One of those days…

This tree is blooming in our courtyard. My husband thought it was dead when we moved in December and was going to have it removed. I insisted he wait until spring or summer to see what happens. I was right.

We had to replace an air conditioner last week. Our handyman who is the best, specializes in AC repair and installation. I asked if I could pay him with Venmo. He said to use Zelle. I’ve only used Zelle a few times before with our handyman in Palm Springs.

I paid him with Zelle six days ago.This morning he called me and said he never got the money. I checked my account online and the money left my account. I took a screen shot to show him. It showed it going to him. He called me back later to tell me that he called his WF bank and there was no trace of the money.

I called my WF bank — actually 800 number — and they saw the money going out, but they don’t know where it went. I filed a claim and they said they’d get my money back into my account within 10 days.

I called our handyman back to update him. I also told him I’d pay him using Venmo. After three times of Venmo declining my payment, I decided to send a little money to my daughter to test it out. Venmo worked going to her. I tried Venmoing the handyman again and it was declined. Maybe it has something to do with the claim I filed.

I gave up. I wrote him a check and addressed an envelope the old fashioned way. I have spent the last three hours dealing with this and I’m very frustrated. That’s why I’m posting some flowers I noticed earlier today. They are a bright spot during my aggravating fight with technology.

What recent technology frustrations have you dealt with?

These blue flowers are lovely and are right next to our driveway.

What is it with pugs?

Waffles the pug
Waffles last July on our Park City vacation.

My daughter called at 8 a.m. yesterday freaked out because Waffles the pug wouldn’t eat breakfast. If you know anything about pugs this is a serious sign something is wrong. I asked if she’d taken him for a walk and if he’d eaten some grass. She said, yes, he ate grass and threw up but he was still obviously in distress.

I asked if she was taking him to the vet. She said they were on the way to the emergency hospital.

It was a long day. They didn’t see Waffles until 2 p.m. My daughter missed work as a tutor which made me nervous. She’s been at this job less than a month. But what choice did she have?

That evening she called me crying hysterically. Oh no. They gave Waffles an ultrasound and found a mass in his small intestine. It wasn’t moving so they’d have to operate. They also told her it was risky because he’s a pug and they don’t always do well with anesthesia. They said he’d die without the surgery.

I haven’t been this worried since Friday getting driving through the hail storm. But this was worse. What would happen to my daughter if Waffles didn’t make it?

Waffles had surgery last night. The surgery was successful. The object was a piece of wood. What is it with pugs having to put everything in their mouths? They think anything on the ground is food. They are 100% motivated by food.

Last year when Waffles was with us during COVID shut down he ate half a package of pork chops that my husband put in the sun to defrost — styrofoam and plastic wrap included. He ate poisonous berries from the ficus tree and ended up in the ER. When my daughter was in college, he ate an adderall one of my daughter’s college friends had dropped on the floor. Another ER visit.

Waffles the pug
Waffles the pug

It’s not like he’s not well taken care of, but he is incorrigible. It literally takes one second for him to put something he shouldn’t into his mouth while you’re not looking. My daughter is blaming herself. I’ve told her it’s not her fault.

I’m relieved Waffles survived surgery. But now he’s having trouble with congestion with his flat nose. They want to keep him longer because they have to siphon out his nose every few minutes. I’m hoping for the best for Waffles and my daughter.

What happens if the emotional support animal doesn’t make it? That’s a question I’ve wrestled with overnight. My son told me this morning, “My view of dog ownership is setting yourself up for heartbreak in nine or so years.” He’s got a point.

Waffles as a baby pug
Baby Waffles

Hail storm in July!

Hail storm

Friday we left for a two-hour drive to celebrate our anniversary in the cool mountain town of Flagstaff, Ariz. We were looking forward to getting out of the heat, exploring a new area, hiking, dining, and staying at our favorite hotel brand, Little America.

Halfway to Flagstaff, we were entranced with big dark clouds that had long threads of rain hanging from them. Then there was a thunderclap and it started to rain. The rain turned into hail within minutes. It sounded like our car was being hit by golf balls. I was scared out of my mind.

My husband asked me to turn on the hazard flashers. My hands shook so badly I couldn’t do it. I began praying the Hail Mary!

We saw cars pull over on the right shoulder of the two-lane highway. But there was a cliff on that side and the visibility was getting awful. We were in the left lane where there wasn’t room to pull over, just a ditch.

Visibility went to zero. My husband drove at one mile per hour, completely blind to what lie ahead. He said he didn’t want to stop in case someone barreled into us.

The hail turned back into rain and when we made it to Flagstaff it was sunny and close to 100 degrees. What a July.

At the hotel, shaken and exhausted, we inspected the car. It’s dented all over the hood, roof and trunk.

What type of freak weather have you experienced? I thought our snow when we first moved to Scottsdale was odd.

About well-meaning friends….

black and white photo of four high school girls in 1978
Me on the left my senior year of high school when I was fearless.

What to think when well-meaning friends tell you something you don’t want to hear, but they think they’re doing it for the best reasons.

This happened to me earlier this week. I was hurt. I cried. I called my daughter and she said my well-meaning friend was coming from a place of kindness. Her intentions were good.

Does that make it okay?

I’ve been mulling this over in my head all week. It’s made me feel angry, insecure, unsure about myself. Unsure about my friendship. It’s made me doubt myself.

I spent time with this friend for the first time of any length in about 15 years. Apparently she saw something in my demeanor or how I carried myself that caused her concern. She didn’t tell me in person, but texted me a day later. She told me to make an appointment with a neurologist. And she didn’t give me a clear idea why, just asked me to do it. I would have appreciated her diagnoses or a precise description of what she saw.

Of course, I’ve changed in the last 15 years. A couple years ago I had a ski accident. My knee has never been the same and although I walk, swim and cycle — I do so tentatively, with pain and instability. Menopause has left me fearful and with bouts of anxiety. Unlike I was prior to the days my friend and I hung out. This past COVID year has knocked the stuffing out of me, too. Am I rationalizing? Am I defending myself for not being the person I was years ago? Yes. I wonder how awful I must have looked or weird or who knows??? I think I just want to hide and cry some more.

Both my kids say her intentions come from concern and just go to the doctor and find out.

view from hike at Lake Pleasant AZ
Hiking in my new state of Arizona at Lake Pleasant.

What are your thoughts of well-meaning friends telling you what you don’t want to hear?

A scare during a weekend in paradise

View of Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe from a baot
Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.

This past weekend I went to Lake Tahoe, Nevada for the first time. We have friends who lived near us in Palm Springs who also have a house in Tahoe. They sold their California home like we did this past year and we discovered our new Arizona homes are less than a mile from each other. We got together as new neighbors before they headed for the cool Lake Tahoe weather — and they insisted we come visit them.

Lake Tahoe view
View from our friend’s kitchen.

We finally did it! I was a little apprehensive because although we’ve been friends for years, we don’t have a “stay with them in their home” type of friendship. I’m close with the wife through our school parenting days, but our husbands have only met during formal school related events.

Anyway, it turned out to be a memorable, fun, amazing gorgeous weekend of hiking, boating, eating, touring and building on our friendship. I can’t get over what a perfect weekend it was.

Until I got the phone call.

The unknown number came in while we were on their gorgeous speed boat. The day so far had included a morning hike, mooring the boat for lunch — in front of their private country club’s lake house — a $10 million house that had been renovated as a restaurant and place to hang out on the lake. Access to it is through their golf membership — although it’s miles from the golf course. Next, we toured Emerald Bay and then anchored at Rubicon Bay, which had turquoise blue water, warm enough for a quick dip. I’m not sure where the next stop was going to be.

Turquoise water of Rubicon Bay Lake Tahoe
Rubicon Bay where we went swimming.

We pulled up anchor and were racing through the water to our next destination when I answered the call. It was hard to hear over the roar of the boat’s engines, I was breaking up to the person on the other end. I finally heard that my dad had pushed the button on the device I insisted he wear around his neck. They said they called him and he wasn’t answering. Then the phone went dead. After three attempts, I got the rest of the story. Dispatch was on their way to my dad’s house.

wake from a speed boat on Lake Tahoe

I tried calling my dad. The phone was answered but it was pure static and garbled. I tried again. No answer.

My friends told me to wait to call until they got me to a place with more bars for cell reception.

I was shaking. I felt so helpless. What could I do for my dad while racing around in an exotic boat on Lake Tahoe? How quickly could I get a flight to Palm Springs? Why had I moved away from him? Maybe my brother was right after all. My brother has been insisting that I move dad to Arizona to be closer to me. Dad is turning 90 next year and my brother said that he can’t live alone because of his age. That’s when I insisted my dad get the “help I’ve fallen button” to wear around his neck. I also hired a friend to stop by and see if he wants her to run to the store or do anything for him.

Up until that moment, I disagreed with my brother. My dad lives in a senior community near Palm Springs. He golfs three times a week, has friends (who are currently out of town), takes ukulele lessons, drives his golf cart around, and he started a new hobby of remote controlled yacht racing last year. He’s happy. He’s active. He’s engaged.

If I were to move him to Arizona, what would he do? Sit in my casita and watch TV? Or alone in an apartment with no friends? Wait for me to play golf with him at the surrounding super expensive golf courses — instead of his current situation of getting out to play a few holes at affordable rates whenever he wants? I honestly think he’s happier in his own environment. And I believe he can make a decision about where he lives. At least that’s what I thought until I got the call.

Lake Tahoe Lake House for lunch.
View from the country club’s lake house where we had lunch.

Back to the boat….I called my dad when we were in an area where I got better reception. Dad answered. He said it was a false call. He had been working on the misting cooling system on his golf cart and accidentally pressed the button leaning on something. He also said he called the company to tell them it was a false alarm, but they put him on hold! He said dispatch had come and was ready to haul him to the hospital, but they figured out he was fine.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was. And I don’t think it’s time to take him out of his own home and active lifestyle. Not yet.

What are your thoughts about leaving aging parents in their own homes versus moving them to live closer or with you?

Is it genetics or performance pressure ?

swimmer with JO medal
My daughter with a Junior Olympic medal as a young teen.

Yesterday I wrote about Amy Osaka and her withdrawal from the French Open due to her taking care of her mental health. You can read that post here.

Immediately after I posted that story, I ran across a SwimSwam article about a swimmer retiring because of her mental health. I remember this swimmer because she was at the big meets in Southern California as one of the youngest, if not the youngest swimmer entered — and she was from Virginia! She was very fast, too. She held the national age group record for 11-12 years olds in the mile.

“Isabella Rongione announced the end of her competitive swimming career, opening up about her personal struggles and the need to put her mental health first.”

PAC-12 STANDOUT ISABELLA RONGIONE RETIRES, OPENS UP ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
by Jared Anderson SWIMSWAM

Rongione shared the news in an Instagram post this week. Her last swim came in December of 2018, the month before Rongione says he was admitted to treatment following a suicide attempt.

“My mental health had to be the priority over the past couple years and I never was able to fully commit to getting back into the pool,” Rongione writes.

“To all those athletes dealing with mental health issues — make sure to take the time you need in order to heal yourself properly.”

There are many famous athletes who suffer from depression including Michael Phelps, Amy Osaka, Allison Schmitt (Olympic swimmer) and Serena Williams. You can read about 10 of these athletes here. I wonder if it’s genetics or the pressure with being an athlete at such a young age?

My daughter who was a swimmer at a high level (college scholarship athlete and high school All American) suffered from anxiety and then depression while swimming in college. She swam competitively from age five through 22 — when her shoulder gave up on her.

Looking back, we were such enthusiastic parents cheerleading her swim career along the way. It was exciting and took over a lot of our family’s life. Did we create an unsustainable path for her? What happens when the swim career, the center of her world and identity ends? Or in the case of someone like Amy Osaka or Isabella Rongione, is the pressure to perform too much?

Here’s a study published online from Cambridge University by Lynette Hughes and Gerard Leavey called Setting the bar: athletes and vulnerability to mental illness.

Risk factors for athletes

“Although moderate or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is important in the prevention of and recovery from mental and physical health problems, when performed more intensely at ‘professional/elite’ levels, physical activity can compromise health. 1,5 Beyond the national prestige, fame and glory of Olympic success lies the darker side of overexposure to elite sport such as overtraining, injury, burnout, increased risk for sudden cardiac death and other non-cardiovascular conditions such as respiratory symptoms, iron deficiency, increased incidence of allergies, immunological suppression and infection, gastrointestinal symptoms, diabetes mellitus and eating disorders. 6

“Athletes may also be vulnerable to mental illness for several reasons. First, the social world of many organised elite sports is one that requires investments of time and energy, often resulting in a loss of personal autonomy and disempowerment for athletes. 7 The elite-sport environment can result in ‘identity-foreclosure’ leaving athletes few other avenues through which to shape and reflect personality. 7 High athletic identity has been linked to psychological distress when this function of identity is removed, and to overtraining and athlete burnout. 7 The latter conditions strongly correlate with affective disorders such as major depressive disorder.”

I also read that 30% of NCAA athletes report having depression. It could have only gotten worse this past year.

young swimmer getting medals from coach.
My daughter, age 5, receiving medals, ribbons and applause from her coach after a swim meet.

What are your thoughts about athletes and depression? Do you think it’s genetics? Performance pressure? Or both?

10 and unders relay team with medals at JOs
My daughter’s relay team after winning third place at Junior Olympics in Southern California.

Amy Osaka — did she make the right decision?

Waffles the pug
Waffles, my daughter’s emotional support animal, has given her much needed comfort this past year.

I read this piece about Amy Osaka today. I’ve seen her name in the news, but until this morning I hadn’t read the stories. What I gleaned, the 23-year-old tennis super star is suffering from mental health issues and doesn’t want to speak to the press. She knew she’d be fined, she was okay with that. But in the end, she decided to withdraw from the French Open. I was interested in Osaka’s story because depression and anxiety are not foreign in my family tree. Here’s more from the article:

“Mental difficulty can be mysterious, even to the sufferer. We’re also still amid a pandemic in which ordinary interactions with other people have been stifled, and routines and lives have been disrupted. If you’re doing OK, it’s tempting to think everyone else should be doing OK, too. That’s not the way it goes, however. A little bit of empathy can go a long way.”

Listening to Naomi Osaka
Sports are getting more attuned to mental health, but there’s still a long way to go
Wall Street Journal By Jason Gay
Updated June 2, 2021 8:44 am ET

“On the matter of Naomi Osaka and the French Open: I suspect a day will come when people will look back upon this moment and be mystified by how agitated it all got, how a player opting out of routine press conferences and deciding to leave a tournament because of concern about her own mental health became such a global uproar. I suspect there will be a time in the future when an athlete’s revelation of depression and anxiety—or anyone’s revelation of depression and anxiety—won’t launch a zillion casual diagnoses or judgments about an alleged lack of mettle.

“I think (I hope!) we’re going to reach a point that when a person says they’re in mental distress, we will just…listen.

“But we’re not there yet. 

“We’re not there yet because mental health in sports, like in many occupations and environments, remains a complicated, under-discussed subject, still wrapped in stigma and dated notions about toughness and “gutting it out.” We’re getting better, no doubt about it—more workplaces are offering mental-health resources for employees, and in sports, Osaka has been preceded by star athletes like Michael Phelps, Abby Wambach, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, who have openly discussed mental-health battles of their own. 

“It’s a work in progress, however. The awkward debate over Osaka’s departure signals that athletes and sports are still figuring this out. We’re not yet ready to nurture mental health in the way we do a pulled hamstring or badly sprained ankle.”

I read another article from the Wall Street Journal about how employers are trying to accommodate younger employees who are much more open about their mental health:

“Naomi Osaka did something this week that would be unthinkable in many workplaces. Citing her struggles with depression and social anxiety, she said she wouldn’t be able to carry out what some see as a key part of a professional tennis player’s job: talking to the press.

What Happens When Mental-Health Issues Get in the Way of Work
Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open is a public example of a private issue facing many companies By Te-Ping Chen
June 3, 2021 7:31 am ET

“The 23-year-old Ms. Osaka—the world’s highest-paid female athlete—isn’t a typical professional, nor is the French Open a traditional workplace. But Ms. Osaka’s openness about her mental-health struggles is a public example of private issues companies are increasingly facing as a young generation more candid about such challenges joins the workforce, employers say.

“Companies have been adjusting to meet employees’ needs with more mental-health support and services in recent years. Yet Ms. Osaka’s announcement and subsequent tournament withdrawal highlights an especially thorny question: How can an individual’s mental-health needs be accommodated when those needs affect the ability to do parts of the job?”

Waffles and my daughter at the beach
Waffles with my daughter at the beach last summer.

What are your thoughts about Amy Osaka? Should the tennis world have given her accommodations for her mental health? Or, did she make the correct decision to step back and take care of herself? Do you think employers should give accommodations to employees who are suffering from mental illness just as they would physical ailments?

I wrote a post a few years ago about the GOAT Michael Phelps and his struggles with depression after hearing him speak in the Palm Springs area. You can read that article here.