A sign things are “normal”

backyard downtown Palm Springs
Our old backyard in Palm Springs with a view of Mt. San Jacinto

When we lived in Palm Springs, Calif. which is one of the hottest spots in our nation — next to Death Valley — we used movies as an escape from the heat. It didn’t matter what was playing, we’d find something we were mildly interested in. It got us out of the house where we spent most days.

Then COVID hit and movie theaters were closed. I missed movies a lot. I loved the smell of popcorn when you walk through the theater doors. I loved the few hours sitting in the dark, watching the big screen with unbelievable sound.

I remember writing during the shutdown that the first thing I wanted to do when things reopened was go to the movies.

Fast forward to September 2022 — and we hadn’t been yet. The reason why? I was uncomfortable sitting in the theater with a bunch of strangers. Once we moved, the theater was a 30-minute drive, not a few blocks. The Phoenix area has 6 million people, rather than the 48,000 of Palm Springs. Whenever I looked online, the theaters were full.

Labor Day was packed at the beach. We went early and left when floods of people set up their umbrellas and chairs. We came up with the brilliant idea of going to the movies!

We saw Top Gun. I loved every minute of it. I felt like it was a milestone of getting back to “normal.”

What was first on your list to do post shutdown?

Is it possible to manage thoughts?

The Movie Colony Palm Springs
The view of Mt. San Jacinto during my morning walk in my Palm Springs neighborhood.

Yesterday after reading LA’s Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50s blog, I remembered writing about how to manage thoughts. Here’s link to LA’s blog post.

This is what I learned about managing thoughts:

I was listening to a webinar on my morning walk and when I got home, I had to jot down a few notes. The talk was from one of my favorite sports parenting experts, David Benzel, from Growing Champions for Life. The topic was “Teaching Kids to Manage Their Thoughts.” It had great information to help your kids manage negative self talk and to get them on the right path when they beat themselves up. Benzel said he got most of the information for this webinar from a book called Managing Thought by Mary Lore.

It also had a lot of great stuff for adults, too. Adults and children alike can get bogged down with negative thoughts about themselves. How often have you told yourself, “I’m not good enough,” or something else similar? If we can recognize that our brain is creating 55,000 thoughts per day and we can separate ourselves from them, they will lose their power. When a negative thought pops up, we can say “Where did that come from?” or “Is that useful for me to accomplish my goal?”

Benzel also said that negative thoughts spread like a disease and once you have one, more and more will pop up. Also, our thoughts are a choice. We can choose instead to rephrase a negative thought into a a positive one. If our child says “I don’t want to fail the math test,” instead they can say, “I will finish my homework and ask for help.”  Benzel made the point when we focus on what we don’t want, the more we focus on it, the more likely it will happen.

Now to the part where I was so impressed that I had to write it down: “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you do these four things, you’ll be happier, more positive and your relationships with others will improve.

ONE

Be impeccable with your word.

TWO

Don’t take anything personally.

THREE

Make no assumptions.

FOUR

Always do your best.

Those seem so simple, but aren’t they valuable? For example, if someone says something you feel is hurtful, don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s more of a reflection of what that person is going through. We shouldn’t make assumptions about people’s motives or intent. Instead we should investigate and ask questions. Try to learn where the person is coming from. As far as always doing your best, your best may change from day to day. Do the best you can on that particular day.

Palm trees in Palm Springs
Views from my morning walk in my old neighborhood.

What do you think of the “Four Agreements?” Do you think it’s possible to manage your thoughts? What tips can you share?

The things we believed — at first

masking with fabric
When we first were wearing masks, I used quilting fabric, which we now know isn’t that helpful. Here I am at the park in Palm Springs by my old home.

We spent Father’s Day at our friends who moved unbeknownst to us from Palm Springs to a mile from our new Arizona home. We played bocce ball, cooled off in their pool and ate a delicious dinner of bbq’d pork ribs.

At some point in the conversation I mentioned that we took Vitamin D3 every day because it’s supposed to help protect us from COVID.

My girlfriend’s husband who is a newly retired doctor said, “Where did you hear that? That makes zero sense. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. How do strong bones help with COVID?”

I humbly replied that I had read it everywhere. I couldn’t point to a specific source, but it was a common theme I heard repeatedly from people I knew and news sources.

When I got home, I googled it. Early on during the pandemic, researchers believed that Vitamin D helped. Now there are extensive studies that show there’s no evidence or correlation that Vitamin D protects people from the SARS virus.

I thought about other things that have changed through the last two years as scientists learned more about the dreaded disease.

First, we were told that it could last on objects for hours or even days. This resulted in our city pool being shut down, playground equipment and the tennis courts closed to the public. A few skate parks in Southern California were filled with sand to encourage social distancing.

playground equipment with yellow tape
This was the playground equipment at our park during the shut down.

Now we know that the virus doesn’t sit for hours on inanimate objects and it would have been healthier for kids to play on the playground — rather than being isolated in their homes.

A friend of mine would unpack her groceries from the cart and wipe them all down with bleach or alcohol before she loaded them into her car.

I know a lot of people who told me they’d strip off their clothes inside their front door when they returned, jumped into the shower and washed their clothes. That was especially true for people who were “essential workers” and had to work with the public.

I wore cloth masks such as the quilting fabric in the photo above — and my husband wore a bandana.

What are some of the things you did when the pandemic first hit that you later found out weren’t effective?

bungee swimming in pool
My daughter using the bungee in our backyard pool since the city pool was closed.

It’s time to kick

Two mornings in a row it’s been too hot to walk. I convinced my husband to kick with me in the pool. He set his timer for 30 minutes and off we went. I didn’t want to swim freestyle because I had just washed my hair. I know that sounds prissy, but I can’t stand washing my hair every day. So I put my hair up and kicked until my lower back hurt and my legs got sore.

A really cool coincidence is friends from Palm Springs moved one mile from us in Arizona three months after we moved. This was without knowledge of each other moving. The friend and I were school moms at the Catholic school our kids attended. They lived only a few blocks from us in Palm Springs and I golfed weekly with this friend.

We lost touch with each other when we both got hyper involved with our kids’ sports. My kids were swimmers — their kids were hockey players.

Hockey led them out of town to Anaheim where there was a competitive team. We lacked hockey in Palm Springs.

This past weekend they invited us over for a birthday party. We spent a couple hours sitting and standing in the pool while wasps swarmed around us. My friend’s husband stood in the pool with a can of Raid trying to keep the wasps at bay. It was a fun afternoon, but today I have sunburned hands.

My husband said everyone but me kept their hands in the water. I apparently talk with my hands. We were laughing and talking and I was gesturing all over the place. I’ve never had sunburned hands before.

The weekend before we had them over and I cooked sea bass, grilled corn on the cob, asparagus and a brown and wild rice dish. It was another fun night of friendship and laughter.

I feel a connection to this couple unlike the new friends I’ve made in our neighborhood through book club, the newsletter and coffee. It’s because we go back for decades, raised our kids together and have shared memories. It’s also amazing that we ended up in homes so close together because we are out in the sticks a good 30-minute drive north of Scottsdale.

What friends do you feel the most connection with and why?

Is it ok not to go?

swimming pool in Palm Springs
The 50-meter pool in Palm Springs that was one mile from our old house.

I have a reservation to swim in an hour. I don’t feel like going. I swam two days ago and I felt wonderful during and after my swim.

But today I’m weighing the idea that I don’t HAVE to go. If I decide to stay home and read a book in my back yard, I’m not any less of a person. But I’m torn. I feel guilty for not going. I know I should go. I remember I wrote about something similar years ago in a post “I don’t have to, I get to.” It was about appreciating what we have and that we are able to do things.

Every morning I walk, then I either play ping pong or pickleball a few times a week as well as swim. At my age is it okay to slow down and say no thanks, not today? Or should I say “I get to swim today” and just go?

What are your thoughts? What would you do?

Use it or lose it!

Tuesday gray rainy day.
A gray rainy, stormy Tuesday.

I tried my first exercise class in years at the YMCA Monday. It was an hour-long class called “Barre Above.”

From the “Barre Above” website it says:

What is “barre”?

While many interpret barre workouts differently, most barre workouts are a fusion of yoga, Pilates, strength training, and ballet. Barre classes incorporate specific sequencing patterns and isometric movements that target specific muscle groups. This pattern of exercise helps to improve strength, balance, flexibility and posture.

https://www.barreabove.com/

I loved it. I caught myself smiling in the mirror even though getting through the class was a struggle. I took ballet as an adult from my 20s into my 50s. I stopped because the dance studio closed and the instructor moved. I didn’t find another studio that fit my schedule.

I love ballet. I began as a child and would never have stopped but my mom quit taking me. My ballet studio was close to an hour away from our small town. As I grew older, class went from once a week to two, then three and four. My mom stopped when I got my first pointe shoes and needed to be at rehearsal daily for a recital. One of my ballet slippers fell out of my ballet bag — and my mom grew impatient as I searched for it.

“You’re obviously not interested anymore,” Mom said. And that was that.

I don’t think parents in the 1970s were as obsessed with getting their kids to activities like many of us were in the 2000s and 2010s.

When I was a freshman at the University of Washington, I signed up for ballet my first quarter and fell in love with ballet again.

Back to Monday. I loved the class. I didn’t think I’d survive, but I made the entire hour. Then Tuesday morning hit. Yikes!

My husband gave me a hug as I struggled to get my legs underneath me. My shoulders were stuck around my ears. He heated up the lavendar-weighted shoulder wrap and I eventually got out of bed.

Tuesday, I had reserved a lane at the Y. Rain and thunder and lightening raged all night and morning. Then right before my lane time, the sun broke out. I checked my iphone and I had one hour until rain and thunder was supposed to return.

The sun hovered over the pool, while dark clouds circled like sharks. I had a “shake out” relaxing swim where my sore muscle pain eased. I got out early before the storm hit feeling quite proud of myself.

Since joining the YMCA, I learned that I am terribly out of shape. It’s time for me to use it or lose it!

The rain arrived after my sunny swim at the YMCA.

What sports or activities did you enjoy as a child that you continued into adulthood? Which ones did you stop? Did you take your kids to athletics or other activities while they were growing up? What was their favorite activity?

Going home

View of Ruth Hardy Park Palm Springs
Ruth Hardy Park, Palm Springs with Mt. San Jacinto in the background. The park I visited every day for 28 years.

My days of mothering my kids is over — at least for now. I opted for a one-way ticket from Oakland to my old home town Palm Springs where I was picked up by my husband. We had dinner with friends at our favorite restaurant Spencer’s and spent the night at my dad’s. We drove home together to Arizona today.

This is the first time I’ve returned since moving a year and two months ago. Looking out the plane window at Mt. San Jacinto, the landmark of Palm Springs, I felt emotional. I wasn’t expecting that.

We met dear friends for coffee, then my husband and I walked around the park that was blocks from our old home. Every morning for decades I walked around the park. I spent hours with the kids at the park when they were young. I thought I’d see some familiar faces, but they were all new.

Then we walked around our old neighborhood and our house.

hedge and palm trees outside Palm Springs.
The hedge outside our old home.
Tall pony tail palm.
Outside the hedge and backyard is our ponytail palm. That’s me next to it. We brought it with us two-feet high in a pot when we moved into this house close to 30 years ago.
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I couldn’t believe our ponytail palm. It was two-feet tall when we moved into our old home. Think how many other things changed in our lives during that growth of that plant during the years there. We thought about moving it to Arizona with us, but thought better of it. It might not have liked the change or the trip in the moving van. It felt like leaving a part of the family behind. My husband had this palm before he met me. It sat in a pot in our first home and an apartment before that. When someone dug a ponytail palm out of our yard, we decided to let this guy free from its pot by the pool and planted it in the spot of the stolen one. In ten years it grew from two feet to 10 feet. Look at it now!

Pony Tail Palm
This was taken right before we moved a little over a year ago.

After visiting with friends, walking through my old haunts, I got through my emotions. It’s a beautiful neighborhood and town, but I can go back and visit anytime.

Have you returned to visit a place you lived or vacationed before? Have you been emotional about it or not?