Word for the Year 2020 – Fun!

After listening to a series of Annie F. Downs’ podcasts on the subject of the 9 points of the enneagram, I noted she always ended her show with “What do you do for fun?” Since I’m a serious “1” on the enneagram chart (always motivated by doing what’s right), the words “That sounds fun” do not come naturally or trippingly off my tongue.

The more I listened to Annie, the more I knew that I needed more fun in my life, so this year I determined to embrace spontaneity and joy in the little pleasures in life—to do an activity just because “That sounds fun.”

I discovered in the process that if I declared “That sounds fun” regarding an upcoming event, even if that event had potential negative aspects to it, just saying the words out loud enhanced the pleasure of the activity and helped to dispel the gloom. To decide ahead of time that something is fun helps to make it so.

The year started out great, but quickly deteriorated with the onset of COVID. With exciting overseas and stateside travel plans canceled, I had to be content with smaller activities that might bring pleasure. Here’s a list of some of my favorites. What would be on YOUR list?

Visit the library: That sounds fun!

I started the year off by reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean, the story of the great fire of 1986 at the Los Angeles Public Library. It reminded me how much I love libraries and how much I’m missing out by always choosing e-books for their convenience and readability. And so I indulged in the simple pleasure of visiting our public library and checking out a physical book—just because I could.

COVID perspective: I’m so ready to revisit a real library again!

Adopt” 2 Chinese students: That sounds fun!

Jiamin and Chenlu

Last year we hosted two sweet MTSU ladies. Once a month we picked them up from campus to introduce them to American culture. We went on hikes, visited local museums and attractions, took them to local restaurants, celebrated holidays, and exchanged cooking experiences.

COVID perspective: All those fun times screeched to a halt in March 2020.

Organize something: That sounds fun!

I removed a large bagful of unwanted clothing from my bedroom closet and rearranged, sorted, and tidied the rest. Next, I tackled the hall closet, followed by reorganizing my jewelry boxes.

COVID perspective:  A wasted effort! I’ve hardly worn jewelry all year with my ubiquitous jeans and t-shirt wardrobe.

Play with the grandboys: That sounds fun!

This one’s a no-brainer . . . Visiting baby William’s dedication; making oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies with Jack, Ben, and Noah; telling “Grandma Special” stories, taking them out for ice cream treats, and playing games together.

COVID perspective: In March, fun quickly changed to outdoor activities only, including hiking, visiting the zoo, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and playing in the backyard or table games under the carport.

Eat something spicy: That sounds fun!

Spicy fish and exotic mushrooms

At the Country Club I tried spicy curry chicken with roasted root vegetables, squash casserole, and cranberry nut bread. Outstanding! Another day, my daughter Sharon introduced me to Oscar’s Taco just down the street. Fish tacos are the best! And the Chinese students fixed us exotic, spicy dishes to sample. (Note: This is MY list of fun, not Scott’s!)

COVID perspective: Take-out just doesn’t taste the same. I miss eating inside, leisurely.

Pray with clients: That sounds fun!

I love my ministry . . . but on the way to the office one day to pray with one of our more challenging clients, I declared out loud, “That sounds fun.” And this time it actually turned out to be so!

COVID perspective: Though we can no longer meet in person, I’m so thankful for technology that has kept our ministry alive.

Get a massage: That sounds fun!

Oh yeah! What’s not to like?

COVID Perspective: Too bad I had to cancel my appointment the week I came down with the dreaded coronavirus!

Scott and Karen Days: That sounds fun!

Civil War graveyard at the Carnton House, Franklin, TN

My Christmas gift to Scott last year was for once-a-month, all-day-together time —uninterrupted, just the two of us, doing any fun activity of his choice. The very first scheduled day in January, Scott was laid up with a wrenched back, so I sat in the den with him and read almost an entire novel. Guilt-free reading time. What’s not to like about that? In other months, we went to movies, played golf, and visited historic sites.

COVID perspective: When I came down with COVID, I was sorry we had to cancel November’s date while we isolated on opposite sides of the house. Fun was sitting in the sunshine together on the deck 12 feet apart from each other for 20 minutes.

Walk somewhere new: That sounds fun!

This wasn’t the actual scene that day, but it does hold special memories.

I took off for a walk late in the day. Thousands of blackbirds were swarming against a red, sunset sky and a full moon. The whole scene took my breath away and filled my soul with joy.

COVID perspective: This is one activity I’ve been able to continue.

Reconnect with MKs: That sounds fun!

Steven Dowdell, a fellow boarding school MK (Missionary Kid), dropped by to see me on his way through town. It had been 50 years!

COVID perspective: Though we had to cancel our Class of 72 reunion in Florida in May, we enjoyed connecting from around the world through Zoom.

Start a new puzzle: That sounds fun!

I walked to Goodwill, just a few blocks away, and came home with a bagful of puzzles. At the height of the lockdown, we drove to Nashville to exchange puzzles with our daughter Sharon.

COVID perspective: Haha! Take that, you Virus! Nothing can stop me here.

Join a book club: That sounds fun!

Our first and only meeting was delightful. I met some new ladies, and we chose our first book.

COVID perspective: And then it closed. It was fun while it lasted!

Play golf: That sounds fun!

Sewanee Golf Course atop Monteagle Mountain, TN

Until just a few years ago, I could not have said “golf” and “fun” in the same sentence. But now it’s a joy to spend time with Scott, out in nature, hunting for my many lost balls.

COVID perspective: Bring your own clubs; don’t share carts; it’s all good.

Celebrate my birthday: That sounds fun!

At first, I didn’t think it would be . . .

COVID perspective: . . . then three good friends arrived in my backyard wearing masks and gloves and holding up signs, while they sang “Happy Birthday” to me.

Celebrate Mothers’ Day: That sounds fun!

After being isolated for two months, my daughter Cindy and her family arrived at my door to hand me a gorgeous hydrangea, and then I blew bubbles with the boys outside. I couldn’t stop smiling.

COVID perspective: See next entry.

Go hiking: That sounds fun!

In late May, Cindy and her 3 boys and I took a 4.5-mile hike together. Ben (7) kept forgetting to keep his distance on the trail and would reach out and take my hand. I even carried Noah (3) on my back for a bit. They loved playing in the water and throwing stones. I also went on many hikes alone this year.

COVID perspective: This is when I decided that isolation from the grandkids was for the birds. We stopped social distancing with them after that.

Go to Sonic for ice cream: That sounds fun!

Scott and I drove up close to the Sonic order menu and turned off the car (but left the radio running) while we sat there enjoying our ice cream. In that short time, the battery drained, and we had to call AAA to come give us a jumpstart!

COVID perspective: I’m sure glad it was successful as Scott could not open his door, and we would have had trouble finding a ride home due to social distancing.

Visit my brother: That sounds fun!

Paul and Joan with daughter Joanna +2, me and Katie +1

Though we only live a few hours from each other, coordinating schedules is a challenge since Paul travels much of the year. But we pulled it off in June while I was visiting Katie.

COVID perspective: This connection was only possible because of Paul’s travel restrictions!

Celebrate Fathers’ Day: That sounds fun!

The whole family went together to play mini-golf. Noah (3) declared, “When I was your age, Grandma . . .”

COVID perspective: Scott brought his own putter.

Grow a tower garden: That sounds fun!

It was a steep learning curve! I learned how to make sun-dried tomatoes, as we had a proliferation of cherry tomatoes.

COVID perspective: A safe, outdoor activity

Tell you my favorite grandchild funny: That sounds fun!

So I was watching 4-year-old Noah one week and asked him what his favorite Bible story was. After some blank looks and shoulder shrugs, we talked about Adam and Eve, and then I asked if he knew about his namesake and the big boat. “Nope.” And so I began a dramatic rendition of the timeless story, emphasizing the animals, the 2 by 2, and the 8 people (count them). Though I did mention it, 40 days and 40 nights means little, as does the length of one year since this little tyke’s time frame includes “I went to the zoo tomorrow.”

Grandma: . . . And after the water went down, God opened the door of the boat, and Noah saw dry land at last. (Dramatic pause) And what do you think was the first thing Noah did?

Noah: He peed?

(Well, wouldn’t you if you’d been cooped up for a year!!!???)

I couldn’t stop giggling.

COVID perspective: Find fun where you are!

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