Monthly Archives: December 2020

Ten things I learned about myself in 2020

Afternoon Shadows, acrylic, original painting, 14 x 18, contemporary impressionism, Kit Miracle

It’s not quite the end of this dreadful year but we’re close enough that I thought I’d spend a little time reflecting.  This is what I learned about myself.

I am happy to be a hermit.

I’m a sociable person and enjoy visiting with friends and family, but actually, I am happy spending time alone.  Never lonely.  Just alone.  Quite a difference.  I didn’t even notice this until my husband pointed out that I hadn’t left the property for over a week.  And the problem with that is?  Fortunately, he loves to do the grocery shopping (yes, really!) so I only have to venture out to the big box store about once a month for other supplies and necessities. And the post office and library.

I would rather eat Cheetos and drink wine than exercise.

I am not proud of this.  I used to exercise every day and ride my bike about ten miles a day, in nearly any weather.  This year, not so much.  It’s just so easy to sit on the patio with a good book and some crunchy snacks and my favorite adult beverage.  This will be remedied in 2021. 

I love my libraries.

This is really not any news, but my local libraries have gone above and beyond the call in order to supply books to their patrons.  I could order books online and they would be delivered to my tiny local library within a few days.  This saved me about 50 miles round trip.  Yes, books are this important in my life.

UPS delivers (and FedEx and USPS).

Except when they don’t.  Isn’t it so nice to be able to order practically anything you want online and it will be delivered to your door?  In this rural area, I see the same delivery people all the time.  My mail carrier has a personal relationship with my “big scary dog.”  These are really hardworking, conscientious people.

But…as an Etsy seller, I did have some trouble with deliveries this season.  I would mail out the package – usually within a day – take it to the local post office.  They would get it out the same day.  And then….where did it go?  Many of my shipments ended up in a great black hole.  I was so embarrassed as I truly believe in providing good customer service.  Fortunately, everyone was very understanding.  All but two packages arrived before the holidays but it was still disappointing.

Where’s your mask?

Last spring when the pandemic started ramping up and masks were difficult to find, I dusted off the old old sewing machine and whipped up a few.  Well, about 200.  I sent them to friends and family.  No charge, just be safe. I was even considering creating a fund raiser for local food banks but by that time everyone had jumped on the band wagon and masks were easy to find.  That’s good.  I decided that I didn’t want to spend all my time sewing.  I mostly want to paint.

But…I can’t believe how mad I could get when I saw people who weren’t wearing masks.  Either they flunked science or were sleeping in the back of health class.  Didn’t they know that masks could prevent the spread of germs?!  Grumble grumble grumble.

I’m really really tired of politics.

Not only did we have the challenge of the pandemic, job losses, no fun activities, no vacations, but we were inundated with political ads and pundits.  It was totally crazy.  But my husband and I decided to vote in person because it feels real.  I even reregistered just so my signature would match the 35 year old signature on record when I first registered here.

I miss live performances.

After spending so many years as Director of a performing and multi-discipline arts center, I never realized just how much I would miss live performances.  Where people are sitting shoulder to shoulder, enjoying some live music on stage.  A real play or comedy routine. Even the Chinese acrobats!  I can’t wait to get back to some live performance venues.

I miss my family and friends.

We’re used to hosting family and friends for major holidays or summer get togethers.  Not this year.  I haven’t seen my father who only lives about a hundred miles from me since 2019.  And when I visit my son who just lives a few miles away, it’s usually outside and socially distanced.  An elderly friend who’s been a guest at our table for over 35 years is staying home these days.  But we have been taking meals to her when we can.

Living in the country is the best!

It has been such a bonus that we can get outdoors.  We can go for a country drive.  We can sit by the firepit and not see another soul.  My heart aches for all the children who are stuck in apartments or in the city with no outdoor space.  This is no way for humans to live.

I am so proud of all the people who are helping to make our lives better….or at least tolerable.

I am grateful for the food servers and grocery store workers.  For the many medical field workers who put their lives on the line every day.  For the public employees who still take care of the streets and water and sewers and the lights.  I’m grateful for my postman and the people who are still driving trucks across the country to deliver the necessities to people in need. 

I try to keep focusing on the good things in our lives.  On the opportunities, not the troubles.  On the smart people who are working so hard to make the vaccines and medicines which will help us all. 

This has been a trying year.  Yet, despite our differences, we are able to find common ground.  To still remember that we are all humans who are just trying to get by.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?

But I really must work on eliminating those Cheetos.

Uh, oh!

Sorry, folks, I’ve been asked to put a hold on the sneak preview of the new Cultural Center. They’re not quite ready to roll everything out. But be assured, that I’ll post more about the whole shebang later when they are. Probably a few weeks. Anyway, for those of you who caught the sneak preview, keep that in mind. It’s still an awesome new arts venture in Jasper.

Thanks for your kind comments and patience.

Where’s my mail?

Snowman and friend. Happy holidays, all y’all. We’ve only had a dusting of snow so far but it always puts me in the mood. Keep a smile on your face.

So how’s your holiday shopping going? Sending and receiving?  Do things seem a little delayed this year?

I asked my Facebook friends if they’ve noticed any delays in deliveries this year.  Well, guess that was a hot button.  Everyone has a story or complaint.

Fortunately, I ordered my gifts online pretty early.  And have actually been surprised by the speedy delivery of a couple that I’ve ordered to be sent directly. 

But as an online retailer (very very small), I’ve noticed a considerable slow down of pieces that I’ve mailed.  I usually ship the day after I receive an order but this year when I check the tracking, the packages seem to spend days in a regional center, and then….where did they go?  I can only hope that they eventually show up at their destinations.

I think a lot of bigger post offices and regional centers are looking like this about now.

I spoke with my local post mistress who showed me a photo of the regional center.  Total chaos!  They are overwhelmed this year, as, I expect are all the other delivery companies.  Everyone is doing the best they can.

I know that my UPS deliveries have been arriving after dark by a temporary seasonal employee.  And my father said that his mail sometimes arrives at eleven p.m!  Whoa! 

Anyway, with so many people ordering online this year and the dramatic increase in volume of packages shipped, I resolve to try being a little more patient.  I guess we all could practice that a bit more at this time of year.

Stay safe out there.


Helping others helps yourself, too.

Okay, I must have been living under a rock because I never heard of Giving Tuesday until recently.  I can be somewhat forgiven since this global movement was only started in 2012.  In the United States, it is designated as the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which means that it is December 1st this year.

I wonder if this date was selected to apply a little guilt after the splurges of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday?  Whatever.  I think this is just a nice time of year to expand our Grinchy hearts and open our wallets.  Which is why all those Please Donate envelopes have started arriving in our mailboxes.

Frankly, I would rather have teeth pulled than beg for money which I used to have to do as part of my job as Arts Director.  Even selling over-priced candy bars for the PTO was preferable than to actually asking people for money.  But I love to donate money for the fuzzy warm feeling it gives me.  I only wish I had more to donate.

So how do you decide which worthy cause should benefit by your generosity?  I once watched an interview with a royal rich somebody who was asked the same question.  He said that there are so many worthy causes, that you must just select a few and concentrate on those.  So that is what I have done the past several years.

These are some of my favorite causes:

The arts, obviously.  It’s been a really rough year for the arts with live performances canceled nearly everywhere.  This has had a ripple effect.  Not only are the performers out of work, but also their support staff, roadies, lighting and music technicians, costumers, etc.  They all have families and mortgages and orthodontist bills, too.  I give what I can to my local arts organization but extend it further by making donations in memory of people who have passed, instead of buying funeral flowers.  It adds up.

I’m a big fan of libraries and make donations to a couple of them in my area.  Libraries have been going above and beyond to entertain and supply patrons with services during this difficult time.  And they always seem to be able to stretch a dollar so I’m happy to help.

My college receives my annual alumni donation.  Again, not very big but I don’t want to end up on the deceased alumni list.

And some of my favorites are PBS television and radio stations in the area.  I figure that I listen to their broadcasts nearly daily so I ought to kick in a little.

These are some of my favorite charities.  Again, I don’t have much extra money but I feel that my contributions will be put to good use.

But what if you don’t have much to give?  Maybe you’re on the receiving end this year.  How can you help if you have no money?

Don’t have any money? Volunteer your time.

Time is a big help to many charities.  Help your local food bank organize and deliver food.  Volunteer as a docent or free help for your favorite cause.  Do you have a local animal shelter?  They can always use dog walkers and pen cleaners.  Not the most glamorous job but it needs to be done.

Take a meal to someone.

My husband is a big one for bringing people homecooked meals.  Maybe they’ve been sick or injured.  Maybe they’ve had a death in the family.  This used to be a very common thing to do but has nearly disappeared since we’re all so busy with our lives these days.  It’s still a thoughtful thing to do.  Now one of our sons has begun to carry on this tradition which is so satisfying to see. 

Help clean up trash in your neighborhood, on a walk, or at a river cleanup event.

Maybe you’d rather spend your time outdoors.  How about volunteering for a river clean up?  Or Just take a bag with you on your next walk and pick up some trash.  Some is better than none and very litter bit helps.  (That’s a joke.)

Many of you have probably already volunteered for your PTO or youth leagues but those activities may have been canceled due to the pandemic.  Maybe you could do some online tutoring.  There is always someone who needs your help. 

Finally, if you are home a lot more these days, now is a great time to clean out those closets, garages, basements, sheds, etc.  Donate the good used items to charity resale shops who, in turn, help out people in your community.

These are just a few ideas for sharing in your community.  The nice thing about donating your money or your time is that it makes you feel good.  And it helps others.  And don’t we all need more of that right now?

Some helpful links:

Charity Watch

Top 100 Non Profits

Guidestar directory of Charitable Organizations

Good Housekeeping list of top 50 charities for 2020

This is a good place to start but I cannot personally vouch for each and every one of the charities listed here. Do your homework.