Traveling Again!

That’s right. The time has come and Working Mom, Travel Dreams is traveling again! I’m traveling with my husband to Mexico for our 10th wedding anniversary. Our plan was to enjoy a week in the UK but with the travel restrictions that was not possible. So we regrouped, switched gears and now we are off to Cabo San Lucas. We are leaving the kids at home for our first kid free vacation together in 9 years. our last vacation together was our 1st wedding anniversary where I was big and pregnant and we had to book our travel to make sure we made it back before my “unable to travel internationally” date 2 days later. Yeah, there’s nothing like cutting it close. Traveling while that pregnant was not easy.

I have been to Cabo oodles of times since it’s a quick getaway from California. You can usually find long weekend package deals for $500 or less pretty easy so it’s the alternative to Vegas for many of us Californians who are not into gambling but still want to enjoy some fun in the sun. With all the restrictions in California I find people are flocking to Mexico just to get away from it all and enjoy a little bit of freedom again. I have 1 coworker and a friend who are in Cabo right now and know several people that have gone in the last month.

The airports are pretty empty still. They only had one shuttle running at SFO and the long term parking was maybe 1/4 full. It’s really different than my last trip where SFO was packed in Sept 2019. The flights were sure full despite the empty parking. Snacks and beverages were distributed a little different with everyone getting a small snack bag. I actually preferred it that way for this short flight but a bagged lunch meal for dinner could be annoying on a longer international flight.

At the resort nearly everyone we met was vaccinated. The ones who were not vaccinated had covid around the holidays and it’s still too soon for them to get vaccinated. Pretty much everyone hated the masking and wore them as little as possible. There was a lot of annoyance on things like the rule that you have to wear a mask while walking around the resort…except in the pool area. So I don’t have to wear a mask in the pool area but if I go to the snack bar, bathroom or non-swim up bar I need a mask. Swim up bar no mask. Someone brings my drink to me at the table, no mask. I take 5 steps to the bar to get a drink, I need a mask. (FYI all the bars are outdoors).

We followed the rules, no matter how crazy. It was still a lot less restrictive than California and it was FANTASTIC to see people’s faces and socialize. We got our covid tests to return home and they were negative. Even though we were fully vaccinated AND had negative covid tests our kids therapy sessions were canceled for 2 weeks when we returned because we left the country. If we stayed in the country it would have been fine. California paranoia at its best here. CDC says vaccinated people can live normal lives. But here in California we are still on house arrest and shamed for attempting normal.

Busy lives and full calendars

I remember the days when I had oodles of stuff going on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still busy it’s just a different kind of busy now. Now my calendar lacks the social engagements and is full of zoom meetings and project deadlines. Ah how I miss the days of social gatherings. Hopefully that will change soon.

Recently I was talking to it co workers and it turns out that several of us have been shopping online buying outfits for future outings when we open back up. It’s hard living in the most restricted state in the United States. The state is divided between “open up and ditch the masks” and “everyone stay home and wear 3 masks, face shields, gloves and socially distance even when vaccinated”. It’s pretty crazy. I fall into the category of open up and ditch the mask mandate. Let people make their own decisions based on their comfort level.

I believe we should have the freedom to make our own decisions as adults. For example… Sunday I picked up my wine club shipments at two wineries. We have friends who are also members at the same wineries so we planned a day to pick up our wine together. All 5 of us are fully vaccinated and past our 2 week window. Tastings are outdoors. The CDC says fully vaccinated can be free. We felt 100% comfortable with this forbidden outing. Sharing our picnic, drinking wine, laughing and acting human socializing as adults. The shaming we got from the two group photos of us that were posted on Facebook was appalling. Why is this happening? Why are we expected to be hermits?

95% effective means you have a 5% chance of getting covid. Also, there were zero serious cases among the vaccinated. Yet California is still the most restricted state. That is all going to end in June 15th when our state opens back up. Personally, I can’t wait to see smiling faces and interact with humans again.

Photography in the pandemic (long)

As many of you know I am a photographer. As a photographer I capture moments in time. Once I click the shutter that moment is gone. We will never get that moment back. I mention this because I recently got in an argument with another photographer on a photography forum online. The issue: she was hired to shoot a wedding last year and paid in full. The wedding is in a month and the pandemic isn’t over yet. She is on the fence about canceling or shooting it and wanted advice. I gave my advice.

The wedding was booked and paid for a year ago and is in a month. She knew it was coming up so if she was going to cancel the time to do it was 5+ months ago when the pandemic didn’t end and the lockdowns continued. At this point the couple is thankful that they still have a photographer because venues and catering are probably a nightmare for them. If the wedding gets canceled that is one thing, but they were hired to do a job and accepted payment in full for the job. They should do the job. It isn’t like things were in the beginning. We have social distancing, masking and if you get sick we now have treatments. On top of that more and more people are getting vaccinated every day. This isn’t the same situation we had in the beginning when we didn’t have any of that.

Well, apparently some people got mad about that and feel everyone should stay home and everything should be canceled until the virus is gone from our planet. Ok, look moron. It’s a virus. It will never be completely gone from the planet. Also, everything in life has risks. It’s our job to learn those risks as we grow up and learn to do things as safe as possible knowing the risks and should we end up sick or injured we know where to go for help if we need it. Staying locked in your home in fear is not living…it’s existing. There is a reason why we have prisons for criminals and put little kids in time out. Taking away freedom to live your life as you wish is punishment.

Back to photography… I’m not a fan of shooting portraits. It’s boring. I like landscapes, nature and travel. But I am good at it even if I don’t like it. In this pandemic I have found myself shooting more portraits than I ever have before. Why is this when there are so many portrait photographers out there? Well, it’s because they are terrified and believe everyone should stay in isolation. I don’t feel that way. I feel that life is still happening and once those moments are gone we will never get them back. Photographers are here to capture those moments.

I have a friend who has had 7 miscarriages and finally carried her pregnancy to term with #8 in this pandemic. She wanted to do a maternity photo shoot to capture the joy of this time especially since she does not know if they will ever be able to have another one. The problem… she can’t find a photographer in the lockdown so she contacted me. I agreed to do her photos for her. I don’t know how people can turn down someone who has been through so much sadness and wants to capture the joy of this moment. It isn’t like she can go back and do them later. We did them in a low risk way outdoors I stayed socially distanced from them except when I gave her a gift for the baby. I later took family photos after the birth for their daughters 1st Christmas.

My brother is getting married in September. I did his engagement photos and I’m terrified that their wedding photographer will cancel at the last minute and I’ll end up shooting his wedding rather than enjoying the celebration with my family. Why would I do that? Well, because I’m not going to bail on my brother when he needs me.

I’m just so tired of people using covid as an excuse. So you have sat on your butt for a year and don’t want to go back to work? Is it because you are terrified of covid? Nope. You are still living your life visiting with friends and family and going to the store and whatever else is open at the moment. Just be honest. Don’t say it isn’t safe for you to go back to work. Just say you don’t want to go back to work. It’s ok. You can NOT want to go. I don’t want to go every day but I have a family to support so I put on my shoes and go. Would I like to stay home and enjoy the 50 hours a week of free time with my family? Hell yes! I get it. I don’t want to go to work either. But I’m sure as hell not going to use covid as an excuse and say I can’t go to work because it isn’t safe while I go on about living my life outside my home. Just be honest about it. Just say you got lazy and don’t want to go back to work. Saying it isn’t safe for YOU to go to work while you expect everyone else to go to work is just saying that you are more important than everyone else out there. You are more important than all the essential workers who have kept everything running back when it really was not safe. If you accept a job and got paid for the job then you should do that job. If you want to back out you should refund your fee AND pay the difference for the last minute replacement for the job you were suppose to do if they incur additional costs due to you backing out at the last minute.

The businesses and people that are going to survive this pandemic are going to be the ones who didn’t use it as an excuse to be lazy. They are going to be the ones that paid off debt, saved up to purchase their first home, wrote that book, used the time to get fit, eat healthier, forge a better relationship with their spouse and children. There are 1000 ways to come out of the pandemic better than you went into it.

There are several truths about the past year no matter what your beliefs are on the way the pandemic is being handled where you are from.

Life is moving on.

Relationships are starting and ending.

People are getting married and divorced.

Children are being born and growing up.

People still die.

How do you feel about gatherings? Should we never celebrate again? If you are married how would you feel to have that option taken away from you? How about your children? Do you reflect back on that crying photo with Santa and smile? What if that was taken away from you? Remember the first day of kindergarten? What if that was taken away? High school or college graduation (yours or or child’s)? How about funerals? Should those go away and we no longer get to mourn? Should we visit the sick and dying or let them die alone? How about birthdays? Do we celebrate only the 1st birthday, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 50th, 75th, 100th? Only some? None at all? How about if you beat cancer and didn’t think you would see another birthday but here it is! Do you celebrate?

Do we celebrate life or let let it just go because someone might get sick? What about food poisoning? Someone might get sick. Maybe we should not eat anymore.

Annoyances, craziness and a reminder to be kind

We all have our little things that just annoy the hell out of us but I find that my tolerance for such things is much lower than my pre-covid tolerance.

Now I have always been annoyed by drivers on the freeway that drive significantly slower than the rest of traffic. I don’t care why they are going so slow, but they need to move all the way to the right. If you are going that slow, be a pal and turn on your hazard lights too because you are, in fact a hazard on the road. Just because you have the right number of people in car car does not require you to drive in the carpool lane. Many people are terrified of driving in heavy traffic or next to “the wall” if you are one of those people are are the SLOWEST car on the freeway and driving at least 10 MPH SLOWER than everyone else please, don’t be a jerk and move all the way to the right so the commuters can use the HOV lane to get home before midnight. If you are driving 20+ MPH SLOWER than everyone else pop your hazard lights on to alert other drivers.

Now at least once a month someone stops in the fast track only lane looking for someone to take their toll money on the bridge. We all make mistakes. It happens. But don’t stop. Just go on through and pay your toll violation ticket when you get it in the mail. I see an accident about once every couple months because someone tries to stop when the rest of traffic is trying to speed through or even worse they are trying to cross several lanes on the bridge to get into the proper lane. Safety first people. You miss your exit. You miss your turn. Don’t drive crazy just take the next one. Don’t be a road hazard.

Let’s all be kind. If someone is coming hold the door for them. Let the disabled, elderly and pregnant have the seat on public transportation when it’s crowded. If someone looks lost ask them if they need help. I challenge everyone to do one random act of kindness a day for someone else. So hold the door. Take one minute to make someone else’s day just a little better.

Now let’s talk about the bickering. OMG I’m so tired of it. I have two small boys who are tired of being stuck at home so all they do is fight with each other. I can barely stand 60 seconds on social media right now. Personally, I don’t care what your covid or political beliefs are but just stop the damn fighting. Everyone has a reason for feeling the way they do and everyone and every situation is different. What is right for me may not be right for you. When it comes to the Covid situation, it is evolving all the time so the facts you had yesterday are probably completely irrelevant today. But a few things are sure. 1. There is a virus. 2. At some point the world will need to reopen and life will need to go on. 3. You have the right to make whatever decisions you feel are best for you and your family. 4. You do not have a right to force your opinions on others. We know you are scared. But no one if forcing you to leave the safety of your home. You can stay there. What you can’t do is demand what others can and can’t do because you disagree with them. They are not you and may feel or believe differently than you do. Respect their beliefs and do not push yours on them. It is ok to think differently than others. We are all unique. Respect the differences.

Ten, almost 11 months later I’m really over people telling me what to do.

“YOU NEED TO WEAR A MASK ALL THE TIME OR YOU ARE KILLING PEOPLE” um, no. I’m eating strawberries, in my office, alone until you walked in to tell me that I’m killing people. I’m not killing people. I’m eating, alone until you walked in. Hard to eat and drink with a mask on. If you are that freaked out don’t come in my office.

“YOU ARE TOO CLOSE 6 FEET LADY, 6FEET!!!” Dude, I’m like 12-15 feet away calm the hell down and get a tape measure. Here’s a hint… if you have to YELL or raise your voice so someone can hear your lecture they are too far away from you to catch covid from them. Save your breath.

“YOU NEED YO WAIT FOR ME TO LEAVE BEFORE YOU COME IN THIS AREA” ok, I just want to grab this one package of cheese then you can have the whole deli section to yourself. the cheese is like 10 feet away from your deli sliced meats anyway. You do not own this entire section of the grocery store. I need ONE item and don’t have time or the patience for you to ponder the meaning of life while selecting a lunch meat. (About 15 minutes later I walked past that section again and she was yelling at someone else to step back STILL pondering the lunch meat. I told the guy that she yelled at me 15 minutes ago when I grabbed cheese. Just get your hot links. She hasn’t moved.)

I have heard stories of people jumping into bushes with thorns and poison oak because other hikers were on the same trail going the opposite way. People are jumping into their cars and yelling at people to get away from their children who are still in the shopping cart in grocery store parking lots as people walk by or try to load their own groceries into their car. If you are this paranoid please, order your groceries online and have them delivered to your door to avoid any possible contact with another human. The rest of us just want to do our shopping in peace and move on with life. (Ok, I order my groceries online and have them delivered. It has nothing to do with the virus and everything to do with being too busy to do it myself. I have done this for almost 5 years now and LOVE it!)

It comes down to one thing…people have lost their damn minds. They are so fearful they have lost all ability to think rationally. I beg you, if you are that terrified just stay home. You can have groceries delivered. You don’t need to go hiking or take the dog for a walk. Stay home. Maybe take this time for some zoom therapy sessions to work through some of these issues because at some point you will need to leave your home and interact with another human. You can’t live the rest of your life yelling at people that they can’t have cheese until you are done contemplating all the varieties of lunch meat because you don’t want anyone within 20 feet of you. That is your issue, not theirs. They are not trying to kill you. They just want to get the cheese and get away from you as fast as possible because you are acting like a crazy person. Please, seek therapy and work through your feelings. It can be done in a video visit so you do not need to be near the therapist in person.

If a friend, family member or anyone tells you that you are acting crazy take a deep breath and look at the situation. If the breath isn’t helping and you are still in a panic you need to go back to your safe place, wherever that is and make an appointment to talk to someone. This is a lot and everyone processes differently. With all the craziness out there a lot of people are struggling. You do not have to struggle alone. Talk to someone. It can be a friend, family member, member of the clergy or a medical or mental health professional. Please seek help.

Most of all, everyone has their own issues and some people may not be able to wear a mask because of a medical or psychological issue. This has been a huge topic in the disabled community. It seems about half just will not or can not wear a mask. Most just don’t understand. Some it’s a sensory issue. Some a medical one. I see this a lot in my elderly patients as well. Some just don’t understand why they need to wear the mask when they are not sick. Some have health problems. Don’t judge. Don’t yell. Don’t lecture. If you are concerned about your safety, just distance yourself from them. Problem solved peacefully.

Most of all through all of this…Be kind.

Mask monitors

And all the drama they cause

I had to think up a better title than what I actually call those people…you know the type or maybe you are one yourself.

They are the ones who yell at you from across the gas station 2 rows and 3 pumps back to put on your mask when you are the only two at the gas station pumping gas and they are so far away from you that they need to yell several times until you finally hear what they are saying. Seriously people? If you are so far away you need to YELL to tell me to put on a mask I am also too far away from you for you to catch covid from me.

It’s the person who is walking on the other side of the street yelling to you to put on your mask when there is no one else around.

Then there is the reason why I am writing this post… it’s the person who walks 2 hallways over when you drop some stuff on the floor making a clattering noise when you are in your office alone only to then lecture you about wearing a mask because you could be a super spreader. Really? You are 12 feet away from me now and you are working 2 hallways over. I’m in my office ALONE drinking a protein shake before I start work. So how exactly does this impact you? If I didn’t drop stuff on the floor in our empty department you never would have known I was here and never come to see what happened and never known I was not wearing a mask because you work 2 hallways down and I’m in my office alone.

The mask police really bother me.

The mask shaming and bullying really bother me.

If you are so far away that you have to yell for someone to put on a mask then you are far enough away that it does not matter.

Masks are for when social distancing is not an option. If you are distanced then masking is not needed. If you are alone then masking is not needed. After all who are you going to spread covid to?

Now I’m not saying that I refuse to wear a mask entirely. There is absolutely a need for them in certain situations. I wear a mask when I’m entering establishments that require it. I wear masks at work. I even wear a mask at home while my sons therapist is there working with him. But I’m NOT wearing a mask while exercising. My poor asthmatic lungs are already struggling. I have a mask with me just incase I’m on a trail walking or hiking and someone is approaching me I’ll pop the mask on as they pass but once they are a distance away the mask comes right back off.

Some masking situations just don’t make sense. The biggest one is eating out. So you need to wear a mask while walking to and from your table but once you are seated you can remove your mask. This is what I call the “magical butt barrier”. You stand up mask needs to be on but sitting you are ok.

Mask nazis (mask police, mask monitors) all like to point out that they wear masks all the time in Asia and no one there complains. (I have never actually heard this argument from anyone who has actually BEEN to Asia.) Well, I have been to Asia. Yes they wear masks in the large cities because the pollution is so bad. The air actually feels dirty and makes my eyes and skin feel dry and itchy. It reminds me of when we have the huge fires here in CA and the air is toxic. They wear the masks outdoors, not indoors and not everyone has one on. Women wear them more than men and young people were them more than older people. It is not mandatory. There is no shaming or lecturing people who do not have them on. It’s a personal choice.

I have had several problems with different masks through this pandemic since I wear them all day while I’m seeing patients at work. We had some masks with stiff elastic that cut the skin on the backs of our ears leaving us to need to put bandaids on our ears to wear them. I had an allergic reaction to something (my guess is the dye) in another brand of mask and broke out in hives all over my face under the mask. They were painful and itchy and took a week to finally go away. We had other masks that had thick trim and the constant rubbing as we spoke made raw sores on my cheeks leading to more band aids to cover up the open wounds on my face.

If an establishment has a mask rule and you do not want to wear one don’t go to that establishment. It’s simple. There is no need to argue and make a scene.

If you are out and about and see someone without a mask on it is NOT your place to yell at them, demand they mask up or lecture them about wearing a mask. You are not their parent. You don’t own them. You probably don’t even know them. You don’t know their story. Maybe they have a medical problem and can’t wear a mask. Maybe the backs of their ears are cut open or their face is raw. Maybe they have asthma or allergies and are already wheezing trying to exercise. Hell, maybe it broke, got dirty or they dropped it somewhere and can’t find it. Maybe they gave it to someone else who needed it more than they did. But the bottom line is if YOU are uncomfortable with it that is YOUR problem and you can always distance yourself from them if you are uncomfortable.

Mask or not we can all use a little more kindness and love in the world. If you don’t have anything nice to say then just don’t say anything at all. Stop the lectures. Stop the shaming. Stop the bullying. Try to spread a little kindness and love. We can all use more of that.