Winter Wake-up

A necessary reminder to myself to remember to count my blessings!


Winter - Carol Hopkins photo

Aw, yes, the winter season is upon us. Waking at 6 a.m. to the sound of a snow plow scraping snow off the pavement. There is no sleeping through that grating sound, or the incessant beeping of a vehicle backing up. It is the most discordant alarm clock – one I would do without, if I could. Being jarred out of a sound sleep is not fun.

On the other hand, I am thankful for safer streets; for not having to drive through built up snow. We haven’t had a lot of snow. At least not yet. But it will come. Even worst is the freezing rain that turns city streets into ice rinks and causes traffic to move at a snail’s pace. I am grateful that there are city employees up at the crack of dawn to make our city streets safer to drive on. They leave warm beds…

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I am done

Chattering mind,

You’re so unkind

I want to sleep

But thoughts are deep

You wake me up

And fill my cup

With bitter dregs

You wake me up

In a hot, hot sweat

You make me worry,

Make me fret

Chattering mind

(You know the kind)

So, stop it now

Just flip the switch

Turn it off

Without a hitch

Don’t look back

Don’t feel the lack

Or else you’ll face

A day without grace


And mumbly-mouthed

From chattering mind

That tells us lies

And leaves us numb

Chattering mind

I bid you, leave

And let sweet peace

Be my guide

Let this ride

Be over now

I am done

I am done

Competition and Ambition

I am not a particularly competitive person. At least I don’t think I am, but others may argue the point. I just don’t get the propensity for competition. Perhaps it is growing up through the sixties and seventies with the emphasis on live and let live, flower children, and the struggle for peace – the school sit-ins and the march against the war in Vietnam; the generation gap and the struggle for acceptance; to do things a different way.

 I remember being the last kid chosen for sports teams – I was never very good at sports, and my classmates knew it. Consequently, I am not a sports fan. I really could care less, most of the time. I will admit to a sense of pride during the Olympic games when my countrymen do well, but I am not terribly crushed if they don’t either. I know there is more to an individual than the awards she/he may receive, or how many “fans” or “followers” they may have.

I was raised Roman Catholic and remember the weekly spelling contests where myself and a classmate would end up being the last two standing. Sometimes I won, sometimes she did. And at the end of the year prizes were awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. I remember some of my friends who excelled in areas that were not academic. There were no awards for them and I remember the sorrow I would feel watching their faces fall. So, for me, competition was not something I enjoyed. It seemed to hurt more people than it helped. For the most part, the few who built character and self-worth through competition were far outnumbered by the ones who had their self-esteem crushed as a result of it – the ones who were labeled “loser”.

I believe we are all gifted in some way; talented in some way; richly blessed in some way. So why can we not celebrate our differences? Our many intricate and lovely attributes that contribute to the tapestry of humanity in a positive and life-giving way.

Wanting to Hibernate

San Diego Zoo – image courtesy of Shutterstock

What is it about the weeks after Christmas that fills me with such lethargy? Perhaps I overindulged? Perhaps it is the knowledge that winter’s grip is really in its infancy and we have several more weeks of bitter winds and bracing frigid temperatures yet to endure.

It’s only the 9th of January after all. Time to count my blessings once again, to acknowledge the warm house I live in and food on my plate. What is it about the cold that makes me turn into a whining, complaining ass? (Mostly I talk to myself about all that I dislike about winter, so don’t worry. I won’t go into my litany of complaints here.)

I hope and pray to get through yet another winter with some semblance of sanity and grace. I have been told, though don’t take this as a fact – it isn’t – that human beings also have within our DNA a left-over metabolic mechanism that causes us to be sleepier in winter and with a tendency to do much less than usual – not unlike hibernating bears, but not, of course, to the same extent. Well, that makes sense to me. Short, cold days make me want to curl up with a good book and wait for Spring. Maybe I am part bear, but I hope I don’t go about growling too much!

Self-care and the Medical Profession

December was a stressful month, not only because it was Christmas, but because my husband landed in hospital once again. We both learned a few more things about self-care through his experiences. My husband is a diabetic and for the past year or more we have been working at keeping his kidneys functioning well enough to avoid dialysis. It can be quite worrisome. His diabetic specialist has told us that each and every time his blood sugar levels drop too low or spike too high his kidneys and his heart take a hit. At this point it’s imperative to keep those levels as even as possible.

Now, while he was in hospital, I got the flu. I was too sick to visit him and I did not want to risk him catching it on top of all the other health issues he was dealing with at the time. I am very proud of him for dealing with the medical profession and helping them understand his needs. He was having trouble breathing – which is what caused his hospitalization in the first place. Fluids had built up in his heart and lungs making breathing very difficult.

 Being unable to catch his breath was frightening for both of us. For him it caused a great deal of stress. Stress can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. So, the doctor would order a higher dose of insulin, which, in turn, would cause his sugars to drop way too low. Then the nurses would give him sugar tablets that would cause them to go too high. It was awful. This went on with my sick and weary husband trying to explain that the insulin dose was too high and then in the mornings trying to convince the nurses he didn’t need more than one or two sugar tablets to rectify it. It took several days before they began to listen to him.

In the end the nurses learned a bit more about caring for a diabetic patient. I learned to trust my husband did not need me at his side every moment and that he could take care of himself. I learned to let go of control. My husband learned to take control of his own health. In the end it was all about self-care, whether that is physical health or mental health.

Health professionals are not infallible. We each know our own bodies and know what we need to be healthy. In the end we have to be our own advocates. December was stressful, but it brought many gifts, blessings, and lessons we needed to learn. I am grateful for the lessons, even while it was hard to go through at the time.

Contentment and delight

My fingers slide over her fur

Soft as silk and warm to the touch

She purrs her song of contentment

And I am comforted by her tunes

My companion and often my anchor

Love not earned yet freely bestowed

She presses her little body against my leg

Curls up there, lazy and comfortable

As I stroke her coat of fur

Snow flakes swirl outside the window pane

And I too am content, peaceful

Grateful for this divine gift

This little cat that fills me with delight