Thursday, October 22, 2020

How time flies these days. Since our last podcast, 8 months have passed! I was just getting the feel for retirement and once again our house is full. Our son, wife and 6 kids moved to the downstairs. They are back from living in North Carolina the past 2 years. Our lives and the world have changed dramatically.

No longer can we cruise into a store, stop spontaneously at a restaurant, walk in for a haircut, or walk around the enormous MOA just for exercise. Prior planning and reservations are now the norm.

How many times have I run into the Kwik Trip gas station for a gallon of milk? In and out in less than 5 minutes. Or stopped unexpectedly at a restaurant in the spur of the moment to get a quick bite to eat? Or had a free hour to run up town to get my hair cut. I do miss those days like most people.

Those days were wiped out last Spring when Co-Vid hit the shores of America. In Minnesota, our state was for the most part shut down. Only essential businesses were allowed to be open. Grocery stores, hardware stores, gas stations, clinics and hospitals were left open. I can honestly say that I am grateful for retiring from nursing right before the pandemic hit. I have had friends and co-workers become Co-Vid’s victims. Some taking weeks to recover, some months. And one that died from the lingering effects of the illness. 

As schools have re-started, businesses reopened and as political rallies with hundreds to thousands of people crowded together have popped up throughout the state, people have let their guards down regarding masks and social distancing, Many have decided that masking and distancing is not needed. Minnesota is again showing the rise in positive tests and hospitalizations. It has been heartbreaking watching as our state has just surpassed over 100,000 cases of Co-Vid and nearing 2000 deaths.

Time will tell how this “new Normal” will pan for all of us. Will we have another state shutdown? Will it go nationwide? Will we just decide to let herd immunity kill off the least likely to survive? WIll more people we personally know die from Co-Vid? So many uncertainties that exist. 

For now, this is one person who will continue to take care of myself and my family. I will wear a mask when needed, I will keep doing my part to social distance when around a group of people. I will keep hand sanitizer in all of the vehicles to use when I leave the stores and safely back in my car. And I will stay close to the proximity of my home state. Will it be hard? Well we have done this for the past 5-6 months and have managed.

Will this make a difference in keeping Co-Vid numbers down and at bay? Probably not if it is just me doing it. But as for me and my family, we are choosing to do our part and mask up and socially distance. I am hoping there are others like us.

And now for some mask etiquette for those who may be just choosing to use a mask now:

If you encounter a person who chooses not to mask, avoid shaming them or muttering under your breath as you pass them. Just turn your head as you pass by and pray they don’t sneeze, cough or snot on you.

If you are wearing a mask, please remember to cover both your nose and mouth. Co-Vid is spread through coughing, and is taken in through the nose. So don’t give it, don’t get it.

If you are alone in your car driving...please don’t wear your mask. You give us a reputation of not being knowledgeable of transmission of Co-Vid.

Masks are only reversible between washings. Don’t breathe in your Walmart outer mask when you go get gas.

And finally...make sure you mask up when you head out to do your duty at the polls on November 3rd. Remember it is your vote and it counts!

Social Media is Making Me Crazy

I need to quit watching and listening to the news these days. It actually wears me out watching one group of people saying one thing and another group of people saying the complete opposite. And then the tit for tat that follows. 

I also need to probably stay away from Facebook and other social media, at least until after election day. Everywhere I look, every post I read seems to be a political take on some current event. I will read a posting from someone and then proceed to read another 25 comments on that posting, as to why the post is not accurate, it should be fact checked, and basically telling the person who posted it that they are morons for posting what they did. And usually somewhere in the comment there will be a link to Snopes or some other fact checking source debunking the original post. I know I am not alone here, there has to be many who see this happening or have had it happen to them...or perhaps you are one of the ones commenting on a post. And I have to admit, I have at times fallen into each of these categories. I have tried to post things that I think aren't political and within minutes there will come a rebuttal or an all out unkind comment. I have learned to rarely post anything except funny stories, family activities and maybe a humorous meme here and there. And this time of the year, it is best I stay far away from social media...and yet I continue to peak at it like it has some kind of fixed spell on me

I love Facebook and all of the friends and family members that I follow. I love the dog pictures, kitten snapshots and pictures of family and friends doing fun stuff. I love that Facebook has allowed me to connect and stay in touch with people from years ago,people I grew up with or went to school with. And I even like trying a new recipe that gets posted every so often. Usually that is my social media experience.

But nowadays, as we come upon the elections of new people in government, my puppy and family pictures are few and far in between. It is mostly posts of politicians asking for money to slam the one they are running against, or friends with different political views as mine, posting mean and unkind things about people who may not agree with their take on the current issues. Sometimes it is just plain hard to scroll on by.

I really don’t post anything about who I vote for or where I stand on many of the current issues. It just always feels like a disaster waiting to happen, a person challenging my views angrily. I just don’t choose to do life in a constant battle of who is right and whose view is wrong. I try hard to be a firm believer in “to each their own”. 

But a few weeks ago I had read an article, written by an Evangelical pastor, regarding voting and the difficulty some people, many Evangelicals, have when it comes to pro-life and abortion. It was well written from a Christian’s view on the sanctity of all life. He openly admitted that he was anti-abortion. The artice spoke about pro-life needing to be pro-life after a child is born. It was about respecting life thru the entire life-span, not just at conception and while in the womb. While I am not doing justice to this article,and there will be those who disagree with it, it was well written for anyone who is torn between voting only for people or a party line who look at anti-abortion as a single issue and voting for people who want to respect a woman’s right for medical treament and yes possibly abortion. It spoke about how if a woman chooses to not abort a baby, we then as a society have a duty to help that baby grow into a productive place in society. Does that mean allowing the mom and baby to live off handouts and welfare forever? Absolutely not! But it does mean that we are to come alongside them and give them a hand up as needed to become the people they were meant to become.

Well like a fool I thought this article was so impressive, I posted this on Facebook without any comments whether I agreed or disagreed. While I had many comments from friends and family from all political opinions thinking it was a good impartial article, I had one friend who in all caps told me I was siding in with Homocide, Genocide and the “Libtards”. How could I possibly post something about murder? How could I call myself a Christian? And on and on the lashing went.

You can imagine the shock I felt when I read this comment, especially after debating whether or not to even post it as it was political. And I don’t post political stuff. What should I do? Should I delete the post, should I delete the comment, should I leave it? It was a brutally cruel comment that was so unfiltered and full of hate and swearing, that I knew I wouldn’t leave it there. Had it been done in a non-threatening way, I probably would have just left it. But this was so hate filled, I needed to remove it. So I did.

I then messaged my friend of over 50 years and told her I did not allow hatred on my facebook page, so she was deleted from the comments. More accusations and more hatred came back to me in the message. I realized this was going nowhere and just said, “ sorry, but I am going to block you from commenting or seeing my posts. Basically I told her goodbye. It was hard to do, but I also realized I do not want such hatred and anger creeping around my life. Was it the right thing to do? I am not sure, but this person had been warned 2 or 3 times before this that I didn’t tolerate hate comments on my Facebook page...yet she persisted. I feel there was no other alternative. She is still a friend from the growing up days, but It has been a choice I had to make to remove the hatred and bigotry from my life and those around me.

I pray daily that we can all learn to live in a world of differences of opinions and life choices. It’s hard. It’s hard to silently disagree, it is hard to make a choice to verbally challenge another’s beliefs and lifestyles. But what I do know for an almost absolute fact….posting a meme, an article, or a comment on something I disagree with on facebook has never ever changed a person’s take on their opinions and thoughts.
To Each Their Own…..

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Living the Dream

It has been about a year since I retired. I was an RN triage nurse in a busy rural clinic of about 15-20,000 patients. Life was busy from the minute I came to work until well after I was scheduled to go home. I would receive calls from patients with questions about everything from possible bat bites received at Walmart, ATV accidents, someone bucked off a horse to suicidal thoughts or attempts and even sexual assaults. The calls ran the spectrum of human concerns.

Every Friday at about 4PM a call from a patient referred to as Bud (Lite) would come. He would call and tell me he was about ½ way thru his 12 pack and thought maybe he should stop drinking. Every Friday at 4PM. And every Friday, I would tell him if he wanted to, we could get him help to stop drinking. And then he would laugh and tell me he would think about it. And that was our conversation, every Friday at 4PM.

Many calls that would come in could be treated over the phone quickly and successfully with the patient agreeing to follow the advice or come in and be seen. It went well, for the most part. But there were always the calls that would come in and when the recommendation was given for them to come to the clinic or Emergency Department, they would beg to differ on the advice that was given. It made a person wonder why then were they calling? I would try and explain in a different way why it was important to come in rather than stay home. If the patient continued to refuse, I had learned to ask them matter-of-factly if they had someone with them in case or when  they lost consciousness they weren’t alone. You know “is there someone there that can call 911 if you collapse.”.  That usually worked and would get them to come in and be seen. 

Oftentimes shortly after taking a call that needed the patient to come to the ED, there would be an overhead page “cardiac team to ED STAT” or the whirling of the helicopter at the landing pad by the ED could be heard. They would transport a patient to the Cities hospital. And the triage nurses would always know it was their patient. It usually would cause a sigh of relief from all who knew what the call had been.

After 12 years of doing that job on a daily basis, I was both ready for retirement and somewhat afraid to stop. I had been successful and comfortable doing this job. In looking back, it was as stressful making the decision as doing the actual job itself. Questions like can we afford it financially, what will I do with the time on my hands?, Would I be happy and content? The questions I am pretty sure most people ask when nearing retirement. I never did get any solid answers to the questions I was wrestling with in my mind.I just did it. ANd to my astonishment, it has worked without a problem.

A few months after retiring, our nation went into a pandemic with the Covid-19 virus hitting everywhere in our nation. That more or less stopped thoughts of traveling too far away. I more or less became homebound except for getting groceries. But never fear, I found more than enough to keep my life busy.

First order of business was to declutter the house..the closets, the garage, the house. As we call it here in Minnesota, I was “Swedish Death Cleaning”. What a feeling of accomplishment to clear the clutter. Spring came and there was 10 acres of land needing some attention. Gardens were planted, trees trimmed, sheds painted. One of the grandkids and I even built a shed for a chicken coop. We now have 11 chickens and 2 roosters occupying the “Chicks-Shall-Lay” coop. Fresh eggs once again after many years too busy to keep chickens. And my favorite thing about retirement is being able to hang out with the grandkids and teaching them music and learning from them so many things. 

The past year, I have had the great opportunity to spend time doing so many projects that were on my “future list” to get done. You would think by now the list would be pretty well cleaned up and getting empty, but that is not the case. Things get added. 

It has been such a blessing to be able to retire. Are there any disadvantages?...Nope, none that I have encountered yet. Would I recommend retirement for anyone that is ready and able to retire. Absolutely! Over the past year, my life has been a journey, both physically and spiritually. There now is time to quiet down the brain and see all that life has to offer. I have finally been given the gift of living life in the moment, in the now.. I’m living the dream right here, right now, right in this moment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Married to My Best Friend

41 years ago today, I got to marry my best friend.We were young, 21 and 22 years old. In fact I was 20 when we applied for the marriage license and had to get my parents to sign off on it. We were young and full of great dreams of what married life would be like. Little did we know on that day, what would ly ahead over the first 2 years.

Our first 2 years of marriage, my mother-in -law died, we lost a baby, my mom died, and my dad died within the year of my mom passing. They were all so young, in there 50’s.About a year before my mom died we lost a baby from an ectopic pregnancy. I had to have surgery and was told that we may not be able to have kids as it would be harder to get pregnant due to the surgery.

So much loss in those first 2 years of marriage. And yet we continued to muddle through each day going to work and coming home. The stress was high just learning how to live together day in and day out. We argued, we fought, we made compromises, we made up and the days passed by.

Shortly after losing the first baby, I became pregnant again. The ultrasound showed the baby was in the right spot and was growing perfectly. It was exciting and I was so thrilled to tell my mom  and dad. We all celebrated.

I was due the following June and it was November when my mom got terminal cancer. The following January, I was sitting on her bed at the hospital as she lay there dying. She was in and out of sleep and consciousness. Tears were flowing down my face as I watched her labored breathing, knowing she wouldn’t ever get to meet her grandbaby. She woke up and reached out and put her hands on my stomach. She smiled and all she could say was, “It’s a girl” and fell back asleep. As her hands were on my stomach, the baby gave a good kick and wiggle. That night when I got home and had gone to bed, I received the call that my mom had passed peacefully in her sleep. A few months later our healthy baby girl was born.

While the first few years were filled with a lot of sorrow and sadness, the next years were a whirlwind of having 3 more kids all 18 months to 2 years apart. Our lives were full of activities and just plain busy keeping food on the table and shoes on their feet. The two of us would always laugh when we thought of the awful outlook we were given regarding getting pregnant. We just smile as we watch our kids raising their kids. We sit back and smile realizing what an incredible life we have had so far.

Our marriage has been full of sorrows and blessings and oftentimes just mundane day to day living. Have we had marital issues, arguments, all out fights? You bet we have! So what is the secret of keeping a marriage together 41 years?

I guess there are a few things I can think of that have made it work. The first is getting to marry your best friend. Not that we were best friends the day we said “I Do” on our wedding day. We were still discovering stuff about each other and learning to live together. But as each day would go by, we became friends, really good friends. As life’s ups and downs happened, we shared the journey together. We turned to each other and became best friends. We came to rely on each other for honesty, and comfort.

The other thing that has kept us together all these years is how we set the table. Not the dining table, but the marriage table. It is a matter of what we choose to use as the centerpiece. Just like a beautifully set Thanksgiving table, it is all about the centerpiece. Where the eyes land first. Is there a great turkey setting there, or maybe a flower arrangement? Whatever is the centerpiece will be what will be focused on.

Through all the years of our marriage, we have had several changes of centerpieces on our marriage table. But there is one thing that we have never had. And that is divorce. In our marriage, early on, we made a deal that divorce would never be an option. In doing that, we have had to reach for a lot of side-dishes, like talking it over, arguing, giving in to what was not important and lots and lots of heaping helpings of compromise. By removing divorce as a centerpiece, we always could get filled up on the side dishes. Divorce was never an option so we always had to find another solution.

41 years have gone by. There is little arguing left and mostly our time is spent chatting about life, hobbies, family and the dogs. We are best friends and know the other down to the core of who they are.

I have been so blessed to be able to say I am married to my best friend. I look forward to years ahead. Every person should have the opportunity to marry their best friend. Or become best friends along the way.