Archives for posts with tag: life in the time of pandemic

The sunlight is beginning to fade – early evening, approaching sunset, and still another couple hours (guessing) of day light before dusk settles. This is a favorite time of day, for me. I love the light, in the evenings. I enjoy the way the peach and gold and amber tones give a moment a certain luster it might otherwise lack.

…The election is approaching… Yeah, I know, me too; no real desire to talk about, struggle to avoid the inevitable next news story, talking head, or conversation in which the election is the topic of conversation. I mean, for fucks’ sake, vote. Please take at least that quite seriously. There’s no point in attempting to sway your individual viewpoint; we’ve all “shown up” and we’ve all attempted to make our point very clear over the past four years, with little success most of the time, and we’re all exhausted, frustrated, and saddened by the friendships ended by the divisiveness of the current administration. It’s been ugly. Let’s just get this shit over with, and just maybe begin life anew, sometime in November, rebuilding relationships, reaching across divides, maybe even “unburning” some bridges? I mean… we could. We so easily could begin again. 😉

Where will your path take you?

It can be so tempting to hang the entire future on a moment. Election or otherwise, there is so much more potential to an entire future than one moment. Just saying.

I’ve stopped reading news articles that lead with a headline of some doomsday scenario that is 100% pure imagination and potential, with nothing actually supporting the likelihood. I mean… I could tumble into a nearby creek after being struck by lightening while being bitten by a snake… but it seems unlikely. If I plan my day around that potential, or imagine a future that is dependent on the outcomes that could only result from that happenstance, I haven’t done anything particularly useful for my emotional wellness, my outlook on life, or even managed to be adequately prepared for what may actually be in my probable possible futures. lol I’m taking this thought farther than a “don’t catastrophize” reminder…

…It wasn’t so long ago that I was reading the news so compulsively, and so often, that my “state of mind” was adversely affected. I was anxious to the point of madness – and mostly over shit that had neither truth to it, nor noteworthy probability of actually occurring. I’ve stopped doing that, figuring that “falling behind on current events” by hours or days is a small price to pay for enjoying my life, and maintaining my sanity. 🙂 It’s already difficult enough to know how to be effective in the world… trying to do that on the basis of a bunch of alarming made up shit makes it just that much less likely that I’ll do anything besides become spun out and exhausted with frustration and outrage. (Perhaps that is truly the point of that style of “news” reporting? Render us captivated… but ineffective…?)

Reminder: COVID-19 – the pandemic? Remember that? Yeah. That’s not “made up shit”. That’s real. Just saying. Your choices matter. Protect each other. Practice social distancing. Wear a mask. Stay home when you’re sick and work on getting well. The pandemic is not a wholesale attack on our fucking civil liberties, and yes, it can “get to you” too. The lockdowns are a drag, I know. People are bored and eager to get out again. It’s hard. I get it. Fine. Do you. The death toll is climbing. Your choices affect other people – people who matter to you, not just far away strangers. (If you don’t believe that, I won’t convince you, now, I just don’t want to be that person who didn’t point it out when it came up in conversation. I guess I’m literally “just saying…”)

Weird time. The pandemic has been part of this entire year… I take a moment to consider that. I let myself begin again, new moment, new thoughts.

It’s quiet here in my studio. I hear the sound of a saw in my Traveling Partner’s wood shop in the garage. Sounds of home. I smile. Contentment may not be “the same as” happiness… still, I like it very much… and at this point, the line between feeling “happy” and feeling “contented” is rather blurry. I’m okay with that. I can so easily practice contentment, through sufficiency, observation, presence, acceptance, and non-attachment. Contentment builds over time. Practice by practice, moment by moment. Chasing happiness was neither satisfying, nor, as it turns out, was it particularly achievable. 🙂 I’m pretty okay where I stand in my life, today. It’s enough. 😀

What does it take to be “happy”? Sometimes autumn pears are enough… sometimes it takes a bit more work (and patience, and practice).

I think over the day. The week. The summer. The move. This peculiar year. Life in the time of pandemic…

…Then I begin again.

I’m sipping my second coffee on a proper day off. I highly recommend taking the occasional actual day off from work (and yes, even from non-work routines). Real down time. Don’t check that email. Don’t answer those calls. Don’t participate in “just one meeting”. Be available for you, once in a while.

…There are very few things that feel reliably more luxurious, satisfying, and nurturing than having my own undivided attention for a few hours, a day, or a weekend… Just saying. Totally worth doing, even during a pandemic. Even if social distancing. Even staying right here at home. I like the woman in the mirror, rather a lot these days, and I enjoy her company greatly. (If you don’t feel well-disposed toward that human being you face in your mirror each day, well… it’s a great place to begin again, on better terms!)

It is a lovely autumn morning, well-suited to all sorts of things I might like to do with my time.

Autumn is already more than just hints of color, or occasional leaves found on the deck.

It is a chilly morning. Yesterday, there was even ice on the windshield of my car, well past sunrise. I enjoyed my morning coffee with my Traveling Partner. I took time to soak in the hot tub, watching the morning sunshine warm the dewy rooftops, steamy vapor rising into the air. I listened to the birds in the neighbor’s pear tree arguing over the not-yet-ripe pears, hoping they’d leave a few unmarred by pecking, but not particularly concerned about it. My mind wandered briefly to chores and housekeeping, and weekend meals, and I made some “mental notes” (promptly forgotten) about things I could add to my list. No pressure.

Today is definitely about “no pressure”, and that feels good.

The holiday season crossed my mind. Gifts to think about. Meals to consider. Guests to invite. No guests; there’s a pandemic going on. No, seriously – and it is serious – we’re okay here at home, and fortunate to enjoy each other in close quarters over a long period of time. (I sometimes suspect our military experience gives us an advantage; we “work as a unit”, even when we are aggravated with each other.) I know there are people who are frustrated with the constraints placed upon them by pandemic life. I get it. I just think it’s worth making the effort to be generally safe, generally respectful of the wellness of others, and generally fully compliant with the requirement to practice social distancing, to wear a mask, to avoid crowds. Yes, even close family crowds at important family events; those people will go home (and so will you), having shared whatever they’ve been exposed to, and to share what they were exposed to at the event. It’s not an acceptable risk, from my perspective. We see it play out in the news every week; a big gathering, a spike in new cases of COVID-19. It honestly just seems like an easy choice to me… so, since March, my partner and I stay home, except for a handful of difficult to avoid errands. It complicated house hunting. It complicated the closing. It complicated the move.

…Both of us remain well. Worth the complications.

We relaxed enough to allow my partner’s son (my step-son) to visit after we finished moving in. I regretted that more than a little bit, as much I enjoyed seeing him, particularly after he admitted to attending gatherings of friends, more recently than two weeks prior to traveling to see us… and… he did have to travel. He was here less than two weeks. Yes, it caused me stress to consider that with greater care – too late to change the planning. I am unlikely to make another exception as we head into flu season. I’d rather not even get the flu, or a head cold, and social distancing and mask wearing has definitely reduced my exposure to those risks! Win.

…But… Thanksgiving…!?! Giftmas??

Yeah. Thanksgiving. Giftmas, too. Fuck your Thanksgiving feast and holiday parties if they send half your family home to far away places with new exposure to COVID-19, and with increased potential of losing loved ones to it. I mean, seriously? Weddings too. Baby showers. Parties of all kinds. Music festivals. Worship. Celebrations. All of it. Fuck every minute of every “important life event” any one of us chooses to attend that results in the loss of someone else’s life. What right do we have, as individuals, to be callous with someone else’s risk of death?

So. Holidays will be simple this year, here at home. Cards. Letters. Calls. Merriment. A comfy holiday at home – intimate, joyful, and low-stress. Healthy, too, maybe…? (I am one of those folks who nearly always has a head cold, or is “just getting over” – or just catching – the flu, right around Thanksgiving or Giftmas – maybe not this year?)

I sip my coffee and smile. We’ve already figured out where the Giftmas tree will go… and there’s so much room for it… 🙂 Right now, that’s enough. I look at the time. The lovely day stretches out ahead of me. It looks like a good one to take a walk on an untraveled trail… or simply to begin again. 🙂

Today is weird. I mean… I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a day. lol

The morning was lovely. I shared my morning coffee with my Traveling Partner. Mornings together over coffee are becoming a routine, which tends to crowd writing out of the morning plan. I enjoy my partner’s company. We never know how long we get to travel life’s journey with any one special human being, do we? I’m enjoying the moments as they come.

The work day became a busy bit of chaos unexpectedly quickly. I frankly over-reacted. Not in any notably dramatic way, I just took the moment more seriously than it proved to be worth, given time. One of those “oh. this is not an actual problem at all” moments. I would have benefited from taking a minute, taking a step back, and giving the whole thing some thought… Very much as I too-often, too-insistently, too-ineffectively sometimes suggest someone else do, in some other moment. Very fucking human. At some point, something clicked. I took a breath. I had more context. I rather literally “shrugged it off” with a shrug, when I realized how little the circumstances really mattered, in fact.

…Now I’m sitting here feeling just a little silly, and feeling vaguely fretful about purposeless anxiety and bullshit over nothing, and wondering again what the simplest steps to being the most balanced, calm, reasonable version of myself would be… I look to my day-to-day practices for some minutes, just “thinking things over”, then noticed something… I am finding myself “pretty balanced”, and I’m feeling very calm. There wasn’t anything particularly “unreasonable”, or unpleasant or harmful or rude, about my behavior at any point… just a day, with a bit of unexpected chaos. Handled reasonably. Progress over time. 🙂 Keep practicing.

I take another breath, and begin again.

It was a lovely weekend. That’s definitely how I remember it… and I think that’s a pretty accurate summary. My Traveling Partner and I shared many connected, intimate moments, some productive moments, appreciative moments, encouraging moments… definitely a lovely weekend. We met neighbors from a couple houses down – a byproduct of community, in a community that “does community” pretty well, and where neighbors see each other, and interact. My partner, working on projects in the garage, door open to the breeze, attracted the attention and genial neighborly conversation of passing folk heading to or from the mailboxes on the corner. Conversations were had. Connections made. 🙂 Social distancing rules were observed without awkwardness. (Life in the time of pandemic has rules of its own.)

The weekend was so… ordinary. We cooked, cared for our home, spent time hanging out together, ran a couple errands, started and completed projects. I don’t need “more”; it was rich and fulfilling. It was enough. I took care and time on my self-care, making a point to meditate, to get enough exercise, to eat healthy meals, all of it matters. The day-to-day is more pleasant when I care for myself skillfully.

Every moment a potential new beginning – that’s a promising thought.

I start the week, and the day, with good practices. I shower, soak (meditate while soaking), and go for a comfortable pleasant walk of a bit more than a mile. I watch the sun begin to peak through the trees, from a seat on the deck, while sharing coffee with my Traveling Partner.

A chilly late summer morning, cold toes, warm fire, hot coffee. 🙂

No, there is no “perfect”, and I’m not always certain I’m “making progress” or “achieving success”, but there is this lovely “now”, and endless new beginnings. Right now, that’s enough.

Check this out… it’s already time to begin again. 😉

It’s a Friday morning. A busy morning. A mostly sort of routine-ish morning. I’ve got my coffee (#2), and a day of work ahead of me. I’ve got errands to run and a reminder on my calendar. I’m okay with all of that, and feeling mostly sort of relaxed, and generally fairly organized.

The noise of contractors here at the house is a bit much to take. Calls and meetings would be affected. I’m fortunate to be able to easily reschedule all but one. I focus on work, then catch myself holding my breath – too focused. I take a break.

Take breaks. Mean it when you do; really step away, and take a minute to “just breathe” and maybe even let your mind wander! When I returned to work, I felt fresh and comfortably focused without stress or anxiety. It’s enough to notably improve what is already a decent morning. I sip my cold coffee, content and relaxed. It’s enough.

Before the work day began, this morning, I embarked on what I hope becomes a regular element of my new normal, my new morning routine; I went for a walk. It was only a mile, and really just around and about my local neighborhood, brisk, cane in hand, smiling and waving to neighbors getting their day started. It was pleasant. I felt energized for the day ahead by the time I returned home. It’s not a hike in the forest or anything, but it’s a nice contribution to my general wellness and fitness.

I discover a pleasantly inaccessible bit of green space within the neighborhood.

It’s a nicely level walk, on suburban sidewalks, nestled in the countryside, tucked between a local highway and the “old” version of that route. Since I sometimes walk very early, as early as those last dark pre-dawn minutes, straying from the pavement would present needless hazards for my messed up ankle. I take my cane, and my patience with myself (and my middle-aged, less-than-ideally-fit-but-working-on-it limitations), and enjoy the journey for what it is. A gentle moment with the woman in the mirror as the way ahead becomes steps fading behind me. I see things I missed before, each time I make the trip around the neighborhood; it’s still very new.

I stop near where the creek that runs behind the house becomes a mere trickle, and wonder what is holding back the flow?

I walk on, wondering what “holds back my flow’ in life, love, and art… just… you know, “along the way”, and how can I “do more, better” without exhausting myself, or finding myself mired in resentment or resistance? I think about the need for healthy breaks, and how that improves my productivity at work… There’s something to learn here.

…I drink some water, and begin again. 🙂