6 04, 2020

Finding Inner Calm in A Coronavirus World

By |2020-04-05T10:04:04-05:00April 6th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

We’re living in a pandemic world filled with distraction and stress. That’s a big problem for our bodies that crave homeostasis (a relatively stable internal state despite changes in the world outside).

So how can we reconcile our body’s need for inner calm when what’s happening in our world is out of our control?

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Here are some experts’ suggestions I found to consider:

Have A Morning and Evening Routine

  • Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Our circadian rhythm (aka our internal clock) sets itself by the time at which it sees daylight each morning. Our bodies need consistent sleep.

  • Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast keeps our hormones from crashing and helps fend off anxiety and depression later in the day.

  • Soak in Sunshine

Light combats depression. If you’re not comfortable walking with a mask, or can’t, open the shades or blinds and stand by a window or door, or pull a chair outside.

  • Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night

This maybe even harder than getting up at the same time every morning. But disciplining ourselves to a regular bedtime that allows for ample sleep (at least eight hours according to experts) does make a difference in our daily health and energy.

  • Shut Off Electronic Devices Early in the Evening AND turn Off the Screens

This will help ward off Internet brain and stop your devices’ blue light from causing your body to be confused about the fact it’s nighttime.

Avoid spiraling into the black hole of news and social media

Yes, we need to be informed about important virus details and our responsibilities in dealing with it. Yes, we need to connect with family and friends.

Truth is, too much time online and listening to news only increases anxiety and worry.

Be wise. Give yourself a shield against the unnecessary anxiety triggers and information overload by setting limits to news watching and social media time.

Most important, Be Kind to Yourself

We’re all under enough pressure right now. When your chest and stomach clench with tension, your neck and jaw stiffen, tears build, and thoughts won’t settle, acknowledge you might need to chill for a while.

Stop what you’re doing. Read or watch something that makes you laugh. Maybe stretch out on the couch and do nothing.

Do what’s works for you at any given moment. To be of any use to others, we must first take care of ourselves.

None of these expert suggestions will make the virus go away but trying them may help calm the chaos.

3 04, 2020

Duck Therapy

By |2020-04-02T09:46:16-05:00April 3rd, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We recently hatched duck eggs on Miller Farm. When Beekeeper Brian set the eggs, the world was a much different place.  He was going to work and I was teaching music at school.  Now we are sheltering in place and having lots of video meetings.

The ducks provide a welcome distraction.

At first there were five and they all looked like Cayuga ducklings which would have come from Lucy and Ricky, our two grown ducks.

They all snuggled with the stuffed cat.

It reminded me of the children’s book Are You My Mother?

Then two more hatched two days later. And just as Brian was ready to clean out the incubator, one more hatched.

We call him Leo the Late Bloomer from another children’s book. He’s gray and yellow and came from eggs we got from a friend.

I put water in for them to drink but, being ducks, they play in it.

The one with the yellow beak also has yellow feet which are a stark contrast to the black legs. They are really fun to watch.

Anytime I get discouraged or worried, I go watch the ducklings. It’s duck therapy and it works really well.

30 03, 2020

Finding Happiness in a Dark Time

By |2020-03-29T19:11:53-05:00March 30th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Today is Happiness Day. It’s a bit of a strange topic when we have a pandemic going on and death tolls rising. Still, we can all use a little happiness with all this craziness bombarding us.

Where can we find happiness?

First, and foremost, turn off the news. Quit watching every single newscast all day long. Stay informed but take a break.

I think we’ve all gotten the message. This is not getting better. If you listen to the experts, it’s going to be worse.

Truth is we do not know. So why, listen to all the speculation that only fuels a pervasive dread of what’s coming next.

And, because you’re stuck inside try some of these ideas to find a little happy…

  • Now that you’re living twenty-four/seven with all your stuff, bet you’re finding there’s hardly room for you. Clean out that sock drawer. Get rid of what you don’t need, haven’t used. You’ll feel lighter for it. Happier.
  • Escape to another world via reading. Try a new genre or a new author. Do a search for your favorite author.
  • Our local library offers free downloads of eBooks, magazines and newspapers. Check your library to see if they offer the same service.
  • Call people you haven’t talked to in years, just to say, “Hey. You okay? I want you to be okay.” It’s a good thing to do. Something we should be doing even if there wasn’t a pandemic lurking outside.

Find happy in diversions…

  • Go online, not to check the latest news, but to learn things we’ve always meant to learn, like Spanish or Gaelic, yoga or basket weaving, and how to play the ukulele.
  • Walk through prestigious cultural institutions, like The Met and The American Museum of Natural History or visit any one of the zoos offering tours. Need a list of virtual tours? Check here.
  • Work a jigsaw puzzle
  • Do a free crossword puzzle

Consider the good that’s happening.

  • Neighbors are stepping up to help one another. Desperate times are bringing out the good in people and renewing the belief we once held that good people help each other.
  • Our hopelessly divided government is worked out bipartisan legislation to help.
  • Pollution is easing with less cars on the road.

Yes, people are dying, but people are also recovering from COVID-19. Civilization is not going to end. Life will change as the emergency eases, normal will be different, and likely better.

Focus on the good stuff, and do something frivolous or fun.

Like a virtual ride on Disney’s new Frozen II roller coaster.

Be safe. Stay healthy. Find something that makes you happy.

27 03, 2020

Music for the Soul

By |2020-03-27T06:32:16-05:00March 27th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

When I first began to teach music in the classroom, I would lose my voice once a year. Laryngitis is hard for any teacher, but for a music teacher it is particularly challenging. It takes much longer to regain the ability to sing than to talk.

I would spend weeks teaching listening lessons and doing rhythm activities. Before it was all over, I would find myself sad and out of sorts. I realized this was the result of not singing regularly.

This feeling of sadness is being felt on a much grander scale by musicians around the country as they are prohibited from meeting in ensembles to make music. The Toronto Symphony found a way around these restrictions.

As I listened to this wonderful music, I was overcome by joy and amazement. I could just imagine each performer in their own home playing their part without being able to hear the others except in their minds. I have no idea if this is actually how it happened but it really made me think.

We can all do our part wherever we are and trust that God will eventually put it all together to make something beautiful.

Hopefully, one day, we will see the finished product and all the sadness and loneliness will have been worth it.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the creativity of musicians who can’t help but make music together. Here’s another example:

23 03, 2020

Coronavirus – Crisis, Chaos, and Change

By |2020-03-22T17:31:37-05:00March 23rd, 2020|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Crisis, chaos, and change are the three components of every major event.

Remember the existential edginess of 9/11? It’s returned.

During that crisis, we hunkered down at home with loved ones close, glued to our televisions, as the world around us changed. Our hearts trembled in fear that day. We survived.

Crisis, along with its bedfellows of chaos and change, happened again during the Colorado wildfires of 2013.

Maybe not everyone, but edginess and uncertainty ruled with mandatory evacuations for us. We piled two cars with our most precious belongings, two dogs, and ourselves. Our home was spared, but our world changed. We survived.

Crisis struck again in 2017 when Harvey dumped torrential waters and once again uncertainty, losses, and dramatic life-changes swirled around us.

Now a pandemic called COVID-19, coronavirus swirls worldwide crisis and chaos.

There’s nothing good about this crisis. Fears are rampant.

No one escapes the chaos of bare grocery store shelves or quarantines, voluntary and mandated. NO toilet paper, really?

As we grope our way along through the chaos, here are six suggestions (paraphrased by me) from Writer Unboxed blog contributor Sarah McCoy.

  • Buy Flowers. Splurge on a bouquet at the store or pick some wildflowers or plant some seeds.
  • Get Outdoors. Self-isolation doesn’t mean we are locked in jail. Isolate yourself with a walk in nature. Drive to a nature trail, if necessary, where there are crowds.
  • A Song. Listen or sing your own. Songs are the medicine of angels, and it will resonate in you for hours… days… however long this quarantine takes.
  • Cook. To create a nutritious, virus-free dish for yourself and your loved ones is a simple recipe for joy.
  • Write A letter. To another person or yourself in a journal. According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus can only live on paper for 24 hours. Letters sent through USPS take 2-3 days. It’s safe.
  • Read. For a writer like me, that’s a given. It’s my way to escape even when there’s no chaos.

Choose one or all of Ms. McCoy’s suggestions. Doing so requires nothing and will offer great relief from “the toxic fear plaguing us as tenaciously as this microbial foe.”

Take heart in knowing we got through 9/11, wildfires, and floods and so many other crises. We can rest in the assurance this darkness will give way to the light too.

Be safe, dear ones.

16 03, 2020

Which is it – Supper or Dinner?

By |2020-03-15T17:09:40-05:00March 16th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

In the grand scheme of things this is not even a blimp on the radar, only I recently had the word supper changed to dinner by a copy editor. Even with everything else going on in the world, that troubled me.

The editor said dinner is used more often. I responded in the South we eat supper and go to dinner.

That didn’t help.

Not to be defeated, I did my favorite thing—research—and discovered dinner doesn’t refer to a specific time of day but refers to the main meal. The word supper comes from the Old French word “souper,” meaning “evening meal.”

In her NPR interview, food historian Helen Zoe Veit says, “[In the 18th and early 19th centuries,] Americans regularly ate a light supper as their evening meal because they were eating dinner—the biggest meal of the day—around noon.”

(Who knew there was such a thing as a food historian?)

Anyway, Veit further explains the reason for eating the biggest meal at noontime was so farmers would have more strength and energy to get through the rest of their workday. When Americans began working away from their homes and farms and couldn’t easily return home to cook and eat in the middle of the day, large noon meals disappeared too. Having the main meal of the day in the evening meant they could spend more time enjoying their food and spending time with their family.

The word supper is more commonly used in Southern and Midwestern states. Mostly likely because those regions are agricultural.

Nowadays I think most folks eat meals at all hours, not necessarily by the clock or large meals. You can have brunch between breakfast and lunch and lupper between lunch and bedtime.

Heads up here… you’re not going to find that word lupper in the dictionary. It’s a word I made up to explain to my children why lunch was skipped and there’d be no supper.

In my research I ran across this fascinating blog on the supper vs dinner question. Lovely vintage photos. Take a peek, you’ll enjoy it.

P.S. The word supper stayed. After all, the story takes place in rural Texas. That is supper eating country.

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