Finding Delight in Sheltering at Home

On Wednesday, March 25, Governor Little ordered Idahoans to shelter in place in a effort to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus for 21 days. Our family currently at home consists of my husband, a physician who goes into the hospital daily and myself and our pets, two dogs and a cat. When my husband heads out early to do rounds, I am essentially sheltering alone. I have marked off my calendar with the days that the order holds. I’m treating it like an advent calendar. Assuming Idaho is able to bring the virus under control, we will be able to return to some sense of normalcy by April 14. I check off each day, another grand adventure at home. If we are successful at reducing the spread, the time in shelter will be worth it.

Pete and I on our 30th anniversary this summer in our backyard. We have a ski chair from Bogus Basin as a swing

At the moment I feel lucky because my son, Scott, lives in Seattle, a virus hot-spot and has been staying home since March 1 so almost a month longer than my husband and I. Since Seattle hasn’t managed to turn the curve yet, he may be staying home even longer. So far Scott who works for the Starbucks Corporate Office has been very fortunate to be able to continue his work from home. Every day we read about more layoffs. The ability to work from home is a true blessing. I am retired so my office floats around the house. I have a lot of electrical equipment to conduct my retired affairs including an I-Phone, I-Pad, portable computer, desk top etc. I am practically computer illiterate so I feel lucky every day I am able to write a coherent sentence on equipment that is smarter than me.

Here are my lists of delights since we have moved to sheltering:

1. Walking a couple miles a day around our neighborhood. We have a mansion going in up the street from us. I remain amazed at how many workers this project has entailed. The work has continued even with the shelter order. Maybe a home for a multi-millionaire is an essential project or at least keeping a large workforce going is essential. On the nature front, flowers are bursting from the ground and budding on the trees. We have gorgeous colors all around us, pink, red, yellow. We have no tulips because the deer snap off the tops as soon as they bloom. I have to assume to deer tulips are similar to aphrodisiacs to humans. Idaho has lots of newcomers. Someone posted on our neighborhood blog that her tulips had been stolen during the night and who could be so mean. Sometimes, our wild friends are not so accommodating.

2. Sitting on my front porch enjoying the sun. The weather this weekend was so warm we could all be outside playing but that was before the Governor’s order. Now we can exercise but we are suppose to keep close to our houses. We have a gorgeous front porch. The weather has turned a little cooler but I spent all morning yesterday outside wearing a parka and covered with a blanket sipping a mug of coffee and catching up on emails. Sun is good for the soul and should be sought out whenever possible.

We spend lots of time outdoors. Here my husband demonstrates his bug-a-salt to a neighbor. Our neighbors can’t join us right now but the porch still calls.

3. Meditation and prayer. Our minister has suggested as a lead up to Easter we pray five times a day (when we get up, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and when we go to bed). I also try to take time to close my eyes and chase away the whirling thoughts and focus on my breathing.

4. Playing with and enjoying my pets. I have an entourage where ever I move through the house. All the animals go with me. They like to be petted, chase balls and in general I find them amusing.

5. Keeping in touch with family and friends. I text my two children and my sister every morning so they know I’m still around. I try to call my sister who lives in Colorado daily. I chat with my kids weekly but send them many strange messages by text throughout the day. I have a friend in Wyoming who writes long esoteric essays on the meaning of life that I look forward to reading and responding to, and much to my amazement I have found Facebook to be a place of much humor and little politics.

My son, Scott, and daughter, Kayla. Scott lives in Seattle and Kayla lives with us but is attending Montana State University in Bozeman and isn’t home right now. She could be since all school is online. But her boyfriend and friends are in Bozeman.

6. Watching movies and reading. When I’m done with my contacts with the outside world, I turn to reading and watching movies. Much of my reading involves newspapers. We get three every day. I love old movies and with Netflix and Amazon Prime there seems to be an endless supply of things to watch.

In summary, I find my days in shelter to be generally delightful. I could view them differently as boring or a hardship. But I prefer to focus on the loveliness of the world in which we live and opportunity to experience something new each day. My blessing to you today is, may you stay healthy and find joy in the moment. And your home be a sanctuary in times of trouble.

Out our back door. Robins are gathering. Makes me smile.

The Bachelor in Boise

IMG_0655Tonight and tomorrow many women will be watching Pilot Pete, the Bachelor star, give his final rose in a 4 hour finale .  The Bachelor has been going strong for more than 20 years though few engagements have led to marriages.  The Bachelor is so popular that there are many spin offs such as The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Live on Stage which made it’s way to Boise at the Morrison Center last week.

I admit to a minor distaste for the popular show which seems to have the potential for meanness, bullying and great pain for some participants while viewers are voyeurs watching on national TV.   I have walked through the living room right when my daughter was watching a guy dump a girl on  TV for his second choice.  I’ve seen pieces of many shows over the years because we did have a member of the viewing audience, my teenage daughter in the house.  The only redeeming part is the participants, who get paid nothing, know what they are signing up for. The bachelors and bachelorettets do get paid.

Even though I have never watched an entire Bachelor show much less a full Bachelor season, I bought two tickets last fall to the Bachelor Live in Boise.  I gave one ticket to my friend for Christmas. I bought the tickets because I wanted to see how the producers condensed months of magical, emotional couple moments into a 90 minute extravaganza that could be moved around the country for a live audience.  I thought it would either be a hoot or at the worst boring.  There can’t be too much drama among people who have barely met.

The show was hosted by former Bachelor Ben Higgins who remains unmarried as far as my sleuthing can tell and Becca Kufrin, a former Bachelorette engaged to her choice with no plans to marry, too busy getting to know each other, making money on Bachelor podcasts and traveling with the live show.

The Boise show opened with pzazz; dancers, music and great backdrop.  The chosen bachelor  was an Air Force engineer who brought some of his buddies with him. Here in Boise, we have great respect for people who serve in the military.  He had the audience with him from the  beginning. Ben Higgins encouraged the Bachelor Nation crowd, almost exclusively women, to participate. Boise Nation, never a place to engage in polite decorum, hooted and hollered all night long.  The airmen up front helped their buddy along.

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The Bachelor live is a happy 90 minute experience!

In 90 minutes, the roses go by fast and furious.  Twelve women introduced themselves, all of them dressed up, lined up on risers, and the first rose ceremony came, an introduction and your on or off.  Somewhat shallow at best. Then there was a game show about how the bachelor had answered  questions.  The woman getting the most answers right got a rose. There was a dance off called Lip Stix.  The dancing provided some of the best entertainment of the evening. Two of the women were fabulous dancers and our bachelor even had some moves.  Best dancer got a rose.  Then the girls lined up again for a rose ceremony and the numbers dwindled quickly.  There was slow dancing with women cutting in and then a rose ceremony cutting down to six.

There was a intermission for the bachelor to meet 6 young women and engage in intimate conversations in 20 minutes.  Mainly, I think this was for potty break.  The Morrison Center is known to not be kind to women built during a period when male designers didn’t provide enough female restrooms.

After the intermission and cozy chats with a half dozen women, 3.3 minutes per minute, the second half opened with another rose elimination.  Now down to 4 women, big chairs were brought out. The bachelor got to ask each woman questions. The big chairs are large so the bachelor can go sit next to the woman if he wants to.  Two of the women had children in grade school which surprised me.  I had a hard time imagining myself on a show like this with my children.  But let’s face it, if your single with kids and you want to date you have to put yourself out there.

After the chairs, we were down to two and the fantasy suite.  A colorful bed with gauzy screens was pushed on stage. The bachelor picked his two top choices.  While one couple was in the suite for 3 minutes, the other sat on stage visiting with one of the hosts.  The first couple engaged in necking because we heard a lot of cheers from the main floor.  Our seats were in the mezzanine, no peaking through the gauze from that vantage point.  When the first woman jumped out of the suite, her dress was unzipped.  The second young woman obviously more cautious tucked her legs demurely beneath her when she hopped on the bed providing a physical barrier.

In the end, our bachelor picked the second young woman.  She was an audience favorite. With a psychology degree from Boise State University, she worked at Saint Vincent dePaul with homeless clients.  Her dating plan was to go hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains.  Besides showcasing caring and adventure, she was stunningly gorgeous with a perky pony tail, lithe body encased in a tasteful twinkling midnight blue mid-calf, slip dress with spaghetti straps. Our airman got lucky.

The Bachelor Live is different every night depending on the Bachelor, ladies, and audience.  Boise is a good place for audience engagement and I think everyone had a great time.  I wouldn’t pay to go again but I would recommend it if you are interested in a fun girls night out.

P.S. Ladies if you ever get on stage and you don’t know what you’ll be asked to do wear a jump suit.  The contestants in jump suits looked great, could do everything asked without worrying about their skirts creeping up and were able to move better than those in long dresses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year: New Possibilities

I’ve never been one to set New Year’s resolutions.  I do, however, believe the New Year offers an opportunity to push the “reset button”.  Instead of making a list of action steps, I resolve to be open to new possibilities.

A few weeks ago, I was waiting in line for a $2 taco when I complimented the much younger lady in front of me on her lipstick.  Believe me it was a great color, bright blue red and perfectly applied.  The woman was wearing an apron and no coat.  Later, I decided she must have run across the street from the new salon that had just opened to buy her lunch.  But when I talked to her, I was just waiting for lunch. I couldn’t resist telling this young woman how great she looked.  We got into a conversation about how I had stopped wearing lipstick because it got on everything, coffee cups and my teeth.  Since I was retired, I hardly ever wore makeup. She told me about the new products that are easier to apply and stayed on forever.  If she was an example, the new lip stains look great.

She picked up two bags of food, paid and hurried for the door.  When I stepped up to pay for my taco, the waiter told me the lady with the great lip stick had paid for my lunch.  I tried to thank her but she just waved and hurried out the door.  I’m not sure why she chose to buy my lunch.  Maybe she was having a bad day and having someone tell her she looked great helped make it better.

I do know that one random act of unintentional kindness on my part i.e. starting up a conversation resulted in a return to me that was much larger.

As I start the New Year, I am opening myself to the many possibilities that are available every day.  I probably miss most of them.  I am working on being more in the present, listening and watching more intently and being willing to put myself out there.

To get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” ~Unknown

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Thanksgiving

turkey dinnerWe are headed to Buffalo, Wyoming for Thanksgiving this year.  Our trek is elaborate.  We start out on Tuesday and head to Bozeman, Montana.  We spend the night in Bozeman and pick up our daughter, Kayla, who is a sophomore at Montana State University.  We also drop off her snow tires.

Then we soldier on to Billings where we stay in a suite that has a 24-hour airport shuttle.  This is an important feature because our son, Scott, is flying in from Seattle and arrives at midnight when most things in Billings are closed.  Assuming everything goes as planed, he arrives at our room about 12:30 am while the rest of us continue snoozing peacefully with visions of turkey drifting through our heads.

If Billings goes anything like last year, we will be running around late looking for tofu turkey.  Scott is a vegetarian and we left our specially bought vegan plunder at home.  We raced in the only vegetarian market in Billings just at closing (8 pm) and bought a supply of frozen veggie turkeys.  Scott landed on time but crashed through the dark room waking everyone up.  But who am I to complain?  He made the sojourn from Seattle after work on a cigar plane (one seat on each side) to a small airport, landing in the middle of the night, just to join the family.

We get up on Thanksgiving day and drive two and half hours to Buffalo, Wyoming.  The town is about 4,500 people;  about half of whom are Koziseks. The Koziseks have manned the sheriff’s office and police force for years. The next generation is now serving.  There is such a crowd that last year we had dinner in the basement of the Baptist Church.  We didn’t fit in a house.  A large number of the family were left out because my nephew’s wife was entertaining her extended family at their mini-ranch.  We dropped by for a visit and couldn’t get in the door so many people were in attendance. The thought of all of us together in Buffalo is mind boggling.  My husband’s family are all avid hunters and fishers and believe in standing for the flag at football games.  We always have lots to talk about except politics.

My husband, Pete, lost his younger brother who lived in California last spring.  Our Thanksgiving group will be slightly smaller and a lot sadder this year.  The California brother was the big arranger of family reunions and his favorite place was Disney Land.  We have toured the Magic Kingdom on a number of occasions in a Kozisek crowd.  My husband used to laughingly refer to his California brother’s family as the “Disney Nazi’s” because we did Disney from sunrise to fireworks every day.  I fondly remember the trips because Kayla was little and got passed around a lot. I got a break from child care and the pleasure of adult company.disneyland

Over the years, what I have found most remarkable about all these visits is the goodwill.  We are very different people but at Thanksgiving and in Disney Land we seem to be able to find common ground.  I have learned that love and gratitude grow with age.  In the Kozisek family, there is always plenty of both to go around.

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Depression, my experience with deep darkness

In 1988, “Gorillas in the Mist” was a big hit. I went with my boyfriend, now husband-Pete, and our friends, Teri and Jack. The movie is the true story of naturalist Dian Essey, protector of hunted gorillas. Blood is featured prominently throughout as gorillas are hunted for cash, gorgeous animals with huge hearts attacked for no reason, their hands sold as ash trays. Essey lived and died among these rare creatures.  The last scene is especially bloody. Essey’s throat is cut. Viewers see the knife slice and blood dripping from her neck. Her assailant is never identified.

As we stood up to leave the movie, I realized I could not speak. Unbeknownst to me, the movie had touched some hidden well-spring releasing a huge surge of darkness that engulfed my senses. The only two bright spots were: 1. I knew something was terribly wrong and 2. I was surrounded by supportive friends. By morning I was able to talk but dark shadows were still hovering like ghostly cobwebs in the corners of my mind. I would not wish that catatonic blackness on anyone. I understand some people can’t surface on their own towards the glimmering light of reality as I had. Trapped in that blackness for a significant period of time, I would find the experience unnerving, unbearable and ultimately unlivable.

While the initial depressive episode was almost 30 years ago, I was reminded of the experience this week while visiting Wyoming friends in Colorado and Arizona. While I was in Colorado, my friends Teri and Jack drove down from Cheyenne to see me. We laughed about our many shared good times, i.e. Like when their cat, Tiger, stole the pork roast, bigger than he off the table as we were sitting done to eat. We don’t talk about how I couldn’t get to their wedding in Jackson even though Pete was the best man because I was struggling to keep the darkness at bay and wouldn’t travel for an extended period of time. I had lunch in Phoenix with my dear friend, Holly. During my mental health struggles I would camp out on Holly’s couch for the night to make sure I wasn’t alone. Excellent counseling, medication, funds to pay for it, and  a strong support system of friends helped sweep my blackness away though I still watch for triggers, such as no depressing movies. I am always thankful for the light.

I have been planning a spring break trip to California for my daughter and her friends to tour universities the last couple of weeks. She wants to go because her brother and his friend made the trek with my sister and I six years ago. The  circumstances of that trip were very different than the one we are contemplating now. When I planned the trip in 2011, I didn’t know the challenges we would face. The week we were to leave I received a call from the friend’s father. He told me his wife had killed herself the night before while the family was in the house. I told him we would the cancel the trip but he insisted we go.

Right after the mom’s funeral in a Boise Episcopal church filled with Juniors in high school, we started out to California. We wound our way down the California coast, touring Stanford, UCLA, Santa Clara and finishing in San Diego. We turned home driving through Yosemite.  After the park, we drove straight home, a week away in La La land resulted in my son’s friend beginning to come to terms with his mother’s death.  Understandably, he wanted to get home as quickly as possible. I was so pleased this December when my son’s friend, a first generation college graduate crossed the stage at University of Idaho. After such a tragic beginning to his college career, his success gave all of us in our family a spurt of joy.

Over the years, mental health issues have grabbed more of the spotlight. The Affordable Care Act(ACA/ObamaCare) now about to be repealed requires that insurers pay for behavioral health treatment at the same level as other medical services (the technical term is parity and insurance payment for mental health is a recent development). I am an example of the success of having access to resources. Unfortunately, treatment still carries a stigma unlike cancer and too many people can’t access appropriate care either because it isn’t available or they are unwilling to admit they need help. Idaho has one of the worst community mental health systems in the nation. Our suicide rate is too high. We can strive to do better as a state. As individuals, we can all be  supportive friends to those in need. My friends kept me going when I was surrounded by darkness and despair. Thirty years later whenever I’m with them I bask in their light.