Butter in the Time of Corona

A friend posted on Facebook this morning about our local farm extension service having a butter and string cheese sale in a couple weeks.  You can buy either or both of these products by the case for $42 and the proceeds will benefit the local 4-H program.  I ordered butter since I can’t imagine a case of string cheese being a good idea for my gut!  Eighteen pounds of butter on the other hand is very doable.  And it’s about half price as well.  Win win.

Our first case of Imperfect Foods (veggies, etc.) arrived on Sunday and only one item was imperfect.  The rest of the food looked better than what I can buy locally.  It came by Fed Ex and the return address was Chicago.  I’m okay with that.  We’re all in this together.  Everybody needs a job.  Everybody needs food.  I didn’t have to leave the house to make this purchase.  It works for now.

Yesterday I got that ridiculous form letter from the president telling me about the stimulus money that we received two weeks ago and that I have heard about via multiple news sources many times a day for quite awhile now.  The only reason I even opened it was because it was a first class letter from the IRS.  If it had been from the White House I would have inserted it into the shredder immediately.  Ah, I see what you did there, number 45.

Due to my vast personal experience with narcissists, I know how hard it is to say no to them.  But the IRS should have said no.  If anybody’s got that kind of power, it’s the IRS.  And if they still couldn’t say no, those letters should have been sent by Standard Mail because that’s what form letters are, and it is much, much cheaper to use Standard Mail.  It’s our money after all, isn’t it?

I know this post is all over the place but I figured it was better than not writing at all.  I’ve tried writing a couple times this week and I kept getting stuck.  Life is just so weird now.  I can come up with topics, but then my interest fades as I try to make a point.

Butter, though, that’s a really nice thing to think about.  Butter is manageable and delicious.  And half price butter that is made in your own town, and the sale of which supports educational programming, well, that’s inspirational.  And it got me to write and finish a whole blog post.  Big win right there.

Leave a comment

Filed under anxiety, blogging, bullies, dysfunction, human nature, Uncategorized

Fresh Air

Sometimes I forget that everything is different now.  Probably because social distancing is a hallmark of depression and I’ve achieved nearly seven years of it this spring.  For once, I’m a woman ahead of her time!

Going for walks outdoors is allowed and encouraged and it happens to be the highlight of my day; truly a highlight.  I love it.  I look forward to my walks.

I usually go to a park in town called Centennial Park, and this park contains grass and trees and an historical marker.  One lap around is a bit more than half a mile.  It’s also in a nice part of town with Norman Rockwell houses and quiet little side streets off the park, so I can change it up if there’s too many other people around.

Sometimes I’m there when the church bells are ringing or the clock tower of the State School for the Blind is tolling.

Lots of people take their dogs for walks there.  The dogs get so excited!  Running, sniffing, checking on their people every so often.  They are in their element.

We used to live right across the street from Centennial Park in a two-bedroom upper apartment.  I walk by there every time I do a lap, and it does bring back the memories.  I was a stressed-out, overwhelmed teenage wife and mother.  We had a hard time feeding ourselves sometimes.  And pretty much nobody had our backs.

It was so hard back then in that apartment.   I look back and can see where it went wrong sometimes.  Maybe I will always wish I could go back in time and do a better job of it.  Then again, maybe it’s enough just to do better now.

My hope for the pandemic is that these weeks, where life has to slow down and be more solitary, will lead to healing for those who need it and to different priorities for all of us.  Society has become far too frantic and aggressive.  Maybe this can be a re-boot and a fresh start.  A world-wide do-over going forward from here.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Meanwhile, I intend to keep walking in the fresh air.

 

2 Comments

Filed under depression, emotional health, exercise, healing, journey, meditation, self-care, self-respect, social phobia, Uncategorized

The Longest Days

When my father was dying of cancer, he said to me one day in the hospital, “I know what is happening, but I can’t deal with it so I’m not going to talk about it.”  Not talking about it was his way forward.

It’s been fifteen years since he’s been gone and I continue to be impressed with his outlook on his life and death.

This spring and early summer I had a little health scare myself.  I went to the doctor with symptoms which led me to believe I just had an infection of some sort and I just needed to get a prescription to take care of it.

I’d been putting off the visit for weeks but a dream I had lit a fire under me and got me to make the appointment.

Imagine my dismay when the doctor and his nurse kept referring to my situation as an emergency and ordered several tests because they thought I had cancer.

They didn’t say out loud that they really believed I had cancer, but their body language and facial expressions led me to believe that they really thought my tests would come back malignant.

Every emotion went through me in just a few moments.

I began mentally kicking myself for waiting so long to make an appointment.  Years ago my father had made me promise that I would always go to my checkups because his sister hadn’t and she ended up dying from ovarian cancer.  I had skipped my annual exam for nearly two years.  So, yes, I was really kicking myself for being so lax.

The tests were not bad in and of themselves.  I’d had most of them before as a precaution.  But this time I had actual symptoms.

No, it was the waiting that was bad.  Five days of being absolutely convinced that I would be getting very bad news and that I had done this to myself.

My thoughts put me in a very deep and lonely hole.

I ran through every scenario possible including having to tell people.

I hated the idea of telling my youngest son.  We are close and that would just break my heart into pieces having to be the one to break his heart.

My oldest son is estranged from us.  How in the world would I handle that conversation?

I thought I could handle other aspects of the situation with information.  So I went online to research what they thought I had, and I immediately had to back out of the search and set that idea aside.  A one-minute-search told me what I might be dealing with and I couldn’t handle it and would not be talking about it any more.

The first few days of waiting, we kept ourselves busy.  That worked to distract me for awhile but it was very wearing.

I told my husband I had never been this scared before in my entire life.

I also told him I was officially cured of any suicidal tendencies that might still be lurking in my mind.

Some quote about “looking into the abyss and it looking back at you” kept popping into my thoughts as well.

How did my father ever get through sixteen months of knowing he had lung cancer?  I remember how he dealt with it on the surface.  But how did he manage the thoughts during the quiet times?  He was brave, that’s what I think, but also very sad.

The morning of the sixth day I got my results back and there was no malignancy found.  Pure relief!  Huge gratitude!  And I promised myself to never again let symptoms slide for weeks on end.

Mentally and emotionally I have felt very subdued since then.  It was a formative event in my life, a turning point, so I suppose my energy has gone toward recovery and re-learning who I am now.  And writing is a lot of work that takes a lot of energy, hence the silence in my blog.

Now I’ll see if writing it all out will lift some of the burden of this event.  I hope so, because life is short and very precious, and I want to make the most of this life that I have.

3 Comments

Filed under anxiety, blogging, decision making, decisions, depression, dreams, emotional health, family, grief, growth, journey, motherhood, self-care, self-respect, stress, Uncategorized, wellness

Ingredients

This morning I laid out the ingredients for Kale Pasta, which I’m making for dinner tonight:  deep green kale, yellow and red bell peppers, four cloves of garlic, campanelle pasta, spices, feta cheese, and then some kind of broth to loosen it all up.

I’m excited to make this dish and want to make it right now, but then it won’t be as nice by tonight.  It would be like leftovers.  Leftovers are great most of the time but not for this dish.

Lately cooking makes me feel good.  The whole process feeds my soul.

Last week I had a pear that was about to go bad so I went online and found out how to bake pears.  And then I baked pears and we ate them as soon as they cooled.

Last month I learned how to make small batches of applesauce and have made it twice so far.  That recipe is a keeper.  It tastes so much better than store-bought.

When my sister was here for a visit, she wanted to spend a day canning loads of applesauce.  The very thought of it made me tired and cranky.

Why do canning on vacation?  She said it would be no work at all since there would be four of us to do all the peeling, etc.  Oh, “no work at all” to drive to Rochester to get a ton of apples, then get the jars, sterilize them, peeling, cooking, etc.  Some people define “no work at all” quite differently from the way I do.

Needless to say, that idea was scrapped in favor of shopping for a day.

No, I prefer cooking by myself as a form of creativity and healing.

Healing is an animal of a different color.  It cannot be pushed or controlled.

Before my nervous breakdown, I imagined “getting” to cook when I didn’t have to work anymore.  Then I wasn’t working anymore but cooking was the last thing on my mind.  Post nervous breakdown, it was a good day if I woke up and ate!

If I had known how many years it would take for me to be at this stage of recovery, I might have given up.  But I didn’t know and I haven’t given up.

It turns out that for me, all of life is a form of creativity and healing.

2 Comments

Filed under art therapy, depression, emotional health, family, growth, healing, meditation, progress, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized, wellness, work

Past Perfect

When I was a young mother I was already thinking of the time when I would be a grandmother.  I imagined giving those future babies things that my own babies had used, and so I saved certain items for that purpose.

Then I did become a grandmother and took out the items I had saved only to find that I could not part with them yet.

The receiving blankets looked too shabby and worn to give as a gift.  But I still loved them.  The sweaters still looked so beautiful that I didn’t want them to get lost in the mountain of gifts that many babies today receive.  And…. I still loved them for what they meant to me.

Those baby days will always be uniquely dear to me because of how rare it has been that life has felt good and right.  My little pile of baby things is concrete evidence of that truth.

See how easy it would be to slide into compulsive hoarding?

I am however greatly improved since my 2013 breakdown.  Now I often have enough energy and imagination that I can dig into the corners of my house and make reasonable decisions about what to keep, what to give away, and what to throw away.

A couple weeks ago I chose to work on the top shelf of my linen closet where I store some inherited quilts and the little pile of baby things.  My fresh eye still saw how shabby the blankets look.  But my fresh mind got the idea that I could remake them and then keep them for my great-grandchildren or donate them.

It’s a messy thing to unravel old crochet work!  It’s very linty!  The yarn is not so good either but still usable.

I found that I had to concentrate on every step of the project because the yarn kind of sticks to itself.  Unraveling is tricky, rolling it back up is tricky, and re-crocheting it is tricky.  I had to take breaks and let the world back into my brain again.

By the time I got a new little blanket made I realized that the project was acting as an exercise in meditation.  My hands, the yarn, and the crocheting all helped me focus on the moment and let the rest of the world fall away for awhile.

Last night I started my third such project and it still helps me focus my mind in the same way meditation does.  I think I’m on to something here.

Such a weird little way into healing.  But it’s working so I’m going to keep going.

5 Comments

Filed under anxiety, art therapy, emotional health, family, grief, growth, healing, history, meditation, motherhood, progress, self-care, self-respect, Uncategorized

Cranky

Holiday season is finally over with!  Yay!!

For us, it started with a dead boiler on an 11-degree-day the night before Thanksgiving.  It was a very old boiler that had given very little trouble over the years, so it was probably overdue for replacement.

Somehow, though, I had let myself hope that it would kindly last until the next owners of this house could replace it.  I let myself think that it would be the one expensive part of this house that we would NOT have to pay for.  Wrong!!!

Oh well.  The new furnace is tiny and cute and works like a dream, aaaaand since we had just paid off one loan, the finances were kind of seamless.  We merely exchanged one recipient of our money for another.  Nothing really changed as far as the day-to-day operation of this household.

Once December hit, however, my depression ramped up.  Again with the hopes–I thought maybe I was so sleepy because of the stress of the boiler incident.  December days are darker and I was busier with extra chores and grandchildren.  But the day after Christmas I suddenly perked up and was able to stay awake all day long with no naps.  My spirit was lighter and my motivation came back.  So, yeah, depression was the culprit for my symptoms.

Christmas hasn’t really been my thing for many decades.  But I feel like I have to participate and so I suppress the annoyance and resentment and voila! you have a perfect recipe for depression.  That’s good to know, right?

On the healing side of things:  for New Year’s Day we ate lunch out and then went to a state park because I wanted to see the rushing river water there.

The river and its waterfall did not disappoint.  It was a gorgeous sight.  I recorded a few short videos and took a handful of pictures so I could remember, though my phone cannot do it justice.

There is something about a crashing waterfall with its veiled figures of mist rising up and away that calls me.  I just like to watch.  I have no interest in white water rafting or otherwise actually getting in there.  It’s just beautiful to see.  It soothes me.

Now we come to today.  It is the first day of being back to the normal routine.  It feels a little heavy.  Now I have no real distractions to prevent me from doing the things I’ve been thinking about for weeks.  Yet I’m still wandering around aimlessly and having to force myself to pick something to work on.

It is so easy to fall into anxiety with this life I have chosen.  Old habits of worry, high standards, what-will-people-think-itis–all firmly ingrained in my brain.  I still have to remember not to do any of that and that it is okay to just be my natural self.  I still have to remember who my natural self is because it doesn’t actually feel natural all the time.

I just feel cranky.  I think maybe it’s like that crankiness you feel when you’re getting better from a cold or the flu.  Maybe crankiness can be a sign of improving mental and emotional health as well.

Cranky or not though, 2018 is done with, and I’m ready for 2019 and whatever it brings.

2 Comments

Filed under anxiety, blogging, depression, emotional health, growth, healing, human nature, journey, motivation, pressure, progress, self-care, self-respect, stress, Uncategorized, wellness

My Way Back Machine

I spent several hours today transcribing my old journals.  Most of them are written in bound composition notebooks and they take up about a foot and a half on a closet shelf.

The journals have been bothering me for awhile now.  What if something happens to me and whoever settles my affairs reads them and is hurt by some of my words?  I have especially worried about any family members that I may have been venting about.  I wouldn’t want venting to be the last thing I ever “said” about a loved one.

Since there was nothing else to do today, I decided now was the perfect time to start the journal transcription project.

I began with journal entries from 1998–twenty years ago!  I was 37 years old.  That is the year my oldest son graduated high school and my youngest was in sixth grade.  I worked at a job I mostly loved for a boss I mostly had issues with.

I expected to be rather annoyed by my previous self.  But it has turned out that I’m not all that different as a person from who I was in those days.

Serious depression was beginning to rear its ugly head by then.  Encounters with people that I now recognize as having some issues with narcissism began to be a problem for me.  My lack of firm boundaries is readily apparent.  It turns out my awakening began earlier than I realized.  All these years I saw that time period as a time of many failures.  But in fact, I was figuring things out and doing my best with less than ideal circumstances.

I’m working backwards for now, so I ended my day with an entry from Fall of 1997.  My youngest was beginning to have issues with his peers in school and I decided that is a topic better saved for the morning light.  Now I know that his social woes turned out to be temporary, but in the moment it was heart-breaking not knowing how things would go.

It seems that I had forgotten more than day-to-day events.  I think I forgot for awhile who I am.  I lost my way for reasons of mental health, some betrayals, and a few really hard losses.  I expect this project will help me to heal my wounds and dust off my true and unique character which I have been pushing down for far too long.

I thought I was transcribing my journals to spare the feelings of others.  But it turns out I will be taking good care of myself at the same time.

4 Comments

Filed under art therapy, boundaries, depression, emotional health, family, getting along, growth, healing, history, journey, progress, self-care, self-respect, stress, Uncategorized, wellness