Life on Hold

I cannot imagine what California and New York are going through. Enforced isolation. Isn’t that a little like, um, prison? I know, I know…separation slows the virus transmission. However, a little too reminiscent of Venezuela. Cuba. China.

Don’t want to think about it.

But…public beaches are now closed on Hilton Head.

What?

The mayor had already closed all restaurants except for takeout. All public meetings have been canceled, along with school and various and sundry other activites. Gym is closed. Pools are not open. Heritage Golf Classic is postponed.

As long as we had our gorgeous beaches to keep us sane during social distancing and closing off every recreational or social venue available things were fine. We had long lines early in the morning at Publix, Kroger, WalMart and Harris Teeter as we raced down the aisles for food and tp, but basically things were fine. Then the mayor closed our beaches.

What’s next? Golf courses? We have around 24 or so on the Island. It’s the one thing people here – vacationing or otherwise – could do safely and be assured of lots of space around them.

Golf venues will more than likely close as well. Unless a miracle happens. Which, in my mind, is always a possibility.

My house is overly stocked, now, on toilet paper. That this is a thing to celebrate mystifies me. We are also stocked to the gills on meat, bread, milk and peanut butter. Oh, and eggs. Coffee. These are essentials for us. I have two bottles of wine.

I don’t think that’s gonna do it. Must add wine to the list when (and if) I venture forth. Will handshakes be a thing of the past? Gosh, I hope not. I’m an enthusiastic hugger, so if the handshake is out the door, what will happen to hugs? 

Some say this will change life forever, at least in the U.S.

On the up side, one would hope a situation like this would make us more appreciative of daily amenties, public venues, the ability to navigate life freely. Teach us not to live in chronic fear, but hang onto courage and resilience in spite of it. To cling to hope. And there is ALWAYS hope.

One thing is certain. It’s making all of us – no matter political party, race, or affiliation – think about things. Life. Death. The importance of touching another human being. The freedom to buy and eat what we want and not what is being rationed. Toilet paper. (Had to throw that one in there. I’m looking forward to all the memes after this pandemic settles down.) Maybe we are putting down our phones and connecting more with the people we live with. Maybe we are enjoying our own little patch of earth more than usual, since many of us cannot venture outside it. Maybe we’ll learn to be grateful for small, overlooked things like a good conversation or an unexpected ‘I love you’ instead of rushing through life not even noticing. Perhaps we’ll learn to live on less and stop spending money on overpriced and underwhelming extras. Perhaps Democrats and Republicans will put down their swords.

Maybe.

Maybe a lot of good will come from something that looks like, on its face, a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions.

But still.

Mr. Mayor, did you have to close the beaches? Two whole months?

Sigh.

 

 

 

 

Pinterest and Other Assorted Life Complications

I used to have focus. At least a little. I’d make a list for the day, stick to it (kind of) and feel proud of accomplishing my goals. This was before social media and the ability to live our entire lives on our cell phones.

I resisted Pinterest for years. My daughters encouraged me to try it, but I couldn’t see the point. Add another time-waster to my day? I already had Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…Weather app, music apps, podcast apps…why Pinterest? What the heck would it add to my life, anyway?

Eventually, they wore me down and I took a peek. Then more peeks. Then, ohmigosh when I listed my house and bought another, I clung to Pinterest for styling-a-house-for- sale and decorating  ideas like a life raft.

Another Pinterest holdout bites the dust.

Now before I launch into my new lust for all things Pinterest, let me add that my favorite store in the world is HomeGoods. My car now senses when we are close, and automatically turns into the HomeGoods shopping center. I experience withdrawal symptoms if I don’t go check out their latest  inventory once a week. That being said, Pinterest is like HomeGoods on steroids, only with interior designers. Plus, it is at my fingertips on my cell which makes it impossible to resist. I stumble over topics like ‘bookcase design ideas’ and ‘coffee table decor’ and ‘patio decorating for fun parties’. ’99 amazing ways to make your entryway look great’ or ’49 brilliant storage ideas for small spaces’. Pure. Bliss.

However, I had to put the brakes on my daily habit of cruising through Pinterest décor/home ideas because my budget and my rabid desire to update my décor didn’t quite, um…match. Before I knew it, one small bookshelf makeover racked up $200 or so at HomeGoods. I’m like, what?! I only bought a few things! But they were very cool, current things, my mind whispered back reassuringly. After a few months of  Pinterest over-exposure, I’ve begun backing off a bit. I can’t even think what would happen if I started scrolling through their make-up tutorials. Ulta has enough business from me as it is. Besides, how many times in one lifetime must a woman update her look? Exactly.

It’s all about the apps, isn’t it? We can buy just about anything we need on Amazon, now order our groceries online and have them delivered, scan a wine on the shelf with an app and  find out its ratings; you name it, there’s an app for it. Other huge time-wasters are the photoshop apps. Do you have one? Tried one? They are addicting, for sure.

Recently, I interviewed celebrity style designer to the stars, Anya Sarre, for an article in a local magazine. She lives in a world of photoshopped, cosmetically-enhanced, forever young public personas. I asked her how she managed to thrive in such an atmosphere. “It’s all fake,” she stated, flatly. “Fake! Everything you see is NOT. REAL. It takes an army to get me ready to go anywhere in public. Ever tried one of those photo airbrush apps? Try one! You’ll see what I mean.” I didn’t say anything, but I discovered those apps a couple of years ago. I’m not going to admit which one, but all I have to say is, who needs a facelift with these apps? Seriously, they take off fifteen years in five minutes. The fallout, however, is that now when I look in a mirror I’m wanting to see the airbrushed me and not the real one. Oh well.

It’s getting harder to figure out which apps are helpful and which aren’t. I once had a client yell at me over lunch because I’d brought him a print advertising campaign for a major daily newspaper. He’d held out his cellphone and waggled it at me. “Everything is gonna be right here. RIGHT HERE! Newspapers are gonna be dead and gone.” This happened around 2007. He was right! So many ads lurk on our phones/apps that we often can hardly get to the information we need, and newspapers are struggling to survive.

Now we can do a zillion things at once with a click or two, and often it feels like I don’t do anything very…definitively, or with the appropriate focus. Who thinks that fast?

So I’ve come up with a solution. I’ll delete all the apps on my phone except Pinterest.

That should do it.

Messes and Milestones

2019 was a mess.

I’ve read and re-read my journal entries for the year, amazed at the messes, encouraged by the forward motion in spite of. Last year’s blog post around this time reflected my broken, angry heart. This year, I’m resting in the knowledge that my frail attempts at fixing things is laughable at best and God is patiently waiting for me to take my hands off situations and let Him work.

I’ve made a habit of prayerfully considering an attribute to shoot for, a word to measure my personal and spiritual growth each year. 2019’s word was ‘hope’.

Boy, did I ever need it. My weak and selfish humanity did not have the strength to trot the addict in my life off to another couple of rehabs; nor did it have the strength to list fear imageand sell a house, then pack and arrange a huge move. It didn’t have the strength to nurse-maid a husband’s recovery from shoulder surgery, nor did it have the wisdom to help a daughter navigate through a tragic miscarriage, another scary pregnancy and a brain injury when her baby was born. It didn’t particularly enjoy the heart-wrenching disappointment of losing a publishing contract after two years of fighting for one because the publisher decided to close its doors, or the dark discouragement that followed.

It was not a year I wanted to showcase on Facebook, where life seems grand all the time. In truth, we all struggle with individual battles and hole up in our “emotionally unavailable” closets from time to time.

 

thunderstorm-6.jpgGod never promises us a life without messes. He did however, promise to be with us through them, and use them to help us grow in grace, perseverance, patience, gentleness and kindness if we seek Him with a mind to ask for help. As I’ve looked back over the years, my life is messy but it is also full of fabulous milestones. Milestones that I couldn’t have accomplished in my own strength. As I whined about the messes and asked him for help, God gave me His strength for my weakness, His mercy for my harshness, His perseverance for my longing to give up, His forgiveness for others who had offended me when I had no idea how to forgive.

I am so thrilled to report that in spite of my attempts to ‘fix’ things in 2019, the addict in my life is out of rehab, on the road to real recovery. Though nervous about it, my husband and I moved into a new home that has turned out to be a bigger blessing than we could’ve ever imagined, my daughter’s baby miraculously recovered and at this point is happy, healthy and perfect, and my husband’s shoulder is healing nicely. These are big ‘wins’ for sure, but the milestones (actions or events marking significant changes or stages in development) they represent are even bigger. Milestones of increased faith, which means less hand-wringing and more trust. Milestones of less self-effort and paying more attention to  God’s signpostsspring-3.jpg along the way. Milestones of less anxiety and hopelessness. More reliance on the truth of God’s awesome promises and less reliance on voices shouting at us to be more, buy more, do more. 2019 was a year of big messes, but fortunately, the bigger the mess, the bigger the milestone. He promises to uses everything (even the failures) for good in our lives, and I believe it.

This year my word is ‘authentic’. A meaning of this word I like is “not false or copied genuine; real. Representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself.” I want to avoid the exhausting task of trying to be the person that everyone else needs or wants me to be. My goal for 2020 is to care more what God requires of me than about what people expect of me.

Should be quite messy.

I sense a bunch more milestones coming up!