The need for solitude, even in the midst of a pandemic

I feel for the extroverts. The social butterflies. You know the ones. The people who really need to be with other people, to connect regularly. I don’t think I’m an extrovert, but neither am I fully introverted either. But, I do like my solitude. I need it as much as I need food and water. Like everyone else I have had good days and not so good days through all of this isolation. This past week has been extra stressful with the flooding in our city; the worry about family members who live in the flood zone and the necessity of having to travel out of town for hubby’s dialysis treatments. We have to go again tomorrow. The worst is trying to remember to pack everything we might need. We stay overnight in Lac La Biche as the dialysis can be very hard on him. At any rate, this morning I woke up with a tension/sinus headache. There are so many things to deal with that it just overwhelms me sometimes. We are fortunate to live in an apt. building that overlooks a green space with a small pond. So, I decided to go for a walk to clear my head and bust up the stress that’s been mounting throughout the week. I am glad I did. I took a slow stroll around the pond watching the ducks. As I walked around the small grove of trees I stopped to listen to the chickadees and red-winged black birds that were singing. There were not many people around and it was a joy to just be; to quiet my mind and commune with nature for a bit. It is a beautifully calm and sunny day here today and I am counting my blessings as I write this. I hope you who are reading this are finding positive ways to cope with the stress of this pandemic. I hope you are well and keeping safe. I will leave you with this photo from our balcony and with my sincere wishes for many blessings for whatever you may need today.

Taken August 2019 after heavy rains

And I was afraid…

“Feel the fear and do it anyway” has been a quote that has challenged me time and time again. Fear can rule your life, if you let it. From the fear of monsters and boogey men as a child to the adult fear of financial failure; fear of loneliness; fear of success; fear of failure and on and on it goes. Fear can keep you up late into the night. It can consume you, eat you up, and regurgitate an endless loop of anxious thought so you fear some more.

Last summer we moved into an apartment building. It’s a nice building with a beautiful view, but I had forgotten what apartment living can be like. It has been many, many years since I lived in one. For the past week or more a neighbor has been making an awful lot of noise late at night. I don’t know what they’re doing but it sounds like they’re moving furniture some nights, others it’s vacuuming the carpets and last night it was an all-out fight with yelling, screaming, thumping and more. I really had had enough. I thought about going upstairs to bang on their door. I didn’t. I was afraid. I mean, it could be a domestic dispute that was getting out of hand and there’s no way I’m getting in the middle of that!

Anyway, it got me thinking of all the ways fear has controlled my life, even as my mother’s voice urged me to “stand up for yourself”. I have trust issues, meaning, I don’t trust the person on the other side of the door will be receptive to my reasonable request to keep the damned noise down.

At any rate I did eventually handle it. It’s been quiet ever since but I have not been able to get back to sleep. It’s likely going to be a difficult day as I plow on through with my muddled brain.

A week or more ago there was a fire alarm – big fear initiated. My husband cannot walk up and down stairs (which is why we moved here). It was a reasonable fear and it was good because it gave us the chance to plan our exit in case of fire.

Alarms, false or otherwise kicks in that fight or flight response we so often experience in life. Fear can be a good thing, flooding our bodies with adrenaline when we need it. But that same stress response can lead to ill health if experienced too often, or if prolonged.

That quote is good. It is necessary to overcome fears to live a life that is satisfying and full. Yet, it is also good to do nothing at times, such as not putting yourself in a situation where you could be harmed. Sure, “feel the fear and do it anyway”, but only if it will lead to growth. Personally, I would prefer not to be socked in the eye by an irate neighbour!

Searching for the Silver Lining (again)

Some sayings just lend themselves well: “a stitch in time saves nine” and the like. But other sayings make me cringe on a very deep level such as “suck it up, buttercup”. I mean, I get it. Constant complaining and whining is annoying. But I hate the way that particular saying is bandied about rather freely, often without regard to the other person’s feelings. I loathe it. I try not to complain, I really do. This is a warning that I am about to vent a little bit. Please, stop here and read no further if you are experiencing more than enough stress of your own at the moment. I sincerely do not want to add to your burdens. Okay, if you choose to read on, you’ve been warned.

Before I get to that, another saying I love is “every cloud has a silver lining”. I believe that. Good things can come from the worst of circumstances. I am trying to find that silver lining in the most recent hit. So, if you follow this blog you know that this year has been filled with challenges for my husband and I. He has had diabetes (type 2) for about twenty years. It has led to a lot of health issues: heart failure and kidney failure among them. Last spring, he had to have emergency gall bladder surgery – surgery that required anesthesia and kept him in hospital for about three months. During that time his kidneys failed and he had to go on dialysis. In the weeks following his surgery his kidneys bounced back enough so that he no longer needed it. My how we rejoiced.

Unfortunately, his kidneys have worsened once again and we are now waiting for a spot in the dialysis unit to open up so he can receive this much needed help. I guess the silver lining is that dialysis exists to do the job his kidneys can no longer do. I am trying not to worry. I am praying that he can get back into the dialysis unit here in town – the alternative is having him do it in Edmonton which is a five-hour drive away. I am hoping his kidneys continue to function until that spot becomes available. It is scary. I am doing my best to have faith; to trust in the will of the Creator. Most of the time I can and do find strength in my faith, but I am feeling weak today. So, forgive me if I cannot “suck it up”. I am doing my level best not to get sucked into the black vortex of worry and despair. Hopefully I will have something more positive to share when next I visit WordPress. Right now, I am just sad and tired. I will bounce back. I will. And I will find more silver than cloud in this present challenge.

Battling with myself

My mind overwhelmed with pain at the merest idea,

Tortures me with thoughts of you murdered

Or perhaps laying hurt and immobile in some dark, cold place

News stories read long ago haunt my memory

Taunting and sneering at my attempts to destress;

To let go of maudlin, gruesome images

and punishing thought that keep me reeling

With naught but the possibility

Of you forever gone

My cell phone held tight

Willing you to call, to touch base

Minutes tick by so slowly

It seems like time has stopped

An eternity spent in awful-izing

And what-if-ing

My sensible side stands and shakes her head

“Do not go there” she tells me sternly

“Wait, just wait,” she says “How silly you’ll feel …”

“Stay here beside me and hold my hand,” I tell her

“Tell me again about this senseless worry”

“And if the worst happens to pass…

Lend me your strength”

And so, the two sides go back and forth

The worrier who fears the worse

Battling with she who is strong and sensible and wise

And slowly the strength seeps in

And steadies the warped and worried mind

And my cell phone rings….

Paper Cuts and Flat tires

Some days are just like that. I reach into a drawer for a bit of scrap paper and slice my thumb on said item. It’s very busy. People are lined up. I am alone on the desk; my co-worker is on break. I grab a Kleenex and wrap it around the wound, trying to staunch the flow while simultaneously checking out books for a patron, making sure I don’t bleed on them (the books, not the patron). Paper cuts hurt! Also, they bleed a lot. At any rate I survive and the books remained bloodless. Score! I win!

This morning we wake up happy and joyful. Everything is going smoothly. All is well. My husband is going to drive our daughter to work. Then it all goes to pot for a few minutes when we discover we have a flat and the tools to change the tire are at our son’s place across town. Happily, our friend and neighbour is not working today and offers to drive daughter to work. Crisis averted.

Stress can be such a pain in the butt. But, you know, most things we stress over are so small and inconsequential. I mean, we live in a beautiful home, in a beautiful city, in a country where we are free – truly free. No wars or starvation to worry about. We don’t have to fear for our lives. We have food, clothing, shelter and much to be thankful for. Stress really is all about perspective, isn’t it?

As we go about the rest of our day and arrange to get the tire fixed I hope we remember to count our blessings and to let little frustrations go. Some stressors really aren’t that important, especially paper cuts and flat tires!

The Empty Bed

In the empty bed

Sound asleep I stretch out my hand

Seeking you, but you are not there

Panicked, I awaken to check on you

Aw, false alarm, you are merely answering nature’s call

I think of the day to come when you are no longer there

So many close calls, too many times, leave me anxious

Worry over that, which I cannot control, is a wasted effort, I know

But it is a hard road to travel, this path we are on

I try not to give it too much thought or too much energy

But in the dead of night, in an empty bed, it is hard not to dwell

On a life without you and what it may mean

Life has not been what we envisioned, nor what we dreamed

Yet, still and all, I would not change a thing

We’ve had many adventures, you and I

And in the end, we cannot know

Who will be the first to go

So once again I banish maudlin thoughts

And fight off macabre things

We are here now, you and I

And that means everything