Locked In

I have seen news stories about all the wildlife boldly going where no undomesticated animal has gone before since the coronavirus quarantine drove people into their dens.  While we have been locked down, nature sees us as “locked in.”  Wild animals are using the opportunity to run amok. I think it is the natural world equivalent to calling all your friends and having a party when your parents are away for the weekend… or for many extended weeks in the case of coronavirus quarantine.

I am seeing it in my own neighborhood.  Our friendly neighborhood rabbit, Honey Bunny, has made several appearances in my backyard in the last couple of weeks.  We often see squirrels scattering around in the trees back there. Seeing Honey Bunny is a rarer phenomenon.  Up until a few weeks ago, we had not seen hide nor hare for over a year.  Then there was Ghastly Gussie the Gator.  I’ve lived in Florida for over five years and, before the quarantine, saw no alligators sunning themselves in the proximity of my sun porch.  After seeing a very live Ghastly Gussie in the backyard, I have seen two halves of alligators on opposite sides of the main highway outside my subdivision.  They might not have been so ghastly as Gussie, but certainly grislier and more gruesome. 

A week or so ago, a friend and I both saw some sort of mystery critter within a few days of each other. It was skedaddling into the brush around our community “meditation glen” wooded area.  We both saw it in about the same location, so I think it is probably the same animal.  Neither one of us have a clue as to the identity of this animal, even after extensive googling.  To me, it looked like a brown, furry, ambulatory ottoman roughly the size of an overfed lhasa apso.  Someone suggested it might be a wild hog, but it seemed too fluffy to be a hog.  It moved like an extremely large skunk, but it seemed to be devoid of any skunk striping or coloring.  I wondered if it might be a mink or otter, but it seemed too large and stocky to be a mink or otter.  It also would have had to have been a mink or otter having a really bad hair day because this creature certainly lacked the sleek elegance of minks and otters. It might have been a raccoon, but there was no banding on the dark brown bushy tale.  I really thought it looked most like a fisher cat or wolverine, but fisher cats and wolverines do not live in Florida. Whatever it was, I am sure I have never seen anything like it before the quarantine.

The other day, as I sat at the table eating breakfast, I noticed some action outside my screened-in lanai.  I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.  I looked outside and saw Robert(a) the Bobcat sidling past my lanai.  If I had been out on the lanai and the bobcat had stayed where he/she was, I could have touched him/her through the screen.  That is how close the cat was.  Robert(a) was not in any particular hurry.  He/she walked purposefully but was clearly not in any “fight or flight” mode.  Max and I watched while Robert(a) made his/her way past all the houses on my street until he/she disappeared around a curve in the conservation belt behind the houses.  

Not to be outdone by the bobcat, Rocky (short for Rockette; I am guessing she was a female braving the daylight to forage food for a nest of babies) the Raccoon tramped by the lanai yesterday.  When I posted a photo on Facebook, my neighbors responded with dire warnings that Rocky was probably the Rabid Raccoon because she was out during the day.  Further research indicated that, although raccoons are primarily nocturnal, they are often seen during the day, especially in the spring when mommy raccoons leave the babies in the nest while they wander in search of calories.  Either for the babies or for themselves.  Apparently, nursing baby raccoons is hard work.  Google indicated that, if rabid, a raccoon will likely be disoriented, clumsy, and lethargic.  Rocky was none of those things.  In fact, she traversed the backyards along my street with a certain pep in her step and lightness of foot.  She seemed to travel most gracefully with a rhythm of movement.  That is why I named her Rockette.  I half expected to see her doing eye high kicks.

I think I am beginning to understand how animals in the zoo feel.  I’m locked in and the regular inhabitants of my world are coming out to look at me!

Rockette the Raccoon high-stepping outside my lanai

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Today, my second book, Random (A)Musings, launched on Amazon. You can order paperback and kindle editions. You can thank me later!

Me, showing off my new book before yesterday’s virtual launch party
I couldn’t wait to read it!

I Say A Little Prayer For You

Those of you who have been reading www.terrilabonte.com for a while know that I have reinvented my religious life in the past few years.  I won’t go into the whole story again, but, for those of you who want a refresher, you can review: http://www.terrilabonte.com/2017/01/a-crisis-of-church/ and http://www.terrilabonte.com/2018/01/grace-on-robinson-street/

I could say that my change in denominations started a revamping of my spiritual development, but I am sure there was more to it than that.   In retirement, I have had the time and energy to look at many of aspects of my life.  Also, traveling the end-of-life journey with my mother caused me to start examining how I could live my most satisfying, congruent life.  I’ve always been introspective about most things. My spirituality has certainly been no exception.  In the past few years, I think I’ve been maturing that spirituality.  I’ve thought and prayed about how to deepen my faith and how to express it.  I don’t know if I would say that I am now walking a different path exactly, but I am walking the path differently.

One aspect of walking differently has been the matter of Bible study, spiritual reading, and prayer.  In fact, a little over a year ago, I mentioned in my Alpha small group that I was interested in trying to improve my prayer life as a Lenten observance.  I wanted to be a better pray-er.  One of the other members of my discussion group kindly decided to help me in that endeavor by recommending me to be the chaplain for our parish ladies’ organization.  Practice makes perfect, I guess. 

Something I read said that prayer boils down to only four words to God.  These four words are please, thanks, sorry, and wow.  In other words, effective prayer petitions the Lord, thanks the Lord for all His blessings, asks forgiveness of God for our sins and weaknesses, and praises God simply for being God.  I find this idea comforting.  It helps, when I think of the enormity of God and the puniness of my little soul, to have a bit of a framework to know where to begin with prayer.

At any rate, I have been working on increasing the depth and breadth of my prayer.  It has been a rich, satisfying experience.  When I pray for people, I believe it helps them.  I know it helps me. 

I’ve decided that it is time that I shared some of that payer with you.  I pray for you all frequently, grateful for the blessings that you have brought to my life. Let’s pray together this week.

Precious Lord,

Please bless the readers of my blog.  Help me to create content that will entertain and provoke introspection.  Help my readers to know that You are in control and have a plan for each of us. Help me to write truth and to touch people’s lives. Help me encourage others as I have been encouraged by Your love and the love of Your people. Please provide us all with peace, hope, love, and joy.  Please protect my readers as they journey through life.  Guard their bodies, soothe their souls, and soar their spirits.  May they know Your never-ending, all powerful love.  May they find happiness, health, and satisfaction in their lives… every day, in every way.

Thank you for the immensity of Your blessings on us.  Thank you for the light and for the dark of life.   Thank you for the richness and wisdom You provide. Thank you for the joy only You can bring to our hearts.  Thank you for the path You have provided for me in my life and for the wonderful opportunity to write this blog.  Thank you for the wonderful people who read what I post.  Thank you for the encouraging support I receive from all my blog buddies and for the thoughtful comments readers provide.

I’m sorry for the times when I have been weak or scared and failed to use opportunities to spread Your love.  With Your help, I will strive to constantly get closer to You and lift people to Your light.

God, You are the King of the Universe.  You are in control of everything that happens. My job is simply to try to discern where you want me to go and follow You there.  I trust in Your power to guide me as I work my way through this life.  I know You bless even my weakest, poorest effort so that it contributes to the good of Your people and the glory of Your name.  I am humbled by Your majesty and the fact that You love me as if there were only one of me.

I pray in Jesus’ name….

Amen

God bless you all!  If anyone feels inclined to pray for me, I would be grateful.  If anyone has any specific prayer requests that they would like to share, perhaps we can multiply the power of prayer.  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

PS: Remember…. my new book, RANDOM (A)MUSINGS by Dorry Curran, launches next Tuesday (6/2/20) in paperback and kindle editions on Amazon!

Shameless

I’ve never been very good at self-promotion.  It makes me distinctly uncomfortable to put myself forward and try to convince other people I am worthy of notice.  And yet, here I am, pitching a shameless plug out into left field of cyberspace!

Some of you will recall that I wrote a book a couple of years ago called Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement.  I published the book under my real name, Dorry Curran.  That entire process was an extremely meaningful and exciting experience for me.  While the book was never going to make any best seller lists, it did have some success in the market.  The real success, however, was in personal satisfaction.  I was so proud that I was able to accomplish this lifelong goal.

I thought that Changing My Mind was going to be a one-and-done. 

Guess what?  I have just completed my second book, Random (A)Musings by Dorry Curran!  Don’t tell me the quarantine cloud has no silver linings! Who says you can’t make lemonade out of lockdown?  The book is a wild ride through my brain, in which I muse about my bizarre personality, my aging body, my existence in the great state of Florida, my obsession with all things Disney, and other random topics. The book will be available on www.Amazon.com on Tuesday, 6/2/20.  Paperback ($11.99) and kindle ($4.99) editions will be available.  Please consider purchasing one or more of my books.  Okay… here is the absolutely most shameless moment of this blog post…. The book is awesome! I love it! It is super-fun. I think you will enjoy it.  I would also be grateful if you could share this information with all your friends and relations… your enemies, too… in the interest of creating some degree of buzz about Random (A)Musings. 

I want to be responsible and respectful in this time of social separation, so I won’t be having a face-to-face launch party for Random (A)Musings, as I did for my last book.  I may be able to arrange some sort of IRL celebration in the future, but it just doesn’t feel right to cram a bunch of people in my living room just yet.  HOWEVER…wait for it…. I am going to host a virtual launch party on www.zoom.com at 6:00pm EDT on Tuesday, 6/2/20.  I hope you will want to join me.  Please email me at terriretirement@gmail.com to let me know you want to come.  I will need an email address to send an invite giving you access to the party.

For my last launch party, I did incorporate a virtual component by using a conference call service.  A few family and friends who do not live locally joined through conference call.  Frankly, it surprised me (and disappointed me a little) that none of my blogosphere friends joined.  I am hoping that this time, with everyone getting more comfortable in the techno-virtual environment, some of you will zoom in with us.  I’d love to meet you! 

Happy Reading!

Okay… end of shameless self-promotion… I return you now to our regularly scheduled programming!

Terri/Dorry 😳

Will you read Random (A)Musings when it is released?  Why or why not?  You can be honest.  Feedback is a gift… or at least that is what “they” tell me.  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.comPLEASE REMEMBER TO EMAIL ME WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS SO I CAN INVITE YOU TO THE ZOOM PARTY!

The Reality Of Fake

A few weeks ago, I lamented the fate of my acrylic fingernails during the COVID-19 lockdown. When I wrote that I had been wearing the nails for over 30 years, something inside me blushed in embarrassment. How could I have been wearing fake fingernails for so long?  Time has been marching on over my lifetime. And it seems it has been marching past me with acrylic fingernails.

This epiphany started me thinking about what motivated me to pay someone to paint artificial material mixed with toxic chemicals on my hands every few weeks over the past 30 years. Arguably, the whole acrylic fingernail thing is a ridiculous notion. I have been embracing it for over half my life. How is this possible?

My journey towards three decades of acrylic nails started long before anyone ever even heard of acrylic nails.  I was a terrible nail-biter as a child. It started with thumb-sucking and escalated.  I could not seem to keep my fingers out of my mouth, no matter how hard I tried.  My parents didn’t make a big deal about it, but they tried to help me overcome the habit in every way they could.  They tried manicures.  They tried bribes.  They tried coating my fingers with various solutions designed to discourage me from putting my fingers in my mouth.  They put a rubber band on my wrist to snap when I caught myself biting my nails.  It was so bad that I often left myself with only nibs of nails.  Sometimes, I had to go to the doctor to be treated for infections because of the nail-biting. 

Most kids outgrow nail-biting.  I was not most kids.  As I grew older, I did lose the thumb-sucking habit, but was never able to control the nail-chewing urge.  I picked and broke and bit my nails well into adulthood.  My hands were always in shambles. I can’t count the number of times I tried to stop, but I always failed. 

Fast forward to 1989.  My ex-husband left me in 1988 and I was just starting to think about dating again.  This was long before internet dating sites (it was long before the internet, period). In those olden dates, the pre-cursor to match.com was the newspaper personal ads. I had no idea how to meet people. I think everyone I knew socially was married.  No one seemed to have any suitable gentleman friends with whom to set me up. I eventually met the first man I dated after my divorce through a personal ad. After a few phone conversations, we agreed to meet in person.

I was terrified. In retrospect, I probably had no business dating at that point.  I was still too broken from a bad marriage and divorce. Besides, I was almost 30 years old and had not been on a first date since I was 17.

The day we were to meet, my nervous system was in armed revolt.  To soothe my squirrely spirit, I went to the mall. Shopping is kind of my drug of choice when I need a little artificial serotonin.  As I wandered through the stores, every stress response in my brain pushed me to buy something.  I ended up buying some pretty underwear.  That didn’t really do the trick for me.  After all, I told myself, I had no intention of letting anyone see my underwear that evening so what difference did it make if it was new?  I kept wandering and looking for something I could buy.  I had already told my date what I was going to wear and, since that was the only way he would recognize me at the bar where we were meeting, changing that particular horse didn’t seem like a good idea.  As I walked past the beauty salon, I noticed a sign for acrylic nails.  That’s it, I thought, I can buy new nails!

Acrylic nails were just starting to become the rage at that time.  I didn’t know anyone who had them.  I just saw them as a quick and easy way to gain some confidence for the evening.  I knew that my date was likely going to be disappointed in my looks, so I thought that I could at least buy myself some pretty hands.  Honestly, if I’d known at the time that you had to come back every few weeks to have more acrylic applied to your fingers, I doubt I would have done it. 

I guess ignorance was a good thing in this case because I did like my new nails.  I guess I liked them a lot since I’ve been maintaining them ever since. 

My hands were nice.  They were way nicer than the guy I wanted to impress deserved, as it turned out. I dated him for about a year before realizing he was kind of a jerk and way more trouble than he was worth.  I broke up with him, but I did not break up with the acrylic fingernails.

Speaking of breaking up… or, rather… not breaking up… one of the benefits to the acrylics was durability. I can’t say that I completely stopped biting my nails when I got the acrylics.  However, the consequences of biting my nails were much more limited. They were so strong, I didn’t demolish them every time they got near my mouth. It was like there was more intervention time.  When I put my fingers to my mouth, I had enough time to realize what I was doing and remove them before I did any damage.                                                                                             

 All in all, once I had the acrylic nails, I couldn’t imagine not having them.  My hands, another shameful secret in my repoirte of unattractive qualities, were no longer a source of embarrassment.  I guess, overall, acrylic nails and I have had a decent partnership.  But 30 plus years?  That just doesn’t seem reasonable.  Still, I had every intention of starting over again once the salons reopen.   I figured, with the acrylic-related damage incurred by my natural nails and my uncontrollable nail-biting, I’d be lucky to have fingernails at all by the time we are released from lockdown. 

Surprisingly, though, my natural nails are doing fairly well after four weeks of freedom from acrylics. They are not in great shape and I’d love to have a manicure, but I don’t seem to be destroying them. The nail atrophy that I expected was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.  The nails are flimsy and rough but seem to be holding up against normal wear and tear and many, many hand-washings. Even more surprisingly, I don’t think I’m biting them.  I smooth the edges each day with a manicure block because they do seem to fray a bit, which also seems to help.

Maybe that the reality of fake is that I don’t need the fake after all!

What is the most fake thing about you?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a real day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

PS:  EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT! My latest book, Random (A)Musings will be released on Amazon.com on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  Please look for it and consider buying a copy… or several dozen!  The book will be available in paperback and kindle editions.

Wild And Un-Woolly

Well, it has finally happened.  There was an alligator in my backyard.

Yes, after more than five years of living in Florida, we saw an alligator meandering around the green belt behind the houses on our street.  He was a reptile on a mission, although a slow-moving one.  Luckily, his mission seemed to be taking him in a direction away from us.

Let me back up and remind you of the little bit of heaven we call home.  When I bought my house in this quiet little age-restricted community, the realtor went into raptures about the beautiful location and natural view.  Truthfully, that location and view were big selling points for this particular house. I look out my sliding glass door and huge windows into a beautiful, peaceful greenbelt area.  It is a conservation zone.  Developers will not be constructing any new houses in that area.  It is quiet.  It is serene. 

What I didn’t realize until several years after I purchased the property is that the “greenbelt” is actually a wetland.  It was at least a year after I moved in that I realized there was WATER down the grassy, forested slope from us.  The epiphany that there was a body of water about 20 feet from my house dismayed me for a little while.  People say that, if there is a glass of water anywhere in the state of Florida, there will be an alligator trying to get into it. 

When my mother moved to Florida, she insisted that I find her a home that was not on the water because she did not want to share her property with the alligators.   I thought she was being a little unreasonable because we live in a place called LAKE County. There are over 1000 lakes in Lake County, which cover over 200 square miles of water.  Finding a place to live far away from the water is sort of geographically impossible. I did find her a place that didn’t back up directly on water, so that was a win in my book.  I didn’t take the alligator thing very seriously, though. All in all, my #1 strategy for living in Florida is to try not to think about alligators.

We had a guy do some work on the soffits in our house.  This was after the great snake chase ( http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/07/the-great-snake-chase/) and I was kind of paranoid about wild things entering my home.  I was thinking about small wild things like snakes and squirrels. Obviously, an alligator could not get into my house through the soffits.  Or could it? The soffit guy mentioned that he heard a big bull alligator bellowing while he was on the ladder screening up our gaps.  I, for no reason other than abject denial, decided it must be bullfrogs he was hearing.  I validated this opinion based on Google, which told me that mating season for alligators was over, and on some random wildlife page that said an alligator sounds like a motorcycle starting.  The noise in the backyard did not sound like a motorcycle.  More like the foghorn on the Titanic.  Return to strategy #1 for living in Florida…. Try not to think about alligators. 

As I lived in Florida longer, I started to get a little more comfortable.  The only place I ever saw an alligator in the wild was on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center, of all places.  It was becoming easier to employ strategy #1 for living in Florida.  Still, I had friends who kept insisting that alligators are commonplace in Florida communities.  They recounted their alligator sightings on golf courses and local ponds. One friend seems to spend a lot of her time in the passenger side of a car keeping her eyes peeled firmly on the surface of any body of water, fascinated by the prospect that she might see an alligator.  Sometimes, she does.  Me? Strategy #1 for living in Florida… Try not to think about alligators.

Once I got on Facebook, I saw photos of alligators wandering in my subdivision.  At first, I thought some of the folks who posted these pictures might be trying to pull my alligator-ignoring leg.  Then, there was a video of a whole batch of my neighbors herding a small alligator from one pond to another.  Apparently, he was too young to challenge the male alpha-alligator for breeding rights and too old to be tolerated as a juvenile by said alpha-alligator. Papa Gator apparently ran him out of the breeding pond. Junior was looking for new digs, aiding by my neighbors.   

Despite my strategy #1 for living in Florida.. Try not to think about alligators…. I think I always knew, deep down, that there were alligators out there.  Because I live on the wetlands (which looks suspiciously like an everglade environment to me), I really did believe that someday I would see an alligator in my backyard.  The only thing that really surprised me was that it took as long as it did.  Well, one more thing really surprised me.  This guy was huge!  I figured the day would come when I’d see an alligator, but I thought it would be one of those 3-5-foot models.  Oh no, this guy was super-sized.  He had to be at least eight feet long. 

Max was standing out in the Florida room, looking out our windows.  He called to me and asked if I could identify a large dense-looking dark patch of matter about 25 yards from our back door.  We thought it might be a fallen tree or large turtle (strategy #1 for living in Florida… try not to think about alligators.) I almost had him convinced it was a log.  Then, the log lifted its head, opened its mouth, and meandered a few feet up the slope towards the house next to us.  Ghastly Gussie the Gator was on the move.  We watched, pretty aghast ourselves, as he ambulated a few feet north, stopped to rest for a few moments, then progressed a few more feet before pausing again.  He continued in this manner for some time.

I called the phone number Google told me to call for “nuisance” alligators.  I wasn’t sure Ghastly Gussie was really a nuisance, to be fair.  Sure, I saw him as being in my backyard.  I’m certain the alligator thought I was in his backyard.  He wasn’t really threatening anyone, although I was certainly relieved that he was “non-threatening” further away from me as time passed.  My Google research advised me that the alligator wranglers would likely not “relocate” Ghastly Gussie.  At least, they wouldn’t relocate him alive.  Apparently, alligators are very territorial and will keep returning to “their” place repeatedly, despite human attempts to change their venues.  Still, Gussie was a pretty big guy and I thought, given that he seemed to be getting closer to peoples’ back doors as he headed north along the water line, there might be some danger to people and pets.  Anyway, when I finally called the alligator wranglers to get their advice, I only reached voice mail.  The voice mail gave me another phone number to call if there was an immediate threat.  The message listed the criteria for declaring an alligator an immediate threat.  Some of the criteria were finding an alligator in your garage, finding an alligator under your car, and finding an alligator attached to your leg.  None of the criteria for immediate threat applied, so I left a message.  I also posted a picture and a warning on our neighborhood Facebook page so people could exercise a little extraordinary care.

Eventually, Gussie disappeared from my view.  I started trying to re-engage with my strategy #1 for living in Florida… Try not to think about alligators.  It was a little harder to force my brain into that frame than usual.  However, the experience wasn’t all bad.  At least Ghastly Gussie practiced proper social distancing!

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in your backyard?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a wild and un-woolly day! But stay safe!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Random Observations From Quarantine

Over the past several weeks of “safer at home” lockdown, I’ve had plenty of time to observe the world and think great thoughts.  Well, maybe not great thoughts, but thoughts, nonetheless. Here are a few of the notions that are percolating in what is left of my mind:

  • At some point, my hair’s ability to grow wider, wavier, and wilder exceeds my ability to wield a flat iron. I reached that point a couple of weeks ago.  Now, not only do I have a gray streak running down the center of my head at the roots, I am also sporting a hair style reminiscent of a terrifying Bozo The Clown.
  • It’s okay that I can’t flatten my hair because the flatter my hair is, the more obvious the gray stripe running down my roots is.
  • I don’t recommend watching a Zombieland flick when you are sheltering-in-place to avoid contagion. We just watched Zombieland Double Tap the other night.  A movie about the brain-eating “survivors” in a world decimated by a mutant virus probably wasn’t the best choice.  Maybe a little too close to home right now.  What’s worse is that I found it laugh-out-loud funny at some points.  I felt really crummy about that.  My soul is dark and evil. 
  • Going to the grocery store is now like foraging.  I play hunter and gatherer for myself and several immune-compromised friends. It is interesting that it is difficult to buy milk, eggs, meat, peanut butter, canned soups, and other protein sources, but there is no shortage of potato chips, ice cream, candy, and cookies on the supermarket shelves.  I should be fine. 
  • If my work colleagues who tried so hard to shove me into the 21st century of technology and distance learning could see me now, they would be laughing hysterically.  I was using paper and pen long after every rational person opted for word processing programs.  Now, I’m experimenting with conference calls and zoom.com like I invented the whole idea. 
  • It is helpful to keep a handwritten food diary when in isolation.  You’ll probably stop eating when the writer’s cramp gets bad enough.  No guarantees, though.  For people who are hoarding food as if we were awaiting the zombie apocalypse (ooops… there’s that zombie thing again), we certainly are consuming it like there is no tomorrow.
  • My bedroom floor will never be uncluttered again.  I often have bags and boxes of things I need for my various organizations arranged carefully on the bedroom floor.  Typically, by May, all my pending projects for these organizations are completed and I regain the real estate in my boudoir.  This year, however, all bets are off.  I prepared for several large interactive presentations for my church groups before we went under house arrest, including buying supplies and equipment. I thought that stuff would be off the floor of my bedroom by now.  These presentations don’t lend themselves to the virtual environment. I have an interesting collection of paper goods, decorations, pamphlets, outlines, art supplies, and bed sheets stacked against the wall of my room.  Looks like those things, like me, are not going anywhere for a while. 
  • I wonder if my fingers will ever recover from the pruney wrinkles caused by excessive handwashing. It may require plastic surgery. When I was a little girl, I remember my frustrated mother’s response to misbehavior.  She’d say, “go take a bath and don’t come out until you are pruney.”  I wonder what I did bad this time. 
  • It’s okay to be sad about “selfish” stuff.  Over the past few weeks, many people have had to cancel huge, once-in-a-lifetime celebrations.  Graduations, weddings, funeral services, high school reunions, and many other similar events have been postponed or cancelled. People feel bad about feeling bad because they know that, compared to worldwide death and disease, their events are not that big a deal.  It is a big deal, though, and I feel for those people. I encourage them to mourn those disappointments.  I, fortunately, have not had to deal with anything like that.  There have been several “next tier” kind of cancellations that have hit me, though.  My planned vacation to New York City to see both Hamilton and Come From Away on Broadway is not happening. I miss my weekly trips to Disney and other fun places.  I think I am saddest about missing my annual retreat to Discovery Cove.  I’m sure I’ll reschedule, but, with the wackadoodle Florida weather, the ideal window of opportunity for this excursion is limited.  I think it is okay to mourn these things, as long as I keep everything in perspective.
  • I think I may have discovered the antidote for quarantined-induced frumpiness.  Two words.  Video conference.

What have you observed during this challenging time?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.   In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a healthy day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Keeping Up Appearances. Or Not.

For the first time in over 30 years, I don’t have acrylic fingernails.  Which pretty much means I don’t have nails at all. After so many years of hiding under layers of acrylic, my natural nails are significantly atrophied.  At this point, a harsh word can chip, splinter, and crack them. 

My nails are not the only aspect of my appearance that has suffered after weeks of limited contact with other people.  I am trying to be a responsible citizen of the world and stem the spread of the COVID-19 contagion.  I am not making the huge sacrifices that our medical professionals, truck drivers, grocery workers, first responders, and other essential personnel are making.  I do not want to complain. 

It might be time for an intervention, though. I am in a downward spiral. 

My hair is growing thicker and bushier.  I am growing into the oh-so-attractive skunk look as my roots become more pronounced.  Some of you know that I have been flirting with the idea of allowing my natural gray hair color to grow out.  It has been a difficult decision. I got my hair genetics from my father, who I do not recall ever seeing without gray hair.  I started going gray at age 16. I have been coloring my hair since I was in my mid-twenties.  Heaven only knows how much gray has encroached since then.  The prospect is scary.  I have been loathe to suck it up and see.  I may have no choice in the matter now.  Although I believe my hair salon is still open, I just can’t think that touching people all day is the smartest way to manage a pandemic.  I think I’ll just have to weather the gray skies (and gray hair!) and see how I feel if it is ever safe to go back to the hairdresser again.

I haven’t applied make-up in a month. Before the outside world closed up shop and we all went under house arrest, I wore make-up most days.  It made me feel good to show a little effort.  I had more confidence when I knew I was looking brighter than I was feeling.  I seem to recall that make-up made my face look brighter and made my complexion look less like cream of wheat.  It has been so long that I could be wrong.  Nostalgia always makes everything seem better.  They say distance lends enchantment to the view and my memories of make-up are pretty distant at this point.  Actually, the only way a view of me would be even remotely enchanting right now is if it was VERY distant. 

For the past several weeks, I have been dressing in loose, floaty dresses that are cool and comfortable. They make me feel faintly nymph-like.  Let’s face it, though; they are one step above a nightgown.  Maybe half a step on the days I forgo a bra.  However, I am not sure they are doing me any favors.  I think I am going to have to start trying on something a little more form-fitting once a week or so to make sure my form is still fitting.  After weeks of grazing my way from one room in my house to another, I have a sneaking suspicion that, while I may be flattening the contagion curve, I am not flattening any of my curves.  I could be carting around enough curves to build an entire roller under my floaty trapeze dresses. 

I’m not sporting any jewelry, either.  I have quite the collection of earrings and rings and bracelets and necklaces and watches.  Most of them have some sentimental attachment.  They delight me and make me smile when I wear them.  Since I never seem to go anywhere anymore, it seems like a waste to put them on in the morning.  I just have to take them off for the numerous times each day that I wash my hands.

For someone who wrote a blog piece called The Anti-Frump (http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/11/the-anti-frump/), I have certainly fallen far from grace.  Looking in the mirror this morning, I had to wonder where the anti-frump has gone.

I’m pretty sure she is in quarantine. 

What is left of my fingernails…. heavy sigh

Have you found yourself following the frump during our days of isolation? How do you motivate yourself to keep on keeping on? Or do you just not bother? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a frump-free day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

The Lentiest Lent

I saw a picture of a church on Facebook.  Outside the church, the message board read, “Had Not Planned On Giving Up Quite This Much For Lent.”  Ain’t that the truth? Since the world closed up shop in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, it does seem like this Lent is laying the whole fasting thing on a bit thick.  No restaurants.  No amusement parks.  No shopping malls.  No live performances. No group activities.  No vacations. No hugs.  And I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone giving up buying toilet paper and disinfectant wipes for lent before. This has to be the lentiest lent that ever lent.

Some people say that this pandemic is an omen.  They believe the contagion is God’s judgment on a wicked world. They see our current times as the end of times.  Maybe they are right.  It is hard not to feel some sense of doom in this time of disease and quarantine.  The television and internet feeds us, minute-by-minute, on the number of new cases and the number of dead.  The curve is growing, not flattening.  This is to be expected in the short term, as we test more potential victims.  There has not been time yet for people who were initially infected to get well, so the curve is still climbing.  Even though this analysis makes sense, it is easy to get caught up in a Doomsday feeling.  For those of us who believe that God is all-powerful, it can be an easy logical leap to conclude that God caused the pandemic. 

I don’t put any limits on God.  It is possible that there is something to the Doomsday theory. I don’t really think God works like that, though.  I don’t think He caused the pandemic to eliminate evil and destroy the wicked.  I do think, however, that He uses the pandemic to help transform us into the people He wants us to be. Now that we are forced to fast from many of our favorite leisure activities, we have more time to spend in prayer, Scripture-reading, and thoughtful consideration of our life’s purpose and goals. Now that we must forgo human touch, communal church services, receiving the Eucharist, and sharing a meal, we may not take these blessings for granted in the future.  Now that the most fun thing we do all week long is zip through the Starbuck’s drive-through (while trying not to breathe), we will be more grateful for those trips to Disney and other more exciting places.  Now that we cannot meet with people face-to-face, we are developing our community-building and care-taking skills in more creative ways. 

I am one of those people who do tend to get stir crazy and bored when I stay at home for more than a day or two.  Weirdly, I am neither right now.  I’ve been productive in my weeks of isolation.  I’ve overcome some of my social anxiety tics and am staying connected with people.  Some of my relationships are even growing richer and closer.  I’ve focused my pent-up energy on projects like figuring out a system for conference call and video meetings.  I’m writing more.  I’ve tackled a few big chores that I have been deferring for months.  I’m thinking more than reacting.  My mind is not as busy or bustling, but I am thinking clearer. I’ve spent more time with God.  I’m working on several prayer projects- praying deliberately and intensely for certain people multiple times a day. 

So, while I did not intend to give up so much for Lent, I think God is using my enforced mega-fast to do exactly what Lent is supposed to do.  He allows me to partner with Him to cleanse, grow, and ripen my soul.  I delight in the paths He shows me during this time.  I am trying to follow them because I believe that God has a purpose for each of us and that purpose is unique to each of us.  I’ve tried to find that purpose all my life, in every job and relationship I’ve had.  The trail hasn’t always been as clearly marked as it is this Lent.  Still, I believe God is teaching me in everything I do, so I try to be patient and trust.  As the Bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

This coronavirus lent has been good for my spiritual development. Still, like everyone else, I look forward to the day when it is over.  I am excited to face a resurrection of activities and contacts.  The sun will shine brighter, and our emotional muscles will be able to take a little rest.  We will be able to mourn the losses we sustain, but we’ll also be able to move towards healing in a different way- perhaps with more kindness and care-taking of each other.  All this time we’ve spent in isolation prepares us for that day.

But let’s not forget that we have a more immediate, even more beautiful Resurrection to celebrate. We’ve spent the last forty days preparing to rejoice anew that Christ is risen. Sunday is Easter, the most triumphant day in the Christian year.  God will remind us again that what we thought we had lost is not lost at all… in fact, it is more brilliant and more wonderful than we can possibly understand.  Jesus- through His life, suffering, and death- brought us back to at-one-ment with God.  Because of Him, we are God’s adopted children.  We are part of a loving, connected, holy family which can never be destroyed. We are never in isolation or quarantine when we follow the risen Lord! 

What has lent been like for you this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis?  Do you feel that you have transformed in some way, as we approach Easter?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Happy Resurrection!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Pixie Locks

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time know that I am a bit odd on the inside.  I usually frame that oddness with the assertion that there is clearly something wrong with me. 

A few days before the country went into house arrest, I did something to smash that frame.

No, I have not all of a sudden become “normal” and quirkless.  In fact, I walked a step more squarely into the weird zone.  I decided that, if I am odd on the inside, my outside should match.  So, at 60 years of age, I got fairy hair.  I started with the idea that I would get 20 strands of glittery green and copper silk woven into my hair.  As I went through the process, though, it became increasingly clear that I was going to need more… many, many more… pixie locks.  Bit by bit, I ended up with over 50 strands.  I have so much regular hair that even that inordinately large amount of glitter is still subtle, but a girl has got to know her limitations.  I’m afraid I surpassed mine.  I have $100 of sparkly strands hanging off my head. 

I don’t think I will do this again because it did end up being far more expensive than I planned.  Still, I really like the effect.  Because it is so subtle, people have to look twice to decide if they really see something there or not.  It is like I have some sparkly, magical little secret that only people who pay attention can learn. Many people have complimented me on my fairy hair.  It makes me feel bold and brave.  My fairy hair catches the sunlight very fetchingly.  I like radiating, it turns out.  I feel like the fairy hair really does help the way I look on the outside reflect who I am on the inside. 

You see, fairy hair has taught me that “odd” doesn’t have to be negative.  “Odd” doesn’t have to mean there is something wrong with me.  “Odd” can mean shiny, sparkly… and beautiful!

I thought we all needed a little break from coronavirus conversations.  What could be further from a worldwide pandemic than fairy hair?  What little bit of whimsy can you share with us to take our minds off contagion and disease?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a sparkly day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Subtle, but you can see a few strands if you look closely!

Social Distancing

I’ve been socially distant most of my life.  It wasn’t due to any fear of contagion, but simply because of my anxiety, shyness, and general awkwardness. You might say that, now that social distancing is all the rage, I am on trend for the first time in my life.  I’m very good at it. 

On the other hand, I’m changing in my old age.  I’m beginning to see what I’ve been missing.  It took me almost 60 years to fight my way out of my fear and find my way into warmth, support, and connection with loving social families- both in my community and in my church.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! I feel like I’ve discovered chocolate for the first time ever. 

I keep saying that I don’t feel any particular fear about the COVID-19 virus.  That is absolutely true from a medical perspective.  I still don’t feel scared that I’m going to catch it or that there will be massive deaths of otherwise healthy people.  I am very scared about a couple of things, though.

I am scared about the economic effect that will result from the standstill of face-to-face commerce.  I am especially scared for the people who will lose jobs or won’t be able to provide basic necessities because there is little or no business happening while the world is in lockdown.  I am glad to see that many organizations and individuals are mobilizing to help and I will be supporting them.  There will still likely be financial tragedies.  I will do whatever I can to help.  I believe, as a Christian, God calls me to lead from love and generosity, not from fear and panic. 

For me personally, my biggest fear is that I will lose the social connection that I didn’t have so many years.  It wasn’t like I became extroverted or without anxiety.  It wasn’t like I made the shift to social connection suddenly or without discomfort.  It took me a lot of maturity, courage, awkwardness, grace, sense of service, and encouragement to get there.  The whole thing is relatively new to me.  I am not sure it is firmly rooted or integrated enough into my psyche to survive being uprooted by a period of relative isolation.  One of my biggest “leftover” anxieties is phone contact.  It is still very hard for me to connect to people over the phone.  I think it is because I am fairly intuitive and I pick up lots of cues about what a person if feeling and thinking by his or her body language.  When I am without those cues because I am on the phone, I feel more anxious.  Now that I must use the phone to reinforce a sense of community, companionship, and affection, I guess God is saying it is time to tackle that particular dragon of mine. 

It isn’t just the fear of losing connection while the world lockdown is going on.  I am also scared that we won’t be able to go back to “normal” once we are able to walk amongst each other again.  Will people have become so lethargic and isolated that they will just hang back and forget how much richer we are with touch and face-to-face contact?  Will the whole world be social awkward?  Will I lose all the progress I’ve made in developing genuine, intimate, personal and communal relationships?  The possibility makes me very, very sad.  Once you’ve tasted chocolate, the idea of never having it again is pretty terrible.  I’m going to do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen, even if it is not comfortable for me.  I was brave enough to break my own patterns once.  I am confident that I can do it again, with God’s help.  Maybe I’ll be even better because the whole world seems to be in a more deliberate, mindful communication mode.  It seems like a lot of people are expanding their connection skills to try to retain community, companionship, and affection.  I guess I am not the only one who is fighting social distance.

You know how the Star Trek folks have that motto, “Live Long and Prosper?”  I have a new motto.  My motto is “This is temporary.  Stay close in heart and soul while we ride it out.” 

Are you seeing any “silver linings” to the challenge of COVID-19 isolation?  Do you need a virtual hug or some electronic reassurance that you do have genuine connections with people?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a healthy day!

Terri/Dorry 😊