Diary of a New Normal – Day 20 in the Age of Coronavirus

April 3, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

The sun will rise again. Funny what a difference two days makes. In my Diary of a New Normal – Day 18 post, I wrote about not being able to do any work on my blog. I was avoiding writing, wasn’t able to sleep, and generally felt hopeless. I think probably half the people on the planet have felt the same way sometime during the past two days.

For me, much of this sadness and gloom was due to the ongoing issues we have encountered with remote schooling. I was feeling helpless and hopeless with the workload and the stress it causes our children, despite advocating for change and providing what I hoped was respectful and constructive feedback. I had been struggling with understanding why so much work is necessary or appropriate given the current state of the world and the enormous amount of change every person is sustaining.

However, as I wrote a couple days ago, I felt strongly that God was telling me to “Be still…” (Psalm 46:10). Over the last few days, through prayer, I have worked to let go of my frustration. I have asked for strength to trust God and to stop worrying about how schooling could be less demanding or stressful and tried my best to just focus on the present. And God always proves to be faithful. A number of amazing things happened:

1. Two teachers for our oldest daughter reached out to us and offered some very timely assistance and accommodations

2. I was able to do my scheduled counseling session, which we conducted by phone call. My counselor helped me to reset and gave really good advice. He suggested the following:

  • Try to maintain a calm demeanor and avoid going into crisis mode, especially around the kids. Remember that we WILL get through this and everything is going to be okay.
  • Communicate to children that while school is important, it’s not the most important thing right now. And remember this ourselves.
  • Remember that everyone–students, parents, educators– is learning how to work and learn, while also learning to care for themselves in this new normal.
  • Take things one day at a time and don’t give too much importance to any one hour, day, or situation.

3. We found out that our school district will complete the rest of the school year online. Initially this was very upsetting, especially when we realize all the rites-of-passage our kids will be missing. However, having a sense of “closure” on that question helped us settle in and know what to do next. It’s weirdly comforting knowing we’ll be doing this for the next seven-eight weeks.

4. An impressively strong message of leadership from our school district’s superintendent accompanied the announcement of the prolonged remote learning. His message was something you might expect to hear from a great leader during war time. I was calmed and my frustration was quelled by his message, for it contained:

  • Acknowledgement that there are still many unanswered questions
  • Clear direction for what comes next, communicating confidence and hope
  • A call to stand together
  • A direct request for feedback from students and parents in the form of a survey
  • Resources for community members; be it where to get assistance with food or access to mental health professionals, and the like

I don’t know why it continues to surprise me when God answers my prayers and addresses my concerns. And it still surprises me that this often seems to come when I feel He is “ignoring” my pleas for what seems like an eternity. Then, when I am “still and know that [He] is God,” my answer comes.

#hopeinsuffering #alonetogether #thisiscoronalife #bestill

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Diary of a New Normal – Day 19 in the Age of Coronavirus

Bursting at the seams – improving workspace for five

April 2, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

How can five people all work in one house? It’s not easy but thankfully we have enough space to live and work, where we’re not all in the same room all the time. I keep wondering how people 100 years ago managed quarantine. We are so lucky to be able to receive groceries, medications, necessities, and even health care for our homes. Not to mention, we can stay connected through phone and video calls and can even watch new release movies from our couch. We have some many resources at our fingertips.

Newly spruced up front porch

And yet, it’s still a struggle to find quiet and effective places to work and do school. Like everyone else in the modern world, we’re having to figure it out. On most days, my two daughters work in their rooms, my husband works at the dining room table, and my son rotates between the office, family room, and kitchen. This leaves me frequently looking for a place to work. As you might’ve seen in my post about fixing up the front porch (shown in the image to the left), I created a place out front for the family to work and retreat. I had hoped this could be my space but often the kids are fighting over that respite. And who wouldn’t? It’s quiet, private, you can hear birds chirp, and nobody is in your business.

My “office” – wedged into the tiniest part of our house

So where did I find that works me? A makeshift desk in the kitchen, sandwiched between the pantry and refrigerator. I’m tucked away in a little corner, so I’m somewhat shielded from the “Mom!” “Mom?” “Mom!?” questions coming every three minutes. And thankfully I have a decent pair of wireless earbuds. As you see in the picture to the right, I’m also using a wireless keyboard on my daughter’s lapdesk to help keep my back and neck from screaming at me. This new work area is where I’m currently working on this blog post. It’s not the Taj Mahal. By hey, I’m making it work.

#thisiscoronalife #alonetogether #workinquarantine

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Diary of a New Normal – Day 18 in the Age of Coronavirus

April 1, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

I cannot write when I’m wrestling with something big. This is counterintuitive to what I believe other writers do. But, I’ve noticed that I avoid writing when I have big fears, doubts, or a situation I don’t know how to handle. This is why I haven’t written on my blog for the past five days.

I’ve been wrestling with how to best support our daughter with her anxiety and need for accommodations to do her schoolwork. I’ve had so many thoughts zooming in my head:

  • Do we pull her from public school because the workload is so overwhelming?
  • How can we support her remote learning while helping develop accommodations for her anxiety and dyslexia?
  • How do I handle my intense feelings of failure and frustration? I feel unheard when communicating my daughter’s needs to the school.
  • Who will listen and can change happen?
  • What options do we have?

I allowed all these negative thoughts to consume me. I was not setting a positive example of trusting God or focusing on what I can control or focusing on what I need just in this moment. I avoided writing–as I often do in these situations–because I feared the strength of the emotions I might experience or having to relive something painful.

However, and I should know this by now, writing is cathartic for me. If I would just sit down to write, I would remember that it helps me process my feelings, not relive them in pain. Writing allows me to pen what I’m feeling or experiencing through a third-person lense and often I end up having some type of revelation.

This type of revelation happened last night. I was jotting down some thoughts in my journal about where I felt lost and helpless and the words “Be still [Marnie], and know that I am God” kept popping into my head. If that isn’t a smack-you-over-the-head kind of revelation, I don’t know what is. “Okay, Lord,” I thought in my head, “I am listening.”

Psalm 46:10 ESV

Like that, my anxiety snapped back to a more reasonable level, given the current state of affairs. I woke up today with a more balanced outlook, especially after praying, “Lord, give me the strength and the wisdom to help my daughter where I can and help me to trust in Your promises, accepting when I need to wait for answers. Thank you for always loving me, in spite of my impatience and unbelief. Amen.”

And, as one might expect, my thoughts are flowing again.

#hopeinsuffering #writingistruth #thisiscoronalife #alonetogether

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Diary of a New Normal – Day 13 in the Age of Coronavirus

Jeffco Public Schools Music Teachers Playing “Never Gonna Give You Up”

March 27, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

Hope is there, if you look for it

While surfing social media this morning, came I across the following YouTube videos. What a happy moment it was for me, as I continue to be surprised and amazed at the adaptability I see from many people.

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra in this video (though not physically together) plays a virtual, heart-grabbing rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. If this doesn’t speak to the resilience of the human spirit, I don’t know what does.

Similarly, a group of music teachers from our local school district perform virtually “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, in this video. What a great idea to show students how adults they know and trust are coping and finding connection, through their shared passion for music.

Lastly in this video, a group of Nashville singers, who dub themselves “Nashville Studio Singer Community Virtual Cellphone Choir,” sings the gospel favorite by Horatio Spafford, “It is Well With My Soul.” How can one piece of music so completely fill my soul that it actually hurts? The answer: God is speaking directly to me…you…us, saying, “I’ve got this. I have a plan. Trust in Me and it will be well with your soul.”

Please, let’s do more of this.

#alonetogether #newnormal #thisiscoronalife #hopeinsuffering #strengthinweakness

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Diary of a New Normal – Day 12 in the Age of Coronavirus

To brighten things up, long-overdue outdoor projects are finally completed (clockwise from top left): spring settee pillows, PVC pipe curtain rod painted to look like galvanized steel, created Welcome sign, and then added bunting to (hopefully) brighten the neighbors’ day

March 26, 2020 – Observations and thoughts…

If in doubt, make something pretty. To cope with Coronavirus quarantine, I have read a number of posts and stories recently about families adding Christmas lights outside their homes or signs to their windows, hanging American flags, or adorning their driveways in sidewalk chalk. I’ve even seen that a nearby neighborhood is asking families to put up window displays featuring a teddy bear or stuffed animal, so that neighbors can take their children on a “bear hunt.” All of this is being done in an effort to lift the spirits of people walking by.

I love what I have read and the reactions I’ve seen on social media. What simple things to do to make others happy! So, I thought I’d get in on the game. And, to my surprise, sprucing things up out front ended up having multiple benefits:

  • hopefully made our house more enjoyable to look at for people passing by
  • gave me something to keep my mind, hands, and body busy
  • fulfilled me, giving me a sense of accomplishment for finishing neglected projects
  • satisfied my creative needs
  • modeled positive coping behaviors for our children
  • and created a space for the family to enjoy or retreat to when inside gets too loud or crowded

I still have more projects to complete, like repainting the red table and cleaning off the cushions, but in the meantime it feels so good to put my mind and body to work to create something positive and fulfilling. Staying busy like this has also helped keep my fear and worries at bay.

It causes me to wonder: what would life look like, if every day brought this kind of fulfillment?

#alonetogether #newnormal #thisiscoronalife #hopeinsuffering #strengthinweakness

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Diary of a New Normal – Day 11 in the Age or Coronavirus

My family huddled around a tablet, video chatting with grandparents

March 25, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

We Must Do Our Duty – Others’ Lives Depend on our Selflessness

Read the Associated Press Article “‘Cacophony of coughing’: Inside NYC’s virus-besieged ERs.

This is why we must stay home…and not crowd together as friends in golf carts, or have coughing parties or play dates, or party during Spring Break, etc. Physical Distancing is hard. Yes!

However, we citizens are called upon to do our duty to keep others healthy and safe. When we defy CDC and state/local quarantine orders and guidelines, we are literally putting other people’s lives at risk and pushing an already overloaded health care system and medical providers into extremely dangerous territory (see Associated Press article below).

E Pluribus Unum

We can and must be selfless in the face of this adversity and for the common good. This is an ideal upon which our country was founded. We cannot survive as a community, nation, or world focused solely on our individual needs. The phrase E Pluribus Unum is printed on our currency and it means, “out of many, one.”

This is our battle call. Yes, it is different than in times past. We are at war but our enemy is microscopic and the way we fight is by staying home. We can do this! But, we cannot defeat this enemy with only some people heeding quarantine orders and guidleines. We must be united. We must all do our duty.

Out of many, one.

Photo: Associated Press

‘Cacophony of coughing’: Inside NYC’s virus-besieged ERs https://apnews.com/b08afe589e0d6dae9469c8211157199c

#alonetogether #newnormal #thisiscoronalife #doyourduty

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Diary of A New Normal – Day 10 in the Age of Coronavirus

Match 24, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

Quarantine proves to be a great time to catch up on nagging projects…Oh, and learn how to cope

I have been putting off the sewing projects in the photo above for 6-12 months. I have had fabric for the three outdoor pillows since last summer. My son has needed his new rank patch sewn on his uniform and his merit badges and other achievements sewn on his sash for over 6 months. My youngest daughter, who is a huge Disney fan, had asked me to make her favorite t-shirt into a pillow cover last May, because she had grown out of it.

Guilt hung over me for not completing these projects and yet I never made the time to complete them. I knew it meant hauling out the sewing machine and all my supplies and having them sit in the dining room for days or weeks…or months, if I’m totally honest. I knew that none of these projects were quick or easy and I have a terrible tendency to tire of and abandon a project before I’ve finished it.

Because I have had the time the past week or so, and because I’ve been trying to keep my mind occupied with more positive things, I sat down over the past few days and just started sewing. For eveything but the patches, I didn’t have plans, designs or patterns. I allowed myself to start sewing without an end in mind. The great thing is that I found myself in an incredible flow, much like when I’m writing about something that inspires me or creating a piece of art. I didn’t know what the end would look like or how I would be able to get there, but I jumped in and started designing the lettering and sewing anyway, and I am loving the results. If I were a deep thinker, all of this could be considered a metaphor for coping with Coronavirus. Interpret as you may 🙂

Four to five hours later and I had completed five projects, without leaving my house or spending any money. I was surprised that I had had all the supplies I needed. And I was left with such a huge feeling of accomplishment for finally tackling these nagging projects.

It was a small victory but I’ll take it during these difficult times!

#alonetogether #newnormal #thisiscoronalife #hopeinsuffering

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Diary of a New Normal – Day 9 in the Age of Coronavirus

Worship from Home

March 23, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

Church from home. I love the creativity I’m seeing during this quarantine. Churches of all sizes are adapting and hosting services online. Ours is a small church, with a primarily older congregation, and it’s moved temporarily to online worship (via YouTube). They’ve even set up an option through Facebook to donate directly to them. This allows parishoners to give their offerings without having to mail or drive them to the church, which is discouraged right now anyway.

If you’re looking for a way to worship from home and your church doesn’t offer that service, check out ours: Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Highlands Ranch, CO.

Adapting to this public health crisis is similar to coping with a chonic illness. I’ve spent the past 10 years going to countless doctor, counseling, and physical therapy appointments, as well as innumberable hours spent praying and reading migraine forums, health websites, and scientfic papers. I’ve been able to build a toolbox for managing and adapting to chronic migraine with all the knowledge and coping skills I’ve gained this last decade.

A realization hit me today. The knowledge I’ve acquired about caring for myself, avoiding and coping with migraine, and the slow paradigm shift of “letting go and letting God” can help me get through this current unknown. Part of what I’ve learned suffering from a chronic illness is that I can’t focus on more than today, I need to breathe deeply each day, and I need to spend time in prayer and meditation with God. I exercise daily. I keep moving. I do something creative each day, whether it’s writing or creating art. And I have a vigilant focus on what goes into my body, as many foods and drinks are migraine triggers for me.

All of these slow shifts have prepared me for this. I am healthier, stronger, more capable and optimistic than I was a decade ago. God has been gracious to me; allowing me to grow in my weakness and suffering, making me stronger to be able to handle these new challenges. In His wisdom, He knows that when I am broken I cannot rely on my own skills and strength. I must give it up and rely soley on Him.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

#alonetogether #newnormal #thisiscoronalife #hopeinsuffering

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Diary of a New Normal – Day 8 in the Age of Coronavirus

Our kitchen table getting a lot of use. This time my husband and oldest daughter are working on a puzzle.

March 22, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

Finding my reset button. Yesterday, I wrote about feeling sad and somewhat hopeless, despite doing lots of things to nurture myself and others. After yesterday’s evening unfolded, I had a few epiphanies:

1. Connection is so important. I video chatted with my parents and then we got on with all my siblings and their families. We didn’t really talk about anything but seeing everyone’s faces and laughing proved to be so energizing and cathartic.

Afterward, my immediate family watched a terrible movie (thought not on purpose!) and ended up in a spontaneous dance party. Wish I had taken pictures of that! The movement and laughter did a body good, for all five of us.

2. A hot shower and a good meal can cure many things. I had not showered or even washed my face for the past few days, much less put on makeup; something that’s unusual for me. What’s the point? Well, I learned yesterday what the point was. When we were Facetiming with my family, I got to see very clearly how terrible I looked. And when I look terrible, I usually feel terrible. Getting “dressed to the shoes” *, also doing makeup and hair, is how I typically get ready to face my day–even if I never plan to leave the house. It helps me feel motivated and capable and ready for whatever life may bring.

courtesy flylady.net

* “Dressed to the Shoes” is a FlyLady phrase meaning, each day before you leave your bedroom, you should get dressed down to your shoes, with your hair and makeup done…and I can attest that it’s impact is real. Check it out at FlyLady.net,

Over the past few days, I let the heaviness of our current world affect my daily routine–and subsequently my attitude–and I started slipping into a sad state. The video chat with my family was a bit of an embarrassing wakeup call (thankfully, I don’t have any pictures of that!). But, cue a hot shower, a good meal, and that crazy dance party…and, voila, I felt more like myself.

3. Could there be relief in not having to be perfect? As a migraine sufferer and “Recovering Perfectionist,” I often feel that I’m letting others and myself down. How can I be available for my husband, kids, and family when migraines so often sideline me? How can I get the work done that needs to be done without having to constantly take breaks to lie down? As an aside, I can never remember whether lay or lie is correct. Do you lay a book down or does a dog lie down? I could spend time googling it and reading the interpretations, but “ain’t nobobdy got time for that” right now! Some grammar rules will always plague me. But I digress…

It amazes me in times of tribulation, such as these, how quickly the worries that used to torment me fade. I can see purpose in this suffering. I can see I’m not meant to beat myself up or worry about the future. Right now, I can’t. All I can do is cling to Jesus. That’s all I have strength for. I am unable to even look a day ahead, as that causes me significant anxiety. All I can do is put my faith in God that there is a purpose for this suffering and that He will deliver us.

The incredibly wise and comforting words of Romans 5 keep popping into my head:

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5 ESV

#alonetogether #newnormal #thisiscoronalife #hopeinsuffering

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Diary of a New Normal. Day 7 – in the Age of Coronavirus

Our son and youngest daughter trying to keep busy playing checkers

March 21, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…

Groundhog Day: Does anyone else feel like they’re reliving the same day over and over again? That sense of melancholy knowing today will be exactly the same as yesterday, and the day before? It’s only been a week and already I wake up with a little bit of dread, wondering how will I stay motivitated today, what can I do, how will the kids keep themselves busy, and how can I pass the time without feeling claustrophobic and bored.

I guess I’m not alone. By the look of Bill Murray’s manic face below, he seems to be in a similar predicament and it helps to think that he eventually woke up from his bad dream.

Columbia Pictures
Bill Murry in “Groundhog Day”. Columbia Pictures

Keeping busy. To combat the “Groundhog Day Blues,” as I’m dubbing them, I opted to keep very busy today: listened to my daily devotion; checked in on my Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn peeps; read the news; paid some bills; cleaned the bathroom; went for a very long walk with my husband and dog; explored the Google Arts and Culture webpage; talked to our pastor and my dad on the phone; lost spectacularly in checkers to my youngest daughter; worked on a puzzle with my son; laid down for a little bit; and now I’m working on this post.

Even with all that, I can’t shake this sad, hopeless feeling. Some if it is the weather. It’s unseasonably cold and has been gray here for three days, which is unusual for Colorado. Going for a short drive with my husband last night was the first time I’ve been out of our neighborhood in a week. I was so excited I changed out of my house leisure wear, opting for my more fancy “might see other people in their car” leisure wear. It was a sight to behold.

#alonetogether #newnormal #thisiscoronalife #hopeinsuffering

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