Focus where it counts


Focus Where It Counts

Dear Friend,

What to do with all the time at home

For the past few weeks, I’ve woken up each morning with a list of things to do running through my head. Clean out closets, sort through files in my office, trim the bushes, clean out the garage, etc.

Of course, this is on top of my usual day-to-day “normal” duties, which have truly expanded with my whole family home, all day, every day.

My initial thought, like many of you, when we were first ordered to stay at home was, “finally I’ll get to complete some tasks around the house that I’ve been wanting to, especially with the boys home to help!”

So, how many projects have I completed? Truth is, not very many!

I’m having a very difficult time consistently staying focused and on task.

Sound familiar?

Certainly, I’m beyond thankful to have my teens/young adults at home and more importantly, we are all healthy. But I’ll be honest, having my kids home all day, every day is messing with my mojo!

Some of you may have realized (or maybe not 😉), I didn’t send out a newsletter last week. I’ve been having a hard time focusing long enough to write! And, when I do finally sit at my desk and start to work on the newsletter, I find I’m easily distracted, either by my kids, dogs, or my own lack of attention.

I know this will pass. So, I’m not overly concerned. But for those of you who may be thrown for a loop at your own lack of focus, I’m here to tell you, It’s OK!

For many, this is the first time you’re working from home.

Sure, you’ve helped your kids throughout the years with schoolwork, but have you had them schooled at home, all day, every day?

Many changes have occurred to disrupt our “normal” way of life and while I applaud those who have created goals and achieved them, I want others to know, you’re not alone. Inability to focus, especially for long periods of time, is to be expected.

To offer some levity, I’d like to share what a typical day in my house looks like right now and how easily I’ve been distracted.


After making sure everyone is out of bed, fed and on track to start their schoolwork I head to my office at home and sit at my desk to check emails, pay bills, update spreadsheets, or write. Pre- virus, I can get the job done in a few hours, today… as I go through emails…

Wow, Sur La Table has a really good sale. I’ve been wanting to get the oval breadbasket; I wonder if that’s on sale?

I spend about 30 minutes googling proofing baskets just to make sure the one at Sur La Table is the best and at a reasonable price. Conclusion, I don’t remember, I got sidetracked at a picture of a tortilla press and now I really want one of those!

Stay focused, do some paperwork.

“Mom! What’s for dinner?” This could be any one of my kids asking this question. Clearly, having an inability to focus is contagious.

Seriously?! We haven’t even had lunch yet and I’m being asked what’s for dinner. I shout back, “don’t worry about dinner, focus on your schoolwork.”

A few minutes later…

Hmm, what I should make for dinner? Another 30 minutes is spent searching recipes online, which takes me to Instagram and Pinterest. Wow! There are so many recipes! Unfortunately, I’m lacking one or more ingredients for each recipe I like.

C’mon, focus on the bills that need to be paid. As I scroll through my email to see which bills I need to pay, I realize that the deadline to register George for the next school year is that day. Crap! Other bills get pushed aside, for now, while I go through the registration process.

Meanwhile, one of the boys comes in my office and says, “mom, I’m done with this assignment, can you proofread it before I submit it?”

“Sure, leave it on my desk and I’ll proof it in a little bit.” I respond without even looking up from my computer.

“No, I need it now, it’s due this afternoon.”

Ugh… another 30 minutes, spent proofing and reviewing the changes.

Ok, I resign. I’ll go take a bath with some Epsom salt and hopefully that will clear my head and then I’ll tackle my work again.

Just as I sink into the water, I hear one of my sons calling from my bedroom door, “Mom, are you making lunch today or are we on our own?”

“Can you give me a few minutes please, it’s only 11:00,” I shout back.

“Well, I’m just wondering because if we’re making it ourselves, I just want to know what there is to make.”

“Yes! You’re on your own for lunch, please look in the fridge!”

As I’m taking in the aroma of eucalyptus I’m struck with terror. I better get out of the tub because I just remembered there was only a few slices of pastrami left and if one kid eats it all without letting the other two know, all hell will break loose.


Ok, after some negotiating, and me promising the one kid who got shortchanged on the pastrami, to get him something special the net time I go to the store, everyone is happy. Now, back to work.

My dog Star comes in my office looking for some attention. As I pet her, I can’t help but think, she’s looking a little disheveled. She sure could use some grooming.

Since the groomer is closed, I do the next best thing and spend another 30 minutes looking online for a grinder to trim her nails. After reading all the reviews, I choose one, order it online for pick up that day.

Boy, I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment all at once. I saw a problem, Star needs her nails trimmed and I found a solution, I bought a nail grinder online. I’m pretty proud of myself and feel like I can finally finish some paperwork.

After some concentrated time spent (about 30 minutes) on paperwork, I figure I better check my emails, again. Oh look, the nail grinder is ready for pick up! No time like the present to get it, I mean, what else am I doing? (Note: as I write this, the nail grinder is still its box!)

At this point I know I’m done for the day trying to get any work done. I turn my attention to, you guessed it, making dinner!

Oh, what am I going to cook?!

How to stay focused

I’ve worked from home for many years and I know what it takes to be focused and stay on task.

Here is a list of some of the tools I follow while working from home:


  • Follow a routine


  • Create a to-do-list


  • Tackle priority items first


  • Set dedicated times to review emails and phone messages


  • Remove distractions (close office door, turn off TV, etc.)


  • Set and communicate boundaries


  • Close apps when not using, and turn off notifications on phone


  • Allow for breaks and set a time to end working


The tools I’ve relaxed the most is removing distractions and setting boundaries with respect to my kids. Right now, my kids are my biggest distraction with overseeing their schooling, making more meals at home and being available to talk, play a game or watch a reality show with.

Yet, with the current environment we’re living under, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Providing a safe haven for my family is my top priority. Letting my kids know that they are loved and I’m here to help them is not losing focus, it’s shifting the focus.

To all you parents/grandparents out there wondering where the time has gone each day, remind yourselves, its right where it needs to be: on your family.

Many Blessings,


Celebrate Your Faith, Happy Easter/Passover

Happy Easter/Passover


It’s been almost ten years since my husband, Larry, passed away but I still recall during the early stages of my grief it felt as though I was living a parallel life. I had one-foot living in the past, remembering every holiday and celebration with Larry by my side, and the other foot living in the present, facing current and future holidays without Larry.

I would step outside and see everyone going about their normal business of going to school, work or another activity. I wanted to scream, “How can you carry on like nothing has happened!” Yet, I learned one of the most valuable lessons. Life is in constant motion and life moves forward. Thank goodness!

Sometimes it takes the momentum of life to give that little push we need to move forward. If there weren’t moments worth celebrating, I may still have that one foot stuck in the past and be very hesitant to bring it into the present.

It may not be the life I wanted or dreamed of, but it’s the only life I have. I learned almost ten years ago I better make it the best life possible for me and my children. Larry would expect nothing less. I wasn’t given a choice to face a new reality, but I did have a choice how I lived in the new reality. The same holds true today.

Today, as we face the COVID-19 pandemic, no one could’ve imagined that our “new reality” would’ve resulted in separation from family and friends. Yet, I’m encouraged and uplifted with all the positive stories out there. Our nation has pulled together like never before and I’m confident together we will get through this.

It’s this pulling together attitude that will help us all find a way to celebrate Passover and Easter this year. Around the world, words of caution have been voiced to limit gatherings forcing families to find a different way to worship, celebrate and honor the biggest holiday’s in the Christian and Jewish faiths.

It’s not the holiday of year’s past, with crowded synagogues/churches, packed restaurants and large family gatherings. No doubt, it will be difficult celebrating the day, being separated from family, especially grandparents.

Nonetheless, it’s still the week of Passover and Holy week culminating with Easter this Sunday. While we may not be able to come together like years past, with some advance planning we can still find ways to celebrate our faith.

Are there any traditions you would like to follow?

It’s all about the food

In the Jewish faith Passover is observed with a feast called a Seder. A few years ago, my boys and I were invited to partake in the feast hosted by some good friends. The Seder plate displays six foods that are symbolic to the struggles faced by Israelites before leaving Egypt.

Those of Christian faith celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Many celebrate Easter by coming together to share a meal as well. Since I can remember, we always had a ham on Easter, along with deviled eggs and plenty of rolls. I’ve since added lamb to the menu, since that was one of Larry’s favorites. Some families choose to forgo cooking and celebrate with an Easter brunch that usually requires a reservation made months in advance.

This year, with the restaurants closed and grocery stores still facing shortages, how does one plan a meal to recognize the holiday of our faith and carry on some traditions?

Be Flexible

Create the menu of your choice with a list of all your ingredients needed. Then create a plan B. What can you substitute if you can’t find a ham, eggs, or rolls?

What if you can’t find some of the items needed for the Seder plate?

Be creative

Ask the members of your household what food they would like to have. You may be surprised what you hear, especially if you have young kids at home! Personally, as a child, I couldn’t stomach eating ham, and never ate a piece on Easter until I was much older. So not having a ham wouldn’t have been an issue for my younger self, it would’ve been preferred!

Some synagogues are allowing for substitutions with the items for the Seder plate. It’s best to contact your synagogue and take the lead from your Rabbi.

Maybe you’re used to dining out to celebrate the holiday. I’d recommend, if you have the means to do so, order from a favorite restaurant for pick up. This is a great opportunity to support local businesses if you can. Again, call in advance to make sure they are still accepting orders.

Food has been, and I suspect, always will be the center of our celebrations.  As we gather this year, I know I’ll be thankful that I have food to offer my family, not matter what the food is.

Worship from home

Do you usually attend Church on Easter morning or go to the Synagogue during Passover? If so, you can still watch a service. Many churches/synagogues are offering services online or on television. Check the website of your preferred church/parish/synagogue to see how they are handing services this year.

What about the Easter Bunny?

The younger the child, the more difficult it will be to understand the changes that are necessary this year to celebrate Easter. Be as honest as you can and give age appropriate answers to your children. I found some great guidelines for talking to kids about COVID-19. Click on this link for tips on talking to your child about COVID-19,

Is your child expecting the Easter Bunny? Will the Easter Bunny be able to make it to your house? With advance notice, talk with your kids about what they will realistically see from the Easter Bunny if he does come this year. Better to curtail expectations than face disappointment come Easter morning.

Please, be patient with your children, with all the problems going on today you may feel like this is the least of your worries. But to the children, this is HUGE to them.

Will you be able to color eggs? If you can’t find eggs at the grocery store, or can only buy a limited amount, I recommend making some paper eggs. Try looking on Pinterest for some crafty ways to make Easter eggs at home without using real eggs. You can also Google for some ideas too.

Stay connected

I challenge you to find a way to stay connected with family this Easter/Passover even if you can’t physically be together. Again, technology can be a terrific platform in allowing families to break bread together, at least virtually!

This year will be different than any other holiday you’ve experienced. It may be very difficult for some but know our efforts to stay home this Passover/Easter will allow us to celebrate many more in the future with our family and friends.

I pray you have a safe, healthy and Happy Passover/Easter!

Many Blessings,


Finding Strength and Hope in Time of Uncertainty

Finding Strength and Hope in Time of Uncertainty


Dear Friend,

First, I hope this newsletter finds you and your family safe and healthy. In my last newsletter I mentioned that I would be off for two weeks due to spring break. I, like many of you, needed a little more time to adjust to a temporary new way of life.

I admit, I also needed time to let the enormity and reality of what we are facing sink in. Sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve faced dire news. It’s been a little over two weeks since most of the nation has shut down and as I look back I realize my emotions over the past two weeks mimicked what I experienced when I first learned my husband, Larry, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

My first reaction was shock and disbelief. Is this really happening? How did this happen? There are so many unanswered questions. How long will this last? And, what does it mean if you live in a state that has issued a stay at home or shelter in place order?

After shock comes determination. We can do this!

More than ever, we all need perseverance, stamina and hope. This is where I look for guidance. Of course, the first person who comes to mind, the one person who I trusted greatly and never let me down, my late husband, Larry.

Even if he’s no longer here, I continue to draw from his experience and know that, no matter what, we will get through this.

Almost ten years ago, April 9, 2010, Larry learned he had a serious disease and was given instruction from his doctor that he needed to make an appointment with the oncology department at Mayo Clinic to discuss a bone marrow transplant. The first available appointment was in May. Of course, we did what most people did during this time, we googled as much as we could about the disease and what a bone marrow transplant entailed.

Isolation. That was the one word that frightened Larry more than anything. And it kept popping up.

Larry was a very active person. He golfed, rode his bike, fished and took an active role in coaching the boys in sports. The worst part of the isolation for him was not being able to see his kids. No one under the age of 13 would be allowed and at that time, all our boys were under the age of ten.

After hearing confirmation from the doctors at Mayo Clinic and a second opinion from Johns Hopkins, Larry believed having a bone marrow transplant was his only hope.

Preparing for a bone marrow transplant, Larry knew, he wasn’t only fighting his disease physically, but also mentally. Before he entered the hospital he and I discussed and planned for some key coping mechanisms.

The past few weeks I’ve been in awe at the similarity of implementing the same coping techniques while we stay at home for an indefinite period of time.

None of us know how long this will last, but rest assured, we are in this together. No one is alone. And I pray you find the strength and perseverance to get through this difficult time. I have complete faith you will.

I offer the following coping mechanisms that Larry implemented ten years ago and I’m following today. Please, reach out to me if you have further questions or other coping skills you would like to share.

Limit media and negative stories

Once Larry made the decision to proceed with the bone marrow transplant, he stopped his research on internet. Until that moment, for every positive story he read, ten negative stories popped up. To stay positive, he wanted to focus on positive stories.

There are many sad stories today and while I certainly don’t advocate for burying your head in the sand, however, if hearing the stories are having a negative impact on your mental health, it may be time to take a break from listening to them.

Credible sources

Along with keeping a positive attitude Larry made a conscience decision to get his information strictly from his doctors. There is so much great information on the internet but also some misleading information. He felt it would be counterproductive at that time to constantly question the doctor’s recommendations. He was putting his life in their hands and he had to trust the protocol they were recommending.

The same holds true today. I’ve made the decision to listen to the experts and heed their advice: social distancing, wash hands and limit contact, if any, with people who have a compromised immune system and the elderly.

Stay connected

Again, Larry’s biggest heartache was not being able to see his children. Thankfully we have technology. Ten years ago, Apple introduced the iPad. Larry was frustrated at the irony. He hated paying the price for brand new technology, but under the circumstances, it would be his lifeline to communicating with his children. He grudgingly forked over $650 to gain a sense of control over his life!

He was able to access the internet, download movies and best of all Skype with the kids each evening. Facetime, zoom, none of these had come to the market yet.

Today, we are so fortunate to have the technology we have. I’ve been able to Facetime with family and friends. My kids have had lessons via zoom. They are playing video games with family and friends and chatting with them as if they were in the same room. People are hosting gatherings via zoom, it’s fantastic. Social distancing is NOT social isolation.

During this time, I would encourage you to check in on family and friends on a regular basis, especially to those who are living alone.

Laughter is the best medicine

An earlier post, It’s OK to Laugh, I shared the benefits of laughter. Even during a crisis, we need to find something to laugh at, laughter is the best medicine. Larry was a movie buff (wonder where Charlie gets it) and he loved most genres. But after his diagnosis, he focused mostly on comedies. There was nothing better than laughter to reduce the stress and tension we were living with. Family and friends would call and tell him jokes or send him jokes via email.

Currently, to lift my spirits, I’ve been watching funny videos. It you’re not on TikTok, I would highly recommend joining. There are so many hilarious videos, especially the animal videos, that after a few minutes of watching I find myself cracking up with laughter.

There are some great comedies out there as well. With access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and many other streaming channels you would be hard pressed not to find a comedy.

Disconnect from electronics

 While we’re very fortunate to have technology that allows us to work from home and stay connected to the outside world, it’s important to disconnect from technology and work on connecting with the people in your house.

I’ll admit, besides doing their schoolwork online, my boys have been playing A LOT of video games. Under normal circumstances leading experts would recommend limiting electronics with appropriate guidelines for each age group. Yesterday, I heard one expert state during this crisis it’s ok to let up on those guidelines (which we have in our house!), but still find a way to connect as a family.

My kids love to play board games, but even they need some nudging. And that’s what I did this past weekend. So, we brought out the monopoly game and set it up in the dining room. It’s a game that we’ll play on and off for a few nights. We also play card games and currently have an ongoing game of Rummy 500; this was a game I played with my own grandmother! It brings back some great memories of prior family gatherings.

Get physical

When Larry entered the hospital, he was told that getting out of bed and walking around his room or nurse’s station was very important.

The same holds true for all of us. Weather permitting (and following your state guidelines) most of us can still walk outside. Again, technology has created another platform to allow for exercise. Many clubs are hosting workouts that can be joined via zoom or they are posting on their website or you tube channel workout videos.

Since I’ve been working from home for years, I know too well the draw and dangers of sitting at my desk all day. So, even if you don’t have an exercise regime in place, if you’re working from home, set your timer if you have to, but make a point to get up every hour or so and walk around your house for at least ten minutes.

I learn from past experiences to bring hope to the future

While we face the uncertainty in front of us, I know we’ll get through this.

How do I know?

Walking beside Larry as he fought his disease, humbly accept his circumstances and make decisions based on hope for a better life, taught me never to give up! He eventually lost his battle, but he gave it everything he had.


That’s what I intend to do. Be grateful I’m able to remain in the comforts of my home, with my boys, and face each day with determination and perseverance.

No matter how dire the circumstances, each morning brings a new day, a renewal of hope.

Let’s hope the time needed for social distancing is short, if not, keep the faith, and follow the recommendations given above to help your physical and mental well-being.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

I’ll leave you with one prayer that I’ve recited numerous times, the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Many Blessings,