Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Prescription for Cabin Fever — March 18, 2020

Prescription for Cabin Fever

Experiencing a bit of cabin fever? Government restrictions related to the coronavirus bugging you? Looking for a quick cure for cabin fever? Keep reading! 

Today we bring an expert to the blog to share tips for coping with cabin fever. Our expert has four years or more under her belt of being confined. Chronic pain has been her nemesis, but her tips will apply as well to cabin fever patients.

Here’s a list of helpful tips and hints for coping with the frustrating symptoms associated with cabin fever:

  1. Grab a good book and start reading. Need help finding a book? Check out book descriptions and reviews on Goodreads.
  2. Do a jigsaw puzzle. It may seem a bit old-school, but they can be lots of good fun unless you have cats who want to help!
  3. Schedule a movie and popcorn night. Especially popular if you have children around.
  4. Call a friend or two you haven’t touched base with in a while.
  5. Get out some board games or a deck of cards.
  6. Sort through old photos.
  7. Try a new hobby, like knitting, crocheting, stained glass, writing poetry, or Sudoku.
  8. Pour through cookbooks looking for a new recipe to try out.
  9. Start pre-spring cleaning. That way you won’t have so much to do when the good weather arrives.
  10. That home improvement project you’ve been postponing is something you could work on.
  11. How about adult coloring? Check out these sites for good resources to get you started: Johanna Basford, Colorit, Art Is Fun!, and The Spruce Crafts.
  12. If you’re a TV watcher, catch the newest season of your favorite show on Netflix.
  13. Begin researching family history and start a family tree.
  14. Plan a weekend getaway for after the restrictions are lifted.
  15. Enjoy reading aloud rather than alone and silently? Maybe this is a good family activity if you have young readers.
  16. Get some form of exercise. If you can get outside and continue social distancing, take a short walk, say 15 minutes. Or perhaps you have some slightly never used exercise equipment you could put to good use. 
  17. Continue to engage your faith or spiritual life through reading and/or prayer, or both.
  18. Think about that spring garden. Perhaps it’s time to draw up a plan for what you want to plant and how.
  19. Give in to that power nap. It’s amazing how much that few minutes improves your attitude.
  20. Try meditation.
  21. Plan and treat your family to a picnic. Cook up hamburgers and hot dogs and all the fixings. Then spread a cheerful tablecloth or blanket on the floor and get out the paper goods and plastic forks and knives. Add some chips and condiments and have fun!
  22. If you’re a writer, try writing in a different genre than usual.

And lastly, remember to practice kindness even if you are self-quarantined with your family–may be just you and your partner or spouse, and maybe a few kids, or some other configuration of family. Spread kindness even in these different and difficult times.

kindness, quotation, cabin fever

Image attributions:
Featured image: David Mark from Pixabay 
Quotation: Random Acts of Kindness 

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.” — March 11, 2020

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.”

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.

Perhaps you learned this iconic quote in childhood. It is attributed to Watty Piper, a pen name of Arnold Munk, owner of the publishing firm of Platt & Munk. Munk wrote children’s books, including this favorite, The Little Engine That Could.
 
Little Golden Book, The Little Engine That Could, I Think I CanGrowing up, we read the Little Golden Book edition of The Little Engine That Could. Our favorite book soon became tattered, torn, faded, and fingerprinted with our love. With eight years between us, I read the book to my younger brother. 
 

 
On February 10th, we had a group of young men at our place to take down three old Doug firs. The approximate height of these trees was 135 feet. We knew that a lot of work and, yes, a mess would remain.
 
We understood that some existing shrubs and plants might suffer damage. But these trees had to go—they were encroaching on the front of our home. One of the first things we noticed was that a grouping of hyacinths were gone. Smashed by limbs bigger than the hyacinths would ever be.
 
Yesterday I noticed one white hyacinth was up to proving it could survive anything! I could hear that hyacinth repeating the words, “I think I can.” Today Bob pointed out there were two hyacinths there, both white. 
 
How symbolic this is of what we need to embrace today. In the face of this unknown virus and misinformation about it, we need a sense of calm coupled with determination. We need to prove we can and will survive this crisis. Further, we need to support our neighbors and community. And despite misinformation, we can find an authentic and reliable source.
 
And we need to adopt the mantra of that little engine of long ago and two white hyacinths beating the odds. Repeat after me:
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.

 

Featured image attribution: Etienne GONTIER from Pixabay 

It’s the Little Things That Count — March 4, 2020

It’s the Little Things That Count

As I reflect on the past four years, I realize that my grumbling, complaining, and feeling sorry for myself taught me something so simple:

 

little things, life, count

 

 

It is easy to list some of the simple things for which I am grateful:

  • God’s promises of healing
  • A simple smile
  • The words “I love you”
  • My husband cooking, cleaning, and more
  • A phone call from your son while he’s traveling on business
  • A short visit from your next-door neighbor
  • Bags of meals for several nights picked up by the same neighbor
  • Thoughtfulness from anyone
  • Numerous healthcare givers treating you well
  • The first sight of spring 2019 when Bob rolled me in a wheelchair outside the rehab center to see the daffodils blooming
  • The day I learned I was going home
  • How good my own bed felt after three weeks in the hospital and rehab
  • Enjoying the answered prayers offered by many friends and family members

 

simple things, little things, extraordinary things

 

Feature Image by Jagoda Kondratiuk on Unsplash

Miracles Happen — February 19, 2020

Miracles Happen

Watching for signs of spring can reveal miracles happening around us. The helleborus shown above is a miracle. The plant lives through the coldest and darkest nights of winter. Survives the winter rains and often hail and freezing rain. And still near Christmas you’ll find buds forming. Now, as we are in the middle of February, they are blooming. Our plants are full of blossoms! These plants and their blooms represent a miracle in my mind.

They could have succumbed to the harsh winter weather. The cold east wind bringing a tinge of iciness with it. At some elevations, these plants might have received a covering of snow. Yet, they bloom away. Miraculous in their survival.
 
On December 31st, I met with my pain management physician. He advised I had reached the end of free hemp and would need to buy it on my own. My first order of three 30 mL bottles (a mere 30-day supply) cost me approximately $200. 
 
My husband pointed out the hemp didn’t appear to diminish my pain level. A grocery shopping trip would find me lasting between 15 and 20 minutes on my feet. Then I had to give up and sit it out until Bob finished on his own. I couldn’t stand long enough to make a meal. I’d pull up my mother-in-law’s kitchen stool to the counter after 15 minutes or so. So many things I haven’t been able to do, and most of it because of pain from a bone harvest in 2001 during my first fusion.
 
After some discussion and prayer, Bob and I decided I should stop taking the hemp. After all, at that price, why should we buy it if it wasn’t working? So I did. Early in February, I took my last dose of hemp. It was an emotional decision because the hemp seemed to help at first. But, increasing doses didn’t seem to increase the hemp’s effectiveness against pain.
 
I confess if I leave home I do take a small dose of a prescription pain reliever as a precaution. After spending a couple of hours visiting friends in their home last week, we stopped at the grocery. I actually made it through the store without stopping to sit at all!!!
 
Yes, I can say I am pain-free now. Since the late 1990s, I have struggled with some kind of back pain. Most have increased in intensity over time. Between spinal fusions, I would have relief and often for long periods of time. Yet, the pain was never totally gone. 
 
Please don’t ask me what caused this tremendous turnaround. Neither Bob nor I can answer that question. We accept it as a miracle. The Bible tells us that miracles are born of prayer and faith:
 
Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

(Mark 5:34, The Message)

 
Your comments and thoughts are welcome. If you have stories of miracles, I would love to hear them. If you have stories of those who haven’t received a miracle and you wonder why, feel free to share those as well. Sharing stories is important in building community as well as spreading God’s love.

 

Featured image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

2020 Word :: Renewal — February 5, 2020

2020 Word :: Renewal

Choosing a word for 2020 has been a slow process for me. There were many I could have chosen and almost did. Yet they didn’t seem to fill the bill, so to speak.

 
Simultaneously, I started my word search and reading Leeana Tankersley‘s book. Tankersley’s book, The Brave Practice of Releasing Hurt & Receiving Rest, guides us through her personal transformation. Within the first pages of her book, Tankersley recalls four words from the Rule of St. Benedict:
 
Always we begin again.
 
I picked up my highlighter and read on. The words Tankersley wrote I soaked up like a sponge. Were her words speaking to me? Was it some higher power? Maybe, on both counts.
 
Recently I had met with a therapist who insisted I did not want to go back to the person I was in 2016 when I fell. He confidently promised that he was certain that I wanted to leave that person behind. That I needed to find the person I had “evolved into over the last four years.” 
 
What he didn’t understand is that it is as though I left behind a lot over the past four years. There’s a manuscript lying in my studio untouched. I have ideas for two other books, one of which was “in utero” back in 2017. My volunteer work disappeared due to my inability to carry out the job description. My life as a wife and mother has changed in many ways.
 
I felt like I had lost my former self. I want to recapture my former self. The self I was when I left home on the evening of January 24, 2016.
 
Those four words, [a]lways we begin again,” were like the lyrics to a favorite song—they stuck in my mind. But four words do not constitute a word for 2020. They constitute a phrase. Who has heard of a phrase for the year?
 
Off I headed to grab a dictionary and thesaurus and sort out these four wonderful words. But on my way, I found my word.
 
I stopped and brought up the subject to Bob, my handy husband. During our talk, he told me a story about a gift he received in church the Sunday before.
 
I didn’t attend worship that Sunday and missed that week’s children’s time. In the course of their special time, each child received a star that had a word written on it. There were extra stars, and the children shared them with members of the congregation. Bob received a star with the word renewalwritten on it (the link is to the root word, “renew”).
 
Bob believed that the word he received was meant for me. He brought it home to me. And I pondered this word with thought and heart, plus a quick glance at the dictionary and thesaurus.
 
That’s the history of my word search for 2020. Renewal seems to be the right choice for me. With four years behind me now plus the first anniversary of my surgery around the corner, I am ready to begin again. I am ready to renew my life as I enjoyed, lived, and loved it on the evening of January 24, 2016. I have lots of catching up to do [a]s [I] begin again” with my renewal—the wife, mother, writer, blogger, and more!

 

begin again, start over, renew, word 2020 

Featured image attribution: Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Quiet Times — October 14, 2019

Quiet Times

     Silence is more musical than any song.
~~
Christina Rosetti

The last week resulted in quiet times here on the blog and at home. A week of blank days on my calendar awaited me. I had grand plans.

With physical therapy appointments scheduled now every other week, I had no reason to go there. And there were no doctor appointments to keep. 

My plans included establishing an at-home physical therapy schedule as two weeks between appointments is a good bit of downtime. I also hoped to move my “office” supplies and writing tools back to the corner of my workroom. And we had lunch dates planned with two couples. I was excited by these prospects.

What I thought were allergies last weekend turned into a nasty cold by Tuesday morning. From then until now, this monster destroyed my plans. We did get in one lunch date on Monday. I hope that couple doesn’t get my cold germs!

But there is always a silver lining, isn’t there?

Ah, the quiet times of a slow and unburdened week. I’ve sipped tea while reading and jotting down notes. My handy yellow highlighter waits by my chair. Read an entire Elizabeth George Inspector Lynley mystery, plus started a Dinty Moore book on writing the personal essay (good stuff!). In the background, I’ve listened to classical music. 

I’ve stolen naps here and there from bed to recliner with a cozy tuxedo kitty on my lap or by my side. Somehow Maggie has just the magic to help one sleep easy.

I’ve simply allowed myself to be soothed by the need not to be hurried to get here, go there, and turn around to do the same thing tomorrow. Even though my plans were dispelled and I was feeling unhealthy, it was ever so nice.