Staying Calm, Controlling Anxiety And Dealing With A Waspish Issue

Last month, I got home from work and was informed that five wasps were in the house, and they had been sucked up into the dustbuster. I knew they were probably coming in through the chimney, so I opened the flue. Out fell, crawled and flew 13 more wasps.

I used a second vacuum to collect the uninvited visitors. What happened next was interesting as I went about trying to get rid of the bugs without getting stung. The video my wife shot was hilarious as I harnessed my inner hunter-gatherer in dispatching the wasps. I was successful in my unorthodox approach – trash bag, bug spray, duct tape and running shoes – but the experience left me questioning my mental health.

On the other hand, my wife’s mental health got a huge boost watching me dance in the yard with a sack of wasps.

I know what you’re thinking: “Gee, does this guy only write about wildlife, critters and creepy crawlies?” Well, not typically. I write about what I know and experience. And what I know today is that stress takes a toll mentally and physically. And 2020 has produced more stress than I planned on having.

We’re headed into the ninth month of the COVID pandemic, and everyone’s mental health is probably being challenged in one way or another. For me, maintaining a safe environment at the BA Senior Center and keeping my family safe at home means a 24-hour-a-day commitment to health and safety.

As each day passes, it seems to be getting harder to keep anxiety at bay. COVID, wildfires, hurricanes, virtual learning, social and political unrest, the economy and now wasps!

It is important to regulate your emotions by staying calm rather than reacting violently with anger, fear or – my least favorite – tears. Finding a way to keep yourself mentally and physically calm will help you be better equipped to cope with anything that 2020 throws your way the last two months of this wretched year. Plus, it’s the extra stress the holidays add that will make 2020 even more out-of-sorts.

I cannot remember any time in the last 50 years where there’s been this much adversity to contend with collectively. People are numb, overwhelmed – Is anyone ever just “whelmed?” – and beaten down. Coping skills can be forgotten or cast aside, but now is the time to invest in self-care. It is not too late to practice or learn new coping skills – to adopt and to avoid – so that you can better manage your overall health.

Good Coping Skills

Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques – It’s a good thing BA Seniors has four yoga classes each week;

Engaging in physical activity or exercise – We live stream all our fitness classes so there’s no excuse not to exercise. You can also walk outside in the fresh air – while social distancing – which is one of the best ways to get exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

Reading – Our Circle of Readers Book Club meets on Mondays;

Spending time with friends – or making new friends at the Tulsa Area United Way’s Retire United program. Its mission is to keep productive citizens engaged as valuable community resources through volunteering, social and educational programing and mentoring. Retire United members are individuals, either retired or soon to retire, who recognize the important role philanthropy plays in strengthening the community;

Spending time on your hobbies – crafting, crochet, guitar: We have your hobby solution;

Spending quality time with your pets – I have squirrels, wasps, dogs and cats;

Eating healthy – We feed nearly 120 people a month an average of 21 meals – more than 2,500 total meals;

Getting a good night’s sleep – If you’re doing everything on this list, you should sleep great. Plus, better sleep patterns protect your heart, improve your brain and reduce your desire to snack;

Making time for yourself – Do a crossword, sudoku, garden or read. Invest in yourself.

Negative Coping Skills

  • Using drugs and/or drinking
  • alcohol excessively;
  • Ignoring or bottling up feelings;
  • Taking sedatives or stimulants;
  • Working too much;
  • Avoiding your problems;
  • Being in denial.

My biggest coping skill is to find humor everywhere. That’s why when I prepare my column each month, I try to provide a little levity as well as look inside my life and how my experiences shape how we approach serving BA Seniors.

A final note of thanks. Last month, my column focused on how my team, volunteers, sponsors and members operate this respected organization and move it forward every day. We didn’t stop when COVID hit. And we haven’t stopped delivering on our mission promise. You read the column and responded in a substantial way. The first day Silver Notes was in mailboxes, I personally took 10 calls from members whose dues had lapsed – and they wanted to get current. In the span of two weeks, we added $8,000 in revenue from our members in the form of dues payments and donations.

Thank you for recognizing the role BASC plays in your life and in the community and for your continued support. I wish you good health – stay safe!


Crafting will be returning to the Center on Monday, Nov. 9, at 11 a.m. in Heritage Hall. Participants will be making fabric pumpkins. Seating will be limited, and reservations are required to attend. If you would like to come and spend some time with others safely, please contact Ami Bucher at the Center at 918-259-8377 or

If you are attending these activities, plan on following the Center’s safety procedures, which include entering the building through the West (back) door, having your temperature checked, wearing a mask and being socially distanced. Arrive on time. The door will be open 15 minutes prior to the start of class and locked when the class begins.

The Center Welcomes New Zumba Gold Instructor

The Center welcomes our new Zumba Gold instructor, Linn Turner, beginning in November. Linn is a certified Zumba instructor and will bring a wealth of senior-specific fitness knowledge to the Center. We have been fortunate to have Linda Few as our Zumba instructor for the last nine years. Linda has inspired many people over the years with her passion for Zumba and enthusiastic personality. She shares both attributes with Linn. Although Linda will be stepping back from teaching, she will continue to participate in Zumba Gold at the Center.

Line Dancing

Line dancing is one of the most beneficial activities for both mind and body. The Center’s line dancing classes are very popular, whether members attend virtually or in person. The titles of the various class offerings have been updated on the November Calendar of Events. Class titles now reflect the activity leader’s name. Whether you feel you are a beginner or advanced line dancer, the Center encourages you to try the various classes to discover which class you enjoy and meets your exercise needs.