What I am Grateful for Right Now

Maltipoo

If there is one benefit to this quarantine for me, it has been a sharp focus back to what really matters to me and what I am grateful for right now. There are days when I get lonely. It has been weeks since I have had a meaningful conversation with an actual human. I am always worried about my sister, my parents and everyone else who is at high risk. The lack of baseball and travel has created a void in my life. I have even started missing riding the CTA trains regularly.

Like everyone, I want more than anything to resume to a least a resemblance of my “normal” life.

But when these thoughts and doubts start to creep in and take over, I make myself stop. I know I have nothing to complain about right now. In fact, I have so much to be grateful for. My friend Erin posted a photo on Instagram yesterday and there were three parts to her post:

  1. Things I wish I would have done before quarantining
  2. What will I be glad to be able to do again when it is over?
  3. What am I thankful I have the opportunity to do now that I wouldn’t have otherwise?

I responded to her post but I thought I could expand upon my answers and make it into a blog post. I am also going to change it up a bit add another item and insert it into #1: What I am grateful for right now.

What I am Grateful For Right Now

My job

I have always envied the people I see on social media who have the courage to sell everything they own, quit their corporate job and do their own thing or go travel the world with the belief that it will all work out.

Right now, I am thankful I have a lower risk tolerance than them. I see many of them mentioning on social media that most of their income has completely dried up over the past month. Many of those who travel were scrambling to get home so they could quarantine.

As of today, I still have a job that allows me to work from home 100% while maintaining the same level of income. This means I can still pay my mortgage and bills for another month. I’m so grateful for this and know how fortunate I am. I can also afford to give to others that need help, whether that be by ordering from local restaurants or donating to organizations helping those in need. I am so thankful to be in the position I am in.

My Pup

I know that she cannot talk back to me or help out around the house but I am so glad my Maltipoo, Stella, is here to keep me company. Her antics make me smile. She doesn’t allow me out of her sight, which is good (but also so annoying sometimes too :)).  She is the catalyst for all of the walks I am taking which ensures I still move and get fresh air.

My Family and Friends

If there is one thing that I hope continues after all of this is past us, it is catching up with friends and family over FaceTime or Zoom. This has definitely been one of the big bright spots over the past four weeks. I have spoken regularly with friends I usually don’t talk to regularly and been able to catch up and chat with family and friends I usually only see once or twice a year. I have appreciated the virtual happy hours. The smiles and laughs. I love hearing life updates and listening to struggles and concerns as well.

Spring is on the Way

It is still quite chilly here in Chicago most days but that doesn’t mean that spring isn’t coming. I noticed a couple of days ago that the grass is starting to turn green. The days are getting longer. And most importantly, the tulips and daffodils are starting to poke out of the ground and will be blooming soon! As I have mentioned in other posts, I always look forward to tulip time in Chicago. It instantly brightens up the city and make me so happy! It is definitely something I am grateful for right now.

Things I am Grateful for Right Now

Things I wish I would have done before quarantining

There are two things that stick out in my mind for things I wish I had done before quarantining:

  1. Go to the dentist – I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago. Long story short, it had to be rescheduled to March 30th. Well, clearly that was canceled So now I am well overdue for a cleaning and I can tell. I am looking forward to getting a new appointment scheduled when it is safe.
  2. Have Stella groomed and shaved. I haven’t had Stella shaved in a while but being with her 24/7 is wreaking havoc on my allergies. It would be so much better if she was shaved I think because she wouldn’t be picking up so many allergens in the grass during our walks.

What will I be glad to be able to do again when it is over?

Resuming “normalcy” is what I am looking forward to doing again when this is over. I want to visit and hug my family, in particular, my nieces and nephews. I’d like to work in the office where I can be around my coworkers. I learn so much from them and it is nice to chat and laugh with them. I’m looking forward to going out to dinner and to the theater with my friends here in Chicago. I miss this a lot because it is something I do often. I also look forward to going outside without worrying about being infected by others or possibly infecting someone else.

What am I thankful I have the opportunity to do now that I wouldn’t have otherwise?

As I mentioned above, being able to catch up with family and friends virtually that I do not see regularly has been one of the bright spots of this quarantine. I am very grateful for that right now.

Another thing that I am grateful for is the pause to the rat race of regular life. I’ve noticed when I go on a relaxing vacation (ie. to Hawaii) that I struggle to stop the constant chatter in my head about what I need to be doing now or planning next. I try to not make many plans when I go to Hawaii but just being still without feeling guilt is very hard for me. I always feel like I need to be doing something “productive.”

This quarantine has been a perfect time for me to step back and just be. I cannot go anywhere. My role in this is to stay home, remain out of the way and let others do their jobs. There is no thinking about what needs to be done right now. There is no planning for tomorrow or the next week. Because it is already determined.

I’m staying home and working Monday-Friday from my dining room table. I will take Stella for walks and make meals. I will read and blog and finish the puzzle that has been partially completed for a few days. That is it. There is nothing more. There is peace in knowing this. It takes my anxiety down a bit and comforts me. It quiets the chatter.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned this in one of my other quarantine posts but if you are struggling and need someone to talk to, please reach out to me or something else you trust. You can email me at [email protected] I would be happy to set up a chat over the phone for via Zoom. You are not alone. We can get through this.

Also, I want to send CONGRATULATIONS and big virtual hugs to my friend Julie and her new husband, Jeff. They got married yesterday. It was not the celebration they envisioned but it was wonderful nonetheless. I cannot wait to party with them later this year when we will celebrate in style.

I mentioned my friend Erin above. Along with posting great content, she is leading free virtual yoga sessions a few times each week. It is a great chance to move your body and calm your mind. You can find out more on her Instagram. Here is the link.

Reading, blogging and puzzling are a few of the things I have been up to while quarantining. If you are interested in reading about other ideas I have for keeping yourself busy while being bored and alone, check out my last post.

Finally, what things are you grateful for right now? I would love to read them so tell me in the comments below!

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What I am Grateful for Right Now

The Best Broadway Shows

Several years ago, I was out with some friends and their friends. We were at a bar, talking and having a good time. The discussion turned to whatever the popular TV shows or movies were at the time and I zoned out, not interested in the conversation. I don’t watch much TV and usually fall asleep during movies. If you like to recite movie or TV quotes, unless it’s from “Friends,” “Big Bang Theory” or the prior day’s Cubs’ game, I’m going to look at you like you’re crazy.

One of the friends of friends started asking me about what shows I watch and when I told her I don’t really watch TV, she told me “you have no culture.”

I remember being taken aback when she said that. What? What does that even mean? Because I don’t watch TV, I lack “culture?” Again, what? I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at her and said “Whatever, you don’t know me.”

Her comment crosses my mind from time to time because I look at my life and know that I am pretty well cultured. I have traveled all around the USA and to many different countries throughout the world. I have friends from all over the world as well. Visiting museums and going to concerts and sporting events are things I do often. I also love to go to live theater and I have had the opportunity to see several shows on Broadway in New York. However, most of the time, I see shows here in Chicago through Broadway in Chicago.

I would say that by now, I have seen 50 or so Broadway shows. Reading reviews before going to a show is something I try to avoid because I love to go in without preconceived notions so I can make my own opinions. Since I have been to so many shows, I thought you might be interested in knowing which are my favorites and which I thought were underwhelming. So here is my list of the best Broadway shows

Disclaimer: This list turned out to be longer than I planned but I love theater so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.

The Best Broadway Shows

Musicals

  1. Wicked – This is the story of the witches from the Wizard of Oz. I saw it at least three times when it was here in its first run in Chicago and saw it again last year when it came back. I gasped the first time I saw the surprise at the end and officially decided I loved it then. It’s my favorite of all the shows I’ve seen. I HIGHLY recommend Wicked if you have the opportunity to go see it.
  2. Hamilton – I cannot do a list of the best Broadway shows and not mention Hamilton, right? Hamilton ranks second on my favorites list. It won 11 Tony Awards. I have also seen this show multiple time. A friend and I got to see Wayne Brady playing Aaron Burr the first time I was in the room where it happened. I thought the actress who played Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Aliza, stole the show. She has an amazing voice! Fun fact: JPMorgan Chase Bank owns the pistols used in the dual fight that killed Alexander Hamilton. They are housed in one of its NY offices.

    The Best Broadway Shows
    Kelley and me before seeing Hamilton for the first time.
  3. Mama Mia – I’ve seen this one in Chicago and also on Broadway in New York. I love the music – it’s all music from the band Abba if you don’t know. The play is better than the movie, although I love the movie too.
  4. Mary Poppins –The classic movie done live. This was a show I decided to go to on a whim by myself one night and I am so glad I did. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the best musical number I’ve seen. I loved loved loved it!  I wanted to get up and sing along.
  5. Jersey Boys – This play is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I also loved the music in this one and wanted to sing along because it included so much of the music I grew up listening to with my parents.
  6. Beauty and the Beast – This was the first show I say on Broadway in New York. It was so good – it felt like I was watching the Disney animated version.
  7. Aladdin – I saw this one in Chicago with my friend Kelley. The set and costumes were amazing! And the music was good too. The magic carpet flies – and I still wonder how they did it! I didn’t see any wires.
  8. Newsies – This is a musical based on the 1992 musical film Newsies, which in turn was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City.
  9. Escape to Margaritaville – Okay, this one is definitely not for everyone. It is very cheesy. BUT, as a self declared Parrothead who has been to 15ish Jimmy Buffett concerts, I loved this one. I knew most of the music and loved singing along.
  10. Something Rotten – I also went into this one not knowing what to expect. While it wasn’t quite “The Play that Goes Wrong” funny, it was pretty close. I would recommend it. What I remember most about this show was going with a friend who was struggling through a break up. Hearing her laugh during this show was the best music to my ears.
  11. Once on this Island – A couple of friends and I decided to go to this show at the last minute and I am glad we did. The cast was entirely Black, which I loved. The costumes were great and the story was okay too.

Non-Musicals

  1. The Play that Goes Wrong – I had no idea what to expect when I went to this show and it ended up being the funniest show Broadway show I have seen. EVERYTHING goes wrong, according to plan. It was incredible! I laughed and gasped a lot in this one. I loved the lightness of this one for a change of pace.
  2. What the Constitution Means to Me – This one isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea but as a political junkie and strong advocate for women’s rights, I really enjoyed it. This was part of a season ticket package and is one of the reasons why I like the packages. I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this one on its own. I really recommend it if political history and women’s rights are your thing.
  3. Oslo – This is the Tony award-winning play by J. T. Rogers, recounting the true-life, previously secret, back-channel negotiations in the development of the pivotal 1990s Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. I remember the photos from when this happened but never knew the significance or the story behind it. This is a long play and is not a musical. But it is a good history lesson.

There are two shows that I hope to see sometime in 2021 or 2022, “Six” and “Come From Away.” My friends saw Six when it was at Navy Pier last summer and still rave about it. In “Six,” the “six wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power!”

“Come Away From” was also in Chicago last year. I missed it because my schedule wasn’t cooperative. Hopefully, it comes back in 2021 or 2022. If not, I may have to go to New York to check it out.

Now it’s your turn. What are the best Broadway shows in your opinion? Did I miss any? Tell me in the comments below.

To check out more from this blog, see my favorite memories from Jimmy Buffett concerts here and a Letter to My Younger Self here.

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The Best Broadway Shows