Finding Joy in the Little Things

This morning I was thinking about joy. I remembered hearing Marie Kondo, expert organizer, saying that you should keep only the things that bring you joy. That may not always be the practical thing to do; my dish set does not give me joy, but I really need my dishes. But the idea of having things in our lives, in our homes, that bring joy, that I love.

Right now we have so much need for joy in our lives. The days run together as we try to just get through another day of schooling at home, working at home, cooking every 10 minutes…. It’s stressful. It wears on your soul.

But also, we have that awesome set of towels in the linen closet or guest bathroom, just sitting there waiting to be used and admired.  Great grandma’s beautiful china, put safely away in a hutch. A bottle of wine we are saving for a special occasion. A lucky t-shirt in the drawer. Things that bring us joy.

Isn’t it time to use those things? Just think of getting out of a nice, hot shower and folding yourself into your best towels. Put on your lucky t-shirt and think about today as a special occasion and open that wine. Serve your mac’n’cheese in grandma’s china bowls. Then savor it. Savor the moment and the time and let it bring you joy today.

The truth is, as this virus continues to spread, we really don’t know if the perfect time will come to use the things we cherish. Sheltering in place, quarantining, has been extended across the nation. While we look forward to returning to a place where we can move about more and hug our friends and family tightly, we have today to make a place for some joy.

I have a friend who is really great at creating joy around her. For Easter, she donned her very best Wal-mart housecoat and sent greetings out to everyone.

Photo used by Permission

Maybe we can’t do the things we are used to doing. Maybe we have to do some things differently. But we can add joy to the things we do just by changing our attitudes about it.

Whether it’s using the things we hold on to and treasure, or creating a new way to do something traditional – joy is there for us to find. So go pull that feather boa out of your closet and dance in the living room. Turn on some twinkly fairy lights. Make a birthday cake even if it isn’t anyone’s birthday. Go outside and sit in the sunshine for 15 minutes and just breathe. Find your joy. It’s in the little things we do and we need it now more than ever.

Now excuse me while I go pour some coffee in my favorite cup and find my own joy today.

The Lost Season of Baseball

Since I post as Baseball Gal, I decided I really should step up to the plate, so to speak, and put down some thoughts on the season that isn’t.

Isn’t it just amazing how the world has come to a screeching stop? How did we get to this place where America’s National Pastime has no opening day in Spring? Stadiums around the country just sitting there, empty. No cheering fans. No hot dogs! No one robbed of a homerun by some amazing catch at the wall. No razzle-dazzle on the mound. No batters going through a five minute ritual at the plate. (Okay, that one we can live without.) But no baseball – not anywhere?!?

For the fan it is unthinkable. It is heartbreaking. Not hearing the beautiful sound of the ball connecting to the bat and watching it sail through the air to meet it’s destination…not seeing our heroes on the field. Baseball is where our passion meets our hopes. And now in the midst of this terrible pandemic, baseball, like so many other things, is lost to us.

And certainly the fans understand the reasoning behind the loss of what may be an entire season of baseball. We understand the need for so much of our world to be shut down right now. We know that for the greater good, we all must be patient about so many things and baseball is one of those things.

My team, the Texas Rangers, was to open a brand new stadium this spring. It’s not that pretty, kind of looks like a big ol’ metal barn from the outside. And the front is way-too-modern glass and orange? To the creative minds behind this building, let me just say the Astros play a bit further south. Oh, and it’s turf. On the plus side for many here in the 100° plus Texas summers, it is air conditioned with a roof that closes. So, no rain delays.

Personally, I love the brick beauty that is known as the Ballpark. We made so many memories there over $1 hot dogs and $2 t-shirts. We had all of our favorite players: Moreland, Hamilton, Kinsler, Young, Pudge, Elvis, Joe Nathan, Darvish, Cruz (and his boom stick), Choo, and of course, my man Beltre. It’s where we witnessed Sammy hit his 600th homerun and Beltre making his 3000th hit.

And maybe this year there is no season at all. I cannot imagine life so quickly returning to normal when, even as I write, stricter guidelines for staying at home are being put in place and across the country we are beginning to put on masks. When in America did you ever expect that to happen?

Maybe this year, no one hears the roar of the home crowd. Maybe the vendors won’t be calling out “hot dogs here”. No foul balls going home with a proud kid, no autographs of a favorite player. And players may not have that great season we know they are destined for. We may not see our team make a run for the pennant this year. There may not be any stars in October.

As a fan of the game, I truly hope that we will get whatever shortened season we can get, with boldly asterisked numbers filling up the record books at the end of it. I truly hope that after this period of isolation and anxiety, fans will have the chance to ” root, root, root for the home team”. I hope we get to pay $10 for a lukewarm beer while wearing our team logo and that we get to see one of our guys diving for a catch that will save the game. I hope we get to stand shoulder to shoulder and sing our National Anthem as a huge American flag is unfurled on the field. And wouldn’t that be an amazing thing?

School and the New Normal

I really am not fond of the term “new normal”. And yet it is what it is and indeed, we are all having to adapt and make changes to what was our normal.

For me, the biggest challenge has been adjusting to schooling at home. Less than a week in and I have already determined that this is going to kill me. I am frustrated. The child is frustrated. A war that I am not prepared to fight has erupted right here in my dining room.

To begin with, I must be able to navigate an iPad. I am not. I am perfectly comfortable on my smart phone, but just figuring out how to connect to wifi on this vile piece of technology took me over an hour and the intelligence of someone much younger than I. Then this morning, I could not even get it to cooperate long enough to turn it on.

The teacher has said that the child should be leading this experiment in education. She tells me that he knows how to operate the system and maneuver his way through it. The teacher says that the child has been using this exact iPad at school and understands how to use it. The teacher, a wonderful source of support and therapy, who immediately responds to every email and phone call, is not here.

The child said that part of his problem in school was not understanding how to navigate through things like turning assignments in. The child says he needs help. The child says that he doesn’t know.

And here I am just wanting to get from point A to point B. I want the iPad turned on and ready for 9:00 Zoom meetings (something else that’s new) and I want the child to be able to complete the work assigned to him. I want for there to not be a daily battle as we struggle through schooling at home. I want peace to drink my coffee, like I had when he went to school. I want the arguing and yelling and the general onslaught of frustration to cease.

I already knew that I was not called to be a teacher and what almost every parent/grandparent/caregiver knows by now is that you should never have to teach your own child.  There is an entirely different attitude that your child presents to you than to their teacher. At home, their self-doubts and fears realize into anger and blame. I have already been told that I am not very smart about this iPad  – something I know he would never say to his teacher. Also, it is my fault that I need clarification on the questions that he haphazardly throws my way. In the very best of circumstances, I will never be smarter than a 6th grader is about technology.

We are having to learn and adapt very quickly to the changes happening all around us. And by we, I mean students, parents, teachers and administrators. I am more than sure that the people who work in my school district are having many more sleepless nights than I. The planning and support required to convert an entire system of normal to something new in a matter of days is unimaginable. I thank my lucky stars that I do not have to be part of that process as well.

A new normal. It isn’t something that we will achieve while pretending that everything is ok. It will be hard. It may be brutal. But I am sure that we will get through it. Things being what they are, we don’t really have a choice. If the 6th grader and I are still speaking to one another at the end of each school day, I will have to consider it a success.

Note: I say schooling at home because we are not homeschooling. That is a whole different basket of eggs.