Sunday, April 05, 2020

Best Grocery Experience Ever!

I know that grocery-store shopping is something we're "allowed" to do, but based on my last experience, I wouldn't exactly call it "safe."

I've been monitoring Walmart's online shopping app and discovered that, at least for the Sarasota store near me, that if you sign in a little after midnight, you can get delivery or pick up service any time the following day! For example if you log in at 12:01am (the first minute of Saturday) you can pick any hour on Sunday to have your groceries delivered or picked up.  Checking at 5am, there were still some slots available, so if you're willing to order very early in the morning, you can get a spot for the next day.

I thought I was set with groceries for a month, but it was nice to know this option would be available if needed. When I ran out of something essential (deodorant!) I decided to see how well online ordering and pickup would work. Both Becky and I had some other items that we were out of and so we took the opportunity to stock up on even non-essentials like candy!

In Agile style, here's what worked well and what I think could be better:

What worked well:
  • Availability of groceries
  • Whatever wasn't available, there were good substitutions
  • You could "check in" when you were on your way
  • Service was extremely fast! Someone was out as soon as I drove up!
  • Becky and I have been more intentional about what food we're buying
  • Our food and 'fridge are cleaner than ever!
  • I felt so much more secure than going into the store with the crowds
  • It was much easier to search for the food I needed online rather than in the grocery store
  • No need to wait in lines!

What could have been better
  • It would have been nice to be able to give a tip online
  • Of course, it would be nice if there was more availability

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Finding peace in a time of crisis


Since everyone started freaking out about the Corona virus, I've been somewhat manic about wanting to help. I've helped people throughout my career collaborate using online technologies. I also was an "Agile coach" which means I'm familiar with frameworks that help put some structure around dealing with change and uncertainty.  If there was any time that I have the skills to help people, it would be now.

And yet I feel helpless. Not because I'm stuck at home, but because the vastness of this crisis is so huge, involving everyone in the world. 

When I hear people predicting doom and gloom, I feel like "virtually screaming": CALM DOWN! but, yeah, I know...not helpful.  It's like when there's an email storm and people hit Reply All to say: "Stop hitting Reply All!" 

One step better is my "Super Carpe Diem Woman is HERE to SAVE the DAY!" attitude.



I've had so many ideas of how I can help, and I am making progress on some of them. Baby steps, but steps, just the same.

However, some of my ideas, when I really think about them, are quite ridiculous. For example, I thought I might create a Website to match people who want to help with those who can help. This would be like thinking I could swim across the ocean when I can barely swim a lap across a pool.

To my relief, I realize that organizations that are already set up to match up volunteers are adapting to take into account remote volunteers. Besides this long list of remote opportunities that my daughter-in-law put together, I found last night that Volunteer Match has added a COVID-19 feature with 70,898 virtual opportunities available!

So for now, I'm finding peace these ways:

  • Enjoying long talks with my housemate, Becky, and other friends on the phone or via Web chats
  • Finding routine
  • Enjoying the beautiful sunsets and sunrises here
  • Enjoying music
  • Snuggling with Becky's cute little doggie, Jack
  • Walking
  • Enjoying serenity
  • Blogging
  • Trying to help small businesses with their online presence
  • Helping people with Zoom
  • Enjoying the creative efforts that are being shared on social media
  • Learning Wordpress
  • Taking Zumba classes over Zoom... maybe this should be called Zoomba?
  • Having patience
  • Learning iMovie
  • Trusting in a higher power
I've realized I can't swim the ocean, but I can help myself and others stay afloat together (maybe in our flamingo inner tubes!) as we wait out the storm.

What brings you peace?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Tell Me Something Good: Clap for our Carers

The other day, I hosted a "Virtual Happy Hour" and had participation from friends from the UK, Australia, and Colorado. One thing I find amazing and surreal is that this is a crisis that the whole world is experiencing together.  It's not a personal tragedy or a regional tragedy, but a world-wide tragedy. Somehow that ironically makes me feel more connected than ever.

David, from the UK, had a couple of good ideas and suggestions for us all:

1) Pass along positive stories
2) Call 3 people every day

The positive story he shared with us was the heartwarming experience of hearing all the people of London clapping from their balconies to honor and thank the medical professionals who are working so hard to save lives.

Even though we can feel helpless when we're being asked to stay home, we see how Londoners were creatively and collectively able to show their support with this Clap for Our Carers event. 

I love the idea of calling friends, too. Today I called 4 friends and each of them helped spark more ideas that I can't wait to explore!
Even though he had his eyes closed at this particular moment, I wanted to share this photo of my WhatsApp videochat with David, who deserves credit for today's: Tell Me Something Good! Yay, David! Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience and a great idea of how we can foster our friendships!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Tell Me Something Good: 10StepsTogether and Walk2Connect

I decided to start a new blog/vlog project: Tell Me Something Good!  There's a lot of not-so-good...  ok..  there's a lot of really bad stuff happening in the world now and social media is filled with those stories. But there are also so many positive and heart-warming stories and those are the ones I'm going to be sharing on "Tell Me Something Good!"

I'm part of a couple of walking groups and I even signed up to be a Walk Leader for Walk2Connect, an awesome organization that combines walking and social connection.

Sarah leads a Walk Leaders meeting virtually via Zoom each week and we share ideas about how we can support our walk community and maintain connection, even though we're walking alone.  One of the members, Robin Truesdale, is requesting "10-step-videos" and compiling them and putting them to music.  Here's an example of the first:


10StepsTogether #1 3/22/2020 from Robin Truesdale on Vimeo.

Do you want to participate? Send your video with your 10-steps and where you took them to 10StepsTogether@gmail.com.


Here's a video that I put together as part of the Walk With A Doc Physical Distance Challenge:

I love that despite the anxiety that we may be experiencing, we can step outside and notice little treasures that we may have taken for granted in our life BC (Before Corona).

Here are some of the photos I've taken as I've been noticing my beautiful surroundings here in sunny Sarasota, Florida:










Thursday, March 26, 2020

Business Opportunity: Safe grocery delivery

A lot of small business owners are worried about sitting idle and want to be working. However, in times like these, how about pivoting and temporarily fulfilling a much-needed service: safe food delivery?

I've been practicing self-isolation like the rest of the world, but I've been worried about the safety of grocery shopping for all of us. 

Originally, I thought how lucky it is that online grocery shopping and delivery was available in most major cities; however, I quickly found that it's nearly impossible to get an order in at any of the grocery stores here in Sarasota.

A quick check on the Walmart Facebook page showed me that this seems to be a hit-or-miss problem.  It seems to be working well in some places, but many places seem to just have a higher demand than they can handle.   Even if I could get an order in, I wouldn't want to take the place of someone who might need the spot more than me.

I went ahead and risked going to the store, wearing protective gloves and trying to follow the physical distance rules, but there were a lot of shoppers and workers, so it was pretty difficult.  

Of course, I'm very grateful for all those who are working so that we all can still eat, and I know there's a shortage of protective gear, even for medical staff, but I was surprised that none of the cashiers or stockers were wearing gloves or masks and they are being surrounded by crowds of people all day long! Many of these workers were older, so I was especially surprised to see them still working as usual, without even gloves.

I'm also so grateful for the kindness of people who offer to do grocery shopping for the elderly; however, it seems that many people aren't realizing that everyone is risking getting and spreading the virus when they go to the stores.  People keep acting as though young people with no symptoms are immune, rather than realizing that we all take the risk of spreading it, even if we're not afraid of dying from it.

I've been pondering how we might be able to solve this problem and have thought about trying to organize neighborhood volunteer groups like Zoomers to Boomers.  They have a thorough safety policy outlining how to handle the groceries.  I'm not sure how they're able to obtain the face masks and protective gear, but it is at least reassuring that they are taking safety seriously and seem to have some gear.

Quite honestly, I wouldn't want to be responsible for sending volunteers out.  I think it's too big of a risk.  Whoever does this, as well as all of those grocery workers, and all the people who are out working, deserve to be protected and well-paid.  

As a consumer, I would certainly pay and tip well for this service and I'm sure many others would, but it's just not available now.

UberEats is another alternative that's available for me here in Sarasota, so check out that option if you're running low on food or you want to treat yourself to a night off cooking.

However you get your food, please also follow the tips in this video to make sure that food is safe:





Getting started with Zoom for business and fun

Yes, we're doing the social distancing thing, but that doesn't mean we can't keep socializing! Zoom is a wonderful free tool that allows multiple people to join together and see each other and share their screens or documents real-time with others on the call.

The great thing is, not only can we do this from home, we can do it from anywhere. That means we can suddenly meet up with people all around the world! Single people... think how much this opens up our dating pool! Now, we just need match.com to add a category for people who live online, but that's a story for another blog post..

Here are some ideas of what we might do with Zoom (or other tools like it) in the time of Corona:

* Collaborate with others in your business
* Host a virtual happy hour
* Go on a virtual date
* Network with potential clients
* Give a tutorial
* Do a spoof of the Opening Brady Bunch Theme Song
* Teach a class
* Participate in a class
* Play games together
* Watch movies together
* Be part of a virtual orchestra:

* Or be part of a virtual choir:


What ideas do you have?

Monday, March 23, 2020

How each of us can help in the time of the Coronavirus




About a year ago, I retired from my Agile consultant role because I was nearing the age of 60 and I wanted to travel while I was still healthy.  However, throughout most of my career I was a leader and have coached others how to lead during times of uncertainty and change. I've had roles in being a communication manager, including for crisis (which in my business at the time was mission critical outages) as well as roles in which I helped people learn how to effectively communicate and collaborate from a distance, whether that was for an important meeting or a fun virtual team-building event.

I still write the occasional article, and in early March, I'd written an article for TechBeacon which was published today, "Why agile leadership is key in these uncertain times."  At the time I wrote that article, I had no idea what the next few weeks would bring.  The article was really rather generic about leadership style rather than leading in a crisis. Though accurate, the content seems embarrassingly trite compared to the magnitude of what's happening in the world today.

Whether your business is booming, holding steady, or is suffering huge losses, every leader is setting an example for their teams and for people who are looking to them for guidance.  Every person, including those of us who are retired, can demonstrate leadership and a positive example, which is one of the best ways we can help one another.

Here are ways we all can demonstrate leadership during this time of massive uncertainty.

Take care of your health

Make containing the virus and staying healthy a priority. Be radical and vigilant in efforts to contain the virus.  Get exercise, sleep, and get fresh air while practicing physical distancing.  Though it may seem extreme, act as though you have the virus. Since we know it is very contagious, even with no symptoms, we can't be 100% certain that we don't have it, and a radical approach will help us adapt habits designed to prevent spread of the virus.

Recognize that mood is contagious

Whenever the future is unknown, there are those who predict the worst, which spreads fear and panic. I've been baffled by the toilet-paper shortages, but it's an example of how unfounded panic can spread like wildfire, particularly with social media, and cause unnecessary consequences.

If you present yourself in a manner that demonstrates transparency, hope, gratitude, resilience, and compassion, others will follow your lead.

Utilize social media and technologies to your advantage.

Passing along positive stories and resources can also spread quickly via social media. I've long been a proponent of how influential a leader can be, thanks to social media.  I am extremely confident that our economy will recover and our country will thrive because the best thought-leaders and scientists are working together like never before. In the same way that we see how quickly the coronavirus can exponentially grow, we have seen that kind of exponential growth in our technologies and our abilities to find solutions to the world's worst problems.  We WILL beat this and come out of it stronger and more prepared.

Care for each other

One of the most important things we can do in times of massive change and fear is to listen with compassion and understanding.  There is generally more stress when a fear is unknown than even if a fear is realized. When people are afraid and feeling a lack of control, they can act in ways that may seem irrational.

Listen to the people who are afraid and help brainstorm with them about ways they might be able to alleviate or mitigate their fears. Remember that we all process things differently and try not to judge, or criticize, but to understand from their point of view, even if it's different from your own.

Don't play the victim, yourself, or place blame on others for the problems you're encountering. Face the challenges head on, taking it one day at a time.  But if you need help, be vulnerable to ask for it from someone you trust.  If you or others make a mistake or are misunderstood, forgive quickly and move forward, learning from it.

Find ways to thank and show appreciation to all the valuable people who are keeping our world going.

Share helpful resources

There have been so many wonderful resources, including lists of lists, that have been passed around. Here are a few that I've found particularly helpful:

ChatterPack's list of free online resources including art, culture, learning, and well-being
Staying Connected and Entertained  (full disclosure.. this one was written by my brilliant daughter-in-law, Stella Min)
Kindness Resources from Random Acts of Kindness
Positive.News This UK-based publication has some great information for the UK, including information about local mutual aid groups
Caremongering groups are being set up to help one another

Encourage creativity and innovation

I'm always moved at the creative ways people find to help one another or comfort one another. Just because we are physically separated, doesn't me we can't comfort, play, communicate, and collaborate together! In fact, some people are feeling more  connected than ever because they're communicating with people all over the world.  Rather than our usual hustle and bustle, we are being forced to slow down and in many instances, using that time to communicate with friends and families.

In business, some organizations are pivoting, providing services to help during the crisis. Teachers, entertainers, and service works are finding heart-warming ways to help one another. Here are a few examples I've read about, with more coming each day:

Distilleries are making hand-sanitizers
A choir concert sang remotely
CNN's good stuff newsletter has several examples of people finding creative ways to help
People are pitching in to make face masks


Working Remotely

I've been strongly encouraging businesses to enable work-from-anywhere technologies for years because it provides so much more flexibility in the workplace. I know there are limitations and down-sides, but the benefits are enormous as well. Those businesses that are now enabling work-from-home capabilities may find that they enjoy more modernization, flexibility and better streamlining of their business, better setting them up for the future as well.

If you're a leader who is not used to having a remote team, it's important to remember that this is not the time to expect or monitor productivity.  Give people freedom to do what they can, recognizing that focus may be impossible and help guide them with understanding.

Finding Ways to Help

Most of us really want to help.  Doing something to help provides us with a semblance of control. It's the lack of control, or the feeling that we're unable to help, that adds to our anxiety.

By setting a positive example to those who look up to you, know that you ARE helping.

If you find you have time on your hands and want to help more,  think about the skills you have and whether or not you might want to offer those to others, perhaps via social media.

Here are some ideas:

* Set up a Caremongering group or a Mutual Aid Group

 * Find ways to get those elders who are technology-challenged a way that they could still get visits from their loved ones. Maybe we can get the tech companies to donate voice-activated devices into assisted living or nursing homes.

* Create hot-lines or resources to match up people who need help with those who can give it.

I'd like to brainstorm these and other ideas and will be hosting a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, March 25th at 4pm ET.

In the mean time, if you, or someone you know needs help, please contact me at yvette.francino@gmail.com



Thursday, March 19, 2020

Staying Connected



Today was my daughter-in-law's birthday and we were able to have a virtual birthday party over zoom!  I know it's not the same as being together in person, but even if we weren't in the middle of this coronavirus crisis, we wouldn't have been able to get together because of distance and the snow storm that's currently going on in Colorado! Luckily, I've been kind of a geek about virtual teaming for years and it's coming in handy now.

There are SO many wonderful apps and resources available to us in this digital age! I'm barely scratching the surface here, so chime in with your own ideas!


Exercise 
Learn Something New or Practice a Skill
  • So many free virtual learning opportunities! One of my favorites: The Science of Happiness
  • Take an Udemy Class. I'm going to finally learn more about my Mac and iMovie so I can make some movies!
  • Practice an instrument and learn some new music. Then shoot a video of yourself and post online for your own little virtual recital.
  • Try coordinating a song, dance, or musical piece where each person does their part and then compile together like this school choir did.
  • Use Duolingo to learn a language and Conversation Exchange to practice with a native speaker!
  • Practice your photography skills and post on Instagram or other social media.
  • If you like to write, start a blog, or join a writer's group, where you can share and critique one another.
  • Here's a site with lots of great online learning resources for teachers or parents who have kids home from school
  • Paint a picture or work on an art project

Socialize - (at a distance)
  • Here are some great ideas for throwing a virtual birthday party that can be adapted to any day of socializing with a friend or family member when you can't be there in person.
  • Watch a movie with friends using Kast.
  • Talk on the phone using an app that let's you see each other like: FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, etc
  • Watch a movie, a broadway play, or read a book, and then have a "virtual happy hour" over Zoom as you talk about it together.  The drinks will be cheap and no worries about getting an Uber home!
  • Find an online group or forum that shares your passion and make some new virtual friends. Share, help and support each other.
  • Share links to your favorite videos, send photos, or send an old fashioned snail mail card or letter to friends and family.
  • Play games! There are plenty online. Tonight we played some jackbox.tv games.
  • Take a picture a day that matches the day's crazy holiday or of anything that makes you happy.
Help someone
  • Call friends or family who are isolated, vulnerable, or scared, and listen.
  • Order food from places that are doing takeout.
  • Share your toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or face masks if you know of people who need it.
  • Be patient and kind to everyone you interact with.
  • Let people know you're thinking of them, maybe with a surprise call, gift, letter, or photo.
  • If you're going to the grocery store,  get food for a neighbor or friend and leave it on their doorstep)
  • Look out for older, vulnerable people who are out in public. When my 84-year-old mother went to Costco to pick up a hearing aid, a very kind woman notified an employee who was able to take my mother away from the crowds and get her in and out very quickly and safely.
  • Offer to help someone online with a skill you might have that they need help with.
  • Look for virtual opportunities to volunteer.
  • Stay positive!

What ideas do you have?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Pi Day Celebrations!

OK, people, I know we're all disappointed about all the Pi Day Parades and Pi Parties that have been cancelled due to the Corona Virus, but don't despair! There is plenty of Pi fun you can have all day (note, however, if you're on your computer, be sure it has virus protection.)

Here are some ideas of ways to celebrate:

Pi Poetry



Example


PI Sonnet:

Definition: a poem of fourteen lines following the rhyming scheme: aaa.bccccbddddd; Typically a love poem.

Diameter, a straight and simple number
Alone and feeling down and umber
In boredom she would simply slumber
[Pointed pause]
But wait!
A number of a different sort
Up front, she finds he's rather short
Oh, but past the point, there's no report
of ever reaching an ending port.
It’s fate!
He’s different, yes, not Hex nor Bi.
This irrational number was her guy.
At last she'd found her Sweetie Pi.
And so, she proposed with an excited cry,
"Let's go full circle and multiply!"






Pi-Ku


Derived from Haiku (俳句 high-koo)
which uses a 5-7-5 syllable pattern.
Definition: A Poem in which the number of syllables in each line, matches that of PI: 3.1415

What is the
Point
Of
Never-ending
PI?
It's irrational.

Iambic Pi-Tamiter


Definition: A poem in which each line has double the syllables and the number of metrical feet as that of PI.

MatheMatical Ratio
a
Fraction
a Number-Crunching disTracTion
let Go
for You will Never reach SatisFacTion

More Pi-deas

* Eat Pie


* Memorize and recite 100 digits of Pi

* Look for Pi in the sky
Rocket Launch 3/14/2020 from Sarasota

* Be irrational





Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Seizing the Daylight in Sarasota!

This week we did the "spring forward" Daylight Savings thing and while others grumble at a lost hour of sleep, I love getting that extra hour of light in the afternoons and evenings and the later sunsets.  Last night I was volunteering at an event that ended at 7:30pm and happily (both for my own sake and the drivers around me) it was still light for my drive home!

Yes, in my deep dive into what makes me happy, I've determined that warm days and sunlight make a much bigger affect on my mood than I'd ever imagined!  I am loving the snowbird life in Sarasota, Florida and feel so much more energetic than I did during those cold, winter days in Colorado!

Of course, as I wrote about when I was exploring San Antonio as a possible snowbird location, the biggest factor in feeling happy in a new location is having friends and one of the reasons I picked Sarasota as a place to settle (at least for 2 months) is that I do have a couple of friends here already!

Becky

I feel so lucky to be sharing a space with Becky, who has a beautiful townhouse in North Sarasota with a spare bedroom, complete with its own private bathroom! Becky, in her usual style, has made me feel so welcome with cute amenities (even a Keurig machine with a sweet violet teacup and a creamer filled with q-tips in the bathroom!)


I met Becky last summer at a Meetup in Boulder and we became fast friends!  She's a bit of a "sunbird" spending a lot of her summer months in the Boulder area, so we are a perfect complement to one another!

Not only is Becky a supportive friend in every way, she's a kindred Carpe Diem spirit! On March 8th, her sister's birthday and International Women's Day, she hosted a little party for her sister and we played Hearts and 99 with a deck of playing cards that had pictures of accomplished women! Yay, Becky, for, not only having a fun party for your sister's birthday, but also celebrating IWD with a perfectly-themed deck of cards! Becky also made us a most delicious dinner of shrimp curry which we enjoyed with sangrias and tiramisu for dessert! Yum!

Becky with International Women Playing Cards!
Bryan 

Long-time friend, Bryan, is also in nearby Longboat Key, enjoying his new boat, Honey Badger!

I met Bryan about 15 years ago on good ol' Match.com. I've always said that online dating hasn't worked out too well for me in finding a romantic partner, but it sure has resulted in finding some of my best friends.

Bryan has an awesome sense of humor and I just love his sense of play! He introduced me to this part of the country years ago because he, too, enjoys the snowbird life. He has a beautiful home in Louisville, but he's been coming out to Long Boat Key in the winters for several years and this year, he found a new "honey"!

Bryan gave me a tour of Honey Badger, which is a beauty with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, so Bryan's considering becoming a "Live aboard" (as I guess those who live on their boats are called.)

New friends 

Both Becky and Bryan have introduced me to their friends and I'm meeting new people every day through Meetups and Bumble.  All these years of being single have helped me feel comfortable going places on my own and I'm getting better at striking up a conversation with people I meet.

I have so many more pictures and things I'd like to write about, but I will save those for another day and another blog post!