December 28. When you are an early riser and you are in the flow, you can do an amazing amount of stuff. That is how I am feeling today. I am in the flow. I am at ease and comfortable in my own skin. My brain reset itself overnight. I am happy again. However I am feeling a tad sleepy, having risen at 5:30 this morning. Time for a ginseng coffee and a muffin. They might give me a boost.
I was biting into my muffin when the guy came out of his room. He asked if I wanted to play a game of Chinese chess. I really wasn’t keen. I had found a chess set my uncle had sent me from New York a long time ago. It hasn’t been used. We didn’t know how to play but had set it up. I googled and printed out some instructions and we had played just one game. I felt tired just thinking about it. I acquiesced thinking it would be a good exercise for my brain. It’s gotten lazy, wanting to go the way of least resistance.
I think that’s why I scroll and google so much. It is easy and mindless. It has taken over parts of my life without my awareness. I wonder whatever did I do before the world wide web. How did I start my day without Facebook and Instagram? How did I learn anything without Google? I’ve been thinking about these questions lately. I think I’ll sleep on it tonight. Sandman is tugging on my eyelids. I did a lot of shovelling today. Can you believe we had at least 10 inches of snow since December 25? It’s getting hard finding space for it all.
December 31. Here I am, in the last hour of 2022. Life happened. More snow happened resulting in more shoveling. I’m back to finish this post so I can start on a new page for 2023. The snow has stopped. The streets are being cleared. The snow piles have settled some. We were able to head out for an early ski this morning. The sun was rising as we started out on the ski track. It was a beautiful sight, a good sign and feeling to end the year with. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
December 27. I’m having one of those early morning awakenings when I can’t fall back to sleep. It was better for me to get up rather than lay in the dark with dark and unpleasant thought and feelings. It is 7:00 am an -12℃ outside. I’m on my second cup of tea, have scrolled through social media and played today’s Wordle. It would be better if I could skip the scrolling but it’s become part of my morning routine for waking up.
Surprisingly, my bad thoughts and feelings dissipated with my rising, turning on the lights, brushing my teeth and having my cups of tea. I am surprised only because I have been/am paying attention to when these moods come and go. They had been more frequent in the past. I like to think that I now have a better handle on them. Even though I know better and that I am not alone, I feel alone. I know I am not a failure but feel so in these times.
So this is the nature of my beast. I have accepted and befriended it. I am becoming a scientist in its investigation. I wonder how I can use it for my betterment instead of detriment. For one thing, it has made me realize that I can control it. I am not at its mercy. It has driven me to seek not only the why of its existence but also ways to work with it so that life can be as easeful, pleasant and meaningful as possible. I’m seeking ways of being kinder to myself with less self blame.
It is not the best time to be a think tank when I am being squeezed by my beast. My brain is in a thick fog. It would’t be able to figure out how to get out of a wet paper bag. The best activities for me would be to clean anything – like wash the dishes, floors, windows. I can still draw pretty good in these moods. Tapping out the words and moods is soothing and comforting. Cross country skiing is my newest, most fun and effective tool. My mind and senses are fully occupied. There’s no room for dark and ugly thoughts.
This is it, all that I’m able to write today. I had fallen off my writing wagon for a week. A week ago, I was bright eye and bushy tailed. A week ago it was sunny and bitterly cold, in the -30s ℃. But I felt oh so well. I feel better now just remembering how good I felt. I will hang on to the memory. My spirit dipped on December 24 when it got cloudy and up to -16℃ overnight from -34℃. We’re in for a stretch of clouds and snow ahead. I’m geared to make my own sunshine.
December 20. We’re a day away from the shortest day and longest night of the year. There’s light in the tunnel now. I can start emerging from the cocoon of my mind and claw my way out into the sunshine. I have to admit that I’ve spent more time in the valley of the shadow this December. It wasn’t that bad since I did not put up a fierce fight. I greeted it with gentle acceptance. That made the difference.
I’m working at this conversation. It would be easier if I came at an earlier hour when I’m more up. But I needed that energy to do the ADL (the activities of daily living). Being so cold and dark this morning, I did not go out with my skis. I was content to stay put, read and make soup. I was not content long, disturbed by the noisy snow blowing from next door. I was irritated and unsettled. John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar was not engaging me either. It got rather monotonous and boring. Looks like it’s just not mine opinion only according to ratings on Goodreads. I might just dump it. Why waste my time, eh?
Irritated, I pounded on the piano for awhile, getting out my frustrations. By then the sun had come out, shining full and bright. The sky was so blue and the snow so white. It was a totally inviting picture. I made up my mind that I was going skiing after lunch no matter the cold temperature. Besides there was no wind. It was my kind of day.
I was not disappointed. I had the guy drop me off at the park on his way to his boat building workshop. The park was a picture of perfect white beauty. School must be out for Christmas. No children around. Not a soul was seen. Just me, bundled up like an eskimo, walking on sticks. After making once around the park, I was limbered and faster, almost gliding along the track. You might think I knew how to ski. I was pumped coming off my skis at the end. Ok, I was panting a little, too. It was a little harder breathing through a mask, but it kept out the cold air.
Now, it is day’s end. I am content with no angst or anxiety. The dining room table is still clear. I’m looking forward to the morning and another day.
December 18. It’s another evening. I’m sipping on my glass of wine, feeling mellow and not as tired and heavy as I was in the afternoon. December and winter can do that to me. I have to remember not to fret so about it. I have to let go of this idea of ‘getting things done’ and being chipper as a chipmunk.
I was trying hard to get my thoughts and myself organized. I managed to get the lunch dishes done and put away. That’s a new habit I am adopting – cleaning and putting things away promptly. It stops things from piling up. My dining room table is still clear. It’s only a couple of days. Nothing to be proud of but I am. Every day it stays that way deserves a mention.
I am not getting far or fast with this post but every word is an accomplishment. I am having to work for it. When I am weighed down, feeling like a ton of bricks, nothing flows. It’s amazing that I got out on the ski trail early this morning. That’s the benefit of an established habit. I’ve done it enough times. My body moves of its own accord. I know that I will feel great once I’m out – climbing up the hills and sliding down the slopes. I’ll be chasing the good vibes, banishing the bad ones.
It is almost 8 pm. I’ve finished my glass of wine. I’ve used up all my words. It’s time for me to do my stretches and call it a day.
December 14. We’re almost halfway through December, 11 days till Christmas and 7 days till the shortest day of the year. I am not sure of how I should feel. But today is not the groovy day of yesterday. I think I will classify it as one of my S.A.D. days. The biggest challge for me is to not take it personally and put my best foot forward. That best is not to put my BAD and SAD on anyone else. That means not taking it out on myself either. I did say it is the BIGGEST challenge, didn’t I?
How shall I tackle the challenge? I cry alot about the difficulties but really it’s difficulties that leads me forward. I do not want to be stuck in sad and bad. I will try to be as joyful as possible. I hate to rain on this universal celebration of Jesus in the manger and the ho ho ho of Santa Claus. But I do feel bereft. And how shall I proceed? My first step is to sweep out my cynicism and bitterness. Change my attitude. I once felt the holiness of Christmas and Easter and Lent. I do not know if I believe in the God out there or of Jesus. But I have felt the loving spirit. I want to feel it again.
It is ok to be silly.
It is ok to believe in Santa.
It is ok to have fun.
It is ok to still love and miss Sheba.
Moving on, I have cleared my dining room table. It does make me feel better. I vow to keep it this way by clearing it every night. I am uncomfortable with some cleared psychological spaces. I can sit with those for awhile until I know how to fill them. Sometimes empty spaces, physical or psychological feel unsafe and unfulfilled. There’s a need to stuff them up. I’m resisting the urge. It’s not an easy task any time, but especially difficult in this season where much is made of the joyful season.
December 15. It’s 11:21 am. The sun is streaming through the sunroom windows. What a beautiful winter day. The temperature is -16℃ outside. Checking the greenhouse, it is -7.5℃. In 3 months I can start planting in there. I think I better give my moods a kick in the ass. I have no time to be maudlin. It’s almost time for me to start a few seedlings if I want some early tomatoes. Peppers and egg plants need lots of time to grow and mature. Their fruits were coming into abundance just when the season was coming to an end.
I’ve come to believe that I do have a choice as to how I feel. There’s a limit. There’s no other way to feel in the face of tragedy except bad. In that case, I would accept and laid down with it and wait for the wave to slow and ease up. But in the every day hair pulling, thorns in the sides kind of irritations, I have the power and ability to respond in a healthy responsible way. There is no gain in losing and blowing my gaskets all to hell – except high blood pressure and other bad side effects. I choose higher ground and joy, the path of my ancestor, Lao Tzu. I hope I can remember that in the heat of anger and in the depth of my blues. Let us pray.
December 13. 8:30 am. -13℃ and dropping as the day progresses to a low of -21℃. It is as dark as can be. I am feeling amazingly well. I do generally feel better in the morning and my energy and spirit drop as the day progresses, much like today’s temperature. Anxiety starts to creep in between 4 and 5 o’clock. I’m taking advantage of this morning’s good fortune. So here I am, tapping away.
As you may have noticed, I am somewhat partial to Labrador Retrievers. They are beyond adorable. I’ve been saving their photos from Instagram, especially the puppies. This morning I got an itch to draw. Since I’ve signed up for a drawing class in January, I thought I would start practicing and do one every day. Here’s the first cutie pie.
Last week I found my sketch book of 100 day drawing challange. I don’t know why I stop drawing and doing blind contours. They look like so much fun and I thought they were pretty good. Here’s a sampling from the collection.
Now it is 10:20 am. Looks like the sun is a no show today. It’s still -13℃ and snowing. I’m sure the city set ski track in our neighbourhood park are covered. I will not venture out for my exercise. I will do my stretches, hula hoop and a few weights. I am very versatile. I’ve already gone up and down the stairs a few times this morning changing and laundering the bed linen. I’m killing 2 birds with one stone. Hopefully I’ve whittled my waistline a little and killed an ounce or two. A pound would be preferable.
This is it. I’m wrapping up. Have to check to see if the washing is done. AND I will clear my dining room table. Then prepare lunch.
December 12. How time flies away on me. I am late getting to the page. It is harder to get the conversation started. As usual I haven’t tended to all the clutter on dining room table or my desk. My problem is now like an ingrown toenail. It’s a hard fix. I will break the record and not say I will get to it tomorrow like I do every night.
Sometimes I can’t win for trying. In the last day or so, I’ve chipped my chip-resistant earthenware Mason Cash mixing bowl and broke a glass. I did the laundry today. I thought I had gone through all the pockets but apparently not. When I opened the washing machine and pulled out the first item, it was all spotted with little white tuffs. Then I found the messy wet kleenex inside the rubber rim along with a whole pile of yuck. After cleaning it out, I put the laundry through a speed cycle and then the dryer. That did the trick. Only a few white tuffs.
Sometimes life is like that. It is heavy. I try not to take it personally or seriously. Let’s get serious and real. Sometimes there are no shortcuts. Not everything can be done virtually. Somethings are physical, hard and takes time. Like this post. I get ideas and thoughts. Unfortunately, they don’t write themselves. I have to park my butt and tap it out, word by word. It would be better if I had a daily set time. Life and my moods get in the way. I do my best and come to the page whenever I can. Sometimes I don’t make it.
This December has been more difficult than others. This year I am more cluttered than others. I am even having difficulty sweeping everything off the dining room table into a box. Now I have 2 boxes added to the mix. How can that be! Well, life can be like that. I shan’t fret about it. I’m on top of the other stuff. I got my car serviced Friday. The laundry is done today. I baked 6 loaves of bread yesterday. Meals are cooked and dishes done. I shovelled snow for my parents today. I exercised every day. Went skiing Saturday and Sunday and to exercise class this morning. That’s a whole pile of stuff. I will try to sweep everything into boxes tomorrow.
December 9. It is 11:30 am and we’re at a balmy -6℃. I’m sipping a black decaf., hoping to curb my addiction to cream and sugar. I would like to drop a few pounds and an extra chin. I tend to sip quite a few cups of tea and coffee in a day. They’re like the cigarette I gave up a long time ago.
Every day is a new day. I like to start each one with new energy and a new out look. Not everything has to be hard, bad and sad. I can curve my droopy lips up into a smile. No one has to know it is fake. Fake it till you make it. It does make me feel more cheery. It is ok, too, if I can’t do it. There’s nothing more annoying to me than fake smiling lips pasted on someone’s face 24/7. Maybe we can be that cheerful all that time but it looks so unnatural to me.
My chili is warming up on the stove. The salads are made. Waiting for the mister to come home from his boat building garage. I hear his footsteps. Time to heat up some rice.
December 10. Intentions don’t mean beans when I don’t follow up with action. I had intentions of coming back to the page yesterday. I didn’t. Now it is another day. Almost supper time – 5:30 in the afternoon. It is -13℃. It’s been mostly sunny today. I chart the weather conditions so that I can analyze my moods and energy level to see if there is a link between the two. Knowing that, maybe I can offset or side step some of the dangers and hazards that may befall me.
For sure this morning’s ski gave me a boost in every department. I really wasn’t super keen in going to the Wildwood ski trail at the golf course. I ended last season feeling confident and pumped but it’s been over 9 months. Confidence has waned and doubts crawling in. The easier outside track is 2.2 km around with hills and valleys. Memories of struggling up one hill and falling down another invaded my thoughts. My stomach did little flip-flops enroute. It goes to show how strong our thoughts are and how they can affect our physiology.
To make a long story short, my apprehension was unwarranted. I scaled all the hills and fell down none. I had to work hard getting up one. If I had used the herringbone technique, it would have been a snap. Next time. At any rate, I’m developing strong arm muscles. I really had to dig in. I was determined not to slide down backwards and fall on my tootsie. It helped that I was the only one on the trail. I relaxed, took my time and a few photos. It was really ecstasy – the crisp morning air and the rising sun. I’ll let the photos paint the scene.
I’m wrapping it up here. I have no more words and thoughts except to say faking it through the darkness of December works for me. I’m taking it easier on myself, remembering that this is the slumber month. I can be a little bear like and crawl into my quilt for a few minutes or an hour. I can fake it till I make it.
December 6. Good evening. It is almost time to say good night. It’s still early enough. I have time to tap a few thoughts. Getting started is a bit tricky. We’ve just finished watching Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin in It’s Complicated, a romantic comedy. It’s very funny, entertaining and worth watching. An added bonus is Steve Martin. The night before, we watched him and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles – another comedy! That’s a record for me, 2 comedies back to back. They’re good for my mental health. I think that’s what I must do for this darkest month of the year.
Taking these 2 days off from my usual grind of exercise class, walks and skis have been good for me. It’s extremely cold today. The low was -37℃, the high -22℃. It’s a good day to stay home and huddle. I think I will take this whole week off. It can be a vacation, a retreat and a home spa. Who says you need to physically travel distances for it to be exciting and rewarding?
When it gets this cold, it is usually sunny. And so it was. The sunroom was so warm and beautiful in the morning, I couldn’t leave it. I just lounged and read. At times I felt I was wasting time. I endured it. The feeling passed and I started to feel like I was ‘getting back to normal’, that sense of normal when I wasn’t caught up in all the technology, of pushing ENTER and getting an immediate result. I felt I had time. I had time to think, observe and really feel all the things happening around me. I don’t want to push a button to get an immediate result. I want to do the work, one step at a time. It was a good feeling, not feeling squished, pushed for time.
December 8. It’s almost the supper hour, if the roast would cook faster. In the space of 2 days, our temperature has risen to -12℃ from -37℃. I wonder how our bodies process the rapid rise and fall of temperatures and barometric pressures. I know I am not a happy camper with the ups and downs. With the climate change we’re experiencing, I guess I can look forward to lots of ups and downs with my physical and mental well being this winter. My radar is on red alert. I am taking care and taking it easy on myself. No need to beat myself up. The weather is doing that for me. I don’t sleep as well some nights. I can feel my bones and joints hurting more. Then there’s my mood. It can turn on a dime. There’s nothing I can do about the weather but I can change myself. Now that I am so well acquainted with myself and the weather I am in control. Here’s what I do to stay sane and alive.
get fresh air and sunshine out of doors most days -walks/ski.
play the piano.
listen to music.
cook and bake.
do whatever makes me feel good.
There! I think that’s a pretty good list. I hope I am making sense. I find life extremely hard. I get a little wonky and down in the mouth sometimes. Depression is just a very small part of who I am. I am also made of anxiety, worry, joy, contentment, excitement….I am a kaleidscope of emotions. We all are. It’s all a matter of how to handle each and every one – and to accept them all and have no shame.
December 5. Good afternoon. It is another new and yet not so new day. I had a wonderful sleep last night. It was cold this morning at -27℃ but it is sunny and has warmed up to -23℃ at 2 pm. I have declared today for rest and relaxation. Therefore, I cancelled my exercise class upon getting out of bed. I’m foregoing my daily ski, too. I guess I am having a rant and a tantrum – a solo strike against myself. I’ve been thinking, a dangerous thing, you might say. But yes, I’m thinking that for all my efforts of trying and striving, I haven’t advanced a squat. Now it’s time to do different. I’m not ready to totally stop everything- forever. I am doing it for a day. I’m giving it a rest and giving my self a break. I’m going to pamper myself a little.
I was going for a walk but I think I will forgo it and soak in the tub. I don’t have any bubble bath to luxuriate in but I can substitute some epsom salt. I’m a practical girl at heart. But first a little culinary treat – ginseng coffee and a muffin and cheese to go with a few pages of John Grisham’s novel, Sooley. This book is different from his usual law and order. It is about basketball and Sudan. The pace is much slower. Therefore, I am slower too. I’m learning something new – basketall and Sudan. It’s all good. It’s getting me out of my usual rut.
I’ve been in the slow lane all day. It feels good enough to repeat tomorrow. I have nothing to rush to or about. Slow will help me get back to happiness. We all want that, don’t we? Instead of doing a gratitude list, I will do a Things I Did Today list instead. It is suggested by Esme Weijun Wang from her book, Rawness of Remembering: Journaling Through Difficult Times. I’m tempted to get the book but on second thought, aren’t I already doing it? So here goes my list.
Today I cancelled my morning exercise and it freed me from a set schedule.
Today I had a long soak in the tub with epsom salt and it relaxed and cleansed me.
Today I wrote this post. I’m keeping up with my commitment to write every day or almost every day.
Today I added more stuff to my pot of chili. Now I have prepared lunches for 4 days.