Choosing my own adventure

When I was a kid, I absolutely devoured the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I loved them because I loved reading. I loved them because the options seemed limitless. And I loved them because I had control over the ending. I read each one multiple times, trying to end it differently each time.

Control is awesome.
Options are nice.
Sometimes neither is available.

I hadn’t intended to write again this week, but some of the messages I got back from people let me know that I was definitely not the only person stuck under the HowMuchLonger rock. Evidently, there’s a contingency of people that are hitting the same wall at the same time.

I was thinking about that this morning. Thinking about my LONG HAUL acronym and thinking how nice it was to sit down and write yesterday. Writing is my thing. It’s how I choose to create. And I’ve about decided that creating is the key to surviving all this bedlam.

To create is to bring something into existence. In a world where things are closed, cancelled, and restricted and where content has dwindled away, what could be better than bringing a new creation into that? I write, so I’m going to write every day. Every day, I’m going to look at that day as new content. As a new story to be told in maybe a slightly new way.

We are all masters over something. We are all creators of something. Some people cook. They get creative with spices or ingredients or how food is arranged on a plate. Some people take awesome or interesting photos. Some people do interior design. Some people paint. My daughters have taken to painting coasters. Bring your drinks over. We have so many coasters.

Some people think they are not creators because they are left brained. Into numbers. Good at organizing. I could guarantee that even those people (though I do not understand them) are also creators. They are the ones making cool looking flashcards for their kids with multiplication facts. Making their silverware drawers look like they are ready for battle.

If you are stuck under the same rock I was, maybe the answer is simply to create. Every day, create something new and put it into the Coronaverse. Make a flashcard. Bake a casserole. Rearrange a room. Redesign the bedroom of some hoarders that live in your house. Write something. Color something. Paint something. Photograph something. Decide at the beginning of the day what you plan to create, create it, and then reflect back on it at the end of the day. The next day, create something different.

We may not have power over germs or jobs or activities or government, but we do have power over some things.


There are some endings not available to us right now. And all stories require wearing a mask. But there’s still some freedom to choose our own adventure.

So I think I’m gonna.

Long Haul

So much has happened.
Nothing has happened.
My world is sometimes unrecognizable, but that’s likely because I never had time to look at it before. I’ve been writing. I haven’t been writing here. It’s hard to do both, but I’m going to make a stronger effort.
In the last few weeks, my oldest graduated but did not have a graduation. My second born got a driver’s license and has invented places to go. His two most frequent activities lately are to drive one sister to get smoothies at McDonald’s and the other sister to local ponds to fish. He is determined to be present when she catches her first fish. They are there now. If they survive the heat, I expect good things from today.

I am realizing things about myself in all of this madness.

I do better in the short haul. I’m GREAT in the short haul. I’m all about pep talks and preparation. As long as it doesn’t go on for too long. I remember the heat inside my house when we lost power during Hurricane Irma. I was Caroline Ingalls for the first two days; slogging through the heat and checking on neighbors. The last 3 days I was writing my will and selling off children. It only took 2.5 days for me to completely unravel.

It took longer with this pandemic. I mean, we are 4 months in now. I’ve been fairly focused and upbeat. I set goals and spent time reflecting. I’ve been excessively thankful to have my people under one comfortable roof. But I can’t give myself any credit for my positivity. I had August in my mind. I was always thinking, “If we could just make it to August and get things back to a higher level of normal, I’ll be ok.” We are very nearly at August, right now. And here in Florida, things are getting less normal, not more. More sick, not less. I think I hit a mental wall when I made that connection. And just in the last week, I began to let some thin threads of desperation weave their way into the pajamas I’ve been wearing to walk the dog. Everything is cancelled. The fall will not look like I want it to with sports and school activities. Will there be pro football? Will there be college football? Will there be high school football? WHERE DO WE STAND WITH FOOTBALL? The things that I used to hold up as beacons of hope are likely gone for the next year or at least severely altered. It took me awhile to be truly bothered by it, to feel a tad worried about it.

But I got there.

I spent all day in that space yesterday. I even took a nap before dinner. Because that’s all I felt like I could do. I didn’t see the point in further planning or cheerleading. I didn’t feel like doing it. But I also knew I had to. In my phase of life, I don’t get to skip something simply because I don’t feel like participating. That works for a day. That works for the very short haul. It doesn’t work much longer than that. My long haul is weak. I have to teach my short haul to be a better supporter. So as I went to bed last night, I decided I would do absolutely everything I could do from now on to strengthen myself.

I made my to-do list. I prioritized the items on that list to get all my sweaty chores done before lunch, because our heat index was expected to be 109 today. I checked items off my list as I did them, which gave me an energy all by itself. I am such a list person.

That was all short haul business, though.

The hard part is applying it to the long haul. Back in February, I started a list of 50 things to do before I turn 50 at the very end of this year. About half of those things are either now impossible, illegal by orders of the local governing pandemic authorities, or highly discouraged. But I’ll still turn 50 at the end of the year. So I need to modify my list.

Since I struggle with my long haul goals, I am turning it into an acronym.

Lists – Make daily lists for daily tasks and bigger lists for longer term goals.
Others – Check on others more often. If I’m struggling, they may be too.
Nature – Go outside every day. Walk. Exercise. Whatever.
Gratitude – Be conscious of the good. Even in the bad, there is good. Thank God for all of it.
Homies&Health – Spend time with my people and stay healthy.
Aspirations – Set goals. Just because movie theaters are on hold doesn’t mean my dreams have to be.
Uturns – When something isn’t working, fix it. Uturn when necessary. Adjust.
Literature. – Read and write. Weekly.

I’m in it now for the long haul.