Commencement

Dear Class of 2020,

Born in the late nineties and early 2000’s, your childhood and lives have been marked by September 11th, the birth of the iPhone, digital age, and social media, a recession, ongoing war, climate change, and the election of Trump. And, whether from college, high school, junior high or elementary school, you now find yourselves graduating in the midst of a pandemic and in a time unlike anything the world can remember.  Full of promise, looking out at what can only be described as a fairly bleak and grim landscape, here you are.  So, a bit of advice from an almost middle aged adult looking at her own life and telling herself the same.

Always take the trip. Choose the adventure. Buy the ticket. I’ve only ever regretted the trips I didn’t take.

Hug your parents, when you can.

Appreciate the good times as they are happening. Look up from your phones and devices. Moments of happiness are not the beginning of ongoing happiness, they are happiness and it is happening right now. It will pass and then come again. Don’t miss it*

*Always  remember that this too shall pass (the good and the bad).

Realize no one knows what is going on. You have just as much ability to become one of the “adults in the room” as anyone else does if you put your mind to it. Let this motivate  rather than scare you.

Find a hobby that feeds your soul. You never know when you will be locked in your house for nine weeks and need something that is fun, creative, or relaxing to fall back on.

Let go of the “rules” of how you thought it would be or how it should look. This is one that most people seem to finally realize in middle age, but the sooner you get there, the better for you!

Literally never take anything for granted ever, it could all change in the blink of an eye. Haircuts, toilet paper, child care, visits with family, nights out with friends, cozy restaurants, pedicures, school days, employment, sporting events, handshakes, dancing at concerts, graduation ceremonies, vacations, your health, having anything feel casual and relaxed, going to the movies, parades, amusement parks, swimming pools, job markets, saving accounts, museums, air travel………

My wish for you is that you see the beauty found here and now, as it unfolds, and appreciate it as it does; that your generation will never take anything for granted, always remembering how quickly everything can change; and that you never forget, even as you strive to move forward and upward in your own lives, how interconnected we all are.

I have faith in your generation and that the trials you have been given as young people and children will only serve to grow your creativity, compassion, motivation, ingenuity, and empathy. I’m sorry that previous generations are just learning these lessons now.

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Smize

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1. After a gorgeous and warm early spring, it is snowing today. Not unheard of for April, but a 40 degree drop from two days ago. Buds hide and try to stave off a hard frost. I am grateful for these beautiful flowers.

2. I ventured out to the grocery store this morning and now have a fresh loaf of rye bread. I am eating toast as I write this and it is possibly the best thing I have ever eaten.

3. My creativity has returned, albeit in ways I didn’t expect.  I began sewing again after a many year hiatus and it’s one of the few things that prevents my mind from going into pandemic anxiety spinout. Masks, masks, masks, a skirt, another skirt, and more masks. Using my hands to calm my brain.

4. People must be getting bored of their sweatpants because after not selling any vintage clothing on my Etsy site in well over a month, I just sold three things in one day.

5. Raking, planting, digging, and pulling weeds are some of the few activities I seem capable of completing.

6. Health care workers are applauded nightly at 7 o’clock and it makes me cry every time. Thank you.

7. Thank God for KCRW, KANW, and KUNM radio stations. Great music, interesting and insightful news and interviews, these radio stations save me on a regular basis.

8. Chalk art. Huge fan.

9. The meme/tweet/humor/post game is strong. Thank you.

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10. I look forward to reading all of the forthcoming scientific studies about what happens when the entire world stops at once.

11. I now wear a mask in public and am working on my “smize”(smiling with my eyes), though find many people avoid eye contact all together. Fear has caused my desire to control the uncontrollable to rear its head in unexpected ways and I am sure I’m not alone.  Last night, after taking a quick tour of all of massive problems we now face, my anxiety chose to focus on fear that the United States Postal Service could go out of business and  I knew that no matter how many letters I began to write and send, they would likely not be enough. I love real mail. I realize the privileged position I am in that my immediate safety, hunger, and finances are not the cause of my insomnia.

12. Food! Cooking! A daily smorgasbord of recipes and photos of bread, pasta, soups, and veggies bombard me every time I open my computer. I love it. We made baguettes last week and, for a first try, they weren’t bad. Everything tastes good with butter.

13. Seeds and baby chickens sell out everywhere. Those able to, now bake bread, plant gardens, and sew. I grew up doing all of these and it feels like a homecoming of sorts. Helping to homeschool a first and third grader 2-3 days a week feels totally foreign and I resort to arts and crafts.

14. There are more helpers than haters in this world. I am sure of this. Amidst the chaos, the love is so visible and triumphant. I have faith in people.

15. Dolphins and fish in the canals of Venice. Bears waking and emerging in an empty Yosemite. Sheep wandering deserted streets in Wales. Was this pandemic simply nature’s way of getting the break it needed while giving us the warning we need? A glimpse of things to come, should we continue on our current trajectory.

…Judging by the speed with which the public heeded the orders to shelter in place, it seems we all knew we needed this stop. There will be no going back to “normal”, of this I am sure. Normal never worked for too many. Normal left too many out and behind. Mile long lines of cars wait in line for Food Banks while just a few miles away equally desperate farmers plow over crops they are unable to sell because of mass disruption to our system of distribution. It is hard to find the silver lining in such suffering, but I do believe we are being given an opportunity; to turn towards each other, even if from six feet away, to slow down instead of always needing to keep up, and to remember our interconnectedness to each other and to the earth. Yet again, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. To all of the doctors, nurses, moms, dads, grocery clerks, mailmen and women, essential workers, scientists, mask makers, comedians, journalists, optimists, recipe swaps, memes, movie makers, governors, restaurant owners, authors, puzzle designers, meditation instructors, food bank donators and volunteers, artists, thinkers, and to those choosing to act rather than react, Thank You.

Don’t forget to Smize.

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Also, if you are in need of a cloth mask, please comment below and we’ll figure out how to get you one.

 

Pandemic Party Tips/41

37677B5D-56F3-40B2-8F0F-553409D55643I’ve had some strange birthdays in my life, many actually, but something tells me 41 might be the most bizarre yet.  Stranger than sitting through a five hour long Wagner opera with the flu while on a trip to Germany when I turned 18, weirder than turning 15 in London with my English pen pal, and more bizarre than my 31st, when I was yelled at by a not to be named First AD for “talking behind camera” and ended up crying in a porta potty (just so we are clear, the camera department was wishing me happy birthday and I was simply responding thank you, but anyway….)

So, as I sit in my house, pondering life, cake, and puzzles, I thought I would give not only my Aries cohorts some birthday party tips, but also, from the looks of it, my Taurus and Gemini friends as well.

*First, wash your hands.

1* wear something you haven’t worn in the past three weeks or preferably in the last year. I’m wearing a dress I’ve literally never worn and it goes perfect with my old purple slippers.

2*bake a cake with whatever weird ingredients are still in the pantry.

3*shamelessly tell everyone that it’s your birthday so that they call you, then act surprised when they do.

4*make a party hat.

5*listen to music, not the news.

6*dance in the kitchen.

7*wash your hands.

8*collapse on couch.

9*stare at wall.

10*stare at Pinterest and pin exotic trip locales to your post pandemic visionboard.

11*remember that it’s all going to be okay.

12*dump puzzle onto table.

13*alternate staring at puzzle pieces and at wall.

14*make cookies to go with cake.

15*laugh because if you don’t you’re going to cry.

16*breathe.

17*go for another walk. (I’m so sorry that some of you are unable to partake in this one, truly.)

18*buy yourself a present.

19*attend zoom birthday party hosted by your awesome sister.

20*cry.

21*remind yourself that it’s all going to be okay.

22*open champagne that’s been in your fridge since your boyfriend brought it over on New Year’s Eve, 2018.

23*turn up music.

24*dance some more.

25*remember that this too shall pass.

26*wash your hands.

27*don’t touch your face.