2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

It’s my pleasure to introduce Author Rebecca Heflin as my guest today. Rebecca captured my heart with her dedication to help others, to help organize the blogs for Soul Mate Publishing, and read on for the other million things about this amazing working woman.

Author Rebecca Heflin

This time last year I was making my holiday preparations, which included the honor of presiding over the marriage of my nephew and his fiancée on Christmas Day—a truly joyous way to spend the holiday. This time last year, I was looking forward to a new year, fresh with the promise of a new start. Which meant, this time last year, I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. Instead, I was naively planning two international trips, a local canoe and camping trip, several charity events, two weddings, countless family and social gatherings, and the celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary.

Who could have imagined it wouldn’t be long before the world would be living the plot of some sci-fi thriller?

January and February bumped along as normal, with work, exercise classes, dinners with friends, and preparations for the release of my 10th novel. By the end of February, the dark edges of the coming storm were visible.

The first weekend in March was my birthday. I celebrated it that Friday with dinner out and a show at our local performing arts center. There was also an out of town wedding that Saturday, which my husband and I attended. Looking back, being in those very public venues probably wasn’t the smartest decision on our part, but the tidal wave had not yet hit our area. March 17th was my last day in the office, as the university I work for shut down and sent its employees home to work remotely. It would be only a day or two later when the entire state would go under lockdown.  Again, in my naiveté, I thought things would be back to normal in a month or so. Silly me.

Zoom meetings would become a regular occurrence in my daily life, and the next few months were a blur of fear and adjustments, as my husband and I created new routines for ourselves. We limited our grocery shopping to once a week. If we didn’t pick up an item during that weekly visit, we just lived without until the following week. Toilet paper (when the store had it) was priced at roughly the equivalent of a gram of gold. Preparing for grocery shopping felt a little like preparing to enter a contaminated laboratory: masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes at the ready. After returning home, it felt like entering a decontamination unit: washing hands, wiping down groceries, and disinfecting everything we touched.

We watched in horror as the numbers rose and people died—many of them frontline workers. I obsessed over the daily case counts, horrified when we hit 1 million cases in the U.S., not even considering that we would reach double-digit case counts in a few short months.

It wasn’t all bad, however. We also watched the world come together in a common experience. Music and voices rose from city terraces. Drive-by birthday, anniversary, and graduation ceremonies became a thing with horns beeping, lights flashing, and signs waiving. Humanity found a way to celebrate life’s milestones even amid a pandemic.

For me, working from home meant no commute. This freed up time for other things. And the lack of social engagements and other commitments meant time for jigsaw puzzles, minor home improvements, and gardening. Not to mention more quality time with my husband. We had a beautiful spring—cooler than average temperatures, and beautiful low-humidity days—which gave us the opportunity for more outdoor activities like corn-hole games, bike rides, and long walks. Life slowed down, and I couldn’t complain about that.

2020

As we learned more about how the virus was spread, and businesses opened up again, we developed a routine that gave us a little more flexibility. Masked and otherwise following the public health guidelines, we gradually began to leave our sterile cocoon. We had friends over for outdoor socially-distanced dinners (BYOF). We began supporting our local restaurants with take-out or delivery, eventually feeling comfortable dining outside at our favorites.

In May, my husband and I celebrated a quiet, but romantic 25th wedding anniversary—not exactly how we had imagined, but nice just the same.

We took three short driving vacations, 2 to the mountains of North Carolina, and 1 to the beach in the Florida panhandle. The change of scenery provided a welcome respite to the sameness of the daily routines.

After working remotely for 6 months, I returned to my office, but still isolated from my co-workers. I only see them masked and walking in the hallway or on Zoom. It was surreal when I entered my office in September to see the calendar still on March.

Here we are again with Christmas past and New Year’s fast-approaching. There is a light, in the form of vaccines, at the end of this long dark tunnel that is 2020. It will take some time, and more patience is necessary, but we will get there. We will overcome this. The world did it in 1918-1919, and we will do it in 2020-2021.

But will the world ever be the same again? I, for one, won’t be. I am forever changed by this experience. I will never again be blissfully ignorant. I have lost my innocence.

Even so, not all the changes are bad. I have come to appreciate so many things I took for granted: my health, my family, freedom of movement, hugs and kisses shared among family and friends, big gatherings and shared social experiences. And my good fortune. Throughout it all, I have wanted for none of life’s necessities. I can’t ask for more than that from the crappy year that was 2020.

Rebecca Heflin is a best-selling, award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job at a large state university.

Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

Rebecca can be reached at rebeccaheflin@hotmail.com. Feel free to touch base with her.

All of her books are available on Amazon
as well as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Eden Books.
The third book in Rebecca Heflin’s Seasons of Northridge Series, A Season to Dream, will be released mid-2021.

New York City’s Grid

New York City’s Grid

It’s easier to determine in Manhattan since all the blocks here are designed on a numbered grid. From Street to street, it’s 20 blocks to a mile. So from say, 40th and 3rd avenue to 60th and 3rd, it’s one single mile. Avenue blocks don’t follow that sort of conformity, are much longer, and so miles divided by avenues tends to be problematic, depending on through which part of town you’re walking or running.

A good way to determine is how I was taught in the Marine Corps. Find a distance of 100 meters and measure out how many average paces it takes for you to cover that distance. Then count that number of paces 16 times in one direction. That’ll give you a mile. See more below.

Love, Gail

by  

This was posted in 2010, but these are the basics. While writing my new book, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, my characters move about in New York City often. I find myself explaining to those who ask, so here’s some helpful information. Avenue blocks are longer than street blocks. Generally 10 blocks between the avenues equal one mile.

No matter where you are from, your hometown has streets. Maybe some avenues, parkways, calles, boulevards, roads, lanes or rues. In most cases, there is no real rhyme or reason behind why a road has a particular classifying name, it’s simply thrown up there by whoever happens to be planning the surrounding construction. In New York, however, the difference between streets and avenues is very critical and it’s definitely something everyone needs to understand. This post is focused mainly on navigating and understanding Manhattan because it’s very standardized.  Let’s hit the pavement.

The Basics

The most basic thing to remember is that avenues run north and south while streets run east and west (…ish, Manhattan does not a perfect compass make, but don’t try telling any New Yorker that). Most streets and avenues only accommodate one-way traffic, but there are some thoroughfares (14th, 23rd, 42nd, etc…) that do have two-way traffic and are a bit bigger (I’ll fill you in on the history in my next post). This might not seem all that important now, but eventually, you will be sending a text, reading a book or just generally not paying attention as you walk down the street and suddenly find yourself in the middle of two-way traffic because you only glanced down one direction. It happens.

Also, in case you don’t know already, most of Manhattan is a giant grid, so people will give you directions like “it’s on 52nd Street between 5th and 6th”. From that you know the exact block you are going to: the block of 52nd Street that falls between 5th and 6th Avenues. Having a grid is also pretty handy for measuring distance: . So, if you are on 50th Street and 6th Avenue and need to go to 30th Street and 2nd Avenue, you have about 1 mile to walk south and 1 mile to walk east. Remember this when judging whether or not a subway ride is worth it.

Gail Ingis is an author, artist, and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in summer 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

 

ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR . . . by Gail Ingis

ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR . . . by Gail Ingis

My darling, I will love you until the end of time, an hour, a day, forever. Love at any age is contagious. it’s the kind of contagion you want. Catch a falling star, catch him in your arms. The stars tell all, or maybe your heart tells all. So many love songs, a little of Frankie here, What is this Thing Called Love.” 

Between us, Tom and I have nine grandsons, ages 11-31. And we have three granddaughters, (a set of twins, 13, and their 5 year-old sister). One of our boys got married on July 22. Jonathan married his childhood sweetheart, Taylor. And another grandson is getting married on Sunday, August 13. Ben is marrying his college sweetheart, Stephanie.

WOW! Two back-to-back weddings. Love and romance are certainly in the air! Something I know all about because I’ve been married to my love, Tom for almost 25 years.

Jonathan and Taylor’s wedding ceremony was on top of a mountain at the Mountain Creek Resort in New Jersey, on what was reported to be the hottest day of the year. We traveled up the mountain standing in, what they call a cabriolet, (pronounced cab-ree-oh-lay).

Joanne, Gail & Tom riding up on the cabriolet

The ride up was breathtaking. We had a gorgeous view of the valley as the cabriolet carried us up and up, and the ground moved farther and farther away. The sun was a blazing furnace, and by the time we reached the top, we were wilted. Thank goodness for the never-ending supply of the wet stuff. Nope, not beer! Water! There were plenty of bottles to go around. Whew! The ceremony was beautiful and the reception, even more so. The big party was held in a beautiful backyard garden oasis at the home of my son, Rick and daughter-in-law, Tammy. Only one word can describe the celebration–awesome!

Ben & Steph

Ben and Steph’s wedding will be more traditional, in a banquet hall. I’m sure it will be beautiful. I can’t wait to be with everyone again, all dressed up in our best duds and having a wonderful celebration, another milestone in our wonderful family.

I hope these sweet young couples have discovered true romance. Not just the flowers and sweet words kind, but the every-day kind of love you show the person who means the most to you. It’s the little things you do for one another daily. In my house, I cook and Tom does the dishes. I dust, and am the sergeant of the latrines (we have three) and Tom vacuums. Who wouldn’t love a guy like that? He also does the laundry. Bet you think I’m kidding. Tom won my heart long ago. He’s a guy who knows about romance. First you have romance then you have love.

So why am I hung up on romance and love? I’m a romance writer after all.

Under the backyard tent

Tom and Gail

Joanne & Paul

Gail & Rick

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