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.

Traveling again!

A couple months ago everything was closed in California. With our 10th wedding anniversary approaching this weekend we didn’t want to spend it eating a frozen pizza like last year. In California you can’t make plans farther out than a few days. Our Governor changes the rules constantly keeping us as the most restricted state in the country. So to avoid spending another anniversary with a frozen pizza with our plans get canceled the day before we opted to not only leave the state, but leave the country. You know what’s open? Mexico.

We dusted off our passports and booked an all inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas for 5 days. Yes, we understand there is a pandemic. But we are both fully vaccinated. There are also masking mandates in the enclosed areas of the resort and things are spread out more to allow for social distancing. Our resort has free covid tests prior to your departure and if you fail it you stay at the resort for free with room service to quarantine for 2 weeks. Not a bad deal.

At some point life needs to go back to normal. Living in the most restricted state for the last year has really taken its toll on all of us. There is a reason people and businesses are fleeing California to other states that are more open. I’m not saying to go lick sick people or purposely cough in others faces. But we all need to make decisions for ourselves. Everything comes with risk. It is up to us to decide what risks we are willing to take and what safety measures we want to use.

In our case, we need a break. I’m all work and no play and my husband has been locked inside in distance learning hell for a year. We are totally burnt out by the pandemic. We looked at moving to another state but it just didn’t make sense for us financially so we are sticking it out for a little while longer. Who knows…maybe if we stay locked down for another year it will be enough to take the financial hit for freedom.

Until then the countdown to Mexico is on!

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.

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.

Dare to (travel) dream

One of my best friends lives in Australia. We talk almost every day. I know it sounds crazy but with modern technology it’s possible. She has a friend that lives in the UK that I have never met but have gotten to know in group chats with the three of us. The three of us travelers and we are all struggling with the lockdowns of our countries. So we have started to make plans for the three of us to get together on two different trips based of when our countries free us to roam again.

One of the trips we are planning is for the two of them to come here to California. I will be their lovely tour guide and we will enjoy a few days here in the wine country before starting our road trip north. Talking about where we can go and what we do will largely be figured out by what our UK friend wants to do since I live here and my Aussie friend has been here several times.

The other trip we are talking about is a meetup in the UK. No big plans there yet but it will be a shorter trip of 5-7 days. The two of them will be working some of the days leaving their evenings free. My Aussie friend has a branch there with a team she supervises so she will plan it as a work trip. We will coordinate schedules and I’ll probably play tourist while they are working and meet up with them for lunches and evenings.

I’m looking forward to us all being together. It will be interesting to see how people react to 3 women who are obviously really close but who all have very distinctly different accents. I know when my Aussie friend and I are together we get a lot of people who ask how we know each other. It really confuses people. We are 3 strong, independent women who travel well. We have all traveled the world alone. We all love food and wine and a good laugh with friends.

So even in a pandemic you can close the borders, but you can’t stop people from dreaming about their next trip.

Oh, when I go to the UK for our meetup; I will be bringing as much wine as I can for those evenings together. It’s my job. Well, that and Levi’s in their sizes. 😁