Conflicted about Christmas

Christmas in Palm Sprigs
Christmas decorations in our Palm Springs home.

In a couple days, we’ll be leaving to have Christmas with my kids, dad and our son’s girlfriend’s family. Our kids suggested Palm Springs, where we moved from exactly two years ago this week. Last year we gathered in Santa Barbara, which was a fun — if not rainy and cold adventure.

I’m conflicted over Palm Springs. After leaving, I don’t have a strong desire to return. I don’t know if it’s an emotional response. If it brings up too many memories. If I miss it, or if I don’t miss it. It makes me feel things I don’t want to feel.

For the kids, who never wanted us to move from Palm Springs, my husband agreed to rent an Airbnb a few blocks from our old home. It’s all for them, not us.

What I’m looking foward to:

Seeing our big extended family.

Walking around my old park.

Swimming in my former city pool.

Going to my old favorite restaurants for a taste of Mexican food and Italian. We haven’t found any good spots here.

Do you think it’s true that you can never go home again? Why or why not?

Wreath on our old wooden gate
The wreath I made on our gates at the Palm Springs house which was built in 1937.

Time Flies!

It’s official. We left California for Arizona two years ago! I can’t believe how quickly our years flew by — and in some respects how long it has seemed.

Here’s what I thought about moving two years ago today:



Moving van
The moving van arrived.

Friday was moving day. Our movers arrived at 9 a.m. and we thought it would be a couple hours and we’d hit the road. No, we were wrong. By 5 p.m. the movers realized their truck was full and we still had a bunch of stuff in the garage like bikes, a wheelbarrow and my daughter’s desk. Plus the STORAGE UNIT where we’ve been squirreling away boxes and stuff for months.

Yikes! The movers had to rent a U-Haul and we gave them the keys to our storage unit. Of course there weren’t any U-Hauls in town and they had to drive to San Diego or some place to find a U-Haul. They said they’d come back to our California house the next morning and pick up the rest of our stuff in the garage when our housekeeper and dear friend Delia would be cleaning.

We drove to Arizona and our new home, minus our furniture that night. We thankfully packed suitcases and bedding. Our fellow swim team parents and close friends drove one of our cars packed to the hilt, plus their car complete with all the stuff from our freezer and fridge. Now, those are true friends who volunteer to drive an 8-hour round trip to make our move easier!

I have driving anxiety and panic attacks driving on freeways. I couldn’t face the four-hour drive on Interstate 10. Our daughter promised to fly down from SFO and drive one car and help us unpack. Then California went into lockdown. Our daughter didn’t feel good about flying. So our friends volunteered to help us out and meanwhile our daughter’s supposed flight was cancelled. It all worked out in the end.

moving boxes in house
Our new living room. So much work to do!

We got to our Arizona home at 10:30 p.m. We unpacked our suitcases, settled into bed around midnight exhausted beyond comprehension. Thank goodness we bought the furniture in the casita from the sellers. Otherwise, we’d have been on the floor. We never saw our friends who drove our car for us. They not only drove our car, but they filled our fridge with all our condiments, frozen foods and perishables — before heading back to California.

The next day, the moving van and U-haul arrived at 2 p.m. We worked throughout the weekend to get the kitchen in order and our closet organized. Kitty is stressed and hiding under the bed in the casita, where we’ve been living.

pink skies at sunset in Arizona
My new backyard as the sun begins to set.

I don’t recommend moving after living in one house for 28 years. It’s an unusually hard task, mentally and physically. But, when we’re more settled the sunsets will make it all worthwhile.

Cactus Arizona sunset
Sunset and saguaros in the neighborhood.

What’s the longest you’ve lived in one place? How did you handle packing and going through years of stuff when you moved? Did you think of moving during the COVID shutdowns? A lot of people did move.

What is causing this crisis?

Olive the cat keeps me calm.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday while driving to and from the post office with my Frango client gifts. I didn’t hear all of it, but what I did hear was disturbing. Our youth are in a mental health crisis. One in five contemplate suicide. Suicide is skyrocketing. Mental health has reached a crisis level and there is a shortage of mental health care professionals.

The podcast was quoting from a recent Washington Post article. (I’m not a subscriber so I looked for other free resources online.)

New research shows the number of teens with suicidal thoughts were already rapidly growing before the pandemic’s mental health impact.

The number of 5 to 19-year-olds who were hospitalized with suicidal thoughts jumped almost 60% between fall 2019 to fall 2020. 

“We need to really start thinking about the root of it all and looking at how we can prevent and intervene a lot sooner for our youth,” said Dr. Brewer.

https://www.fox13now.com/news/national/more-youth-showing-up-to-ers-struggling-with-mental-health-crises

When I was growing up, I didn’t hear much about mental health or suicidal thoughts in youth. I’m sure it was happening, but not talked about. But I’m also sure it wasn’t at crisis proportions that it is today.

What do you believe the cause is? What has changed from decades ago to today that affects mental health? Was it isolation due to COVID? Is it isolation due to smart phones? Is it bullying online? What other causes? Please discuss.

It’s going swimmingly

bungee swimming in pool
My daughter using a bungee in our old backyard pool when the city pool was closed due to COVID.

Yesterday while I was fighting anxiety — I had a reservation for lap swimming. I looked forward to going to the pool and swimming a few laps. I knew it would help.

The day was gorgeous with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Everything looked washed clean after two days of rain.

I got to the pool 15 minutes early and lo and behold! There was only one person swimming instead of the usual five. The coveted middle lane was empty!

I quickly put my gear — fins, pool buoy, kickboard and Hyrdoflask — on the deck in front of the center lane. The reason why the center lane is best is it’s a single lane. They allow two swimmers in the other lanes. I tend to run into the wall or hit the lane line while sharing.

Since starting over with swimming, I’m at a measly 1,000 yards. That used to be my warm-up when I swam with a coach and a team. It’s harder swimming without a coach and people to push you. But I’m working on consistency with showing up. If it’s only 1,000, at least it’s a place where I can build from.

A man entered the one empty lane. I kept my head down and swam, thankful that nobody had to share that day.

“You’re slowing down,” he said to me later.

“I’m almost done!” I said. I was at 950 yards.

“No getting out. Don’t be a slacker,” the man said.

I kept swimming, embarrassed to get out. Finally, I was getting tired at 1,400 yards. The man was at the opposite end of the pool so I quickly got out before he guilted me into more yardage.

When he was back at the wall I explained that I normally swam 1,000 yards but had swam 1,400. He replied with fist raised in the air “YES!”

I came home tired, free from anxiety and had an amazing night’s sleep.

In what areas do you find it helpful to be pushed by other people?

Or do you push yourself all on your own?

What’s causing anxiety?

Beach in Mexico
Beach in Mexico.

I woke up this morning with anxiety. In fact, I woke up several times during the night. I tried to figure out what I’m anxious about. Is it the world’s confusion and troubles? Is it the upcoming elections? Is it the economy and high prices? Is it the fact we’re leaving for a short vacation this week and I have a lot to get done before we leave?

Probably all of the above.

We are headed down to Mexico with another couple. I’m anxious because a year ago I didn’t know this couple. I’m sure we’ll all know each other much better by the time we return!

The husband is the brother of one of my husband’s best friends. I’m talking about our friend who died Thanksgiving 2021 from Valley Fever. He introduced me to my husband going on 40 years ago. I first met this couple at the services. We’ve made a commitment to keep memories of our friend alive and get together from time to time.

If you get anxious, what is it that triggers anxiety?

Would you go on vacation with people you weren’t that close to?

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?”