Monday, March 30, 2020


Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning ...

Yesterday I was reading people's first and second hand accounts with Covid-19 and worked myself into a state of worry by bedtime. I just kept thinking how I could possibly be down for a week or two or three, lying in bed miserable in pain, and how on earth Karl would keep the kids away. Then I worried about my husband's health, because he is the one still going out to work in an office environment with other people. He is going to pick up germs and spread them all over our house. Then I thought of our boys and I couldn't imagine them in such discomfort over a period of time. 

I think it would be wise not to read accounts of the misery of the illness. Every pain, every bit of pressure has me wondering, is this it? Is this a symptom? Like an 8-month-pregnant woman reading into every twinge as a sign of labor, I wonder if everything is just the beginning of an unpleasant illness.

But then morning comes, and I am such a morning person, and the sunlight is beautiful, and online classes for my students begin today, and joy will not be suppressed.

I hope everyone is well. How are you keeping your thoughts safe and happy! I would love it if you would share.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

3-4-5 Plan

Update at bottom!✔️
Quarantine weight got you feeling sluggish? Between the boredom baking and the boredom eating, I have found my weight continuing its uphill climb, even as my energy levels are plummeting. If you find yourself in the same boat, feel free to follow this along with me.
The 3-4-5 diet plan is nothing new. Now, granted, I thought I was really on to something until I started typing this and ran a Google search and discovered, no, it's already a thing. But no worries.
The idea is you break your meals into 3 and segment the calories as stated.

Breakfast: 300 calories
Lunch:      400 calories
Dinner:     500 calories

Now, I am not going to stick to 500 calories for dinner. As long as I eat under 1700 a day, I will lose weight. So mine is basically a 300-400-500 to 1000 plan.

If you already skip breakfast, I am not going to say  go eat breakfast. Why would you add an extra meal if you are struggling with weight anyway? I am not going to talk about mini-meals or snacks or grazing, because we all got fat listening to that crap. If you do prefer to graze, you are old enough to break your time into chunks and keep your calories with in that range (6 a.m. to 11 a.m. keep it to 300 calories, etc).

Some additional rules I plan to follow are severely limiting tortilla chips. I love those things and sticking to the recommending serving size of just 7 chips is too, too painful for me. Also, limiting alcohol to weekends. I love a relaxing glass of smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, however, it also makes me hungry!

No night time snacking. I am the worst about first and second dinner and snacking. I want to stop eating at 5 or at least keep it to a cup or two of popcorn. Five works for us because the little kids like to eat early, however, I could feasibly make this work with a 6 p.m. cut off.

That's it! I use MyFitnessPal for calorie counting, so feel free to join me there. My name is blueberryjill.
Naturally, you should only restrict your calories if it is okay with your doctor and your health can support it. Use your brain and do what's right for you.

I will add my progress to comments later. I would love to hear how you are doing in your efforts to stay healthy in these times.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Image From Wikipedia
This is a time when I feel very small. We read and talk and posture and learn, always working to convince ourselves that we are bigger, we are strong, we are enough. And then something comes along and we realize we are just one wave in an enormous crashing ocean. All the answers , all the power seems to seep away and like a child dependent on an abusive parent, we hold our hand out to powers we don't really trust and drink in their words because what else can we do?

All my spiritual exercises and practices make me feel very silly. I read an article about not giving or taking ibuprofen with this illness and thus HAD TO GO BUY Acetaminophen (Tylenol). I was embarrassed about showing my frailty as a human, my dependence on these bits of information laid bare, but as I walked through the eerie night,  away from the clicking traffic lights (the streets were so quiet) into the drugstore, and back to the pain reliever aisle, I found just one lone bottle of  children's liquid acetaminophen left. I was not the only worried one. And I felt both justified and sheepish at the same time.

I picked up more coffee, because I know what is important, noted the lack of toilet paper and paper towels, and picked up the teensiest little box of Kleenex, because you never know. All the interactions were awkward between everyone, and I stepped back into the quiet night feeling so alone.

And I try to put a spin on it, and it is a little exciting. I know. I know! I am immature. I am not supposed to say that. It is horrible and my mother would berate me so, but if I step back for a minute I think, this is feeling we have been chasing for years. Chasing around with our dystopian novels and movies, wishing we could really touch and understand the depths of life. And here it stands, surreal, and I feel as if I am standing in molasses and my head is filled with thick, numbing syrup. I don't feel fear. Just anxiety. And confusion.

And I think eventually it will all go back to normal, because what else can I think? and I hope the casualties of life aren't so great. I hope unemployment is short and recovery is quick both in human cost and fiscally, because I worry.

And I can close my eyes as I type and pause for a minute, and in the eeriness of this quiet, quiet world, I can feel our pulse, shared and steady, and love how we are all in this together.

Whatever it is.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

So THIS is Spring Break

I woke up too early (again!), thanks to my husband lying diagonally across the bed. There was just no room left for me (note to self: next time, get the king-sized bed).
My cold has finally hit. It had been brewing for a few days, but you know what? It's not bad. Just a little head cold, even the aches are minimal. Who knows? It could be allergies. It's that time of year.

So our Disney/Universal vacation has been put on hold. I wasn't planning on spring break in Missouri, and naturally the temperature has dropped again and it's rainy. I want to sulk. But it will be nice to hang out out home, catch up on some reading, and get some rest in with my family.

My day job has given me a week off, and the kids have a week off, and it's going to be fine. My husband had taken a week and a half-off work, but he may go back to work early to save some vacation days for later in the year, since our plan is canceled/postponed.

It seems like so much of human life is lived "in the head." What I mean by this, is we work to construct so much meaning to everything. Already my mind is working to wrap itself around this situation we are all in and apply a deeper lesson and meaning to it. This is not tragic. For me. I work on salary, so if my work shuts down a bit, it isn't the end. In fact, if anything, they would have us work from home. However, I know many hourly workers who would suffer greatly. My brother's business in another country is suffering. My small online shop has come to a complete standstill in the past couple of weeks. This is tough since business was starting to get rolling, but it is more of a fun game I am playing than an income-generator.

There is a morning thunderstorm outside, which is lovely since we don't have to get up and go anywhere. Perhaps this is an opportunity to really savor the quiet moments. A hot cup of coffee, rumbling thunder outside. A warm dog at my feet. In all but the worst of situations these pleasures can be enjoyed.

My prayer and hope is that suffering be limited overall. People rely on paychecks to survive. Do you believe in the collective unconscious? Do you believe there is power in it? A more religous person would say, all power comes from God. And that's true. But maybe they are the same? Or maybe we have more power with God than we realize. I wonder if we all lift the prayer and hope up if that will make a difference. If we focus on the idea that all is well and suffering will be small and limited, will it?

Let's give it a try.

This isn't a thoughts and prayers cop-out. I believe in jumping in and helping when we can. However, doom and gloom is never the answer. Focusing on the positive, while looking for ways to jump in and help is what changes the world for the better.

We've got this, friends.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Embarrassing First Date Confession

First I want to say, being a female is fantastic. Now I am not saying misogyny and sexism don't affect my world and aren't a real thing, but overall I like being me in this time and place.

Basic arm strength aside, I don't really think women are the weaker sex at all. We are amazing in the sheer amount of work we can get done(although my husband's ability to clean a refrigerator or room quickly without tiring is really impressive, and I envy that), the number of things we can keep on our mind (and this is not my strong area), and our ability to reason well and feel deeply(not saying you men can't do this either).  Women Rock! Go Rosie!

But there is an area where I feel some of us are lacking. Maybe not every female, maybe not you. But for me and some women I know, this is a problem.

But I am jumping ahead of myself. Let's get to the date.

My  mom had introduced me to Karl. He lived in the same apartment complex and my mom was always out socializing and meeting people. He had come to a group movie (I started to suspect he liked me since it was my mom, an elderly neighbor, and me only), and my mom's Halloween party. Finally he worked up the ask me out as friends. We had a few "friend dates" where we met at a local bar complete with some heavy kissing afterward, but more than anything I was just confused. Finally after a break, he asked me out on a "REAL" date. 

I was excited, but also wary. The three week break we had just come off of had hurt me, and I wasn't quite sure of his intentions, and I have a tender heart hidden behind a layer of false bravado, keep 'em guessing BS (which probably fools noone-but helps me feel safe). We went out for Mexican food, and then back to his bar again. I am not a bar person, and definitely wasn't then, but it was a small supposed-to-be lesbian bar, which seemed to attract its share of single men, hiding out from life I guess. Anyway, I got this amazing, big tropical drink. It had five shots, but I usually stuck with wine or champagne when I had alcohol, so it didn't really register with me that that might be more than enough. I think I even ordered a second. Everything was fine. I was relaxed and having fun, and then we got up to leave. 

And suddenly, the world swayed around me.  Sounds seem to blur as wave of nausea came over me and I clung to Karl for support. We went outside and decided to walk back to Karl's place. Both his apartment and my home were within walking distance, and taking the car didn't seem like a good idea since we were drinking. Outside the winter air seemed like it might clear my head and then...

I threw up. Right in the parking lot by the back door of the bar. That in itself is embarrassing, am I right? But you see, I was a female who had three children. Three beautiful children who barged through the door to my uterus weighing a range of 8 and a half pounds to a chubby 9 pounds 14 ounces. My pelvic wall had seen better days. So when I threw up, I also (you ladies guessed it, right) peed my pants. Right there by the bar, in winter, when we were too drunk to get in a car to get anywhere. 

I was partially mortified and partially 34 and developing wisdom (hey, men will go through a lot to get a little, ahem). I may or may not have squeezed out a tear. There was nothing left to do, but walk the 1/2 to 3/4 miles to his apartment. We got there, I showered, and then embarrassingly, fit into a pair of his jeans, and we hung out for several more hours, watching movies, kissing and eating lots of candy. 

On good days, I think it is a sign of our comfort with each other, that we could move on and finish the date. 

On bad days, I think it is an omen and I should have known better.


Negative Thoughts? Take these 3 steps now!

Image result for mountains sunset
I am feeling a bit like a hypocrite this morning. For one, last week was a fairly negative one. I overshared with a couple of people at work on Friday, due to a stressful situation and feel a bit of regret. Especially since a big thing I overshared about seems better. I should feel better that it is better, but instead I feel I was blowing it out of proportion to get attention or sympathy or something. Then I was feeling anxiety about possible future events outside my control and found myself directing that anger in the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, it was almost entirely internal, but a few less than complimentary comments on my part have me stressing. I am better than that. I know better than that. And if I don't handle the internal struggle, eventually it become external and that's destructive.
 A family member has been ill and is struggling with dealing with illness and weakness, and I fear he is making it worse with his worries. He doesn't seem to be getting out or walking or doing any of the things he has always loved and which ironically probably kept him healthy for so long. It is hard to watch someone flounder, especially when you feel if they would just listen to advice, relax, take their meds, and stop the alcohol and nicotine roller coaster, they would probably be just fine.  But he feels he is dying. And maybe he is. He is closing the world off around him and that is not a good way to flourish. He is saying anxious I love you's, and my brain wonders if it is anxiety and depression driving him or intuition. And it worries me.

And the house is a mess.

And I sit here, feeling like a hypocrite, Who am I to give advice on living to another person? Who do I think I am? That's the feeling running through my veins.
But it is just twisted perfectionism hounding me. This idea I harbor telling me perfection is attainable if I just TRY HARDER, and then I will be fit to give advice.

Nonsense! I mean really. A big load of bull. Everyone struggles.

First thing to be done is take a big, deep breath, and then let it out. And  then another. And another. The second thing is to mentally take this pile of worries and push it away. Seriously, I am visualizing a big brown dirty scruffy Charlie Brown pile with a white sign and red letters painted "Worries," and just pushing it all away by hand. I don't have to carry this load.
YOU don't have to carry this load. Push it away! Now it's all there, but it isn't blocking the path. From perfectionism, to desiring control to ensure a perfect outcome, to worrying about things which are in someone else's hands, I acknowledge that I can't fix all this. I can however stop tormenting myself with it all.

Now, I visualize myself walking right past that pile down an open path (sun setting in the distance, of course). And I feel lighter.

One of the hardest things to do, when you are caught in a negative cycle, is realize what it is. It is just you choosing to focus on the wrong thoughts. PUSH THOSE THOUGHTS AWAY. Unless you are actively coming up with a plan to alleviate your concerns, just thinking about them, running circles around your brain, is not going to help. It is going to keep you stuck.

Newsflash! You are going to screw up. You are going to say the wrong thing, leave the wrong impression sometimes, and deal with family illness. It's going to happen. Ruminating will not take the words back, scrub your impression clean, or heal your sick person. It won't. YOU CANNOT OUTTHINK MOST OF YOUR PROBLEMS. I have been trying for years. I am no Einstein, but I know some things (though I have forgotten so much more than I know-which reminds me,  you know when you meet that person who not only can recall a lot, but can quickly use it in arguments and discussions? I envy those people. Meanwhile I am over here, like, Hmm. My gut tells me you are wrong, but I need to go home read some books, search my soul, and figure this out. I will get back to you next week, how's that? I guess that is why I like to write. Meanwhile, the world is following that quick thinker and easy speaker EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG, because that's how the world works. Silliness).

When things are just wrong and you believe you have screwed up one of the best ways to get relief right away is to just stop everything. Stop digging that hole. Stop trying to fix the problem with thoughts and words and just be still a moment. Then walk past the problem. I get it. The problem is still there. I do understand that, but you do NOT have to live a life of misery because you are not perfect,  or because certain things are simply outside your realm of control. You don't.  Just stop, gather your wits, and walk away for a bit. And later, when you are busy in a project, doing a hobby, watching a favorite show (and make sure you really love what you are watching or do something else. Life is too short for mediocre), or just sitting completely in the moment watching the world around you, you will find that the problem might not be so bad.

And what if it is? What if that pile marked "Worries" is persistently following you and there are serious problems stacked up in that pile? I guarantee if you take a break from them, if you write them out and leave them to a higher power, and ask for help in solving them, the help will come. I don't guarantee it will be the answer you want or the way you want it. But if you can pull yourself away from demanding it all go down in a certain way, it will all work out in the end.

So my 3 steps in a nutshell?

1. Stop and breathe. Breathe deeply and exhale through your mouth several times. Feel your shoulder, chest, and upper back relax with those breaths.

2. Visualize that pile of worries and push it away.

3. Walk past that pile into the distance and start doing something else. Something you love, something you have to do, something constructive, or something frivolous. Just get busy, even if that means just watching the birds hop along in your backyard busily searching for their next meal.

You can revisit the worries later. Now is not that time. Now is a gift. Unwrap it with joy.

Sunday, March 1, 2020


Image result for sunset photos

It has been a long and beautiful weekend. The days crawled by as the children played with neighbors in 60 degree weather. I did next to nothing. Oh, I did some maintenance housework, my husband and I rearranged the bedroom, (managing to avoid the Coffin position for the bed, for those who read my personal blog), and the house received a good airing. I did some things for my online shop, but really, it has been a lazy weekend.

I paid off my library fine for the coffee damaged books, and have more on reserve. I have been listening to books on Audible, but this will not be about them.

I found a short little article which so succinctly summed up my feelings on healing and responsibility, by Brianna Wiest,
Trauma is not Your Fault, but Healing is Your Responsibility.

This article has been timely for me because I find myself being reminded of snippets of unpleasant memories. Not the memories of  my many, humiliating mistakes, but memories of moments outside of my control. Many of these occured as child, a few as an adult. And sometimes it is helpful to be reminded of the pain and trauma of the past for various reasons. For one, a depth of feeling brings a sense of painful angst which drives me to write, drives me to create. Also, little Jill just sometimes wants remind the world, she is still here, and the scars still mark her skin.

But, the thing is, noone can fix the pain, but me. It doesn't need erased. It needs acknowledgement. But acknowledging it and dwelling in it are different. We all have our scars. In some way, we have all been hurt. Some have faced more trauma than others. I am luckier than so, so many who walk the earth. If I don't choose to learn and grow and takes steps to make different choices, my life can never accomplish what I was intended to accomplish. So while at times I choose to snuggle up with the inner child and hold her, I don't choose to live in that place.

I believe in a higher power who listens to me and helps me. If I ask for strength, or guidance, or wisdom, or even for unspecified help, I believe I will receive it. We are our own superman. We are the ones who intervene for our more fragile selves and take the leap of faith and ask for help. We are so strong and so powerful when we learn who and how to ask.

If you are like me, a part of you is dismayed with this focus on self. Perhaps you, too, feel your focus should be on helping others. But my dear, you can't save anyone until you have learned to save yourself (or to ask God for the help you need). You can't hold your child aloft in the crashing sea  if you don't put your life preserver on, too. There are so many things I wish I understood decades ago. But with faith I walk forth, and the blame game stops, and the healing begins.