The routine

diving off the blocks at a college meet.
My daughter off the blocks at a college duel meet. She’s the one with the pointed toes.

My daughter had a job interview yesterday. She called me afterwards. She brought up a compelling point. They asked her how she handles stress or pressure on the job.

“I go to a private place, take a deep breath and shake it out. Then the anxiety leaves and I can prioritize what needs to be done,” she said.

She told me that was exactly what she did before the interview. She followed her pre-race routine. I’ve seen it a million times. She would stand behind the blocks, shake out her right arm, her left arm. Put her right leg on the blocks and stretch, repeat with the left leg.”

I remembered taking golf lessons when my kids were toddlers. My golf pro established a pre-hit routine for me. Each time I “addressed the ball” I would take two baseball swings with my golf club to loosen up. I’d take a deep breath and stand over the ball.

If you watch swimming, golf, or other sports — you’ll notice most athletes have a routine before they move. It frees their mind from thinking. It’s a signal to put their game face on and react physically, letting go of negative thoughts or any thoughts at all.

Six or seven years ago, I read “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, former wife of Martin Scorsese. She preached about morning routines. I began morning pages back then and have stuck with the routine. When I wake up, I reach for a journal and write three pages of whatever is on my mind. It can be a to do list, about my dreams, my prior day or anything that jumps into my brain. It releases anxiety and clears my head for more creativity.

Also, my morning routine includes prayer and a walk.

I feel centered and grounded and ready to carry on for the rest of the day.

What routines do you have in your life? What benefits do you see?

I had to turn it off

sunrise view in Arizona
Sunrise view from my bedroom. It’s going to be a hot day! Again.

This morning I had the news on in the background and I had to turn it off. Between the shark and alligator attacks I finally lost it when a man got hit by a car and people robbed him while he was lying in the road.

I too was hit as a pedestrian. I was lying on the road inches aways from car tires rushing by my bleeding head. At least I wasn’t robbed!

The reporter kept mentioning that it was a hot summer and therefore would be a crime-filled summer. Does hot equal violence and crime?

I decided to look it up. Here’s an excerpt from the first article I found:

Tracking ambient temperature and crime rates, a Finland study used nearly two decades of data to identify a possible connection between them. Researchers found that temperature changes were responsible for 10 percent of fluctuations in the nation’s crime rates — a 1.7 percent increase in criminal activity for each degree centigrade rise in the temperature. More specifically, the study found that increased serotonin levels resulting from high temperature likely contributed to increased impulsivity and a higher risk of crimes.

https://online.vwu.edu/news/environmental-studies/weather-and-crime/

The reasons why hot weather equals an increase in crime included more opportunity. In freezing winter climates, there aren’t as many opportunities for crime. The other reason was that hot weather increases aggression.

I turned off the TV after I started to feel anxious. I don’t need all this sensationalist selling of soap in my life. I’ve got a busy week and want to have a positive outlook.

What are your thoughts about hot weather and crime? Do you think they are related? Does a heat wave make a crime wave? Do people get “hot under the collar?”

Where did it go?

Mule deer
A mule deer I saw on my morning walk.

When I sat down at my laptop yesterday morning something didn’t look right. The folder on my desktop called “All My Files” wasn’t there. It was there before I went to sleep. Gone 10 hours later.

I googled how to restore files. How to find files. Apparently the OS I’m using can hide documents from view. I went through five ways to find my files. I went to icloud. My missing files are still missing.

Finally. I went to the Apple website to book an appointment at the local “genius bar.” Instead I clicked on “call.” They called within seconds. I spent more than three hours on the phone yesterday with two techs. They searched near and far and in the cloud for my files. They both asked me if I had backed up my files on a thumb drive or external hard drive.

“No.”

What was I thinking about? Why didn’t I? I realized it had to do with our move. My two external hard drives that used to sit by my computer at home….didn’t make it back to that handy place where I used them. Out of sight. Out of mind.

I found my bright orange La Cie external hard drive and it’s now sitting next to my computer. I won’t make the mistake thinking my computer automatically stores all my files on icloud. Some files are there. But the ones most important to me are not. My entire NaNoWriMo 50,000-word manuscript is gone. My newsletter files are gone. There’s a gap of a few days in May when I finished the newsletter that are missing. There’s a month when I wrote the manuscript that is gone.

I had both of these files open on my laptop. Where did they go?

I’ve learned my lesson to make copies and backups.

My case with Apple has been escalated to engineering. They “may” be able to restore my hard drive with all my files. Or they may not.

I’ll let you know tomorrow. In any case they were very helpful and didn’t chastise me for not backing up. But I learned my lesson. What’s left is backed up.

A mule deer catching afternoon shade against our fence. The mulies have nothing to do with my post today — except keep me calm with their beauty.

How often do you backup your computer? Have you experienced a computer snafu that stressed you out? What was it?

No more drama for the momma

I had a terrible night’s sleep last night. Here’s the short version:

My daughter got COVID, she wasn’t at home but was with our friends in Santa Barbara. Our dear friend was making my daughter homemade chicken soup when Waffles the Pug got into the chicken bones.

My daughter decided to not “wait and see” but rushed Waffles to a nearby vet.

She sat in her car while the vet’s aide brought Waffles in. I was on the phone with my daughter, alternating with our friends in Santa Barbara for most of the night. They let her take him home and wanted him back first thing in the a.m. He does indeed have chicken bones in his belly.

It reminded me of another post I wrote about Waffles called “What is it about pugs?”

Here’s an excerpt:

Waffles the pug
Waffles.

My daughter called at 8 a.m. yesterday freaked out because Waffles 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.

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….

More Waffles History:

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.

Waffles as a baby pug
Baby Waffles

I guess it’s a good question. What is it about pugs? Also, as a mom, I’d like to scale back on the drama in my life. I’m terribly worried about my daughter’s health as well as Waffles.

Have you had an animal who is incorrigible and always getting into trouble? What kind of trouble? For my fellow pug owners, do yours act like Waffles and try to put everything in their mouths?

All’s well in newsletter land


Southwestern back yard with pool bar and fountain
A view of our backyard. You can find me most days across the pool on a zero-gravity recliner with a book.

The board meeting was a snap. I get so worked up over nothing. The people were kind. They were nice. I’m making new friends. I now know what’s going on in the neighborhood with landscaping, pickleball and budgets. The people were appreciative that I volunteered with another woman to continue the newsletter. My newsletter partner is making my job easier. She has lots of ideas and gathers information for stories.

Without us stepping up, the newsletter was going to stop.

I finished it in a few hours after the meeting. I’ve emailed it to be proofread and to get feedback. I’m very happy with it. Pleased in fact.

Now I have to wait for the Board’s approval. I’m not anxious anymore. I’m relieved it done.

It’s good to get out of my comfort zone once in awhile. Especially, when I’m getting too comfy on the couch or chaise lounge reading and not wanting to leave the house.

My daughter told me that it’s not normal to worry as much as I do. She said I need therapy.

In any case, I’m very happy and relaxed today. Feeling fine. I’ve beat my husband two days in a row in ping pong, too.

If you missed my post yesterday about losing a night’s sleep being a worry wart, you can read it HERE.

Huge thanks to my son. While I was taking care of him post surgery, I worked on the newsletter (getting everything done except for the Board meeting news). He said, “I love newsletters and doing layouts. Can I work on it? I never get to anymore.” (FYI, he helped with their swim team newsletter and was in charge of the website while in high school.) He put in two hours changing the standard Apple Pages template into something unique. Thank you dear son! They love your work. I couldn’t have done it without you. You know you’re on the hook for each issue, right?

Why do you lose sleep — or do you? What’s the biggest worry in your life right now?

Tossing and turning

bright red desert flowers
Some bright spots of color in our backyard.

I had one of those nights of not being able to stay asleep. It was awful. I looked at the clock at 1 a.m., 3, 4, 5 and 6 a.m. Finally, I gave up. I tried to figure out what was the problem. I couldn’t get comfortable. I was too hot. I had a headache. I felt clammy. I wanted some water. It was always something.

Now that it’s daytime, I’m pushing through my day, though not feeling 100%, I realized my problem with last night was today. I’m having to get out of my comfort zone. I took on my HOA’s newsletter as editor and I have most of it done — except for the front page. I was told that after the HOA board meeting — which is TODAY — the board would give me the information from the meeting. Then I can put the newsletter to bed.

But I got a phone call. They want me to go to the meeting, introduce myself and say something. The board wants to meet me to have me take notes. Ordinarily, this would be no big deal. I had a career of doing newsletters. I don’t know what is it this time? Maybe it’s COVID shut down related. Starting our third year of not having our normal interactions.

Also, I have a new audience for my work and I am insecure if people will like it or not. They’ve had the same person doing the newsletter for 15 years and I’m coming in fresh. Maybe they will want the newsletter the way it was before. The same handful of people have sat on this board of directors for 15 years. They said they want fresh ideas and people, but will they? On the bright side, I’ll finally meet some people in this neighborhood — and that was the point of me taking on this project.

Bright orange tipped desert plants
More color in the backyard.

Do you feel intimidated by new situations and people? Do you push yourself out of your comfort zone? When you do, do you lose sleep over it? What do you lose sleep over?

Stress that’s entering my dreams

Carefree Christmas tree
The Christmas tree in our town circle.

The past few nights, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I wake up frequently in the night, tossing and turning and not being able to fall back to sleep for at least an hour.

Then I have stress dreams. I realized that’s what they were when in one dream my best friend showed me a beautiful ring that she had been given by her husband. She showed me the price tag of $4,000. I set it carefully back on her desk — and then it disappeared! I kept looking under the desk, through the desk drawers, all through the room, on the carpet. I kept going back to her with new ideas of where to look. Finally, I forced myself to wake up and realized it was a dream.

I have similar dreams where I can’t find something. In one I had two nights in a row, I was looking for a friend chicken place but couldn’t remember the name. I typed in In-N-Out on google maps to get directions to the chicken place. Only in a dream right? It had me driving for hours trying to find the restaurant.

I think it’s the pressure of Christmas vacation coming up including the nine-hour drive we’ll take this week. I absolutely hate driving and I have high anxiety over long car rides. Then there’s the worry that our family will all make it to the house we rented where we’re going to spend the week. The kids and girlfriend’s family are all driving from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara.

Then I worry about getting into the Airbnb house and also worry that the owner ripped us off and I’ve got 12 people to house for Christmas.

Once we make the drive and get settled, I’m sure this anxiety will leave. It helps a bit to write about it, too. The absurdity of my worries and dreams are exposed.

For example, my son’s car is in the shop and I worried about how he and his girlfriend would make it for Christmas. I started googling everything from Amtrak, flights and Greyhound.

I asked my daughter how they were getting down to Santa Barbara. She said “We had a group chat last night and the nine of us have it all figured out.” Of course. They are all adults. They don’t need mommy to fix it. One worry off my list.

Do you think stress is common over the holidays? Or is it a result of being isolated for so long that makes it more stressful this year to gather — and the news of COVID spiking?