So it is another day. I think this must be the hardest part of winter. I am tired. I seem to say it a lot lately. That is because I am. It is a good thing I set some goals for the period of Lent. I am tired and I drift and I sag. Having goals bring me back to focus again and again. There is a purpose to each day. There is something for me to work on.
It snowed again today, gentle fluffy flakes from heaven. It was very pretty and serene. I enjoyed it and allowed it to come….like I could stop it! There was no sense in getting upset with the prospect of MORE shoveling . That would be meaningless and wasting my energy that I would need later for shoveling. And so, I mellowed with the flakes as they floated gently down.
Now it is the end of the day. The walks are shoveled. And we have been to the park. But somehow, some things are left undone. They are always the same things. Perhaps they are not urgent and better left for other days…like tomorrow. I’ll think about them tomorrow, like Scarlett O’Hara would say.
When you are lacking in energy like me, you have to prioritize. Am I rationalizing? Perhaps. But I am doing better, little by little. I do what I HAVE to first, followed by the most difficult things. Then I am too tired to deal with my paper mail and paperwork and filing. That is my worst offense. But I do pay my bills on time.
When I look at the whole picture, I think I can live with the whole picture. My house and my life are not in complete shambles. I work, have a dog, have a relationship and the walks are shoveled. Who can be perfect? Who would want to?
I am restless on this 11th day into Lent. Maybe I should not have drank half a pot of coffee this afternoon. But that’s what shift workers do…coffee to keep us awake, coffee to perk us up. Then our hearts pound and we cannot rest nor sleep. And the circle goes round and round.
I am willing to pay the price. I am paying it. But it is not too bad, for here I am tapping out my words in the quiet of the night. How restful it is! The noise of the day is gone. The TV is silent. Sheba is sleeping in her bed with her comfort toy.
I am thinking too much on things I cannot change, on things not of my own. I sigh, I fidget and sigh again. Sometimes there’s no helping it. There’s nothing one can do. Things get into my head and take residence. I am not fighting it. I am letting things be. Tomorrow is another day.
I’ve lost track of how many days we are into Lent. I haven’t read my daily messages from A Course in Miracles. I feel I have lost so much time shifting through my nights at work. I’m feeling as if I am in my own separate bubble, divorced from the whole wide world. My cries echo silently in my tiny bubble.
All I feel is my physical discomfort – the thousand aches in my body, my breathlessness, the heaviness of my fatigue. I would like to be inert forever, but that is also a discomfort unto its own. So, with effort and the help of Sheba’s insistent barking, I rise out of bed in the morning. We do the breakfast habit and somehow find ourselves at the park and on the trail between the trees.
Sheba runs this way and that way, happy to be free out in the world again. I trudge along, my steps easing and lengthening as we went along. I take a breath in and breathe out through the opening in my heart and felt my aches melting with each breath. Oh, sweet relief!
Life is a struggle sometimes. But where would we be without those struggles? There would be no need to find solutions to problems, no experimenting, no puzzles to solve. Through these days in Lent, I have abandoned my pursuit of happiness and perfection. I think we have been sold a false set of goods by the media of what a good life is – the perfect house, the car, the money, the job, the stuff…..
Instead, through my time in the desert, I will learn to live, in this moment as I am. I will be impeccable with my works. I will not take anything personally. I will make no assumptions. I may fail and fall down, but I will get up and try again. I will do my best. That is all that anyone can do, their best.
It is Saturday, the 4th day of Lent. Sheba is graceful enough to let me sleep in till 7:30. Hallelujah! I am tired and achy still. So what else is new? If not for Sheba, sometimes I don’t think I can get out of bed or the house. That is the reason she is in my life. There’s a purpose unto everything.
She is sent from God to give me some getup and go. I am the least likely person to get a dog and everyone was surprised. Why are you having a baby at your age? God only knows! But she does get me out of the house and into life. She is fulfilling her purpose and earning her keep.
We’ve been together now for six and a half years. The early years were tough. She was a handful and we fought constantly. I wrestled with her at home, in back alleys on our walks. I listened to everyone’s advice on how to raise her – my biggest mistake. We tried this collar, that collar. We tried all the ‘good’ collars. None of them worked. She chewed the gentle guider three times and laid in the snow, refusing to get up. I was embarrassed. I looked like a very bad mom. In the end, she objected the least to the ‘bad’ collar – the pinch collar. By then I was almost crippled and had no choice.
While some of our dog park friends have parted with their canine companions for one reason or another, Sheba and I are still together – the least likely couple to make it. And how could we not make it? We are blessed by God. Sheba is such a gift, always so loving and full of joy. And she is a talker, just like her mom. We’re trying to be quieter through Lent.
In this third day of Lent, I truly feel as if I have been wandering and struggling in the desert. My body hurts from yesterday’s snow shoveling. Every muscle ache, every limb heavy and wooden. Even my mind is numb.
But it is all good. I am at peace. My heart is not struggling. My mind is not thinking. It is not judging. I accept people as they are. I do not know what is in their hearts. Sometimes I do not know what is in my own. But I have this light inside that tells me if I live true to my values, true to my words, I cannot be harmed by anyone nor be touched by evil.
I will follow this little light of mine. And I will let it shine.
Be the change you want to see. -Mahatma Gandhi
I am once again struggling to be better than what I am. I am trying hard, to rise above myself, not to go where I have gone before….in judgement, righteousness, anger. This being Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, I am setting on a new course, a new way of behaving. I am being the light I want to see.
I see the snow from my neighbour’s garage heaped upon my garden. Already I know that there will be flooding under my deck this spring without the extra helping. I do feel a sense of resignation. How many times have I already asked her not to help me out with her snow, even though she thinks she is doing me a favour? But I see her hanyman on the roof and call out to him. He would not acknowledge me till my second attempt, stating he will clean it up.
I was happy to hear that. Sounded too easy. It was too easy. The cleanup was this.
What to do? I refuse to go to anger. I have been there too many times already. Each time I go there, I hurt myself more. I poison myself more. I reach into myself, remembering the first lesson from a Course in Miracles, and I say:
This pile of snow does not mean anything. That house next door does not mean anything. That person does not mean anything. All these things does not mean anything.
My feelings of helplessness and resignation dissipate. I see my neighbour’s face from my kitchen window. She sees me. Our eyes meet. Her face is full of darkness. I do not want to add to her darkness. I do not want to feel her darkness. I am not her keeper.
The snow will melt. Maybe there will be flooding. Maybe my foundation and basement flooring will get damaged again. Those can be repaired. Darkness in the soul cannot be so easily remedied. Let me walk in light.
I celebrated Chinese New Year today. There was no fireworks or dragon dances. Well, not the traditional kinds anyways. But there was plenty of other kinds of fire and nuances.
Mine is not what you would call a healthy workplace right now. I feel like I’m walking on hot coals and breathing fire most days. But today being a Sunday, I let out some steam. A few of us did….a little blue language and some laughter at break time. I’m not sure if it did any good for me.
I’m looking forward to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is only two days away. It will be good to enter the desert and wander silently through the barren landscape. When I come out on the other side in 30 days, I hope I will have gained some peace and wisdom.
I have always love Richard Harris’ rendition of MacArthur’s Park even though he is really not a singer and the lyrics are sappy. I guess it’s a love song. Can it be a love song if it’s about a breakup of a love affair? Just listen to the chorus.
MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again, oh no
Sometimes I feel like I’m the cake in the rain, my icing melting in the dark. Sometimes I don’t think I can put myself back together again. Recipes are hard to come by, you know. You always think you are the only one, but experience has taught me that I don’t have exclusive claims to all the misery. I have plenty of company. A lot of us are in the park with our dogs, melting in the rain, or freezing our buns in the cold. We provide good company for each other.
I’ve been done with misery for quite awhile now. I still get my blues now and then and you all know I can get real cranky like a little Chihuahua. But I have met people there with real misery. They look very ordinary, just like you and me. Most of them are full of energy and joy. They have to keep up with their dogs, right? Then you hear their stories.
One woman lost her husband to suicide. He hung himself. They were going through a divorce. Another told me she just got diagnosed with cancer. A fair number of us just got plain old depression, Winston’s Churchill’s black dog.
So it’s not bad company. We walk and talk. Sometimes we fall down, tripping over our dogs playing too close. But we get up, dust ourselves off and continue on. That’s how you live…fall down and get up. Richard Harris sings it better.
There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life, you’ll still be the one
So the other morning he calls and the connection was good and it was like he was there. And we could talk but after awhile he fades and comes back and fades and then he was talking like he was under water. Glub, glub. After I did a few What? What?, I give up and sever the connection. I should say disconnection. This is familiar to me now, the way of Ghana. So I stress no more. Nothing much works in Ghana, the least of it be the phone company.
I used to get stretched out of shape by all of its idiosyncrasies. I suppose every country has their own stuff as well as every organization and each person on the planet. And I have been pondering all the complexities and why for’s till my poor Asian brain hurts. I still do not understand any of it. But now wisdom has finally descended upon me…after a couple of trips to Ghana and 30 plus years of shift work in the healthcare system. There’s much drama and things that don’t work in both. But it is not up to me to fix anything.
I’m saying it is not for me to understand or make sense of anything or anyone. Things just are. It is just for me to live in the moment and be…be the best I can, do the best I can, treat myself the best I can in that moment. I’m working on not saying, I don’t care because I do care. But sometimes the phrase still creeps into my thought and almost spills from my lips. Those times are when I feel powerless and helpless. They are becoming less and less.
It is funny to say that I have not given much thought of myself as a person. But I have not. I wonder if many women feel that way. We’re always somebody’s somebody…daughter, sister, aunt, nurse, wife. We’re, or I should say I am always in the shadows. I would like to step out in the sunlight now. I like being me. It is a precipitous moment to recognize this, for in 5 months I will be redefining myself. I will be stepping out of my nurse’s shoes. It is good to know that I’m not just a nurse/whatever. It is good to be just me, stressing no more.
So he is over there at the center of the earth, and I’m over here near Santa’s hideout. We are both in darkness in this moment. The sun will come up for him in one hour. The rooster will crow. And I will be heading to bed.
We talked on the phone earlier in the day. He could have been just as well be in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. The line was that clear except he couldn’t quite get in his truck and be here in two hours because there’s an ocean between us. So we talked and hung up. He went to swim in the ocean. I bundled up in my winter gear, Sheba in her fur, for our daily walk.
The house is silent. Sheba is still. I breathe. All is well.