WRITING TO SAVE MYSELF

So it it February 25, the 25th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I did not bother with Day 24, deciding to immerse myself in Netflix instead. I suppose I was feeling the ‘what’s the point’, ‘who am I kidding’ and ‘I don’t give a shit’, etc. etc. as the Anna’s King would say. I’m not going into the analysis of my feelings or anything. Trying to dig into the mud of things is the worse thing I could do. I could dig myself into a hole no rabbit could hop out of.

etc. etc.

Now is the perhap time for me or anyone just to feel our ‘depression’ whatever we are feeling. We need no excuse or shame. There are enough reasons and whys right in our faces. There’s no need to dig or go into analysis. There are no couches safe for us to lay on anymore. How satisfying is a virtual couch? Let’s give ourselves permission to feel what we feel. If I don’t, those feelings might come back and bite in the ass – again. However the world is, however I am, life does go on. To help me I’ve adopted Regina Brett’s “No matter how I feel, I will get up, dress up and show up”. Regardless of what I’ve said above, words matter.

When I’m feeling lost and iffy I’m grateful to come to the ouija/key board. It helps me find the words/way. It gives me a sense of direction, a true sounding board. I don’t feel quite so adrift, so purposeless afterwards. It is my spacecraft to explore those inner spaces of no easy access. Somehow the rhythm of my taps can loosen unseen barriers and gain me if only just glimpses. Sometimes it can untie a very tight knot and I can unravel myself like a sweater. It is like Aladdin’s lamp, magical.

I’ve learned now not to despair, no matter what. Get up, dress up and show up as best as I can for that day. That is all that is asked of me. And so I sit hear, sipping my tea and tap out a letter, a word. An idea comes. Then a sentence. It’s magic. I see it. Aladdin’s lamp is showing me the way. I do not have to do big. I just have to take that first step, tap out a word, sew one quilt block, splash some paint on the canvas, transplant one tomato, sew one seed….

THE RISING AND FALLING OF THE BAROMETER

February 23 and day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is -6℃ outside and -2.1℃ in the greenhouse. It is 9:22 am. The sun is out but it is weak, like tepid tea. I am not feeling my best but hope it gets better than yesterday. That was a tough one – physically. I can’t be clear and coherent on exactly what was the matter. I really hate to blame the weather but it is the culprit. I’m like a barometer, feeling all the changes. I should stop feeling like I’m using that as an excuse. There is evidence that some people are more susceptible to weather changes.

I usually warn people when I’m feeling this way. When I was still working, I tell people when I’m grumpy and that it has nothing to do with them. Seemed like I was like that alot, especially in the mornings. That’s when I have more pain. Yesterday, I told the guy I was not feeling great, that I felt like screaming so he better be careful. I could not assist him in his Swedish bread making, not even in giving advice. Really, how could I when I haven’t made any. Bread is not bread at that moment. But I did give his dough a poke and thought it was fine.

I’ve just come back from my mother’s to drop off the items she had requested and some of Rod’s Swedish thin bread. She likes them and is more complimentary about them than my bread. My mother is pretty easy. She gives me a list of things to get ahead of time, at my convenience. She always says that she doesn’t need them right away. She doesn’t implore “When are you coming to see me?” It doesn’t bother her being ‘locked down’. She stands out on the steps or opens the windows to get some fresh air. I think my father is bothered but is getting used to it. They are both compromised by their age and health. But being almost 90 they are still pretty darned good. We are grateful.

I am moving through the morning. My tomato seedlings are doing splendidly. I’ved seeded a few heirloom cucumbers this morning. The sunroom is getting too much sun and heat, if that is possible. I had to close the blinds a little. It was aggravating my everywhere pain. Cutting down the spruce trees made a big difference. They were just babies when I planted them. I took no notice as they slowly grew and how much shade they provided over the years until they’re gone. Then wow! There is such as too much of a good thing. It’s good that I have built in blinds in the windows. I can see that I will be using them more in the summer. There is good and not so good with change.

HOPE IS SOMETHING TO DO

It’s February 22 and the 22nd day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m getting close to the finish line. 6 more days after today. I woke to +4℃ this morning. You wouldn’t think it would be a cause for cursing but it was for me. To me it’s a sign of climate change, unstability and uncertainty. Weve been experiencing both ends of weather extremes within a couple of weeks. I’ve been mostly singing positive tunes no matter what. Perhaps I should continue but wouldn’t it be just like copy and paste? What good would putting on a brave face do, except that?

Maybe it is time for me to change my ways along with the weather. I can’t just keep going on with the same old, same old. Look at what happened in Texas. I have reason to feel despondent in this time but not reason to act so. Now is the time for me to find ways to conserve my energy for things that do serve me rather than take away from me. Perhaps that is what Joanna Macy’s Active Hope is. “Hope is not something to have. Hope is something to do.” I don’t want to mire myself in my muck. I don’t want to stay stuck in my rut. I want to get out of it.

I long have discovered that movement was my getting-out-of-stuck tool, even before Kelly McGonigal wrote The Joy of Movement. Sitting with all my stuck thoughts and feelings was not a solution. They were like the gerbil on its wheel, going round and round. Whereas if I just stood up, I’ve changed my posture. I’ve disturbed something. And if I step outside, I find my spirit lifting even on a cloudy day. I found the joy of a blue sky on my walks with Sheba. Before, I seldom look up to see the sky. I discovered the sensation of flow through swimming. I have lost Sheba but I’m still moving in the great outdoor on cross country skis. I will swim again once the Covid virus has eased. There is always hope to be done.

My Long Keep Tomato seedlings are growing. They have a few new leaves. And the Black Krims are poking their heads above the soil but not so the Jade Dragon Bitter Melon seeds. Perhaps soon. I will seed some cucumbers today for the greenhouse. The climbing vines willl help to shade and keep it cooler on hot summer days. We’ve already had some high temperatures of above 30℃ on sunny afternoons. Last night was the first that it did not go below freezing. Hope in action.

DISILLUSIONMENT AND DISENCHANTMENT

I hate making lunches, some days more than others. Today is the more. I was wishing for hamburger helpers, frozen pizzas, take-out…

That was my sole effort yesterday at the keyboard. I am suffering from disillusionment and disenchantment with so much that is called the ‘good life’. I’m singing Peggy Lee’s song Is That All There Is?

But I’m also with her about let’s keep on dancing. Let’s break out the booze and have a ball. I know this is a temporary human phase I’m going through. Let me feel and not deny it. What goes up, must also come down. There is only 7 more days to February and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I will give it my best shot and finish it. Some of my thoughts on it might have changed but finishing has not. It did cross my mind though. I did question why I should finish and what is my purpose anyways. I had no business or service to promote. My tapping was my way of dissipating my stresses. I lost that purpose in the pursuit of more ‘content’. I lost purpose and pleasure in the process.

So let me go back to mumbling. Let me tap out the rhythm and words. The sun is smiling on me. Let me smile back. I have breadcrumbs soaking to make meatballs for lunch. I asked for hamburger helpers yesterday when I had it all along.

NOW AND THE FUTURE

I think I got into and out of bed on the wrong side last night and this morning. Though the weather is warmer and the sun is shining, I’m not feeling on top of the world. Quite the opposite. Though all the bad news the other night made me feel grateful, this YouTube video someone shared sent my mood spiraling down. And I didn’t even watched it all. Have a look and tell me what you think. Is this the future you envisioned and hoped for?

Then there’s this video inside Amazon’s warehouse.

I wonder how our world will evolve as we come out of the pandemic, if and when we do. I wonder how the climate will change as well as people’s and governments’ attitudes. I feel as if all the nice pretenses are stripped away. Someone has stole our rose tinted glasses and we now have to look at all the things that aren’t working well. I’m talking about the societal problems, broken infrastructures, climate change and maybe the Amazons, too. Sometimes I feel controlled, like a robot, scrolling, tapping and pressing my life away. Where’s the quality of real life, of hands on, doing the physical work? Yes, things require less time and physical effort. But what do we do with that saved time and energy? Where’s the pleasure?

Fear not. I’m not all full of doom and gloom. I have nice stories to tell. You can hear them on CBC radio, the Current on “the series Canada’s Road Ahead takes us to Stanstead, Que., where the U.S.-Canada border — closed tight during this pandemic — is separating friends and families. We speak with Chris Planetta, a member of the Borderline Players theatre company and the Border Curling Club, about what the border closure has been like for his community. And we hear from Donna Rolfe, assistant director at the Manoir Stanstead retirement home, where staff were so determined to keep people safe from COVID-19 that they moved in with residents for weeks at a time — twice in the past year.Aired: Feb. 18, 2021

And NASA’s Perseverance Rover has landed on Mars! When we have such capabilities, why can’t we fix the problems on the planet earth? Or why isn’t that more of a priority? Perhaps I’m too ignorant and naive but I rather live on our green earth than Mars. Keep in mind that I am speaking from blue tinted glasses today.

I’M WORKING ON IT

Life is such that when you think you’ve got a good thing, it disappears. Having found the flow of things doesn’t mean you have command of it. When that happens, I have to do the hard work. I had to work hard to build my log cabin quilt squares this morning. Perhaps I was too smug. I tried to build 2 squares at the same time. I thought it would save time. The opposite happened. I made mistakes. I had to rip and take apart. Multitasking does not work. It does not create flow. Think again as this article points out.

It is 3 in the afternoon. It is -14℃ outside. In the greenhouse, 38℃. There are 146 new cases of #COVIDSK. We have just returned from our afternoon ski in the park. For change of scenery, we did the North Park which is across the street from the South Park. It is a little more challenging with little dips and rises in the landscape. Today I was not working on speed but on conquering my fear. I have gone down the 3 little slopes now a few times without falling. Still, my heart goes pitter patter standing atop of each. My mind gets so analytical, trying to picture the how(s). Bend my knees and ankles. Tuck my poles under my arms. Don’t hold them in front of me but behind me. Don’t stand up too fast.

It’s a success story. I did 2 rounds around the park. Went down the 3 slopes twice upright. I even gave myself a tiny push to start the glide. I dread each time I approach the slopes though. Going down was uncomfortable but exhilarating at the same time. I won’t be daring greatly any time soon but I’m working on it. I’m also working on my paper clutter. It’s almost tax return time. My head is such a mess. I have such an aversion to opening the mail. I don’t try to understand it. I’m making a goal of opening them each day again. Perhaps I should put a sign on my computer to remind me. I have opened my mail today. It’s a T5 for my tax return. I am acting promptly – for the moment. Now I just have to add up those moments.

EFFICIENCY – FINDING THE FLOW

It is 3:19 pm on the 17th of February, the 17th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is -17℃ outside and 36.6℃ in our greenhouse. There are 124 new cases of #COVID19SK. I’m having a chocolate chip pumpkin muffin along with a decaf while I tap on the keyboard. It’s a reward after my daily afternoon ski. It works. And that is what I’m examing today – things that work for me. You may find them helpful, too.

Participating in online challenges work for me very well. Doing this Ultimate Blog Challenge has me coming to the keyboard every day. The100dayproject has me sewing on my Bernina every day. I will have 100 quilt squares sewn at the end. I have discovered that after I get going I’m more efficient and skilled in putting a square together. I’m now starting to sew 2 squares one day and use the 2nd day for a rest or other things.

Repetition can promote flow for me. My quilt squares are all the same. They all are the traditional log cabin pattern. The difference lies in the fabric. After building 17 squares I can do it by memory now. I don’t have to look at my book at how the pieces go. It has become a meditational process. It is the same with lane swimming. I go up and down the lane, doing the same strokes. I get into a rhythm and my strokes get more efficient the more I do. That has come true in my cross country skiing, too. I have been out there day after day after day. I’ve first put on the skis on November 22, 2020. At long last I feel the flow/glide.

Finding the flow saves time and energy. It also makes life more enjoyable. I don’t mind being repetitive and maybe a little boring sometimes. It works for me.

WHEN I FEEL LEAST LIKE IT

Warmer temperatures does not always guarantee well being and energy for me. After a day’s rest I wasn’t that keen to hit the ski trail again. I did anyways. It’s my exercise regime this winter. I have given up my aerobics class and swimming due to Covid. There’s no Sheba to walk any more. Now it’s 10-15 minutes of walking to and from the park and 20-30 minutes of skiing. It’s hard work moving my arms and legs as fast as I can on sticks. To motivate myself, I time each lap. Though I am no Speedy Gonzales, I am not slipping. My time gets better or stays the same. It’s usually better on the 2nd lap after I’ve warmed up. I’m also a little faster in the opposite direction when it’s a downward slope. Figures, eh? To compare, I did the first lap up slope for a time of 10:36:14 minutes. The second down slope was 9:45.38 minutes. I skipped the third lap. Tomorrow is another day.

My worse/groaner time is after I come back from skiing. I’m tired, hot and sweaty. Then there’s all those lunch dishes staring at me. I hate it when there’s pots included. Making soup is wonderfully easy with an Instant Pot. I threw everything in – the chicken broth I made yesterday, a leftover potato, some mashed potato, a couple sticks of chopped celery, part of a rutabago, and the last of the carrots from the garden. Put the lid on and press soup. Cleaning up was not so easy – all those containers that held the leftovers, the pot, bowls, plates and utensils. Then there’s the fridge. I could close my eyes but I’ve done that for a few days already. It was mostly empty, a good time to wipe off. Now all that is finally done. I’m sitting, sipping my last cup of tea for the day. It’s good to groan and sigh it out. To be repeated tomorrow.

Sometimes I feel that life is dang hard. But really, my life is a piece of cake. Feel good doctors say, Don’t watch the news at bedtime. I say the news last night -the storm in Texas, the Covid outbreak in Newfoundland, the vulnerable people during this pandemic, the crack down of protestors in Myanmar – made me feel so grateful. This morning I listened to Melissa Fung talk about the young girls that were abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. I have nothing to complain about, not even the bitter cold and Covid. I have food, warm shelter and safety. When I feel that life is hard, it would be good to remember last night’s news and be grateful for what I have. Even when I feel least like it, I just do it.

A DANGLING CONVERSATION

It’s a beautiful, sunny, -19℃ warm day. A perfect day for our daily ski if I wasn’t so tired. It’s hard to give up the endorphin high but common sense was really knocking hard. Even my sewing for the100dayproject is exhausting. I also get a high from building my log cabins each day. I get great satisfaction from seeing how it builds up from 2 little squares into a 9 inch square. It is the same and different high I get from making a round on my skis and seeing my improved time. And so it is if I can write another daily post. A sense of accomplishment/creation and living up to commitments.

I can pull back a little. I can take a lesson from my log cabin sewing. Not all logs are of equal length. I can ski less laps on days when I am tired. I can write shorter blogs on those days. I had participated in Friday Fictioneers in the past where the goal is to write a story of 100 words. It was fun and it helped my writing. It makes you get to the point without a waste of useless words. I might think about it again since I write mostly for the pleasure of words. I love the flow and beauty of them. I’m thinking of Simon and Garfunkel’s Dangling Conversation as I write this. This is what I hope to create with my writing.

It is a big but worthwhile wish to create beauty. I don’t have to create big. I don’t need a masterpiece to be happy. Just a touch, a wisp, a suggestion that my writing has touched or help someone makes me deliciously happy. I’m rethinking what is content and what my goals are.

VALENTINE’S DAY AND THE ULTIMATE BLOG CHALLENGE

Happy Valentine’s Day. It is February 14th, halfway through the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I had struggled through the early parts of it. I am struggling still, having no discipline to set time daily to write. I give in easily to my writer’s block, the lure of Netflix and other distractions, lack of organization and planning of topics. I did have a goal of having more content but gave in to mostly ‘diary writing’. I can blame it on being retired and no business to promote. It is still not too late. I still have 14 days to improve. There’s always the next challenge. Perhaps it would be a good idea to take in the training offered then.

My stats are not going off the chart but I do have a few followings. Since I do not have a business to promote, I am happy with my traffic. I could be happier with more. I am not competitive but I like being in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is a community and does provide readership. I am challenged to be a more productive writer. I appreciate getting writing tips and topic suggestions from Paul Taubman, the administrator. I also like having rules, even set ones like commenting on the 2 blog posts directly above mine. It forces me to read and comment on topics I might not like or easy to read and comment on. It helps me to exercise my reading and commenting muscles. I like being informed what are and are not good comments. It all helps in becoming a better writer.

It’s Sunday. I am giving myself a break and call this finished. I’ve pushed myself hard on the ski trail today, doing 3 laps around the park with a best time of 9::45.54 minutes on my second lap. I’m still on track with my 100dayproject with the 15th Log Cabin quilt block. The high in our greenhouse was 32.1℃ at 3:19 pm. Presently it is 4.4℃ at 6:15 pm. I better get my shit and seeds together soon. My valentine is preparing our supper. No long stem rose.