You can tell your old Aunt Donna’s in her natural habitat.
Just look at that smile. With dimples, no less! Check out the relaxed posture. And even though they’re a bit swollen with seasonal allergies, the eyes are bright, alert and happy.
There are far worse fates than being an introverted, empathic homebody all nice and snug in her sanctuary—especially the way the World Out There (WOT) has been these days.
But I don’t have to let the bad stuff take up all-pervading residence in my mind. I can shoo it away with a list of things I’m grateful for: a wonderful husband who knows all about me but loves me anyhow, two grown kids with seriously warped senses of humor, Peanut-the-Three-Legged Wonder-Cat….I could go on and on, but you get the idea. And the good stuff is ‘way more fun to think about than the manufactured mayhem du jour.
If something icky from the WOT does manage to sneak in, I can simply choose to release it, switch the mental channel, or….hell, even clean the toilet! Just do something–anything–different.
I can also make changes in my life. Mostly small ones, of course, but there’s one giant leap of faith that’s long overdue. (Misery may love company, but it ain’t getting any more of mine!)
Gotta admit I’m still very much a work in progress, and some days are better than others. But the important thing is–I am working at it, because I’m worth the effort.
In keeping with Covid-19 safety precautions I’ve been working remotely since March 2020 and holding my forays into the World Out There to the barest minimum. I realize being an introverted empath who would rather stay home and read makes this easier for me than it is for some folks, but I’ve actually discovered some definite pluses in the situation.
Escape from Boob Jail Wooo-hooo! At long last, a welcome end to the ongoing struggle with –weapons-grade shoulder straps –“tourniquet” under bands –homicidal underwires –closure hooks that feel like a back rub from Edward Scissorhands
(“The Girls” and I can definitely make this a way of life…)
Naked Eyes Like many redheads, my eyebrows and eyelashes were white long before my hair was. I hated this with a passion, so over the years I’ve used enough mascara and eyebrow pencil to sink a small yacht. Now I’ve realized the only entities who see me are my husband (who already knew the awful truth) and the cat (who couldn’t care less), so why bother? Before working remotely I would never, ever have emerged in public without my protective coloration. Now? On rare occasions when the spirit moves me I might paint up to go to the grocery store. Later I’ll forget I have the stuff on, rub my eyes and–voila! Instant Alice Cooper! So again, why bother?
Cheetos are a food group. So are cheesecake and mesquite barbecue potato chips. Also, a spoonful of real maple syrup is good for the soul.
Fashion understatements. I have my “going downstairs where it’s chilly” sweats, my “staying upstairs where it’s warm” sweats, and my watch-another-episode-of-Versailles-on-Netflix-while-eating-the-aforementioned-cheesecake pajamas. Ah, the simplicity!
Whole libraries at my fingertips. Thanks to my Kindle tablet I have been able to ransack multiple libraries without leaving my chair (which would disturb the cat).
As I got to know myself better during this “away time” I realized some of the rules and restrictions I’ve chafed against over the years were actually self-imposed. (For example, nobody ever forced me to wear eye makeup.) And a lot of things I’ve jokingly called “feral” are just—me being me. Definitely something to think about…
“Looking through crystal spectacles/
I can see you’ve had your fun.”
–Donovan, Epistle to Dippy (from Sunshine Superman album, 1966)
Back in the day we called them “trip glasses.”
Their multi-faceted lenses gave the wearer a kaleidoscopic view of the world which, we were told, was “just like an LSD trip.” Never having indulged in LSD, I can’t speak to the truth of that claim; the only trips I had while wearing them were over my own two feet.
Some advantages of trip glasses over LSD:
Trip glasses weren’t illegal.
No flashbacks cropping up at inopportune times.
No danger of ingesting the questionable products of amateur pharmacists.
A “trip” could be stopped at will simply by taking off the glasses and restoring normal vision.
Speaking of vision, 20/20 means perfect eyesight.
2020, however, refers to a year that will live in infamy for a whole lot of folks.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could stop 2020’s crazy train/roller coaster ride just by removing a pair of glasses?
A toddler’s first scribbled portrait of Mommy is given pride of place on the refrigerator door, even though the aforementioned portrait was done with the last of Mommy’s favorite, now-impossible-to-find lipstick.
Little Things mean a lot.
After a hellish day at work, you swoop into the grocery store to grab one essential item. A single register is open, and the cart ahead of you is filled to the brim. Just as you resign yourself to an eternal wait the other shopper notices you, smiles and says, “Hey, I’ll be here ’til Doomsday. Why don’t you go ahead of me?”
Little Things mean a lot.
A STRATEGICALLY PLACED DEAD MOUSE LETS YOUR OWNER KNOW YOU CARE.
(It’s the thought that counts…)
A few other little things:
Putting keys, eyeglasses, cell phone, etc. in the same places when not in use. (Lessen the stressin’!)
Making lists/writing things down. (Who needs all that crap rattling around inside their head?)
Remembering there’s a whole world outside the TV/computer/cell phone screen and paying it a visit. (I’m in no danger of being a Jedi Master at this, but I’m working on it. Hey, I saw geese the other day! And a woodchuck!)
Letting someone know (to paraphrase Elton John’s “Your Song”) how wonderful your life is because s/he’s in the world–especially if that person’s right beside you on the front lines of Everyday Life. (Gee…wonder if I know somebody who fits that description….)
This long, strange trip we’re currently taking is not conducive to peace and tranquility.
If you’re anything like me, you sometimes find yourself going from mellow to melodramatic after visiting an online news source or dropping in on the Twitterverse.
An unwise visit to the comments section of almost anything these days can send me hurtling down the rails on the Crazy Train.
DON’T BE THESE GUYS.
It’s important to remember (lord knows I try) that just because something is presented in the media as being an A-Priority-Threat, Full-Anxiety-Ahead doesn’t mean it actually is. There are a lot of agendas floating around that count on eliciting knee-jerk reactions, keeping us divided among ourselves, and distracting us from what’s going on behind the scenes. Also, things change with the speed of light, and Monday’s apocalyptic threat that kept us awake for two nights in a row may have fizzled to nothing by Wednesday.
When something in the media (social or otherwise) gets to me, I’ve found it helpful to step away from the item in question, count to 10 (or 50, or 500, whatever it takes) and–this is important–immediately go do something else. Doesn’t matter what–read, go for a walk, crank up the tunes and dance like nobody’s watching, do some housework (I’ve been known to commit domestic miracles while detoxing from an overdose of negative news).
Don’t forget about the human touch. I’m a card-carrying introvert, and my instinctive reaction to anything threatening or upsetting is to dive into my shell and pull up the drawbridge. (Yeah, I know, but it makes a neat mental picture.) However, these crazy, chaotic times have taught me two wonderful, really important things, both of which required emerging from the aforementioned shell:
We are all in this mess together, and there’s strength in numbers.
Give and/or accept help whenever you can–it raises the vibration for both the giver and the receiver, plus it makes the world a better place.
Lately I’ve spent ‘way too much time listening to my Inner Censor and its backup group The Committee.
This is not a good thing.
Besides doing a number on my self-confidence, listening to those turkeys makes it easy for me to fall into overachiever/drudge/doormat mode. Among other things I find myself doing ‘way too much for people who are perfectly capable of doing stuff for themselves because I:
am desperate for some kind of approval
voluntarily set aside my own boundaries
forget that “No” is an answer
Usually when this happens I end up depressed, viewing the world through corpse-colored glasses as I slog through my War and Peace-sized to-do list.
But this time was different.
This time I was royally, vehemently, unilaterally pissed off.
So I tossed my gotta-do list into the shredder, told the Censor and Committee to f*** right off and proceeded to do a bunch of stuff from my wanna-do list:
Took a vacation day from work. Words cannot begin to express how badly I needed this downtime. The only chore assigned to that day (a Friday) was a trip to the grocery store in order to avoid the Saturday madness, which was a blessing all by itself.
Bought some denim leggings. Been wanting to try them for ages but never did because I don’t look like the models in the ads. Well, screw that. The leggings look good and feel great. (Side benefit: I have problems with my knees, and something about the fit of the leggings lessens the pain considerably. I found myself moving around a lot more; even going up and down stairs wasn’t as challenging.)
Did a daytime full-moon bonfire. Didn’t want to wait until night, so we didn’t. Judd got a scrap-wood fire going and we sat enjoying the gorgeous blue October sky and sunshine. (As a fair-complexioned former redhead, quite a few months of the year my relationship with sunshine is akin to a vampire’s. So this was a wonderful luxury.)
Did a long-postponed releasing ritual. Already had a nice fire going, so it was a simple matter to grab a notepad & pen, write down things I want to see gone on a personal level (example: “inertia”, “procrastination”, “fear of positive change”) and world level (things like “injustice”, “war”, “inequality”), add a brief clarification if one was needed, and toss each note into the fire.
Worked on my book for the first time in ages. While editing a conversation between a middle-aged former roadie with 20+ years clean and sober and a much younger active drug addict, I had the younger man say, “When everything goes up in flames, how do you keep doing that one-day-at-a-time stuff?” The older man ponders for a moment, then replies, “The way I see it, if I stay clean, I can be an everyday phoenix, rising from the ashes. Beats the hell out of the alternative.” I stared at that line for awhile after I wrote it, and I’ll be thinking of it in a variety of contexts for a very long time.
Rented Peter Gabriel’s “Secret World” concert from Amazon and watched it that night. Loved every minute. The last number is my absolutely favorite song of all time. I use the concert version as an energetic meditation, and I want to share it with you.
Judd’s nasty bug I mentioned in my last post ended up turning downright vicious. It went from flu to pneumonia with the speed of light, and poor Judd ended up in the hospital from March 5th until late afternoon of March 17th. He’s been home for a little over a week now and is steadily getting better, but time’s gonna take time.
This stuff is pure evil—and not the kind you can banish with a healthy dose of smudge. So please, everybody, take care of yourselves.
Judd ended up tethered to all kinds of IVs, fed countless pills, and caught in a love/hate relationship with oxygen masks. The fact that my beloved human timber wolf allowed all this to be done to him without protest (or jailbreak) is a testimony to how very sick he was.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried, not to mention downright scared sometimes. But one thing I’ve learned through dealing with my various fears and phobias over the years is not to let it immobilize me. Life’s gonna keep on keepin’ on, and I have to do the same.
I’m scared of hospitals, but I love Judd and wanted to be with him so I spent lots of time there. I got to know the people, the routine, how to bend a few rules here and there, how to advocate when needed. (Did I mention I’m afraid of confrontation?) Being in the hospital was really hard for Judd, and anything I could do to make things easier for him was far more important than any pesky little fears.
Judd’s definitely doing better. He’s on oxygen therapy for now, which means he travels around our two-story house with several miles of tubing. There was a bit of a learning curve at first—he almost lassoed one of our Buddha statues during an early pilgrimage down the stairs—but now the man has got it down!
I would never, ever have wished for Judd to get so sick. But being there to help him in any way I could is the most worthwhile thing I’ve done in a very long time.
Looks like an evil little critter hitchhiked a ride on my unsuspecting husband.
Poor Judd’s been dealing with a lung-busting, rib-cracking cough for a couple of days (and nights) now. I had my fingers crossed that it was something an antibiotic would quickly put to flight, but according to the doctor that wretched beast (the critter, not Judd) is a virus. A virus just laughs in the face of antibiotics and goes about its nasty business.