The NEW Business As Usual

When I first started writing this post the world was on the fringes of falling apart. Were there signs of anxiety here on the East Coast of the US, sure, but the first cases of the coronavirus in the states were few, and although I was cautiously concerned, I was trying to live life business as usual.

That all changed suddenly when the first cases showed up in Pennsylvania, the state I live in, and quickly started popping up more and more across the country.

Then the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, and the daily dynamics changed, and so did the behavior of the general public.

Chicken Little came to cry, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Now I am certainly not trying to lessen the severity of the situation, but the behavior of a large portion of the human race was certainly one of histrionics.

And to be honest it caught me off guard.

Was I concerned about the situation?

For sure. How could I not be?

With the media pounding fearful data at you daily, it’s hard to act like everything is normal. It seems hourly there are new stats being thrown at us, or some high-ranking official is declaring a new rule to live by.

I did however try to function on a business as usual mentality with a realistic sense of cautionary behavior.

When I was told about the run on the grocery stores I was actually stunned. I miss one night of the news and this is what happens.

This started to trigger more of a panic in me, especially because my Son was away at college. The last thing I wanted was to see him stuck at school.

For me I was counting down the days till I could pick him up for Spring Break. Hoping nothing major happened before I could get him home.

Once he was home I could focus on figuring out how to attempt to behave “normally” when the world around me was going mad, if that was even possible.

Although I appeared calm on the outside, my insides were slowly tying themselves into knots.

After every trip out of the house I would Lysol wipe everything down that came into the house, including my shoes, coat, purse, wallet, even credit card if I had to use it, and wipe down my steering wheel, shift, dashboard and door handles in my car.

My Son thought I was nuts, but it was my way to help ease my anxiety. I felt if I did my due diligence as far as sterilizing I could help to prevent bringing the virus into the house.

After a grocery store run I even wiped down my re-useable grocery bags and packaging. Especially after I saw the virus can stay on cardboard for 24 hours.

With each passing day I limited my runs to anywhere other than work unless I had to, like for a prescription. I was fortunate to be able to work up until Governor Wolf put a stop to all non-life sustaining business, which went into effect 8AM Monday March 23rd.

The print shop I work for prints for medical practices, but the week leading up to this we saw orders dwindling because most practices were converting to tele-health. Except for serious cases where the patient needed to be seen everything was being done over the phone or via video chat.

A part of me was relieved because this meant I had to stay home. Up until then I was starting a new 14-day countdown every time I had been out in public, to include work.

My co-workers and I were diligent in our wiping down computers, keyboards, file cabinets, etc… and washing hands, but each of us in our own travels could have interacted with a carrier of the virus and never known it.

Every time I felt a little off I began to worry. Was it the virus, or just allergies?

Add to it, my anxiety was starting to cause me to have shortness of breath at times, and that freaked me out. I had no other symptoms, so I knew it was anxiety, but it was most certainly a catch 22 situation.

As my official “stay at home” started I knew I needed to take advantage of this “lockdown” time and use it for positive things, like my writing and house projects that never get finished because I don’t have the time.

The first thing I did was work on a schedule, allotting certain hours during the day for these things. If I kept structure in my day it would help keep me from letting my mind meander into dark areas of worry.

Beyond the virus, the worry of income lingered in the peripherals of my mind. Yes unemployment is there, but I work for a small business, and the owner is hoping the stimulus package will allow him to keep us on payroll instead of collecting unemployment.

So, while the senate argued amongst themselves, we all played the waiting game. Our saving grace was the shutdown came at the end of a pay period so we had a check coming the first week of our shutdown. If we didn’t have an answer that first week, anxiety would once again take a stronghold.

(By posting date the Senate has approved the bill, next up the House, then the President.)

I knew my focus needed to be on making a schedule that worked, so my time was filled constructively.

The more energy I put into the things that brought me joy the less likely I would be to worry.

At least I hoped so.

I found the longer I was in lockdown, the more relaxed I began to feel. Especially because I had stocked up on essentials, and knew once I was told my office was closed I had no intention of going anywhere except for a walk.

Knowing I didn’t have to be in public was the key to easing the anxiety.

I told my Son we’re making due with whatever we have in the house. I didn’t want to start another 14-day countdown.

With each day I was tweaking my proposed scheduled. I knew it was a fluid thing and as long as I gave a certain amount of time to creative pursuits, and the business side of my writing, I would feel like I had a successful day.

Allowing time to play was also a key thing. I’m not always that good about that. Sure I take walks and bike rides and after dinner watch a movie or TV show, but actually playing doesn’t always fit into my days.

My Son and I always talk about playing board games or even putting a puzzle together, but that doesn’t happen much anymore now that he’s older. Some of that is because he’s an online gamer and spends a lot of his free time with his buddies online. This lockdown is nothing for them. They’re use to social distancing, to an extent.

Now the problem is getting my Son to leave his online buddies to do something with me. That could be more challenging than the lockdown.

Another thing in the play category is reading. I have books everywhere, but never seem to have the time to read. I have no excuse now.

As I settle into this new norm, I’m learning to accept and enjoy the freedom to create the day I want. This is a luxury not many have until they’re retired.

So although this situation was caused by something horrific, I’m trying my best to look at the positive side of this lockdown.

Being a full-time writer is my dream, and I am working at that as my retirement plan, so I’m looking at this time as my training ground for the future I want to create.

Considering I will be 59 the end of this month, retirement years are not that far off, so getting a head start on the training is a gift, even if it came wrapped in the worst possible way, a pandemic.

How are you handling the freedom to create your day? I’d love to know. Please share your story. That’s how we’ll all make it through this together.

ONE FINAL NOTE

I want to give a shout out to all those working in the medical community on the front line of this battle. I am eternally grateful for their sacrifices. I have family and friends who are part of this community and pray for their safety and health daily.

As a “non-essential” worker, staying at home, I think about all those other “non-essential” workers who are using their stay-at-home time to sew masks or make PPE’s with their 3D printers and feel bad that I don’t have the skill set to do something like that. To a point I feel guilty that I can’t contribute, but then I realized, just staying home is enough to help the cause.

Also, a great big thank you goes out to all the other “essential” workers who are also risking getting sick just to make sure those of us on lockdown have the supplies we need to stay at home.

Stay healthy, and stay safe everyone.

AND stay home, if you’re considered “non-essential.” Remember this category includes professional athletes and actors too! Who would have ever thought we’d see that day?

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Breaking News – ©123rf – Iryna Shatilova

Cleaning – ©123rf – Soratoki

Panic Attack – ©123rf – Druzhinina

Freedom to Choose – ©123rf

Photo from personal collection

#WakingtheWoman

#MomMemoir

#StayAtHome

#NewBusinessAsUsual

#Coronavirus

The Best Laid Plans

As each new month starts, I tend to take the first couple days to ponder the theme for that months post.

Sometimes I know exactly what it will be because of some epiphany I had or something that happened.

This was particularly the case when I was writing “Waking the Walker – a Mother’s quest to survive her Son’s zombie years – aka his teens.” When raising a teen, there is always something happening.

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/twd-apocalyptic-parenting-tactics/

Other times I can spend half the month tossing ideas around, seeing what sticks, even struggling to make something out of nothing.

Which is kind of odd when this blog is about self-rediscovery. 

Am I so lost I don’t even have a clue which way to turn?

With this not just a new month, but a New Year and New Decade, I thought for sure I would venture down the road of aspirations, goal setting, intention and purpose.

Especially after I read my favorite astrologer, Melissa Stratton’s https://twitter.com/hevmelissa?lang=en column for January 2020. I felt the energy around this New Year didn’t feel like other years and Melissa’s column confirmed my gut was right.

After reading this I was pumped to shake off the overbooked, too much to do holidays and get back to some sense of normalcy

I was beyond ready to hit the ground running and get back to focusing on all I had already set in motion in 2019.  My long-term goals and aspirations for my future could once again become a priority. 

Not that I don’t love the holidays, but between work, home and the holidays, something had to give, and outside of getting my December post written, anything else related to writing as a business got put on hold

I had to set boundaries for my own sanity and health. Especially with my Son home for a 5 week Winter Break.

So, as 2020 dawned, I busted out the blog business plan, and started to update it for 2020. With full-hearted enthusiasm I stepped backed into allowing my mind to focus on my personal journey, and on pinning down a clear intent for my future.

Yes, writing full-time is the central point, but having a clear purpose for this writing has still not been completely solidified. Without that, the vision for my future is still fairly hazy

I told myself 2020 would be the year I pinned that down, and formulated a clear and precise plan to make it happen.

That was until my focus was blindsided by a massive headache that sidelined me for a day, and left me dragging for days dealing with what I was told was a sinus infection. Not strep, the flu or a cold, but a simple sinus infection. 

In all my years I have never gotten a debilitating headache from anything. Headaches that made me sick and knocked me down for a few hours, yes, but nothing that warranted an injection that knocked me out for over 12 hours.

That Saturday every time I made an effort to move, I had to lie back down. Nothing worked. Not ice, not Tylenol, not rest. The pressure in my sinuses was so severe I thought I was going to vomit. I could barely hold my head up. It took me till 3:30 in the afternoon to get myself together just to go to Patient First.

The doctor didn’t even need to ask what was ailing me; she could see it in my face. When she said they could give me an injection to ease the pain and help me sleep I was all for it.

Needless to say I had no idea it would knock me into the next day and leave me feeling a little woozy.

I was able to make up for some lost time that Sunday, but I was still dealing with the post-nasal drip and congestion from the sinus infection, so I was far from moving at break neck speed.

As was the case the following week. 

I had major brain fog from the congestion, which left my head in the clouds. Making it through work every day was a major feat.

So much for all my full-heartened enthusiasm to step back into focusing on my personal journey and future plans. My only focus was making it through the day so I could go back to bed.

All I wanted to do was sleep.

At first I was pretty upset about this set back, but then I remembered what the nutritionist said at my visit the week before I got sick. She told me I need to allow time for relaxing/restful activities.

The reason why – her tests showed high levels of stress, yet I didn’t feel stressed.

How could I be stressed, and not feel it? 

I was betwixt and befuddled, but when I got sick it entered my mind that I must have been running on adrenaline from the holidays and completely oblivious.

With my ass kicked, I realized maybe the nutritionist was on to something and what my focus needed to be on was how to allow more time for relaxing/restful activities, not just on doing.

This made me wonder if being a single Mom for so long made me become so accustomed to always being on “GO” that “STOPPING” to truly recharge my batteries may have gone by the wayside

Daily I do stretching/yoga and a short meditation period, take time to veg a little at night before bed, and of course get at least one vacation in during the year, but could it be after all these years I’ve forgotten how to really relax?

AND, it is finally catching up to me

I’ve always been a list person, even before becoming a Mom. My lists are my saving grace. I may not get everything done, but it helps to keep track of what needs doing and to prioritize

Crossing things off my list has always been very rewarding, although not necessarily refreshing.  

Some things on my list however, like personal projects, are a form of relaxing. Doing creative projects can be very invigorating. Unfortunately, these are the things that get bumped for other more pressing deeds

The more I thought about all of this the more I thought about how I used to be an avid reader, but now I’m lucky if I get the paper read. I used to curl up with a book, especially before bed and just get lost in the story. I have plenty of books to read, but I honestly don’t think I’ve finished one since I was in my twenties.

I do take bike rides and walks when the weather permits, but I actually have to schedule it into my day, just as I do my weekend workouts.

SO, although I may be driven to achieve making writing my retirement goal, I realized I need to find real balance between doing and not doing

In my mind I keep telling myself when I retire I will have more time to just relax and do the things that bring me great joy. 

BUT, the bottom line is I shouldn’t have to wait, especially if I want to stay healthy.

I want to retire on my terms, not my body’s terms.

I need to start working on doing those things now, and in turn lighten my load, allowing room for more growth. Growth that can only benefit my writing, and possibly help me solidify my purpose.

The issue at hand though is relearning how to simply relax may be the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’ve become hardwired to do, and when I stop I think about what needs to be done.

Overriding that circuit board will take some time.

So, although my month may not have transpired quite the way I wanted it to, I believe I did have an “epiphany” which will make a major impact on my journey to rediscover myself.

AND, force me to be realistic about my plan for the future, namely my timeline for the business side of this blog and my retirement.

I can push and push and still not achieve if health challenges knock me down.

What better way to plan than to slow down, relax and take it easy?

OR, should I say, be easy on myself. Something I’m not always very good at.

Sometimes the universe nudges you, and other times it kicks you in the butt. This was one of those butt-kicking times and I have to make sure I remember that.

SO, my New Year, New Decade Resolution is to create balance in all that is on my plate. AND, to allow myself time to just be, because then and only then can I truly rediscover myself.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Clip Art – ©123rf 

Hazy Vision – ©123rf  – andreiuc88

Traffic Light – ©123rf  – Dvarg

Traditions

TRADITIONS – the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

CUSTOMSa usage or practice common to many or to a particular place or class or habitual with an individual OR long-established practice considered as unwritten law

It’s hard not to think about traditions this time of year. From Thanksgiving straight through the New Year the season is brimming over with traditions and customs. Whether they are unique to a family, culture or faith, they’re there, large and small.

Even if you don’t think you have them, you have them.

If there’s something you do annually, like coloring eggs on Good Friday, going to a pumpkin patch every fall, or putting up holiday decorations on Black Friday, you have a tradition.

Some of them may be ones passed down from family members over the years, while others may have been created or adapted from another source.

It doesn’t have to be annually, or even tied to a holiday. It could be something you do monthly, or even daily that has become part of who you are. 

For example, my Son and I had a little ritual every night before bed when he was little. After reading a book, I would tuck him in and say, ”Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams” and give him an Eskimo kiss. And, although he’s older, when he’s home from college, I still make sure I give him a kiss on his head and say, ”Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams, Eskimo, Eskimo” Saying Eskimo, Eskimo replaces the Eskimo kisses. 

Funny thing is, my Son looks for this. It has become part of who we are. Hopefully when he has children of his own he will carry this tradition on.

Traditions/customs are the threads that weave the fabric of the family together. No matter how small or simple they may seem, they matter. At their root is the history of who we are.

Understanding them is important, but not always essential because some are just how they make you feel, like my Son and my bedtime ritual.

Religious traditions are some of the most interesting and most certainly need to be understood in order to appreciate them.

Growing up as a Slovak Catholic our family had plenty of traditions tied to faith and heritage. Below are just a few:

• The Blessing of Food Baskets at Easter https://www.thespruceeats.com/easter-food-baskets-blessing-tradition-1136995

• Cirak – Slovak Easter Cheese https://www.thespruceeats.com/slovak-egg-cheese-recipe-for-easter-1137379

• The Stations of the Cross during Lent https://www.britannica.com/topic/Stations-of-the-Cross

• Christmas Eve Meal – including Oplatky, Mushroom Sauerkraut Juice Soup (eaten to bring you good luck in the new year), and Bobalky https://www.catholiccompany.com/content/Oplatki-Christmas-Tradition.cfm

Having a Slovak father and a Pennsylvania German Mother our holidays were packed with traditions. The bulk of which revolved around food.

My fondest memories are of my Mother preparing the traditional foods of the holiday and the smells coming out of the kitchen. To this day certain smells will trigger these images, and make my heart swell.

How my Mother accomplished all she did still astonishes me. I can’t seem to find time to bake cookies at Christmas, yet she made cutout cookies, nutroll, kiffle and bread, in addition to the main course. To say she was amazing is an understatement.

As the years have gone by, with siblings growing up and moving, and my Mom aging and passing in 2015, not all those traditions have survived, but the memories are still there.

Memories I share with my Son in hopes they will not be forgotten.

Some of the traditions my Son and I have are rooted in the ones I grew up with, like coloring eggs on Good Friday, keeping our Christmas tree up till the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th and burning a bayberry candle on Christmas Eve.

But, there are also new traditions I have created with my Son, like a new pair of PJ’s for Christmas Eve, conveniently left by Santa somewhere in the house. 

This tradition continues even with my Son turning twenty this month. Of course Santa is not part of the equation anymore, but let’s hope when my Son has children he’ll be hiding PJ’s for them. Finding the perfect pair of PJ’s has been one of my greatest pleasures every year.

The PJ tradition is a borrowed tradition from a former co-worker. Where she got it, I have know idea, but I loved the idea and once started my Son looked forward to tracking down the package with his special PJ’s every Christmas Eve.

Over the years some of our traditions have evolved. When my Son was younger, New Years Eve was pizza, games and snacks till midnight. When my Mother was alive, she would be part of our NYE tradition, and sometimes a sister or nephew or two would join us.

Now however, we head to a late day movie, then dinner, and get home with time to either watch a movie or play a game before the ball drops. Sometimes family or friends will join us, but generally it’s just us. 

I thought for sure this year my Son would want to do something with friends, but he said New Years Eve is suppose to be the two of us. I was truly touched by this and certainly hope at least through his college years this stays the same.

It brings me great joy to see as my Son has grown, he has become noticeably more in tune to the traditions of our family and certainly looks forward to them.

My Son is an avid history buff, so the traditions and customs that are tied to our family heritage intrigue him, which is a positive sign they will be carried on, in some way shape or form, even if just by word of mouth.

Keeping traditions/customs alive is critical to saving the core of the family. They not only tell the story of who we are, they show respect and appreciation for the past, and remind us that we are part of a larger community.

In addition, the birth of new traditions woven into existing ones will strengthen the core of the family and ensure the traditions will live on for decades to come.

So, with not only a New Year, but also new decade upon us, I look forward to keeping the fires of old traditions alive, and stoking the ambers of new traditions.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, and Decade, filled with family strengthening traditions, old and new.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Photos from personal collection

Eskimo Kiss – ©123rf – Eladora

Threads – ©123rf – Andrius Gruzdaitis

Facing the “IN-BETWEEN” Years

As the month of August unfolded the reality that my Son heads back to college to start his Sophomore year in 25 days hit me hard. I had that same pit in my stomach as I experienced all of last summer as his Freshman year crept closer with each passing day. 

It’s just me and my Son at home, so facing a truly empty nest for the first time in 18 1/2 years was beyond a challenge for me to say the least.

I had my ups and downs over the course of his Freshman year, but by the time he came home for the Summer I felt I had conquered a lot of those feelings.

To feel that sadness in my gut popping up again confirmed that I still have work to do, which I’m quite sure will be the topic of future posts.

My struggles leading up to my Son’s departure for college and during his Freshman year were well documented in multiple posts in “Waking the Walker – a Mother’s quest to survive her Son’s zombie years, aka his teens” and even on this site, so I won’t rehash them here.

If you haven’t already read them, I’ve included links below.

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/loosening-the-tether/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/season-of-transition/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/home-for-dinner/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/but-really-what-are-you-feeling/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/adjusting-to-my-new-norm/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/12/30/every-new-beginning-comes-from-some-other-beginnings-end-seneca/

https://wakingthewoman.com/2019/04/28/confused-self-image/

I mention these struggles because it sets up my state of mind this month.

AND

How my thoughts meandered from facing my empty nest again, to where I am in my life, to what comes next, to my age, and the thought that my age, late fifties, has got to be some of the weirdest and toughest times to navigate, next to adolescence and teens of course.

I’m no longer middle-aged, but not quite yet considered a senior citizen, even if AARP is available at 55. Although, some days I do feel like I’m prehistoric, especially at the end of a long workday or week.

With my Son in college, my parenting demands are extremely diminished. As a matter of fact, while my Son is away at college they’re practically non-existent. Which is quite an adjustment after single parenting from day one.

AND

I’m not old enough to retire, but most certainly wish I could. 

BASICALLY

I’m somewhere “IN-BETWEEN” raising kids and retiring, and not quite sure where I fit in. It’s kind of a time of limbo.

A limbo that will take some adjusting too.

WHY?

My Son does still need me, at times, so my parenting duties are on again off again. This creates a push and pull scenario with me.

Just when I get in the rhythm of flying solo, my Son is home on break and it’s back to full-time Mom duty.

Particularly in the kitchen. Having to seriously plan dinners for a week after a long break takes some adjusting to.

Then there are the fantasies about retirement that sometimes make the workday seem longer.

Knowing I have a little over 8 years till I can officially retire and get full Social Security can challenge my psyche. It’s like the notion of retirement is taunting me. Closer than it was five years ago, but longer than I wish it was.

The thing with retirement though, it may be too early to start a countdown, but it’s never too early to start planning. This certainly helps push me through every workweek. Realizing there is light at the end of tunnel, even though faint, lightens the load.

I have friends who have retired, as have the majority of my siblings, yet the bulk of my co-workers are just starting families, raising young children or just starting the high school journey. To them the thought of college, empty nesting and retirement hasn’t even crossed their minds.

Not that I don’t have co-workers in a similar place as me. It’s just that we’re out-numbered by the young-ins.

Being somewhere between these worlds is kind of strange at times, and really does make me think about my age.

Something I never really did before. I guess because I was too busy raising my Son and helping with my Mom in her later life to even consider it.

BUT, with my Son turning twenty in December, it finally hit me.

I’m knocking at the door of 60. 

Not that 60 is old, my Mom was 94 when she passed, and up until 90 she was doing pretty good. She was very youthful in her thought process, and I feel all her children inherited that.

Age is just a number; it’s your state of mind that impacts how old you actually feel. 

That’s probably why I never gave my age a second thought, until now.

Facing the “IN-BETWEEN” years makes my mind wander to the past, thinking about all the life I’ve already lived.

AND

Wonder about the future and the prospect of retirement and how to make it a reality.

I certainly have a real desire to slow down and take a little more time for me, but because I still have the sometime demands of parenting and the full-time demands of work, it’s hard

Then I look around my house at all the unfinished projects (that accumulated during my Son’s high school marching band days) that I thought I would tackle once my Son was away at school and get mad at myself because I barely tackled anything during his Freshman.

Not because I’m lazy, but because I’m tired during the week, having a thyroid disorder and doing overtime certainly doesn’t help.

Weekends then turn into to playing catch-up

BUT

As I discovered during my Son’s Freshman year, sometimes weekends turn into driving an hour one way to the college because of an issue with my Son. Whether it is moving him to a new dorm because of a rude roommate, or his computer is on the fritz, there goes any free time that could have been for projects at home.

Those “IN-BETWEEN” years rearing their ugly head.

I’m beginning to think though that maybe the “IN-BETWEEN” years are really more like a stepping-stone to retirement.

A time to not only plan financially, but mentally and emotional work on the adjustments needed to go from working full-time, to no-time, or should I say My Time.

Oh how glorious the sound of My Time is, but I know some people have a hard time adjusting when the daily routine of marching off to their job ends.

So it’s crucial to prepare for that change, and this “IN-BETWEEN” time is ideal.

And, I also have to start preparing for the day post college graduation when my Son heads off on his new career venture. This could be even harder than him leaving for college.

So, I guess, instead of being challenged by this “IN-BETWEEN” time, I need to embrace it.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Images originally posted in “Waking the Walker” – purchased from 123rf.com

60 – 123rf.com – copyright – miceking

Finding Peace in Every Day

With my annual exodus to the beach to recharge my soul now behind me, I’m working hard at carrying the calm that comes from the sea air and surf with me as I face each day in the real world.

As I told a co-worker “I’m trying hard to hang onto my vacation shine.”

This is something I tell myself I’m going to do every year, but a month or two into the real world post vacation I’m working my way back into the “when is my next day off mind-set.”

I don’t mean the weekend; I mean an actual vacation day, a day with no real schedule, a day to play.

Like a day off is the cure all for the every day stresses we all endure. Granted it helps, but there has to be a way to find peace throughout every day, not just on a vacation day. Especially when they’re so few and far between.

Rumor has it, the key to finding this peace is to pause, breath deep and center your thoughts on something tranquil. This may be true, but the real trick is to prevent getting to this point

As I drove to work one morning since my beach trip, at a point in my travels where I crest a hill and the morning sun shines across the hills of the valley, my thoughts meandered to the calm I felt as I took in the beauty of nature. It was the same calm that happens when I’m free from schedules, deadlines and to do lists.

I may have been driving to work, but my mind and body were calm and free from the typical morning watch the clock en route to work mode.

It was at this point that I realized the key to carrying the calm the beach gives me is to find that calm from nature throughout every day, not just when I’m intentionally taking a break to do so, like a week at the beach or a walk or bike ride on the trail near my house.

I need to consciously pause daily to observe this beauty and soak in the calm.

Observing nature around me when I’m driving is the norm for me, but while in the office it’s a different story. Like most, my office is in a suburban area and I’m stuck in a cubicle. So observing nature takes more of an effort. Not that there aren’t windows in the building, but I have to leave my cubicle to access them which is certainly doable, but standing at the front door staring out may concern my Boss.

It’s a matter of being attentive to the smallest thing, even if just in passing.

A small bird building a nest above the front door, the wind lightly rustling the leaves on the branches of the tree in front of the building or the shadows the sun casts on the sidewalk as it dances through the leaves of the tree.

Allowing my attention to drift from my work to the beauty outside the window is essential to me fulfilling my desire to “hang onto my vacation shine.”

This might seem a bit spacey, but taking just 30 seconds to pause and focus on something other than the task at hand will allow me to clear the clutter of the day from my brain and allow my mind and body to calm itself.

At home I sometimes do this randomly, especially at sunrise and sunset. I’m a real sky watcher and the drama and colors that can explode at those times can stop me in my tracks, and often do.

SO, I do have this built into my make-up, it’s just a matter of consciously taking a moment during the busy work day to look out the window, soak up natures beauty and recharge, even if I’m not feeling stressed.

The idea of being pro-active when it comes to nipping stress in the bud before it strikes is nothing new. There are plenty of books, magazines and blogs with “how to” info, BUT, what works for one, may not work for another, so the trick is finding what calms you, and then figuring out a way to seek this during the flurry of every day.

For me that thing is obviously nature. It has a soothing effect on me. Using it as “therapy” during the workday is something I never thought of before, at least consciously.

Beyond the anti-stress benefits, I also find being in-tune with nature to be very beneficial to my spiritual growth which just so happens to also tie directly into my road of self-rediscovery.

Whether we want to admit it or not, all journeys of self-discovery or rediscovery involve some level of spiritual awakening or reawakening. After all, we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and our spirit is here to experience all the lessons this life has to offer.

So I see this “30 seconds of nature to stay calm epiphany” as a stepping-stone in my sojourn to rediscover myself. A stepping stone that can turn into a leap if I can truly live by my words.

The pressures of every day will be the real barometer of my success. I’ll keep you posted.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection

Trust the Universe

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s you can’t force things into being. Sometimes you just have to be, and let things fall into place as they were meant to be.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s you can’t force things into being. Sometimes you just have to be, and let things fall into place as they were meant to be.

You also have to learn to “trust” that everything is as it’s suppose to be and the universe will let you know when it’s time to make a move. As my Mother would say “God’s time is not our time. Be patient.”

I have learned however this is easier said than done. It’s human nature to want to find an answer or resolve a dilemma as quickly as possible. It is not that simple to “just be.”

There have been periods in my life when I truly lived this though. Sort of working at something I wanted to change, or resolve, but allowing things to flow, not forcing anything. And no freaking out when things seemed to stall.

I have also had times when my frustration with my situation had my mind constantly spinning on ways to force change or find a resolve. All this did was bring on more frustration and anguish. And, even polarization. I was so consumed by finding an answer just achieving day-to-day tasks was daunting.

To be honest, just going with the flow can be very challenging, especially when you want change or an answer so bad you can taste it. 

When I look back over the roads I’ve traveled thus far, I realize the times when I did just go with the flow, my life was more pleasant and actually more productive. Being fluid and flexible, even bending when necessary is what brought results.

At this time though, I find myself somewhere in between these two. 

Continue reading “Trust the Universe”

Clearing Old Energy

This June marks forty years since my high school graduation. In all honesty had a few of my classmates not decided to arrange a forty year class reunion I probably would not have given it another thought

Let’s face it, what with all the hormonal changes going on in a teenagers body, and the fact that teens are becoming more self-aware, high school has to rank high in the “most challenging times” of a person’s life. Even for the popular, over-achieving set.

I know for me it most certainly was.

As a transfer from a small, private Catholic school the transition to public school in ninth grade was not very easy. I was quite comfortable with my tight-knit small group, but once I got into the large machine that was public school all my insecurities resurfaced.

Being new we all stood out, which is most definitely something you don’t want when dealing with a lack of self-confidence and being self-conscious of everything about yourself.

I felt like a square peck in a round hole. If not for my Catholic school buddies and a few new friends I made, I’m not sure I would have made it through not just ninth grade, but all of high school.

As my confidence grew and I got more involved in clubs and got to know more people each year got a little better. Not that there weren’t those who still triggered my insecurities. The key was to avoid them to the best of my abilities.

By the time graduation day arrived I was completely indoctrinated into public school. BUT, that didn’t mean I wasn’t thrilled to be done with all of it and moving on to a new adventure in college.

It was at this point, all of our lives went in different paths, and the clearing of the old began. We just didn’t realize it.

Over forty years life levels the playing field. 

In that time a lot of life can be lived – college, careers, career changes, job loss, – marriage, kids, divorce – putting kids through college, kids getting married, grandchildren – caring for parents, loss of parents or other loved ones – retirement dreaming, or even retired already, if you’re lucky.

We are not who we were, we are who we are, forty years post graduation.

Life most certainly helps to mold and shape an individual and by the time you’re in your fifties what happened in your teen’s pales in comparison to the real world.

In other words, you’ve “GROWN UP.”

I know for myself becoming a Mom, and loosing my Son’s father three years later more than impacted who I am today.

The insecure, self-conscious teenager doesn’t exist any more. 

Not that I don’t have days when I’m feeling less than stellar and experience self-doubt, but I don’t have time to linger on that, the demands of the real world see to that.

Especially during my Son’s child rearing years. His needs preceded any feelings of inadequacy I may have experienced.

So, with all this in mind I was more than excited to see old classmates. I knew for me it would be the perfect time to clear out the old, sometimes negative energy surrounding high school memories and usher in new, positive energy for the future.

As I walked into the reunion, it was evident that we were all in this same place. The air was filled with positive energy and a spirit of grand camaraderie. It was non-stop chatter and bouncing around trying to talk with everyone that was there.

Over the following week I pondered the nights events. We may have been brought together initially in high school, but now we were all united by our own journeys since high school.

It made me realize how important it is to look back in order to move forward. If we don’t own the good and the bad that we’ve experienced in our lives sojourn, we can never be whole

BUT, once you’ve done so, let go of the negative, so there’s more room for the positive to grow.

So as I work my way through my present stage of re-discovery, I can honestly say I crossed a major threshold by facing the challenges of my high school days without flinching. Not sure I could have done that twenty or twenty-five years ago.

In addition, I’m grateful for those experiences. Without them I would not be who I am today.

AND, I’m grateful for all those classmates who had my back. You know who you are. Much love now and always!

Having the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and actually make new friends of classmates I didn’t really know that well is a beautiful thing.

Or as the commercial says “Priceless.”

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.