Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Feeling Overwhelmed

I have talked to so many people lately who are emotionally exhausted by this pandemic. The days stretched into weeks, which have now stretched into months, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. I know that not everyone has been quarantining as vigilantly as my family has, but for us this has felt like a loop that we just can’t break out from; like our own version of the movie Ground Hog Day.


With Covid-19 cases rising all across the country, and an election that has divided our nation like nothing since the civil war, we are all feeling a bit overwhelmed; trying to find calm in a sea of chaos. 

One of the hardest parts of all of this has been the separation from my family.  Unable to visit my daughter and grandchildren has been so hard. We do our best to stay connected, but FaceTime is just not the same as a hug and some snuggle time with grandma. 

The biggest challenge for everyone has been the unknown. How long will this last? When will a vaccine actually be ready? Will the vaccine be safe? Even if it is safe, will enough people take the vaccine? Just typing these questions causes me anxiety, and I long to feel calm.


For me, a place of calm has always been my home. It is my refuge. Sitting in my living room, looking at my mother’s credenza or the pictures from my honeymoon hanging on the wall, this is my happy place and even though I have rarely left my home in eight months, it continues to make me feel safe and secure. Sitting in my back yard or snuggling on the couch with my husband scrolling through options on Netflix or Prime, my home has always been my shelter from a storm. 


We all have somewhere or someone who we turn to when we are feeling out of control. Where do you go to feel safe and secure? Let me know in the comments.




Wednesday, November 4, 2020



I woke up today with a profound sense of sadness. While the national election is still ‘too close to call’ with the likelihood of a Biden victory, I am so deeply disappointed.  I had hoped for a resounding rejection of the bigotry, lying and corruption that has been the hallmark of the last four years.  Now the final votes will be counted, the lawsuits are already filed, and the balance of this election very well may be decided by an illegitimate court. 


I have more optimistic friends who are celebrating the fact that Arizona is a now a ‘blue’ state, and that many of the people I know and like were elected, or re-elected to office, and while I do want to celebrate those victories, my heart is hurting today. 

I am sad that so many of my fellow Americans chose to re-elect someone who, in my opinion is the worst President in the history of this country. They saw his racism and sexism and they didn’t care. They saw him lie about the pandemic, disregarding the scientists, as a quarter of a million Americans died, and they didn’t care. They saw him rip children from the arms of their parents and put them in cages and they didn’t care. Worse yet, some of them applauded him for these actions.


This is not like 2016. This is not a situation where many people saw someone who was an outsider and wanted to shake things up, this time they knew exactly who and what he is and what he stands for and they chose to cast their vote to re-elect him. 


I have lost faith in my country.  I am no longer proud to say I am an American. We have lost our way.  Regardless of the final outcome, this election has forever changed the way I will view my country and the people who live here. For the first time I don’t feel at home here. I don’t like who we have become. 


And for that I am extremely sad. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

He is getting so tall


This is Hard! I need to acknowledge this fact because today I am struggling.


I am sad. 

I am frustrated

I am angry

I am scared

I am overwhelmed

I am tired


This morning when I woke up my son-in-law had texted a picture of my grandson, something he does quite often, but the picture this morning was pointing out how big & tall my grandson is getting. My daughter and son-in-law are constantly sending pictures of my grandson and my granddaughter. These photos and videos have become a lifeline for me and my husband during this pandemic because my daughter and her family live in Tennessee and we have not felt that it was safe to travel there, so these moments are our connection to our grandchildren. We call and FaceTime with our grandchildren, and we celebrate each moment that we can spend together, even if it is through a screen. 


Looking at the picture of my grandson this morning felt like a gut punch. He is getting so big and it hurts so much to not be there to see it happen. I used to travel to Tennessee every 2-3 months. I haven’t been there since March. If there was no pandemic I would have been there with them at least three or four times so far.  I would feel how tall my grandson is getting when he gave me big hugs. I would feel his little legs and know how much longer they felt when I picked him up for kisses and hugs.  I would have squeezed the chubby arms and legs of my granddaughter as she shared drool all over me – and I would have loved every sticky messy minute, but for now pictures and FaceTime will have to do. 


Like most of us, I have good and bad days, but during this pandemic my good days are the ones where I can distract myself enough to not feel sad, and my bad days are the ones where I am missing them so much it physically hurts. 


I think we are all overwhelmed right now with this big cloud of uncertainty; struggling with the pandemic and our disastrous, ugly political climate. Sometimes it just feels like too much.  


We have all been trying our best to cope for these past six months, and as the holidays loom ever closer, it just adds more fuel to this big ugly mess of emotions that we are all feeling. I want to be happy about the holidays, but this year I won’t get to enjoy a happy thanksgiving meal with my father. I won’t get to excitedly browse in stores for just the right present for my loved ones, I won’t get to be there when my grandson opens each carefully chosen present to see if he genuinely likes the choices I have made.   


I know that I have a lot to be grateful for. So far in my family, no one has gotten ill with Covid. We are exceptionally fortunate that no one has lost their job. We have a nice home and we are still able to pay our bills. I know that there are millions of people who are not nearly as lucky, but that doesn’t change the fact that all of this is hard. 


He really has gotten so tall, and I just wonder how much taller he will be when I finally get the chance to see him. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Very Different Looking Memorial Day This Year

This year Memorial Day will look very different for most of us. Big camping trips and backyard barbeques of the past will now be replaced with much smaller and more intimate events.  So many of us are longing to spend the weekend at a beach, camping or at a big family gathering, but fears of spreading the Coronavirus have changed all of that. 

This pandemic may have changed our type of celebrations, but the meaning behind Memorial Day not changed. We will honor the men and women of our military who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Their willingness to face danger and put their lives on the line are a debt that we cannot ever repay.  During this pandemic we have seen medical professionals show that same kind of courage. 

Memorial Day has become known as the kick-off for the summer. School is done and warmer weather is here.  This year, summer plans are put on hold as states across the country begin to cautiously open back up, but fears of a ‘second wave’ will keep many of us close to home. Memorial Day will likely see our country cross an unimaginable threshold of 100,000 deaths due to the pandemic.*

Perhaps now, more than ever, we truly understand the value of human life. 

So far, more than 7,000 U.S. servicemen and women have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2,298 in Afghanistan and 4,572 in Iraq) and over 52,000 have been wounded.  In Vietnam 58,209 US servicemen were killed and 153,303 were wounded in combat.  In Korea 36,516 servicemen were killed and 92,134 were wounded.  In World War II 405,399 US servicemen were killed and 670,846 were wounded.  In World War I 116,516 US servicemen were killed and 204,002 were wounded.  We owe a debt of gratitude to each and every one of these individuals, and we should NEVER enter into war without considering the enormous price these men and women have paid for our freedom. 

*as of Friday afternoon there were 97,637 deaths in the United States.   

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Fear, panic & facing an uncertain future

I have struggled to put these thoughts into words. Not only have I suffered from anxiety and brain fatigue, but like so many others my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride of epic proportions for the past two months.  

The Coronavirus has affected all of us, and it is unlike anything we have faced before. It has stripped the layer of protection that so many of us felt we had in our lives. No one, rich or poor, old or young, urban or rural, is safe from this tiny enemy and we have all had to deal with our fear, grief and anger in different ways. 

I recall a story that I read, and I wanted to share it here:

The story goes like this:
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen.  She filled three pots with water.  In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans.
She let them sit and boil without saying a word.  In about twenty minute she turned off the burners.  She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.  Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl.  Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft.  She then asked her to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.  Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.  The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but each reacted differently.  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.  However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.  The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior.  But, after being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.  The ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked the daughter.  “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this:  Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a break up, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?  Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean?  The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.  When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.  If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?
How do you handle adversity?

As I think about this virus, I am again struck by the wisdom in that story. We all have different ways of reacting to this pandemic.  

I have to remind myself almost daily how very fortunate I am. I am still employed and I am able to work from home. My husband is working part of the time from home, but he does have to go in to work, and that means he has to go into hospitals, which is a frightening thought during this pandemic. We have been careful. We have groceries delivered when we can. We have stayed home, except for a few rare excursions where we did not even get out of the car near any other people. We have masks that we use for any needed shopping or errands. 

We are taking this virus very seriously, not out of fear, but out of respect. My 91 year old father absolutely would not survive if he were to get coronavirus. My daughter has asthma so I am worried about her health if she were to get the virus. I don’t want to unknowingly spread this virus to anyone. 

It is frustrating to not be able to go see my Dad or make plans to go and see my daughter and grandchildren in Tennessee. I am sad, but I am more than willing to put up with these inconveniences if it means that my loved ones are healthy and safe. 

I am a history geek. I love learning about history. Right now my knowledge of history is helping to give me hope. Our country has faced great struggles in the past and we have gotten through them. This virus threat will pass, we will find effective treatments and hopefully a vaccine, and when we do I know we will be able to see and hug our loved ones without fear of anyone getting sick. I also know that this virus has the ability to teach us something very important about ourselves and our personalities. Like the carrot, the egg and the coffee beans, we all will have the chance to let this experience weaken us, harden our hearts, or we can grow through this experience. We can become kinder, more caring, and more aware of the importance of our relationships; we can change and become better people. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

It's been awhile.....but I'm back & ready to write

I have neglected my blog for a few months, but my life has finally begun to settle down a bit and I am ready to start writing again. I have so much to share; from some amazing trips I took this year, to current events and my own personal journey and growth. 

I am also going to attempt to complete NaNoWriMo this year. If you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month where thousands of authors from across the country attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. It is a daunting task that requires a great deal of dedication. Authors must complete an average of 1667 words per day for the month. I was able to successfully complete this challenge only once. 

As always I will share my blog posts on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LaurieWJN/ so please stay tuned for what I hope will be some insights and some fun.  

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Survival strategies for Teachers

It’s time once again for teachers to return to their beloved classrooms. The new school year is so full of possibilities. Every teacher believes that this year they will reach those struggling and challenging students, this year they will actually get through all of their curriculum, this year the principal will send informative emails instead of long and unproductive staff meetings, this year all of the parents will be kind and supportive and this year, their duty station will be in the shade. 

Here are some back to school survival tips for teachers:
1.   Scroll through Pinterest for some fun classroom organization ideas, but don’t feel any pressure to use all the ideas, remember that these teachers are freaks that obviously have no children, spouses or pets at home to care for so don’t feel any pressure. Just pick and choose the fun ideas that will work for you.

2.   Before school starts, dust off your copy of Harry Wong’s classic The First days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher. Taking some time to review these classic ideas can refresh your classroom approach – especially if you have been teaching for a while. If you don’t have a copy jump on Amazon and grab one.  You can get a used copy for $10 and it is well worth it.
3.   If you do have to attend mandatory back to school meetings and trainings, pass the time by counting the school days left in the year, and have some fun by writing them in your planner. This will come in handy later in the year when you need some motivation to get through the day. 
4.  Don’t worry about labeling your pencils or coming up with some elaborate scheme to keep track of your pencils, look for back to school sales & stock up on extras, and click on this link for a totally FREE box of pencils to start your new year. Free Pencils Be careful not to over-plan or over-organize. You don't need to add an extra stress to your life. 

5.   Find your tribe. Every teacher needs some peers who can help out when needed, even if that means just making you laugh. Plan some fun NON-school time with your tribe to enjoy each other. There is nothing more important than supportive friends.  
6.   Remind yourself each and every day that what you do matters. You are making a difference in the lives of your students. 

Have a wonderful year and thank you for being a teacher!