Happiness and Pandemic Fatigue

Those who know me know I am really struggling with what is being called “Pandemic fatigue.” As an essential worker in healthcare I had pandemic fatigue before the first shutdown order in March. I had pandemic fatigue by the end of February. People had lost their damn minds. Honestly, all logic was completely obliterated from existence. I saw people walking around in full hazmat suits (and still do)… Minus the oxygen tanks. I have seen people doing completely moronic things like covering every bit of exposed skin with hand sanitizer. Not just their hands, but arms, legs, neck, face and some even started to cover their shoulders and bellies and places accessible without exposing their parts that would be covered by a swimsuit. I even have seen people wiping down their purses with it and even a paper back novel pages and all. Cleaning the PAGES of a book with wet hand sanitizer, the dry paper pages with wet hand sanitizer. This was all prior to the first shutdown and it has just gotten worse. All Logic, common sense and thought processes seem to have gone away in the blink of an eye.

We are now entering our 11th month of lockdowns here in California and I am so beyond over it it is exhausting. I have no idea why I have not snapped yet. At least once a day, every day someone asks me if something is clean right after I cleaned it right in front of them. For example I’ll be cleaning a chair, arms, seat and back right in front of a patient and they are standing there watching me do it. I then tell them they can sit down and they ask me “Are you sure this is clean? because I don’t want to get sick now.” (Look Moron. You just watched me clean it right in front of you and the room reeks of alcohol and my hands are so dry from all the cleaning that you can see my fingerprints.) I don’t say any of what I am thinking as I am totally rolling my eyes at them. I just simply respond, “Yes, it’s clean.” and sigh…again.

At least once a week I get someone in who is so fearful of covid that they refuse to touch anything or let anyone touch them. Ok people. I work in healthcare. If whatever your issue is could be taken care without actually examining you, then this would be a video visit instead of an in person one. If I can’t get the patients to be reasonable and let me do my job in a couple minutes then I pass them back their registration slip with our reception desk phone number written on the bottom and tell them to go back to the receptionist and get a refund then call us back to reschedule when they are comfortable leaving the house and being around people. I have no idea how these people think they are going to get an exam and treatment without touching anything or anyone.

I don’t just struggle with dealing with the public on a daily basis but I struggle even more with the loss of everything I look forward to. I am a goal person. I set a goal and I work toward it a little bit at a time. I also need something fun to look forward to on the horizon to keep me going when the times get hard. This pandemic has canceled ALL of my plans. Every single thing I was looking forward to from my son’s preschool graduation and first day of kindergarten to my husband’s 40th birthday trip to Hawaii. It has stolen my trip to the northern lights. It has canceled many girls days with friends for mani-pedis and a long lunch full of laughing until my face hurts. It has stolen moments I will never get a chance to celebrate again. With my oldest child as a severely disabled child I missed many of these moments with him and was looking forward to being able to share them with my younger child. But those are now gone forever.

The 40th birthday trip in Hawaii that we talked about doing 5 years ago…Yeah gone. I know we can go again later sometime but it isn’t the same. Having traveled shortly after 9-11, major hurricanes and other disasters I know that travel after a major event really sucks. Yes, you are excited to get out and as a traveler you are thrilled and excited to move beyond the depressing life at home. Well, touristy places are hit REALLY hard when disaster strikes and while I know the people who work in tourism are thanking you for being there supporting them because they were hit so hard by the (insert disaster here) As a tourist I do not want to hear the doom and gloom every time I go anywhere and do anything. It can be as simple as going out to eat…The taxi driver taking you to your destination tells you his tales of woe, followed by the tales from the hostess as you wait for your table, the bartender when you try to escape by going to the bar, the wait staff as they take your order, the staff that bring you your food…literally every step along the way for every single thing you do for the entire trip no matter how mundane you hear the tales of woe. Then if you do a tour or trip of some kind you hear the sob story just before they mention the tip jar. I don’t want to be rude and I’m glad I can help stimulate the economy but if I wanted to listen to this crap I could just turn on the news at home…for free. I am on holiday to get away from all of that. I also do not need to be reminded about the tip jar. I tip and I tip well. But the sob story followed by the mentioning of the tips makes me really not want to leave one because it could have been a great tour but you just ended it on a crappy, depressing note and while you are still living your daily life full of all of its issues, I am here to try to escape mine. So, while I am looking forward to traveling post-covid, I am also dreading it.

With everything going on, I have had to rethink the way I do everything, sometimes several times. I can no longer go to the gym to workout before work because it is closed. I can’t go outside for a walk because it is freezing or barely above it in the mornings and totally dark outside. With our current stay at home order we are not even allowed to go for a walk in certain areas. Beaches and parks are again closed. Zoos are closed. Everything is closed. This is leading to a lot of trial and error… in everything. It is very frustrating. You may decide to take the kids to the zoo on the weekend on Wednesday as you look ahead to the weekend then Friday the Governor announces they they all have to close effective midnight Friday night. You already got reservations and tickets for the next day. You already told the kids and they are excited to see the giraffes. But, it has now been determined that going to an outdoor zoo at 25% capacity is too dangerous so now your plans are canceled…Again. Everything needs reservations but you can’t plan anything in advance because the rules change so frequently. It is infinitely frustrating, especially if you are trying to entertain young kids that don’t understand why they can’t go to school or the playgrounds or anywhere when you use to go places all the time.

I try not to let it get me down. It is difficult. I have good days where I try hard and things go well and other days where no matter what I do everything seems to go wrong and everything seems so difficult. One thing is certain… I do not do well when everything is closed. Honestly, I don’t understand why everything is closed…again. It isn’t like our positivity or death rates are so far off places that are open that it shows that this is the answer. In fact we are smack dab in the middle surrounded by states that are open. Are the closures saving lives in this pandemic? Actually the statistics show that the overall human fatality rate overall is pretty much about the same as it has been the last 10 years. So that tells me if these people didn’t die from covid they probably would have died from something else anyway. So why are we closed? Why are people starving and loosing their homes and businesses? Why is it ok to let our children fail and not get educated? Why is it ok for our children to miss out on normal rites of passage like prom and graduation? Since when did living so isolated become something we do to our loved ones? Almost every grandma I have talked to would rather see her loved ones and spend time with them even if it means a shorter life than live longer in isolation from everyone they care about.

My Mom has told her grandkids repeatedly that this is not normal. Don’t let anyone tell you this is normal. This is no way to live a life. Saying they are doing it to protect us (the grandparents) is a lie. You tell anyone who gives you crap about it when they talk about things opening and going back to normal as killing grandma that your grandma volunteers to be the one to die if it means that her kids and grandkids can live a normal life attending events, going to school, having holiday together and celebrating birthdays together. You tell them that your grandma would rather die than live in isolation.

Words from my mom. (This grim sentiment is also why I make a point to take the kids to see my parents every weekend and call to talk to my parents at least once mid-week. It’s hard when I work full time and have a million other things to do but I make the time.)

I have heard similar sentiment from many of my elderly patients as well… I know I am burnt out and exhausted from this, but our elderly that was are supposedly protecting are straight up pissed off. I have a co worker that is nearing retirement and she has gone to Vegas every year for her birthday with her husband for as long as she can remember. Her kids will not let her go. She was so sad about it. Here she is going to work every day just 2 years shy of retirement but her kids will not let her go to Vegas. I told her they are not the boss of you. She doesn’t live under their roof and she should just go. After all my parents are in their 70’s and they just went to Vegas a few months ago for their anniversary.

The point is to LIVE your life not to just exist. There is a reason why we punish people by locking them into jail. You take away their freedoms and isolate them from their loved ones as punishment. So why are we doing this to our loved ones? Why are we punishing them? Why are we punishing ourselves?

I need to see the logic in things. I can suck it up and do difficult things if I can see the logic in it later. I can watch what I eat and exercise if I feel better, my clothes fit better and I loose weight. I can skip grabbing coffee in the mornings, going out to lunch on workdays, having cable TV and shop the sales because I know those savings can then be saved up to allow us the money to travel somewhere. I can do something difficult for months or years at a time if I can see the logic and the progress and see the good it is doing. I do not see the good here. I do not see the advantage. I see elderly receiving end of life care unable to see their families over fear of the virus. I don’t know about you, but if it was me I would rather spend 6 quality months with my friends and family at the end of my life laughing and spending time with those that I care about than spend a year isolated from them to keep me safe.

When I open social media I don’t want to see businesses closing, people starving and struggling to make it. I don’t want to see people loosing their jobs just before Christmas. I don’t want to see people suffering. I want to see photos on Facebook of people I know traveling. I want to see the kids in Christmas pageants singing horribly and picking their noses on stage (that would be my son). I want to see families gathered together in celebrations of holidays, birthdays and graduations. I want to see weddings. I want to see Joy. I want to see humans laughing, loving and enjoying their lives.

I want things to go back to “normal”. I want to see friends laughing. I want to see families celebrating together. 2020 was hard for so many people. For many it was the worst year of their lives. In 2021 I want our lives back. I want peace, love and joy for everyone.

Kicking butt in 2021!

My coworker that I share an office with told me today that I’m super annoying. That may offend many people. But I wasn’t offended at all. Do you know why I’m annoying? I am getting stuff done and checking off my “to do” list items one after another. Apparently, that is really annoying to people who are not doing anything.

She said it’s like being trapped for 8 hours with a super peppy cheerleader. I told her in my defense… I was one in high school. I feel awesome so far this year (even though we are only a week in). I am getting stuff done. I am getting up and exercising before work every day. I am eating healthy. I am cleaning closets and purging old toys and books. I am organizing my business and revamping my social media strategy and website. I have a LONG to do list and I’m ticking off items one at a time.

Accomplishment is annoying. When did that happen? I find people who are smashing goals as inspiring. I see someone who lost 100 lbs in a year and is now wearing a sexy cocktail dress at their 50th birthday party as inspiring. Their smile is contagious. It makes me want to put down that cupcake and hit the dance floor! If someone overcomes obstacles and achieves greatness it’s inspiring, not annoying. That’s why they write books and make movies about things like that. But you know what all those people at the top have in common? They all had nay sayers in their lives who told them they couldn’t do it or that it was stupid or they were annoying and should just settle in like everyone else.

I don’t want to be like everyone else. A boring life of mediocrity sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. I have goals. I want to achieve things. I want to travel and see things and do things and inspire other people to rise up out of the muck and dare to be annoying. I hope to someday inspire others to do the things they dream of no matter what that dream is. They don’t need to be anything special or different to do great things they just need to try. Then if you fail regroup and try again. Keep trying and modifying and trying until one day you did it! Despite the nay sayers and the people who thought you were annoying.

I know some people are thinking about their dreams as they read this and think…yeah, right. That’s easy for you to say you have done so much already. Well, I started out with nothing…twice and rebuilt my life. Nothing was handed to me either time. In fact both beginnings were full of drama. Both times I had a job. My clothes, some personal stuff and that’s pretty much it. Both times I was super broke. Here I am now. I worked hard for everything I have achieved by doing what most people are not willing to do… work for it.

Who am I really? I’m a woman in my 40’s. I’m a mess. I’m overweight. I’m a wife and a mother to two little boys. I’m a special needs mom and a heart mom. I’m a working mom. I’m a photographer, an artist and a writer. I’m not anyone special. I’m just someone with goals and dreams who isn’t afraid of working hard to achieve them. If I can do it, you can be annoying to people around you and achieve amazing things as well.

Be annoying… Achieve great things in 2021.

My weight loss journey-the January push

I decided 2 months ago that January 4th $hit gets real and I put together all my rumblings and bad starts and struggles into a solid diet and exercise routine. I had a lot is struggles to overcome with stores being out of stock of items I wanted for my meal planning, gyms being closed, our garage being full of boxes for our Christmas decorations and the list goes on and on…

I knew there was going to be challenges. So I planned for it. I think I worked out most of the kinks now although, I’m sure I will face others as time goes on. Last night I did my meal prepping for breakfast and lunch. I put my workout gear out. I set my alarms. I made sure the garage was clutter free and ready to workout. I also made sure that the heater I plugged into the WiFi plug was on so it will actually turn on in the morning. (Seriously genius. I can even program it to come on automatically so it isn’t actually freezing at 5am when I’m in there trying to workout.)

I joined a DietBet to keep me on track and track my progress. Then yesterday my sister joined the extreme hip hop 90 day challenge. I like Phil’s step workouts and it was only $25 for 3 months so I joined too. I don’t plan on adding in the step workouts for a couple weeks but it’s ok. He only does workouts 4 days a week and I workout 5. I like to start them late so I always have new workouts.

So, you might wonder how today went? Well, it went great. I hit all my exercise goals. I need to find shoes that work well for rowing and I need a playlist with songs that have a good cadence for rowing as well. So that’s a kink, but not a bad one. My meal planning helped out when I was running late for work. I was hungry when I got home from work for sure but I still stayed in my calorie range. I still want to fit in yoga tonight after my kids go to bed. But overall, I think it’s a success.

What the hell was I thinking?

Yeah, I ask myself that a lot. I would love to be one of those people who can just chill and be happy exactly as they are and never aspire for more. It could be anything… more knowledge, more experiences or just overall a better life. Ok, I’m sure pretty much everyone on the planet wishes they had more of something. But how many people actually hustle to make it happen? The answer is different in different cultures but here I see people hustle until they get a good job then they just stop and get stuck.

I want more. I have traveled to more places than 99% of the people I know but I still want to see more.

I actually took a step I have dreamed about and I’m making my dream of actually making money as a photographer a reality. Now, I’m not quitting my day job any time soon but a couple hundred dollars a month is pretty good for a side gig that I have only been at for a year. (I have over 30 years experience as a photographer, but selling my photos is new). It’s work and it was hard to get going but getting surprise checks that something sold is exciting.

The other step I took is writing a book. I wrote a travel book but while it was with the editor covid hit, the world closed and now I pretty much need to redo most of the book. So, while I’m waiting for the world to open again to see where the dust settles on travel, I’m working on a couple other writing projects. I have a series of books that I have had in my mind for a while now that I’m writing the first book now. I am also talking to a friend about writing a book together and tossing ideas back and forth on that.

I have health and fitness goals. I have self care goals. I have goals for adding in meditation and yoga back into my life again.

I have dreams and an ever growing list of places I want to go. I want to find another dance group to be a part of again. I’m looking forward to being able to have a book club again. I look forward to someday taking my kids to Disneyland.

I have an insane amount of things I want to do. I have goals. I have a vision of my future self enjoying a glass of wine with my husband watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from our balcony with a light coastal breeze bringing in the smell of the saltwater with it. I see a gallery of my own with half of it my photography and half of it artwork from those on the Autism spectrum and disabled artists. I see that gallery as a place for those on the spectrum to have a place to work as well as display their art. I see myself traveling with my family as I continue to write and take photos from all over the world enjoying the differences in other cultures and cuisines as I learn the languages and make new friends. I hope to someday be an inspiration to others in leading a positive life where all my hard work has paid off to the point that I am invited to speak to groups about things I am passionate about. I hope to teach photography workshops someday instead of the one on one sessions I do now. Someday I hope I inspire someone to do something amazing that changes the world for the better.

But until that day when it all falls into place… I’ll continue to slowly work on my goals and dreams until one day they have all come true.

Screw burning the candle at both ends! Just make a giant bonfire and toss the whole candle in.

There is a saying that you should do something today that your future self will thank you for. I try to do just that. I put in a little extra into every day to make life better for my future self. But sometimes it starts to feel like too much.

This is how I feel. I know, I did it to myself. On a scale of 1-10 my to do list is at a 472. I just do not understand how so many people actually just do nothing. Like how do you do that? I try to meditate and my mind has a punk band playing in a crowded club with a few mosh pits going.

I never have been able to clear my mind. The closest I can get is to picture an empty beach. I can hear the sound of the waves and smell the salty breeze. But that is as clear as I can make my mind. Yep. After 32 years of yoga and meditation I am still unable to completely clear my mind.

Clearing my mind may be like clearing my calendar and to do list. I am the last one to go to bed and first one to get up every day. Even as I write this post I’m making a mental note of all I need to accomplish tomorrow and prioritizing all the items. I did it to myself. I know why I put every item on my “to do” list and my distant future self will thank me for all the work I put in now one day when all the pieces fall in place. But for now, I am barely hanging in there working nearly every waking moment on something.

This chaos was not all my fault. All of these irons were in the fire pre-covid and I can’t stop now or I loose my momentum. Unfortunately, with the kids out of school my husband isn’t able to get anything done while I’m at work because he is busy with the joke that is distance learning. So now we tag team it all when I’m not at work giving me less time.

Oh and that one day a month I was taking off work to get my stuff done while the kids are in school…yeah, the kids are not in school so that isn’t happening. Oh and I’m often the only adult human contact my husband has so he is a little needier than usual as well.

So what do I give up to have some peace? Sleep? Time with my kids or husband? Writing my blog? My photography business? Writing my book? Donating plasma? Seeing my friends? I can’t just not go to work. I never thought of myself as essential, but apparently I am. Who knew? I need roughly 4 more hours in the day to fit everything in. Because of that I feel like my candle had just been tossed in a bin fire.

I hope my future self appreciates all the work I’m doing now to make a better future for my family. I know I appreciate how hard my past self worked to get me where I am today. I’m just tired and overwhelmed and feel like I’m all work and no play with everything canceled or closed. Maybe someday I can be at peace and enjoy traveling again or even taking my kids to playgrounds or having a date night with a nice dinner with my husband INSIDE a restaurant and not have to wear a mask. I look forward to needing to get dressed up again. I miss charity events and festivals and concerts. But with literally no plans I just keep working and try to be as productive as possible.

This is all for you future self. I hope you enjoy it.