Break, Bend, Accept…kind of

Lord have mercy! More draconian shutdowns just in time for the holiday season. Whilst those governing from their power towers order us to stay home, they are dining out at $750-a-plate dinners or hopping on private jets to vacay in Cabo or some such place. Personally, I absolutely do not begrudge fun times for anyone, the well-heeled included, but imposing what is not okay for me but fine for thee…well, it’s such hypocrisy. Hey, that kinda rhymed!

Still, could 2020 get any worse? Ah yes it can!

I say this as not one but both cars are in the shop today, one needing major repairs.

2020 keeps on giving.

So yes, I’ll admit that these days I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find five degrees of bliss, let alone ten. I know I am not alone in this. All over the world, no one has made it through 2020 unscathed, unless of course they were living in an ice-cave, in say the Antarctic. Many folks have experienced profound loss in one form or another this year. One friend, for example, will spend her first holiday without her husband by her side. Another friend of some thirty five years is undergoing, literally as I write, an extremely complicated thirteen-hour surgery (yes, mind-boggling, you read that correctly) for a rare form of cancer.

I am waiting to exhale on good news.

Yes, I should feel a bit peppier, after all, as I have said a hundred times, I’ve a nice roof over my head and plenty of food in the pantry. But, I am—as I have also said a hundred times—only human. I acknowledge it’s all through a lens of perspective (others have suffered, sadly, far more than I) but while I am trying not to view 2020 as the worst year ever, it certainly has been the most challenging in a while. The past eight or so months have been, and continue to be, a roller-coaster ride and not the thrilling kind. From shingles to an unplanned dental implant to the stress of not being able to visit a loved one languishing in a memory care facility. Add to that a multitude of unplanned expenses that certainly didn’t produce one iota of bliss as well as an angry flare-up in both knees.

Ah yes…I’m back to scouring the internet for total knee replacement details (as if I didn’t know enough already) in the form of blogs and YouTube videos, which only (shockingly) serves to depress me further. I had managed to sail through spring, all of summer and even some of autumn with barely a twinge in these deteriorating joints. In fact, a bicycle vacation was on the books for early autumn though of course we know COVID squashed that. Fortunately, walking outdoors in the fresh air everyday between five and seven miles through these COVID months has been my salvation from all the madness going on in the world, and at home. Rain or shine, I’ve so enjoyed time on the trails with my “old man” Poodle-love (who turned twelve last month) and then, once leading him back to the comforts of his bed, continuing on, back down into the woods around the lake or around other trails that wind through peaceful, lovely neighborhoods.

Since we were in an election year I made use of time spent walking trying to make sense of political events and the insanity going on in various parts of the country, though I’m not certain I’m any smarter–or healthier–for it! Nearly every day I took to listening to various political podcasts, eschewing main stream media (I’m sure I need not explain). I venture to say this constant streaming of politics and attempting to digest alternative facts and viewpoints–sifting fact from fiction– daily for months on end hasn’t been altogether healthy for my headspace, nor has the stress of an ongoing family crisis–our 2020 life-quake– (which I acerbically refer to as our 2020 shit-storm). And, the plot just thickened with potential life changes in the year ahead. Holy-Molly! Suffice it to say, I’m been mighty upside-down these past few months.

Fear not. In time, I’ll bounce back…to a new normal. We all will…right? Tree decorating helps…along with wine, chocolate and Hallmark Christmas movies. Just saying.

I think of a passage I read recently from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo:

We are all made delicate. The hard things break. The soft things bend. The stubborn ones batter themselves against all that is immovable. The flexible adapt to what is before them. Of course, we are all hard and soft, stubborn and flexible…and so we all break until we learn to bend and are battered until we accept what is before us.

Mark Nepo

So, I am back to listening to music now and thankfully lots of Christmas tunes are keeping my spirit light and hopeful. I danced jigs around the Christmas tree while decorating, managing to send The Poodle nearly running in the opposite direction. I still muster up enough energy to sit on my meditation pillow for about fifteen minutes a day although it must not be nearly enough as I can turn into a head-exploding purple minion on a dime when trying to get my adult son to wake up from his twenty-year stupor and face the music. And trust me kind readers…I’m pleading inside, like you must be too, for a far better year ahead (dare I dream, a mask-less and COVID-free one) and I’m praying for the peace, happiness and health of friends and loved ones, near and far.

God does not give us more than we can handle….so the saying goes. Break, bend, accept what is before us… (to which I add kind-of because I’m stubborn that way.)

It is my hope that my own spirits continue to lift despite our continuing life-quake and even as I believe our country is headed in the wrong direction. The fact that some 75 million folks feel somewhat like-minded is oddly reassuring, although frankly, I’m not sure there is much bliss in all of that either. But more than anything, it is my sincere hope that spirits lift for all who are experiencing a certain bending and breaking; may we all make it through to the other–brighter–side of things with grace, humility and hearts full of kindness, love and hope.

And yes, Virginia… there is heart-warming bliss in those bear hugs I still receive from my nephew (even though he’s shy of being a teenager), in the pretty pink poinsettias adorning my hearth, in the warmth of rocket-man’s embrace, from my poodle-love curled up by my side, and yes… in the glow of tree lights on a cold December evening.

Checking In…

I don’t know about you all…specifically my “four” kind readers….but some days I feel like I am standing on the edge of an enormous cliff–the Grand Canyon comes to mind– ready to simply set myself free now before a zombie apocalypse takes hold and we all descend into irreversible madness. Don’t mind me, chalk it up to postherpetic neuralgia pain from shingles. In fact, I still have what I term (a la The Pink Panther) a “Commissioner Dreyfus” twitch of the left eye. It’s just that there seems to be no end in sight more than two and a half months into this Covid-19 madness. Hotspots are still raging and headlines even warn of a second, more dangerous wave later this year! My modest meditation practice has not been enough to calm the waves of anxiety and not being around people much isn’t helping either.

Just the other day I braved going to Target for the first time since March. I needed an item or two–nothing absolutely essential mind you. Mostly, I needed to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and see someone other than The Poodle and my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both dearly but…24/7 has had some tense moments. And yes, I pinch myself daily because my husband can work from home…bills are paid and food is on the table… and we are (knock on wood) doing remarkably well as opposed to so many other souls worldwide.

Although I am loathe to wear it…of course I donned a mask for my Target outing. It’s a pretty little thing actually, one that I found online via Etsy and certified as made in the good old U.S.A. I try to find the bright spot in putting the damned thing on–as in, my eyes look bluer than usual when wearing it and I can skip applying lipstick–I still detest it worse than pineapple on pizza. I feel like I am being suffocated with each breath I take.

It’s pretty. But still..I loathe it.

As I got out of the car in the Target parking lot, I inhaled fully and exhaled slowly, thoroughly enjoying the miracle of that breath before I donned the mask. I honestly had a skip in my step as I headed into Target, eager was I to be among people…doing something routine…normal.

Let’s just say the experience left much to be desired. As I pushed my cart through various aisles I felt as if I was in a science fiction/horror movie. Save for one or two folks, everyone wore a mask. Yes, I know: That isn’t new…of course this has been a common sight pretty much since the beginning of April. What was so disheartening was the dead quiet in the store. And I mean dead. The absence of people chatter and even background music was almost otherworldly. The atmosphere was thoroughly joyless. In fact, there was a tension in the air that was palpable as people pushed their carts–eyes downcast or looking away when passing another cart-pushing human and, despite being appropriately masked, physically distancing movement was sometimes so exaggerated as if it were me who was infected with viral hemorrhagic fever and was covered with oozing boils from head to toe. One guy practically overturned his cart in an effort to physically distance himself from me.  Even the checkout experience was completely devoid of pleasantries. In fact, the woman who checked me out didn’t say one word (I kid you not) even when I inquired as to how her day was going.

Well that was a thoroughly unsatisfying experience.

Taking the SOCIAL out of our daily lives is bound to turn us into Zombies I thought as I practically ripped my mask from my face as I neared my car in the parking lot. Once in, I sat for a moment with eyes closed, enjoying the sound of my breath. Inhales and exhales that were easy and calming…

Yes, I know. What a luxury to breath…so lucky, am I.

Still, it’s hard not to get my head bobbing in wonder –or my knickers in a twist–when I see so many folks driving in their cars, alone, wearing masks and gloves. Really? Or the gal checking me out at the local grocery store behind the large plexiglass wearing a full face-shield AND a face mask under it. That just seems to me…excessive. Or being told by the lovely scheduler over the phone that doctor’s offices will be requiring mask wearing during office visits through the end of the year and into 2021.

2021?!

Enter expletive of choice here […..]

I try hard not to get caught up in the unknown. So much IS unknown and it’s taking a toll on all of us. Even, dare I say, The Poodle. He’s wondering, I am sure, when his humans are going leave the house so he can slumber in blissful tranquility. Not to mention what COVID information (and who) to trust. The politics, polarization, finger-pointing, fighting and sheer ugliness of it all has made me terribly sad…not to mention imbibing much more than usual.

Sigh.

I suppose that the only thing that is for sure is that none of us are getting out of this world alive. So, yes…my “right” brain says I simply need to “roll with it” and be better at living in the moment. This too shall pass. Still, I know that I am not alone in wishing for a light at the end of the tunnel. A return to even a new normal would be perfectly fine with me at this point. A visit to Wegman’s just yesterday granted me that wish. Instead of being corralled into one insanely long check-out line that wrapped around the store twice we were able to follow the regular BC (before corona) check-out process along with maintaining a six-foot distance.

Seems like a silly thing to get excited about but even with wearing the mask, how blissfully normal that was!

Now, it we could get toilet paper, paper towels and Clorox wipes back on store shelves….

Still no toilet paper but hey…six rolls of paper towels is progress