We’ve all had those days.  We start out feeling motivated and excited.  And then little things start chipping away at it.  Then it turns into big things. Then you get pissed off at everything and everybody.

That was me yesterday.  Fortunately, I’ve learned how to literally put on the brakes and change the energy. Here are some tips on how to shift your mindset and re-start your week.

Break the Cycle. I know, you’re going to say you’re not causing any of the problems, and you’re right.  But your focus on problems is causing your day to spiral.  This is Law of Attraction.  It’s NOT positive thinking.  It’s simply where you’re focusing your attention.  By focusing on the thought “I don’t want any more problems”, the universe simply hears more problems and gives them to you.  Literally you need to shift your perspective and focus on whatever, even if it’s the tiniest thing, that’s going right.

Give yourself a time out. Literally – like just say no to whatever you were planning. Yesterday I got stuck in traffic and the minute I got home I needed to start thinking about dinner because I needed to pick my daughter up from her cheer practice.  I love cooking and I was planning on making empanadas, but I found myself annoyed and resentful as I was looking at the clock.  I finally said, “screw it”, threw some burgers on the grill and put a bagged salad on the plates and voila – dinner was served which allowed me some time to go out for a walk and relax. Way more important than cooking a meal that would have taken up that time.

Breathe. Seriously. When we’re stressed we tend to hold our breath.  If you’re sitting at a traffic light, if you’re at your desk or even if you’re in the bathroom practice relaxing breathing.  Breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4 and breathe out for a count of 4.  Do this 5 times and you’ll feel your body relaxing.

Write it down. While all the little annoyances built up over the day, chances are that they’ve become way bigger in your head (which is probably ready to explode.) Write down a list of all the things that happened.  This will do two things –

  1. It will get everything out of your head which will immediately relax you
  2. You can look at the list and probably realize there wasn’t as much as you thought but you can also figure out practical steps for dealing with it all.

Do some aromatherapy. I have several essential oils – lavender, eucalyptus, orange and peppermint and use them to help my mood and my overall health.  Certain scents can invigorate you or calm you down.  I put them in a diffuser, dab on my temples, put a few drops into a hot shower with me, even just sniff them.  They help tremendously.

Get your heart pumping. There’s nothing like getting your endorphins to kick in for clearing your mind. If it’s too late to go for a walk outside put on some music and dance. Even do jumping jacks. Whatever you want to do to get your energy up. Whatever you do, don’t just sit there!

Tune out. The last thing you need to do is go on social media and get annoyed by posts or watch the news.  Stay away from toxic energy.  Instead read a book or turn on a comedy. If you have a friend who you know will make you laugh or put everything in perspective reach out but if it’s someone who’s going to try and top your complaints stay away.

We all have crappy days and that will always be the case. But by creating perspective and practicing self-care they don’t have to cause us to spiral down.

Are you committed to achieving your personal and professional goals in midlife? Join my group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce, Females!

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

August is almost here, which means that move-in time for college students is quickly approaching. Leaving for college can be stressful, especially when it’s your first time, as you’re flooded with lists stacked with items you’re supposed to bring and textbooks you’ll need to buy. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of five must-haves for any college freshman or college student in general who’s heading back to school this fall.

Mattress Topper

mattress topper for a college studentOne of the biggest parts of your dorm is your bed. After all, you’ll spend most of your time in your dorm sleeping. However, dorm beds can be quite uncomfortable if you don’t come prepared with a mattress topper to soften the blow on your body. With LUCID’s Memory Foam Mattress Topper, you can transform the average dorm room bed into a plush and comfortable bed for sleeping. The 4-inch mattress topper is made of gel memory foam that adds a soft and comforting feel. Infused with gel material, this mattress topper captures and distributes heat for a cooler memory foam experience. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3gaFc4u

Storage Cart

Storage cart for college dorm

 

It’s no secret that some dorm rooms can be rather small. Students have to learn to utilize storage wherever they can so that their rooms don’t become overwhelmed with clothes, textbooks, and more. Luckily, there are storage containers designed to make the life of a college student easier. The Studio 3B 4-Drawer Storage Cart is one of those products. Not only is this storage cart perfect for textbooks, notebooks and other school supplies, but it can also double as a night stand for next to your bed. Plus, it has wheels, which makes it perfect for move-in. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2Bl4sFX.

 

Personal Safe

Personal safe Life with a roommate can be nerve-wracking at first, especially for students who have never shared a living space before. When it comes to your most valued items, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when sharing your room with someone else. With Master Lock’s Personal Safe, you can ensure that your expensive items remain safe and secure when you’re not in your room. This portable Personal Safe is designed with a four-digit combination that you set yourself and is shock absorbing with an earbud and charging cable access port so students can charge devices or listen to music from devices that are locked inside the safe. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2V5xkZX

LED Desk Lamp

LED desk lamp for dorm deskLet’s face it: college dorm lighting isn’t great. The lights provided can be harsh or too dim, and make it difficult to do work at night when light is no longer pouring in from the windows. Luckily, Yostyle has created the perfect desk lamp to solve this problem. With their LED Desk Lamp Light, students can adjust their lighting with the 4 adjustable brightness settings. Plus, the light has 4 USB ports and 2 outlets, allowing students to charge devices while at their desk, or wherever the light is to be placed. Don’t just settle for average dorm lighting. Make your life easier with Yostyle’s LED Desk Lamp. Buy here: https://amzn.to/31UZv22

Shower Shoes

Shower shoes for dorm bathroomThe idea of a “communal bathroom” can be frightening at first, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that bad, as long as you have one very important item: shower shoes. When utilizing a communal bathroom, you’re sharing the showers with multiple other students on your floor, so to avoid potential fungal infections, shower shoes are an essential. With Ranberone’s Shower Sandal Slippers, you can enjoy your showers without any worry. Built with drainage holes throughout the shoe, these slippers are quick-drying and are perfect for the shower, plus their anti-slip design gives your feet a good grip without any fear of slipping. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3dzBNKV

The idea of moving to college can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! With these items you’ll be well prepared to enjoy your time this fall.

 

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

With the past few weeks being filled with high school graduations, students and parents alike are realizing that the inevitable fall semester is arriving faster than they expected. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that colleges and universities will be making changes to adjust to what we’ve begun to know as the “new normal”.  Below are five items that I think any and every college student could benefit from having on the new versions of their campuses.

Customizable Mask

Customized facemasks You can’t drive around your town or walk into any building without seeing at least one person wearing a mask. In fact, some states like Massachusetts have even made it illegal to walk around outside without having a mask on your face. For students, in-person classes may require you to wear a mask, so why not have one that also promotes school spirit? With Just Customized’s Reusable Customizable Mask, students can do just that. The polyester/spandex blend makes for a comfortable, breathable mask that’s made right here in the United States. It’s washable, reusable, and perfect for students who don’t want to wear a boring mask when sitting in their lecture halls. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2YtdMj5

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizerAs we all learned at the beginning of the pandemic, hand sanitizer can be hard to come by which is unfortunate considering it’s been rather crucial during this time. When on a college campus, students can come into contact with a number of things, so with PURA D’OR Cruelty Free, Non-Toxic, American-made hand sanitizer, students can be prepared to rid their hands of any germs they stumble into during their daily-life. Plus, with a two-pack, students can keep one in their backpack at all times, and the other in their dorm room so they’re always ready to sanitize. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3hxkqxs

 

Multi-Surface Cleaning Spray

Mrs Meyer's multi-surface cleaning sprayWhen it comes to college surfaces, they can be quite dirty after being touched by so many students. One important item to have in your dorm room at all times, is multi-surface cleaning spray. Whether it’s for your bedroom, kitchen, common room or bathroom, to avoid contact with COVID-19, it’s necessary to be maintaining a clean space. With Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner Spray, students can ensure that their living space is clean and COVID-free constantly. This lavender scented Cruelty-Free spray is perfect for keeping those surfaces clean. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2MRdsF8

 

Food Containers

Meal prep containersDining halls are a huge part of the college experience. They’re filled with pre-made food, they’re social and they’re often scattered throughout campus, making them easy and accessible. However, they’re also crowded, filled with students who need something to eat or a place to study. During this “new normal” students may choose to eat their food elsewhere, whether that be outside where it’s safer, or in their dorm room where they feel more comfortable. With Freshware Reusable Food Containers, students can still get their food from the dining hall but have the ability to bring it somewhere else to eat. These containers are microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe, and are reusable, stackable and leak-resistant. Students will get the food they want while avoiding large crowds. Buy here: https://amzn.to/37pXs6A

Shower Caddy

Shower caddy for dorm showerOne thing that most college freshmen can look forward to is communal bathrooms. When using such bathrooms, it’s important to utilize a shower caddy. During this “new normal”, students should be careful to protect their shower items from coming in contact with other people using the communal bathrooms. With Handy Laundry’s Dorm Shower Caddy, the items stay covered in the easiest way possible. Plus, the caddy can also fold flat for storage, making it perfect for packing. Made of porous and durable nylon mesh, this shower caddy can go straight into the shower. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2UEUyFT

While this “new normal” may seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that companies are pushing products to make it easier for you. Regardless of where your student may be going off to school, their safety is most important, but that doesn’t mean that college can’t be fun and enjoyable. Stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy your fall semesters!

 

 

 

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

I’ll admit, even though I feel like I’m in my 30’s, the reality is I’m smack dab in midlife and health issues I would have never considered before should now be more in the forefront of my mind.  Yes, I eat healthy, work out and get regular mammograms.  But I’ve never even considered the various tests I should be doing to see about potential underlying health problems. It just wasn’t top of mind and, to be honest, I can’t imagine taking an entire day or several days away from work to get all the testing done. But recently the company LetsGetChecked reached out to me to review their home health testing kits.

Let me start by saying I had no idea how many tests existed.  LetsGetChecked has five different categories – Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Sexual Health, Wellness and even COVID testing for those who are eligible.  They even offer testing for Lyme Disease which is a huge concern for me as I live in a heavily wooded area where deer tics are prevalent.  Under each category there are at least 10 – 20 tests with explanations as to why each is important.  For example, under Women’s Health the suggested tests include Female Fertility, HPV, Thyroid, Liver, Cholesterol, Celiac, Colon Cancer Screening and Iron.

I decided to do the Essential Vitamin Test which tests my levels for Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 and Folate Serum.  When you click on the test you want to order it tells you about the collection method (meaning finger prick or urine) why this test is important, when you should test and how often you should test.

A few things that concerned me were:

What lab do they use to test my results? Samples are processed in the same labs used by primary care providers and hospitals.

What about privacy issues?  All data is completely anonymized to ensure that your privacy is maintained throughout the process. They will not share your information with any third party.

What happens if I get an abnormal result for my test? LetsGetChecked has a team of physicians who will review your order and results. Their nursing team is on standby throughout the testing process and, if you test positive, you will receive a call to discuss your results and treatment options.

The directions are easy to follow and everything you need is included. Be sure to activate your test online before starting.  You get 4 lancets in case you need to prick your finger more than once as you need to draw enough blood to fill up to the line. I admit I was a bit squeamish at first at the thought of piercing my own finger but it was really no big deal.  Once you collect your sample it’s important to seal it tightly and turn it upside down a few times to be sure to mix it so it’s preserved for the lab results.  Collect the sample in the morning so it can be mailed back the same day.

Once your sample arrives in the laboratory, confidential results will be available from your secure online account within 2 to 5 days.

Check out the various tests available and get 20% off by using my code  ConfidentialHealth20  HERE.

 

 

 

 

Twenty-three years ago, when my baby died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome I thought my world would crash down around me.  How do you survive the death of your baby?  Somehow I did.  As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And that was certainly everyone’s opinion of me -that I must be incredibly strong and that they could never survive such a tragedy.  People never realize what they can survive when there’s no other choice.

Since then I’ve experienced many more hardships – my other son is Intellectually Disabled and my second husband was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis four weeks after we were married and is now confined to a powerchair.  I was financially ruined from my first marriage and now I’m the only source of income for my family of six including my mother who lives with us. People hear my story and they look at me in wonder or pity or awe.

Despite all of this I’ve built a life of abundance and joy.  I am resilient.

I’m certainly not alone. There are so many stories of life-altering tragedy and how people have  overcome incredible loss and come out the other side stronger.

Yes, humans are remarkably resilient. No doubt resilience is what’s needed to survive in a world that’s becoming increasingly unpredictable. Resilience is needed in your career and your relationships.  Yet there’s a trade-off when we’re super resilient and that’s the loss of vulnerability.  Who among us hasn’t been burned in a relationship and reluctant to let our guard down with the next person we meet?  Don’t get me wrong, honing our BS meter with people is important in order to avoid getting screwed over but that’s different than never allowing someone to get close to you for fear of being hurt again.

While I’m happily remarried, it took me a while to become vulnerable and really open up to my husband.  When I had done that in the past my feelings and dreams were trampled on and my insecurities were used as weapons against me. I realized, however, that if I had any hope of having a successful and authentic relationship I needed to take the risk.

As a caregiver for my husband, son and mother and parenting my daughters I have a bunch of people who rely on me. There are times when I feel I just need to keep my head down and move forward.  I’m in charge of keeping all the balls in the air and if I take my eye off one of them the entire system I’ve created will come crashing down.  Caregivers are beyond resilient which doesn’t allow much room for vulnerability.  We don’t have time to explore our feelings nor do we feel we have the right to complain or admit our fears. This leads, however, to becoming resentful of our role.  Being able to share feelings in a safe place with either a friend, therapist or support group is so important for maintaining your own emotional well-being.

Resilience and vulnerability in your career are equally tricky especially for women entrepreneurs.  When we are tough at negotiating with a vendor or client we’re perceived as a bitch.  If we discuss the challenges we have raising kids, caring for our aging parents while working a demanding job we’re dismissed as not being strong enough.  But intuitively we know that for a business to succeed we must connect with our clients in authentic ways.

We need to show up as a human being, with our faults and vulnerabilities.

Finding the balance between vulnerability and resiliency isn’t easy.  I know for certain that when my son died a piece of my heart died with him.  Since then I hardly cry when another friend or relative dies.  When my favorite uncle, even my dad died I hardly shed a tear.  It’s certainly not that I didn’t love them but it’s as if my soul knew it needed to become super resilient to withstand another tragedy as great as the death of my baby. My threshold for tolerating grief is quite high.

Vulnerability is a luxury that some are not allowed. People who are in abusive relationships or a hostile work environment can never show their weak spots.  Being vulnerable requires a level of trust that some have come to believe shouldn’t be granted to anyone.  That’s not cynical it’s self-preservation.

Vulnerability requires courage.  It’s much easier to be resilient and avoid authentic and meaningful relationships.  Resilience doesn’t require you to feel.  Being vulnerable means you’re taking a risk on yourself and others.

Have you learned to be vulnerable and was it successful?  Share here and help someone else who might be struggling.

Want to connect with other Fabulous Fierce Females?   Join our Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous Fierce Females!

 

Let’s face it – most women are pleasers. We grew up playing with baby dolls and being “mommy.”  We are taught to be caregivers for everyone. Our parents wanted us to “dress appropriately” and “act like a lady.”  In school our grades reflected whether we got along well with others and followed instructions.

In short, the message we received was that our job was to be kind, take care of others and don’t make waves.

That’s still the message women receive and we are harshly labeled by the media and society when we don’t conform. At work if we advocate strongly for our idea we’re a bitch. If we get into a debate the adjective used to describe our interaction is “shrill.”  And of course, if we really go nuts then we must be on our period.

The adjectives used for men are completely different – confident, tough, a good negotiator.  And hormones are never a factor.

Several years ago a new phrase became popular – “disruptor.” Companies and products that are redefining a category or shaking up their industry with new ideas are disruptors.  The people who are disruptors are considered visionaries.

Women in midlife need to be disruptors as well.  We should be envisioning our future and living life on our terms as joyfully as possible. Doing so requires us to be laser-focused on what we do and don’t want in our lives and manifesting it, regardless of what the people around us think.  Here’s the thing, most people in our lives don’t want us to change. It either will inconvenience them or threaten their view of how life should be lived. And people looooovvveeee to tell us what we should be doing!

We need to change our mindset of what is acceptable behavior for us and the people in our tribe. By advocating for what you want and creating standards for what you will not allow you’re not a bitch your self-empowered. This is true in your professional and personal life.  It’s time to stop excusing rude, insensitive comments couched as advice and concern that leave you feeling badly about yourself.  Whether it’s your sister, friend or business colleague they need to hear from you in very confident language that you will no longer engage in conversations that you consider to be toxic or not supportive.

Recently on my You Tube Channel I did a video on establishing boundaries with family, friends and business colleagues who aren’t supportive.  We talked about having the right to say “No!” to relationships, situations and obligations and how to do it.

How often do you find yourself doing something because you think that’s what you “should” be doing? We don’t want to join the committee or go to the family party but we do it because at some point we were programmed to believe that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Stop and ask yourself the question – how would my life be positively or negatively impacted if I said “No” to these things?  Chances are, if you shut down the voice inside your head that tells you that you must do them, you’d not only feel happier but you’d have time to spend with a friend or work on your passion project or exercise or simply relax on the couch.  

There are positive outcomes from “No”

When you’re a mom and working long hours, it’s natural to want to give your kids as much of your time as you can.  There’s not a working mom alive who hasn’t heard the words “You never have time for me!”  Saying “no” to spending an afternoon with your son or daughter and instead exercising, reading a book or visiting a friend, seems incredibly selfish to most moms.  But not only is it important for your emotional and physical well-being, you’re also sending the message to your kids that caring for oneself is important.  Additionally, kids need to understand that your job is something you enjoy doing and their requests for you to stop working will also be met with a “no.

At work, “No” is extremely useful when a co-worker is trying to dump his/her share of a project on you or when your boss consistently asks you to stay late.  There’s a difference between being a team player and being taken advantage of.   The same holds true when you own your own business. Do you have a problem saying “No” to someone who isn’t willing to pay a fair price for your service or an employee who constantly shows up late or asks for time off?   These are just a few reasons your business might not be growing as you would like.

Do you say “No” enough?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time did I spend yesterday doing tasks/favors for other people?
  • How did I feel as I was doing them?
  • When was the last time I said “NO” to something I didn’t want to do?
  • How did that make me feel?

I’ve had my own struggle with boundary-setting and saying “No” lately.  Ever since the pandemic started I’ve been feeding my family of 6  Every. Single. Night. Before this, my daughters had afterschool activities and we rarely all ate together.  On many nights when either my husband, my mom or I were shuttling kids back and forth from activities dinner was “catch as catch can” meaning whatever you could find in the refrigerator or make yourself.

All of a sudden everyone was home and very quickly I found myself stressing as to what I was going to make for dinner.  I couldn’t focus on work past 4 o’clock as the thought of dinner loomed large. To be honest a great deal of this had to do with my mother (who lives with us) envisioning family dinners all together which rarely happened under normal circumstances. My daughters are great at making dinner for themselves and even my son with Intellectual Disabilities can whip up a mean plate of pasta and meatballs for himself.  I found myself very quickly becoming cranky and resentful.  If I wanted to go for a walk or exercise or have a social-distance cocktail with my friend I had to time it so I could still make dinner.

I discovered that I needed to say “No” to cooking dinner and eating together every night.  What I now do is state at the beginning of each day whether tonight would be everyone for themselves or dinner all together. By doing this I found I enjoyed mealtime much more and a ton of stress was lifted.

Please hear this:

It’s not your job to make anyone happy but yourself.

Think of something you consistently do that you would like to say “NO” to.  Practice stating to the person that you no longer will do that task.  When speaking to the person, even if it’s your child, be assertive and don’t apologize.

What would you rather be doing with that time you just saved? I’d love to hear from you!

Want to join a group of midlife women who are also deciding to live life to the fullest?  Join my Facebook Group – My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce Females!

For a person who loves to give and get hugs this social distancing due to COVID-19 has been tough.  I was talking to a friend the other day and said that when this is done I just want to invite all of my friends over and have a giant hug fest. But there’s one person I want to hug more than anyone – my friend Barb.

Barb has cancer. The bad kind.

Its’ been almost a year since her diagnosis and through that time I’ve learned a great deal about being a friend.

The Universe brought us together through our daughters’ shared activity of All-Star Cheer. Our first clue that we were destined to meet was the realization that I had attended high school with her husband and we had many mutual friends.

When you’re an All-Star Cheer mom you spend most weekends throughout the winter travelling to competitions.  Barb and I would share hotel rooms either by ourselves or with other cheer moms.  But the two of us were the early risers and the mornings were our time to drink coffee and have deep conversations about life.  Barb had already had a close call with death due to other health issues and my first-born Connor had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at 4 months old.  We came from the same working-class background and had similar beliefs about life in general.

Her daughter’s All-Star Cheer career ended when she headed off to college but our friendship remained strong although we saw less of each other.

And then she received her diagnosis – Stage 3B liver cancer.

I remember just a few weeks prior we had been out to dinner with our husbands and she mentioned that she had been losing weight.  She chalked it up to stress due to new job responsibilities and her son starting active duty for the USAF as a 2nd Lieutenant for Pilot Training in Texas.

When she told me the news and we had our first “serious” conversation I didn’t have the right words yet.  Barb’s my only friend to have been diagnosed with cancer. So, I merely listened.  And then I hung up the phone and broke down crying.  I cried for many days.  This in and of itself was a strange experience for me.  When Connor died, I cried so much I didn’t think I had any tears left in my body.  And, in a way, it made me numb towards death.  Since then I have lost my father, my wonderful Uncle and several other people but few tears came. But Barb was different and it broke down a wall in me that I thought would be up forever.  My friend isn’t supposed to die! We have kids and husbands and shared experiences!

I remember after Connor died my peer support counselor told me that I’m allowed to have a pity party but then I need to snap out of it and get back to living.  I knew that Barb needed me to be there for her – I mean really be there for her.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  She immediately decided that she would not turn to Dr. Google to read about her cancer.  Rather she would focus on the task at hand of fighting it.  I intended to roll-up my sleeves and be in her corner of the ring.

Our first tough conversation was me admitting that I felt helpless and wouldn’t always know what to say but that I promised her I would always listen and really hear her. That I would not make false assurances or pretend things weren’t as grave as they were.

It’s not easy sitting with grief and death.  It’s even more difficult to actually discuss it.

Maybe it’s because my son died and through that experience I realized that the last things a person wants to hear are false promises of hope or platitudes. The person who is ill or grieving just ends up feeling as if they’re not heard or that their feelings are irrelevant.

Grief and facing one’s mortality can be an isolating experience.  Death makes most people extremely uncomfortable so by not talking about it we can pretend it’s not real.  As the saying goes, “Denial is not a river in Egypt

But there’s a difference between denial and optimism just as there’s a difference between negativity and pragmatism.

The type of chemo Barb went through required her to come home with an IV for 48 hours every other week.  Prior to the start of that she was in and out of the hospital at least seven times over the course of two months.  She was exhausted and scared. When her chemo started she asked if I could sit with her on the days when she had her IV. She wouldn’t be able to do anything and because of terrible neuropathy she couldn’t touch or be exposed to anything cold.  Even a cold drink was too painful. She would also be too weak to get up from the couch. As a person who had been a caregiver all her life it was, at first, hard for Barb to accept care.  Being cared for creates a level of vulnerability that leaves the person almost raw. For me, however, being the caregiver was an honor.

And so began a new journey in our friendship that strengthened every other Thursday. Every visit was different.  Sometimes she was so weak she couldn’t speak and so I would simply sit there next to her.  Other times she had strength and we would talk about everything from what was new on Netflix to what our kids were up to.  Out of the blue one day she said she felt like a burger so we ordered up a meal from McDonalds on Uber Eats. And yes, there were those times when we cried together and she shared with me her deepest fears.

We talked about death in a very real, honest way. About the randomness of life and death and that none of us know what tomorrow will bring.  She has discussed with me end-of-life plans in which I listen and respect her wishes.

As her chemo progressed and her numbers improved we began to tentatively talk about plans for the future, just not too far into the future. Yes, we’ve cried together but we’ve also laughed together. We went to a restaurant and celebrated her digging into a big plate of mashed potatoes and gravy. We share stories about how our husbands are wonderful and exasperating.

Because of COVID-19 it’s been far too long since I’ve seen her in person. We’ve done Facetime calls and Zoom double dates but I miss seeing her in person. The other day she said that the support of her family is wonderful, but she misses her friends.

This is the hug I so desperately want to give.

The hugs aren’t just about comforting her, they’re also about giving me the assurance that she’s still here. It’s about acknowledging that we’re still in this fight together.

Am I the only woman out there who’s sleep pattern is completely wrecked by this quarantine? For those of us who are used to living by a schedule and keeping our family’s life running smoothly this is completely screwing us up.

Or is it?

I’m a firm believer in the universe providing teachable moments that allow us to re-adjust. OK, this is more than just a moment – it’s a giant time-out.

I think most of us needed it for various reasons but for those of us who are caregivers, moms and entrepreneurs one of the lessons might just be to ease up.

As is typical of me, I started out this quarantine with a game plan – and my trusty white board.  Afterall, I work from my home office regularly, how different could this be?

I started lists of projects my teenagers could help me with when they were done with online school.  I assigned cooking, spring cleaning and activities with their brother Spencer who has intellectual disabilities.  Spencer was my greatest challenge.  He attends a day program and routine is critical for many people with intellectual disabilities.  I planned exercise time, drawing, Facetime with his friends and “some” TV.

I also had to plan what to do about my mom who lives with us.  As with many people from her generation, she likes to go to the grocery store every day rather than do a big shopping.  She also visits my aunt in a nursing home daily.  I had recently convinced her to start doing an exercise class at the senior center a few times per week.  Even though she lives with us she has her own schedule and I was nervous about her becoming isolated.  And so, I factored her into my plans as well.  We would have game nights and I would take walks with her and look through old photos.

Then there was date time with my husband to consider.  Greg has Primary Progressive MS and uses a power chair so our dates usually consisted of going to the movies or out to dinner with friends.  Clearly that was now out of the question.  I envisioned some quiet dinners alone – which I didn’t think through given that there was nowhere for the rest of the family to go during these quiet dinners!

I even factored in my own changes.  Rather than going to the gym I’d do classes online.  I already practiced yoga at home so throwing in some cardio and weight training would be easy.

And then the first day of quarantine happened.

It felt like a snow day with the kids home.  Rather than waking up at my normal 5:30A and meditating I found myself shutting off the alarm and sleeping until 7.  I rationalized that since the girl’s didn’t have to head off for school I’d still have extra time before they got up.  Spencer turned on the TV the minute he woke up.  I figured it was the first day and I wanted to get into the new routine so I’d let it slide.  My friends and I started texting about how crazy the world was becoming and before I knew it, it was 10:30.  I started thinking about what I was going to make for our first big family dinner.  If it was our normal routine the girls would be at cheer practice and wouldn’t be home for dinner.  Now suddenly I was faced with the prospect of making dinner for six people EVERY NIGHT.

By now it was 2P and I needed to buckle down and work.  I couldn’t take the time to walk the girls through the chores I wanted them to do and they were more than happy to spend the entire afternoon watching Tik Toks.  By 4P I realized that I hadn’t gotten a workout in so I tuned in to a live Zumba session on Instagram.  I quickly learned that to do an exercise class that required me to watch an instructor on my tiny phone is virtually impossible.  By 5P my son wanted to help with dinner which is wonderful, but he can’t do this without supervision so any chance of catching up on work was gone.  When dinner was done all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and watch Netflix.  The idea of family game night went completely out the window. Instead baking cookies seemed like a much better idea.

And so, my carefully planned out day resulted in me sleeping in, working too little, eating too much and my kids glued to their devices. Even worse I was wide awake until midnight – something unheard of for me. Which threw me off schedule again the following morning. I could see a vicious cycle beginning and was stressed out how to make it better.  Afterall I’m the Queen of running a household efficiently. I was sure I could conquer this challenge.

But I quickly realized I couldn’t. Life has taken on a new rhythm. Days and weeks feel longer and schedules just don’t seem to work.  With my daughter going off to college next year I’m grateful that I have more time with her.  Usually she’d be off with friends or at cheer practice.  I’m happy that she also has this time with her sister and I’m sure she’ll remember that fondly. I’ve taken walks with my mom and my husband and I have done double dates on Zoom.  My mom and Spencer have been playing Xbox Bowling – something they both enjoy tremendously. We’ve also set up FaceTime so she can see my aunt in the nursing home every week. And I’ve gotten back to work and have the opportunity to focus on doing more videos with inspirational people which is something I had put on the back burner.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that life keeps moving forward, maybe a bit messier and not as efficient, but mostly enjoyable.  We’re not the family that plays games together, but we’re all assembling masks for healthcare workers tonight which to me is even better.  But more importantly we share laughs and love and in the end that’s all that matters.