In the Meanwhile – Life in the Time of Covid19

Cedar Door Restaurant Mural

Cedar Door Restaurant Mural, Downtown Austin, TX

I have no huge or dramatic Covid story to tell. At least, not yet. My experience has been a fairly placid one, filled with privilege (A place to live, my husband is still employed and working remotely, my children are healthy, also employed, and sheltering in place with their families and pups.), and with blessings both big and small. As they say, “Nothing to see here, move along.”

Meanwhile…

A preacher once said, “In the Bible, God is always working in the ‘meanwhile’,” and although I thought I understood what he was saying at the time, I think I understand it better now.

In the meanwhile, my husband and I have discovered deeper ways in which we are compatible and we have improved our communication.

In the meanwhile, weekly Zoom conferences with my mother and with our daughters and their families have provided love and laughter across the distance between us.

In the meanwhile, I have been able to participate in funding grants to our hard-hit local nonprofits, through distance meeting technology that was only used if “you really had to” just a short time ago. Continue reading

One Week Down

If you are wise, you are self-quarantining, sheltering at home, social distancing…let’s face it, Covid-19 has given us a whole new pandemic related vocabulary. It boils down to limiting your contact with other people and for those of us who can afford to do it, it seems a rational way to help reduce the risk for those who cannot.

Who cannot?

Your medical professionals, pharmacists, grocery store clerks, are just a few who are on the front lines and behind them is an army of people cleaning up and supporting their efforts. Our younger daughter is a nurse and she will work shifts in the pediatric ICU. Our older daughter is a lawyer and a prosecutor and there are some legal proceedings that just can’t happen virtually by law. She will go in and do her job.

Will they take every precaution? Of course, but this is a very sneaky bug that stays on surfaces and is spread by the most casual of contact. It would be easy to give in to fear and paranoia, but we can’t afford to do that either.

My husband is working remotely and thankful to be in an industry that lends itself to that. I am a volunteer, and although there are many things I can do remotely, mentoring a 2nd-grade girl is not one of them. That level of mentoring requires the face to face, the hand to hand, and the hug to hug. We will have to go without and it is not looking good that I will be able to do the closure at the end of this school year that I normally would do. I am sad and my prayer is that she does not perceive this as a permanent goodbye or another abandonment in a young life that has seen too many already. I trust Seedling Mentoring to come up with little ways we can stay in touch and say goodbye, but I am also cognizant that it won’t be the same. Continue reading

The First Pregnancy

A lovely young friend of mine is pregnant with her first child. I rejoice in her happiness and she and her husband are eagerly waiting for the arrival while experiencing all that pregnancy has to offer. Heartburn, nausea, drowsiness during the day, difficulty sleeping through the night, and the ever-present full bladder! She is dealing with all of it with humor and wit and it is a joy talking with her.

When you talk with a woman experiencing her first pregnancy, it can be tempting to share all of the wisdom you have accumulated over your years of motherhood, but I try to keep it to a bare minimum. Remember how overwhelmed you may have felt when people told you their birth stories, gave you advice that you couldn’t even picture incorporating into your personal plans, or gave you a book’s worth of tips in one conversation. Forgive yourself if you have done that, but go forward and try not to ever do it again!

Instead, after thinking hard about things I really would have loved to hear when I was pregnant the first time, I made a list of things I could share. Never all of them at the same time, of course, but these seemed constructive to me. Continue reading

Want to Feel Vital? Stay Involved!

My husband and I just returned from a once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand we had dreamed of for years. We made arrangements through The Splendid Traveler where Alicia Saba specializes in customized travel in New Zealand and Australia and she took our preferences and produced an ideal itinerary! We had a fabulous time and walked an average of 5-7 miles a day and we were thankful to be in shape to do it. We had agreed that now was the time to take advantage of the investment we have made in our health and fitness and fulfill some of those dreams before age slows us down.

In our travels, we were blessed with expert guides, some young, some older, but they all had one thing in common. They were excited and enthused to do what they were doing. The young people because the job kept them outdoors and doing what they loved in a way that financed their travels and adventures, and the older people (often retired) because they enjoyed how it kept them engaged with other people and added to their incomes. We were inspired by the backgrounds (Retired University Professor, Retired Business Owner, Renaissance Woman with Masters Degrees in Multiple Disciplines) of these folks who gave us up to a day of their time for each excursion!

Our guide in Christchurch (Fiona Newsome of Canterbury Guiding Co.) was an outstanding example. She was a little younger than us and spent two days making our excursions in that area outstanding. Her energy, intellect, creativity, and ability to think on her feet was inspiring to us. She planned ahead and told us all about what we were seeing in a way that was entertaining and knowledgeable. She thought about parking logistics, the next place to have a restroom stop, and where the best possible place to grab lunch was while seeming to enjoy things as much as we did.

As we climbed the steep drive to the Giant’s House in Akaroa (after a fabulous boat tour around the harbor that featured dolphins, seals, and even a fast little penguin), she shared her individual story of meeting and forming a friendship with the very talented but also incredibly reclusive artist (Josie Martin) who created all of the art we got to wander through. It was a fantastic experience, filled with color, unexpected delights, and surrounded by the fragrance of the artist’s gardens that were everywhere. It was unforgettable but could have been perfunctory without Fiona’s perspective and stories.

My point is that Fiona (in Christchurch), Katie at the Zealandia Preserve, our Te Papa Museum guide Rangmoana (I will not guarantee that spelling!), our lovely guide Ann, from Zest food tours (all in Wellington), and countless other people who made our trip special could have decided to retire and keep their gifts to themselves. Instead, they put them to work in a way that keeps them involved and excited and makes them a treat to those of us who get to meet them.

What did we learn? 

When you have a purpose and stay connected with other people, it makes your daily life more exciting and even if you may not live longer…there will be more life in your days!

New Way to Find Your Philanthropic Passion

I have written about “finding your passion” in philanthropy over the years and thought it was an effective way to help people identify the cause that resonated with them. “Begin With the End in Mind,” Dr. Stephen Covey said and he was right. But there is more than one way to approach that question of passion for change and this week I learned a new one that I will share with you!

I was at a YWA Connect Kickoff event for the Young Women’s Alliance this week and my friend and fellow YWA Connect Mentor Gayle Reaume was the keynote speaker. Gayle is the founder of Moolah U and her passion is sharing financial information with young people. She has been very successful in her business and always hands credit back to her personal mentors as she brings that success forward into the lives of the people she mentors.

She said, “I don’t ask people what their passion or interest in community service is…I ask them what situation or condition they can’t bear to live with in the world.”

Paradigm shift.

I thought that was a great way to get people thinking about more than what they love. It makes them think about what they dislike and want to change. It was a call to action that I will be incorporating into the way I talk with potential volunteers, donors, and mentors.

What can’t I bear to live with in the world?

Ignorance and inequality were what came to mind first and young people are the most obvious target to me. Education, Diversity, Inclusion…all those words are just words until someone undertakes actions to make them a reality for the generations who are coming up fast.

What’s yours?

I can’t wait to hear about it.

 

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