spirit told me that she wasn’t the only one due an apology. I hadn’t considered the feelings, especially on Mother’s Day, of many other women in my life, that have lost their mothers too.

So, to all my aunties, nieces, cousins, sisters-in-love, sisters-in-Christ, old army buddies and friends who are mothers and who have lost their mother, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the past celebrations of Mother’s Day that I didn’t think about how you felt with all the well wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day when you couldn’t celebrate with your mother. I’m sorry that sometimes I got you a generic card and didn’t even think about adding a personalized line or two about your mom. And I’m sorry that I didn’t call or send a text to check on you in the following weeks.

I ask that you blame the head and not my heart. I guess I got caught up in the celebration and not celebrating the blessing of having a mother still amongst the living. You know, the cards are so pretty & the sentiments reflect what’s in my heart, most of the time (Note-for real, we need more greeting cards that reflect the thoughts of people like me). The flowers are beautiful; like God had them bloom just in time for the day. All the retailers have some sort of Mother’s Day gift package. From kitchen ware, to clothes, to jewelry, to DIY, to beauty products, spas and even technical gadgets, there is a gift just right for your mom. And the coupons for restaurants, fancy or bougie, dine-in, delivery or pick-up, are plentiful; not always a bargain but plentiful!!

Since I’ve recently lost my own mother, I started to wonder how you’ve even put up with non-thinking friends & family like me over the years. But, this year I’m changing it up a little bit. I’ll still send a card, you know me, and a fabulous KB253 gift bag to some, but this year, I’ll take the time to check-in on the ladies. Some may still get a text with a cute meme but, I’m going to follow-up with them too. I don’t want to dwell on our loss, but instead, on the memories of how our mom’s blessed us, shared their wisdom and loved us.

This year, as I’m thinking how others may feel without their mom, I want to say thank you. I thank you for being so strong, so gracious and loving, especially on Mother’s Day.

Meeting My Needs

So a few days ago I woke up cold and hungry. I had fallen asleep on the love seat in our family room. As I pulled the covers around me and started to stretch I realize that I was truly blessed. While I was a little inconvenienced and uncomfortable, I was home. I was in my house and could easily add another blanket, turn on the heat or go to my actual bed; I could get warm and comfy again.

And I didn’t think I should be hungry as I had a large salad and popcorn the night before. But, if I was hungry, all I had to do was get up, go to the kitchen and prepare something. The kitchen had meat, bread, veggies, fruit & snacks.

I have to say I was relieved, humbled and intensely grateful in those moments as I open my eyes to realize that God had once again made provision for me. He is meeting my needs and I am truly thankful. Matthew 6:31-32, that’s how I’m living.

I miss…..

There’s a store, Simply Seattle, that was running a promotion just after the start of the Washington #StayHomeStayHealthy order. It was called “I miss…” The store had t-shirts, mask and stickers so we could tell everybody what we missed because of the pandemic. It was a fundraiser and the proceeds went to Food Lifeline, a non-profit dedicated to feeding America. I purchased a t-shirt but realized, I needed more room. So, here’s what I miss.

I miss church before the pandemic.  At my church we would get up to say hi & wave, greet one another with hugs, share mints and sing praises to God together.  Didn’t matter if voices weren’t as good as Yolanda Adams, Tauren Wells, Hillsong or the Winans, our congregational signing was a joyful noise unto the Lord.

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I miss going to the movies.  Not the price of tickets and snacks nor the barely cleaned floors; what I really miss is the popcorn smell.  My at home popcorn just doesn’t smell as buttery.

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I miss Dave & Buster’s.  The food was okay, but I went for the games.  I miss playing skee ball, air hockey, Ms. Pac-Man, extra-large versions of connect four and trying to figure out the puzzle on the Wheel of Fortune game.  For me, Dave & Buster’s brings back teen-aged memories of hanging out at the arcade.

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I miss swimming at my local YMCA.  I am a novice swimmer, but I miss stretching my arms for a back stroke or trying to look confident when learning to buttery-fly.  With swimming, I can rest my mind, move my body and after 100 yards or so, I’m rejuvenated. 

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I miss sipping on a latte from a local coffee shop, #LCP, while waiting in line at Ross, Burlington, or the post office.  Sure, there were anxious people sighing and complaining about the wait, but having my warm tasty drink help me to ignore them.  After all pre-COVID, everybody had someplace to be sooner rather than later. 

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So what do you miss?

A Year of Work at Home-10 Things I’ve Learned

Here’s some stuff that I’ve learned about me and my community only because of the stay home and stay healthy (#SHSH) order. It’s not anything too deep, insightful, mind-blowing or even in any particular order. Just sharing what I’ve seen outside my window and how I’m living.

  1. There is lots of stuff that I don’t actually need to do, to see or places I need to go. Pretty obvious because this past year, I filled my gas tank like every 12 weeks.
  2. Some people are rude. They don’t pick-up their dog poop! I’ve picked-up poop on several occasions because I didn’t want it on our shoes when we came home from the park.
  3. I decided, I don’t like cleaning the bathroom. When I had places to go, people to see and things to do, this was a chore I could do in just under an hour. Now it feels like it takes me all day to do the same stuff.
  4. My neighborhood is not as diverse as I thought it was. Sometimes the only person I see that looks like me is the mailman.
  5. I find that I like cooking dinner. I’m planning, preparing and making time to do so now. I’m even getting better at making heart healthy dishes.
  6. I like that many houses in my neighborhood have very pretty lawns. I just don’t like hearing the lawn services four days a week.
  7. The local Farmer’s Market is really cool. They are full of healthy fruits, veggies and tasty delicious treats too.
  8. We need more sidewalks. I don’t know why they aren’t included when communities are planned but they’re needed all over Pierce County.
  9. Lakewood has a lot of unsung heroes. For instance, there are people, not employees, that pick-up leaves and branches after the storms. Here’s a big shout-out to them for doing extra to keep the community safe and looking good.
  10. I think I’m the nosy neighbor because looking out the window is how I’ve seen most of this. What do you think?
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FOMO?

she wanted company, she still missed her friends and family; missed gathering just to watch TV or to share a meal

Fear of Missing Out, is that what plagued her? She was a true social butterfly. She was very outgoing, caring and didn’t know many strangers. Is that why the nursing home was so hard on her? Or maybe it was the stay home order that made her feel left-out and alone? So many people were close but just not available to visit, even before COVID. Did she think we’d forgotten about her?

The nursing home was small enough that she knew the staff by name…sometimes their momma & daddy name too. While she balked initially, she even said she was going to take an Uber and go home, she became accustomed to it. I don’t know if that was a good thing or not. I wonder everyday if being there started her heavenly transition. Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t like the place, but she did, as she’s done in the past, made the best of a bad situation. There were times I called and she complained about the room temperature, the food or her roommates toilet habits. She would contact the maintenance staff, usually a friend of a relative or friend of a friend (six-degrees of separation is a prevalent concept in Harford county) and have them make adjustments to vents or gages. Or when it came to her meals, she said on several occasions, she could do a better job than the cook they had on staff. That’s because the food would be either unseasoned and cold or overly seasoned and cold. She only had one Goldilocks moment there. She called me one day to tell me that she had finally, after three months, received a hot meal and it was tasty! I’m sure she sent an exasperated word to the kitchen to tell them the same and to say thank you to them too. And for some reason, the staff couldn’t remember that she was blind, not deaf or suffering from dementia. So she and the roommate would sometimes sit at their door and talk to the staff walking by. They would have little chats with almost everyone that passed by about what was happening in the nursing home, even in a different wing. Sometimes she would call them by their name before they spotted her. It really confused the staff when I would complain that they weren’t giving her any tools to help her overcome her blindness. She had those people convinced that she was only a little blind, in one eye no less. And then came COVID-19.

In the beginning, we both speculated on the virus, how long we would have to be stuck inside and even if it was caused by the government. I remember one call where she said other friends and family members were getting together for some sort of party or gathering. I felt sad for her but, I insisted that not attending a party, even if we shared DNA, was the smart thing to do. I think I gave her the, “if your friends…” speech. She wasn’t happy with my perspective and told me so. Ya’ll, I had to remind her that she’d given me that speech on more than one occasion and that I was better for it.

I don’t think it made an impact on her until the next round of shelter in place orders. But still, she wanted company, she still missed her friends and family; missed gathering just to watch TV or to share a meal and she didn’t want to be out of the loop. For some of us to call and talk to her daily just wasn’t enough. She could hear all about the daily adventures of her great-grandson or the littlest cousins, how your workday went or a corny joke but, she needed more engagement; she missed the family being able to pop-in to check on her, even just talking to her through the window.

I remember she would always want others to feel included, to feel like family too. I can’t tell you how many times she would pack at least two more kids and two more adults in her little red fire truck. This was before some of y’all time when the seatbelt laws weren’t so stringent. If it was cold, we’d visit an uncle and watch whatever sport was in season, boxing, basketball & football, college or professional. If it was warm out, we’d go to a park and watch backgammon tournaments and pick-up games. This was well before Will Smith’s Summertime so the backdrop music was usually LTD, Parliment Funkadelic or Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, Bustin Loose. Before we’d get back in the car to go home, she’d make a few new friends to connect with the next weekend.

It’s hard for me to phantom that she would have a fear of missing out. After all, she was known to be the life of the party, even if the party was a little food and tunes blasting from the speakers in her car. Give her just those two elements and she’d have everyone, young & old, dancing, singing and having a good time. And often, others, that weren’t invited yet, would be wondering what they were missing.

Confessions of a Sound Transit Rider

Oh man, I almost missed the bus. I had my head down, looking at my phone for the next arrival. It seems like the app is a few minutes behind because it said the 592 to Lakewood/Dupont had already passed stop 360- 2nd and Cherry, at 1759. I looked at the time, 1758, and when I looked up, there went the bus. Shoot, the sucker did a rolling stop and moved on! Praise God for the stop light  I had to jog a little but I caught him at the next stop.

Tuesdays and Thursdays Hurt The Most

On December 19th 2020, my world shifted; my mom died. On the outside I was still functioning and trying to handle it. However, on the inside, the hole in my heart was gigantic. On December 26th 2020, my world shook and tilted; my grandmother died. On the outside I was not functioning, I was numb. The hole in my heart became gargantuan. Over the last two months I feel like my world has crumbled. I want to remember them but it hurts. I miss them so much, especially on Tuesdays & Thursdays. See, I would call them on Tuesday & Thursday.
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Hey, I got a joke for you….
Usually the conversations weren’t too long but I got loads of love, inspiration and wisdom from them. I’d call my mom in the morning and my grandmother after work. We would talk about the weather, food and cooking, work, politics and family. I would tell them what cute antic my grandson did over the weekend. Like how one day he went to every room in the house and turned on the lights. They laughed and agreed that it was because he could reach the light switches and because he wanted to see his toys. And since they both were up on current events, we would discuss the messy state of affairs of the country. They both had seen a lot in their lives and they were not impressed with 2020. Even still, they were sure to cast their votes in November. That tells me they were hopeful that “a change was going to come” (in my Sam Cooke voice) When I would share about my hectic work day and snarky coworkers, they would encourage me to do my best. My mom worked in primarily customer service based positions and grandmother had worked in healthcare so they both had experienced long work days and snarky coworkers. They also told me not to take any poop from said coworkers! If God had me there, it was for a reason and those who didn’t like it could just get over it. The most popular subject by far was food. We would talk about cooking methods or how my husband made a big pot of spaghetti for lunch on Sunday or who had the best chicken sandwich. I got cooking tips from both of them and now wish I’d written them down. Our food conversations were also about what they had eaten that day. My mother was in a nursing home and assured me that she could do a better job than their kitchen staff. She would have an aide get her cereal and KFC or Fish-filets from McDonald’s for brunch. My grandmother sometimes would have grits, hamburger with gravy and cake/cookies for breakfast. Nope, not your usual meals, but it is what they enjoyed. And if you know like I do, no need to fuss too much with older people, they just do what they want. So, for eight weeks I haven’t had anybody to call. I miss talking to them about everyday mundane stuff. So many times I’ve picked up the phone to call and share something, to check on them or to hear their voices. Yeah, Tuesdays & Thursdays hurt but so do Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
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So You’re Going to The Post Office

So you’re going to the post office. Here are a few tips to help you. If you’re like me, you haven’t finished your shopping yet, gasp, clutch the pearls! But you do have gifts to send to a few friends across the country, even to your cousin in the Navy. First, plan your trip. Yes, just like a Target run, you need to prepare. Are the boxes wrapped and addressed properly, do you need a customs declaration, can you ship cookies and batteries in the same box? So before you pack it all in the car, stand in a long line only to find out it’s the wrong line, or realize you need more information, take these steps:
  1. Find out the busiest day and time at your local station. You can just go in to buy a book of stamps and ask the window clerk about the busiest times, the very last day to ship in time for Christmas or if they’ll be doing something different for mailing boxes this season.
  2. And while you’re getting stamps, you might want to pick up some free (USPS)boxes and buy some tape. Those boxes with the cute Christmas designs will cost you a couple dollars, plus postage. And guess what, the tape isn’t free people!
  3. Okay, now that you know the busiest times, the deadline and have the supplies, go home and get to wrapping.
  4. With everything wrapped, boxed, taped and addressed, you’re ready to ship. Before you leave, make sure you hydrate and have a mint or some gum. Be sure to take you mask, ear buds and grab a snack too.
  5. Once you’re in line, be sure to smile and share a corny joke, all while social-distancing of course. It’s never an enjoyable experience when somebody is bemoaning how slow the line moves. And you can tell when another customer didn’t prepare and will be asking to speak to the manager/supervisor. So smile; everyone is there trying to do the same thing, send love to loved ones.
  6. And remember, the postal workers want to deliver your boxes swiftly and safely, so don’t give them any gruff, especially if you took a short-cut. Not only do they have mail processing and delivery on their minds, they also have shopping, shipping and gifting to do for their own family and friends too.
Hope this helps make a better visit for you!