Hunkering Down in Minnesota

Minnesotans know we will be staying in place starting tonight at midnight. I went to town today to run errands. It took me two and a half hours and I have to say it was so fun. I went to Walmart to get material for a baby blanket and got some fresh and frozen vegetables while I was there. As I browsed the fabrics, there was another woman who honored the distance rule but that didn’t stop us from chatting about what we are up to sewing-wise. I love that kind of schmoozing. Two grandma’s making stuff. We talked about colors and what we do with our leftover fabric. I went to Aldie’s to get my favorite yogurt which I eat like ice cream these days. More chatting at the check out. Gas and check-out and the store owner was friendly as heck telling me how he washes his hands like he has never done before. I thanked him for his service.

It may seem strange but even though I have been staying in, except for today, I have felt busy. I get to the end of the day with three more things to  do on my list. Bernie likes to cook and making meals is a big part of his keeping busy. I have gained 5 pounds in the last two weeks. I am not joking and I need to do something about that. Our kids are keeping touch with us, more than the usually did before this fiasco.

I feel pretty safe with a governor who is a science teacher…not a bad deal for Minnesota at a time like this. Have to go…we have friends who have decided on a regular Friday “cocktail hour” on Zoom and that is coming up soon. I hope you and those with whom you are hunkering down have found creative things to do. We are just beginning. We need to watch out for one another.

Moving in Grace

I woke at three this morning. On my mind were the support groups that I belong to and how to maintain communication with folks I dearly love and will miss as this isolation may drag into weeks or even months. Over the past two weeks, friends have organized phone or Zoom meetings. My husband signed up for Zoom and we hope to use it for contacts with friends and family. I myself have started to get engaged in using my phone for group meetings. I was feeling the anxiety I often experience when it comes to managing media. I still struggle with instructions and fear doing the wrong thing. Yet, thinking about the need, I was putting a responsibility on myself as I lay in the darkness.

I got up, plugged in the coffee pot, and sat to read, always my first activity after crawling out of bed. This morning I started a book a friend loaned me, The Power of Grace by David Richo. Grace, for me, is God or my Higher Power working in my life in a way that either gives me an insight much needed in a particular moment.It can nudge me to move in a certain direction by opening or closing doors. Grace can  also come in the form of courage to act on an impulse, to take a risk. Synchronicity and coincidences are often forms of grace.

Drawing on classic hero stories, Richo says that there are three specific arrivals of grace: grace that comes at the beginning, the middle, or the end of a journey. I believe I experience beginning grace when I have inspirational ideas. Years ago when I was in ministry, ideas about how to design my programs came into my head almost in a steady stream. I identified this as creative thinking. Practically, I was able to carry out only a small number of these great ideas. The rest of the great ideas, I decided, were for others to act on and simply evaporate back into the universe. Richo would add to my thoughts that beginning inspiration includes the inspiration plus the move toward action or beginning steps.

The second arrival of grace is what sustains us in the journey, the ongoing support until the task is completed. I think of my marriage. Falling in love and planning and going through a wedding is one thing. Being a married person is quite another. There have been many difficult challenges over the years that at the time seemed insurmountable. Had it not been for this sustaining grace, I suspect my marriage would not have lasted.

The third arrival of grace comes at the end of a journey. Richo says that this grace is always a surprise, something more than the outcome intended when one first set out. Rosa Parks, for example, asserted her right to sit anywhere on the bus. The outcome was the opportunity to inspire others to initiate the civil rights movement. Dorothy of Oz sought to return to her home in Kansas but in the end she discovered her own inner power, finding out that home is within herself. I would add that with time, there are many outcomes to particular events as we draw the lessons from experiences years later. An example from my husband’s life: over the years, he struggled with executive leadership in various jobs he had. As a result, he had a deep sense of what leadership of others should look like. In retirement, he became involved in starting a Boys & Girls Club in our area. All of these experiences came flooding in for him as he seemed to know how to call people forth and encourage them to take responsibility.

Right now I am thinking about our situation dealing with corona-virus. While I leave it to national and state leaders to take care of the bigger issues, thinking about issues in my own circle of relations is what woke me at three this morning. I am flooded with ideas, as I was when I did church work, but for some of these, I lack the talent and energy to carry out. But where I am lacking in some areas, I am gifted in others. This insight saved me today. I am a writer. This blog is an important format for me to share my ideas and insights.

Just as others are finding ways to inspire and encourage through music and art, I hope I can do the same as a writer. None of us can do everything but all of us can do something and our natural talents are a clue to what is our calling. Grace can move us, and grace can sustain us. We have yet to know the grace yet to come.





This Long Sabbath

I am beginning to see some pretty funny posts on Facebook about the coronavirus situation. There is nothing like humor to diminish fear and lower anxiety.. I am also seeing some really positive, inspirational comments that help one see this situation like the Sabbath, an opportunity to spend time relaxing, reading, doing creative projects, and enjoying family.

One artistic friend is posting a story time each day for children stuck at home. I look forward to seeing some of our musical artists lifting us with song.

Our governor here in Minnesota spoke yesterday announcing the close of restaurants and bars and informing the citizens where to get help they need with monetary assistance and food. He made it clear why we are doing this. Our hospitals are not prepared for an onslaught of seriously ill people. By avoiding association with other citizens, we are slowing down the spread of the virus to give them extra time to gather what they need.

This is a time to support one another. Bernie and I have talked about ordering out meals occasionally to help keep our local restaurants working. I am making a list of people I want to be sure to check in with. I have a great collection of books that I am open to sharing with friends. For each of the performance cancellations this past week, I chose to let the organization or performers keep the money. I know there is more I can do…I will try to keep an open heart.

One more thing I can do is pray. This pandemic will be devastating for many that we won’t be able to personally help. So I plan to hold these persons that I don’t know in the light each day.

What are your thoughts and ideas?



A Short Post

With our adult kids here this weekend Bernie and I received all sorts of advice on staying home and safe. I looked out over my next couple of weeks thinking of all I hoped to do, seeing people I enjoy, wondering what to do. My daughter, Kate, gave this advice: “Act as though you are the one with the virus and behave as though you don’t want to give it to others.” What great advice!

As the hours passed, one event after another has been cancelled…as though my Higher Power took all decisions out of my hands. I have one event today that I have decided to go to unless it, too, is cancelled. I will practice the hygiene ideas I posted earlier.

One idea came up that I love. A friend suggested that if someone reaches out to hug you, fold your hands as though in prayer and bow slightly…a sign of peace and honor in other countries. I will practice that today.


Coronavirus…what I do

I realized today, I am not afraid of the virus…but I sure am obsessive. I am cleaning my house with disinfectants which I haven’t really done before. I like most germs and I don’t want to harm the friendly ones. But for this virus, I have gotten serious. At 75, I am among the more vulnerable and with my husband having COPD, there is added risk if her were to get sick. Here are some of the things I am doing;

Washing my hands more than I used to. Added to after going to the bathroom and before handling foods, I wash as I enter any building and again when I leave.

Not touching my face is a special challenge…I didn’t realize how often I did so until now. I realized that if I fold my hands in my lap or fold my arms, I don’t tend to do so.

I never touch a door nob with my bare hands. I have always done this in public bathrooms but now  do so for any doorknob. I will usually pull my sleeve down over my hand or I will wear a scarf and cover my hand while I grab the knob. Stylish.

In my house, I use sterile wipes to clean knobs and light switches before and after guests. Hand towels are changed more often and I am considering paper towels for guests.

I no longer shake hands but I am having a problem with hugs. A hug is so much more intimate and often a gesture for someone who needs support. I am going to have to trust God on this one.

I clean off my phone, my keyboard and TV remotes.

I do what others do when I cough or sneeze, use my arm or, if I am fast enough, a handkerchief.

I will for sure stay home if I feel ill.

Most of these have been recommended by the experts. As I said above, I am not afraid. I figure I either will or I won’t get the virus. If I do, I will or I won’t get seriously ill. If I get seriously ill, I either will or I won’t die. I don’t think the warnings are overblown. I think the experts need to be adamant because so much of the population is resistant to change. Those who don’t believe this is serious and won’t take precautions put others at risk.


Little Book – Big Value

I am pleased to have heard from several of my old blog subscribers that they received notification about my blog after my son fixed the problem. That inspires me to get back to work.

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This may not seem especially interesting but I discovered yesterday that a humble paper-back booklet given to me by my cousin a few years ago is very valueable. The booklet is Your Owner’s Manual, self-published by Burt Hotchkiss. When I say self-published, I mean it looks like he took copies of his manuscript to the local printer and had multiple copies made, folded and stapled. I love the little book.

Burt Hotchkiss and his wife were trained in the Course in Miracles. The little booklet is his sharing the message of the Course in a much more understandable way. He uses real-life examples including from his own life. This is how I like learning about spirituality and philosophy. I call it incarnation, ideas packaged in human reality. In fact, if a spiritual or philosophical idea can’t shown to be applicable, which means helping one to live their life in a more meaningful way, I have no time for it. Hot air. Pillow fluff.

The price printed on the little paper book is $4.95. I thought I’d get a few copies that I can share with friends I think would appreciate it. When I tried to get to the web page Hotchkiss had on the back cover, it took me to Amazon where the book is for sale, used only. The price variation was between $75 and $135. I thought “I don’t know if I have a friend I like that much.” I suppose I could loan the book to someone, but at that value, I don’t know if I trust them to return it. Maybe I should insure it.

I wonder if my book will ever explode in value like this one.  If you have a copy of The Memorial of Jesus, hang onto it. You never know. If you don’t have one, better hurry up, there are only 300 copies left.

Perfectionism and New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t make them anymore. I don’t recall when resolutions and I parted ways. I just know that there came a time when I realized the futility. Resolutions were just setting myself up for failure.

Some people prefer the idea of setting goals rather than making resolutions. I am not clear on the difference, but goal does sound less foreboding, even a bit positive. It makes one seem to have a certain amount of control over life. But for a perfectionist, either word is lethal. Goal lists for a perfectionist are worse than Santa’s naughty list.

I have had to reevaluate this idea of perfectionism. Who ever thought it was a good idea to begin with? Plato? Socrates? Jesus? I think Jesus did say something about being perfect like he and the Father are perfect, but was I think he has been totally misunderstood. I am not sure exactly what he meant, to tell you the truth, but he also said that we should love ourselves and I can’t seem to love self and seek perfection at the same time.

So, I have decided to give up on perfection totally. And, folks, I am feeling really free right now. I no longer ponder about the outcome of anything I do. And after the fact, if something turns out to be a flop, I smile and go onto the next thing. A better philosophy for me is simply to do the next right thing. The next right thing is whatever is on my list. Yes I still make lists, but those just help me remember.

No goals, no resolutions. If today is Tuesday and I have on my list to go to swim at 2:30, I will pack my swimsuit and towel and set it by the door. But if I the toilet gets clogged up and I have to stay home and wait for the plumber, I just choose a different next right thing. Call my cousin Franny. Then I move onto the next right thing.

I can’t imagine that Jesus would be disappointed in me. He understands that I don’t understand what he meant about being perfect. Maybe the translators of the Bible got confused and mixed up his words. Perhaps he really said, “Perfectly be just as the Father and I are being.”