Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How to Help Your Family Overcome Self-Isolation Stress

Photo courtesy  of Unsplash

Today's post is courtesy of

Managing stress and anxiety is challenging, no matter what’s happening in the world. But pair those feelings with a global crisis, and you have a combination for household tension and chaos. If you’re ready to shake off the stress, My Carpe Diem Life shares these tips to incorporate into your daily life to help smooth over tension at home while you self-isolate.

Care for Mental Health

Caring for your mental health won’t stop the rest of your family members from wreaking havoc. But centering yourself can ensure you’re better equipped to go with the flow and bounce back when anxiety takes hold. 

Focusing on mindfulness is another way to prioritize your mental health and stay grounded. The here and now is what matters – even if outside pressure suggests otherwise. Try breathing exercises or even yoga to help concentrate your energy and manage stress. If you can involve your kids or partner, even better for easing tension and promoting family bonding. 

Rely on Routines

Part of what’s so stressful about self-isolation is the uncertainty. At the same time, families feel like a bundle of nerves waiting for things to happen. Fortunately, establishing new routines for the entire household can help everyone feel better. Getting into a groove for mealtimes, school time, and work ensures your family keeps moving forward. When kids know what to expect, it’s easier for them to transition between activities, too. Plus, studies suggest that a regular sleep schedule (and remaining active during the day) can benefit the whole family’s health. 

Your routine doesn’t need to be all business, however. Especially for children, starting a weekly movie night or monthly backyard campout can be an exciting way to reduce chaos and stick to a predictable routine.

Make Home Cozier

Staying home all the time may have been appealing at first. But after months of everyone being cooped up indoors (or in the backyard), your family may find their spaces less than cozy.

Consider a revamp to make your home a haven once more. Letting fresh air in is one quick way to clear out the cobwebs mentally. You can also carve out lounging areas for each member of the family, or help your children turn their rooms into a therapeutic retreat with ambient lighting and pillows and even a new coat of paint. 

It’s also wise to tackle any clutter or disorganization. Clutter is linked to stress, notes Prevention, so eliminating (or at least reducing) it can do wonders for your household tension levels. Going beyond cleaning to cleansing can also help reduce tension at home. Clearing bad energy will help ease everyone’s mind and make your home feel comforting and more relaxing.

Land Your Dream Job

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, unemployment (or underemployment) can place a strain on your home, partnership, and even your children. Though being out of work is a serious pandemic-related issue, the timing could be right for you to start a new and more flexible career.

As NPR confirms, many companies are leaning toward a permanent work-from-home model, meaning you could net your dream job, even if its headquarters is on the other side of the globe. Of course, there are many self-employment opportunities you can also pursue to become your own boss. From freelance writing to developing websites to being a virtual assistant, plenty of jobs can be done from home – and on a schedule you dictate. 

The longer families remain cooped up at home, the clearer it becomes that something has to give. And while you can’t control how the pandemic affects society as a whole, you can take steps to reduce nerves and tension in your household. Incorporating these ideas into daily life could mean more relaxing family time and fewer sibling scuffles. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Happiness in Difficult Times

This was a tough week for me to continue my regular "happy" routine. The Atlanta and Boulder shootings were so senseless and such tragedies.  I can't even imagine the grief the families of the victims must be feeling.

Even though I didn't know any of the victims personally, the fact that the latest shooting was in neighboring Boulder -- the city I love and felt was so safe -- really shook me up.

Besides the shootings, someone in our extended family has suffered a major stroke. It's heart-breaking to have no control to help people who are going through such major challenges.  

I've been so proud at how, despite all the challenges of Covid, I've stayed optimistic. But this week I was at high-risk of falling into the I-don't-even-want-to-get-out-of-bed crowd.  I certainly didn't feel like posting any "Happiness pictures" or hosting the Action for Happiness Mindful March Meeting that I'd signed up to facilitate.

In fact, I didn't want to do anything! 

Suddenly every fear and insecurity was invading my mind! All my worries about aging and health and loneliness..  worries that I thought I'd overcome.. were back.

But all those wellness podcasts / books / blogs / Websites / and resources paid off.  I know that every day if I do these 5 things, I can get in a better mood:

  1. Exercise (Even doing a minute of push-ups counts..)
  2. Learn Something  (This is why I have a 785-day Duolingo Streak)
  3. Help Someone (This is as easy as a supportive email or text)
  4. Socialize (During Covid, this is usually a phone call) 
  5. Practice Gratitude (So many things to be grateful for..) 
So, even though I didn't feel like it, I hosted the Mindful March Meeting (actually co-hosted with Becky). 

I'd wanted to cancel this session, but it turned out to be unexpectedly inspiring. As the group talked about mindfulness and I listened to the wisdom of others, I felt my mood changing.  Instead of feeling hopeless about the state of our society, I saw the goodness in humanity.

This was a tragic week and a lot of people are mourning. 

I remember after my Dad died and I was talking to a friend and I told him that it felt like I'd never be happy again. He said that time would pass and joy would return. He was right. I've found so much joy.. more than I'd ever known before. You recognize how precious it is and so you savor it.

These tragedies are another reminder of the fragility of life... another reminder to look for the joy each day.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

GalPal Trip to Hilton Head Island, SC and Savannah, GA

Like the rest of the world, my travel plans for the past year have not turned out as originally planned. However, I had a huge stroke of great travel luck this week! 

Minnesota BFF Lisa and I had planned this Spring trip to the East Coast so long ago that we'd felt sure Covid would be a non-issue  In fact, the plan had been that I'd be doing my winter snowbird tour in Florida and would swing by and pick Lisa up at the Savannah airport on March 13 for a vacation in Hilton Head, SC and Savannah, GA.

But, of course, I didn't execute the snowbird plan after all. Both Lisa and I have been staying "safe"..  we're both social-distancing, mask-wearing, rule-followers so traveling when the country is not yet pandemic-free created a fair amount of anxiety and guilt for both of us.  However, as an older, wiser woman, I've been trying to rid myself of unnecessary guilt in favor of taking educated risks.  Not to mention, we're not even breaking any rules or laws! (Clearly, I'm having trouble playing the 'bad girl.')

We both agreed we would mask up and carry on with the vacation.  I felt very lucky that I was able to get the first vaccine before the flight and had a wide range of masks from N95 to light-up party mask to keep me safe.

When a major snowstorm turned out to be in the Denver forecast for exactly when my flight was leaving, I felt sure that snow was going to ruin my travel plans. But the snow came late and I was able to make it out and meet Lisa in Savannah.

We rented a cute little Volkswagen Beetle and have been having and awesome girl's trip.  Like our trip to the Bahama's 3 years ago,  we had lots of fun visiting, eating, drinking, cooking, and exploring. I never run out of things to talk about with Lisa!

The weather has been better than expected..  the original forecast showed rain all week, but it really only rained for a few hours today (actually, we had the excitement of a tornado warning!) 

We spent 3 days at Lisa's RCI Timeshare unit on Hilton Head Island and then 3 days in Historic Downtown Savannah. Every day we found fun things to see and do!

Here are some of the Happy Highlights from the week:

  • Long walks on the beach
  • Renting bikes and exploring Hilton Head Island, including an historic cemetery
  • Trying to ride the bikes on the beach despite the strong winds!
  • Nightly "Happy Hours" with White Claws or Pinot Grigio
  • Beautiful architecture and huge trees draped with Spanish moss
  • The Sea Pines Resort with horses, gardens, quaint shops, and a lighthouse
  • She-Crab soup! Yum!
  • A beautiful AirBnB in historic downtown Savannah
  • Forsythe Park
  • Meeting our "neighbors" Fred and Patty from Vermont
  • Being in Savannah for St. Patrick's Day - green fountains and partiers
  • Watching movies: Like Father, The Dressmaker, and The Greatest
  • Asking each other "Conversation Questions" 
  • Delicious Dinner at The Husk: Quail with Sweet Potato and Cobio
  • Making dinners.. Flounder with mandarin oranges, Eggs with zucchini and yummy spice, guacamole and Mexican food
  • The Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley and the historic tour
Lisa's heading back to Minnesota tomorrow, but I have another weekend of adventure in St. Augustine before I head back to Colorado on Monday.  I'll be sad to see Lisa go tomorrow, but this vacation was such a relief.. like the world was slowly returning to "normal" again.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Discovering Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


This year, I'm letting many of my goals and celebrations evolve organically.  One such celebration  occurred today on Douglas Adam's birthday: The Douglas Adam's Memorial Lecture

I attended with Sarasota housemate, Becky Burns and Carpe Diem Winner, Lee MacIvor. We had a pre-party with our towels and Arthur Dent-style bathrobes.  If you don't know why we'd have towels or who the heck Arthur Dent is, you probably haven't read or watched Douglas Adams'  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The book was written in 1978 so it's been 42 years -- an important number in Hitchhiker fandom. You see 42 is the answer to .. well,  Don't Panic! I won't post any spoilers for those who don't yet know the meaning of life..

Let me tell you how I came to become a new member of the Douglas Adams fan club at this late date. 

Lee MacIvor, before donating her late husband's 4000+ book collection to a nursing home, generously offered me any books of my choosing. 

The first books on the list were the Douglas Adams books.  Though I wasn't intimately familiar with his work, I'd heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I requested the set if they weren't spoken for, and before I knew it, they were on their way to me!

That same week, I saw that a virtual Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture was being hosted! I made it my goal to learn as much as I could about Douglas Adams before the lecture. I quickly became enamored with this sci-fi author and his quirky sense of humor. How could I have gone all these years and not been part of this pop-culture phenomenon?  Douglas Adams even created National Towel Day, for heaven's sakes! If that's not up my alley, what is?

Besides reading and watching Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I found all kinds of resources on the Web that would help me in my quest to discover as much as I could about Douglas Adams and his legacy.

One of Adams' adventures, as both a conservationist and conversationalist and founding member of Save the Rhino, was to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in a rhino costume and then write about it! 

The Memorial Lecture, hosted by Save the Rhino, turned out to be even better than expected! On the docket: 

This year, the event includes: a fascinating lecture by Baroness Susan Greenfield (The Creative Mind: Insights from Neuroscience), and a presentation by Arvind Ethan David (On the Advisability of Writing Fan Mail), featuring the world premiere of “Socially Distanced Dirk” a new holistic short starring Samuel Barnett and Hannah Marks.

I was SO interested in the lecture by Baroness Susan Greenfield and now I want to learn all about HER! Lee had the great idea of recruiting her into the Carpe Diem Connections Community. Wouldn't it be cool if I could have her on my Carpe Diem Connections podcast

She talked a lot about the plasticity of our brain and connections. And I think about all the connections I have made lately, and how I continue to make new discoveries.

  • Becky invited Lee to join Carpe Diem Connections
  • Lee shared the story of her husband, Brian MacIvor, and his book collection
  • Brian's books by Douglas Adam's were given to me by Lee
  • I've now discovered the writings of Douglas Adams and his wonderful imagination 
  • Thanks to the Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, Baroness Susan Greenfield has opened me up to how I can expand my mind and become more creative 
None of these things would have happened had Becky not invited Lee to join Carpe Diem Connections. 

This week, thanks to this serendipitous series of events, I discovered Douglas Adams and he's leading me to more new discoveries.

It's interesting that each day we might discover something or someone new..  a new podcast, app, an author, an artist, a scientist, or even a new friend... that lead our lives down a new yet-to-be discovered path.

Who or what did you discover this week?

Friday, March 05, 2021

Spring Decor: Big Wall Decor and Online Interior Design


Big Wall Decor: Carpe Diem

This blog post might seem a little odd.  After 15 years of blogging, I found out I've earned $99.06 from AdSense, but they don't pay out until I make $100.  Last month, I made 2 cents, so at that rate, it will take about another 4 years to make the needed 94 more cents.  Time to experiment! (And if you're so inclined, feel free to click on those lovely ads you may see more of annoying you throughout this post.)

I wanted to blog this week about my Spring decorations, so after doing a Keyword search, I discovered the top keywords that advertisers would pay more for.  

I'll go ahead and see if I can work the top 6 keywords into this post as much as possible:

  1. skull candle
  2. big wall decor
  3. peeper
  4. online interior design
  5. natural spring
  6. decorated
This is kind of an interesting blogger's challenge. We'll see how many times I can use these keywords in my post. Here goes..

I had fun this week switching from Valentine Decor to Spring Decor! I'll save the skull candle decor for Fall.  I received a wonderful big wall decor surprise from Matt and Stella in the mail today: a Carpe Diem wall hanging!

That big wall decor can be used all year round both for my online interior design as well as for my exterior interior designCarpe Diem is my mantra, after all, so I can use the photo for online interior design both on this blog as well as on my blog.

Enough about the big wall decor, though. Let me give your peeper a peek at how I've decorated for a natural spring.

No skull candles, but plenty of natural spring decor in this online interior design 

Decorated with fairy lights, your peepers get a festive treat

This online interior design includes a personalized tiny big wall decor: Yvette's Fairy Garden 

My seasonal tree decorated for natural spring

Let your peepers feast on the signs of a natural spring popping up all over! 

Monday, March 01, 2021

Happy Refired not Retired Day


This morning when I asked Alexa, "Alexa, what special day is it?" she answered that there were 54 informal holidays! FIFTY-FOUR!!  It was even too much for Alexa. (She only talked about Women's History Month.) Maybe we have just gone a little too far with these holidays. 

For each "special holiday" that's out there, Carpe Diem Day gets a little more lost in the crowd. Oh well. Even if Carpe Diem Day never gets famous, it's still the most important -- the matriarch, if you will, of all these other 'special days' that people are seizing.

With 54 days to sift through, I was thinking I'd be fine with embracing just another lazy Monday (celebrated by listening to the Bangles and being grateful that I no longer was having Manic Mondays) when I came across this one for March 1rst: Refired not Retired Day.

As I read the description, I found it was created by Phyllis May who retired (or should I say "refired" at the age of 55 in 1998 and started a new life in Key West, Florida.

Now one of the things that I've always liked best about social media is reading some story and then getting to know the person behind the story. I immediately connected to Phyllis May on LinkedIn (who dubs herself, "The Fiery Retiree") and bought her book: Refired not Retired: Ignite Your Zest for Life.

Retirement and living a "Fiery" Carpe Diem Life is one of the topics I'm most interested in! In fact, one of my many project ideas has been to write my own book about this phase of life, especially as a single... maybe a sequel to The Laptop Dancer Diaries (without the embarrassing dating stories.)

I'll be curious what Phyllis has to say in her book and I'm hoping I'll be able to connect with her on my Carpe Diem Connections Podcast! Maybe the next season will be about being "Refired not Retired"!