Author Archives: iamkaren23

About iamkaren23

I am a Canadian writer currently living in Leavenworth, Washington. I published When Glad Becomes Sad in 2009. My second book, Alive Again, was published in March of 2015. Both are self-help books. I am currently working on a third book, this time a work of fiction.

Monday Monday

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Monday Monday

My calendar hanging on the wall reminds me that today is Monday. For the past several weeks the days just seem to be a total blur. They have become all too similar. Yet they pass by so quickly.

I was talking to a friend in Canada last night. She travels regularly to her cottage from her home in the city. I haven’t traveled anywhere in over two months. Not even to one of the pueblos mágicos that are so close by. My plan for this winter had initially included exploring more of central Mexico. Maybe next winter.

I checked my email earlier today. I found yet another job offer from China. Aside from the fact that I’m retired, I have absolutely no desire to ever even visit China.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up in the USA. I wonder what I’ll be missing in Washington. From what I hear things are starting to open up again. One of my friends has plans to go to her daughter’s in Seattle for a family gathering.

Yet when I check the COVID-19 USA map daily, the numbers are still on the rise. Not that I truly value the accuracy of these statistics. This pandemic is so widespread that I don’t believe it is measurable anymore.

I will soon don one of my masks and head out for my morning walk. The sun is shining brightly and it’s another gorgeous day here in paradise.

Have a great Monday!

Legal Again Among Other Things

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Legal Again Among Other Things

It’s the middle of May already. Despite the fact that I’ve been primarily self-isolating for over two months now, time is going by quickly.

I’ve always loved learning. Now I have the opportunity to delve into areas of knowledge I had no time for in the past.

A course I’m taking from Berkeley on EdX deals with the science of happiness. Today’s topic was forgiveness, forgiving ourselves as well as others. The health benefits of practicing forgiveness are phenomenal. It is encouraging that it is never too late to learn to forgive. Holding grudges and exacting revenge are definitely detriments to experiencing happiness.

Another course I’m taking on Coursera is offered by University of Edinburgh and deals with how to become more active and less sedentary. Because I’m self-isolating I am not nearly as active as I was. So setting new fitness goals to improve my lifestyle is quite important to me now.

Yesterday marked my final visit to Immigration. The extension of my FMM had been processed and I returned home with my renewed visa. I am now once again living legally in Mexico and am grateful that this country has allowed me to remain here at this time.

WestJet announced that international flights to Canada will not resume until at least July. The American airlines are flying to the USA but the borders are still closed to foreigners. I have an additional 180 days thanks to my new visa. Maybe in July I’ll figure out what comes next.

Mother’s Day 2020

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Mother’s Day 2020

For the first time in my life I am alone on Mother’s Day. I’ve always been with family and friends. But this year is different. COVID-19 has changed everything.

The last time I was with my own mother on Mother’s Day was in 1996. It’s been 24 years since she passed away but sometimes the waves of grief hit and it feels like yesterday.

I celebrated my first Mother’s Day in Mexico back in 2011. I was living in Culiacán. Juan, Lucila And Juan Carlos took me out for raspados and then to a park. Lucila made me a bracelet which I treasure.

2020 is only my second Mother’s Day in Mexico. I’m usually in Winnipeg or in Leavenworth. In searching my memories, the last time I was with both of my kids together on Mother’s Day was in 2008. It’s been a long time.

A year ago I was sitting out on the deck of the golf club in Leavenworth enjoying brunch with my friends after church. Today I sipped coffee as I did online church. No eggs Benny today. A quesadilla instead.

From my quarantine home to yours, Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women out there, especially to my daughter who now has a daughter of her own.

Why???

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Why???

Why do some people get so sick from COVID-19 that they die? Yet others exhibit no symptoms at all. How reliable is the testing and how accurate are the statistics?

I’ve stopped reading Facebook comments. Why people continue to share posts that are so misleading baffles me. Do they crave the attention or are they practicing their skills as writers of fiction? Or are they so panicked that it is soothing to them to post all this nonsense? Does a conspiracy theory really matter? COVID-19 is here and is World War 3 without bombs or guns.

I’m beginning to question the value of self-isolating for the long term. Living in a bubble is not the answer. How are we to build up immunities? And then the toll on mental health merits consideration.

When I chat with friends in other countries I hear different stories about their daily lives. While some people don’t leave their homes others are shopping and visiting with friends on a regular basis. Parks, beaches and restaurants are closed in some areas yet open in others. I find it ridiculous that playgrounds are open yet schools are closed. Does anyone else feel that way?

Enough venting for one day. I’m going out for my morning walk. Now, which mask shall I wear? The pink one? The blue one? The white one? Decisions, decisions, decisions…..

Adiós April

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Adiós April

April may only have 30 days but it’s been a very stressful 30 days. May has begun, looks more promising and is most welcome in my life.

I made the decision to remain here in Mexico. I have been bombarded with emails from ROCA in Canada urging me to change my mind. For the most part the communications have been misleading and have contained inaccurate information. Nonetheless it has been stressful to receive these emails. I actually was already in the process of renewing my FMM when ROCA sent me an email stating that I would be in Mexico illegally if I didn’t return to Canada immediately.

I am grateful that Mexico is allowing me to renew my FMM. But the process is tedious with a numerous documents and necessitated three visits to INM. Thank God my friend Raul came with me to translate as nobody speaks English in the immigration office. It’s enough of a challenge to try to understand Spanish as native speakers talk fast. And now their words are being muffled by masks.

Earlier in April one of my credit cards was compromised. Liverpool used to be my favorite department store here in Mexico. But not anymore.

My debit card expired in April as well. At least when my son couriers it to me the envelope will include the replacement credit card as well. Will get my money’s worth out of that envelope.

My son also forwarded my tax return that necessitates an electronic signature. Of course my phone was being ornery and wouldn’t allow me to sign. But I was able to do it on my laptop.

Mexico then moved to Phase 3 from Phase 2 due to COVID-19. The icing on the cake.

Farewell April! You will not be missed.

Phase 3

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Phase 3

Here in Mexico we entered Phase 3 last week. This is the most serious phase related to COVID-19 where community spread is supposed to really take off.

Where I live there is no curfew or strict rules other than physical distancing and wearing a mask. This is to be the norm until May 30th. There is purportedly a plan in place to begin opening things up a little come June 1st.

Of course very little testing is being done here so I have no idea how reliable the statistics are. Are we really in the worst part right now? There are professionals who argue that the summer will be the worst time. I guess that’s what happens when you make predictions based on unreliable statistics.

I don’t base much on statistics. What I do believe is that COVID-19 is a deadly disease spreading rapidly throughout the world. It is important to practice good hygiene and respect physical distancing. As far as when it will be safe to lift restrictions and resume a more normal life…..who knows?

I believe it’s in God’s hands now.

I Should Be In Leavenworth

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I Should Be In Leavenworth

Under different circumstances I would be there today. I would have spent the last two days on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. I would have been on the direct flight to Sea-Tac last night.

But that was in another lifetime, the one before COVID-19. The lifetime before the world went crazy. The lifetime before my life got turned upside down.

There was no Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee. There will be no Maifest in Leavenworth. There will be no VBS, book club, bridge games or SAIL classes for a while yet.

I miss my friends in Leavenworth. I miss LCN. I miss the mountains. I miss the valleys. I miss the rivers and parks. I miss my favorite tree in Cashmere.

Until the borders open up again and the international flights resume, I will stay here in Aguascalientes.

But I really long to be back home in Leavenworth.

Parents Where Are Your Children

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Parents Where Are Your Children

When my children were young, a phrase often splashed across the TV screen. “Parents where are your children?” It’s now decades later and this phrase is still in my head.

A couple of weeks ago I actually emailed my current address to my children in Canada. Until now they’ve had only my email and phone number, as well as Facebook.

I move around a lot but I’ll be at my current address indefinitely. I’ve been self-isolating for more than a month now and Mexico has just entered phase three.

There were a number of factors that influenced my decision to stay in Mexico. First and foremost has to deal with my children. They may be in their thirties now but that protective instinct still kicks in. They are both asthmatic and have other inhalant allergies. I did not want to take the chance of my being a carrier and infecting them.

That leaves me with nowhere to quarantine and nowhere to live. I haven’t had a home in Canada in ten years.

The closest place for me to call home is Leavenworth, Washington. I spend six months of the year there when I’m not in Mexico. There I do have a place to quarantine and somewhere to live. But I am not American so the border is closed to me now.

Then there are the dangers of contracting COVID-19 or any other infectious disease by traveling through four airports to get to Canada from Aguascalientes.

Here in Mexico I am quite comfortable. I have a place to live. Food and other supplies are readily available within walking distance of where I live. My landlord Raul is the greatest and has provided me with a safety net should circumstances change.

My biggest challenge is in making my children understand the importance of more frequent contact. It’s not just that I need to know that they care about me. Hearing their voices is reassuring as I always worry about them. With COVID-19 I am even more concerned. I need to know that they’re okay.

It’s tough living thousands of miles away from your children in a different country during a pandemic.

Saturday Now

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Saturday Now

Saturday is a very different day than it used to be. One cup of coffee with yogurt and granola. Off in an Uber to teach English for a couple of hours.

Another Uber home and off to the carnicería. He grilled the chicken I bought for me. I’d take a walk to the bakery and do any other shopping and then return to pick up my chicken.

After lunch (yes lunchtime was at around 4 pm) I’d head to the church to teach for an hour.

In the evening I’d explore the Expoplaza area. There were always numerous food vendors. I’d watch the children ride around the square on a burro. I’d listen to music and walk through the San Marcos park.

I’d have interesting conversations with people. A handful understood minimal English but it was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish.

Occasionally I’d attend a birthday party or another fiesta on a Saturday evening. And there were concerts close by as well.

Saturday now is very different. Lots of time for that second cup of coffee. I can leisurely make an omelet. No rush to get dressed. No reason to call an Uber. No students to teach.

I take two walks a day. One is before it gets too hot and the other is after it cools off in the evening. Daytime highs are in the low 90s.

This is what Expoplaza area looks like now.

I color, I watch movies, I write, I phone friends and I listen to music.

Actually Saturday seems pretty much like every other weekday now.

What Day Is It?

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What Day Is It?

Do you remember back in kindergarten when you walked into the classroom and the first activity of the day was the Today song? I think I need that again.

I’ve totally lost track of the number of days I’ve been self-isolating. I’m sure it’s over a month now. Unbelievably the time is going by rather quickly despite the fact that my life has been turned upside down by COVID-19. I’m really not sure what I do all day but I’m obviously keeping myself occupied.

The course I’m taking online recommends organizing a daily routine. So do the discussion groups I’m in and the articles I’ve read. And many people thrive with routine.

But Karen does not do well with routine. I never have. Yes I do certain things every day. I color, I go for walks, I exercise, I phone friends, I check social media, I do my course online, I do church online, I watch movies, I listen to music…… I do all these things but never at the same time every day.

Friday morning I called my friend Karen in Leavenworth. The first thing she said was that I was calling so early in the day. Leavenworth is two hours behind and I usually do call at some point later in the day, often in the evening. I told her I needed to change things up.

I used to put reminders in my phone for classes I taught, church services and plans I had with friends. Maybe I should put reminders in my phone for the day of the week instead.

Most people I talk to who are self-isolating have this exact same problem.

What day of the week is it today?