Holidays · My Thoughts

Valentine’s Day 2021! So Different Yet So Good!

Valentine's Day
Photo by alleksana from Pexels

Valentine’s Day 2021—a snowy frigid winter day in New Mexico! We’ve experienced a different celebration today yet so good! How have you spent your day?

Still we face coronavirus restrictions, so we had no choice of eating out to celebrate this day. Our marriage has spanned ten years, and Lin and I have been together for eleven. As the years rolled by, this celebratory day of love has changed.

Early in our relationship, Lin filled it with memorable times of special gifts and memorable nights. Now we comfortably celebrate in much less dramatic ways, yet know the depth of our love grows each year. Now, we exchange cards, flowers and nominal gifts.

As I pondered the whole impact of the holiday today, I found some really poignant and fun memes I’d like to share with you:

Valentine's Day
This is for Jesse, my cat!
Valentine's Day
That look!
Valentine's Day
Again those eyes!
Valentine's Day
Did it find you?
Valentine's Day
For my writer’s heart!
Valentine's Day
Another one for my writer’s soul!
Valentine's Day
The place where love is!
Valentine's Day
Oh, those precious memories!

Years don’t lessen the love in a relationship—it doesn’t have to grow stale. In fact, we have deepened our relationship, especially with the intense togetherness the pandemic forced on all of us. As we went through this unsettling time mostly 24/7, I found a deep-rooted respect for Lin and his work ethics. His humor delights me every morning when he serenades me and Jesse, my cat, belting out a rhyming ditty he created on the spot. His deep care and commitment to me still leaves me breathless!

The routine we created during this time together comforts my soul: a leisure morning of Lin reading his current history book and me doing my Quiet Time then Cribbage and breakfast. We go our separate ways then lunch together and a thirty-minute comedy series where we laugh together. We spend our afternoons separate on our own endeavors. Then after his workout and my walk, we head towards the hot tub for warmth and again a leisure time to talk over our world’s matters.

After a shower and dinner, we sit shoulder-to-shoulder watching our favorite British detective solve yet another crime. Before the finale, we share our choices of the villain!

Then off to bed we go! Quite a different routine for us than our usual busy lifestyle of constant dancing and traveling. And the benefit yielded—wow!

Right now, Lin naps on the loveseat downstairs waiting for the Nascar race to restart after a rainstorm. This last week, he has worked hard in the yard, preparing for spring planting, so he needs the nap and refreshment.

I write at my laptop in the loft and I hear only his soft snores—the heartwarming music of my Valentine’s Day with a dear, dear man for many years, still so, so good!

Finally, I love the reward of time together in a relationship, and I value Lin Miller as much today as I did ten years ago—maybe more because of what we have experienced.

What’s your routine? How has your relationship grown during the pandemic? How did you spend Valentine’s Day?


Did you miss one of my recent blogs? Here’s a chance to see one from the last three weeks:

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ HURRY! ENDS TODAY! Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books for a Valentine’s Day discount of 25% off select books and bundles:   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

 ~HURRY! ENDS TODAY! Enter the $400 Valentine Giveaway & WIN a $400 Amazon eCard! Only One Lucky Winner – Why not YOU? ~> http://ow.ly/L7Vn50DkYGN

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Blogging · My Thoughts

What Does Seven Years of Blogging Look Like?

Seven years of blogging

Seven years! Thank you to any reader who took the time to read what I deemed my priority for that week. I so love thinking about my weekly blog post. Topics tumble around in my head, percolating. I usually spend Sunday afternoon writing my weekly post.

Since 2019, I’ve evaluated my year of blogging during the early part of January. I believe this type of deep assessment has helped me grow my exposure.

During my first few years, I adopted the suggestion to do a blog but posted sporadically and had no commitment to it. My first year I posted seven times—obviously not a priority in my life! Something happened in 2018, and it’s grown ever since.

As I faced 2020, I planned to write about the following:

  • Our Travels
  • Square Dancing
  • MAJOR FOCUS: Marshall Flippo and promoting my new book
  • Personal life stories
  • Being 65 and fully alive
  • Holiday highlights
  • Ranch life in southeastern Colorado
  • My 16-year-old cat, Jesse

Little did I know, that the coronavirus would affect much of my writing for the year. Yes, we had two amazing trips. In January, we spent twelve days in Costa Rica, and I wrote about that amazing trip in six posts. My readers loved my travel blogs, and February 2020 showed a marked increase in views—2511 for the month. That month ended up my biggest month of the year!

At the end of February, we traveled to Spain, and I had the same plan—blog about our trip featuring each day in my weekly blog. Then the coronavirus hit! I did feature the nine day Spain trip in four blogs, but the pandemic changed my plans for the year.

As a poet, I turned to writing poetry to process my feelings generated by the pandemic, so I featured those poems and my narrative in twenty-seven posts. And as an offshoot of those posts, I collected those posts in a book I’m publishing in the next couple months that will be available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book titled Bitter or Better: My Coronavirus Journey.

2020 saw a marked increase in views and visitors by almost 5000 each. My blogs about our trips and the coronavirus stimulated that increase. Look at the growth my blog has had over the last seven years:

Here’s how many posts I have published in seven years:

  • 2014 – 7
  • 2015 – 16
  • 2016 – 6
  • 2017 – 22
  • 2018 – 54
  • 2019 – 66
  • 2020 – 64

For a total of 235! Wow! That’s a lot of words!

Seven years of blogging--the world

My audience continued to span the globe. I advertised worldwide on Facebook last year, until recently when it made that option not available. That concerns me for future growth worldwide.

The United States continued to be my biggest market, followed by countries with the most to least visits: Myanmar, China, Algeria, India, Ireland, Nepal, Laos, Philippines, and Bangladesh.

Other visitors came from Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Canada, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Iraq, Turkey, United Kingdom, Australia, Bhutan, Vietnam, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia, Libya, Japan, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Honduras, Sweden, France, Brazil, Morocco, Cote d’lvoire, South Africa, Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia, Maldives, Venezuela, Congo – Brazzaville, Paraguay, Armenia, Suriname, Ecuador, Cambodia, Senegal, Jordan, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Samoa, Denmark, Mozambique, Fiji, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Peru, Nigeria, Lebanon, Congo – Kinshasa, Guinea, United Arab Emirates, Palestinian Territories, Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka, Italy, Tanzania, Albania, Timor-Leste, Spain, Romania, Chile, Angola, Russia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Guyana, Mauritania, Thailand, Georgia, Chad, Liberia, Cape Verde, Belgium, Netherlands, Kyrgyzstan, Belize, New Zealand, Malaysia, Kenya, Djibouti, Togo, Macedonia, Switzerland, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Brunel, Serbia, Singapore, Ghana, Gambia, Vanuatu, Jamaica, Israel, American Samoa, Bulgaria, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Uruguay, Solomon Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Moldova, Benin, Northern Mariana Islands, Comoros, Finland, Caribbean Netherlands, Greece, Gabon, Burundi, Taiwan, Hungary, Martinique, Guinea-Bissau, Curacao, Mauritius, Panama, Czech Republic, European Union, South Sudan, Lesotho, Zambia, Poland, Niger, Micronesia, South Korea, Equatorial Guinea, St. Lucia, Oman, Central African Republic, Palau, Rwanda, Yemen, Madagascar, Namibia, Cook Islands, Lithuania, Tonga, Kosovo, St. Pierre & Miquelon, Zimbabwe, Norway, Aruba, Bahrain, Marshall Islands, ­­Kiribati, Barbados, U. S. Virgin Islands, Kuwait, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sint Maarten, French Guiana, Anguilla, Reunion, Uzbekistan and Guam.

In 2019, visitors came from 154 different countries to my blog. This year it expanded to 176 countries! That is so amazing to me, and it shows the worldwide accessibility to the Internet.

So, I’d like to share the take-aways from this in-depth look at my blogging history:

  • Blogging has become a major focus of my writing.
  • Readers especially like my blogs about our travels.
  • Readers emailed me about my blogs about the coronavirus.
  • I love the worldwide audience I have created with my blog!

Seven years of sharing my thoughts! I continue to want more interaction with my readers. Respond, like, let me know what you think. Let’s have a dialogue!


Flippo's book

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for all my bookss   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~VISIT A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Christmas · Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Charles Dickens’ Message for Christmas 2020

Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

Is it “Bah, humbug?” or “God bless us, everyone?” Last night my husband, Lin and I watched Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a tradition we enjoy each year. What message does Charles Dickens have for 2020?

As I watched it, I know the story by heart. I studied Charles Dickens as an English major. I taught it to my sixth-grade literature class each year. We’ve watched each year together. I love its message!

And how does it relate to 2020, the craziest year I’ve ever experienced?

Ebenezer Scrooge, the story’s central character, receives a visit from his former business partner, Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve. Marley warns Scrooge of what’s coming: visits from three spirits.

The visits from the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come forced Scrooge to face the life he had lived, full of “Bah, humbug,” monetary rewards, and negativity since the death in childbirth of his sister, Fan. This reflected Scrooge’s own life because his mother died in childbirth with him and compounded his pain.

This story has strong implications for 2020: redemption and change.

Our Round Table in Branson, Colorado

Christmas Past

Year after year, my family met at our family home in Branson. I traveled there often in my adulthood. The attendees changed over the years. Years ago, Mom and Dad hosted Mom’s parents, Aunts and Uncles, cousins, and me.

Recently, my niece and our family joined Mom, Lin and I with Aunt Willie and my cousin and her family.

Throughout the years, we ate delicous meals, played lots of games around the round table, laughed and shared gifts. We caught up with each other’s lives—a memorable time.

Our family had its moments where we all didn’t get a long, but the people faced the adverse effects, offered forgiveness and we stayed connected.

Christmas Present

Lin and I will celebrate a memorable quiet Christmas here at home alone because we strongly support all the suggestions the CDC has issued about holiday gatherings. We will play Cribbage, open gifts and celebrate our lives together. It will be good because we have accepted the change we have to do to keep everyone in our family safe.

Many families face drastic changes this Christmas with a strong suggestion to not gather together. Sacrifice yes! Change, for sure! Can you do it?

The Future
What Does the Future Hold?

Christmas Yet to Come

I trust that next year we will again gather in Branson, sit around the table and play games with loved ones. We will visit the ranch we all love, looking for wildlife and reminiscing about all those special places we love. And I will relish next year more than ever because of the loss of time together this year! After this year, I will value my familial relationships more because of the stark lack of time with dear ones this year.

So much is different in 2020! Can we collective embrace Dickens’ lessons from the Christmas Carol?

If you’ve battled the mandates, could you change from “Bah, humbug masks” and rethink this and vow to wear a mask for your granddad or grandma’s sake? Your grandchild’s sake? To alleviate the load on our health care workers? Can you change to Tiny Tim’s prayer, “God bless us, everyone?”

If you’ve railed about everything that was canceled this year like your favorite square dance festival, could you say a quiet prayer for forgiveness and then pray for the families who lost someone to the coronavirus?

If you’ve put yourself in the center of this drama called life in 2020 and been so negative and selfish, could you bow your head and honor the health care workers who have placed their lives on the line for many every day in a selfless way?

Yes, change is possible! Redemption is possible, but the process is awareness, acceptance and action. The action is in the doing!

A Christmas Carol reflected Charles Dickens’ life. Because his father was imprisoned for debt, his life changed drastically, and his writing highlighted the brutal changes in his life. Can we take a breath and learn from Ebenezer Scrooge this Christmas? Not “Bah, humbug” anymore, but Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, everyone!”


~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Cover for Just Another Square Dnce Caller

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Coronavirus · Dancing · Gratitude · My Thoughts · Recovery

Grateful Now? Why?

Grateful

Why grateful now? The coronavirus has ruined plans for most of 2020, and now threatens to affect Thanksgiving plans! Many have died or lost family or friends. Irreparable losses! Cancellations, shelter-in-place, a world turned upside down! Is gratitude even possible in 2020?

For me, gratitude changes everything, but I’m not talking about an unrealistic Pollyanna attitude. Gratitude is a paradigm shift—a fractional shift one direction or the other off of the coronavirus to a larger, more glorious world.

So why is gratitude important now? For me, it’s an attitude that changes my perspective. I can focus on the negative, an easy choice. So the chaos and horror of the pandemic take over, and I obsess about today’s totals. Seeing what’s wrong comes naturally. Gratitude asks me to dig deeper and take a different route. Personally, I’ve had minimal losses, yet it has taken its toll on me but nothing like many with gigantic losses.

So what’s the power of gratitude? I concentrate on the positive, what’s right with the world, what I love about my life and suddenly I feel different!

The best way to be grateful: write a gratitude list. I learned about this tool in recovery. How do you do that? List two, five, ten things I’ve grateful for. Start small and increase as you practice this. In doing this, I take the focus off the problem and celebrate the solution.

Gratitude list

On November 19, 2020 here’s my gratitude list:

1. My sobriety

2. My God

3. My husband, Lin

4. My brother, Bub

5. My health

6. My family

7. My friends

8. My cat, Jesse

9. Our family ranch

10. My love of dancing

Today I sit in the waiting room at my husband, Lin’s eye doctor. He sits in an adjacent room, having his second cataract surgery in a month or so. The success of the first one prepared him for today’s ordeal. His natural grateful spirit often shows me the power of gratitude for the seemingly small things. His positive attitude contributed to the success of the other surgery, so I know the same thankful attitude will affect the outcome of this one.

Okay, it’s your turn! For what are you grateful? If you name someone specifically, be sure and tell he/she made your gratitude list today! I’d love to hear what you are grateful for during these hard times.


~My other current blog post, “Poetic View: Nine Months Later,” faces life after nine months with the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Do You Need a Hug?

Do you need a hug? Has the isolation of sheltering-in-place taken its toll? As a human being, I relish social interaction. I heard someone say this week, “I’m suffering from hug deprivation!” Me, too! That describes it perfectly!

Yes, I get ample hugs from my dear husband daily, but I’m accustomed to hugs from a variety of people: we hug when we square dance, we hug at recovery meetings, we hug at church. My family hugs a lot! I’m used to an abundance of hugs, so the social distancing has been a real trigger for me! Yes, I agree a necessity, but my spirit and soul thirst for a hug, and this lack has zapped me!

On top of the restrictions, I filled my March and April with the final production of my newest book project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. I focused on it and was able to add some special features I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had rushed the production. But the consequences: I felt drained!

Women sitting
Come Back Tomorrow and I’ll Have More

April 17, 2020
 
I’ve run out
            Empty
                        No More
 
But come back
            Tomorrow
There will be more!
 
More of me
            My humor
            My expertise
            My talents
 
I’ve used up
            Everything today
            Ran desperately out!
I spilled me
            Wide-open
            Nothing left.
 
But I rejuvenate
            Refresh
And start again
            With a full tank!
 
So don’t ask me
            When I’m on empty
                        To give more!
That’s selfish!
 
Ask me about
            The level of
                        Availability
Ask me if I’m full
                        Or empty
Don’t assume!
 
I know me!
            I can tell
                        The meter’s hanging
                                    Dangerously low
                                                Near empty
 
I’m zapped
            Nothing now
                        Today!
 
But come back tomorrow,
            And I’ll have more!
 
More of me
            More joy
                        More compassion
                                    More energy!
Totally more!

I did get the book done, but the publisher has delayed the delivery of the paperback and hardback copies, so I’m waiting impatiently right now. I want to get my book into the hands of readers everywhere!

I currently focus on promoting Flippo’s book on Facebook and have assembled a gigantic database of over 600 square and round dance Facebook pages for groups and clubs with a count of 176,000 contacts. I realize many people “Follow” several Facebook pages, but what an amazing number of dancers!

So at this point, my hugs are of the virtual variety from contacts all over the world.

The coronavirus continues to attack people across the world. Lin and I watch the daily numbers increase and worry about the outcome.

I continue to wrestle with the lack of hugs! I’ve heard it said in my recovery years it takes ten hugs a day to stay centered, so needless to say, I need a hug or ten!

All this combined makes me wonder about the future!


Indefinite Future

April 20, 2020
 
Always
            The future looms
                        In front
                                    Of me
 
Full of intrigue
            Mystery
An unopened present
 
It lures me forward
            Beckoning me
                        To come
                                    To participate
                                                To enjoy
 
As I gaze on
            What’s to come
My heart clenches
            My throat constricts
 
Dread fills every cell!
            What does it hold?
 
The uncertainty now
            2020
Scary
            Horrendous illness
                        Rampant
                                    Across our world
 
Death cries swell
            In volume
Bodies sit in stacks
 
Never have I seen
            Anything of this size
 
So do you plan?
            Will June arrive safely?
                        What about the annual Branson-Trinchera Reunion?
                                    Its 62th event
                        Will July 4th be cancelled?
                        Will our summer be tainted
                                    By the smell of
                                                Rotting corpses?
 
Projection
            Fear
                        Alarm
                                    All color the future!
 
Will we get a respite?
            Will it stop?
                        Will it return
                                    If we open back up?
 
The uncertainty
            The drama
                        The insanity
                                    The horror
                                                Pain
Suffering
 
Can we ever have
            Normal again?

The future holds the key!                                          

Today, the future continues to look dim! Over the last several days, the Covid 19 case world count has been well over 100,000! Several states have seen a surge in cases here in the United States. My husband and I still choose to limit our exposure by staying close to home and only going out for the essentials. We will not participate in any group activities this summer.

Besides the horror of the coronavirus, over the past few weeks, the murder of George Floyd has influenced an awakening for the need for an honest look at racial prejudice in our world. It reminds me of the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, but here we are sixty years later with some of the same injustices present. We need a major overhaul.

So, can we return to normal? I doubt if that ever happens. 2020 has been a year of major disasters and major changes. I yearn for a hug from you, a hug from you and a hug from you! The future truly holds the key to a new normal.

Will you participate or hold on to the old?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW. Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                              Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                                    Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                                 Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                              Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                         Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8             Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                                   Barnes and Noble Nook (US) – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s My Definition of Safety Now?

During our coronavirus self-quarantine, I felt safe at home. My definition of safety expanded—it meant being home, staying home, away from anyone else who might expose me to the virus. After the quarantine ended, I faced how my safety was threatened because now I could go out into the world. I had to face the unsafe world! My safety net of seclusion evaporated.

Lin and I had completely controlled who entered our home during this time. We only allowed the furnace repairman to come in for a short duration. Our furnace went out, and he needed to check the thermostat. No one else. We relished the safety we felt in our home—barricaded in the east mountains among the trees, away from people and the dangers they possibly held for us.

Then on April 8, I finally could relax after our month-long self-quarantine, but that meant I could go out in the world—what would that bring? With a poetic view, I celebrated my liberation.

Today I Breathed—It is a Month!

April 8, 2020

Hallelujah!
            We made it!
 
Thirty-one days away
            From Madrid
                        The airport
                                    Now I remember many workers with mask on
                                                Did they know?
                        A bustling restaurant downtown
                                                Jovial waiters served our meal
            From Toledo
                        Crowded busy streets
                                    Shoulder-to-shoulder
                                    Naïve about the possibility
                        Lunch in a crowded café
                                    Again, our meal served
 
We flew out on March 8th
            The coronavirus exploded there the 9th.
 
I feared the worst,
                        but it didn’t happen!
 
Thirty-one days passed
            With
                        Self-conscious
                                    Staring
                                                How do I feel now?
                                                            How about now?
                                                                        NOW!
                                    Repeatedly
 
A cough,
            A sore throat
                        Diarrhea
Oh, no!
            Am I sick?
                        Is it the virus?
                                    Is it psychosomatic?
 
Two weeks
            Of self-quarantine
I didn’t want
            To take a chance
            To infect you
            To spread it
                        If I had it.
 
 Third week
            Our self-quarantine over
                        I ventured out
                                    Cautious
                                                Fearful!
 
Today I breathed deeply
            For the first time
                        In a month.
            Exhale!
                        Inhale!
            Exhale!
                        Rhythm
                                    Relief!
 
Habitually I shallow breathe
            As it is!
But this last month
            I deeply held my breath
                        Worried,
                                    Afraid
                                                Apprehensive 
We were in a hot spot!
 
Today I believe strongly I’m okay
            We dodged a bullet!
Today my husband kissed me
                        Hugged me
                                    For the first time!
 
I ached
            For his touch
                        His lips!
 
Thirty-one days behind us
            Safe so far
                        But still vigilant!

But then, I had to face the unknown in this new world the coronavirus created. In New Mexico, shelter-in-place became the standard, therefore I didn’t even think about frivolous shopping—just the necessities of food and medicine. But that meant being around people and the possibility of being exposed.

Somehow, we had dodged a bullet coming home from Madrid, Spain where the virus exploded the day after we left. Would I be so lucky in the grocery store? On my first excursion out, I went to Albuquerque and picked up a prescription at Walgreen’s and felt safe. But my next stop was Smith’s grocery store, and it shocked me. At Walgreen’s people respected social distancing and kept their distance. I hit the grocery store late afternoon, and the frantic crowd stormed the place, wanting toilet paper and other survival supplies. The scene overwhelmed me, and I got out quickly.

I describe my next grocery store experience below through poetry:

My Newfound Fear of the World

April 13, 2020

As I walked into
            The grocery store
Panic gripped my throat
            My stomach clinched!
 
Would I pass someone
            Unknown
And get the dreaded
            Coronavirus?
 
I eyed each person
            Many donned masks
                        And gloves
It was Senior time
            Early
            Before the rush
 
So conscientious a group!
            But still I worried!
 
This deep fear upset me!
            Where’s my faith?
                        My trust in my God?
 
It almost felt like
            A panic attack!
Not full blown
            But close!
 
The safety of our home
            Comforts me!
                        A fortress
                                    Against this
                                                Invisible enemy!
No fear
            No dread
                        Safety in our diligence!
But today
            The world is scary
                                    Unsafe
                                                Dangerous!
 
The enemy lurks
            In a cough
                        A sneeze
                                    Getting to close
                                                To someone else!
 
My safety
            My first priority
My health
            Top of the list!
My happiness
            I must respect!
 
Therefore
            I don’t want to shop
                                    To be near you
 
Stay away, please!
            Never in my life
                        Have I wanted that
                                    Felt that way!
 
I love hugs
            People
                        Touch
                                    But the world changed in
                                                                        2020
Stay away, please!
Safety for the last couple months

As I write this blog post, I surveyed the changes in the last couple months. On Friday morning, I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. to go to the grocery store in Edgewood, New Mexico, a small community closer than Albuquerque. I don my mask and gloves and usually finish before 8:00 am. This has become a weekly ritual which will probably continue.

What rituals have you started because of the coronavirus? How has it changed your normal life?


Flippo's Biography cover

~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What Is Self-Care?

Two more poems reflect my feelings about the coronavirus and self-care and how we narrowly escaped Spain’s outbreak about a month ago! We could still be there!

In recovery, we talk often about self-care: measures we do to take of body, mind and soul. For me, usually I enjoy regular routines of dancing, exercising and associating with people. I also find alone time, my Quiet Time, to recharge my spirit and soul.

This coronavirus pandemic has disrupted my social and active practices and has taken self-care to a new level, adding unusual routines to my life: shelter-in-place and follow our governor’s guidelines and more. As I pondered this early in April, self-care took on a different meaning.

Self-Care

April 3, 2020

A mask
            A Bandanna
                        Social distance
                                    Space
                                                Wash my hands singing the Doxology
                                                                  Stay home
 
Self-care for
            The coronavirus
 
But what about
            My spirit
                        My soul
 
A Quiet Time
            Solace
                        Time Alone with my God
Words exchange
            Thoughts shared
 
Prayer—
            Silence
                        Solemn
                                    Desperate today
 
An ancient tradition
            Praying the Rosary
                        Repetition
                        Veneration of
                                    Mary
                                    Jesus
                                    God, the Father
                        Meditation
                                    Staying in the moment
 
I yearn for my God
            I seek him daily!
 
Who am I
            Without Him?
Who am I
            With Him?
 
An obedient girl child
            A rebellious teenager
                        A maniac in my twenties
                                    Heart-broken
                                              Destroyed by my first divorce
 
A recovered woman
            A struggling middle-aged woman
                        A desperate 50-year-old
                                    A grief-stricken 60-year-old
                                                A serene 66-year-old crone
In love with my life
            Before the coronavirus!
 
Today
            I avoid crowds
                        I wear a mask
                                    And you can’t shame me out of it
                                                I move away from you
                                                            For social distancing
           
When I take care of myself,
            I take care of you!
                        Remember that when you see
                                    Me in a mask!

I’ve taken this shelter-in-place time to go deep inside and wonder about this world and all the possibilities. We left Spain on March 8, and the virus exploded there the next day. Had we left there a couple days later, we could still be there—think about that one! Here’s my poem dealing with that:

Tomorrow is a Month

April 7, 2020

 Thirty-one days
        Since we left
                        Coronavirus-stricken Madrid
                                    And Spain
 We left on March 8th;
            It exploded there the 9th.
 
Thirty-one days of
            Holding my breath
            Self-examination
                        By the minute
            Self-diagnosis
                        Daily
            Self-screening
                        Repeatedly
 
Washing hands
            washing hands
                        washing hands!
 
A throat tickle
            Sore throat
                         Diarrhea
            Cough
Is it the virus?
            Dread and anxiety gripped me
 
Two weeks of
            Self-quarantine
Desperate not to share it
            If I had it.
 
Dances cancelled
            CALLERLAB cancelled
                        Life cancelled!
 
After two weeks
            A sigh
                        Maybe we made it
Yet. . .
 
Incubation period
            2 — 14 days
                        maybe 27
 
Oh, my God!
 
Shelter-in-place
            Nothing new
                        No new symptoms
 
After two weeks,
            Out of the house for the first time
                        For a prescription and groceries
Panic and fear
            People six-feet apart
                        at the drug store
                                    Safe yet foreign
            People too close to me
                        In the grocery store
                                    Claustrophobic
 
Malted Easter Eggs lured me in
            Impulse buying
                        No, it’s Easter time
                                    I always buy them at Easter
                                                Normal routine
Two bags
            I wolfed down one whole bag
                        immediately
                                    And gained three pounds!
 
Remedy to grocery shopping
            Senior time slot
                        Early in the morning
                                    Safer
                                                Respectful of distance
                                                            Less people
Still washing hands
            disinfecting the bags
                        the Jeep
                                   the steering wheel
                                                the knobs
EVERTYTHING!
 
Watching my husband, Lin, closely
            Fear gripped my heart
Both of us have had health issues
            the last couple years
 
Three weeks gone
            Another sigh of relief
 
Yet in the back of my mind
            And heart
Will it happen?
            Will it sneak up and attack
                        when I least expect it?
 
Tomorrow I will breathe
            Celebrate
                        Relax
                                    Praise God!
 
But today,
            I am still apprehensive
                        Not sure
                                    Wondering?
 
God protect us!

Have you used this time allotted us to look inside and seek yourself and God in a new way? I’ve relished that opportunity, as sad as it has been. What are your thoughts about self-care and this virus? When will it end? Will we ever get back to normal?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Christianity · Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

Poetic View: I Wrestled with God, Faith & the Coronavirus

As March 2020 ended, I pondered God and faith issues in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and sheltering in place. I seldom ventured out—only for groceries and prescriptions, but I ventured inward. As always, poetry helped me wrestle with deep emotions about this controversial time and face some spiritual reservations.

Wrestling with God

Do you question God and his presence in this world? I do because we talk regularly, and we have that kind of relationship. I don’t need to blame God about the pandemic because my God is good, but I challenged Him—where are you? What about faith and fear? Can I have both at the same time?

Through my poetic view, I labored over God’s absence and my struggle with faith and fear.

God's Angel looking over the world
Where is My God?
 
March 30, 2020
 
I see the coronavirus cases
                        Increase
            Where is my God?
 
Who will protect me?
            You?
                        People have died
                                   Are dying
                                               Will die
 
Screams of despair
            Reverberate across
                        The world
 
Mass mournings in the loss
            Of a son
                        A daughter
                                    A mother
                                                A father
 
Left to die alone
            No one familiar to hold a hand
                                                Wipe a tear
                                                            Whisper, “I love you!”
 
God, in your infinite mercy,
            Where are you?
 
"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."
            Disguised like Mother Teresa shared as
                        A doctor
                        A nurse
                        A LPN
                        A caring neighbor
                        A stranger’s smile in the grocery store
                        A phone call or text message to check-in
                                     With loved ones
 
I believe you’re in
            The midst of this
Oh, lover of souls!
 
I believe your heart
            Breaks
                        As you watch
                                    The loss
                                                The horror
 
Have you rallied the angels?
                        The archangels?
                                    The guardian angels?
 
Have you thrown your power
            Into the wind
                        To bring a new day?
 
You hold me gently to your bosom
            Scared
                        Frightened
Yet knowing full well
You have the power
                        You are the power!
 
You are in control!

As you can see from this poem and last week’s, I believe God is in control of this mess, my mess, any mess that comes along. I wind my way through the caverns of questioning always to arrive at the same place!

As this pandemic has struck, many spiritual people wonder about their personal faith. Often, I hear people say either faith or fear, but I came up with a different answer.

God: Faith and Fear Not Faith or Fear
March 31, 2020
 
It’s not either or.
            I’m human—
                        Fear lurks
                                    Faith falters
 
But
            I can open my hands
                        Have faith in one
                                    And fear in the other
 
I can raise them up
            To my God!
 
I can release
            Both
                        To do what needs done.
 
Fear reminds me
            I’m vulnerable
Faith reminds me
            God is in control.
I need both.
 
Fear chokes my throat
            Strangling life out of me
Faith hugs me to close
            Saturating my heart with love
God extends his hand.
I need both.
 
Fear drives me to despair
Faith draws me to the Comforter.
Yes, I need both
            In balance.
 
Too much fear
            Paralyzes me
Too much fear
            Focuses me
                        On the problem
 
Then my faith comes
            And refocuses me
                        On the solution.
 
I want more faith
            Less fear
                        But I need both!
                                    A balance
                                                To stabilize me
                                                            To force me
                                                                        To look outside
                                                                                    
Myself to Him
           Who waits for me!
 
Faith is power
            So is fear
I yearn to be faith-powered!
God: Man and woman on two horses

I present a dichotomy in this poem—faith and fear, side-by-side and needed. What do you think?


Cover of Flippo's biography

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~WAITING FOR A KINDLE OR NOOK E-BOOK VERSION OF THE E-BOOK OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY? Hopefully, they will be available in three days! Sorry for the delay!

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Christianity · Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry · Recovery

Poetic View: Who Is in Control of this Mess?

I continue with a poetic view of my feelings and the coronavirus pandemic. I wrote two poems where I dealt with the question of control and prayer. As I faced these thoughts on March 28, I faced the reality of surrender which always takes me to “Let Go.” My recovery program has taught me the power of letting go of results and turning to a Power Great than myself that has everything under control. Then the next day I wondering about all my praying frenzy—who was I praying for in reality?

Let Go
Let Go—Surrender

March 27, 2020

Step three 
(Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.)      
            encourages me
            To view this world
                        And its trials
                                    Then let go!
Let go of
            Control
            Manipulation
            Power
            Authority
            Wisdom
            Rules
            Everything
As I let go,
            My hands open up
                        Palms face up to the sky
                                    Ready to receive
As I let go,
            Tension leaves my throat
                                    My stomach
                                    My chest
As I let go,
            I give God room 
                        to moving around
                                    in my life
                        Safety
                                    A container to work in
                                                A place to bless
Often, I scrunch my eyes shut
            Hold my breath
                        Clench on tight to
                                    False security
And try to control
            Only an illusion!

This closed-off space offers
No place to receive
                        No openness
                                    No receptivity!
If I let go
            And let God
                        Power is in the right hands!
                        I’m at ease!
                        God is in the control
                                    My fight is over!
A topsy-turvy world
of Today
Coronavirus pandemic explodes

The third step remains
            The same today
                        As always
                                    And God is in control!
Let Go!

My control issues fan out into all parts of my life, so I had to look at one of my personal private times—my prayers—and wonder deeply.

For Whom Am I Praying?

March 28, 2020

Stripped bare today, I wonder
            For whom am I praying
                        REALLY?
When I utter
            My prayers to my God
                        Stand naked
                                    Before him
Where is my heart really?
Does empathy reign?
            Does compassion cover
                        Me like a mantle,
                                    Rich green velvet shawl
                                                Draped over my shoulders
                                                and the world?
            Do my words
                        Include you
                                    Your needs
                                                The world's?
Or does selfishness rule?
            Does each sentence
                        Begin with I
                                    Dotted with me
                                                Sprinkled with my and mine?
I focus where?
            Inward
                        Outward
                                    Me?
                                               You?
As I turn these thoughts
            Over
                        In my mind,
                                    I know the truth!
Interdependence
            Not me, not you
                        But we!
Not mine, not yours
            But ours!

Deeply I feel that!
            Our world needs this
                        Whole-hearted unity
                        A healing alliance
                        Life-flowing love
The imaginary wall of
            Indifference melts
                        In golden droplets
                                    On the ground
Green Irish clover pops up
            Verdant and life-giving
Dutch tulips spring into action
            With lips reaching for the sky
A multi-colored, multi-cultural garden procreates
            From those drops
                        Those tears
New life forms
            And a new world begins!

All because I prayed for us!
            You prayed for us!
            The world opened its heart
                        To our kinship
                                    Instead of our differences!

These hard times offer possibilities, spiritual opportunities to see everything differently. Pause with me and pray for our wounded world and its people! I would love to hear how you are praying during this turbulent time!


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s One Person’s Value in this World?

I embrace a poetic view of life—that’s me. I grew up in a ranching community where we valued and celebrated life, babies, the elderly and rain! We valued older people and children equally! We also placed value on life in any form, and in the spring, a rancher’s delight centered on spring time calving season and the birth of the new calf crop.

I watched my dad labor over a cow struggling to give birth, and if she died, then I witnessed his tender care for an orphan calf, bottle-feeding it to keep it alive. Each season offered a reason to celebrate life and nature and respect death and loss, so the environment fostered a deep yearning in my soul to look at this world in a different way. It also encouraged me to wonder about the good and the bad—the heavy summer thunderstorm that filled the reservoirs and the loss of that momma cow. Life offers me opportunities to look, to see, to wonder and that’s what I’ve done in our current world situation.

So, it was a natural reaction for me to write poetry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Over a month ago, I wrote this following poem pondering the value of human life. As the numbers have increased, I can’t become immune to the horror. Thousands of people have died daily because of this pandemic, and it forced me to think about the value of each of those lost.

            In this past month, I’ve watched bizarre behavior on the news and wonder, “what about empathy first for the dying? For those who have lost someone in this tragedy?”

What’s One Person’s Value?

March 27, 2020
 
How do we value one person’s worth?
            How do you gauge a life?

Do we honor each other?
            Treasure each other?
 
One individual’s death
            Sends ripple
                        Across the sphere!
Angels celebrate
            With cheers and tears
Humans lament
            Their loss
These two worlds collide
 
How do we value one gone?
            You had a life
                        A family you loved
                                    Who loved you
                        A spirit
                        A soul
 
Your color doesn’t matter
            Your ethnicity
                        Your religion
                                    Your gender
 
You mattered
            To someone
Their hearts broke at your death!
Mine did, too!
 
Instead of becoming
            Immune to loss
                        During this pandemic,
My heart hurts
            Wide and deep
                        For loss
                        For disruption
                                    For you.
 
Chances are
            You died alone
No loved one held your hand
            Kissed your brow
                        Whispered sweet memories
                                    Into your ear.
 
The horrors
                        The Aloneness
The deaths
                        The losses
Gone
            Never to return!
 
What did we as a world lose
            When you died?
                        What contribution?
                                    What impact?    
          
We will never know!

What do you think—do we value the individual? Does our behavior match our words? I would love to hear your thoughts!


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: mid-May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42