First off, I pray that you and your family are well. I think you’d join me in praying for (or wishing the best for) all the health workers who are putting themselves on the front line of this health pandemic. I pray for young parents who are suddenly juggling homeschooling and working from home. Hell, I pray for all of us.
I had an upbeat blog post planned for you to read as soon as you opened your email. The ideas starting flowing on Monday even with the sobering news. Blundering through these early days had some funny bits, and I planned to share them. But somewhere between the notes I’d left in the margins of my morning pages on Tuesday and this afternoon, I forgot everything I was going to say.
I tend to be an introvert, but today’s quiet is too much
You see, I went downtown to Sonoma to do a couple of things before our county boarded up like the other six counties in the Bay Area had already begun to do. The official hunkering down was to happen at midnight. I thought I had some time.
I got my Peet’s Coffee and my Williams-Sonoma handsoap. We were getting low on both of those things.
The other places I had to go to were already closed. Every store seemed to have notes on the door. There were so many available parking places downtown. It was weird.
I thought I’d soothe myself by going over to the new coffee bar I’d discovered in the MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa. They wouldn’t allow lounging, but I figured they’d have take out. I imagined the warm cup of oat milk latte in my hand, but when I got there, it too was closed.
Missing my routines
Suddenly, I felt claustrophobic. The empty streets and the closure signs on windows started pressing in on me. I’ve been trying to pace myself and manage the input of it all, but it just got to me. I went for a walk through town instead of getting inside my car, closing the windows, and having a wail of a cry. Although that doesn’t sound like a bad thing.
I came home, and Russ said, “How was it out there?” I could feel mad tears welling up in my eyes. He came to me, put his arms around me, and said, “It’s going to be okay. We’re going to get through this.” And I believed him. Those intense feelings disappeared, and I had a moment of acceptance. I could handle this.
And isn’t this all a moment to moment thing? Like Baby Viv’s tears and then the smiles a few moments later?
Oh, there was this one funny thing
I do remember this one thing I was going to tell you. You know how you wake up in the middle of the night, and it can be hard to get back to sleep? Not surprisingly, that happened to me the other night. In the dark, I decided to focus on something calming and thought about the Serenity Prayer. You’ve heard it, right?
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
It always helps, even in the middle of the night. Only I couldn’t remember the fifth word in the prayer. God, grant me the … what was that next word? Was it willingness? No, that didn’t sound right. It was a word sort of like willingness.
So now, my mind had a puzzle to solve. I kept repeating the parts I knew and thought if I came back to the beginning, I’d remember the word that starts it all. It felt like it took me ten minutes of choppy repetition to remember that word in the Serenity Prayer. Oh, right, serenity!
Funny how things aren’t there when you need them, but then they are.
What to wear to the grocery store
Oh, and I was going to tell you about getting dressed to go to the grocery store. I had a list of things to pick up, some of Russ’ favorite things, hence the list.
Before I went out on this big outing, I thought long and hard about what to wear. I wanted to wear something uplifting, something that might put a smile on someone’s face. It wasn’t going to be my black raincoat even though there was a light rain coming down.
I chose my red fauna and flora coat. I wore a red sweater under it and prepared for my Whole Foods entrance. I’d walk through the doors, using my elbows to push them open, look for the hand sanitizer, use it, grab my cart using my cloth bags to keep my hands from touching the bar, and I’d search the shelves for juices, graham crackers, trail mix, and his favorite dry cereal. (He likes snacks.)
I got what I could. Yes, shelves were emptying out just like on TV.
Everything was a bit chaotic, and I wanted to get out of there quickly. I was headed out with my bags when someone stopped me. I turned around. This woman had a big smile on her face and said, “I like your coat.” My red coat made a difference for one person. Winning!
I just remembered my other funny thing
I had one other thing to do for Russ, and that was to pick up prescriptions for him. We go to different pharmacies in town, and I don’t know the counter people by name at his pharmacy. Again, I was conscientious about the space between the next person and me. When I got to the window, I was a bit preoccupied. Had I done it right?
I got his stuff but wasn’t sure how I was supposed to hit the buttons on the credit card machine and sign his name on that pad thingy without touching it. Doesn’t everyone put their fingerprints on those credit card machines? I was thinking about how I need to be prepared next time.
Anyway, the pharmacist answered a couple of questions for me. I was all cheerful because goodness knows, she’s a busy person doing good things for people. I smiled and said goodbye to her and then I blew her a kiss.
Yup, I blew her a kiss. Holy moly, while I’m paying attention to the six feet of social distancing, I’m being socially weird with air kisses to strangers. I felt so silly. Should I say something or just leave? I left but not before getting another dose of hand sanitizer.
At least I wouldn’t be seeing her again anytime soon. But when I got home, Russ said, “Wait, the thing I needed the most isn’t here.” Oh, you’re kidding me. Do I have to go back? He rings the pharmacy, and they say oops, and it will be ready in five minutes. I wait longer. Maybe she’ll be on a lunch break.
I get there and it’s the same person. She has a big smile on her face and says, “I knew you’d be back!” I thought of bringing up the kiss thing but decided to just leave it be.
Things are unprecedented and awkward and fill-in-the-blank
Listen, I want to repeat what I said at the very beginning–I hope you’re well and your family is well and that the health care people are getting what they need and that this gets mitigated as soon as possible.
How are you faring at this moment, my friend? There are going to be many more moments to come, but how are you doing right now?
I love you and hope to hear from you. Lots of virtual hugs are coming your way.
VickiMarch 19, 2020 at 12:25 am
I feel for all those small business owners and their employees. the businesses will go broke and the employees unemployed. Thank goodness for health workers and in return they will keep their jobs. I know your work will suffer too but hopefully you can hold on. And you have Russ. Us single people who will be isolated may go crazy! Somehow I had felt pending doom for the world economy the last couple of years. But never dreamed it would go this way with a virus. Stay well 🙂
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:59 pm
Vicki, wishing you well too. We’ll find some creative ways to get through this. That’s my hope. Sending love your way.
Jenny AmyMarch 19, 2020 at 4:45 am
Your coat IS beautiful. I met a woman in the next grocery checkout to me in a stunning bright pink faux suede coat and I told her that her coat was stunning.
Practicing “social distancing”, trying out new recipes, ironing linen tablecloths and napkins and wandering my garden on Vernal equinox. Stay well and be happy. We can control our attitude and action, even if our emotions try to get the better of us.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:58 pm
I love the image of that pink faux suede coat. Just think if everyone wears their finest to the grocery stores! I also love hearing how you’re spending your time indoors. xx
Ann YatesMarch 19, 2020 at 5:19 am
This virtual community gives me something to look forward to in the midst if all this “new reality”. I requested my first absentee ballot yesterday, as Wisconsin has an election early April. Watching the ice go out on the river in front of my house and the bald eagles diving for fish lifts my spirits. As do you, Brenda. Hugs back : )
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:57 pm
Oh, Ann, I love the image of the ice going out on the river! And the bald eagles swooping in. Spring will unfold and nature will continue to lighten our hearts. Thanks for those images.
DeanneMarch 19, 2020 at 5:39 am
I’m using the time at home to do projects that have been put off because there’s always something else more fun – somewhere to go. So the fridge got a good cleaning out this week, and closet clearing is next. Only thing is that the places I would normally take donations is not open, so the actual removal will take a bit longer. That’’s what the garage is for!
This too shall pass, and my house will be more orderly at the end of it. Plus – with spring right around the corner there will be more time outside, which always brightens my day. I am trying to be mindful every day for the many blessings in my life, including staying well.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:55 pm
Your comment leaves me inspired. Thanks! I needed to hear how you’re coping!
Ramona PuckettMarch 19, 2020 at 5:40 am
Thank you, Brenda. I love reading your posts and you!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:54 pm
Thanks, Ramona. Love you too!!
LindaMarch 19, 2020 at 5:51 am
Thanks so much for a good laugh this morning. I can just imagine you blowing that kiss to your pharmacist, that literally made me laugh out loud.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:54 pm
And your comment is making me grin. Thanks for that!!
Connie JordanMarch 19, 2020 at 5:54 am
Love your stories and that colorful outfit. Perfect for this difficult time!!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:53 pm
PamMarch 19, 2020 at 5:56 am
Your “funny things” made me laugh Thank you for that!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:53 pm
You’re so welcome!! I’m glad I remembered what they were!
JanMarch 19, 2020 at 5:58 am
Thank you Brenda. You brought a smile to my face! I can totally relate to your feeling of social awkwardness, but hey, the world needs a lot more air kisses right now! Keep smiling!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:53 pm
Thanks so much, Jan. How about I send you an air kiss right this minute! Hugs to you.
Kathleen AdamsMarch 19, 2020 at 6:04 am
Thank you, Brenda, for this post. ❤️ that outfit. It’s interesting to read about how other people are reacting to this situation. My honey & I are working on home improvement projects without being on the usual hurry to finish them. We are missing our grandkids, can’t see them for awhile. Plus, we have 10, so that would be a big crowd! We are limiting our trips for groceries, etc. to no more than necessary. I am a introvert also, but this enforced solitude is different! And too, we are in the vulnerable age bracket, which has been a little eye opening for us!!!!! Posts like yours are a bright spot to the outside world. Stay healthy.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:52 pm
And you and your honey stay healthy as well. It sounds like the two of you have a plan. That helps. So happy to hear from you.
CorinneMarch 19, 2020 at 6:18 am
I am part of the administrative team for our small Setting IV Special Education school district in southern MN. I’ve had to be at work every day as we develop plans for implementing distance learning. I am dealing with an organizational nightmare of keeping a school district afloat and moving forward, managing the safety and anxieties of parents and staff, all while dealing with my own fears and trying to keep things calm in my home. I’ve seen some of the best in people as our Education Assistants have volunteered to care for the children of our teachers while they prepare and plan, deep clean classrooms, and prepare materials to go home for students. A local farm where I help out on the weekends is donating their unsellable eggs to local food banks and families in need. Another local farm opened up their root cellar and sold out of 10,000 lbs of organic carrots as people bought for food shelves, friends, and neighbors, Eventually my admin team will be running materials to all students in their homes/group homes/to their social workers every week. This is a colossal organizational undertaking. I am desperately sad for the many people in this country who are out of (or will be out of) work, the small businesses that will close. I want to fix it all and, while I know I can’t fix it, what I can do in the meantime is plug away at my own little corner of the world to make life better for those around me: our students, our neighbors, and our local businesses. Together we WILL get through this. Thank you, Brenda, for your posts. The pictures of baby Vivian (also my late mother’s name and my middle name) make me smile and remember that there is hope. Hang in there and stay safe, EVERYONE! Love from southern Minnesota.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:51 pm
Corinne, you’re doing so very much in your corner of the world. I’m so touched. While there’s so much bad out there, goodness is coming from people in many ways. Thanks for all you’re doing and for sharing your life with us. Much appreciated.
Kim in MinnesotaMarch 19, 2020 at 6:31 am
Brenda, I think your air-mail kiss was probably exactly what was needed by exactly that person at exactly that moment. A little love and kindness is welcome in these trying times!
SusanMarch 19, 2020 at 9:37 am
I think you are probably right! Who would not be delighted to be on the receiving end of an air kiss? . What the world needs now…
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:36 pm
Air kisses. Who knew they could be so important! Even though that’s not what I was thinking when it happened. Just a happy mistake.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:48 pm
Thanks, Kim for saying that! When I see it through your eyes, I think you could be right!
PhyllisMarch 19, 2020 at 6:48 am
The Washington Post had an article today on how not being able to get dressed as we normally do robs up of our opportunity to express who we are.
Who knew how important it would be (for us and for others) to dress up going grocery shopping.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:47 pm
Really! I got a chance to read that article. So fascinating. I’ve decided that I might wear dressy clothes around the house. I may be the only one that’s enjoying it but that’s still an audience of one!
KathiMarch 19, 2020 at 6:53 am
Thank you Brenda! Love you & your post! Stay well!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Love you too! Love this whole community. It’s nice to not feel alone. xx
CaraMarch 19, 2020 at 7:27 am
Thank you Brenda. Your post was another, in addition to your outfit.bright spot!
Best wishes to all.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Yes, best wishes to all. Thank you, Cara!
BeckyMarch 19, 2020 at 7:32 am
Oh, Brenda! I so appreciate your words in this post. It’s good to find something to laugh about in tough times.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:45 pm
I’m so glad you could laugh Your laughing about it helps me!
LaurelMarch 19, 2020 at 7:32 am
We are working to adjust to the new normal and stay upbeat. My DH has found that he can golf at his local course if he pays via credit card and walks the course. It’s his second day out (cool spring weather, but he’s layered up) and it’s great for his mental health. Since we’re retired, we are watching our retirement accounts with dismay, but we have nowhere near the issues that the newly laid off workers of all stripes. It’s really hard to watch and wonder where this is all going. And, like you, I am missing my routine. My hospice volunteer work has been halted, as well as my harp circle. And no churches are open for solace. But overall, we’re keeping our chins up. Thanks for the lovely baby pictures! Always uplifting.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:44 pm
Thanks, Laurel, for checking in and sharing what’s going on with you. I pray that you’ll be enjoying your harp circle in time. I’m so grateful for all those who are doing what they can. I know this is awful but I’m moved by the kindness that’s sprouting up. Hugs to you.
JaneMarch 19, 2020 at 8:14 am
Hi Brenda. I love your coat! I live in Oregon and we are having beautiful weather this week so I have been able to walk every day. Getting outside in the sunshine helps. I try to dress pretty every day which makes me feel good. I am a cardmaker so I am making cards to send to friends and family, plus I do cross stitch and read. I’m also cleaning out my closet. I just try to keep busy every day. Baby Viv is so adorable! Hang in there and be thankful for everything you have. This to will pass.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:41 pm
Jane, I love hearing about all your activities. And sunny days in Oregon! That’s a mood lifter. Walks in the beautiful spring here in Sonoma is helping me too.
Susa BergMarch 19, 2020 at 8:28 am
we are here in a big worry about the virus. we havn’t so mutch space around us, between us and other persons than the people in your country. Every street, residential accommodation and the public spaces are smaller.
So, we will do our best, to pass this awful time.
“Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera – what will be, will be”
But: your brightend my day with your joyful Outfit. Thanks a lot!
Take good care of you dear Brenda, take good care of you dear other readers!
Susa from Cologne, Germany
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:39 pm
Susa from Cologne, thank you for sharing how it is where you are. You’re right, the future is not ours to see. Most times I see a hopeful future. Other times it’s hard which is why it’s so great to have this community. Hugs to you from Sonoma, CA, USA.
Linda Davis SiessMarch 19, 2020 at 8:42 am
from rainy Massachusetts, where the birds are singing and bulbs are beginning to bloom. Trying to be comforted with these words, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” written by Julian of Norwich hundreds of years ago. xoxox
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:37 pm
Those words comfort me. Thanks!
Julia PurtillMarch 19, 2020 at 9:20 am
Dear Brenda, thank you for the war-time post because we are in a war against this virus. Who in the world would have thought this could happen to the civilized world?! It does help to know we are all experiencing the same thoughts and feelings and dilemmas like your struggle about the credit card machine! Peace and strength to everyone.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:37 pm
Yes, peace and strength to everyone. It helps to hear those words!
MaryMarch 19, 2020 at 11:15 am
When I look into Baby Viv’s face I am warmed by the sense of innocence that shines through. How lucky you are to have her and am I to have my grandchildren. They are the future and we all need to work together to make their world a good place. I am thankful and hopeful.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:35 pm
Yes, we sure do. I’m seeing Viv on FaceTime each day but boy would I ever love to be holding her right now! We’ll get through this!
Briar GregoryMarch 19, 2020 at 11:17 am
Thank you for making me smile when it’s hard to find something to smile about! I yesterday met with a small group of dear women, we are a carers support group as all our partners have Parkinson’s disease. We always talk through our problems and go home feeling uplifted. We sat apart and washed our hands. But when we left instead of hugging as usual, we did hip bumps, so that we all left laughing. Finding ways to make smiles and laughter is going to be a great challenge in these dark days.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:34 pm
Yes, it will be a challenge, but you’ve just shown us that it’s possible. Love to you!!
JennieMarch 19, 2020 at 5:13 pm
My husband just asked why I was laughing so hard…I had just read the kiss-blowing part and your reaction to it. Thanks for the laugh!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:33 pm
Oh, I love it! Thanks for sharing this with me. It made me chuckle just now imagining this happening in your safe home.
KathysueMarch 19, 2020 at 6:58 pm
I’m fine, choosing to stay home is pretty normal for me. I’m concerned for my family and friends, frankly for us all. I wish everyone would heed the warnings and realize it’s what we all need to do to help each other stay safe. I keep using the word TEMPORARY. This is temporary, we as a people can do temporary, or we should be able to do temporary. My heart goes out to the less fortunate, unemployed, and of course the essential workers. They don’t get to stay home in a safe environment, we do! I miss the holding and security of my husbands arms so I’m trying my darndest to be thankful I have a lovely,safe,warm home with food, water and electricity. Not too shabby of a place to be able to be. Stay home, stay safe my friend.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:32 pm
Thank you, Kathysue. That’s been our weekend in a nutshell: staying home and staying safe. A dear friend volunteered to do the shopping for us so we are hunkered down. Yes, temporary. We can do it if we tackle it one day at a time. Thanks!
EmilyMarch 19, 2020 at 7:29 pm
I appreciate your honesty. Today was a tough day- some hard things happened which felt unfair since the coronavirus is already hard. I also appreciate your humor. On my final outing earlier this week I stopped at a Starbucks here in south Florida. It was almost deserted but the person six feet in front of me had a sheriffs t-shirt and a lot of guns, and the person six feet behind me was carrying her albino python. Seriously? Florida often deserves its reputation. (I’m extremely thankful for the sheriff- Im just really uncomfortable around guns- and snakes!)
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Oh, Emily, this vision of your trip to Starbuck’s is so darn colorful — even though the python was an albino. Thank you for sharing it. Hoping somehow in all of this that tomorrow is better. Thanks for sharing!
Marie MullineaxMarch 19, 2020 at 11:58 pm
Brenda, thank you for air kissing all of us with your caring, kindness, creativity, wisdom and real life stories. Now I have pulled together outfits to wear at home and for morning and evening walks, including jewelry. It is thanks to you and the joy you share about dressing for all of life, that has been my inspiration. Love to you and all!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:28 pm
And love to you, Marie! Thanks for inspiring us to wear outfits for the much fewer things we’re doing these days. xo
RebeccaMarch 20, 2020 at 4:02 am
Thanks Brenda. This is a good reminder to get dressed every day….I have been resisting the urge to hang around in sweatpants and old hoodies. It has been good this week because I didn’t have to work, but next week I have to figure out how to keep my children occupied, work full time from home, let my husband work full-time from home and keep my Dad calm. He’s in a nursing home and doesn’t understand why we aren’t visiting. I should probation add some self care to the list.
Hoping you and your family remain safe and healthy.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:27 pm
Oh my gosh, you certainly will have your hands full. Praying for grace in all that you are juggling! Getting dressed in something other than sweats will help a little bit..and we need all the help we can get, right?
Cathy WongMarch 20, 2020 at 4:21 am
Hello Brenda, I always enjoy your posts but this one especially. Your feelings and responses to the situation are so much like my own–really made me feel better. I am a pharmacist and I would be delighted! if a lovely customer blew me a kiss! Take care in these strange times, Cathy (Nova Scotia, Canada)
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:26 pm
Cathy, you put a big smile on my face thinking it could be you that someone (wish it was me) threw a kiss to. Thanks for all you do. Here comes an air kiss straight to you in Nova Scotia!
MelissaMarch 20, 2020 at 3:02 pm
Brenda, I’m curious about the artwork behind the soap and coffee. Is there a story there? Can you please share what the inscriptions underneath the paper dresses say? Thanks in advance!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:25 pm
Yes, there is a story there. These four pics are exactly the same. The photo was taken by Russ on a trip to Fargo some years back. There’s a store on Broadway in Fargo that I always make a point to go to. Their merchandising and displays are just so creative. It’s called Zandbroz Variety. It’s a mannequin dressed in a baby skirt, tulle at her waist and a necklace. Russ did some cropping and coloring of the photo. The handwriting is Russ’. He named it Fargo Fashion. It means so much to me!
Elaine @ Following AugustineMarch 20, 2020 at 6:27 pm
Oh, Brenda, you always make me smile and smiles are needed more than ever these days, aren’t they? How am I doing, you ask? Well, the past few weeks have been quite surreal. First came the phone call that my father wasn’t doing well followed by a hasty trip to be by his side. He smiled when I reached his bedside, but things went downhill from there and he passed away in the wee morning hours of March 1. By the time we got home a week later, the coronavirus threat was growing and since then, wow, hasn’t life changed for all of us! We were out and about the day before yesterday doing errands similar to the ones you described and now we’re hunkered down at home hoping to stay healthy and wait this thing out.
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:20 pm
So good to hear from you Elaine. We have even more things in common. Our fathers both passed and we both made the hasty trips to be by their sides. Isn’t it wonderful that we could do that? I was speaking to my brother today about how much Dad would have hated being isolated in his assisted living place, not sharing meals with his friends, and sitting in his room watching the news all day. I’m so glad he was spared that! Thinking of you, dear one.
Elaine @ Following AugustineMarch 23, 2020 at 4:03 pm
Thank you, Brenda! I’ve thought of you often in recent days as I knew that you also lost your father recently. I’m so glad Dad went before the pandemic started shutting everything down. I hate to think that he might have had to endure those last difficult hours all alone.
KathyMarch 21, 2020 at 6:48 am
I am a nurse so I’m still working. We are doing the best we can with limited supplies and lots of anxiety amongst patients and co workers. We will get through this we really all just need to use common sense and follow CDC guidelines. I haven’t been following any of my usual blogs but just had a feeling you would have a post that I would want to read! I will jazz up my grocery store outfit today as well! You always make me smile and often laugh Brenda! Stay well and best to everyone commenting above! Best…Kathy
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:18 pm
I can’t even imagine your day to day right now. Sending you big hugs and strength and know how very much you’re appreciated. I’m glad my fumbling around with the new social ways put a smile on your face! Hugs to you!
BarbMarch 22, 2020 at 10:59 am
I love reading your posts ! Inspired by you I have dressed as tho I’m going out each day even tho we’ve been sheltering in place.
Thanks for sharing your perspective and stories.
I’m missing the personal visits with family and friends but am thankful that we can visit via FaceTime with our darling 3 yr old grandson. We also enjoyed cocktail night with friends (in our own homes) using Zoom. It’s so important to have those personal connections!!
I pray for all who are not able to stay in the safety of their homes and are working tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy! Wishing you and your family well!
BrendaMarch 22, 2020 at 6:16 pm
I love your attitude! You inspire me. Yes, prayers, prayers, and more prayers. I’m spending time each day with my granddaughter through FaceTime. What a great tool at this time! Blowing you a kiss!