Itching for Normal?

Greetings one and all…

I intended to write and post this blog several days ago. Every day, “Write a Cardinal Note” was at the top of my list of things to do. But the spirit never moved me to sit down and put my thoughts and feelings into words. When I can’t write, it usually means something is stirring in my heart and soul. Such was the case up until today. 

I don’t know about you, but I am growing weary of the COVID-19 situation and the myriad of changes prompted by this global crisis. I am ITCHING for NORMAL – a day that unfolds in the customary manner. But that’s just not possible, for me or for anyone else. Not surprisingly, I find the mornings to be the hardest – the moment I awaken. That’s when reality slaps me in the face. That’s when I remember we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto!

But this is our reality my friends. Nothing is normal because we are knee-deep in the midst of change – change after change after change! Because of the magnitude and the myriad of changes, it’s not surprising that many of us feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted from time to time. So, how are we to deal with this unexpected and unwanted reality?

Remember  – NO Whining! One of my brother’s favorite sayings was “NO Whining!” In fact, he had a plaque on his desk stating this sentiment. The other night when I was knee-deep in a pity party, in the silence of my room I heard Richard say these words – NO WHINING! And I smiled. Those were JUST the words I needed to get out of my pit of despair. It was the proverbial cosmic kick in the ass! I deserved it. I needed it. And I am so incredibly thankful for it! Remembering my brother’s words of wisdom, I feel a life-giving shift in energy, perspective, and expectations. Instead of being a victim of my circumstances, I am choosing to use this moment in time to:

  • Relish my daily walks in the hood.
  • Reconnect with my sense of the Sacred.
  • Reflect on my priorities in life. 
  • Thoughtfully consider what constitutes a meaning-FULL life.
  • Determine what is required of me to create a life that I love.
  • Outline a plan of implementation that requires everything I have to offer – mind, body, and spirit.

Keep Your Sense of Humor: Walking through the neighborhood the other day, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts – Unlocking Us by Brene Brown. She is an amazing academic and a stellar storyteller. Listening to the hilarious tales of her family, I laughed out loud unabashedly. I am sure those walking or driving by thought I had totally lost it. But I cared not. It felt SO good to laugh – to find humor in the lived experience. I felt 50 pounds lighter after that walk (wishful thinking!). Upon reflection, I realized that I have been taking myself WAY too seriously of late. So, I now strive to see the humor in my new normal when:  

  • Venturing out from home wearing mask and gloves with antibacterial wipes in hand. I am truly a vision – as you can see by the posted picture!
  • Participating in new rituals such as virtual happy hours with friends. My friends are truly creative regarding their attire, drinks, and appetizers. It’s great fun!
  • Wearing a ball cap every day to control my longish, unruly hair. I seemingly have a hat for any occasion and every ensemble. What a time saver! Hat hair is no longer a concern – thank goodness!
  • Trying to decide whether to wear my casual or dress sweats. I know, a tough decision.
  • Attempting to coerce my dog to go for ONE MORE WALK! Bless her heart – Millie has put many miles on her paws over the past 4 weeks. 

Choose a Life-giving Attitude: Today, I am incredibly grateful to have a renewed sense of hope, purpose, meaning, and determination. No, I haven’t thrown on a pair of rose-colored glasses, seeing only what I want to see. Instead, I am choosing to be realistically optimistic – recognizing the current challenges, assessing available resources and options, and seeking hope on the horizon. As a dear, dear friend gently reminded me earlier today, we all have much to learn from this experience. So, my fervent hope and prayer for all of us is that we open our hearts and minds to the possibilities and opportunities to:

  • Grow and evolve in amazing, beneficial, and previously unimagined ways.
  • Expand our capacity for compassion, empathy, and love for others and for ourselves.
  • Realize that if we are to survive and to thrive, coming together is essential.
  • Recognize that the essence of life is discovered in how we choose to serve other people.
  • Seek the Sacred in the simple, ordinary moments of life. 

If you are itching for normal, scratch that itch by accepting the fact that your previous normal is no longer possible. Although our desire to return to normal is intense, the reality is that “what was” was not a utopia! There is definitely room for improvement on the past. Therefore, believe that you have the chance to create a new normal, an enhanced normal – a way of being that fills you up, brings you joy, and soothes your soul. You have the opportunity to create a life that you love – an EXTRAordinary way of being. More than likely, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for each and every one of us. May we embrace this historic moment to evolve, to grow, to reflect, to serve, and to become all we are called to be. 

So, I am curious – How do you choose to move through this challenging time and live beyond it? I would love to hear how you intend to live from this day forward. Inspire me and everyone around you! You can be the spark that ignites the light within others. Shine on my friends….

Take good care and BE WELL. Savor every moment. Be a positive force in the world. You are needed now more than ever. Blessings to you and yours…..jane

Walking Through the Pandemic

Greetings one and all….

What a glorious morning! A lovely layer of snow on the grass, trees, and bushes. And the SUN is shining! YAHOOOOOOOOOO! Just what I need to shift my energy and regain my footing today. I have to admit – I struggled a bit yesterday with the dreary weather. The heaviness of the COVID-19 news along with the oppressive weather combined to dampen and darken my mood. Based on the emails and text messages received yesterday, many of you felt the same way. But today is a new day – an opportunity to assume a realistically optimistic attitude that affords a more hope-FULL view of life. Today, we can choose to take the steps necessary to move through this moment in time – to move toward our individual and collective future.

Meditation in Motion — The image of “walking through the pandemic” is personally motivating. In fact, walking as a practice and an image have served me well throughout my almost 63 years. When challenged by adversity and loss, I walk. I walk to relieve physical stress. I walk to process my emotions. I walk to escape the confines of my home. I walk to gain a different view of life. I walk to encounter my sense of the Divine along the way. I walk to experience the sense of moving on. I walk out of desire, necessity, and desperation! Walking serves as my contemplative practice…meditation in motion. So my friends, what “moves” you?

Create Motivating Rituals — After my brother died 4 years ago, I struggled to integrate my profound sense of loss into the fabric of my being. Consequently, I started walking the first morning back in Denver. I don’t remember much about my first outing, but I do remember the simple ritual initiated that day. During my walk, I noticed a stone in one of the flower beds in my neighborhood. I picked it up and “worked” the stone for the duration of the walk. Arriving home, I placed the rock beside my chair in the den. In relatively short order, my daily ritual resulted in a significant rock pile in my den (as well as a noticeable diminution of stones in some of the communal flower beds)! 

If you don’t have an affinity for rocks, you may be wondering why in the world I chose to gather stones! First, I needed something to hang onto as I moved through my sorrow. Something tangible. Working the stone as I walked, I imagined filling the pores of the stone with my sadness and my prayers. Second, each stone represented 5 miles in my journey. As my cairn grew, I could literally “see” how far I had come. Each stone served as a milestone of mourning. There was evidence that I was making progress. In one month, I advanced 150 miles! Ultimately, those milestones motivated me to move through my sorrow and embrace a new way of being – being in this world without my brother. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, I believe rituals are vitally important as well. Rituals serve to connect, to inspire, to motivate, and to calm. Today, what rituals serve you and yours well? Have you created a ritual in response to this historic, trying time? How do your rituals sustain, nurture, and inspire you? 

Walk On! — Reflecting on the image of “walking through the pandemic,” I am reminded of a command used in equine therapy – walk on. Many years ago, I worked as an intern at a therapeutic equine ranch. I handled the horses in the arena while the therapist worked with the client on the horse. Once the client was securely seated in the saddle with side walkers in place, I would command the horse to “walk on.” We would then make our way around the arena – moving forward with periodic stops along the way.

Today, “walk on” is an invitation to be considered and hopefully embraced. Our only option is to move forward – one step at a time. It matters not that we long to reclaim Life before COVID-19. Life is forever changed. We are forever changed. There is no going back. So let’s consider how we choose to “walk on.” Where are we headed? With whom shall we share the journey? What will we choose to do and how shall we choose to be within the context of our new normal? 

Well my friends, the sunshine and blue skies are calling me to “walk on.” May you enjoy a glorious day. If you are feeling anxious and fearful – put on your sneakers, grab a jacket, and walk out the door. Discover what moves you. Create a daily ritual that inspires you. Believe you are brave and bold enough to “walk on” – because you are.

BE WELL and STAY WELL. Blessings to you and yours…….jane

Finding a Life-giving Balance

Greetings one and all…

This morning as I write this Cardinal Note, I am blessed to look outside and see sunshine and blue skies. A glorious day indeed. I plan to take advantage of the fabulous weather upon the completion of this post. I am maintaining what little sanity I have by walking 5-7 miles every day. Hopefully, you have discovered a daily ritual that serves to keep you balanced, realistically optimistic, and intentionally attentive to the moment.

undefined Although we long for the end of the COVID-19 crisis, time remains a precious commodity. So, how do we choose to invest ourselves in the hours, days, and weeks to come? What shall we do? How shall we BE? How can we regain the life-giving balance necessary to walk this path? Well, I just happen to have a few ideas!

undefined Limit Exposure to the News— I am a staunch believer that knowledge is power. It’s important that we stay current on recent developments and mandates associated with the pandemic. However, perseverating on the COVID-19 situation is unhealthy. I learned this the hard way. Flipping back and forth between the various news providers, reading online articles, and anxiously awaiting the next “Breaking News” banner to stream across my screen served only to increase my anxiety, diminish my mental health, and exhaust me. Consequently, I have achieved a better balance by adhering to the following plan:

  • To remain current on policies, procedures, and plans, I watch a local news channel AM and PM. I also watch the national evening news. I have muted the crazy-making harangue of the 24/7 news providers. What a relief! 
  • I limit online research related to the pandemic to known, reliable, scientific, and/or health care organizations, institutions, and agencies. 
  • Whether reading or watching the news, I try to be “in the moment” – resisting the temptation to worry about tomorrow. I have more than enough to deal with in the here and now!

undefined Continue Learning About Life— I have always loved to learn. I am the proverbial geek—happiest when I am in a classroom, reading a book, or diving into research about a new topic of interest. Therefore, the practice of social distancing affords me the time to do what I love. If you also love to learn, consider the following ideas to balance out your days:

  • Check out Coursera.org: Coursera is an online learning platform that offers college level classes from universities throughout the world – FREE. I recently enrolled in a class – The Science of Well-Being  – taught by a Yale professor. Seems like a timely subject! Care to join me?
  • Tap into Podcasts: Several years ago, a dear friend introduced me to the world of podcasts. I am a HUGE fan! When walking, riding my bike, and driving, I listen and learn. I am very excited to share that Brene Brown just launched her podcast – Unlocking Us. I listened to the first recording yesterday. I LOVE it! You might want to check it out – inspiring, motivating, hopeful, and FUNNY!
  • Do you have a pile of books by your nightstand? Ebooks uploaded but unread? Books in your library queue about to expire? Now is the time to kick back and savor every word. 
  • Leverage your time to hone current skills or develop new ones. Learn a new language. Practice a musical instrument. Craft and write stories. Whatever your passion – pursue it! 

undefined Explore Creative Ways to Connect— Over the past week, I have heard about innovative and life-giving ways of coming together. Stories that warm my heart and bring a smile to my lips. We may be encouraged to socially distance or even shelter in place, but we need each other now more than ever. So, it’s time to be creative in how we come together. In order to balance the reality of social distancing with our desire for social connection, we can choose to:

  • Leverage technology to communicate on a daily basis – phone calls, emails, text messages, instagrams, FaceBook, etc. 
  • Participate in virtual worship services offered by various faith communities.
  • Convene virtual happy hours, family meals, birthday celebrations, and meetings using platforms such as ZOOM or Google Hangout Chat. FYI – I convened a virtual happy hour with a group of girlfriends last night using ZOOM. We had so much fun that we have another gathering scheduled in 2 days! Cheers to virtual connections!

In closing, I acknowledge that achieving and maintaining a balanced perspective is a daily challenge. Some days I do better than others. When struggling, it’s nice to have some ideas in mind as to how to right the ship! I hope some of the suggestions noted today prove beneficial. More importantly, perhaps you’ll be motivated to share what’s working for you and your family. We are all in this together my friends. Please share your resources and insights. Something you post may be JUST the thing someone else has been longing to hear. Remember, we ARE better together. BE WELL and STAY WELL.

undefined Blessings to you and yours………..jane

Welcome to Cardinal Notes

Greetings one and all…..

Welcome to the first post of Cardinal Notes. The birth of this blog is a consequence of the life-changing events we are currently experiencing and witnessing due to the Coronavirus pandemic. At a time when we need each other the most, the medical experts advise that social distancing is one of the few options available to slow the spread of this disease. Hence, each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to self isolate to ensure the continued good health of all concerned.

Although I am a self-described “home body,” I sense a growing need and desire to process the happenings of Life with my friends and colleagues. I long to hug my friends and chat about my hopes and fears while sharing a steaming cup of coffee. It’s the simple yet profoundly sacred moments of togetherness that I miss the most while self isolating. So, how can we “come together” to support, to care, to nurture, to encourage, and to love one another when sequestered?

I have been pondering this question for several weeks. It is not merely a question of seeking support. It is also a question of how I can support my family, friends, colleagues, clients, and community. What do I have to contribute? How can I be of benefit on an ongoing basis?

As an educational consultant, my vocation for the past 15 years consisted of bringing people together to discuss the issues related to aging, caregiving, and the end of life. I enjoyed creating a space in which people gathered to talk about the blessings and the burdens of life – sharing stories, exploring possibilities, and recognizing we’re not alone. Sadly, those types of gatherings are not possible for the foreseeable future.

However, all is not lost! During my hiatus as a public speaker, I will leverage the available technology to create virtual spaces in which to gather, to share, and to commune with other people. Cardinal Notes – Miscellaneous Musings by Jane – is designed to assure that you are in good company as the journey of Life unfolds.

I don’t profess to have “the answers.” Rather, I will readily admit when I am confused, frightened, and frustrated by Life! In like fashion, I will gladly share any nuggets of hard-earned wisdom derived over my almost 63 years. And, I hope you will feel comfortable doing the same by commenting on the various blog posts. This is meant to be a respectful, community conversation where everyone feels comfortable being honest, vulnerable, and authentic. Come together. BE together. Because we ARE better together.

In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to the ongoing conversation with you and many others. If you find this blog beneficial, invite your family and friends to join the Cardinal Notes community. You can “follow” this blog to receive notification of all postings. Or, you can always access the blog via a link on my website page, www.Cardinalife.com.

In the meantime, take good care and BE WELL. May you find opportunities in the midst of your challenges. May you discover sustaining faith for the journey ahead. May you choose to transform this troubling time by sharing your light with the world. May it be so.

Blessings to you and yours…jane

  1. Love all of your words, Janie! All my years of knowing you, you remain such an inspiration! I start out…

  2. I start my day with prayer and a mass on TV with Bishop Barren. His homilies follow me through the…

  3. Plan to say the Lord’s Prayer daily and practice his lesson of forgiveness of others .

  4. This is such a great balance for the craziness out there. I have been planning to go to Trader Joe’s,…